UPDATE: Fire Causes Extensive Damage To Home

Orange City, Iowa — An Orange City home sustained extensive damage in a fire on Saturday night, March 21.
Orange City Fire OCFD Engine 60
Orange City Fire Chief Denny Vander Wel says about 10:35 PM, the Orange City Fire Department, Alton Fire Department and Orange City Ambulance crew responded to a report of a structure fire that occurred at 303 Kentucky Avenue Northwest in Orange City.

When emergency responders arrived, he says they found a ranch style house on fire with flames showing on the back of the home burning up to the attic area.

The fire was extinguished and considered under control about 11:40 PM. The home sustained extensive heat and smoke damage. Orange City Fire units remained until about 1:45 AM.

No injuries were reported.

The property sustained an estimated $100,000 in damages.

Vander Wel says that following an investigation by the Orange City Fire Department into the origin and cause of the fire, it has been determined that cause was likely accidental.

He says the investigation revealed that the most probable cause of the fire was likely a result of spontaneous combustion due to unattended linseed oil rags left in a bucket near the rear of the residence. The fire then spread from the rags, igniting the back of the home, up toward the roof area.

The Orange City Fire Department, Alton Fire Department and Orange City Ambulance crew were assisted by the Orange City Utilities Department, Orange City Police Department and the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office.

Flash Flooding Causes 140 Deaths In US Every Year

Flash flooding usgsSheldon, Iowa — This is Severe Weather Awareness Week In Iowa. Each day this week, the National Weather Service is focusing on a different severe weather topic.

Today’s topic is flash flooding.

Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other thunderstorm related hazard, resulting in more than 140 fatalities each year.

Most flash floods are caused by slow moving thunderstorms, thunderstorms that redevelop over the same area, or heavy rains from tropical storms and hurricanes. These floods can develop within minutes or hours depending on the intensity and duration of the rain, the topography, soil conditions, and ground cover.

A flash flood is a rapid rise of water along a stream or low-lying urban area. Flash floods can roll boulders, tear out trees, destroy buildings and bridges, and scour out new channels. Rapidly rising water can reach heights of 30 feet or more. Flash flood-producing rains also can trigger catastrophic mudslides.

The Sioux Falls office of the National Weather Service covers our area of northwest Iowa. Todd Heitkamp, their Warning Coordination Meteorologist says flash flooding does indeed occur in our area.

Click or tap the play button above or this link to listen.

He says people need to stay aware of what’s going on when severe weather is threatening or imminent.

Click or tap the play button above or this link to listen.

Flash Flood Watch:

Issued by the National Weather Service to indicate current or developing hydrological conditions that are favorable for flash flooding in and close to the watch area. The occurrence of flooding is neither certain nor imminent. Those in the watch area should be alert for flooding.

Flash Flood Warning:

National Weather Service meteorologists have determined that flash flooding is occurring or imminent. Those in the warning area should take the necessary precautions at once.

Flash Flood Emergency:

A Flash Flood Emergency is issued by the National Weather Service. It is not a new warning, but is used to highlight a severe threat to human life and catastrophic damage from a flash flood which is imminent or ongoing.


For more information, click here for the National Weather Service’s Flooding Brochure.

For severe weather safety and preparedness information in Spanish, please click here (en Español).

Para obtener información sobre la preparación de mal tiempo, haga clic aquí. (en español)

Iowa Milk: Highest February Since 1969

Des Moines, Iowa — Milk production in Iowa during February 2015 totaled 371 million pounds, up 5 percent from February 2014 according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Milk Production report.
milk and cheese
This is the highest February milk production for Iowa since 1969. The average number of milk cows during February, at 210,000 head, was unchanged from last month, but 5,000 more than a year ago. Monthly production per cow averaged 1,765 pounds, up 40 pounds from last February.

Milk production in the 23 major states during February totaled 15.1 billion pounds, up 1.7 percent from February 2014. January revised production, at 16.5 billion pounds, was up 2.2 percent from January 2014. The January revision represented an increase of 17 million pounds or 0.1 percent from last month’s preliminary production estimate.

Production per cow in the 23 major xtates averaged 1,757 pounds for February, 8 pounds above February 2014. This is the highest production per cow for the month of February since the 23 State series began in 2003. This comparison is based upon all months of February being adjusted to 28 days.

The number of milk cows on farms in the 23 major states was 8.62 million head, 106,000 head more than February 2014, and 2,000 head more than January 2015.

Milk production in the United States during February totaled 16.2 billion pounds, up 1.7 percent from February

Production per cow in the United States averaged 1,736 pounds for February, 9 pounds above February 2014.

The number of milk cows on farms in the United States was 9.31 million head, 100,000 head more than February 2014, and 3,000 head more than January 2015.

Click here for more statistics and graphs.

Block Sentenced To 180 Days In Jail

Sibley, Iowa — A former Osceola County Sheriff’s Deputy who pled guilty in a plea agreement in the case of several stolen items being found on a farm place in rural Osceola County — has been sentenced to 180 days in jail on seven felony counts and one misdemeanor.

Block, Michael

According to court records, 52-year-old Michael Lawrence Block of Sibley pled guilty in February in Osceola County District Court in a plea agreement. The records say Block was in possession of several pieces of stolen agriculture and construction equipment from Osceola, O’Brien, Sioux, and Lyon Counties.

As part of the plea agreement, eleven other charges were dropped.

Block was originally charged with seven counts of First Degree Theft, a class C felony. On the three counts that remained, Block was sentenced to ten years in prison on each count for a total of 30 years in prison, however this was all suspended, as were fines of $3000 and surcharges of $1050.  Block will serve three years probation on the First Degree Theft charges, which will run consecutively to the probation for the other charges.

He was originally sentenced to ten counts of Second Degree Theft, a class D felony. On the four counts that remained, he was sentenced to five years in prison on each count, for a total of 20 more years, but again this was all suspended, as were fines of $3000 and surcharges of $1050. Block will serve three more years probation on the Second Degree Theft Charges.

Block was actually sentenced to incarceration only on the misdemeanor count of Fourth Degree Theft. He will serve 180 days in jail, or 210 days if he elects to do work release. Fines and surcharges were also suspended on the misdemeanor count.

Among conditions of his sentence, he was ordered to comply with his mental healthcare providers, sign a release authorizing his mental healthcare providers to provide information to his probation officer, attorneys of records and the Court and obtain a new mental health evaluation, if recommended by his probation officer.

Rock Rapids Man Arrested On Several Warrants

Rock Rapids, Iowa — A Rock Rapids man has been arrested on several warrants.
Hand Cuffs sxc
On Friday, March 20th, 2015 at about 6:00 PM, a Lyon County Deputy stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation in the 3400 block of A-52. That’s about five miles north-northeast of Hull.

It was determined that numerous warrants had been issued for the arrest of the driver, 21-year-old Melvin Lopez of Rock Rapids.

The deputy subsequently arrested Lopez on warrants concerning charges of Operating While Intoxicated, Failure to Maintain Control, Windshield Tint Violation, No Valid Drivers License, Failure to have Proof of Insurance, and Fraudulent Use of Registration.

Lopez was held at the Lyon County Jail in lieu of a bond of $2,500.

Legislators Seek More Oversight of Medicaid Program Shift

Des Moines, Iowa — All 50 state senators are pushing for more legislative oversight of a shift that will turn over management of nearly all of the state’s more than four-billion dollar Medicaid program to private “managed care” companies. Senator Amanda Ragan, a Democrat from Mason City, says there’s “great uncertainty” about how this transition will impact the 560-thousand low income, elderly and disabled Iowans who get health care coverage through Medicaid.
iowa state capitol sva

(as said) “It’s critical that we will have a voice in this because many of the people that we are representing don’t have a voice,” Ragan says.

A bill on the subject has passed the senate on unanimous vote. Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, says private companies stand to gain big if they get the contract.

(as said) “If you look at the fine print…those managed care companies will extract about $800 million a year that’s currently being spent on services to our constituents for the pleasure of operating the program,” Bolkcom says.

And Bolkcom argues it’s likely health care services to poor and disabled Iowans will be cut by 800-million to cover the cost of the contracts. Republican Senator David Johnson of Ocheyedan told Democrats their tone was not helpful.

(as said) “Let’s just settle down here a little bit,” Johnson said. “I’m going to support this bill, but I’m not here to knock the administration about this.”

Johnson says while he supports the idea of having the legislature more involved in the decision making, nearly 40 other states are moving to sign managed care contracts for Medicaid programs. Governor Branstad’s administration expects to hire up to four managed care companies to run most of Iowa’s Medicaid program. When announcing the initiative last month, officials said their aim was to implement the change starting July 1st. Iowans on Medicaid who’re being treated for mental illnesses are already part of a managed care plan, but the plan is to have most Medicaid-financed services in Iowa under a managed care contract. That includes nursing home care for elderly Iowans who are on Medicaid.

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