Northwest Iowa — A hot topic of conversation this time of year in northwest Iowa is what the weatherman has in store for us during the upcoming winter months.
Forecasters at the NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center have now issued their U.S. Winter Outlook, favoring cooler and wetter weather in southern tier states, with above average temperatures most likely in the west and here in the northern tier of states.
This year’s El Nino, among the strongest on record, is expected to influence weather and climate patterns this winter by impacting the position of the Pacific jet stream.
The temperature predictions for our area, as shown by the map below, are predicted to be above normal.
The prediction for precipitation levels for this winter for our area, as illustrated on the map below, can’t be accurately forecast at this time, says NOAA.
Larchwood, Iowa — At a grant presentation ceremony about a month ago, Lyon County Riverboat Foundation president Jeff Gallagher told the audience that the foundation would now not only be giving competitive grants to Lyon County non-profit projects, but to those in surrounding counties as well.
The Lyon County Riverboat Foundation is the non-profit license holder for the Grand Falls Casino near Larchwood. Grand Falls Casino gives four and a half to five percent to the Lyon County Riverboat Foundation for distribution. The percentage increases depending on how much money comes in. The foundation gives half of the money to county government, and the eight municipalities and three public schools in the county; and the other half is given in competitive grants. This past summer the foundation also gave out several $2000 mini-grants as part of the competitive grant funds.
We caught up with Gallagher and asked about the situation. He says they always knew that eventually they’d be giving grants to out-of-county projects.
Gallagher says with Grand Falls being very near both Minnesota and South Dakota, they’ve also started giving out-of-state grants. He says they’ve given to projects in Minnehaha and Lincoln Counties in South Dakota and Nobles County, Minnesota in the form of mini grants. Their first out-of-county competitive grant went to Inspiration Hills last month in Sioux County. That went for an outdoor warning system.
He says that while their focus will always be Lyon County, giving grants where Grand Falls’ money comes from just makes sense.
He says that if casino profits increase that will give them more money to distribute both in and out of Lyon County.
Also at the ceremony, Gallagher mentioned that one of the only ways the foundation has to measure how committed people are to a non-profit project is if people have given matching funds. He says the foundation doesn’t require matching funds, however.
Cherokee, Iowa — A Mason City man who was found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity in 2014 will be moved from the Mental Health Institute or “MHI” in Cherokee to a group home in Primghar.
According to court records, on July 18, 2013, the mother of now 44-year-old Thomas Barlas Jr. of Mason City returned home to find Barlas covered in blood. Records say he claimed to be “Jesus Christ” and claimed to have “killed Satan.” Barlas’s mother found her husband dead in the bedroom. About a year later, judge Gregg Rosenbladt ruled that Barlas had suffered a psychotic episode that night and could not tell right from wrong.
The judge ruled that Barlas should receive an evaluation from the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Oakdale. That evaluation found that Barlas continued to be mentally ill and ordered him to be placed at the Cherokee institution.
Since then, according to court records, the court continued to receive periodic reports from the MHI in Cherokee. In a September, 2015 report, staff there recommended a change in placement to the Pride Group residential care facility in Primghar.
The report says that Barlas still suffers from Schizoaffective Disorder…Severe with Psychosis, but it is in remission. Staff say that the illness has been stabilized on medication, which they say he has been compliant in taking, as prescribed. They say it is their opinion that conditional release will not present an undue risk to public safety.
The order says that Barlas will be monitored and will not be allowed to leave the facility unless accompanied by staff after approval by the treatment team and the Court.
Hull, Iowa — Students and faculty at Hull Christian School are better prepared now, should a dangerous person be found in the school.
The Sioux County Sheriff’s Office reports that their officers practiced safety drills with the first through eighth grade students at Hull Christian School on Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015. They say that these drills included several hands-on safety exercises with all of the students and faculty of Hull Christian School.
Sheriff’s officials say the drills taught students and staff things they can do to prepare if they encounter a dangerous person inside the school. They report the students and staff were also shown how to utilize group safety countermeasures if the person tries to enter one of their classrooms. Everyone also practiced evacuation plans they can use to stay safe in the event that the dangerous person is somewhere inside of the building. The evacuation drills were practiced together as a student body as well as in each individual class.
Captain Jamison Van Voorst says, “We hope that we don’t have to actually use these ideas; but, if we ever do, we know that these students and staff members will already be actively thinking about how to react to the danger and help each other stay safe.”
Sheldon, Iowa — Registration is open for all area 4th through 8th grade students to attend Fall STEM Fest 2015, hosted by Northwest Iowa Community College and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach 4H and Youth Programs. The event will be held Saturday, November 14th at Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon.
Steve Waldstein is an instructor at NCC, and he tells us what STEM Fest 2015 is all about.
Waldstein says that STEM Fest 2015 will be an all-day adventure for the students participating.
He talked about some of the things the students will be doing that day.
Waldstein says the students find that they’re having so much fun that they don’t realize they’re actually learning something.
To take part in STEM Fest 2015, it is requested that you pre-register by contacting your county’s ISU Extension Office. And while pre-registration is requested, Waldstein says no student will be turned away if they come to NCC on the morning of the 14th.
Northwest Iowa — The forecast call for cooler weather to arrive in our area just in time for today’s Iowa Winter Weather Awareness Day.
Meteorologist Rod Donavon, at the National Weather Service in Des Moines, says the goal of the annual event is to help Iowans prepare for the season ahead.
Donavon says the NWS will be discussing the hazards of winter weather as well as safety precautions and what to expect this winter season. In addition, he says, they’ll be having a question and answer period Sunday evening. Iowans can participate by visiting the Des Moines National Weather Service Facebook or Twitter pages between 7 and 9 P.M. Sunday evening. The event had originally been scheduled for tonight, but was postponed due to forecast showers and thunderstorms in the state tonight.
Donavon says several sources are predicting Iowa could see a warmer-than-normal winter ahead, though he admits, it’s very difficult to predict the precipitation for the season.
He says if you just look strictly at El Nino, certainly, the chances are greater than normal for us to have at least a warmer-than-normal winter. But, he says precipitation and snow chances are much more tricky and we have what are called equal chances for average precipitation.