Des Moines, Iowa — The new leader of the Iowa State Patrol is a Rock Valley native and a graduate of Northwestern College.
The Iowa State Patrol announced on August 5, 2015, that Commissioner Roxann Ryan has named Michael Van Berkum, a 30-year veteran of the Iowa State Patrol, as the Division’s 15th Colonel.
She says Colonel Van Berkum graduated from Rock Valley High School in Rock Valley in 1980. He then attended Northwestern College in Orange City until 1985 where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Physical and Business Education. He continued his education and graduated from the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy located in Virginia in 2007. From 2012-2013, Col. Van Burkum served as the Iowa Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy Associates Chapter President.
Ryan says Colonel Van Burkum began his career with the Iowa State Patrol in August of 1985. He was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in 2000, and then to Lieutenant in 2003. His strong leadership continued when he was promoted to Captain where he also served in the Intelligence Bureau, and as Department of Public Safety’s Homeland Security Coordinator. Colonel Van Berkum has served as an Area Field Captain and Administrative Operations Captain since 2012.
Estherville, Iowa — An Estherville teen has pled not guilty to a murder charge in connection with the shooting death of a second Estherville teen.
Emmet County Sheriff’s authorities say that 18-year old Lee Samuel Christensen is charged with First Degree Murder in connection with the death of 19-year old Thomas Bortvit.
Christensen entered the written plea at an arraignment this week. No other dates have yet been set in the case.
Rock Valley, Iowa — Starting Wednesday night and going through this weekend it’s Rally in the Valley — the annual community celebration in Rock Valley.
Rock Valley Chamber Director Keith Sietstra tells us what’s going on.
Des Moines, Iowa and Lincoln, Nebraska — Governors of the nation’s top two ethanol-producing states have jointly announced the launch of a statewide pump-labeling initiative to promote the American Ethanol brand.
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad have announced the implementation of new fuel pump labels featuring the American Ethanol brand. The American Ethanol brand will provide nationwide consistency in pump labeling for all ethanol blends including E10, E15, E30 and E85.
The American Ethanol brand was originally introduced in 2011 when NASCAR adopted E15 (15% ethanol) as its fuel of choice. Nebraska and Iowa are among the first states to introduce the brand at retail locations. Both states are offering new pump labels free of charge to retailers across Iowa and Nebraska.
Branstad says that this new brand label will provide a consistent consumer experience at pumps across the state and capitalize on the high profile that American Ethanol has enjoyed through the NASCAR partnership. He says they want to make it even easier for consumers to find this “clean-burning, high-performance fuel wherever they travel.”
Governor Ricketts emphasized that ethanol is “cost-effective, American-made, renewable and better for our environment.”
According to the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest, American Ethanol-blended fuel burns cleaner and improves air quality compared to regular gasoline.
Governor Ricketts says that corn can have it’s starch taken out and used for ethanol, leaving its protein for animal feed. He says, “…the Golden Triangle of corn, livestock and ethanol gives us a unique advantage for economic growth and national leadership in the production of fuel, food, feed and fiber.”
The governors say that the labels will help consumers better understand their choices when they fill up.
Northwest Iowa — Last week we had a story that told about the land values in Iowa and how they were declining. It said that statewide, land values were down about five percent in the last six months.
We had a chance to talk to a northwest Iowa land value expert — Todd Hatterman from Vander Werff Auction Service — and he says he’s not seeing that kind of decline in northwest Iowa.
He says that at a recent sale that they did, a 160-acre farm with an acreage site brought $14,600 per acre. He says the CSR on this farm was in the mid 70’s, and the CSR2 was in the mid 90’s. “CSR” stands for “Corn Suitability Rating.” “CSR2” is a newer way to rate the suitability of a farm or parcel of land to grow corn. The measurements are roughly analogous to a percentage, according to the Iowa State University Agronomy Department, with a CSR of 100 being the best possible soil in which to grow corn.
For comparison, the highest prices ever paid for farmland in northwest Iowa are around $20,000 per acre. Those prices were for farms sold in 2011 and 2012. Iowa State experts say the state average as of spring, 2015 was around $7300 per acre. High quality farm land in northwest Iowa in that same survey showed an average around $11,600.
On a little bit smaller farm of just over 100 acres, the tillable land brought just over $11,000 per acre according to Hatterman. He says he thinks the reason it brought less was that the piece of land was cut up a little more. He says pasture land on that farm brought $3500 per acre. According to the Iowa State survey, that too is above average, with the average price in spring, 2015 being about $2800 per acre.
Hatterman says that the price of really good land has been pretty steady, with the lower-quality land bringing a little less recently than in recent years.