Group Protests Bakken Pipeline

Ongoing construction of 14 inch PVC pipeNorthwest Iowa — More than 80 people who oppose the Iowa route for the proposed Bakken oil pipeline protested outside the Iowa Utility Board’s offices Thursday.  That proposed pipeline would run through Lyon and O’Brien Counties here in northwest Iowa.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement organized the demonstration and brought a box full of letters with them.

That’s Nathan Malachowski, an organizer with the group. Mary Clarke of Norwalk says oil is destroying the planet.

Kriss Wells of Davenport says the pipeline makes no sense.

Dan Gannon, a farmer near Mingo, says if there’s a spill, the oil will wind up polluting the state’s groundwater supply.

The proposed pipeline would run diagonally through a 240-acre field on Gannon’s farm. A handful of union members stood across the street from the demonstrators, holding signs in support of the project. They see it as a job creator. The proposed pipeline would ship oil from North Dakota to a refinery in Illinois. The Iowa Utilities Board is expected to decide by the end of the year whether to allow the pipeline to be built through Iowa. Pipeline backers say the Texas-based company building the pipeline will pay nearly 30-million dollars in property taxes in Iowa each year, plus another 60-million in compensation to affected landowners.

Proper Disposal Of Yard Debris

fall 2Sheldon, Iowa — Everybody loves the beautiful colors of fall, but not so much when those colorful leaves end up on our lawns.  After we rake them up, we then face the annual dilemma of what to do with them.  In most towns in northwest Iowa, open burning of leaves and other yard debris is forbidden.

City Manager Scott Wynja says Sheldon is one of the towns that has banned the open burning of leaves and branches.

Fear not, however, because Wynja says the City of Sheldon does provide a place for you to dispose of your leaves and grass clippings.

He says that, while tree limbs and branches are not allowed to be dumped at the Hills Park site, the City has another facility to handle those items.

Wynja says that, to remain in accordance with DNR regulations, only leaves and grass can be left at the Hills Park location, and only tree limbs and branches are allowed at the Tree Dump.

Wynja says he wants to remind people to empty their leaves out of the plastic bags they might use to take them to the Hills Park Leaf Dump, and take those bags back home when they leave the site.

Wynja says that, as long as everyone follows the rules, both the Hills Park Leaf Dump and the Tree Disposal Site on North Washington Avenue will remain open to the public.

Sibley-Ocheyedan Teacher/Coach Fired

sibley ocheyedan school logoSibley, Iowa — The Sibley-Ocheyedan Community Schools Board of Education met in special session Thursday night for the sole purpose of considering the termination of the employment contracts of one of the District’s teacher/coaches.

Sibley-Ocheyedan Superintendent Bill Boer confirmed to KIWA that Sibley-Ocheyedan Middle School Social Studies Teacher and Generals Football Coach Kyle Ewinger was terminated on a 4 to 1 vote of the Board at last night’s meeting.   Boer confirmed that on the morning of Saturday, October 3rd, Boer discovered Ewinger asleep in his classroom with a Sibley-Ocheyedan student.

At Thursday’s meeting, Ewinger reportedly told the Board that, after coaching a football game in Orange City the night before, he and the child, whom Ewinger says his family has taken in, got back to the Sibley-Ocheyedan School very late in the evening.  Ewinger went on to say that, by the time he completed his normal post-game duties, it was nearly 3 am.  He said that, after failing to reach the child’s grandmother he decided to take the child home with him, but was unable to awaken his wife when he got home.  Ewinger reportedly told the Board that, as a last resort, he returned to the school, with the child, and the two of them slept there for a few hours.

Boer confirmed that he had recommended Ewinger be terminated, because the teacher’s actions violated Sibley-Ocheyedan School District policy.

The Board ended up voting 4 to 1 to terminate Ewinger’s teaching and coaching contracts.

Gas Prices Expected To Start Falling Again Soon

moneybagNorthwest, Iowa — The leaves are starting to fall from the trees and a state fuel analyst says gas prices are going to start doing the same sometime soon.

Department of Natural Resources analyst, Harold Hommes says the gas price fall toward the two-dollar a gallon mark hit a barrier with a couple refineries stopping production for repairs.

Hommes says the planned and unplanned repairs had an immediate impact, but he says it shouldn’t last much longer.

He says there’s often a lag between the drop in wholesale gas prices and the drop at the retail level.

Gas prices average two dollars, 51 cents a gallon in Iowa last week. That was up nine cents from the previous week and down 53 cents from the same time last year. Diesel prices moved up slightly last week, but Hommes says it’s not related to the refinery issues.

Hommes says they want to create some space to prepare a different blend that is used when the weather gets colder.

The transition tightens up supplies of diesel and causing the price increase. Diesel was up six cents in Iowa last week on average to two-dollars, 54 cents a gallon. Hommes says the increase in diesel doesn’t impact ordinary drivers very much as not very many use the fuel. It’s biggest impact is on the construction and transportation industries.

Fire Departments Respond To Field, Combine Fires

Ashton, Iowa — A late model combine and about an acre of standing corn were destroyed in a fire on Wednesday, October 14, 2015 near Ashton.

Ashton Combine Fire 10142015
Photo/Tommy Kuiper

According to Ashton Fire Chief Rob Imhoff, about 5:30 PM, the Ashton Fire Department was called to the report of combine on fire in the 5100 block of 230th Street, about a mile east of the old Cedar Cabin in Ashton. The chief says the fire department saw that the combine was fully engulfed as they approached the scene. He says they used water to fight the fire, and the area around the burned area was disked to prevent flare-ups from damaging nearby crops. Imhoff says there were no injuries reported. The fire department was assisted by the Sibley Fire Department. He says the cause of the fire is unknown, but may have been accelerated by an oil or gas leak. Chief Imhoff reports that along with the thousands of dollars of damage to the combine, the corn was probably worth about $600. He says crews were on scene about an hour and a half.

Alton, Iowa –- A fire near Alton destroyed 20 acres of standing corn on Wednesday, October 14, 2015.

According to Alton Assistant Fire Chief Quintin Van Es, about 5:25 PM, the Alton Fire Department was called to the report of field fire on 500th Street between Jefferson and Kennedy Avenue. That’s about four miles due south of Alton or about two and a half miles east of Carnes. The chief says the fire department saw lots of smoke and standing corn was on fire as they approached the scene. He says they used water to stop the fire from going into an adjacent field to the east. He said soon farmers with tractors and disks started arriving and they did the majority of the work. He says about 12 farmers with tractors and disks helped fight the fire. Van Es says no injuries were reported. The fire department was assisted by the Orange City, Oyens, Remsen, and Le Mars Fire Departments who came with their water tankers. He says the cause is unknown but he suspects a hot part or a spark from a combine. Van Es says there was no damage to the combine. Wind was an issue he says, and possibly dust near hot parts may have been a factor. Chief Van Es reports that about 20 acres of corn and 20 acres of stubble burned. At the county average and cash price for corn, the loss was estimated at over $12,000. He says they used 5000 to 6000 gallons of water to fight the fire, and crews were on scene for about an hour and fifteen minutes. Van Es says the Alton Fire Department has been busy. He says they helped Orange City with the fire north of town that same day, and on Wednesday, October 14th, about 4 PM, they assisted with another field fire in Plymouth County south of Carnes.
Boyden, Iowa — The Boyden Fire Department also responded to a couple of fires on Wednesday, October 14th, 2015.

However, these fire calls were much more minor. Fire Chief Galen Blankers reports the two calls were actually within a half a mile of each other and both involved a stalk chopper. They both happened on Kingbird Avenue between 290th and 300th streets, about two and a half miles northeast of Boyden. Chief Blankers says hot dust or chaff may have been a factor. He says about an acre of stubble burned in one fire, and the farmer had the second one about out with an extinguisher by the time they got there, but they did check for hot spots to make sure the fire was out. He says damage was minimal. The first call came in about 5:15 PM, and the second one was about 11 PM.
Archer, Iowa — The Archer Fire Department was also called to a fire call on Wednesday, October 14th, 2015. Fire Chief Don De Boer says it was at the Dick Burns place at 5125 360th Street. He says sparks from a burn pile started a tree on fire. He says they put it out with water and foam. The chief reports they used 500 gallons of water and were on scene for 45 minutes. He says damage was limited to the one tree.

State Grants Available For Rural Fire Departments

fire_sxcNorthwest Iowa — Today is the deadline for fire departments in rural Iowa to seek state grants to buy equipment to fight fires in farm fields and timber areas. Gail Kantak, the fire supervisor for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says this is the time of year over-heated combines start a lot of fires.

KIWA listening area fire departments have been kept busy over the past several days fighting fires that have broken out during the fall harvest, including one that destroyed a semi near Fostoria, in Clay County, Monday afternoon.  Kantak says grain bins are unfortunately fertile ground for fires, too, and a lit light bulb touching the grain can spark a fire.

Iowa fire departments that serve communities with a population under 10-thousand are eligible for Volunteer Fire Assistance Grants. The grants of up to 35-hundred dollars provide matching funds to buy fire fighting equipment “to save lives and protect property in rural areas.” In addition, the fire program staff in the Department of Natural Resources offers courses for volunteer fire fighters in Iowa to teach tactics for putting out fires in fields and other wild lands.