DOT Talks Northwest Iowa Road Construction, 2016

construction road work pylonNorthwest Iowa — It’s been said that Iowa has two seasons: snow removal and road construction. With the higher temperatures, most of our snow has disappeared and now the thoughts of many Iowans are turning to the other season — wondering what construction projects are in the works.

We talked with Iowa Department of Transportation Construction Engineer Darwin Bishop in the Sioux City office. He says there are some small projects planned in our four-county area of northwest Iowa, but in the wider sense of the term “northwest Iowa,” there will be some bigger projects this summer.

As far as the four north-westernmost counties, Bishop says they don’t have any big projects planned for Summer, 2016.

He does say, however, that there is a small project planned for this summer in the Paullina area.

He says there will not be a detour for the Highway 10 project, which will be about three and a half miles of work. According to Bishop, traffic will be led through the construction zone by flaggers and a pilot car.

Bishop does say that they are looking at doing a project on Highway 18, but it won’t be this year.

He says those projects should run about $6 million, each.

New “Windshield Time” Discusses Seat Belt Use

seat beltOrange City, Iowa — A few weeks ago we told you about a new video blog introduced by an Iowa State Trooper from Orange City.  Trooper Vince Kurtz’s video blog, or vlog, is called “Windshield Time”, and it’s an effort by Kurtz, and the Iowa State Patrol, to reach drivers, especially teens, with a safe driving message.

Kurtz tells KIWA that the current vlog deals with seat belt use.

He says the new video is called, “The Eight Percent”, which refers to the number of Iowa motorists who still don’t buckle up.

Kurtz says the video includes footage from a ride-along with Sioux City’s Mercy Air Care, who he calls some of the unsung heroes of the public safety team.

“The Eight Percent” is a very powerful video that brings home the reality of not buckling up.  The video can be viewed below.

Neunaber Sentencing Scheduled

NeunaberLe Mars, Iowa — A sentencing date has been set for the man who has admitted to killing his mother in July, 2014 at the rural Akron home he shared with his parents.

Forty-six-year-old Jonathon Neunaber will appear before Circuit Court Judge Steven Andreasen at 1:15 pm, Monday March 28th to receive his sentence.  Neunaber had originally pled not guilty to a charge of 1st Degree Murder in the death of his eighty-year-old mother, Esther Neunaber, but entered into a plea agreement late last month in which he pled guilty to 2nd Degree Murder, a Class B Felony, and Willful Injury, a Class C Felony.

In the plea agreement, Neunaber agreed to be sentenced to a term not to exceed fifty years for the murder charge and a term not to exceed ten years on the willful injury charge for a consecutive term not to exceed sixty years in prison.

During the February 29th Plea Hearing, Neunaber told the court that after his father died of natural causes he used a steel pipe to beat his mother to death because he, “wasn’t prepared to be the man of the house.”  He said he then took pills in a failed suicide attempt.

Out of town relatives, who were coming to visit, discovered the bodies of 83-year old Donald, and 80-year old Esther Neunaber in July, 2014.  Neunaber was arrested the day after his parents’ bodies were discovered after being stopped for a traffic violation in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.  He has been in custody since that time.

Plan Unveiled To Raise Money To Improve Water Quality

water 1Northwest Iowa — Farmers in our area, and across the state, would pick up the tab for about half the money that would be raised for water quality efforts in the state, if a proposal in the Iowa House becomes law.

Representative Marti Anderson is a Democrat from Des Moines.

Anderson and Democratic Representative Chuck Isenhart of Dubuque both propose using state tax dollars, but they envision having farmers contribute as well. Commodity groups would pass “check-off” referendums, similar to the “check-off” payments participating farmers make today based on the amount of grain or number of livestock they sell.

Isenhart says their plan also calls for creation of a state “Clean Water Commission” to decide how and where to spend the money. It would be structured like the Iowa Transportation Commission, which decides how state gas tax money is spent on roads and bridges. This water quality funding idea is an alternative to Republican Governor Terry Branstad’s plan to extend a sales tax used for school infrastructure for another 20 years and use the inflationary growth in that tax for water quality initiatives. U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, the state’s former governor, was on hand when Branstad announced his plan. Vilsack issued a written statement Tuesday, saying legislators now have “two viable options to address water quality in Iowa.”

Statewide Finalists Named In Entrepreneurial Conference

Northwest Iowa — The finalists in the Dream Big Grow Here contest have been named.
dream big grow here logo
Finalists from our area include Van Shrimp of Rock Valley and American Hero Clothing of Larchwood. In addition, another business started by an Ocheyedan native is also in the running. Steven Brockshus, who served for a time in a leadership position in the National FFA Organization entered his company, Tillage, in the contest. According to the video entry, the company’s goal is to be a national database of ag land statistics for land that is for sale or for rent.

Five entries have been selected from each industry category to advance to the statewide contest at the statewide entrepreneurial conference, EntreFEST, in Iowa City on May 19, 2016. Each entrepreneur that advances in their industry category will participate in a pitch-off event against the other industry finalists for a chance to win $5,000. The winners of each industry category will then advance to the finals the evening of May 19 for a chance to win a grand prize to be announced at EntreFEST 2016.

All entrepreneurs advancing to the statewide contest will also have access to the University of Northern Iowa’s Business Concierge services, as well as receive personalized coaching and mentoring from VentureNet Iowa to prepare their pitch.

As an added bonus, the economic development organizations in northwest Iowa will also host a regional Dream Big Grow Here contest in April. This regional contest will allow the top five vote getters in northwest Iowa to refine their pitches, showcase their ideas, and compete in a regional pitch off event for $5,000. Additional details about the regional contest will be announced soon.

The Northwest Iowa regional contest is organized by the economic development organizations that are a part of Iowa’s West Coast Initiative and Northwest Iowa Developers and includes the following counties: Cherokee, Lyon, Monona, O’Brien, Osceola, Plymouth, Sioux and Woodbury.

The finalists are:

Ag Innovation industry:
SwineTech, Iowa Cricket Farmer LLC, Van Shrimp, Smart Ag LLC, and Tillage!

Hospitality/Services industry:
Southwest Iowa Professional Center, Northeast Iowa Doulas, Crayons To Pencils Preschool, Roller City, and Lumin Therapy, LLC

Manufacturing/Bioscience industry:
Flickboards, The Compost Ninja, Iowa Distilling Company, Stickalicious Pops, and Lyman Veterinary Clinic LLC

Pre-Revenue industry:
Blaines’ on Main, Terraoak, Inc, STEMobile_Iowa, Climb Lab, and Red Acre Barn

Information Technology industry:
AssetRover, Citispoon, VoidWorks,, and CIE Systems

Retail/Restaurant industry:
American Hero Clothing, Vintage Lane Design, The Local Crumb, Trofix, Caveworks Press & Studios

To learn more you can visit or check out this Facebook page.

Last Chance For Public Input On New State Park

Rock Rapids, Iowa — Your last chance to provide input on a new Iowa State Park on the western edge of Lyon County is this Thursday in Rock Rapids.
Blood Run Pitted Boulder
Iowa Department of Natural Resources Parks Bureau Chief Todd Coffelt says the park at Blood Run would be the first-of-its-kind joint state park with South Dakota, along both sides of the Big Sioux River. For the first time in a press release, the DNR has referred to the park as Blood Run State Park. The South Dakota park is called Good Earth State Park at Blood Run.

A public workshop on Thursday and an open house on Thursday evening will give the public a chance to see what’s going on and provide input.

The meeting and the open house will both be held in the basement of Frontier Bank in the Rock Rapids Community Room, 301 First Avenue in Rock Rapids.

The DNR says the Blood Run National Historic Landmark is located in Lyon County and encompasses a culturally significant landscape, providing links to the people and traditions associated with the past use of the site. This area between the Big Sioux River and Blood Run Creek was home to people practicing the Oneota tradition between 1300 and 1720 A.D. DNR officials say that the public is invited to participate in the planning of what they call “this highly significant site.”

The meeting will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The morning session will include presentations of the cultural landscape master plan and the long-range interpretation and education plan, and discussions of key project topics. The afternoon session will include discussions of key project topics and considerations for future management of the bi-state park. A one-hour lunch break will be available between noon and 1 p.m.

The open house will be held later that evening from 6 to 8 p.m. Project materials will be on display and project team members will be on hand to answer questions and listen to comments from the public.

Parking for both the public meeting and open house is available in the lot behind the Lyon County annex building, west of the bank. For more information about the Blood Run project you can visit