January Will Be Radon Action Month

Northwest Iowa — People hear about radon quite often in public service announcements of one type or another, Branstad signs radon action monthbut the Iowa Department of Public Health says radon is even more of a concern for Iowa homes than homes in other parts of the country.

That’s Mindy Uhle, with the Iowa Department of Public Health. The state of Iowa is believed to have the largest percentage of homes in the U.S. with radon levels above what the Environmental Protection Agency calls “acceptable.” Uhle says at least half of the homes in the state have an elevated radon level.

In fact, in a map designating radon action levels, not only is every county in the entire state in “zone one,” but so are many counties in many of the states surrounding Iowa. And “zone one” is “priority one”. In other words, as far as radon levels in homes, it doesn’t get any worse than “zone one”. That’s why experts are especially encouraging Iowans to test their homes. They say five out of seven homes in Iowa have a radon level above a safe level.radon map

Radon is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that causes no immediate health symptoms, but long-term exposures may cause lung cancer. It comes from the breakdown of uranium in soil. Uhle encourages all homeowners to purchase a radon test kit, which typically costs less than $20.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), American Lung Association, and other partners have announced a strategy for preventing 3,200 lung cancer deaths annually by 2020 through radon exposure reduction strategies.

The National Radon Action Plan: A Strategy for Saving Lives sets out strategies to drive the changes needed to reduce exposure to radon. Strategies include requiring radon testing and reduction systems as a standard practice in housing finance and insurance programs, and institutionalizing radon risk reduction through building code requirements. For more information, you can visit radonplan.org.

The Iowa Department of Public Health has announced Governor Terry Branstad will sign a formal proclamation January 7, 2016, declaring January as “Radon Action Month” in Iowa.

To order a test kit or learn additional information about radon, call the RadonHotline at 1-800-383-5992. To learn more about radon, visit http://idph.iowa.gov/radon. Short videos explaining what radon is, how it enters your home and how testing is conducted may be found at http://bit.ly/1PsurYP.

Cruz To Be In Northwest Iowa Next Week

Ted CruzNorthwest Iowa — The Presidential candidate parade will once again swing through northwest Iowa next week when Texas Senator and Republican Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz is scheduled to be in the area early next week.

The Senator’s “Cruzin To Caucus Iowa Tour” will include 36 counties in the Hawkeye state from January 4th through 9th, with stops in Cherokee, Sioux, Lyon, Osceola, Dickinson, Emmet, Palo Alto and Clay Counties along the way.

The Cruz campaign has yet to announce specific locations that he’ll visit, but we’ll bring you that information as soon as it’s available.


Man Gets A Year In Prison In Sex Abuse Case

Rock Rapids, Iowa — An Inwood man faces a year in jail, among other penalties in connection with a sexual assault case.
Lyon Courthouse At Night
According to Judge Carl Peterson, 20-year-old Jesse Eugene Visser of Inwood has been sentenced to a year in jail and probation for having sex with and punching a 14-year-old girl. Peterson suspended a 10-year prison term for sex abuse and sexual exploitation charges; and a 2-year prison term for purchase or possession of a depiction of a minor in a sex act. Visser pled guilty as part of a plea agreement. He will also serve time at the Residential Treatment Facility in Sioux City when there is space available.

The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office reports that Visser was arrested on April 30th, 2015 on several warrants. They report that the charges are a result of an investigation that began on April 6, 2015.

Visser was originally charged with eight counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor, all Class C Felonies; five counts of Sexual Abuse in the Third Degree, all Class C Felonies; and one count of Assault causing Bodily Injury, a serious misdemeanor.

According to court documents, Visser is accused of having sex with a 14-year-old girl at least five times in March and April and receiving nude photos of her from September, 2014 through February, 2015. He’s also accused of punching her in the face, according to court documents.

UPDATE: Poultry Exhibition Ban Will Be Lifted Friday

chickensNorthwest Iowa – Area poultry producers will once again be able to exhibit their live birds at county fairs, the Iowa State Fair, and the like, effective January 1st, according to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey says the mandatory ban covered all live bird exhibitions at county fairs, the Iowa State Fair, livestock auction markets, swap meets and sales.

The bird flu outbreak devastated Iowa’s poultry industry this spring. The disease was likely spread by migrating wild waterfowl, like ducks and geese, as they flew north. There was much concern bird flu would reappear this fall as those birds migrated south for the winter, but no new cases were reported.

A total of 77 premises and 31.5 million birds were affected with the disease in Iowa. There are 35 commercial turkey flocks, 22 commercial egg production flocks, 13 pullet flocks, 1 chicken breeding flock, 1 mail order hatchery, and 5 backyard flocks, including several here in northwest Iowa.

No new cases of bird flu have been reported in Iowa since June and the final quarantine was lifted on December 1st. Due to the exhibition ban, this was the first year live poultry wasn’t shown at the Iowa State Fair since 1904.

More information about the avian influenza situation in Iowa can be found at www.iowaagriculture.gov/avianinfluenza.asp.

Hawkeye Marching Band Preps For Rose Bowl

band tromboneNorthwest Iowa — Area Hawkeye football fans are making their way to southern California to catch this week’s Rose Bowl game.  The Hawkeye football team is working out in preparation for Friday’s Rose Bowl.  But they aren’t the only ones.

The 245 members of the Iowa Marching Band have been doing some extra laps in Iowa City preparing to march in the Rose Bowl Parade. Now that they are in California, they’ll continue practicing for the five-and-a-half mile march. Director Kevin Kastens says they’ll also play the pre-game show and have the prestigious honor of playing the national anthem — which means everyone in the stadium will be watching. He says there will be fireworks in the middle of the anthem and it wraps up with a flyover by a B-2 bomber. Kastens says they have a lot to do in California.

The parade isn’t something new for the band, but the length of the parade on top of another performance is.

While they’ve had to do a little extra work for the physical aspect of marching, there isn’t a lot of extra music to learn.

He says they only play the fight song during the parade to acknowledge the Iowa fans.

The Rose Bowl is one of the top games for football teams, and Kastens says it also is a plum for the band.

The Hawkeye Marching Band has members from 72 communities in Iowa, 51 in Illinois, and six other states.

Man Sentenced To Prison In Sex Abuse Case

Orange City, Iowa — A Sioux Center man has been sentenced to two years in prison and ten years of supervised release for sex abuse.
Sioux County Courthouse front_sva
Sioux County Attorney Thomas Kunstle says that 43-year-old Danny Lee Barnes of Sioux Center was sentenced on Monday December 28, 2015, in Sioux County District Court for the crime Assault With Intent To Commit Sex Abuse.

According to court records, in July 2014 Barnes began making physical advances on a friend of his family, the 14 year-old female victim. He eventually had non-consensual intercourse with her and told her not to tell. Authorities were contacted in October of that year, and in November 2014, Barnes was charged with Sexual Abuse in the Third Degree, a Class C felony.

However, in exchange for Barnes’ plea of guilty to the amended charge of Assault with Intent to Commit Sex Abuse, the parties agreed Barnes would be sentenced to a two-year prison term. The police, the victim, and victim’s family supported this plea agreement. After serving his prison sentence, he will also be committed to the custody of the Director of the Iowa Department of Corrections for a period of 10 years, as though he were on parole and will also be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.