Hospital/Clinics To Switch To Avera In 2019

Rock Rapids, Iowa — Changes are on the horizon for health care in Rock Rapids in the coming years.
The owner of the current facility, the Merrill Pioneer Community Hospital Association and Avera Health have jointly announced that they have reached an agreement for Avera to lease to operations of the Rock Rapids community hospital and clinics beginning in May, 2019.
sanford rock rapids sign
The community hospital is owned by Merrill Pioneer Community Hospital Association, which in the past has leased hospital operations to Sanford Health. The Hospital Association Board recently voted to lease hospital operations to Avera when its current lease expires in 2019.

Partnering with Avera, the Hospital Association plans to build a state-of-the-art replacement hospital and clinic in Rock Rapids.

The Rock Rapids hospital is currently a 16-bed Critical Access Hospital. Clinics located in the communities of Rock Rapids and George provide family medicine services. Under the new lease agreement, Avera will hire every employee, match their rate of pay and offer a competitive benefits package.

Curt Hohman, Avera Senior Vice President for Managed Facilities says that Avera has a long history of positive working relationships with community hospitals and they look forward to forming this new partnership with Rock Rapids and the surrounding communities. He says they tailor their partnership agreements to communities’ needs and they took nine months to listen to the Association’s long-term goals. Hohman says they found that their aspirations for the organization matched their top priorities of providing quality care, close to home, and keeping local health care strong.

The Hospital Association conducted an extensive assessment of its future needs, and looked for a partnership that would help answer those needs in the best way for the entire community.

Jim Vander Woude, Hospital Association Board President says that Rock Rapids is a growing community, and with that comes a growing need for quality health care services. He says that the community is excited about the future of health care in Lyon County, and planning for a new facility that will help the hospital provide quality care for decades to come.

He goes on to say that the community is fortunate to have two strong systems in the area, and the board has great respect for both. He says they found that Avera’s vision aligns with their vision for the community, and so they feel confident in choosing the direction of a long-term partnership with Avera.

The Hospital Association Board and Avera will begin working immediately to secure financing for the new campus project and will establish a design team to include members from both organizations. The team will seek community input on the design through focus groups and community meetings.

O’Brien County Audit Performed By State

Primghar, Iowa — O’Brien county has recently been audited by the state for the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2015. O’Brien County Auditor Barb Rohwer says the audit found no big problems, as usual.

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She says that governmental entities in Iowa can have a private auditor do their audit, or have the state do it. She says in O’Brien County, they have the state do the audit.

Rohwer says the county had a good, clean audit.

She says while the audit report says the county took in $23,786,254, that figure is a little misleading.

Rohwer says the county had a total of $15,197,446 received in fiscal 2015. They had $15,063,278 in expenditures. So revenues exceeded expenditures by $134,168.

On the accrual basis, the report shows revenues of $12,514,215 and expenses of $12,416,482. So using the accrual basis, revenues exceeded expenditures by $97,733.

More information from the Iowa Auditor of State’s office:

Auditor of State Mary Mosiman today released an audit report on O’Brien County, Iowa. The County had local tax revenue of $23,786,254 for the year ended June 30, 2015, which included $1,906,566 in tax credits from the state. The County forwarded $17,686,859 of the local tax revenue to the townships, school districts, cities and other taxing bodies in the County.

The County retained $6,099,395 of the local tax revenue to finance County operations, a 1.6% increase over the prior year. Other revenues included charges for service of $1,923,314, operating grants, contributions and restricted interest of $3,599,275, capital grants, contributions and restricted interest of $3,222,225, tax increment financing of $263,343, local option sales tax of $496,833, unrestricted investment earnings of $35,326, gain on disposition of capital assets of $176,754 and other general revenues of $68,863.

Expenses for County operations for the year ended June 30, 2015 totaled $11,765,874, a less than 1% decrease from the prior year. Expenses included $4,981,510 for roads and transportation, $2,909,362 for public safety and legal services and $1,132,573 for administration.

A copy of the audit report is available for review in the County Auditor’s office, in the Office of Auditor of State and on the Auditor of State’s web site at

Church Opens Doors For Pre-Caucus Prayers

Joyce's - Living WaterSheldon, Iowa — People of faith in the Sheldon area have been taking time out to pray at a Sheldon church this week, for God’s guidance leading up to Monday’s Iowa Caucuses.  Living Water Church in Sheldon has opened their doors each afternoon this week from 5 until 6 pm to allow an interdenominational setting for people to gather and pray.

Barb Hibma, one of the organizers, says the idea came from a local ladies prayer group.

She says that the idea was to give people a quiet place to seek God’s guidance prior to the caucuses.

Hibma says the church setting will give people a chance to get away from all of life’s interruptions and spend time in prayer, asking for a Godly leader to be lifted up for our nation.

The church will be open each afternoon from 5 to 6 pm through Friday, January 29th.  Living Water Church is located on 2nd Avenue (Business 60) in Sheldon, 2 blocks south of the Highway 18 intersection.

Council Discusses FY 2016-17 Budget

Council ChambersSheldon, Iowa — There has been substantial growth in Sheldon over the past few years, which has resulted in a substantial increase in the city’s taxable valuation. This, in turn, makes it possible for the city to pay down debt and make plans for future growth.

At their budget meeting Wednesday morning the Sheldon City Council saw a budget proposal that would result in a slight property tax levy increase of nineteen cents per thousand. This will cover the cost of adding a fulltime person to the Sheldon Community Ambulance Team as well as paying ambulance volunteers a dollar per hour while on stand-by.

The budget also plans for paying off one capital loan note, reducing the city’s debt by a little more than two million dollars. The interest on this note was three percent, much higher than recent notes which carry an average interest rate of between one and two percent. After this note is paid, the city will have a total available bonding capacity of nearly 9.8 million dollars. However, the Council has always worked to keep 25 percent of that in reserve, which would make the available bonding capacity at about 7.3 million dollars.

The budget also calls for a three percent increase in water and sewer rates. The waste water treatment plant must be upgraded to meet new government regulations. The City is also moving ahead with plans for a second water tower. This project would tie the new tower into the current system for a more dependable water service throughout the city including the new development areas. The new budget would include the cost of design and other initial work. The actual tower construction would probably be done in the following year.

Another major expense in this budget is for the construction of the southern half of the road in the new industrial park. This would provide access to about six more lots for new businesses. This would include a turn-around for trucks at the end of the street.

The Council also discussed the hotel/motel tax, which in the past has been turned over to the marketing committee who has supported such projects as Celebration Days, RiseFest, highway signs and other community projects. The voters recently approved an increase in this tax. The Council will probably want to keep control of this increase and perhaps more of the proceeds in the future. The City is also considering franchise fees as another income source. HTC Communications already collects a franchise fee for the City. Mid-American Energy who supplies electrical and gas services to Sheldon does not have a franchise with the City, but City Manager Scott Wynja says Mid-American Energy has been contacted about this and it will come up for council discussion soon.

At their budget session the Council also acted on several special requests for funds. After some discussion they approved ten thousand dollars for the golf course. Upper Des Moines Opportunity will receive $3,300, and Mid Sioux Opportunity $250.

This budget, which is for the fiscal year beginning July 1st, 2016, will be brought up to the Council for a public hearing and final vote at a later date.

Hefty Seeds Expanding East of Sheldon

20160128_113348_resizedSheldon, Iowa — A Sheldon business will be breaking ground this spring for a new facility located just east of the city.

The Hefty Seeds dealership has outgrown their current facility on Western Avenue in Sheldon, and has acquired a tract of land on the southeast corner of the Highway 18 / Marcus (L36) Blacktop intersection.  Adam Sauer of Hefty Seeds says the new location will help them greatly expand their operation.

He explains the exact location of the new site.

Sauer says the new location will allow them space to do some things they haven’t been able to do previously.

He says it’s become obvious in the past few years that their current location is just no longer large enough to serve the needs of their customers.

Sauer talks about the timetable for their relocation.

He says he is excited to keep moving forward.

The Hefty Seed dealership has been in business in Sheldon since 2000.

Iowa To 2nd Place In Wind Power

wind turbines_sxcPrimghar, Iowa — The recently completed wind farm near Primghar has helped propel Iowa up to second place in the nation when it comes to producing power from the wind.  That’s according to American Wind Energy Association Manager of Data and Analysis, John Hensley.

Iowa moved past California by 104 megawatts, but would have to triple its output to overtake top-ranked Texas — which has nearly 18-thousand megawatts. Hensley says Iowa was part of a trend that saw more wind turbines come online across the country.

He says wind will account for around one-third the electric power produced in Iowa.

Hensley says Iowa has a lot of advantages when it comes to wind power.

And he says Iowa’s location is good for distributing the wind power. Hensley says improved technology has helped lower the cost of installing wind power, and that has helped continue the expansion of capacity.

American Wind Energy Association figures show there are now 74-thousand-472 megawatts of installed wind capacity in the United States and more than 52-thousand operating wind turbines.