Home News KLEM News for Friday, December 9

KLEM News for Friday, December 9


Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig says the threat of bird flu continues to hang over Iowa’s poultry industry. Migrating wild birds are identified as the likely source of bird flu outbreaks at seven Iowa sites this fall, including Buena Vista and Cherokee counties. In the bird flu outbreak of 2015, the virus disappeared in June. Naig is concerned that during the recent outbreak, wild birds continue to spread bird flu nine months after it was first detected. In the Ag Department’s 2023 budget, Naig will ask for more money to fight animal diseases, including bird flu and African Swine Fever. This virus has not been seen in the United States, but has been spreading across Asia and Europe since 2018,



A leading Iowa conservative says conservatives across the country are tired of Republican election losses — and this week’s special election in Georgia is another blow to former President Trump, who backed the losing Republican candidate, Hershel Walker. Bob Vander Plaats is president of The Family Leader, a politically active group of Christian conservatives.

The Family Leader will host an event this summer for 2024 presidential candidates and Trump, who announced in November that he was running again, might be in the mix. Vander Plaats says Republicans should not choose a nominee who’s entire focus is payback for what happened in 2020.

Vander Plaats is encouraging Trump to endorse one of the other Republicans running to be America’s next president.

Vander Plaats says he really thought a red tsunami would happen in the midterms, but Democrats won two governorships that had been held by Republicans and G-O-P results for U.S. Senate and House races fell below what typically happens when a Democrat is in the White House.

Vander Plaats has personally endorsed presidential candidates prior to the Iowa Caucuses. He backed Mike Huckabee in 2008, Rick Santorum in 2012 and Ted Cruz in 2016 — all of whom won on Caucus Night.



As the downstream navigation season on the Missouri River is wrapping up for the year, releases from Gavins Point Dam near Yankton are being reduced to winter levels. It’s a seasonal move, according to John Remus, chief of the Missouri River Basin Water Management Division of the U-S Army Corps of Engineers in Omaha. Remus says it’s an effort to conserve water in the system for future years, in case the drought continues. The current low flow should be sufficient enough for city water plants and power plants, but if there’s a situation, he says releases may be raised.



The grant money awarded for production of a “Field of Dreams” T-V series in Iowa will be redirected to another tourism-related project. The T-V series was to be a prequel, featuring stories about characters in the Field of Dreams movie. In late June, Governor Reynolds announced the project was getting six million dollars from Destination Iowa, a state grant program financed with federal pandemic relief money. Universal pulled its financing for the Field of Dreams series days later. The executive producer of series told the Des Moines Register the project is suspended indefinitely and his team didn’t want to keep the six million dollars in limbo.



Snow-covered roads are common across northwest Iowa this hour, as an overnight storm dumped several inches of snow, preceded by rain and freezing rain in some places. Road conditions improved to seasonally normal into the afternoon.  At the KLEM studios this morning, there was 4-tenths of an inch of rain in the gauge, and 1 3/4 inches of snow. Snowfall totals this morning reported to the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls included a 3.2 inch report from Le Mars, 1 inch in Sgt Bluff, and 4 inches in Sheldon. A report from Hull indicated 8 inches of snow. The heaviest snow last night fell in a band from eastern South Dakota, through the Sioux Falls area, to the Iowa Lakes. 6 to 8 inch snowfall totals were reported in that area. The forecast calls for cloudy skies, and high temperatures slightly above the freezing mark today and Saturday.



This snow and rain is welcome, particularly when considering the latest drought monitor. The report, released Thursday, shows little change in drought levels from the previous week. western Woodbury and Monona counties are listed in the Exceptional Drought category. No other area in Iowa is in this category. Extreme Drought covers the rest of Woodbury and Monona counties, and includes all of Plymouth, Sioux, O’Brien, Cherokee and Buena Vista counties. The northwest quarter of Iowa is the driest region in the state.



The Sioux County Sheriffs Department reports a crash south of Hospers this week as a reminder to motorists to be aware of emergency vehicles and the state’s move over law.  Monday, a Merrill man, Matthew Ryba, 42,rear-ended a parked DOT vehicle at the scene of an unrelated crash.  The driver, Troy Clouse, 53 of Le Mars, was on duty assisting the DOT in providing traffic control.  His vehicle’s emergency lights were on.  Ryba came onto the scene too fast, and narrowly missed a sheriff’s office vehicle, then crashed into the rear of Clouse’s pickup.  Clouse received minor injuries, and sought medical attention on his own.   Ryba was cited for failure to yield to an emergency vehicle and failure to have insurance



Le Mars mayor Rob Bixenman is pleased with the announcement of Wells Enterprises acquisition by Ferraro Group.

He’s impressed with what he’s learned about the new owner, the Ferraro Group.

He’s encouraged that the Wells family considered the company’s future involvement in the community as part of the deal with Ferraro Group.  He’s also looking forward to Mike and Cheryl Wells remaining involved in the community after leaving ownership of the family firm.

He anticipates the acquisition will be a great fit for the city



The holidays aren’t so happy for Iowans who are dealing with economic hardships and hunger, as the state’s largest food bank is seeing records for demand set month after month. Michelle Book, C-E-O and president of the Des Moines-based Food Bank of Iowa, says there’s still an impact being felt from the pandemic, along with runaway inflation and a drop in federal support. Book says some pantries in their 55-county service area are seeing demand double, triple and even quadruple over a year ago, with demand records being set in May, June, July and August. A record two-million pounds of food was distributed during October, the food bank’s highest-ever rate in a month’s time. Book says donations are welcome and monetary gifts go farthest as the food bank can buy in bulk.



Volunteer firefighters are vital in Iowa, especially in our rural areas, but they’re retiring in droves and new recruits are direly needed to join the ranks. Members of the Iowa Firefighters Association plan to appeal to state lawmakers in the upcoming session to help get more people interested in volunteering. The association’s past president Jason Barrick (BARE-ick), who serves on the Iowa Falls Fire Department, says new incentives are needed at the state and local level. Most fire departments in Iowa are “absolutely unpaid,” he says, and many of those firefighters that are paid only make a thousand or 15-hundred dollars a year. In one possibility, Barrick wants to see more recruitment efforts at the high school level.