5-31 NEWS

A Cresco man accused of sending sexual Facebook messages to an 11-year-old girl is pleading not guilty. Court records say 21 year old James Edward Politowitz is charged with lascivious acts with a child and telephone dissemination of obscene material. Law enforcement says Politowitz communicated with the child in February using Facebook Messenger to send lewd pictures and solitic sex. Investigators say when Politowitz was asked if he knew how old the girl was, he reportedly replied he thought she was 12 or 13. His trial is now scheduled to begin on September 11.

The city of Decorah is enacting its sidewalk improvement plan. The plan is to install sidewalks in Bruening’s second addition and all along Linden Street. City manager Chad Bird says the city is trying to make up for its lack enforcement in the past.
Bird
Bird says all parts of the city will be asked to improve or add sidewalks over the next few fiscal years.

The Trump Administration has approved an aid package to help agriculture producers affected by the recent trade tariffs. Jessica Tekippe is with Winneshiek county Farm Bureau. She says while producers appreciate the assistance, they’d prefer other options.
Tekippee
President Trump announced the 16 billion dollar aid package last week.

Cash rental rates for Iowa farmland are down 1.4% compared to last year, but are still higher than in 2011, despite significant decreases in crop prices. According to Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s “Cash Rental Rates for Iowa 2019 Survey,” (FM 1851) published in the May Ag Decision Maker newsletter, the average cash rent per acre is $219, down from $222 per acre last year. Meanwhile, corn and soybean prices have dropped 50% and 45%, respectively, since mid-2013, according to Alejandro Plastina, assistant professor and extension economist at Iowa State. The survey is based on 1,262 responses across the state for cash rent prices received to grow corn, soybeans, hay, oats and pasture.

5-30 NEWS

Two people were rescued on the Upper Iowa River after their kayak capsized Saturday night. Winneshiek county sheriff Dan Marx says it was the third river rescue in the county this year.
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Marx offers some tips on how to stay safe on the river.
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Marx says river rescues also involve a good number of resources, including drones, air boats and multiple individuals on foot and on ATVs.

Governor Reynolds has been traveling the state signing legislation over the past two weeks. But one item that failed to receive legislation approval is making birth control available over-the-counter in the state.
Reynolds
Reynolds says the issue remains a priority to her.

Iowa farmers who’ve been unable to plant corn yet this year face a deadline this week. Corn planted by May 31st is covered by crop insurance. If that corn fails to sprout because of cold and soggy conditions, insurance will help farmers RE-plant their fields in June. Iowa Ag Secretary Mike Naig (NEGG, rhymes with “egg”) says there’s been an “historically slow pace” to planting corn AND soybeans this season.
Naig
Naig made his comments during an appearance on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program.

Governor Kim Reynolds has declared this “End Distracted Driving” week — and a spokesman for the Iowa State Patrol says a smart phone is the main distraction troopers see on Iowa roads. Sergeant Nathan Ludwig, who says he sees too many drivers texting while he’s on patrol AND when he’s out on the road in his personal vehicle. The state patrol has written about 100 fewer citations so far this year for texting while driving.
Ludwig
There 17 categories of “distracted driving” on the D-O-T’s accident form and Ludwig says drivers using a phone is the “number one” distraction. Troopers have issued 331 tickets for distracted driving since January 1st. Ludwig says the biggest misconception among motorists is a driver can read their email and text while they’re at a stoplight.

5-29 NEWS

The Women Caring for the Land organization will meet (Wednesday) morning. The meeting will be held at the Winneshiek Wildberry Winery at ten a.m. The guest speakers will be Extension office attorney Melissa O’Rourke and Upper Iowa Project Manager Matt Frana. Persons can reserve a spot by calling Carol Dowe at 735-5688.

Todd Shea, with the National Weather Service of the La Crosse, says Monday’s tornado outbreak in Northeast Iowa and Southeast Minnesota was unusual.
Shea
The National Weather Service says EF-1 tornadoes were confirmed in Charles City and Saratoga and an EF-0 was confirmed near Greenleafton in Fillmore County.

As many as four tornadoes were on the ground Monday in Howard county. Howard county emergency management coordinator Darrell Knecht (Connect) says the county was fortunate the storms stayed primarily in the rural areas of the county.
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Knecht says fortunately there were no injuries reported in the county.
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Knecht says anyone who suffered property damage should report the damage to his office. Knecht says that could help the county receive a state or potentially a federal disaster area.

A Decorah teenager was seriously injured in a UTV accident which occurred Sunday evening. The Winneshiek county sheriff’s department says 16 year old Cael Gulrud was airlifted from the scene of the accident on Coldwater Creek Road. Authorities say around nine p.m., Gulrud lost control of his UTV, went into the ditch, hit a fence and rolled over. A passenger, 16 year old Carter Falck of Decorah, was also injured and received medical treatment. The sheriff’s department says the accident remains under investigation and multiple charges are pending.

An Iowa City man was arrested after a Tuesday morning traffic stop in Calmar. The Winneshiek county sheriff’s department says 47 year old Jason Rolling was charged with driving while barred.

5-28 NEWS

No injuries were reported in yesterday’s tornado outbreak in Northeast Iowa and Southeast Minnesota. Howard county emergency management coordinator Darrrell Knecht said at least four tornadoes touched down in Howard county and Fillmore county sheriff John DeGeorge said at least three tornadoes touched down in that county. Knecht said there was widespread damage in Howard county, including trees and power lines downed, several houses lost their roofs, major damage to a hog confinement building and damage to a wind turbine. DeGeorge said at least four farm sites sustained damage and some homes received wind and tree damage. Initial survey reports from the National Weather Service confirmed an EF-1 tornado touched down in Charles City, with peak winds of 110 miles per hour. The National Weather Service also confirmed a EF-1 tornado in Saratoga in Howard county with peak winds of 105 miles per hour. The survey team determined a tornado in Greenleafton in Fillmore county was an EF-0 with peak winds of 85 miles per hour.

A public hearing on budget amendment will be held at today’s meeting of the Winneshiek county board of supervisors. County conservation director Barb Schroeder will meet with the board to discuss that organization’s budget. The supervisors will also discuss a 28-E agreement for the W-C-D-I- director and the jail administration job description. The meeting will begin at nine-30 at the courthouse annex building in Decorah.

The Trump administration’s hard line stance with trade with China has had a negative impact on the agricultural economy. But Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds says the hard line stance with China is necessary.
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Reynolds says other markets are starting to open up
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Reynolds made the comments last week during an appearance in Decorah.

Governor Reynolds has signed a bill to extend Iowa’s one cent school instrastructure sales tax through 2051. Decorah schools superintendent Mike Haluska says the measure is vitally important for school district for general upkeep and much more.
Haluska
Reynolds signed the bill in a ceremony Friday in a Sioux City.

The Winneshiek county engineer’s office says Otta Seal Surfacing will begin tomorrow on several county roadways. County engineer Lee Bjerke (Beer-key) says surfacing will be done on the River Road near Drake Hill Road, Siewers (see-ver) Spring Road north of the Fish Hatchery and in Bluffton, Burr Oak, Hesper, Frankville, Festina, Kendalville and Freeport. Bjerke says the work will take several weeks to complete and people traveling in those areas should expect temporary delays.

5-24 NEWS

Iowans who plan a trip over the upcoming Memorial Day weekend will need to plot their route carefully as many roads across the region are closed either by flooding or by flood damage. Rose White, at Triple-A-Iowa, says the motor club is predicting this will be the second-busiest Memorial Day weekend on record for all forms of travel, which includes air, ship, rail and car.
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White says gasoline prices for the first holiday weekend of the summer driving season are down from a year ago.
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White says the projections area up more than three-percent from last year.

Decorah fire fighters were called to 805 Day Street early Thursday morning. Fire officials say they were called to scene shortly before three a.m. and found a mattress on fire in a bedroom. Authorities say the resident was already out of the house. The fire was quickly extinguised and the resident was transported to Winneshiek Medical Center for evaluation. A police officer was also treated for smoke inhalation.

This in from the Winneshiek county engineer’s office. County engineer Lee Bjerke says 370th Avenue south of Ridgeway is now closed for a bridge replacement. Bjerke says the project is scheduled to last until July first.

A former West Union police officer is taking the city to court. The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier says Sierra Fox filed a lawsuit against the city of West Union, Police Chief Paul Becthold and City Administrator Nick McIntyre this week in Fayette County District Court. Fox said she was forced to resign after filing sexual harassment complaints against the town’s police chief. The suit alleges violation of Fox’s civil rights through sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation and is seeking unspecific compensation, injunctive relief and attorney’s fees.

5-23 NEWS

Should the process of rezoning of flood plain into a commercial shopping area be clarified by city of Decorah officials? Decorah city councilman Kirk Johnson thinks so.
Johnson
Anyone wishing to “build up” a flood plain needs to make a rezoning request, get permission from the board of adjustment to place fill in the flood plain and get permits from the army corps of engineers and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Johnson suggestes that if there was a clear direction from the city on what permission should be granted first it would be best for all parties involved.

Area law enforcement entities and the Governor’s traffic safety bureau are in the midst of a STEP-or special traffic enforcement program. The click-it-or-ticket campaign is focused on those who don’t buckle up and other traffic violations. The effort will run through June second.

There are two openings for jailers at the Winneshiek county jail. And there’s no shortage of applicants. Winneshiek county sheriff Dan Marx says efforts earlier this year to provide a better salary/benefit package for the position has helped. Marx says they’ve received 16 applicants for the two female jailer openings. He says they must hire two female jailers to remain in compliance with state and federal law.

The Valdictorians and salutatorian has been announced for the class of 2019 at Decorah high school. School officials say the valedictorians are Cassidy Carolan, Evageline Holy-oak, Brayden Krivachek and Leah Weis and salutatorian is Sydney Landstrom. Commencement for the class of 2019 will be held Sunday.

5-22 NEWS

The U-S-D-A reports farmers made planting progress in some areas last week despite continued weather issues. Radio Iowa’s Dar Danielson reports.
Danielson voicer

How many times does a rezoning request get turned down in the city of Decorah? The question was asked in connection to the current council debate regarding potential changes to the city’s zoning code. City manager Chad Bird says since 2011, his time as city manager, there have been 16 rezoning requests in Decorah and 15 have been approved. The only one to not be approved was a request from Menards last year. On a 4-3 vote Monday night, the council approved the first reading of an ordinance which would change the requirement to 2/3 of the council from 3/4 of the council to approve a rezoning if the planning and zoning commission recommends against the rezoning. The second reading of the ordinance is set for June third.

The Winneshiek county sheriff’s department is releasing details of a motorcycle vs deer accident last Thursday night which injured a Decorah man. Authorities say shortly before 10 p.m, 22 year old Cody Phillips struck a deer while travling westbound on the Pole Line Road. The sheriff’s department says Phillips suffered injuries to his right leg and back and was taken to Winneshiek Medical Center by private vehicle.

The Decorah city council approved entering into a professional services agreement with Cayler Consulting at its meeting Monday night. The consulting firm will assist the city in its search for a new police chief. City manager Chad Bird says the Cayler will assist the city in the recruiting search, candidate/applicant searching, and testing and assessment for the position. Bird says the agreement is not-to-exceed 13-thousand five hundred dollars. Current Police chief Bill Nixon will retire this summer.

5-21 NEWS

A Decorah man was killed in a car vs UTV accident Monday afternoon east of Decorah. The Iowa State Patrol says 86 year old Norman Dickman died of injuries suffered in the accident. Authorities say shortly before three p.m. Dickman was driving his UTV eastbound on highway nine when he made a left turn in front of a vehicle driven by 62 year old Lorrie Reed of Darlington, Wisconsin and the car and UTV collided. Reed was uninjured in the accident, which closed that portion of highway nine for nearly two hours

An inmate at the Winneshiek county jail was charged with assault on a correctional officer following an incident Sunday night. The Winneshiek county sheriff’s department says 21 year old Donavon Nelson allegedly attacked a jailer around nine p.m. Authorities say the correctional officer was not injured in the assault.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds will be signing a bill into law in Decorah (Tuesday). The Governor will sign senate file 230 into law at Toppling Goliath at ten-30 a.m. The bill will allow brewers in the state to be allowed to be involved in beer, wine and distilled spirits. Previously Iowa-based brewers were only allowed to be involved in one of the three. Also (Tuesday), Iowa Lituentant Governor Adam Gregg will tour W-W Homestead Dairy in Waukon at nine a.m. The Governor and Lieutenant Governoor will also visit the downtown West Union business district beginning at twelve-15.

A Chatfield, Minnesota man has been charged with third degree felony sexual assault following an investigation by the Winneshiek County Sheriff’s Department with the assistance of the Fillmore County sheriff’s department. Authorities say 18 year old Damian Anthony was arrested in Fillmore County. The Sheriff’s department says Anthony is being held in the Fillmore County Jail awaiting extradition.

Howard county jail inmates could be returning to Howard county soon. Winneshiek county sheriff Dan Marx told the Winneshiek county board of supervisors (Monday) morning an inspector will be at the newly constructed Howard county jail later this week. Winneshiek county has been housing Howard county jail inmates since Feburary of 2018.

On a 4-3 vote, the Decorah city council passed the first reading of a zoning code amendment ordinance at its meeting last night. The amendment would change the requirement of council members needed to approve a rezoning request should the planning and zoning commission recommend against rezoning a property. The change would require a 2/3 majority of the council, or five votes, to approve a rezoning. Currently city code requires a 3/4 majority, or six votes, of the council. Kirk Johnson was one of four council members who voted for the first reading.

Johnson

Johnson, Ross Hadley, Randy Schissell and Andy Carlson voted for the change. Johanna Bergan, Dan Bellrichard and Steve Luse voted against it. Six people spoke at the public hearing on the issue with three favoring the change and three opposing the change. Luse stated others should have been consulted before the change was proposed. Bergan stated the change does a disservice to future council ignoring the work the planning and zoning commission puts into these issues. Decorah mayor Lorraine Borowski said she presented the change after many constituents raised concerns to her after the planning and zoning commission rejected the Menards rezoning application and finding out a super-majority of the council was needed to overturn the planning and zoning commission decision. The second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for the June third council meeting.

The Decorah high school band department is scheduled to perform an outdoor patriotic concert today. The concert will begin at noon at the intersection of Washington and Water Streets and is open to the public. In case of rain, the concert will be held in the high school auditorium.

5-20 NEWS

A proposed change to a procedure related to rezoning requests will go before a public hearing at tonight’s Decorah city council meeting. At issue is whether a 2/3 majority or a 3/4 majority of the council should be required to approve a rezoning request if the planning and zoning commission recommends against the change. The commission, at its April meeting, recommended the change to a 2/3 majority on a 4-1 vote. The 2/3 majority requires five council votes. The 3/4 majority requires six council votes. Decorah mayor Lorraine Borowski was asked if the proposed change was a reaction to the planning and zoning commission rejecting a rezoning request from Menards last summer.

Borowski

Three council members, Dan Bellrichard, Steve Luse and Johanna Bergan, voted against having a public hearing on the issue. The council will also be asked to enter an agreement with Cayler Consulting to assist the city with its search for a new police chief. The meeting will begin at five-45 at city hall.

The property committee of the Decorah city council will meet following tonight’s meeting. The items of discussion will include a proposed veterans memorial park, an offer to purchase public real estate, discussion on the Fox and Coon Club lease and housing.

Winneshiek county sheriff Dan Marx will meet with the Winneshiek county board of supervisors this morning. Marx will discuss the jail project contracts and update, a jailer employment update and a jail administration job description. The supervisors will also discuss electrical service at the fire training facility and will sign a proclamation of Pioneer Cemetery Month. The meeting will begin at nine-30 at the courthouse annex building in Decorah.

Iowa’s unemployment remained unchanged in April. Radio Iowa’s Dar Danielson reports.

Danielson voicer

5-18 NEWS

Representatives from an Oklahoma firm have been in Decorah this week helping the Chamber of Commerce and Winneshiek County Development build brand awareness for the community. Chamber Executive Director Kristina Wiltgen explains:
(audio..Wiltgen)
Wiltgen says the goal is to develope a campaign to attract visitors, increase destination awareness and elevate Decorah’s market position.

May 17th is a special day in Norway. It’s also a big day at Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah. Unless things get rained out, a traditional children’s parage and a performance by Decorah’s Nordic Dancers begins at noon at the County Courthouse, and continue at Vesterheim. Martha Griesheimer says it’s the perfect time to celebrate like they do in Norway:
(audio cut-Griesheimer)
Greisheimer says museum admission will be free all day thanks to jeff and Marilyn Roverud and Sons of Norway.