You are the owner of this page.
A1 A1
Lake Mills native, fiancée win $1M on 'The Amazing Race' (with photos)

LAKE MILLS | A Lake Mills native has been added to the list of “The Amazing Race” winners.

Cody Nickson, 32, a Lake Mills High School graduate who now lives in Plano, Texas, and his fiancée Jessica Graf, 26, were deemed the winners of a $1 million prize Wednesday, Feb. 21, during the show’s two-hour finale.

“The Amazing Race” is a CBS show in which 11 teams of two travel around the world competing in mental and physical challenges at various destinations.

After the challenges are completed, the teams are given their next destination. Teams that lag the farthest behind are gradually eliminated, and the first team to arrive at the final destination wins the prize.

Nickson and Graf, who competed as Team Big Brother, were among four teams to race through Hong Kong and San Francisco. They crossed the finish line first during the finale. 

After 10 countries, 21 cities and more than 29,000 miles, “The Amazing Race” host Phil Keoghan crowned the couple the winners of the 30th race around the world.

Last summer, Nickson and Graf competed in the 19th season of “Big Brother” a CBS show that follows a group of people living together in a house outfitted with high-definition cameras and microphones recording their every move.

When asked what he hoped to accomplish by running in “The Amazing Race,” Nickson, who served in the U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps, said, “I fell in love with Jess on ‘Big Brother’ and we made an incredible team. I want to compete with her by my side again,” in his biography on

On Feb. 15, Nickson posted on his social media accounts a video of him proposing to Graf at Runyon Canyon Park in Los Angeles.

Season 30 of “The Amazing Race” premiered on Jan. 3.

Lake Mills native wins Season 30 of 'The Amazing Race'


In Detour A, Jessica Graf, left, and Cody Nickson, right, make their way to the Plantin-Moretus Printing Museum in Antwerp, Belgium, where they must set type by hand to complete an exact copy of a Flemish poem during an episode of "The Amazing Race."

Tim Hynds Lee Enterprises 

Mason City's Hannah Faktor puts up a shot while being guarded by Grinnell's Sienna Durr during Mason City vs Grinnell Class 4A quarterfinal-round action of the Iowa girls basketball championship played Monday, Feb. 26, 2018, at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa. Lee Enterprises photo by Tim Hynds

top story
Police: Instagram post referenced shooting threat at Mason City High School pep assembly

MASON CITY | Police on Tuesday released a redacted screenshot related to the "social media threat" toward Mason City High School's pep rally Monday afternoon.

The photo appears to show a Snapchat-style photo with two lines of text reading “Don’t go to the assembly they found they found two of the planned shooters guns” and what appears to be a blacked-out word or two in the third line. Police said the post was widely circulated among students and parents Monday. 

Mason City Police Chief Jeff Brinkley said in a news release the image had been "edited slightly, in order to remove the identity of the account holder and to remove profanity.

“We also hope that this helps to provide some context for students, parents, and the community about these kinds of incidents," Brinkley said. 


Brinkley said police worked with school officials to investigate the threat and make a determination about the remainder of the school day. 

“Based on the information known to us at the time, we supported the decision to finish the school day, as planned," he said. 

Officers were dispatched to the high school about 12:30 p.m. and were on the campus the remainder of the school day. Brinkley attended the pep rally, as well as several uniformed and plainclothes police officers who patrolled the gym and surrounding area.

“There is no guidebook for school or law enforcement officials in making decisions about what to do when these situations arise,” Brinkley said. “We must balance the interests of school safety, public safety, and an appropriate law enforcement response against panic and fear that is generated by these kinds of messages.”

Brinkley warned that when the public allows panic and fear to guide decision-making, then the message writer accomplishes their goal.

“I also want to share this message with students and parents,” Brinkley said. “It is not ok to REPOST these kinds of messages. It is appropriate to REPORT them – to school officials and/or law enforcement. When we blindly forward or share these kinds of messages, we are not part of the solution. Nor do we give school or law enforcement officials time and information that will help them to respond appropriately to these scenarios.”

MCPD Press Release on Instagram post

Brinkley said the department encouraged students, parents, and community members to think proactively about their safety at all times.

“When you see something suspicious, do your part by reporting it to your local law enforcement agency,” he said.

Police are continuing to investigate this incident and ask anyone with information about it to contact Lt. Rich Jensen at 641-421-3636.

A student was referred to Juvenile Court Services in a separate incident Friday. The student was referred for threatening to bring a weapon to school to use against others Friday.

School officials said that threat was not connected to what occurred Monday. 

U.S. News: Iowa is the best state

Iowa is the best state in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report.

The Hawkeye State jumped up from its sixth place spot last year to No. 1 in U.S. News’ 2018 Best States Report. Iowa’s economic opportunity and “access to high-quality health care” helped push the state to the top, U.S. News said in a news release.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds called the 2018 ranking “a humbling tribute” to the work ethic of Iowans.

“Every Iowan contributes to the success of their community and our state, and we celebrate this honor knowing that our work to build a better Iowa will never be finished,” Reynolds said in the release.

Minnesota, Utah, North Dakota and New Hampshire all followed Iowa to round out the top five “best states.” Louisiana came in at No. 50.

U.S. News evaluated states based on eight broad categories, each of which had their own more specific data points. Iowa ranked first in only one category, infrastructure, because of high scores for its internet access, public transportation, commute times, and bridge and road quality, U.S. News said.

The state ranked fourth for opportunity, a measurement of whether residents can succeed economically, and third for health care. It also ranked fifth for education, ninth for quality of life, 15th for crime and corrections, 17th for its economy, and 21st for fiscal stability.

U.S. News weighted health care, education and the economy the heaviest when determining states’ overall rankings.

In more specific categories, Iowa ranked high for access to health care (fifth), its affordability (third), employment levels (eighth), access to broadband (first) and education systems (eighth).

Iowa ranked low, however, for its business environment (46th), equality (36th), short-term fiscal stability (36th) and the efficiency of its state prisons (33rd).