January 16, 2017 - 11:34 am - Posted in News

diocese_logo_finalNorthwest Iowa — Nearly a year ago we told you about a restructuring plan being put together by the Catholic Diocese of Sioux City that would affect, to a greater or lesser degree, all of the parishes in northwest Iowa.  Late last week the Diocese released the final plan for “Ministry 2025″, which is the blueprint by which the parishes in the Diocese will be reorganized.

According to the plan, the “Highway 60 Catholic Cluster” which has included St. Patrick’s Parish in Sheldon, St. Mary’s Parish in Ashton, and St. Andrew’s Parish in Sibley, will be realigned to include St. Cecelia’s Parish in Sanborn.  According to the Ministry 2025 plan, St. Patrick’s in Sheldon and St. Andrew’s in Sibley will remain as active parishes, while St. Mary’s in Ashton will be downgraded to a “Worship Site”, and St. Cecelia’s in Sanborn will become an “Oratory”.  The Diocese defines an “oratory” as a worship site that no longer holds Sunday or Vigil Mass, but whose building may be used for local Catholic weddings, funerals, and other special events.

In the northwestern part of the listening area, St. Mary’s at Larchwood and Holy Name at Rock Rapids will be one cluster, and both will remain as active parishes.

St. Mary’s in Rock Valley, and and Christ The King in Sioux Center will be one cluster, and both will remain as active parishes.

St. Mary’s at Alton, St. Joseph’s at Granville, St. Anthony’s in Hospers, and St. Anthony’s at Primghar will all belong to one cluster, with all retaining active parish status, with the exception of St. Anthony’s at Primghar, which will be an oratory.

Sacred Heart at Sutherland will be a part of a cluster that will also include Immaculate Conception in Cherokee, and Our Lady of Good Counsel in Holstein.  Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Good Counsel will both remain as active parishes, with Sacred Heart at Sutherland being downgraded to an oratory.

Holy Name Parish at Marcus, St. Mary’s at Remsen, and St. Catherine’s at Oyens will become one cluster, with Holy Name and St. Catherine’s remaining active parishes, while St. Catherine’s will become an oratory.

For a look at the new northwest Iowa Deanery design, you can visit the Diocese of Sioux City website by clicking here.

January 10, 2017 - 4:32 pm - Posted in News

Rock Rapids, Iowa — A Sibley man has been sentenced on a felony drug charge in Lyon County.
Lyon Courthouse At Night
Lyon County Attorney Shayne Mayer’s office reports that 46-year-old Gary DeWayne McConnell of Sibley has been sentenced for Possession with Intent to Deliver Methamphetamine, a Class C Felony.

They say the charges stemmed from a routine traffic stop in George on August 20, 2016. Law enforcement initially pulled over McConnell’s vehicle after observing that McConnell, the passenger in the vehicle, was not wearing a seatbelt. Having noticed some suspicious movements by McConnell and alerted to the presence of a scale in the vehicle, law enforcement searched McConnell’s person and discovered methamphetamine hidden in his shoe. During the course of the subsequent investigation, it was discovered that McConnell had also been distributing drugs to others.

The sheriff’s office says that there was also a child present in the vehicle when the drugs were located.

McConnell was charged with Possession of Methamphetamine With Intent To Distribute, Possession of a Controlled Substance, Third or Subsequent Offense, and Use of Minor in Drug Trade.

On Monday, January 9, 2017, McConnell was taken into immediate custody and sentenced to prison on the possession with intent to deliver charge. The County Attorney’s Office says he will be placed in the custody of the Iowa Department of Corrections, and housed at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center at Oakdale, Iowa, for a period not to exceed ten (10) years. He must pay certain fines and surcharges. The other charges were dropped in the plea agreement.

January 10, 2017 - 2:32 pm - Posted in News

Sibley, Iowa — All four of those accused of robbery in an incident in Sibley this past August have now pled guilty, and all but one have been sentenced.
Osceola County Courthouse Closeup_SVA
On August 21st, 2016, Osceola County Deputies arrested 35-year-old Jose Manuel Maldonado Castillo and 25-year-old Peter Nazario Alvira, both of Sibley, as well as 55-year-old Pedro Juan Figueroa Rios and 38-year-old Nicomedes Montanez Cruz, both of Sioux City. They were all charged with Robbery of in the 1st Degree, three counts each of Burglary in the 1st Degree, all class B felonies; Going Armed With Intent, a class D felony; and Assault While Participating in a Felony.

Montanez Cruz accepted a plea bargain on Thursday, November 10th, and was sentenced to two years in prison for his role in the crime.

Court records say Maldonado Castillo pled guilty last week in a plea bargain. Three charges were dismissed and the remaining charges — three counts of Burglary in the First Degree were all amended to Burglary in the Third Degree. Maldonado Castillo was sentenced to five years in prison on each count, to be served consecutively for a total of 15 years in prison.

According to court records, Nazario Alvira also pled guilty last week in a plea bargain. Four of his charges were dismissed. The two remaining charges, both Burglary in the First Degree, were amended to Burglary in the Third Degree. He was sentenced to two five-year terms to be served consecutively for a total of 10 years.

Figueroa Rios had argued his rights were violated by a police lineup in the field without control subjects, the lack of alternative choices for witnesses, and other factors. Last week he withdrew his request to suppress evidence and entered a plea of guilty in a plea bargain. He faces sentencing on Friday, January 20th.

January 10, 2017 - 10:37 am - Posted in News

gavelOsceola County, Iowa — A Redwood Falls, Minnesota man has been sentenced for several felony crimes stemming from the attempted burglary of an Ocheyedan car wash.

According to Osceola County authorities, 31-year old Corey Ryan Rienstra has plead guilty to charges of Attempted Burglary in the Second Degree, a Class D Felony, two counts of Reckless Use of Fire, a Serious Misdemeanor, and Criminal Mischief in the Second Degree, a Class D Felony.

Rienstra admitted to using a torch and cutting tool to attempt to gain entry to the change box on a vacuum cleaner at an Ocheyedan car wash on May 17, 2014.

According to authorities, on each of the felony charges, Rienstra was sentenced to the custody of the Director of the Iowa Department of Corrections for a term not to exceed 5 years.  Each 5-year sentence was suspended, and Rienstra was placed on formal probation to the Iowa Department of Corrections.  The fine and surcharge were also waived on the felony charges.  Rienstra was ordered to pay a $125 Law Enforcement Initiative Surcharge on each offense.

The report says that for each of the Reckless Use of Fire offenses, the fine and surcharge were suspended and Rienstra was sentenced to 30 days in the Osceola County Jail.

Jeff ZwagermanNorthwest Iowa — A former northwest Iowa educator turned novelist will release the third installment in his “Zander” series of novels later this week.

Jeff Zwagerman is a former teacher and administrator at Sibley-Ocheyedan High School, and his novel, ‘South of Sideways’ is set for release on Thursday, January 12th.  The third in a series of novels penned by Zwagerman, ‘South of Sideways’ continues the saga of Zander, a young man who grew up in Hospers, Iowa.

We caught up with Zwagerman, who is currently wintering in Sanibel Island, Florida, and he talked a little about the first two books in the franchise, ‘Always A Kicker’, and ‘A Full Bubble Off Plumb’.

We asked him for a sneak preview of ‘South of Sideways’.

In addition to the hero of the series being a native of Hospers, much of the second novel, ‘A Full Bubble Off Plumb’, was set in that small northwest Iowa Community.  Zwagerman says that, while Hospers plays an important role in the new book, the story isn’t set in that location.

He says the book, which will be released Thursday, was originally set for release last fall.

He also had good news for those of us who can’t get enough of the Zander character.

The book arrives on January 12th, but he says any readers who purchase his book prior to the 12th can use promo code PREORDER2016 to receive a 10% discount.  Orders can be placed online at http://www.blackrosewriting.com/suspensethriller/southofsideways.

Zwagerman says he plans to hold a launch party for the book sometime later this spring at Okoboji.


Sibley, Iowa — Charges have now been filed in the case of the burglary/vandalism incident that happened during the Christmas Break at Sibley-Ocheyedan Middle School.

According to the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, they have filed charges against two Osceola County juveniles in connection with the incident.  Authorities say the pair have been charged with Trespassing, a Simple Misdemeanor, and Criminal Mischief, which is a Class “D” Felony.

The Sheriff’s Office says the youths are alleged to have entered the Sibley-Ocheyedan Middle School and defaced property using spray paint, damaging musical instruments, and other damage.  Authorities estimate the damage to be between $5-thousand and $10-thousand.


Original Story:  Posted December 29, 2016

Sibley, Iowa — A dollar estimate of damage isn’t yet available for a burglary/vandalism incident that happened sometime over the Christmas Break at Sibley-Ocheyedan Middle School.

Osceola County Chief Deputy Sheriff Kevin Wollmuth says the perpetrator, or perpetrators entered the school sometime after December 23rd.

The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office has provided us with a photo that shows three band instruments that were destroyed by the vandals, and Wollumth tells us exactly what the twisted pieces of brass in the photo (photo is shown at right) USED to be.

Chief Deputy Wollmuth says there were other acts of vandalism done, as well.

He says that donations from the community have been pooled to be used as a reward.  As of early this (Thursday, December 29th) afternoon, that reward totaled $3-hundred.  Wollmuth says if you have any information, please contact authorities.

The telephone number for the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office in Sibley is 712-754-2556, and is answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Although the total amount of damage done is still being tabulated, the musical instruments alone will bring the eventual total into the thousands of dollars.

January 4, 2017 - 4:11 pm - Posted in News

Sibley, Iowa — A hearing for one of the defendants in the case of four people charged with robbery in Osceola County is coming up on Friday, and that same day, another of the defendants is scheduled to be sentenced.
Osceola County Courthouse Closeup_SVA
Court records indicate the four are accused of the armed robbery of an occupied home on Third Avenue in Sibley.

On August 21st, 2016, Osceola County Deputies arrested four people after an alleged robbery. One of the four, 55-year-old Pedro Juan Figueroa Rios of Sioux City filed a motion that says his fourth amendment constitutional rights were violated, and he wants certain evidence suppressed.

Court documents say officers believe that Figuera Rios and another defendant were allegedly inside the dwelling while the robbery took place, and officers say they believe the two were aiding and abetting.

The motion to suppress, filed by Figuera Rios’s attorney, Jared Weber of Orange City claims that the out-of-court identification of Figuera Rios was “impermissibly suggestive.” It also claims that “A mixture of language barriers; impermissible collaboration of witnesses; the custodial line up on a street, without control subjects; the lack of alternative choices for witnesses; and other factors contributed to the substantial likelihood of irreparable misidentification.”

The motion says the use of a non-line up or non-photo array, violated Figuera Rios’s due process rights. It goes on to say that all evidence secured after this identification is “therefore fruit of the poisonous tree, and therefore should be suppressed.”

Figuera Rios’s hearing is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. this Friday, January 6th. Co-defendant Peter Nazario Alvira faces sentencing earlier that day, at 9:00 a.m.

January 4, 2017 - 3:03 pm - Posted in News

Sibley, Iowa — It’s not the usual time of year for a haunted house. That’s one of the things that makes this one unique.
Sibley Sign

Rachel Galvin, the Youth Services Coordinator at the Sibley Public Library says that their teen group, Sibley Public Library and Teens or “SPLAT” has decided to do what they’re calling a “Nightmare After Christmas Haunted House.”

The haunted house will be this Friday, Jan. 6 from 6:00-9:00 p.m. at the Sibley Public Library. Galvin tells us what they have planned.

She tells us why they decided to do the event.

Galvin tells us about their teen group.

Again, SPLAT invites you to join them for a scare if you dare to walk through what they’re calling their “haunted wonderland.”

Everyone is welcome, however, they say children under the age of 13 must have an adult present.

Ocheyedan, Iowa — The Iowa Legislature is about to reconvene, and senators from our area have high hopes for the legislative session.
David Johnson 2015
We had a chance to talk to Senator David Johnson from Ocheyedan, who serves Iowa District 1, which covers Lyon, Osceola, Dickinson, Clay, and Palo Alto Counties. This past summer, in protest of actions by then-apparent Republican Presidential front-runner Donald Trump, Johnson suspended his membership in the Republican party and changed his affiliation to “no party.” Johnson says that puts him in a unique situation.

Johnson says now with the Republicans in charge of both houses and the governor’s chair, he hopes they don’t “overextend themselves.”

Senator Johnson says he has some ideas of his own as well.

He says he’ll again introduce a bill to raise the state sales tax by three-eighths of a cent for this purpose as he has done in past years. Johnson says there are other bills that he intends to introduce.

The legislature convenes for 2017 next Monday, January 9th.

January 2, 2017 - 10:17 pm - Posted in News

UPDATE: The session in Orange City has been canceled. The ISU Extension Office says, “The ‘Financial Winter Cleaning Lunch and Learn’ will still be held on Jan. 11 in Lyon, O’Brien and Osceola Counties. Any residents from Sioux County who would like to attend are encouraged to visit one of these other counties or participate online.”

Original Story:

Northwest Iowa — If you’ve always wanted to find out how long you have to keep certain records, there’s a seminar coming up for you.
Jan Burk
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is inviting people in and around Lyon, O’Brien, Osceola, [and Sioux – canceled] Counties to take part in a “Financial Winter Cleaning” noon “Lunch and Learn” on January 11th from noon to 1:00 p.m. They’re also offering it online.

According to Jan Monahan, Human Sciences Specialist in Family Finance with ISU Extension and Outreach, the program will offer guidelines and strategies for putting your or your family’s financial paperwork in order.

The noon luncheon will cover multiple topics, according to Monahan.

She says these questions and more will be addressed at the Financial Winter Cleaning luncheons. The program is open to the public, and the registration fee for the program, including a noon meal, is $5. Space is limited, and the lunch and materials need to be prepared, so individuals are asked to pre-register by calling their local extension office. They’ll also be able to tell you where to pre-register for the online course.

The Financial Winter Cleaning Noon Luncheon will be held at the following locations on January 11:

Lyon County Extension and Outreach Office
710 North 2nd Ave. East, Suite 103
Rock Rapids, IA 51246
Call 712-472-2576 to pre-register.

O’Brien County Extension and Outreach Office
340 2nd Street SE
Primghar, IA 51245
Call 712-957-5045 to pre-register.

Osceola Community Hospital
600 9th Ave. N.
Sibley, IA 51249
Call 712-754-3648 to pre-register.