February 22, 2017 - 1:17 pm - Posted in News

sewer lidHarris, Iowa — Recently we told you that the city of Harris was moving forward with sewer and lagoon repairs without the help of TIF funding, which is held up in a lawsuit that has been appealed.

Harold Dawson is the Harris City Attorney. Daniel DeKoter from his firm, DeKoter, Thole, Dawson, and Rockman says that their whole firm works for the city. DeKoter says he has been working on the lagoon issue with Dawson.

DeKoter says that the city of Harris is completing phase one (sewer line repair and re-lining) but has no way to pay for phase two (the lagoon work) unless the county eventually funds it.  DeKoter says that the city will be at the debt limit under the Iowa Constitution in order to complete the first phase.

He says that the city is seeking a five-year deferral from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources on its order to complete phase two, but so far does not have that permission.

DeKoter states, “Without that permission the city’s only other option is to disband the town and let the county deal with it.”


Original Story:

Harris, Iowa — A northwest Iowa town is going ahead with sewer repairs and upgrades without some financial help that had been arranged.

Merlin Sandersfeld, who was then the chairman of the Osceola County Board of Supervisors told us in 2015 that an Urban Renewal Area was proposed to be set up in a two-mile radius of Harris, which includes 22 wind turbines. But Sandersfeld told us at the time that since Harris could only count on the revenue from the increased valuation of 22 of the turbines, they didn’t feel that that would be enough revenue for their project.

So, the proposal was made that the tax revenue from the increase in valuation for 53 of the wind turbines in the area for the final increment go toward the Harris project for the duration of the plan instead of only the 22 turbines around Harris. The Urban Renewal Plan would have redirected this final increment to Harris for the next 13 years.

A group of taxpayers didn’t like the idea, so they sued. The case was eventually dismissed, but the taxpayers have appealed, and the case is still in the appeals process.

However, time keeps ticking, and Harris City Clerk Holly Wilson says the city was under a deadline from the Iowa Department of Natural resources to do something about their sewer system and lagoon — even without the extra funding.

She says whether the city would backfill the funding for the project with received TIF money if all appeals to the TIF case fail, would be a decision the city council would have to make with the help of the city attorney, if that came to fruition. City officials say that a part of the funding for the project will have to come in the form of rate increases instead.

Wilson says that the city is under an administrative order from the DNR to complete phase one of the project by August.

She says phase one of the project is repairing and relining the town’s sewer lines. Phase two is the lagoon and what needs to be done to bring it into compliance. She says one of the problems is that the lagoon is letting wastewater out and into the Ocheyedan River too often.

According to Wilson, the issues are related to the age and state of disrepair of the lagoon. She says it’s been an ongoing problem for around ten years.

February 22, 2017 - 8:24 am - Posted in News

Osceola Sheriff Car 72-2Allendorf, Iowa — A Lake Park woman escaped injury after her vehicle rolled near Allendorf on Tuesday, February 21st.

The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office reports that at 8:10 am on Tuesday, 48-year-old Laurie Marie Schott of Lake Park was driving a 2004 Dodge Dakota westbound on 170th Street near Highway 59, south of Allendorf. According to the report, Schott lost control after hitting a patch of frost on the roadway. The Dodge entered the north ditch where it rolled over an came to rest.

The Dodge received $5,000 damage.

No injuries were reported.

February 21, 2017 - 4:11 pm - Posted in News

gavel_sxc_3Emmetsburg, Iowa — One of a pair of northwest Iowa women accused of passing stolen, forged checks in multiple jurisdictions in western Iowa has taken a plea bargain and will plead guilty.

Twenty-four-year-old Nikarra Macmain of Ashton and 23-year-old Kendra Van Lo of Archer face several charges, including felonies.

According to court records and Palo Alto County Attorney Peter Hart, Van Lo has taken a plea bargain. Hart says that if she agreed to plead guilty to one of the two felony counts of forgery, the other would be dismissed.

Court records indicate that a plea-taking and sentencing hearing is set for April 7th, at 10:30 a.m. in Palo Alto County Court in Emmetsburg.

Meanwhile Macmain, who is charged with felony theft and eleven counts of fraud in three separate cases in Palo Alto County faces a pretrial conference on March 24th, and a trial on April 25th. County Attorney Hart says that the idea is to try all three of Macmain’s felony cases at once if possible. Macmain is also charged with misdemeanor offenses related to the alleged use of another player’s card at Wild Rose Casino in Emmetsburg and harassment of a public official or employee.

She also faces four felony forgery charges in O’Brien County and counts of forgery and identity theft in Harrison County, which is just north of the Omaha/Council Bluffs area.

February 17, 2017 - 4:12 pm - Posted in News

Ashton Fire Truck FQPAshton, Iowa — Six round cornstalk bales were destroyed in a fire on Thursday, February 16, 2017, near Ashton.

According to Ashton Fire Chief Rob Imhof, about 4:30 p.m., the Ashton Fire Department was called to the report of some round bales on fire near the home of Les Luitjens at 2316 McKinley Avenue, four miles west of Ashton.

The chief says the fire department saw six round bales on fire as they approached the scene. He says they pulled them apart and doused them with water.

Imhof says no injuries were reported, and that the fire department was assisted by Sibley Fire Department.

He says the cause of the fire is undetermined and that the damage was limited to the six cornstalk bales.

He says they used 2,000 gallons of water to fight the fire, and crews were on scene for roughly an hour and a half.

February 17, 2017 - 1:15 pm - Posted in News

community foundation of osceola countySibley, Iowa — Over $91,000 has been given to non-profit groups throughout Osceola County at the annual Community Foundation of Osceola County grant ceremony, held Thursday night in Sibley.

Twenty-nine grants were presented at the Sibley Senior Center. Foundation officials say that since it was established over eleven years ago, more than $888,000 has been reinvested in the county by local charitable organizations to fund projects in the arts, recreation, health, community service, environmental improvement and a variety of other community development areas.

Annual funding for the CFOC was secured from the Iowa Legislature to encourage improvement projects in communities that do not have a gaming facility located in their county.

Osceola County Economic Development Director Mike Earll says that through the grant program, residents of Osceola County also have the opportunity to help the grant endowment grow. Gifts can be accepted from community-minded individuals that will allow the foundation to present additional cash awards for the improvement of life in Osceola County. He says that those interested in contributing to the endowment fund can be assured that their resources can facilitate projects and address immediate community and non-profit needs.

This year, 38 applications were received requesting over $116,556.11. Given the limited resources available, the review committee was only able to fund 29 of the 38 requests. Those proposals not funded in 2017 are encouraged to apply during the next grant cycle later this year.

Receiving $3,500 grants were:

  •  Ocheyedan American Legion Auxiliary

Restore and remodel Ocheyedan Town Hall.

  • Days of Olde/ Ocheyedan Community Builders

Repair and replace windows in Ocheyedan Town Hall.

  • Westerner’s/Those Crazy Goat Kids 4-H Club

Construct antique farm machinery display at Hawkeye Point.

  • Ocheyedan American Legion Wood Miller Post

Provide electric power to Ocheyedan Cemetery.

  • Sibley-Ocheyedan Band Boosters

Purchase high school Concert Band attire.

  •  Osceola County Livestock Show

Repair Goewey Township Country School at the fairgrounds. Including new windows, painting and siding.

  • Ashton Avenue of Flags

Replace main flag pole at Ashton Cemetery.

  • Ashton American Legion Post #290

Remodel stage area in the Ashton Community Center.

  • Ocheyedan Volunteer Fire Department

Purchase new member fire safety gear and smoke detectors.

  • Osceola Communities Express

Purchase of van for Community Ride Service.

  • Hawkeye Point Foundation

Install a swing set and construct a safety zone at the Hawkeye Point Campground.

  • Melvin American Legion Post #470

Replace kitchen cupboards in the Melvin Legion/Community Building.

  • Ocheyedan Economic Development Corporation

Professional cleaning and painting of the Ocheyedan Town Hall..

  • Ocheyedan Indians 4-H Club

Purchase and install new steel banners for Ocheyedan’s Main Street.

  • Melvin Legion Auxiliary

Purchase new range, refrigerator, microwave and entrance carpet in Melvin Legion/Community Building.

  • Osceola Community Health Services

Upgrade Lifeline Equipment used by Osceola County residents.

  • Osceola County Conservation Board

Purchase and erect Willow Creek Park entrance signage.

  • Ashton Town & Country Organization

Assist with Ashton Park electrical upgrades.

  • Osceola County Freedom Rock

Purchase statue for fallen Veterans at the Osceola County Freedom Rock in Ashton.

 

OTHER AWARDS:

  • Melvin Fire Department

Purchase of a “Cutquick” saw and equipment for rescue efforts. $2,640.65

  • Bright Beginnings of Osceola County

Purchase rockers, computer, printer, kitchen equipment, CD Players and safety equipment. $2,591.06

  • Sibley Recreation Department

Purchase bleachers for Sibley’s Central Park. $2,500

  • Ocheyedan Township Cemetery

Repair and restoration of historic cemetery monuments. $2,125.63

  • Melvin Public Library

Repair and replace brick facing and handicap accessible ramp in front of Melvin Library. $2,110

  • Ocheyedan Senior Center

Purchase new stove for Senior Activity Center, $1,000

  • Ocheyedan Catfish Club

Resurface the Little League Softball Back Diamond in Ocheyedan. $3,000

  • Ashton Public Library

Purchase of new desktop computers for patron use.   $3,000

  • S-O Science Club’s S.T.E.M. Program

Purchase mobile S.T.E.M. Learning Center for science students. $3,250

  • Ocheyedan Public Library

Reupholster Reading Corner furniture and computer chair replacement. $2,500

February 17, 2017 - 1:13 pm - Posted in News

hog confinementDes Moines, Iowa — According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, 88 of Iowa’s 99 counties have notified DNR that they plan to evaluate construction permit applications and proposed locations for animal confinements by using the master matrix. But one county in our area and one nearby have opted out.

With 11 exceptions, all counties will use the matrix during the next 12 months. Osceola and Plymouth counties, as well as Davis, Decatur, Des Moines, Keokuk, Lee, Mahaska, Wapello, Warren and Washington counties will not use the matrix in 2017.

DNR spokesman Gene Tinker explains the situation.

He says for that, a master matrix was created.

Tinker says the master matrix applies to producers who must get a construction permit to build, expand or modify a totally roofed facility. Generally, these are confinement feeding operations with more than 2,500 finishing hogs, 1,000 beef cattle or 715 mature dairy cows.

Tinker says some counties’ boards of supervisors who opt out of the master matrix plan feel it’s not needed in their area, or they trust that their producers are going to do the right thing and don’t feel they need to put them under additional scrutiny. He says others want to make the final decision at the local level.

Participating counties score each master matrix submitted in their county and can recommend to approve or deny the construction permit. They can also join in DNR visits to a proposed confinement site.

Find more information, including a map of participating counties by searching for Master Matrix at www.iowadnr.gov/afo.

Iowa Capitol Senate ChamberDes Moines, Iowa — A rumor that has been going around about the content of the Collective Bargaining bill is just that — a rumor, according to an Ocheyedan lawmaker.

The rumor that is circulating is that the collective bargaining bill is somehow tied to education vouchers or “school choice” — meaning that if a student in a northwest Iowa district decided to go to a private school, that the tax money tied to this student would follow the student to the school of their choice rather than go to the school district in which the student lives.

Independent Iowa District 1 State Senator David Johnson says this is not connected to the collective bargaining bill, but it is a concern of his.

He says lawmakers did pass a 1.11 percent increase in funding for state schools. Johnson and the Democrats say that was not enough. Johnson says there was no provision for vouchers or “school choice” in that bill either, but he says maybe the GOP is gearing up for such a bill.

Johnson tells us why he voted against the 1.11 percent increase in school funding.

And Johnson says that extra money may be used to start a voucher or education savings account program.

Johnson says he thinks public and private schools should continue and expand collaboration between the two kinds of schools.

He says he thinks as a general rule, lawmakers have to be more open.

Johnson serves Lyon, Osceola, Clay and Dickinson counties in northwest Iowa.

February 14, 2017 - 5:14 pm - Posted in News

no gunHartley, Iowa — What at first was thought to be a threat to a northwest Iowa school and one of its administrators has turned out to be only a rumor connected to a benign conversation between two students.

According to O’Brien County Sheriff Allen Schuknecht, the rumor started when one student came to school at Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn wearing a trench coat. Schuknecht says another student said something to the effect of, “Hey, you look like a school shooter.” He says the first student said something to the effect of, “If I was, you’d be the first to go.”

Schuknecht says a third party overheard the conversation and took it out of context. He says the Hartley Police Department was called and investigated the incident.

Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn Superintendent Bill Thompson says rumors about the incident ran wild and included everything from there being a gun and a hit list in the student’s belongings to a verbal threat of a principal to there being actual shots fired, but none of it was true.

Sheriff Schuknecht says thankfully the investigation turned up no gun, no note, and no threat.

February 9, 2017 - 12:11 pm - Posted in News

Iowa Capitol DomeDes Moines, Iowa — Tempers were strained as the Iowa House Labor Committee spent more than three hours debating the G-O-P’s plan to change the state’s collective bargaining law for public sector unions. Representative Steven Holt, a Republican from Denison, opened the debate.

Northwest Iowa Republican Representative John Wills tells us what it’s about.

Representative Kirsten Running-Marquardt, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, says “corporate handouts” rather than union wages are what’s breaking the state’s bank.

Representative Bruce Hunter, a Democrat from Des Moines, says Republicans have hatched an “evil” plan.

Republicans who hold a majority of seats on the committee advanced the bill Wednesday night, making it eligible for debate in the Iowa House next week. Holt, whose wife is a teacher, says the bill is a “win for the children of Iowa” because it gets rid of the seniority system for teachers.

There were two committee hearings at the statehouse earlier in the day. Critics of the bill say their comments are unlikely to sway Republicans who are intent on passing the bill quickly. A public hearing will be held Monday night on the issue. It’s likely the House AND Senate will vote on the bill and send it to the governor early next week.

February 8, 2017 - 3:00 pm - Posted in News

farm sunsetSibley, Iowa — If you are a woman and need to make some tough decisions about your farm, there’s a program coming up just for you.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is accepting registrants for Annie’s Project, a program focused on empowering women in agriculture, to be held in Sibley during February and March.

Gary Wright, Farm Management Specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach says that Annie’s Project is a nationally-recognized leadership training program created to guide women in making good decisions for their farm business.

He says that one of the foundations of Annie’s Project is that women learn best with and from other women, so whenever possible, the sessions will be led by women who are experts in their field.

Wright says it’s both for women who grew up on the farm and those who didn’t. Young, middle-aged, and older women are all encouraged to attend, no matter what their background.

He says the program will be held at the Osceola Community Hospital Education Room in Sibley beginning Thursday, February 23rd and continuing every Thursday through March 30th. There will be a meal at 5:30 p.m. and the session will last from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

According to Wright, whether women are the sole operators of their agricultural operation or working in partnership with their spouse or other business partners, Annie’s Project provides women with the knowledge and resources they need to be successful in the industry.

There is a $75 course fee to participate in Annie’s Project in Sibley. Wright recommends registering soon as space is limited and classes tend to fill up quickly. For more information and/or to register online, visit http://www.aep.iastate.edu/womeninag/2017/sibley or contact the Osceola County Extension and Outreach office at 712-754-3648 or slamfers@iastate.edu.