October 23, 2017 - 9:55 am - Posted in News

Ashton, Iowa — A Sheldon man was injured late Friday afternoon when the pickup he was driving collided with a semi northeast of Ashton.

Osceola County authorities say the crash happened around 5:50 Friday afternoon at the intersection of 220th Street and Pierce Avenue, when a westbound 2008 Dodge Ram pickup, driven by 36-year old Jason Allan Boone, of Sheldon, reportedly failed to yield half the roadway, and collided with an eastbound Peterbilt semi, driven by 53-year old William Theodore Johnson, of Sibley, in the eastbound lane.

Deputies say Boone’s Dodge went through the ditch, coming to rest in the south field.  Johnson’s Peterbilt crossed the roadway, went through the ditch and a field fence, before coming to rest in the north field.

Deputies estimated both vehicles to be a total loss.

Boone was taken to the Osceola Community Hospital by the Ashton Ambulance with incapacitating injuries, according to officials.  Johnson was not injured.

Assisting at the scene was the Sibley Ambulance.

October 21, 2017 - 1:53 am - Posted in News

Sheldon, Iowa — Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math — known by the acronym “STEM” — has been a hot topic in recent years. Twice each year, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has been partnering with area colleges to hold a “STEM Fest” for area youth. And it’s time for another one — at Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon.

We talked to O’Brien County Extension County Youth Director Sarah Fiddelke about the upcoming event on November 4th, which she says is a little different this time.

She says online registration for the event, which is for fourth through eighth graders, begins on Sunday.

She says that while the focus will be on the science behind health and healthy living, registration is the same as in past years. Participants pick the color track that best matches the four presentations in which they want to participate.

In past years, STEM Fests have filled to capacity, so it might be a good idea to have your kids register as soon as they are able.

Sibley, Iowa — Now the other one of the co-defendants in the civil case brought against the Sibley-Ocheyedan School District on behalf of a boy who was allegedly sexually abused by a former teacher at the Sibley-Ocheyedan Middle School — has asked the court to dismiss the petition against it as well.

The plaintiff in the civil case is a minor, identified only as “C.A.” and C.A.’s mother, “J.A.” The plaintiff alleges that he was sexually abused by former Sibley-Ocheyedan teacher and coach Kyle Ewinger. A criminal case charging Ewinger with Second Degree Sexual Abuse is scheduled to go to trial in December.

Late this summer, the plaintiffs added to the suit, two other school districts where Ewinger was employed. They listed alleged questionable acts in those districts, and said that they too were negligent in not alerting future employers of this conduct, which could have prevented the eventual alleged sexual assault of the victim. The other schools named are the Mediapolis Community School District and the Sioux City Community School District.

The Mediapolis Community School District requested that the case against it be dismissed on October 4th. Now the Sioux City Community School District — or “SCCSD” — wants the case against it dismissed on similar grounds.

In the motion to dismiss, the attorney for the Sioux City Community School District, Douglas Phillips, lists several reasons for dismissal. He says SCCSD is not liable for the acts of another district’s employee. He says that the plaintiffs allege that SCCSD is negligent for failure to investigate and report an alleged incident involving Ewinger in 2010, but the State of Iowa does not recognize a claim for negligent investigation, and Phillips writes that there is no statutory or common law duty to report in this context.

He goes on to write that SCCSD owed no duty to the plaintiffs with respect to Ewinger. He says the only duties would have arisen from a request for information from Sibley Ocheyedan or Ewinger.

While Ewinger’s criminal trial is scheduled to take place in December, the civil suit against the school districts is scheduled to go to trial about a year from now, on October 23rd, 2018 at the Osceola County Courthouse in Sibley.

October 20, 2017 - 12:11 am - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — The warm temperatures we’ve been experiencing the past few days are forecast to continue for at least the next few days. But we know we’re just playing a game with mother nature trying to guess when we’ll see the first snowfall. And that means snow removal.

Several cities in the KIWA listening area have ordinances regarding overnight parking, especially during the snow removal season. So if you routinely or occasionally park a car on the street overnight, here’s fair warning that you’re soon going to have to come up with a different place to park in most cases.

In Sheldon, Police Chief Lyle Bolkema says that motorists are not allowed to park on any street in the city between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. from November 1st to April 1st.  Violation of Sheldon’s overnight parking ban will be subject to a citation that carries a $10 fine.  Chief Bolkema also urges Sheldon residents to advise any overnight guests of the ordinance, especially during the upcoming holiday season.

In Sanborn, no parking is allowed from 2:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m., year-round, on Main Street. In addition, from November 1st through March 31st, no parking is allowed on any city street in Sanborn from 2:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. Violation of Sanborn’s overnight parking ban carries a $15 fine.

According to Sibley city officials, their overnight parking ban calls for no parking on any city street between 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., from November 1st through April 15th.  The fine for violating Sibley’s overnight parking ban is $25.

Orange City officials say that no parking is allowed on any of their city streets between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., from October 15th through April 1st.  The fine for noncompliance in Orange City is $10.

There are a couple of cities in our area that don’t have an actual overnight parking ban, but do have an ordinance that’s effective when snow falls. So motorists who park on the street need to keep up-to-date on the weather forecast.

Hartley City officials tell us there is no overnight parking ban in that city. However, their ordinance says that vehicles must be off the streets when snowfall begins and must remain off the streets until the streets are cleared of snow.  Failure to do so will result in a $15 fine from the City of Hartley.

Rock Rapids officials say their ordinance bans parking on all city streets and alleys from 2:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. during snow removal operations. The fine for non-compliance in Rock Rapids is $25.

Motorists should be aware of the ordinance in whatever town they are parking their vehicle. Again, if you have overnight guests for the holidays, please be a gracious host and advise them of your city’s ordinance, so they don’t end up with a citation and fine.

October 19, 2017 - 12:24 pm - Posted in News

Ashton, Iowa — A Minnesota man was arrested on felony drug charges in Osceola County this week.

The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office reports that one of their deputies arrested 22-year-old Ryan Matthew Weinzettel of Prior Lake, MN on charges of Possession of Controlled Substance With Intent to Deliver – Marijuana; and Drug Tax Stamp Violation. Both charges are class D felonies.

Weinzettel was transported and booked into the Osceola County Jail where he was held and released after posting a $10,000 bond.

Authorities say the arrest stemmed from a traffic stop at Highway 60 and 210th Street, two miles north of Ashton.

If convicted of a class D felony, Weinzettel could face up to five years in prison and a fine of between $750 and $7500 on each count.

They also report that 21-year-old Tiffany Kaelynn Harsted of Hastings, MN was a passenger in the vehicle and was charged with Possession of Controlled Substance – Marijuana 1st Offense.

October 16, 2017 - 8:33 pm - Posted in News

Ocheyedan and Sibley, Iowa — The Osceola County Board of Supervisors has approved a development agreement with Cooperative Farmers Elevator or CFE in regard to the new feed mill being constructed in Ocheyedan.

According to Rochelle VanTilburg with the Osceola County Auditor’s office, the board is considering the purchase of property for a new road as part of the agreement. Also included in the agreement is the paving of a gravel road. These projects are so that the large number of trucks that will be going to and from the new $22 million CFE feed mill won’t have to go through Ocheyedan. This is hoped to increase safety and create easier access to the facility.

The TIF agreement states that the taxes that CFE pays on the improvement to the property — the value of the new mill — will go to pay the cost of the roads. Except that any debt service or physical plant and equipment levy or PPEL that any taxing entity has would still be funded as before. VanTilburg says the TIF agreement is for a period of 20 years.

An assessment agreement signed on Friday states that the current value of the property as of January 1st was $51,770. CFE agrees that the minimum value for the assessed property as of January 1st, 2019 will be set at $11.1 million.

October 16, 2017 - 8:31 pm - Posted in News

Osceola County, Iowa — A judge has overruled the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment in the case of a group of taxpayers versus the City of Harris and Osceola County.

A telephone hearing took place in August in the case, which was in regard to the Osceola County Board of Supervisors establishment of a TIF District to provide funds to be used to help finance infrastructure in the City of Harris. The judge has now made a ruling on the subject of that telephone hearing.

In March 2015, Harris was under an administrative order from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to update its lagoon, but the city lacked the debt capacity to take on the improvements. As a result, on March 10, 2015, the city sent a letter to the Osceola County Board of Supervisors “asking for help with possibly doing a TIF on the windmills [wind turbines] for infrastructure within the City.” Within a couple of weeks, at a meeting of the board, the Harris mayor “asked that the supervisors consider establishing an urban renewal area including the turbines and city of Harris to help fund needed projects.”

In October 2015, the Board of Supervisors held a Public Hearing on a resolution to establish an urban renewal area, and approve the urban renewal plan and project for the area.  The newly-created TIF area was set to include the city of Harris, as well as an area of land upon which a wind farm had been constructed.

The plaintiffs in the case are resident taxpayers of Osceola County and of the Harris-Lake Park School District. They filed a petition for writ of certiorari and declaratory judgment challenging the resolution and the ordinance passed by or involving Osceola County and the City of Harris. In conjunction, the resolution and ordinance established an urban renewal area and an urban renewal plan and divided the tax revenue levied on that area as tax increment financing to fund the plan. The plaintiffs challenged the Supervisors’ actions, claiming they would be harmed as taxpayers.

Osceola County and the City of Harris filed a motion for summary judgment, and the district court granted it, finding the taxpayers lacked standing to challenge the resolution and their claims involving the ordinance were untimely. The taxpayers’ petition was dismissed. On appeal, the taxpayers challenged the district court’s ruling and maintained the merits of their motion for summary judgment should have been granted instead.

In their review of the case, while the Iowa Court of Appeals upheld the District Court ruling that the taxpayers’ claims were, in fact, untimely, since they were filed prior to the enactment of the ordinance they challenged; the Appeals Court did reverse the lower court’s ruling, saying that the taxpayers DID, in fact, have standing to pursue the case.

The Court of Appeals remanded the case back to District Court for further proceedings.

During the August telephonic hearing, the taxpayer group pressed for their motion for summary judgment.

District Court Judge David Lester has now overruled that motion for summary judgment, writing that the County and City didn’t need to reach a joint agreement authorizing the urban renewal area before the County created it because there was a verbal agreement in place that was later ratified by the City of Harris. He also writes that contrary to the plaintiffs’ belief that an urban renewal area must be connected or contiguous, that does not appear to have been the intent of the legislature. He writes, “Had the legislature intended that requirement be part of the definition, they certainly could have included it.” He writes that the plaintiffs also argued that this use of TIF funds violates the intent, purpose, and spirit of the law because the tax captured would not have come about due to economic revitalization and the wind turbine property would not be improved by economic development. Judge Lester says that no authority is cited for this argument and he says the County did not violate the law.

According to an attorney for the plaintiffs, John Werden Jr., there are two possible outcomes to this development in the case. First of all, the case could have to go back to district court. Secondly, Werden says his legal team is working on a way that the case could be sent back to the appeals court without again going to trial in district court.

The complete ruling from the Iowa Court of Appeals can be seen by CLICKING HERE.

Judge Lester’s ruling on the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgement an be found by CLICKING HERE.

October 16, 2017 - 10:15 am - Posted in News

Sibley, Iowa — It looks like it may be 2018 before we know the fate of an Ashton man who is accused of a felony drug offense.

According to the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, on Sunday, September 10th, 2017 an Osceola County Deputy arrested 46-year-old David Lee Buss of Ashton on a warrant for Controlled Substance Violation, a class D Felony; Possession of Controlled Substance 2nd Offense, an Aggravated Misdemeanor; and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Simple Misdemeanor.

Buss’s attorney, Dennis Cmelik, filed a written arraignment and plea of “not guilty” on Thursday, October 12th.

Judge Carl Petersen has scheduled Buss’s pretrial conference for January 5th, 2018, with the trial at this point scheduled to start on February 13th, 2018.

October 13, 2017 - 1:44 am - Posted in News

Sibley, Iowa — An Ashton man who was arrested on a warrant for a felony drug charge has filed a plea.

According to the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, on Sunday, September 10th, 2017 an Osceola County Deputy arrested 46-year-old David Lee Buss of Ashton on a warrant for Controlled Substance Violation, a class D Felony; Possession of Controlled Substance 2nd Offense, an Aggravated Misdemeanor; and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Simple Misdemeanor.

Judge Nancy Whittenburg set an arraignment for this Friday, October 13th, but Buss’s attorney, Dennis Cmelik, filed a written arraignment and plea of “not guilty” on Thursday, October 12th.

At last report, no further dates had yet been set by the court.

October 6, 2017 - 10:34 pm - Posted in News

Sioux Center, Iowa — Domestic violence impacts many women, men, and children in northwest Iowa every year. October has been designated “Domestic Violence Awareness Month.”

The CEO of the agency that assists domestic violence victims in northwest Iowa — the Family Crisis Centers, based in Sioux Center — is Shari Kastein. She tells us why the awareness month was created.

She tells us what they offer to victims of domestic violence in their 17-county northwest Iowa area.

That number once again if you missed it is 1-800-382-5603. Kastein says that if you’re an adult victim of domestic violence, you don’t have to worry that charges are going to be filed if you call them.

Kastein emphasizes that their services are free, confidential, and available 24/7. That number once again is 1-800-382-5603.