November 6, 2017 - 6:37 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — This Tuesday, November 7th is municipal election day in Iowa.

There are municipal elections in every town, but in some places, there’s only one candidate per available seat, so no surprises are expected. Of course, a write-in candidate in the right situation could still cause an upset.

The races we will be watching with more interest are the unknowns — where either there are more positions available than candidates, or where there are more candidates than positions.

There are more open positions than candidates in the races for Sheldon City Council, Paullina City Council and Mayor, Primghar City Council, Ashton City Council and Mayor, Sibley City Council, and for the Matlock Mayor race. So there will almost certainly be write-ins in these towns.

There are more candidates than positions — in other words contested races — for Calumet City Council, Sutherland City Council and Mayor; Harris City Council, Boyden Mayor; Hawarden City Council, Hospers mayor and council, Ireton mayor and council, Doon City Council, Little Rock City Council, and Rock Rapids mayor and council.

Along with municipal candidates, the city of Sibley will have a ballot question. Voters will be asked whether the city should issue general obligation loan notes in the amount of 1.6 million dollars for improving the city pool.

Election officials say that any mailed-in absentee ballots must have been postmarked by Monday, November 6th.

If you are not registered to vote, you can register at the poll, but they say people should be advised that the process does take some time. If you are registering to vote at the poll, you will need a current ID. If your current address is different than what it says on your ID, you also need proof of residency, such as a utility bill with your current address. Contact your auditor’s office for more information.

In the four northwest Iowa counties, there are three communities where the polling place has recently changed. Doon voters will now vote in the Doon City Hall instead of at the Community Center. Archer voters will vote at the Archer United Methodist Church, and Calumet voters will vote across the street from their old location, at the new city hall and fire station.

Polls in most precincts in the four northwest Iowa counties will be open from noon until 8:00 p.m., including all the polls in O’Brien, Osceola, and Lyon Counties. In Sioux County all the polls are open from noon to 8:00 p.m., with the exception of Boyden, Hawarden, Hospers, Ireton, and Maurice, where they open at 7:00 a.m. and close at 8:00 p.m., according to the auditor’s office.

Click here for more information.
Click here to find your polling place. Note that the changes we were given by the auditors’ offices may not yet be reflected on the site. Call your auditor’s office if you have any questions.

Sibley, Iowa — A Sibley Nursing Home has been named a “Best Nursing Home” by the U.S. News & World Report 2017-18 Nursing Home Finder report, which was released October 31st.

Jessica McDyer is the Administrator at Sibley Specialty Care, and she tells us about the “Best Nursing Home” recognition.

According to U.S. News & World Report, only 15-percent of nursing homes in the United States achieve rhe “Top Performing” status of 4.5 or higher. The magazine says the report uses existing federal nursing home rating information and federally reported health care data to come up with their own rating system. Criteria such as annual state survey results, medical quality measures, staffing levels and rehabilitation outcomes are all formulated to reach the rating.

The U.S. News honor is not the only accolade the Sibley facility has received lately, having earned a Silver Star National Quality Award from the American Healthcare Association, according to McDyer.

McDyer says there is one main reason for the recognition Sibley Specialty Care has received.

She says the folks at Sibley Specialty Care are really excited to receive this recognition.

McDyer says the caring environment her staff provides every day is the reason for the home’s success.

October 28, 2017 - 9:35 pm - Posted in News

Phillipsburg, Kansas — An Ashton man who had been reported missing, has been found dead as the result of a traffic crash, near Phillipsburg, in northern Kansas.

According to family, the victim was found on Saturday (October 28th). The Kansas Highway Patrol says Jake Roos of Ashton was westbound about 4-miles east of Phillipsburg in a 2013 Ford F350 pickup, pulling a Wilson trailer, when the vehicle went left of center and entered the south ditch, striking a creek embankment and coming to rest facing south in the bottom of the creek. According to family, Roos was 18 years of age.

On Saturday, a plea had gone out via Facebook asking for the public’s help in locating Roos, along with information on the vehicle he was driving. Roos was reportedly en route to Stockton, Kansas to pick up a load of cattle, but never arrived.

October 27, 2017 - 4:10 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — Those little amberish-brown plastic bottles full of pills in your medicine cabinet probably need to be tossed out, but you shouldn’t just chuck them in the trash or down the toilet. But hanging onto them is also a bad idea — they could fall into the wrong hands and could be abused.

Those are the two main reasons for Prescription Drug Takeback Days, one of which is this Saturday, October 28th in the US. The Drug Enforcement Administration says that the idea is to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. You can take your pills for disposal to the Lyon County sheriff’s office lobby at 410 South Boone Street in Rock Rapids or the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office at 309 Sixth Street in Sibley. (The DEA cannot accept liquids or needles or sharps, only pills or patches.) The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

The two sheriffs’ offices each have a prescription disposal container, available 24/7, plus many area pharmacies accept unwanted prescription drugs as well. Call your local pharmacy to see if they do.

Last April Americans turned in 450 tons (900,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at almost 5,500 sites operated by the DEA and more than 4,200 of its state and local law enforcement partners. Overall, in its 13 previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 8.1 million pounds — more than 4,050 tons — of pills. In 2016 the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office collected 37 pounds of unwanted prescriptions and has already collected over 50 pounds in 2017.

DEA officials say that medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. They say rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.

For more information about the disposal of prescription drugs or about the October 28 Take Back Day event, go to the DEA Diversion website.

October 26, 2017 - 11:32 pm - Posted in News

Sibley, Iowa — Court dates for a former Sibley-Ocheyedan teacher and coach, who is charged with felony sex abuse in an incident that took place in October 2015 — have been pushed back again, this time into 2018.

According to online court records, an attorney for 38-year old Kyle Ewinger entered a written arraignment and plea of Not Guilty in June in Osceola County District Court in Sibley.

Ewinger is charged with Second Degree Sexual Abuse, which is a Class B Felony, in connection with an incident that happened in 2015 at Sibley-Ocheyedan Middle School, where Ewinger was a middle school Social Studies Teacher. Ewinger was allegedly found, by Sibley-Ocheyedan Superintendent Bill Boer, asleep in his classroom with a male student, on Saturday, October 3rd, 2015. At the time, the boy had reportedly denied that anything improper had taken place. Earlier this year, the child allegedly reported that something of a sexual nature had happened. An investigation into the incident by the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office led to charges being filed in April 2017.

Ewinger was fired from his teaching and coaching positions with the Sibley-Ocheyedan Community School District on October 15th, 2015.

Ewinger’s attorney, Patrik Parry moved for the case to be continued on Wednesday. The request was granted later in the day by Judge Carl Petersen, who rescheduled Ewinger’s pretrial conference for Friday, March 2nd. The trial, at this point, is scheduled for Tuesday, April 10th.

October 26, 2017 - 11:30 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — The vast majority of eligible state and local government workers in bargaining units have voted to retain their union representation. Danny Homan is president of the Iowa local for the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees — the AFSCME union.

A new state law requires “recertification” votes before each round of contract talks with public sector workers. Over the past two weeks, members of 436 local bargaining units have voted to remain in their union. State officials say 32 bargaining units will be dissolved as a result of the balloting. Ninety-eight percent of the “locals” represented by the Iowa State Education Association retained the union. The AFSCME union faced recertification votes in 42 bargaining units. One of those 42 units will no longer be represented by AFSCME. Two of the four eligible Carroll County Conservation Board employees voted yes and a third cast a void ballot. Homan, though, is challenging the decision on that ballot.

As a result of this month’s voting, the Service Employees International Union will no longer represent nearly 200 nurses at Broadlawns Hospital in Des Moines. About a third of the 32 bargaining units that will be dissolved were part of the Teamster Union, representing bus drivers, county jail employees and road crews. The Iowa State Education Association will no longer represent teachers in Glidden-Ralston, North Linn and Sigourney School Districts. A majority of teachers who voted in those districts cast ballots to stay in the union, but teachers who did not cast ballots were counted as “no” votes under the new state rules. Iowa State Education Association president Tammy Wawro called that an “unreasonable standard.” Homan, the AFSCME union’s Iowa president, says it’s an unfair hurdle.

More than 28-thousand Iowans cast ballots over the past two weeks in these recertification elections. If their public sector employers negotiate one-year contracts, there’ll be another round of voting like this a year from now.

In our area, union retention elections were held in four school districts, the area education agency, one city, one county, and Northwest Iowa Community College recently.

The Boyden Hull Education Association has 52 employees on the voter list, so they needed 27 to retain their union, and received 42. There were 4 “no” votes.

The George-Little Rock Education Association has 41 employees on the list, so they needed 21, and got 39. There weren’t any “no” votes.

The Harris-Lake Park Education Association has 33 employees on the list, so they needed 17 and got 31. There weren’t any “no” votes cast.

The MOC-Floyd Valley Education Association has 116 employees on the list, so they needed 59, and got 105. Five people cast “no” votes.

The area education agency serving our area — the Northwest AEA — has two unions. The Associate Professional Staff Association has 52 members, so they needed 27 and got 42. There weren’t any “no” votes cast. The Northwest AEA Professional Staff Association has 164 members, so they needed 83 and got 158, with two “no” votes.

Northwest Iowa Community College’s support staff association has 27 members, so they needed 14 votes and got 15, with zero “no” votes. NCC’s Area IV Community College Education Association has 37 employees on the voter list, so they needed 19 and got 33, without any “no” votes.

The City of Orange City’s Iowa Council 61 has 18 employees on the voter list, so they needed 10. All employees voted unanimously to keep the union.

In Osceola County, their Iowa Council 61 for the Sheriff’s Office has 15 members, and all 15 voted to keep their union. Osceola County’s PPME #2003, which represents the County Road Department workers has 16 on the voter list. They only got 4 “yes” votes, so they will NOT be keeping their union.

October 26, 2017 - 11:28 pm - Posted in News

George, Iowa — A Little Rock man and an Algona man were taken to the hospital after an accident in the George, Matlock and Ashton area.

The Iowa State Patrol reports that about 11:35 AM on Wednesday, October 25, 2017, 51-year-old Dean Kruger of Little Rock was driving a 1994 Ford pickup southbound on Log Avenue, five miles east and three south of George. They say 25-year-old Samuel Struecker of Algona was eastbound on 240th Street in a 2005 Mack concrete pumper.

The report says that Kruger appears to have failed to yield to the concrete pumper, resulting in a collision in the intersection. The pumper rolled on its side blocking 240th Street. The pickup came to rest in the southeast corner of the intersection.

The trooper says Kruger was severely injured. The Lyon County Ambulance took him to Sanford Sheldon Hospital. Struecker was taken to Sanford Sheldon Hospital by private vehicle.

The report says it is unknown if either were wearing seatbelts. It says the crash remains under investigation.

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.