A Cherokee man will serve 10 years to life in prison after pleading guilty in connection with a case where he is alleged to have sexually abused a girl in Ocheyedan.

On Tuesday (3/22), 45-year-old James Eugene Bolt of Cherokee pled guilty to two counts of Sexual Abuse in the third Degree, a class “C” Felony.

On each offense, Bolt is to serve no more than ten (10) years in prison, with both counts to be served concurrently.

However, the Court has imposed a special sentence committing Bolt to the custody of the Director of the Iowa Department of Corrections for the rest of his life, with eligibility for parole upon completion of the sentence imposed.

Bolt was also ordered to pay restitution for any court-appointed attorney fees.

In September of 2010, the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office conducted an investigation into James Eugene Bolt for allegedly having sexual intercourse on several occasions with a juvenile female victim while living in Ocheyedan.

A Sibley man who persuaded a 14-year-old girl to send him sexually explicit photos of herself was sentenced on Monday (3/21) to 15 years in federal prison.

US Attorney Stephanie Rose reports that 40-year-old Michael Mayer of Sibley, received the sentence after a jury found him guilty in October of one count of producing child pornography. The week before trial, Mayer pled guilty to receiving child pornography and possessing child pornography.

The evidence at trial showed that, between May and August 2008, Mayer communicated online, through phone calls, and through text messages with a 14-year-old girl. Mayer persuaded the victim to send him pictures and videos of her genitals, and he sent the victim pornographic pictures and videos of himself. Images of the victim were found on Mayer’s computer.

Mayer was sentenced in Sioux City by United States District Court Judge Mark Bennett. Mayer was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Special assessments of $300 were imposed, and Mayer must also serve a 5-year term of supervised release after the prison term. He must comply with all sex offender registration and public notification requirements. There is no parole in the federal system.

By Scott Van Aartsen
News Director

Senator Chuck Grassley spoke in Primghar, Sibley, and Inwood Tuesday — part of his annual visit to all 99 Iowa counties.  Not only did Grassley speak, he took questions from the audiences as well.

In Sibley, the Senator visited Osceola Community Hospital.  There he saw the e-Emergency capabilities of the hospital’s new emergency room.  The hospital staff had a demonstration set up in which a patient presented to the emergency room with chest pain.  The staff at the hospital ran the scenario that the one doctor available was delivering a baby in another part of the hospital.  So the nurse connected to Avera e-Emergency care for a live hookup with a doctor and staff in Sioux Falls.  While the nurse did what the doctor in Sioux Falls recommended, the doctor was able to read the EKG and interact with the patient, and give med orders.  When the nurse at Sibley needed other staff members such as lab and x-ray personnel to respond and come in to the hospital, all she had to do was ask the Sioux Falls staff to call their numbers.  In fact, they even called the patient’s family for her.
The “patient” was eventually told that a part of her heart was not working properly and she would be airlifted to the Avera Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls.

Grassley was very impressed by the e-emergency scenario.  He says he’s no stranger to telemedicine, but he had never seen it presented in such a real and dramatic way.

Osceola Community Hospital staff say the next telemedicine venture for them will be e-ICU.

After the demonstration, Senator Grassley took questions from the audience. 

He told people that there are still efforts to repeal the new health care package.  The House passed a repeal, but the Senate did not have enough votes.  He says he thinks it will become a Presidential election issue.  It’s also in the courts as to if people can be forced to buy health insurance, and there are efforts to defund the package and slow it down.

Grassley says he thinks there are parts that should be pulled, and other parts that should be added, including medical malpractice.

Grassley also answered questions about President Obama’s eligibility to be President, but basically referred the issue to lawyers and the courts.

He mentioned that there are plans afoot to still fund the Lewis and Clark Regional Water system.  In the past it has been funded through “earmarks” and there is now a moritorium on earmarks.  But Grassley says they’ll have to write a bill to fund it directly, or maybe they can get it through as the project has already been authorized.

The senator answered questions on the ethanol subsidy — he is strongly behind it.

He was also asked about the Defense of Marriage Act and says that house members are aligning with legal counsel to defend the act, even though President Obama thinks it’s unconstitutional.

Grassley also said that he is behind the efforts to establish the no-fly zone over Libya.  He says in contrast to the other nations where there are uprisings, Gaddafi is not afraid to hurt or even kill Libyans who disagree with him.  He says he hopes Gaddafi does not stay in power.  He says even the Arab League doesn’t agree with Gaddafi’s policies, and would prefer him out of power.

By Scott Van Aartsen
News Director

photo captions:

Top: Senator Grassley watches the e-emergency demonstration

Bottom: Doctors and staff at Avera e-emergency in Sioux Falls direct Osceola Community Hospital Staff regarding the “patient” via closed-circuit TV.

March 22, 2011 - 10:57 am - Posted in News

A Sibley man and his passenger were injured in a motorcycle accident on Friday (3/18).

The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office reports that about 7:20 PM, 32-year-old Aaron Schulte of Sibley was driving a 1990 Harley Davison motorcycle, northbound on Nettle Avenue, attempting to make a left turn on to A34, two miles north of Ashton, when he spun out on the loose gravel.  Schulte lost control and tipped the bike onto its left side.    Schulte sustained incapacitating injuries and was taken to the Osceola Community Hospital.  A passenger, April Downey, age 41 of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, sustained non-incapacitating injuries and was also taken to the Osceola Community Hospital.    The Harley sustained about $550 damage.   

The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by Sibley Ambulance at the scene.

Utility companies in northwest Iowa and across the state are reminding their customers who are not current on their utility bills that  the moratorium on disconnections in Iowa ends on April 1.  That means if you’re not caught up on your bill, they will soon be able to disconnect your service for non-payment — something they couldn’t do during the winter.

But there’s good news for low-income households — they can apply for Low-Income Heating Energy Assistance Program or “LIHEAP” funds through April 30, 2011.  LIHEAP provides dollars to aid low-income households to help cover heating costs — and this is especially important to those who are facing disconnection.

LIHEAP payments correspond with household size, income level, and home energy costs. The program helps households with incomes meeting eligibly guidelines. For example, a family of four that earns approximately $33,075 annually or less, or a two-person family with earnings of about $21,855 or less, may qualify for energy assistance dollars.

To obtain energy assistance, applicants are encouraged to apply as early as possible.  For more information on LIHEAP funds, people can contact their local community action agency, such as Upper Des Moines Opportunity in O’Brien and Osceola Counties, or Mid Sioux Opportunity in Sioux and Lyon Counties.

By Scott Van Aartsen
News Director

Some new figures are out that show the economic impact of hospitals in northwest Iowa — and it sure isn’t chump change. In fact in some communities, health care is the biggest employer by far.

Orange City Area Health System generates 742 jobs that add in excess of $26,430,000 to the economy, according to the latest study by the Iowa Hospital Association (IHA). In addition, Orange City Area Health System employees by themselves spend over $7,120,000 on retail sales and contribute over $427,000 in state sales tax revenue.

The Sioux Center Community Hospital generates 629 jobs that add in excess of $20,495,000 to the economy. Sioux Center Community Hospital employees spend over $5.5 million dollars on retail sales and contribute over $330,000 in state sales tax revenue each year.

Meanwhile, Sanford Sheldon generates 380 jobs that add in excess of $12.9 million to the economy. Sanford Sheldon employees spend over $3.1 million on retail sales each year and contribute nearly $187,000 in state sales tax revenue.

Osceola Community Hospital in Sibley generates 182 jobs that add nearly $5.4 million to the economy. Osceola Community Hospital employees spend over $675,000 annually and contribute over $40,000 per year in state sales tax revenue.

Sanford Rock Rapids generates 122 jobs that add over $4.8 million to the economy. Sanford Rock Rapids employees spend over $685,000 annually and contribute over $41,000 to the state sales tax coffers every year.

Sanford Sheldon CEO Rick Nordahl says he’s pleased that the hospital and related services provide such an impact.

He says people sometimes think that hospitals are just something you have to have in a community. But he says the hospital itself employs over 258 people — and when you figure in the other jobs in the community that are there just because of the impact of the hospital and its employees, that number goes up to 380. He says without the impact of the hospital and its employees the economy in the town would be tougher and slower.

Nordahl says it’s important to remember that it’s not just the hospital that impacts the community. The clinics, home care, and nursing home facilities also impact the economy.

He says they’re proud to be able to help the community not only through the health care services they provide, but also through the economic impact they generate.

By Scott Van Aartsen
News Director

March 22, 2011 - 9:54 am - Posted in News

Iowa Agriculture secretary Bill Northey is in northwest Iowa, speaking to farmers and asking them their concerns.

As usual, the biggest concerns seem to be regulation-related.  And most of those regulations that farmers find excessive relate to the federal government — the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA.  Northey tells farmers that many of these regulations come from environmental groups that target the EPA and say that they will sue the EPA if they don’t regulate certain aspects of air or water quality.

As a state employee, Northey says he does what he can on the boards and commissions on which he serves, but to change the regulations, there are only a few things that will help, including telling the story of Iowa agriculture and continuing to pressure our lawmakers.

With grain prices at all-time highs, the focus in agriculture, says Northey, has shifted from price supports to excessive regulation.

By Scott Van Aartsen
News Director

March 21, 2011 - 10:18 am - Posted in News

The Lyon County SnoLyons Snowmobile Club had a chance to go through all the finances regarding this past Decembers Ice Races at Rapid Speedway.

The SnoLyons are a non-profit group and after expenses are paid for the annual Ice Races, the club gives the remainder  thousands of dollars  to charities and non-profit groups.

This was the fifth annual race, and over $7000 was given away:

Spina Bifida Assoc. of Iowa    $2,000.00
United Funds of Lyon County    $1,500.00
Professional Business Women    $ 200.00
R.R. Mini Zoo     $ 200.00
Troop 190 Boy Scouts     $ 150.00
Troop 50643 Girl Scouts     $ 150.00
R.R. Mural Society     $ 350.00
Iowa Donor Network     $ 500.00
Lyon County Ambulance     $ 350.00
Childrens Miracle Network    $ 500.00
Kiwanis     $ 350.00
Lyon County Firefighters    $ 350.00
Rock County Backpack     $ 500.00

The annual ice races take place in December and last year featured both professional and vintage snowmobile racing.

By Scott Van Aartsen
News Director

March 21, 2011 - 10:05 am - Posted in Obituaries

Mr. Scott Baumgard, age 33, of Arnolds Park, Iowa, passed away due to injuries suffered in a motor vehicle accident near Sibley on Friday, March 18.

Funeral services will be on Friday, March 25th at 10:30am at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Milford.

A celebration of Scott’s life will be held Sunday, March 27th, 2011 at 1:00pm at the Pavillion in Arnolds Park.

Visitation will be Thursday, March 24th after 4:00pm with the family present from 4:00pm – 7:00pm at the Church.

A Memorial fund has been established in Scott’s name to establish a rain garden.

Scott Douglas Baumgard was born June 17, 1977 in Luverne, Minnesota, the son of James Allen Baumgard and Bonnie Lou Wood.  Scott graduated from Spirit Lake High School in 1995. He went on to pursue his education in business and accounting from Iowa Lakes Community College. Scott’s entrepreneurial spirit was put to work to offset the cost of his education, through his hemp necklace business, Scootie’s Hemp. With foresight of the importance of a key term, Scott trademarked “Keep Okoboji Blue” in 1996, waiting for its true purpose to come through. After graduation, he owned Baumgard LLC, a landscaping company that served the Lakes area. Shortly after, Scott met the love of his life, Deidre Rosenboom. The two were united in marriage on September 22, 2001. 

Scott’s hardworking drive continued to serve him well as he began a career with Rosenboom Machine and Tool as one of the company’s first production employees. His latest role was serving as logistics manager for Sheldon and Spirit Lake operations. Scott had admiration for the hard work, dedication and goal setting of those he supervised. Coworkers appreciated Scott’s boundless energy, and the time he took to personally learn about each individual – from their goals to the members of their family. 

Throughout his marriage to Deidre, the two enjoyed many adventures and fostered great friendships, pursuing their mutual love of the Iowa Great Lakes. Soon, the two gave purpose to Keep Okoboji Blue, using the phrase to highlight the importance of environmental awareness and lakes ecology. 

In 2007, Scott and Deidre were able to open the doors on a business that showcased their love of the Lakes area, creating a sense of community at the Wine Bar and Art Gallery, where they fostered long-running friendships while creating many new ones.

Scott will forever be cherished for his unapologetic sense of humor, snazzy dress shirts, his constantly evolving facial hair, and, more than anything, his limitless ability to accept others and see their true potential. Friends of Scott will forever cherish their memories of great laughter, infectious energy and boundless love they knew from having Scott in their life. 

Blessed be the memory of Scott Baumgard.

Scott passed away March 18, 2011 as result of a vehicle accident at thirty-three years of age.

He is survived by his wife, Deidre Terese Rosenboom Baumgard; father, James Baumgard and his wife, Kathleen; mother, Bonnie Welp and her husband, Joe; sister, Stacey Robinson and her husband, David; brother, Allen Baumgard and his wife, Heather; mother and father-in-law, Gary and Barbara Rosenboom; sister-in-law, Jennifer Johnson and her husband Kevin; nieces and nephews, Andrew Grau, Gage Tuttle, Devon Johnson, Kaylah Robinson and Olivia Baumgard; step-brothers, Edward Sepich, Jay Welp, Josh Welp, Christian Welp and Jacob Welp; grandparents, Raymond and Mavis Baumgard; and countless friends.

A memorial fund has been established in Scott’s name to establish a rain garden.  

Online Expressions of Sympathy can be sent to: http://www.turnerfuneralhomes.com

An Arnolds Park man died in an accident near Allendorf on Friday morning.

The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office reports that shortly before 10 AM, 33-year-old Scott Douglas Baumgard of Arnolds Park was driving a 2008 Ford F350 pickup westbound on Highway 9. Thirty-eight-year-old Kevin D. Lankford of Macomb, IL was driving a 2010 International semi truck northbound on Highway 59. Lankford failed to yield from a stop sign and pulled into the path of the Baumgard vehicle. The Baumgard pickup struck the trailer of the semi. Read The Full Story…