Sibley, Iowa — A Sibley man has pled not guilty in the case of several stolen items being found on a farm place in rural Osceola County.Block, Michael

According to court records, 52-year-old Michael Lawrence Block of Sibley entered a written plea of not guilty to the charges on Thursday, May 29th. Block is alleged to have been in possession of stolen agriculture and construction equipment.

Block is charged with seven counts of Theft in the First Degree a Class “C” Felony; ten counts of Theft in the Second Degree, a Class “D” Felony; one count of Theft in the Third Degree, an Aggravated Misdemeanor; and one count of Theft in the Fourth Degree, a Serious Misdemeanor.

Block is alleged to have been in possession of stolen property from Osceola, O’Brien, Sioux, and Lyon Counties.

On March 21, 2014 an Osceola County Deputy was investigating the theft of some hay bales from O’Brien County which led to the application and execution of five search warrants at Block’s acreage on Highway 59 and his home in Sibley. Investigating officers seized a New Holland baler, wagons, construction equipment, trailers, four motor vehicles, and other items.

His next court date is scheduled for July 11th and the trial is scheduled to start on August 19th.

May 31, 2014 - 9:08 am - Posted in News

Sibley, Iowa — A Minnesota man and his dog are both dead after a Friday accident near Sibley.
Fatal Crash 2
The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office reports that about 3:30 PM, 80-year-old Aloyus Alfred Anfinson of Park Rapids, MN, was driving a 1985 Cadillac southbound on Highway 60 when he drove off the highway to the right. The vehicle followed the grade of the ditch for approximately 189 feet before striking the embankment next to two round cement culverts. The vehicle spun approximately 180 degrees and came to rest.

Both Anfinson and his dog were pronounced dead at the scene.

Rock Rapids, Iowa — This week, all the Republican candidates for the District One Iowa House seat now held by Republican Jeff Smith were in Rock Rapids for a candidate forum sponsored by the Lyon County Republican Party.  Smith is not running again.

We had a chance to talk to each of them and asked them all this one question, “Why are you running for the Iowa House?”

In alphabetical order, here are their responses.


Kevin Klaassen

Kevin Klaassen said:

Click or tap the play button above or this link to listen.


John Wills

John Wills answered the question this way:

Click or tap the play button above or this link to listen.


Kevin Wolfswinkel

And Kevin Wolfswinkel said:

Click or tap the play button above or this link to listen.

The candidates gave their answers at the candidate forum in Rock Rapids on Tuesday night.

We also talked to all five US Senate candidates. Look for those answers in a previous story on

Click here for that story.

May 29, 2014 - 3:52 pm - Posted in Sports

Iowa DNRThe Iowa Department of Natural Resources issues a weekly fishing report on Thursdays in an effort to provide the latest information heading into the weekend. The weekly fishing report is compiled from information gathered from local bait shops, angler creel surveys, and county and state parks staff. For more information contact the Spirit Lake fish Hatchery at 712-336-1840.


Storm Lake (including Little Storm Lake)

The dredge machine is in operation on Storm Lake.  Boaters should use caution and stay clear of the dredge machine, booster pump barge, and pipeline.  Channel Catfish – Fair: Channel catfish are close to shore and anglers should do well with traditional catfish baits.  Most fish are around two pounds.  White Bass – Good: White bass are tight to shore.  Anglers should try casting hair jigs baited with a minnow or white twisters close to shore.  There are a lot of white bass hanging out around the big island and the east shore from the boat ramp north to the end of King’s Pointe jetty.  Walleye – Excellent: Anglers did very well for walleye last weekend and fish are continuing to be caught this week.  Trolling shad colored crankbaits has produced good numbers of fish.  Anglers were also catching good numbers of walleye casting jigs baited with a piece of night crawler just south of the college island.  Many fish in the slot are being caught along with legal sized fish. The daily bag limit for walleye is three.  All walleye between 17 and 22 inches must be released, and only one over 22 inches may be kept.

Big Spirit Lake

Northern Pike – Good: Trolling crankbaits has produced  the best action with good numbers caught last week.  Smallmouth Bass – Good: Fish deeper rock piles as the water warms on clear sunny days.  Look for prespawn fish and fish slowly with a jig tipped with a minnow. Largemouth Bass – Good: Good largemouth bass angling continues to be reported. Walleye – Fair: Activity continues to improve as the day bite has started.  Most fish are being caught in depths of 15 feet and deeper.  Best action continues to be after dark.  Dock or wader angling after 9 p.m. has produced the best action. Slot fish continue to be caught; however, good  numbers of harvest able size fish is being creeled.

East Okoboji Lake

Channel Catfish – No Report: Fishing after dark with bait on the bottom will produce excellent angling for this species. Bluegill – No Report: Fish the north end and the wooden docks on the east side for the best action.  Cast a mini jig to locate panfish, persistence and patience will be rewarded with a mix bag of crappie, bluegill and yellow perch.

West Okoboji Lake

Bluegill – Good: Action at the canal area continues to be good, look for the fish to shift to the main lake as the water warms, fish wooden docks associated with deeper water for the best action.  Largemouth Bass – Good: Good largemouth bass action was reported in the canals over the weekend. Walleye – Good: Best action occurs after dark.  Boat and wader fisherman have been successful with good numbers of 14-16-inch size fish being caught.  No bite being reported during the day.


May 28, 2014 - 3:54 pm - Posted in News

Des Moines, Iowa — The total number of farms in Iowa in 2013 was 88,500, that’s down 100 farms compared to a year earlier, according to a report released by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, Iowa Field Office.  In addition, the number of farms with sales of agricultural products and government payments in the $500,000 and over range increased by 700 farms in 2013, according to the report.

The report says total land in farms in 2013 was 30.6 million acres, unchanged since 2010.  Farms in the $500,000 and over sales class showed an increase over the past 5 years, from 13.1 million acres in 2008 to 18.3 million acres in 2013.

The report says the average farm size in Iowa in 2013 was 346 acres, up one acre from last year.  The average farm size in the $500,000 and over sales class decreased by 37 acres from 2012.

The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service’s complete report can be found by clicking here.

May 28, 2014 - 3:07 pm - Posted in News

Sibley, Iowa — A Minnesota man is dead after a Friday accident near Sibley.

The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office reports that about 3:30 PM, 80-year-old Aloyus Alfred Anfinson of Park Rapids, MN, was driving a 1985 Cadillac southbound on Highway 60 when he drove off the highway to the right. The vehicle followed the grade of the ditch for approximately 189 feet before striking the embankment next to two round cement culverts. The vehicle spun approximately 180 degrees and came to rest.

Both Anfinson and his dog, which was a passenger in the vehicle, were pronounced dead at the scene.

May 28, 2014 - 2:55 pm - Posted in News

Osceola Sheriff Car 72-2A Marcus man’s Pontiac was damaged in an accident on Monday, May 26th near Ashton.

The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office reports that at about 7:33 pm, 20 Year-old Zachary Specht of Marcus was driving southbound on Highway 60, a half mile north of Ashton, in a 2002 Pontiac when, according to the report, he said he fell asleep. Specht felt the rumble strips and over corrected causing him to lose control and collide with the west side of the bridge. Osceola County Sheriff’s Office was assisted at the scene by Ashton Fire Dept. and Ambulance.

Specht s Pontiac received $4,000 damage.

There were no injuries reported.

May 28, 2014 - 2:50 pm - Posted in News

Osceola Sheriff Car 72-2A Kingsley woman’s Chevy was damaged in an accident on Monday, May 26th near Allendorf.

The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office reports that at 5:30 AM 35 Year-old Amanda Bainbridge of Hartley was driving westbound on Highway 9, one mile north of Allendorf, in a 2011 Chevy when a deer ran on the road causing the vehicle to strike the deer.

Bainbridge’s Chevy received $6,500 damage.

There were no injuries reported.

May 28, 2014 - 10:27 am - Posted in Sports

Iowa DNRA relatively new condition affecting emerging oak leaves, called oak tatters, is again appearing in Iowa.

The condition affects primarily white oaks, including white, bur and swamp white.  Red oaks are only occasionally affected.

Damage appears when leaves emerge in mid to late May. The leaves will appear lacy or tattered.  Heavily affected trees will produce new leaves that may not have tatters but may be smaller and lighter in color than normal leaves.

Producing replacement leaves reduces important energy reserves. Healthy trees can survive this stress but repeated damage or dames combined with other stress, like drought, other defoliation or site problems may make the tree more susceptible to decline or to other problems.

“Trees should recover unless they are tattered for three or more years in a row,” said Tivon Feeley, forest health program leader for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

The condition appears to be caused by damage to leaf tissue in the buds or as the buds begin to open for leave expansion. The source of the damage could be from low temperature injury before or during leaf expansion, insects feeding on the buds or developing leaves, or by herbicides affecting the physiology of the tree resulting in abnormal development of the leaves.

In addition to Iowa, oak tatters has been observed in Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Missouri.

In woodlands, little can be done to prevent additional damage after an oak tatters event, except to reduce other stresses such as grazing of livestock.

For yard or urban landscape trees, try to minimize other stresses like changes to the site, add mulch to the tree and water during extended dry periods.


Iowa DNRThe Central Iowa Trail Network is just one example of the success of Iowa’s Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) program, which was signed into law 25 years ago today.

Synonymous with healthier living through outdoor recreation, central Iowa’s trails give Iowa the good name it deserves.  Being one with nature while exploring Iowa has never been easier — thanks to 676 miles of mostly connected trails that saturate the greater Des Moines region.

From deer and turkey sightings during long tree-lined stretches to great blue herons and white pelicans in wetland environments, nature is on display along every turn through central Iowa trails.  At a slower pace a tranquil Iowa landscape becomes apparent.  Butterfly gardens, bird watching, beaches, camping, historic museums, pioneer cemeteries, lake views, and patches of native wildflowers and grasses round out the Central Iowa Trail Network experience.

“For Iowa to be able to attract and retain a quality work force, we need to be able to offer people recreational opportunities after 5 p.m., when people get off work,” said DNR Director Chuck Gipp.

“Here in Iowa, we have been highly successful at using REAP to leverage millions of dollars from other sources to create and maintain one of the best trails systems in the United States. Trail development makes our state more attractive for economic development and healthier by providing high quality recreational opportunities,” said Gipp.

A variety of routes enable Iowans and visitors from around the country to enjoy a range of prime, unspoiled Iowa scenery that can’t be seen by hurried commuters traveling over crowded highways.  Central Iowa’s recreational trails offer views that range from oak uplands to bottomland and shaded forest to prairie, like those seen on the Neil Smith Trail that connects Saylorville Lake with downtown Des Moines.

According to a 2011 study by UNI’s Dr. Sam Lankford, cyclist commuters generate $51,965,317 in direct and indirect economic impact to the State of Iowa.  The bicycle commuter population is estimated to save Iowa $13,266,020 in health care costs.  Recreational riders create $364,864,202, while saving $73,942,511 in health costs.

Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation Program Director Lisa Hein said, “We’ve had the advantage of having discontinued railroad corridors to build trails on, otherwise we would not have nearly as extensive a system as we do have.  Unfortunately the railroads couldn’t make it in these areas, but luckily we are bringing people and using those corridors for transportation creatively — building economic development in a more diverse way.”

“I think it says we’re really hungry for ways to get outside and into nature.  Re-using these railroad corridors is a very environmentally friendly way to get people outside without taking away lands that are under other uses.”

Hein explained, “The REAP program really helps the towns along the trails.  It helped Slater and Sheldahl connect as part of the High Trestle Trail [REAP] funds were leveraged with other federal grants to build that mile of trail.”

REAP grants originally purchased the right of way to the railroad through Slater that is now part of High Trestle Trail.  The locally well-known and nationally acclaimed High Trestle Trail Bridge between Woodward and Madrid lights the night sky with its mesmerizing LED display.

Additional REAP funding paid for the Grimm Park trailhead in Slater that now offers more paved parking, new restroom facilities and planned educational signs along the trail.  Slater Economic Development Coordinator Jennifer Davies emphasized, “In a community our size, we would have never been able to do that kind of a project without the REAP dollars, so it was very important to be able to enhance the trail system with those REAP dollars.”

Davies said several residents were leery of the benefits trails would bring to Slater at the start of the project.  Ten years later that attitude is completely gone — replaced by better health and business growth. Davies said the town’s residential district has also been growing as a result of the trail, and commented on the cross-town cooperation of businesses that promote special events, bringing in money to local economies.  Small towns along Central Iowa Trails Network have benefited economically, with new restaurants, bars, bike rental stores, coffee and ice cream shops sprouting up to get a piece of the recreational action.

The City of Bondurant has awarded a contract to construct about 2 miles of trail going east from the downtown Bondurant Regional Trailhead to the
existing Chichaqua Valley Trail (CVT).  $75,000 in REAP funding has already paved Bondurant’s trailhead, with an additional $75,000 grant that will build a 2-mile trail connecting the trail.  According to a 2010 study by Dr. Daniel Otto of Iowa State University, the CVT generates an estimated $240,000 in sales, $47,000 in income, and 3 additional jobs annually.

Bondurant City Administrator Mark Arentsen said of the Chichaqua Trail, “Our trailhead [built in 2012] is already a popular location with Bondurant residents.  People use it regularly for outdoor community events or just to stop and meet friends.  It’s a great community gathering place that wouldn’t be possible without REAP’s participation.”

“The City Recreation Department uses thetrails for walking and running programs, which have more participants every year.  We frequently see people use the trails for physical fitness and recreation.  New residents have commented on the City’s
trails and say that the City’s growing trail network is one of the reasons they moved to Bondurant, and we wouldn’t be able to continue expanding these trails without REAP funding.”

Finished in 2013 with the help of REAP funds, the Raccoon River Valley Trail’s loop’s “phenomenal usage” is testament to the viability of Central Iowa Trails Network’s goal of connecting major trails.  The Raccoon River Valley Trail alone runs for 53 miles through 11 cities and four counties, much of which is lined with trees and gives the feel of being under a shaded canopy. More than half of these cities have received REAP funding to connect trail segments and develop trail heads with restrooms and parking lots.

Heavy woods along the Clive Greenbelt Trail lead to Campbell Recreational Area, which contain softball fields, tennis courts, picnic areas, restrooms and handicap-accessible play equipment.  Always looking to improve Iowans’ quality of life, planned trail extensions will connect Jordan Creek Trail with the Clive Greenbelt Trail, Gray’s Lake, Great Western Trail and John Pat Dorrian Trail — all connected to Raccoon River Valley Recreational Trail.   Paved trails were found to be the most requested facilities by Iowans as outlined in the 2012 State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP).

In its 25 years, REAP has benefited every county in Iowa by supporting 14,535 projects. REAP has funded these projects with $264 million in state investments, leveraging two to three times the amount in private, local and federal dollars.

Collectively, these projects have improved the quality of life for all Iowans with better soil and water quality; added outdoor recreation opportunities; sustained economic development; enhanced knowledge and understanding of our ecological and environmental assets, and preservation of our cultural and historic treasures.

More information about the 25th Anniversary of REAP and projects by county can be found at