Sioux Center and Hospers, Iowa — Final federal approval has been received, and a company that started out many years ago as a northwest-Iowa-based independent telephone company has completed the final sale of a company with very similar beginnings.

This past April, Premier Communications and HTC Communications announced that Premier would be buying HTC. At that time, they hoped that the Federal Communications Commission would give their approval in time for a July 1st transfer date. Premier CEO Doug Boone says it didn’t quite happen by that time, but it has now happened.

Boone says that “right out of the gate” HTC customers will notice “no changes.”

He says that Premier will continue to provide voice, video, and data services as HTC has done in the past. He says HTC customers won’t even have to call new numbers to get a hold of billing or tech support.

HTC employees have become Premier employees as of this week. He says eventually bills will say “Premier Communications” instead of HTC. But Boone says that the HTC — or Hospers Telephone Company — name will not go away completely.

Boone says they plan on the continual upgrading of their facilities and adding more and more fiber to their network, improving speeds and performance.

He says HTC offers service in Hospers, Sheldon, Ashton, Sibley, and Ocheyedan. Boone says that since their 2016 acquisition of Consolidated Communications’ area in northwest Iowa, they have been the facilities-based provider for telephone service in Sibley. He says a number of years ago they served Ashton and Ocheyedan as well, but sold that to HTC, so now they are coming full circle. He says Premier looks forward to working with customers in HTC’s area, and that if people have partnership ideas, they’re open to hearing what they have to say.

August 17, 2018 - 2:57 pm - Posted in News

Sibley, Iowa — Next in our series of schools at which students will find a new principal is Sibley-Ocheyedan.

The former principal, Brent Town, has become the new high school principal at the Sioux Center Community School District. The Sibley-Ocheyedan School Board hired Mr. Stan De Zeeuw to fill that role.

Mr. De Zeeuw gives us his background.

He tells us about his passion.

De Zeeuw tells us about his family.

He says they’ve been renting a place in Sibley, but they have purchased a home and plan to move in mid-September.

Mr. De Zeeuw says students shouldn’t notice any sweeping change. He tells us about his strengths.

He says he’s excited for the new school year and says he’s had a very positive experience so far.

August 17, 2018 - 1:54 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — The Labor Day sTEP, or Special Traffic Enforcement Project, is now in progress and will continue through Labor Day, Monday September 3rd.

Iowa State Patrol Trooper Vince Kurtz says this sTEP period will focus on impaired drivers.

Trooper Kurtz says that, although the FOCUS may be on impaired drivers, troopers, deputies, and local police officers will be enforcing traffic laws across the board.

He says troopers, county deputies, and local police across the state are taking part in this enforcement project, and will be out in force, some in marked patrol cars, and others in unmarked patrol cars. So buckle up, put your phone down, drive safe, and if your celebration includes alcohol, please find a designated driver.

The Labor Day sTEP project began Friday morning and runs through Labor Day.

August 17, 2018 - 11:23 am - Posted in Sports

The 2018 IGHSAU Preseason High School Volleyball rankings are out and in Class 1A LeMars Gehlen is ranked second, while Harris-Lake Park comes into the season ranked in the 8 spot. Class 2A features Unity Christian ranked #2, and Western Christian comes in at 5. Sioux Center starts their season ranked eleventh in 3A, along with Spirit Lake at 13th.

Class 1A
Rank – School – 2017 Record
1 Janesville 37-7
2 LeMars Gehlen Catholic 29-7
3 Starmont 30-6
4 Holy Trinity Catholic 38-6
5 North Tama 29-8
6 Tripoli 25-14
7 East Mills 24-9
8 Harris-Lake Park 21-12
9 Westwood 23-9
10 HLV 16-8
11 Montezuma 31-6
12 Edgewood-Colesburg 16-16
13 Central Decatur 16-13
14 Iowa Valley 28-11
15 Southeast Warren 25-8

Class 2A
1 Grundy Center 37-7
2 Unity Christian 24-11
3 Dike-New Hartford 50-3
4 Beckman Catholic 31-13
5 Western Christian 39-7
6 Sidney 31-6
7 Council Bluffs St. Albert 28-4
8 Tri-Center 27-3
9 Wapsie Valley 21-16
10 Treynor 30-6
11 Ridge View 20-12
12 Belle Plaine 18-10
13 Lake Mills 39-4
14 Lisbon 25-12
15 West Burlington 25-8

Class 3A
1 Kuemper Catholic 39-3
2 Tipton 32-7
3 Iowa Falls-Alden 31-6
4 Osage 26-10
5 Waterloo Columbus Catholic 36-8
6 Center Point-Urbana 32-11
7 Red Oak 23-14
8 Davenport Assumption 25-8
9 Camanche 32-9
10 West Liberty 22-14
11 Sioux Center 34-6
12 Mount Vernon 26-11
13 Spirit Lake 21-17
14 Roland-Story 28-11
15 Union 19-18

Class 4A
School 2017 Record
1 Dubuque Wahlert 22-9
2 Sergeant Bluff-Luton 42-4
3 Cedar Rapids Xavier 32-10
4 Independence 33-9
5 Pella 33-7
6 Dallas Center-Grimes 27-8
7 Clear Creek-Amana 23-20
8 Waverly-Shell Rock 42-6
9 Lewis Central 33-6
10 West Delaware 25-20
11 Bondurant-Farrar 21-13
12 Sioux City Bishop Heelan 33-11
13 Fairfield 24-9
14 Western Dubuque 22-13
15 Fort Madison 25-8

August 15, 2018 - 3:15 pm - Posted in Obituaries

Bailey Hoyer, age 17, passed away on Tuesday, August 14, 2018.

The Funeral Service will be 10:30 a.m. Monday, August 20, 2018 at the First Baptist Church, in Sibley, IA with Pastor Doug Noonkester officiating.

Visitation will be from 2:00 to 8:00 p.m., with family present from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Sunday, August 19th at the First Baptist Church of Sibley, IA.

In lieu of flowers, family wish memorials which will be directed at a later date.

The Jurrens Funeral Home of Sibley is in charge of arrangements

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate — the commissioner of Iowa elections — says there is no way for hackers to alter VOTES in Iowa because every one of the state’s voters cast a PAPER ballot.

Pate warns, however, that “bad actors” on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook may try to sow doubt about election results.

Pate, a Republican, served one term as secretary of state in the 1990s and returned to office in 2015. He is seeking reelection to a third term as secretary of state. His Democratic opponent, Deidre DeJear, last week accused Pate of not doing enough to secure voter registration information that IS computerized, as recent news from the investigation of Russia’s attempt to influence the 2016 election revealed Russian operatives visited the websites of some Iowa counties. Pate says new voter ID requirements will address that, as voters show a driver’s license, a military or tribal ID, a passport or voter registration card at their polling place.

The voter ID requirement takes effect in 2019. For this year’s election, Iowans who do not show an ID at their polling place may sign an oath verifying their identity and will be allowed to cast a ballot.

Northwest Iowa — Iowa 4th District Republican U.S. Congressman Steve King says the best thing the Trump Administration could do to alleviate farmers’ angst about the trade war would be to allow higher percentages of ethanol to be blended into gasoline year-round.

King met privately Monday evening with EPA acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. King says Wheeler is trying to strike a deal that will placate the ethanol and oil industries.

King says the 2017 tax bill was an early Christmas present that is still giving and has created confidence and optimism in the business community.

King says he’s warned the Trump Administration things “will get pretty tense” in Iowa if there’s no progress on trade deals by the time soybeans are maturing in September.

Northwest Iowa — According to a new study, income growth in northwest Iowa is among the fastest in the state.

According to SmartAsset, median base pay for workers in the United States climbed by 1.6 percent in June, which was the strongest growth in the wage statistic so far in 2018. SmartAsset analyzed Census data over a five-year period to determine where incomes were growing the fastest, and three of the four northwest Iowa counties that make up our main coverage area ranked among the top places in Iowa. This metric is part of SmartAsset’s overarching study on the most “Paycheck Friendly” places.

The study shows that the top county in Iowa for income growth is Delaware County (between Waterloo and Dubuque on Highway 20), where it says income growth was 3.8 percent. The next two counties were here in northwest Iowa, where the study says Lyon County income growth was at 3.7 percent, with Sioux County next at 3.3 percent. Down the list just a little bit is O’Brien County at number 8. Income growth in O’Brien County was at 2.7 percent, according to the survey.

SmartAsset says they assumed a $50,000 annual income in every county, then indexed the paycheck amount for each county to reflect the counties with the lowest withholding burden. Next, they created a purchasing power index for each county. Finally, they calculated the weighted average of the indices to yield an overall paycheck friendliness score.

Both Lyon and Sioux counties also rated high in this index with Sioux County having the second-most paycheck-friendly score, behind only Dallas County. Lyon County was third.

August 14, 2018 - 3:26 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — Farmers in Iowa and across the region want quick resolution to the looming trade war due to the negative impact it’s starting to have on their bottom lines.

Speaking in Des Moines, the U-S Ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, says he isn’t sure how long the impasse with China will last.

Branstad, a former Iowa governor, says President Trump is justified in putting tariffs on imports of Chinese goods into the US. He says China is in worse financial condition than the US due to the drop in that nation’s stock market and currency value.

Speaking at the Iowa State Fair, Branstad says it’s unfortunate American farmers have been collateral damage in the trade war and he’s unsure what it will take for China to finally cut a deal with the US.

Branstad says US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has been in talks with Chinese officials over the past two weeks, so the countries are trying to negotiate.

August 14, 2018 - 12:00 pm - Posted in News

Washington, DC — The first part of a three-part farm aid package is scheduled to be rolled out by the USDA in about three weeks.

Spirit Lake farmer, and former Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey, the USDA Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Ag Services, says more details will be out soon on what’s being called a market facilitation program.

Northey says the delay on the program’s details is because they’re still working on the rule-making part of the process.

Northey says they’re trying to make it so producers can certify their production numbers as simply as possible.

Northey also encourages farmers and ranchers to visit that site for more details on the tariff aid package.

That website again is