December 22, 2016 - 4:45 pm - Posted in News

Sibley, Iowa — One of the defendants in the case of four people charged with robbery in Osceola County requested a new lawyer. That request has been denied by District Court Judge Carl Petersen.
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Court records indicate the four are accused of the armed robbery of an occupied home on Third Avenue in Sibley.

On August 21st, 2016, Osceola County Deputies arrested 35-year-old Jose Manuel Maldonado Castillo and 25-year-old Peter Nazario Alvira of Sibley and two others from Sioux City. They were all charged with Robbery of in the 1st Degree, three counts each of Burglary in the 1st Degree, all class B felonies; Going Armed With Intent, a class D felony; and Assault While Participating in a Felony.

Maldonado Castillo’s trial was to have started on December 20th. Court records indicate that he and Nazario Alvira had accepted plea bargains and were instead to have been sentenced on Friday, December 9th. However, the Osceola County Clerk of Court’s office says that neither entered a plea on that day, and no sentences were issued.

At a hearing on Thursday, December 22nd, Judge Petersen overruled Maldonado Castillo’s motion for new counsel and instead scheduled a pre-trial conference for Friday, January 6th. Nazario Alvira is scheduled to be sentenced that same day.

December 22, 2016 - 3:35 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — A couple of incidents in northwest Iowa on Wednesday night and Thursday morning (December 21st and 22nd) could easily have turned into house fires.
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The Wednesday night incident occurred in the 8:00 p.m. hour at 405 Eigth Avenue in Sibley, according to Sibley Fire Chief Kenny Huls. Huls says a younger family member was babysitting and smelled smoke. He says she opened the basement door and was met with a large plume of smoke. Grandparents were called and checked it out, finding the smoke coming from the water heater area of the basement, he says. The chief says they immediately called 911.

He says firefighters investigated and found that the lower element of the electric water heater had shorted, which started the insulation on fire. Fortunately, says Huls, the metal containment of water heater kept the fire inside, and it was only smoldering when they got there. He says firefighters shut off the power, and vented the smoke with fans. He says he estimates there was $500 damage to the water heater and very little if any smoke damage.

A similar fire call happened in Rock Valley on Thursday morning, according to Rock Valley Chief Brent Eshuis.

He says their fire department was called to a report of smoke in the basement as well. Eshuis says the report turned out to be a hot smell coming from an electric space heater that was connected to the electric system in the basement. He says they disconnected it from the system, and were on-scene for 15 to 20 minutes.

December 22, 2016 - 3:08 pm - Posted in News

Sibley, Iowa — Checking on a vehicle in the ditch turned into a felony arrest north of Sibley on Wednesday.
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The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office reports that their deputies arrested 34-year-old David Charles Nachtigal of Little Rock. He was charged with Operating While Under the Influence – 3rd Offense, a Class D Felony; and Driving While Barred, an Aggravated Misdemeanor.

Nachtigal was transported and booked into the Osceola County Jail and at last report was being held on a $7,000 bond.

The Sheriff’s Office says the arrest stemmed from a report of a vehicle in the ditch on Northwest Boulevard north of Sibley.

December 21, 2016 - 4:18 pm - Posted in News

Sibley, Iowa — One of the defendants in the case of four people charged with robbery in Osceola County faces a hearing this Thursday, December 22nd.
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Court records indicate the four are accused of the armed robbery of an occupied home on Third Avenue in Sibley.

On August 21st, 2016, Osceola County Deputies arrested 35-year-old Jose Manuel Maldonado Castillo and 25-year-old Peter Nazario Alvira, both of Sibley, as well as 55-year-old Pedro Juan Figueroa Rios and 38-year-old Nicomedes Montanez Cruz, both of Sioux City. They were all charged with Robbery of in the 1st Degree, three counts each of Burglary in the 1st Degree, all class B felonies; Going Armed With Intent, a class D felony; and Assault While Participating in a Felony.

Court records indicate that Maldonado Castillo and Nazario Alvira had accepted plea bargains and were to have been sentenced on Friday, December 9th. However, the Osceola County Clerk of Court’s office says that neither entered a plea, and no sentences were issued. Court records say Maldonado Castillo has now advised the court that he wants a new lawyer. Osceola County Attorney Bob Hansen has filed a motion of resistance to Maldonado Castillo’s motion for a new lawyer.Sibley Robbery Suspect Faces Hearing

December 18, 2016 - 9:07 am - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — After tying Lyon County for the lowest unemployment in the state in September, the new October figures show that Sioux County has passed Lyon County for the lowest unemployment in the state.
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According to Iowa Workforce Development, in September, both counties had 2.1 percent unemployment. In October, while both counties’ unemployment figures went down again, they say that Sioux County’s unemployment went down more. The October numbers were 1.9 percent for Sioux County, 2.0 percent for Lyon County, 2.9 percent for Osceola County and 2.5 percent for O’Brien County.

Statewide numbers are released a month earlier, so November figures are available. Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent in November. The state’s jobless rate was 3.5 percent one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 4.6 percent in November.

Beth Townsend, Director of Iowa Workforce Development says that the unemployment rate in Iowa is the lowest since March, which in part is due to holiday hiring and the great fall weather we had this year. She says that the economy remains soft as we transition to seasonal unemployment during the winter months.

The number of unemployed Iowans decreased to 65,000 in November from 70,400 in October. The current estimate is 5,300 higher than the year-ago level of 59,700.

The total number of working Iowans decreased to 1,655,000 in November. This figure was 200 lower than October and 10,600 higher than one year ago.

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment
Iowa establishments shed 4,700 jobs in November and lowered employment down to 1,580,100 jobs. This drop marked the third straight month for job losses for the state. Private sector losses totaled 3,900 jobs and government pared 800 jobs. Public sector drops were primarily within local government (-600), although the federal sector shed jobs also (-200). Government trails last year’s level by 1,300 jobs. Private sectors remain up (+11,300), but the magnitude of the annual increase has been waning as the year comes to an end.

In November, the largest movement occurred in trade, transportation, and utilities which experienced a decline of 2,300 jobs. The majority of the loss was incurred in retail (-1,400), although transportation, utilities, and wholesale shed jobs this month as well. Iowa’s retail sector has not fared well through 2016 and is down compared to last November (-1,400). Iowa’s manufacturers lost 1,400 jobs with losses distributed evenly between durable and nondurable goods factories. This marks the second straight decline following a brief upsurge in the summer. Other notable losses included other services (-1,200), leisure and hospitality (-500), and information (-200). On the other hand, job gains were realized in three private industries and led by professional and business services (+1,400) and heavily fueled by hiring in administrative support and waste management services. All other gains this month were small and included education and health care (+300) and financial activities (+100).

Annually, total nonfarm employment is up just 10,000 jobs. Monthly declines over the past few months have reduced the annual growth rate considerably. Construction continues to sustain employment and leads all sectors with 8,300 jobs added. Education and health care is second in terms of growth (+4,200) followed by financial activities (+3,900). Manufacturing continues to trend down and lags behind last year’s mark by 7,300 jobs. The only other sectors down annually are professional and business services (-2,200) and information (-1,300).

December 15, 2016 - 10:41 pm - Posted in News

Sibley, Iowa — A Sibley pharmacist and his pharmacy face a hearing before the Iowa Board of Pharmacy in early January.
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Remedies Pharmacy’s pharmacist-in-charge and owner Alan Hoppe is charged with violating the duties of a pharmacist-in-charge and engaging in unethical conduct.

The charges allege that between March of 2013 and August 2014, Remedies submitted 19 claims to Iowa Medicaid for Dexedrine 10 mg capsules. The charges allege that while Iowa Medicaid was billed for Dexedrine on 19 occasions, prescription hard-copy labels show that the generic medication was dispensed instead on 16 of the 19 occasions.

Pharmacy board records indicate that this resulted in a Medicaid overpayment to Remedies of over $22,000.

Hoppe also faced a criminal case in which he was charged with First Degree Fraudulent Practice, a class C felony; and tampering with records, an aggravated misdemeanor. Court records indicate that this past July, Hoppe was given a deferred judgment on the Fraudulent Practice charge and fined a civil penalty of $750. He was also sentenced to a year of probation. The tampering with records charge was dismissed.

According to Iowa Assistant Attorney General Meghan Gavin, the Board of Pharmacy’s action is separate from the criminal case. She says the criminal matter has no automatic effect on Hoppe’s license.

Gavin says a hearing in front of the Board of Pharmacy concerning Hoppe’s license and Remedies Pharmacy’s license is scheduled for the first week of January.

She says that should the Board find that the charges against Hoppe and the Pharmacy have been proven, the Board would have a wide range of sanctions it can order including a citation, a fine of up to $25,000, additional education, suspension, and/or revocation.

December 14, 2016 - 6:13 pm - Posted in News

Harris, Iowa — Harris voters have selected a new mayor, but who gets the council chair is still up in the air after an election on Tuesday, December 13th.
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According to results from the Osceola County Auditor’s Office, Dean Phillips will be the new mayor, which is not a surprise because he ran unopposed. There were four write-in votes, but Phillips received 47 votes. Former mayor Greg Spaethe had resigned, but then was re-appointed to the mayor post by the council. The citizens filed a petition for an election, and then Spaethe advised the City that he was no longer residing in Harris.

Carol Biggs and Jeff Loring ran for one council chair. But they received 27 votes, each — a tie.

Biggs had been appointed to the council after a vacancy this past summer, but according to City Clerk Holly Wilson, since she was appointed, her name had to be on the next ballot. Jeff Loring’s name was added to the ballot by petition.

According to the Osceola County Auditor’s Office, Biggs’ and Loring’s names will be placed in a hat at the Canvass on Tuesday, December 20th, at 8 a.m., and the Osceola County Board of Supervisors will draw a name for the winner.

December 14, 2016 - 11:29 am - Posted in News

Osceola Sheriff Car 72-2Sibley, Iowa — Two vehicles were damaged in a collision at a Sibley intersection on the morning of Tuesday, December 13th.

The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office reports that at about 8:00 am on Tuesday, 30-year-old Benito Vasquez Ramirez of Sibley was driving a 2005 Chevy Malibu northbound on 6th Avenue, in Sibley. Eighteen-year-old Erick Alberto Olvera of Sibley was driving a 2002 Ford Explorer eastbound on 3rd Street. According to the report, Olvera didn’t notice the Ramirez vehicle at the intersection until it was too late and sped up to avoid the vehicle but was unable to clear the intersection in time.  The Chevy struck the Ford in the rear passenger side corner.  After striking the Ford, the Chevy lost control and came to rest against a tree.

The Chevy received $4,000 damage. The Ford received $1,200 damage.

No injuries were reported.

December 12, 2016 - 5:31 pm - Posted in News

Harris, Iowa — Harris voters are going to the poll this Tuesday, December 13th to elect a mayor and a city council member.
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According to Harris City Clerk Holly Wilson, the election is to fill a vacancy in the mayor’s chair.

Wilson says Mayor Greg Spaethe had resigned, but then was re-appointed to the mayor post by the council. She says the citizens of Harris gathered signatures for a petition to hold a special election to contest the appointment of Spaethe by the council. She says that before the November city council meeting, Spaethe sent a message to Clerk Wilson and the mayor pro tempore that he was residing out of town and would no longer be around. Dean Phillips threw his hat into the ring for the mayor chair and is running unopposed.

Council member Carol Biggs was appointed this summer to fill a vacancy that occurred when council member Jon Sweet resigned. Wilson says that since this had been a council appointment, Biggs’ name had to be on the next ballot to be elected.  She says Jeff Loring’s name was placed on the ballot by petition.  Loring was the man who was the mayor of Harris before Mayor Spaethe.

The polling place will be the Harris Civic Center, and the poll is open this Tuesday, December 13th from noon until 8:00 p.m.

December 8, 2016 - 3:20 pm - Posted in News

Ashton, Iowa– A house was damaged in a fire on Wednesday, December 7, 2016 in Ashton.
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Ashton Fire Chief Rob Imhoff was not at the fire, so he had us talk to firefighter Andy Gacke, who tells us that just before 1:00 a.m., the Ashton Fire Department was called to the report of Fire possibly in a breaker box at the home of Jennifer Clark at 526 5th Street.

Firefighter Gacke says the fire department saw heavy smoke from roof vents and peaks as they approached the scene. He says they used water to fight the fire.

Gacke says no injuries were reported.

He says the cause of the fire appeared to be electrical in nature. He mentioned that the home had older-style wiring.

Gacke reports that there was moderate damage.

He says they used about 500 gallons of water to fight the fire, and crews were on scene until about 2:30 a.m.