February 17, 2017 - 4:12 pm - Posted in News

Ashton Fire Truck FQPAshton, Iowa — Six round cornstalk bales were destroyed in a fire on Thursday, February 16, 2017, near Ashton.

According to Ashton Fire Chief Rob Imhof, about 4:30 p.m., the Ashton Fire Department was called to the report of some round bales on fire near the home of Les Luitjens at 2316 McKinley Avenue, four miles west of Ashton.

The chief says the fire department saw six round bales on fire as they approached the scene. He says they pulled them apart and doused them with water.

Imhof says no injuries were reported, and that the fire department was assisted by Sibley Fire Department.

He says the cause of the fire is undetermined and that the damage was limited to the six cornstalk bales.

He says they used 2,000 gallons of water to fight the fire, and crews were on scene for roughly an hour and a half.

February 17, 2017 - 1:15 pm - Posted in News

community foundation of osceola countySibley, Iowa — Over $91,000 has been given to non-profit groups throughout Osceola County at the annual Community Foundation of Osceola County grant ceremony, held Thursday night in Sibley.

Twenty-nine grants were presented at the Sibley Senior Center. Foundation officials say that since it was established over eleven years ago, more than $888,000 has been reinvested in the county by local charitable organizations to fund projects in the arts, recreation, health, community service, environmental improvement and a variety of other community development areas.

Annual funding for the CFOC was secured from the Iowa Legislature to encourage improvement projects in communities that do not have a gaming facility located in their county.

Osceola County Economic Development Director Mike Earll says that through the grant program, residents of Osceola County also have the opportunity to help the grant endowment grow. Gifts can be accepted from community-minded individuals that will allow the foundation to present additional cash awards for the improvement of life in Osceola County. He says that those interested in contributing to the endowment fund can be assured that their resources can facilitate projects and address immediate community and non-profit needs.

This year, 38 applications were received requesting over $116,556.11. Given the limited resources available, the review committee was only able to fund 29 of the 38 requests. Those proposals not funded in 2017 are encouraged to apply during the next grant cycle later this year.

Receiving $3,500 grants were:

  •  Ocheyedan American Legion Auxiliary

Restore and remodel Ocheyedan Town Hall.

  • Days of Olde/ Ocheyedan Community Builders

Repair and replace windows in Ocheyedan Town Hall.

  • Westerner’s/Those Crazy Goat Kids 4-H Club

Construct antique farm machinery display at Hawkeye Point.

  • Ocheyedan American Legion Wood Miller Post

Provide electric power to Ocheyedan Cemetery.

  • Sibley-Ocheyedan Band Boosters

Purchase high school Concert Band attire.

  •  Osceola County Livestock Show

Repair Goewey Township Country School at the fairgrounds. Including new windows, painting and siding.

  • Ashton Avenue of Flags

Replace main flag pole at Ashton Cemetery.

  • Ashton American Legion Post #290

Remodel stage area in the Ashton Community Center.

  • Ocheyedan Volunteer Fire Department

Purchase new member fire safety gear and smoke detectors.

  • Osceola Communities Express

Purchase of van for Community Ride Service.

  • Hawkeye Point Foundation

Install a swing set and construct a safety zone at the Hawkeye Point Campground.

  • Melvin American Legion Post #470

Replace kitchen cupboards in the Melvin Legion/Community Building.

  • Ocheyedan Economic Development Corporation

Professional cleaning and painting of the Ocheyedan Town Hall..

  • Ocheyedan Indians 4-H Club

Purchase and install new steel banners for Ocheyedan’s Main Street.

  • Melvin Legion Auxiliary

Purchase new range, refrigerator, microwave and entrance carpet in Melvin Legion/Community Building.

  • Osceola Community Health Services

Upgrade Lifeline Equipment used by Osceola County residents.

  • Osceola County Conservation Board

Purchase and erect Willow Creek Park entrance signage.

  • Ashton Town & Country Organization

Assist with Ashton Park electrical upgrades.

  • Osceola County Freedom Rock

Purchase statue for fallen Veterans at the Osceola County Freedom Rock in Ashton.



  • Melvin Fire Department

Purchase of a “Cutquick” saw and equipment for rescue efforts. $2,640.65

  • Bright Beginnings of Osceola County

Purchase rockers, computer, printer, kitchen equipment, CD Players and safety equipment. $2,591.06

  • Sibley Recreation Department

Purchase bleachers for Sibley’s Central Park. $2,500

  • Ocheyedan Township Cemetery

Repair and restoration of historic cemetery monuments. $2,125.63

  • Melvin Public Library

Repair and replace brick facing and handicap accessible ramp in front of Melvin Library. $2,110

  • Ocheyedan Senior Center

Purchase new stove for Senior Activity Center, $1,000

  • Ocheyedan Catfish Club

Resurface the Little League Softball Back Diamond in Ocheyedan. $3,000

  • Ashton Public Library

Purchase of new desktop computers for patron use.   $3,000

  • S-O Science Club’s S.T.E.M. Program

Purchase mobile S.T.E.M. Learning Center for science students. $3,250

  • Ocheyedan Public Library

Reupholster Reading Corner furniture and computer chair replacement. $2,500

February 17, 2017 - 1:13 pm - Posted in News

hog confinementDes Moines, Iowa — According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, 88 of Iowa’s 99 counties have notified DNR that they plan to evaluate construction permit applications and proposed locations for animal confinements by using the master matrix. But one county in our area and one nearby have opted out.

With 11 exceptions, all counties will use the matrix during the next 12 months. Osceola and Plymouth counties, as well as Davis, Decatur, Des Moines, Keokuk, Lee, Mahaska, Wapello, Warren and Washington counties will not use the matrix in 2017.

DNR spokesman Gene Tinker explains the situation.

He says for that, a master matrix was created.

Tinker says the master matrix applies to producers who must get a construction permit to build, expand or modify a totally roofed facility. Generally, these are confinement feeding operations with more than 2,500 finishing hogs, 1,000 beef cattle or 715 mature dairy cows.

Tinker says some counties’ boards of supervisors who opt out of the master matrix plan feel it’s not needed in their area, or they trust that their producers are going to do the right thing and don’t feel they need to put them under additional scrutiny. He says others want to make the final decision at the local level.

Participating counties score each master matrix submitted in their county and can recommend to approve or deny the construction permit. They can also join in DNR visits to a proposed confinement site.

Find more information, including a map of participating counties by searching for Master Matrix at www.iowadnr.gov/afo.

Iowa Capitol Senate ChamberDes Moines, Iowa — A rumor that has been going around about the content of the Collective Bargaining bill is just that — a rumor, according to an Ocheyedan lawmaker.

The rumor that is circulating is that the collective bargaining bill is somehow tied to education vouchers or “school choice” — meaning that if a student in a northwest Iowa district decided to go to a private school, that the tax money tied to this student would follow the student to the school of their choice rather than go to the school district in which the student lives.

Independent Iowa District 1 State Senator David Johnson says this is not connected to the collective bargaining bill, but it is a concern of his.

He says lawmakers did pass a 1.11 percent increase in funding for state schools. Johnson and the Democrats say that was not enough. Johnson says there was no provision for vouchers or “school choice” in that bill either, but he says maybe the GOP is gearing up for such a bill.

Johnson tells us why he voted against the 1.11 percent increase in school funding.

And Johnson says that extra money may be used to start a voucher or education savings account program.

Johnson says he thinks public and private schools should continue and expand collaboration between the two kinds of schools.

He says he thinks as a general rule, lawmakers have to be more open.

Johnson serves Lyon, Osceola, Clay and Dickinson counties in northwest Iowa.

February 14, 2017 - 5:14 pm - Posted in News

no gunHartley, Iowa — What at first was thought to be a threat to a northwest Iowa school and one of its administrators has turned out to be only a rumor connected to a benign conversation between two students.

According to O’Brien County Sheriff Allen Schuknecht, the rumor started when one student came to school at Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn wearing a trench coat. Schuknecht says another student said something to the effect of, “Hey, you look like a school shooter.” He says the first student said something to the effect of, “If I was, you’d be the first to go.”

Schuknecht says a third party overheard the conversation and took it out of context. He says the Hartley Police Department was called and investigated the incident.

Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn Superintendent Bill Thompson says rumors about the incident ran wild and included everything from there being a gun and a hit list in the student’s belongings to a verbal threat of a principal to there being actual shots fired, but none of it was true.

Sheriff Schuknecht says thankfully the investigation turned up no gun, no note, and no threat.

February 9, 2017 - 12:11 pm - Posted in News

Iowa Capitol DomeDes Moines, Iowa — Tempers were strained as the Iowa House Labor Committee spent more than three hours debating the G-O-P’s plan to change the state’s collective bargaining law for public sector unions. Representative Steven Holt, a Republican from Denison, opened the debate.

Northwest Iowa Republican Representative John Wills tells us what it’s about.

Representative Kirsten Running-Marquardt, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, says “corporate handouts” rather than union wages are what’s breaking the state’s bank.

Representative Bruce Hunter, a Democrat from Des Moines, says Republicans have hatched an “evil” plan.

Republicans who hold a majority of seats on the committee advanced the bill Wednesday night, making it eligible for debate in the Iowa House next week. Holt, whose wife is a teacher, says the bill is a “win for the children of Iowa” because it gets rid of the seniority system for teachers.

There were two committee hearings at the statehouse earlier in the day. Critics of the bill say their comments are unlikely to sway Republicans who are intent on passing the bill quickly. A public hearing will be held Monday night on the issue. It’s likely the House AND Senate will vote on the bill and send it to the governor early next week.

February 8, 2017 - 3:00 pm - Posted in News

farm sunsetSibley, Iowa — If you are a woman and need to make some tough decisions about your farm, there’s a program coming up just for you.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is accepting registrants for Annie’s Project, a program focused on empowering women in agriculture, to be held in Sibley during February and March.

Gary Wright, Farm Management Specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach says that Annie’s Project is a nationally-recognized leadership training program created to guide women in making good decisions for their farm business.

He says that one of the foundations of Annie’s Project is that women learn best with and from other women, so whenever possible, the sessions will be led by women who are experts in their field.

Wright says it’s both for women who grew up on the farm and those who didn’t. Young, middle-aged, and older women are all encouraged to attend, no matter what their background.

He says the program will be held at the Osceola Community Hospital Education Room in Sibley beginning Thursday, February 23rd and continuing every Thursday through March 30th. There will be a meal at 5:30 p.m. and the session will last from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

According to Wright, whether women are the sole operators of their agricultural operation or working in partnership with their spouse or other business partners, Annie’s Project provides women with the knowledge and resources they need to be successful in the industry.

There is a $75 course fee to participate in Annie’s Project in Sibley. Wright recommends registering soon as space is limited and classes tend to fill up quickly. For more information and/or to register online, visit http://www.aep.iastate.edu/womeninag/2017/sibley or contact the Osceola County Extension and Outreach office at 712-754-3648 or slamfers@iastate.edu.

February 8, 2017 - 12:16 pm - Posted in News

WillsDes Moines, Iowa — Republicans in the Iowa House have sent the governor a bill that will increase general state aid to public schools for the next academic year.

District 1 Republican State Representative John Wills of Spirit Lake tells us about it.

Democrats opposed the bill, saying the increase was not large enough. The Iowa House Democrats accused Republicans of voting for larger class sizes, teacher layoffs, and school cuts. Representative Mary Mascher, a Democrat from Iowa City, says this level of state aid will force more school consolidations. Wills says this is inaccurate.

He says the bill that passed was the best compromise that could be reached and leaves funding available for other important services.

Representative Walt Rogers, a Republican from Waterloo, is chairman of the House Education Committee. He says, “Funding education is a top priority of what we do. K-12 education gets 43 perent of our budget.”

February 8, 2017 - 12:50 am - Posted in News

branstadDes Moines, Iowa — Governor Terry Branstad is pushing back on Senator Johnson’s idea the attorney general needs to weigh in on the proper transfer of power when he resigns to become an ambassador.

Branstad is President Trump’s pick to be the next ambassador to China. The only independent in the legislature says the state constitution seems unclear on whether Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds gets the title of governor once Branstad leaves. State Senator David Johnson of Ocheyedan has asked Iowa’s attorney general to issue a written opinion about the matter, including whether Reynolds will have the authority to choose a NEW lieutenant governor. Branstad says it’s not necessary because legislators passed a law on that a few years ago.

Branstad’s communications director issued a written statement last week, accusing Senator Johnson of “political grandstanding” by raising questions about what executive authority Reynolds may have when Branstad resigns.

Johnson serves Lyon, Osceola, Dickinson, Clay, and Palo Alto counties.

February 8, 2017 - 12:47 am - Posted in News

music-notesSpirit Lake, Iowa — Seven of the ten northwest Iowa high schools that participated in a jazz choir festival were from our listening area, and of those, four received the top rating.

The Iowa High School Music Association State Jazz Choir Festival was held on Monday, February 6th, at the Sami Bedell Center for the Performing Arts in Spirit Lake.

From the four-county listening area, the jazz choirs of Central Lyon, South O’Brien, West Lyon, and Sheldon all received Division One or “Superior” ratings. The jazz choir from Sibley-Ocheyedan received a Divison Two or “Excellent” rating. Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn’s jazz choir received a Division Three or “Good” rating. Harris-Lake Park’s jazz choir elected to receive comments only.

Other results included Akron-Westfield’s choir number two and Spirit Lake’s jazz choir, who both received Division Ones, and Akron-Westfield’s choir number one and Okoboji’s jazz choir, who both received Division Two ratings.

The jazz choirs were evaluated by three adjudicators on vocal jazz ensemble characteristics of tone quality, blend, rhythmic feel, interpretation, precision, musicianship, solo improvisation, and balance. Following the judged performance, each choir had a 20-minute clinic with the judges where they received additional suggestions to improve their vocal jazz and the groups were praised for their fine performances and display of excellent leadership. Each choir is rated according to Iowa High School Music Association guidelines receiving a rating of Division One-Superior Rating, Division Two-Excellent, Division Three-Good, or the group can choose to receive comments only.