October 6, 2015 - 1:57 pm - Posted in News

Sibley, Iowa — Three parks and a golf course in Sibley will be getting new trees through a utility company.
alliant energy trees forever
Trees Forever facilitates Alliant Energy’s program. They say it helps communities plant trees for the shade they provide and the significant energy efficiency savings that result.

Jeff Jensen, Field Coordinator for Trees Forever tells us about the program

He says they’re having a ceremony on Thursday, October 8th.

The trees will provide energy efficiency benefits as they mature over the years says Jensen. He says that Sibley recognizes the importance of keeping up with tree plantings so that they have trees in all stages of growth and a healthy urban canopy. He says the diverse mix of trees means they’ll last a long time.

October 2, 2015 - 1:23 pm - Posted in News

sibley poolSibley, Iowa — As we’ve mentioned before, there is a fundraising campaign underway in Sibley to raise money to replace the current dilapidated Sibley Swimming Pool.  An fundraising event is planned for later his month to help give the campaign a shot in the arm, while giving Osceola County families a fun, family event in which to participate.

The Osceola County Scavenger Hunt will be held Saturday, October 24th.  Shalynn Anderson is Chair of the committee raising funds for the new pool, and tells us how the Scavenger Hunt will work.

She says that registration for this family-friendly event is now open, and that the cost is $25 per person for adults, ages 6 to 15 are $5, and kids 5 and under are free.

Anderson talks about the schedule for the day’s events.

She says that a major donation from the Kiwanis Club has lifted the fund-raising total so far to about $150,000.

Again, the Osceola County Scavenger Hunt to benefit the Sibley Outdoor Aquatic Center Project will be held Saturday, October 24th.

September 30, 2015 - 2:51 pm - Posted in News

Sibley, Iowa — One of the tools in the economic developer’s toolbox is a complicated one called “Tax Increment Financing,” or TIF. And the proposed use of some TIF funds is proving controversial in Osceola County.
Wind Turbines SVA
According to Robert E. Josten of the firm Dorsey & Whitney in Des Moines, Tax Increment Financing or TIF is a method of reallocating property tax revenues that are produced as a result of an increase in taxable valuation above a “base valuation” figure within a tax increment area. In other words, when a piece of property is improved and the valuation goes up, the tax revenue that is generated from that increase is redirected to somewhere other than where that money would normally go. Sometimes it is used for infrastructure that would benefit the new business, sometimes it is used to stimulate other economic development, and so forth.

They say that until the TIF period is expired, tax revenues produced by property taxes on that increase — that would normally have gone to a city, county, school district, area school or any other taxing jurisdiction — are instead allocated back to the city or county that created the TIF for economic development projects in that area.

A possible TIF district and Urban Renewal Area is being discussed right now in Osceola County.

The county has used Tax Increment Financing on some wind turbines in the county in the past. In the case of the turbines being discussed right now, the developers applied for and received a tax incentive in which their taxes on the new valuation would be raised in five increments.

According to Osceola County Board of Supervisors Chairman Merlin Sandersfeld, the time period to ramp up to full taxation on the increase in value was five years, or five increments. Four increments have passed through toward normal funding streams. But recently, a plan was brought forth to help the City of Harris with a waste water project and lagoon that needed funding. The City of Harris can set up an Urban Renewal Area in a two-mile radius of Harris, which includes 22 turbines. But Sandersfeld says that since Harris could only count on the revenue from the increased valuation of 22 of the turbines, they didn’t feel that that would be enough revenue for their project.
So, the proposal was made that the tax revenue from the increase in valuation for 53 of the wind turbines in the area for the final increment go toward the Harris project for the duration of the plan instead of only the 22 turbines around Harris. The Urban Renewal Plan that is proposed redirects this final increment to Harris for the next 13 years.

Some people are upset that this would mean that Osceola County and the Harris-Lake Park School district would miss out on those revenues from the increase in valuation, says Sandersfeld. But he emphasizes that this is only on the increase in valuation — in other words it’s not taking away any old money from the school district — it’s only keeping from them for thirteen years, a revenue source that they haven’t had yet in the first place. Plus, says Sandersfeld, the state does back fill some of the money to school districts as well. He says they back fill all but about 18 percent of the revenues lost to a TIF. (So the school district would still receive about 85 percent of the new money.)

Sandersfeld tells us that there is a meeting of the taxing bodies, called a consultation meeting coming up this Friday, October 2nd. The taxing bodies, including the City of Harris, Harris-Lake Park schools, and Osceola County will be there, and the plan will be explained. He says after that, a public hearing is scheduled for October 20th, at which time any objections can be made. Sandersfeld says the issue would then move on to a vote to proceed or not.

September 29, 2015 - 11:02 am - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa – The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is investigating a fish kill running about 20 miles along Stoney Creek northwest of Spencer.

The fish kill was reported north of Everly Monday morning, but residents in the area said they’d been seeing dead fish over the weekend.

Two crews from the DNR’s Spencer field office found heavy concentrations of dead fish west of Fostoria, then traced dead fish northwest to the Osceola-Dickinson county line, about 11 miles west of Milford.

So far, the DNR says they have not identified the pollutant source, but believe it is from fertilizer or animal manure because of elevated ammonia levels found just west of Spencer.

DNR Spencer Field Office Supervisor Ken Hessenius says his office has had a number of calls into the field office, mostly from people concerned about watering their cattle from the creek.  He says they may or may not be able to track down the source of this fish kill, because it likely occurred several days ago. He says that if people would remember to call the field offices or the 24-hour spill line as soon as they see something that would increase their chance of finding the pollutant source.”  The DNR spill number is 515-725-8694.

Hessenius say the dead fish are mainly minnows and chubs, but include some larger fish. He says the pollutant slug has likely moved into the Ocheyedan River, become diluted and passed through Spencer by now.

He says the DNR will continue to look for the source of the pollutant.

In another investigation, the Spencer field office looked for the source of a second, but smaller, fish kill near Meridan in Cherokee County. A fisherman reported hundreds of dead chubs and minnows Saturday morning.

Northwest Iowa — You may have noticed crews working on the Union Pacific tracks, ties and crossings in northwest Iowa and southwest Minnesota over the past few weeks.

Union Pacific’s Calli Hite says the project is part of UP’s annual capital investment plan.

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She says the project involving tracks in our area is part of a stretch that extends from Minnesota to Sioux City.

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Hite says that, while they won’t be replacing the entire section of rail and ties, they will be replacing a substantial portion.

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She says that, while they would normally shut the track down for only a few hours each day for the construction work to continue, in this case they’re doing what they call a blitz.

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The project in our area is scheduled to be completed in late October or early November.

September 25, 2015 - 10:45 am - Posted in News

money cash bills dollarsNorthwest Iowa — Owners of real estate in Iowa, residential, agricultural and business, have less than a week to pay their fall property taxes without penalty.

Real estate taxes were actually due September 1st, but the State of Iowa allows until the end of September for taxes to be paid without penalty.  Taxes may be paid in one of three ways:  You can take your payment to your County Treasurer’s Office, mail it to the Treasurer’s Office, or you can pay them online at www.iowatreasurers.org.  If you mail or take your payment to the Treasurer’s Office, please remember to include the proper payment stub.  County Treasurer’s Offices are open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm.

Remember, if you mail your tax payment it MUST be postmarked on or before September 30th to avoid late payment tax penalties.

September 23, 2015 - 11:59 am - Posted in News

Osceola Rec TrailSibley, Iowa — Concrete for the third section of the Osceola Rec Trail in Sibley will be poured this Saturday, September 26th and next Saturday October 2nd.  The Rec Trails Committee is seeking volunteers to assist with this segment of the trail.

Doris Hoffman is Treasurer of the Osceola Rec Trails Committee, and she says that the volunteers need no special skills to help with this part of the project.

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Hoffman says they need twelve to fifteen volunteers for each of the two Saturdays.

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She says that if they get enough volunteers this week and next week they can get half done with this half-mile section yet this fall.

She says that volunteers are asked to report at about 7:30 these two Saturday mornings.

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To volunteer, please call either Doris Hoffman at 712-754-3982, or Jolene Fisher at 712-754-3962.

Hoffman says that the Osceola Rec Trails Committee recently received a matching grant from Wellmark, awarded in part because the trail system promotes wellness in the community and safe access to schools.

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She says donations can be dropped off at the Sibley City Office, US Bank, or The Porch On Main in Sibley.

Again, volunteers are needed this Saturday and a week from Saturday to assist in the concrete pour.

September 18, 2015 - 3:05 pm - Posted in News

Sibley, Iowa — Here’s a look at the municipal candidates who filed papers for the November 3rd election in Osceola County.

In Ashton Patrick H. Devries is running unopposed for mayor. Doyle Trei and Kay Winkel are unopposed running for two council seats.

In Harris Gregory Spaethe is running unopposed for mayor. Four people are running for three seats on the council. They are Pamela Kramer, Vic Mckenna, Amy Muftah, and Bobbie Kennedy Smith. Jon Sweet is running unopposed to fill a vacancy on the council.

No one filed papers for the position of Melvin Mayor. So the winner will be a write-in. The council will also have a write-in position because only Amy Baker filed papers, and two seats are up for election.

Arlyn Duane Pedley is the only candidate to file for the Mayor of Ocheyedan. Three people filed to serve on three seats on the council. They are Kevin L. Hertz, Mark Kruger, and Mike Schuck. However, two people have filed for one spot to fill a vacancy on the council in Ocheyedan. They are Gary Crandall and Kevin Heemstra.

In Sibley, Mayor Jerry L. Johnson is running unopposed, as are Janice Henningsen for a Councilmember At Large position and Tim Nobles for Councilmember, Ward 2.

September 17, 2015 - 3:35 pm - Posted in News

korean war memorial_sxcSibley, Iowa — Fifteen northwest Iowa veterans plan to go on an Honor Flight on Saturday.

Honor Flights are conducted by non-profit organizations dedicated to transporting as many United States military veterans as possible to see the memorials of the war or wars in which they fought. The flights are always at no cost to the veterans. Most of the veterans have been World War II veterans.

We talked to Osceola County Veterans Affairs Director Craig Sorensen. He says some Osceola County veterans took an Honor Flight a few years ago out of Sioux Falls, but since then, there haven’t been any nearby.

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He says since there can be no cost to a veteran, other arrangements have to be made to pay for the trip.

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There will be 95 veterans going on the flight out of Fort Dodge, says Sorensen, and 55 guardians. Medical staff including a doctor, three nurses and two EMT’s also go along.

Sorensen says he wants to thank the people of Osceola County for their generosity.

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He says a sendoff is planned for the veterans the day before the flight.

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The veterans will see the memorials in Washington D.C., they’ll have a bus tour of Washington, they’ll see Arlington National Cemetery, and they’ll witness the changing of the guard.

Sorensen encourages everyone to come out on Friday afternoon, September 18th at 1 PM, and send the veterans off to see their memorial.

September 15, 2015 - 11:00 am - Posted in News

Marshall, Minnesota — Four high school marching bands from the KIWA listening area will perform Saturday evening during the 20th Annual Pursuit of Excellence Marching Band Competition in Marshall, Minnesota.

The competition begins with the National Anthem at 5:25 Saturday afternoon, with bands starting at 5:30.  Bands from our area competing include:  The Wildcat Marching Band from West Lyon High School, at 7:00 pm, and the Sheldon Marching Orabs, who will compete at 7:45 pm.  Both schools will be competing in the Crimson Class; the Sibley-Ocheyedan Marching Generals, who will take to the field at 8:55 Saturday night in the Navy Class; and the MOC-Floyd Valley Dutchmen Marching Band, who will appear at 9:55 pm in the Ivory Class.

In addition, spectators will be treated to an exhibition performance by the Southwest Minnesota Mustang Pep Band at 8:15, as well as a judged exhibition by the Marshall, Minnesota High School Band at 10:40 pm.

Crimson Class Awards will be presented at 8:30 pm, with Navy and Ivory Class Awards being handed out at 10:55 Saturday night.

Gates will open at 4:30 pm for Saturday night’s 20th Annual Pursuit of Excellence Marching Band Competition.