Dispute Leads To Arrest On Felony Warrant

lightbar with hand cuffsRock Rapids, Iowa — A man living in Rock Rapids may be on the way back to California after he was arrested recently on a California felony warrant.

The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office reports that on Saturday, April 22nd, about 4:30 in the afternoon, one of their deputies responded to a neighbor dispute in Rock Rapids. While investigating the situation, they say the deputy discovered one of the men involved in the dispute had an active felony warrant out of California.

The Sheriff’s Office says that 45-year-old Robert Charles Smith, formerly of San Diego, California, but currently residing in Rock Rapids, was arrested on the outstanding warrant and was taken to the Lyon County Jail.

Lyon County Sheriff Stewart Vander Stoep says that as of Monday afternoon, Smith was still in their custody and was awaiting possible extradition to California. Vander Stoep says it appears that Smith originally committed a serious assault and then did not follow his probation requirements. The Sheriff says at last report it appeared that he would be extradited to California.


Arraignment Date Set In Paullina Sex Abuse Case

O'Brien co courthousePaullina, Iowa — An arraignment date has been set in the case of a Paullina man who has been charged with felony sex abuse in connection with an investigation.

According to the Paullina Police Department, in February, they arrested 34-year-old Richard Eugene Buckley, who is charged with two counts of second-degree sexual abuse, which is a class B felony, and one count of lascivious acts with a child, a class C felony.

The police department says that Buckley was arrested in connection with an investigation between their officers and the Iowa Department of Human Services. They say Buckley’s bond was set at $50,000 and he bonded out after seeing the judge.

Court records indicate that Buckley’s arraignment is set for Monday, May 22nd in O’Brien County District Court.

If convicted of a class B felony, Buckley could face up to 25 years in prison per count. If convicted of the class C felony, he could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of between $1000 and $10,000, according to Iowa code.


Four Sioux County Fire Departments Battle House Fire

Le Mars Fire DepartmentLe Mars, Iowa — Four Sioux County fire departments and two from Plymouth County battled a house fire on Sunday afternoon, April 23rd.

The fire was at 23804 Plymouth County Road C16, about eight miles south and two miles west of Ireton. The Ireton Fire Department was paged first, about 5:45 p.m. and arrived on scene first, but Ireton Fire Chief Richard Steckelberg reports that it was actually in the Le Mars Fire Department district.

Le Mars Fire Chief Dave Schipper says the Le Mars Fire Department saw heavy fire on the south side of the two-story home, with fire through the roof of a one-story addition as they approached the scene.

Schipper says no injuries were reported. He says the man was able to escape the home and his wife had been outside mowing the lawn. He says they tried to extinguish the fire but were unsuccessful, so they called 911.

The fire department was assisted by the Ireton, Hawarden, Maurice, Sioux Center, and Akron Fire Departments. He says about 40 firefighters responded.

Schipper says initially they were concerned about a house across the road, but no other buildings were burned as a result of the fire.

He says the cause of the fire appeared to be embers from a burning pile that flew with the wind toward the house and into some straw bales that had been placed around the house for insulation.

Chief Schipper says the house was totaled and estimates that there was $250,000 damage to the house and its contents.

The couple that had been living in the home were assisted by the American Red Cross with some food and clothing vouchers. Schipper says, fortunately, the couple does have a place to stay in Le Mars, and there will be some salvageable items.

He says they used 15,000-20,000 gallons of water to fight the fire, and crews were on scene a little over three hours. He says they have been doing spot checks to make sure the fire is out, and on one of their checks at 7 a.m. Monday morning they did put out a little fire.

The chief says the 30-35 mile per hour winds and the remote location of the home made the fire more difficult to fight.


Crossroads Pavilion Board To Set Rental Fees At Tuesday Meeting

Events Center 7Sheldon, Iowa — The Crossroads Pavilion Board is scheduled to approve rental fees for the event center facility when they meet Tuesday morning at 7:00.

Other items on their agenda include discussion and approval of other items needed for operation of the event center, as well as approval of landscaping plans.  You may recall that the Sheldon City Council, during their meeting this past Wednesday, gave City Manager Sean Hutchison approval for landscaping in an amount up to $50-thousand.  The landscaping was not part of the original plan, but Hutchison told the Council that the funds are within the amount set aside as a contingency fund.

Tuesday’s Crossroads Pavilion Board meeting is slated for 7:00 am in the SCDC Conference Room at the Sheldon Community Services Center.


UPDATE: Will New Law Require Iowa Courthouses To Be Gun-Friendly?

Lyon Courthouse SVA

Northwest Iowa — Last week we told you about a couple of the counties in our area, and how they plan to keep courthouse security inline with the new Omnibus Firearms Law that was signed into law last week by Governor Terry Branstad.

Monday morning we talked to O’Brien County Sheriff Allen Schuknecht, who, coincidentally, was in Des Moines taking a class on the new gun laws.

Scheknecht tells KIWA that, currently, the only portion of the O’Brien County Courthouse that is a Gun-Free Zone is the 3rd floor of the building.  He says that’s the floor that houses the District Courtroom, Clerk’s Office and Judge’s Chambers.  He says that area was deemed a Gun-Free Zone by Judicial Authoritiy.  In other words, it was the Iowa Court System that declared the Gun-Free Zone, not the O’Brien County Board of Supervisors.

Schuknecht says the new law, as he understands it, would allow that portion of the courthouse to remain a Gun-Free Zone, since the designation was made by the state judiciary, rather than the county government.

The new law takes effect on July 1st.


Original story posted 12:05 pm, Friday 4/21/17

Northwest Iowa — Those who oversee the security at city halls and courthouses in northwest Iowa are hoping to get some more information about what Iowa’s new gun bill, which was signed into law by Governor Branstad last week, will mean for them.

According to the new legislation, political subdivisions, like cities and counties, are “prohibited from enacting an ordinance regulating the ownership, possession, legal transfer, lawful transportation, registration, or licensing of firearms when the ownership, possession, transfer, or transportation is otherwise lawful under the laws of this state.”  The county sheriffs we talked to said there is some uncertainty about whether the new law would force changes in courthouse security.

At present, Lyon County Sheriff Stewart Vander Stoep says the Lyon County Courthouse is a “Gun-Free Zone”.  He says the Lyon County Attorney has notified their Board of Supervisors that there may be some issues with maintaining the Gun-Free Zone at the courthouse.  The Sheriff hopes they’ll know more once the Iowa Attorney General’s Office provides an interpretation of the new law.  Vander Stoep says the Lyon County Supervisors will revisit the issue before the new law takes effect July 1st.  In addition, Vander Stoep says his officers provide court security at the courtroom door on trial days.  He said he wonders if they will still be allowed to do that once the new law goes into effect.

In Osceola County, Sheriff Doug Weber says the Board of Supervisors have posted the courthouse as a Gun-Free Zone, but he says they never passed an ordinance making it so.  As a result, the sign would probably have no legal effect on anyone entering the Osceola County Courthouse while carrying a firearm.  Weber says he thinks the only change the new law might require in Osceola County would be the removal of the no-guns sign from the courthouse.

We reached out to O’Brien County Sheriff Allen Schuknecht and Sioux County Sheriff Dan Altena, but both were out of the office and unavailable for comment.


Feenstra Already Working On Tax Reform For 2018 Session

Feenstra 2017aHull, Iowa — With the 2017 legislative session ending over the weekend, one northwest Iowa Republican senator is already working on tax reform for the 2018 session.

Senator Randy Feenstra of Hull says has been using computer models for the past few months to experiment with changes in the tax code.

Iowa’s top tax rate for individual taxpayers is nearly nine percent. But it’s NOT nine percent when compared to how taxes are calculated in other states. That’s because Iowans get to deduct their federal income taxes from their income, before calculating how much they owe the State of Iowa. For the first time in decades – at the urging of key business groups – Republicans are seriously talking about getting rid of that deduction. Senator Feenstra warns, though, that the deduction has to be phased out.

Feenstra is chairman of the Senate committee that drafts state tax policy. He says delaying the debate about income taxes changes means legislators will find out what changes may be made at the federal level — because those changes may force adjustments in a state-level tax plan.

Democrats point to the experience in Kansas, where Republicans enacted major tax cuts five years ago — and made 330-thousand small businesses exempt from taxes. It has created huge state budget deficits and Kansas lawmakers are struggling to figure out how to fix things. Feenstra says Republicans in Iowa do not intend to follow the Kansas playbook when it comes to tax policy.

Feenstra says Republicans in the Iowa legislature have another seven months to run ideas through computer models and come up with something that could simplify and reduce income taxes, but not blow a hole in the state budget.