Proposed Halloween Carnival Needs Donations

Sheldon, Iowa — A Halloween Carnival is being planned in Sheldon — but there’s a catch. There’s not enough money to buy prizes — and you can’t have a carnival without prizes.
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Karin Vanden Berg is one of the organizers of the proposed event, and she tells us that they’d like it to be like the old “Fall Festival” in Sheldon that she used to help out with.

She tells us what they’d like to have for the carnival.

But, says Vanden Berg — that’s the rub. They don’t have money to purchase the prizes.

Vanden Berg says they’d appreciate donations in any amount. She says you can mail them to Prairie Arts Historical Park, PO Box 61, Sheldon, Iowa 51201. Or you can contact Hal Tuttle at 324-4190 or Vanden Berg at 324-9718 to pick up your donation.

Their goal is around $500, which in years past seemed to be enough for candy and prizes, she says.

She says if they get enough funding, they’d like to do the Halloween Carnival on the actual day of Halloween, Saturday, October 31st, 2015, from 1 to 3 PM.

UPDATE — Harrisburg, SD High School Principal Shot

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Harrisburg, South Dakota — The high school principal in Harrisburg was wounded this morning when a student produced a handgun and fired one round.

According to ABC Radio, the student and Principal were in the Principal’s Office and were having a disagreement when the student produced a handgun and fired one round striking the Principal in the arm.

ABC reports that the Assistant Principal then tackled the gunman, and he and another faculty member held him down until police arrived.

The school has been on lock-down since this morning’s incident, and according to the report, will remain on lock-down for the remainder of the day while the building is cleared.

No students were injured in the incident, and the Principal’s injuries were described as a “flesh wound”, according to ABC Radio.


Harrisburg, South Dakota — Schools in Harrisburg are on lock-down this morning after a shooting incident at the high school in that southeast South Dakota community.

Details are still sketchy,but authorities say one shot was fired that struck the school’s Principal in the arm.  They say the Principal is being treated for what was described as a “flesh wound” to the arm.

Authorities say the suspected shooter is in custody, and no students were injured.

We’ll have more details when they become available.

Combine, Header Destroyed In Fire

Archer, Iowa — A combine and header were destroyed in a fire on Tuesday, September 29, 2015 near Archer.
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According to Archer Fire Chief Don De Boer, about 4:25 PM, the Archer Fire Department was called to the report of a combine fire on the Keith Ver Berg property, about a half mile north of 3880 Nettle Avenue; two miles south and three west of Archer — between Archer and Hospers.

The chief says the fire department saw the combine in flames as they approached the scene. He says they used water to fight the fire.

He says the cause of the fire appeared to be a hot part inside the combine.

Chief De Boer reports that the combine was totaled, with $30,000 to $40,000 worth of damage.

He says they used less than 500 gallons of water to fight the fire, and crews were on scene for about an hour.

He says the incident could have happened to anyone, but it’s a good reminder to farmers to look over their combines and blow them out occasionally, do routine maintenance, and check bearings.

Urban Renewal Plan/TIF Being Considered To Help Harris

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.

Northwest Iowa Soybean Harvest Well Underway

combine soybeansNorthwest Iowa — The combines are busy in the soybean fields here in northwest Iowa, as harvest season is in full swing.

Joel DeJong is a Field Agronomist with Iowa State University Extension, and he says the farmers he’s talked to are very optimistic about this year’s soybean harvest.

He says that the September weather we’ve experienced has been very positive for area crops.

DeJong says the percentage of the soybean harvest that has been completed varies by neighborhood.

As the harvest continues, remember to watch for implements on the roadways as you travel around the area this fall.

USDA Gives Loan Fund Nearly $200,000

Primghar, Iowa — The USDA has released some background information about the federal grant that the O’Brien County Revolving Loan Fund administrators were told the fund would receive.
USDA RD Rural Development
O’Brien County Economic Development Director Kiana Johnson says they were told in July that they would be receiving nearly $200,000 for the revolving loan fund, as we have reported earlier.

On Tuesday, September 29th, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack awarded nearly $20 million through 385 grants to help support the start-up or expansion of rural small businesses. Five of the grants totaling $321,000 are being awarded to organizations serving rural Iowans.

Vilsack says that these grants will strengthen the economic fabric of rural small towns and communities by providing capital to small and emerging businesses.

USDA is awarding the grants through the Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG) program. Recipients may use the funds to provide technical assistance, training and job-creation activities.

The O’Brien County Revolving Loan Fund received more money by far than any other Iowa entity, with a grant of $196,910. The University of Northern Iowa Institute for Decision Making received $32,000. Charles City Development received $26,270. Estherville Industrial Development received $25,000. Indian Hills Community College received $40,820.

Development Director Johnson says the USDA told them why they scored so high.

She says nearly all of the dollars from the grant are already spoken for. Two projects, whose identities need to be kept private at this time will receive most of the loan funds. One will get a $120,000 loan, and the other project will get a $70,000 loan. She says one of the projects is an expanding business and the other is a business succession — a situation in which the business owner is retiring and has found someone who wants to buy the business.

Johnson says they also have an application in to the USDA for even more funding for the revolving loan fund.