Group Opposed To Idea Of A 5-Lane Highway 75 Through Sioux Center Presents Over 400 Petitions To DOT

Sioux Center CRGCoralville, Iowa — The group that wants to prevent Highway 75 through Sioux Center from becoming a 5-lane road has taken another significant step.

Even though the Sioux Center City Council has said they are tabling the project indefinitely and that it’s no longer a part of their plan, this past week, representatives of Sioux Center Citizens For Responsible Growth, or “CRG” asked a panel of Iowa Department of Transportation Commissioners to withdraw the DOT’s share of funding for the $6.7 million Highway 75 expansion of Sioux Center’s main street. The expansion was funded in the DOT’s 2013-2017 plan.

The CRG traveled to attend the public hearing in Coralville, Iowa, on behalf of hundreds of citizens who have objected to expanding Sioux Center’s Main Street.

CRG chair Rachel Hoogeveen says that the Sioux Center City Council was asked, on at least two occasions, to take the Highway 75 project to a vote and simply gave the answer “No.” She says the CRG group has more than 400 petition letters from citizens asking the DOT to deny the expansion, and she says it is their responsibility to make sure their voices are heard. About 70-80% of residents oppose the expansion, based on polling by the Sioux Center newspaper, the Sioux Center News.

According to a statement from the CRG:

In tabling the issue on March 27, the council did not allow any public comment and did not address the many studies that the CRG had shared at its website,, which relied on data from the Iowa Department of Transportation to show that traffic on the road was decreasing and that a five-lane expansion would be detrimental to safety. Additionally, an expansion would require taking land from many residents, demolishing some businesses and possibly homes, cutting down about 80 mature trees, and removing some street parking for downtown businesses.

The CRG says that based on the Iowa DOT’s own measurements, traffic has been decreasing on Highway 75 and is currently close to 1999 levels, when the road was converted from a 4-lane to a 3-lane roadway and saw a huge decrease in accidents and fatalities.

Hull Man Arrested On Felony Forgery And Theft Charges

Lyon County Sheriff Car DoorRock Rapids, Iowa — A Hull man was arrested this past week on felony forgery and theft charges.

The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office reports that they arrested 20-year-old Tanner Nissen on Thursday and transported him to the Lyon County Jail. He is accused of being involved in a theft and forgery case.

Nissen faces charges of Forgery and Second Degree Theft, both Class D Felonies.

The charges stem from an investigation where authorities allege that Nissen, Shane Meerdink, and Frederick Hinojosa cashed stolen checks knowing them to be forged. Shane Meerdink was arrested last Sunday (4/7) in connection with the crime and there are valid warrants for Frederick Hinojosa, who is currently in a Nebraska jail on unrelated charges.

Vander Plaats Calls For Revote On Cramer For Board Of Regents

Bob Vander Plaats portraitDes Moines, Iowa — A Sheldon native and leading Iowa Christian conservative is calling for senators to vote again on the nomination of a man Governor Branstad had asked to serve on the Board of Regents. Robert Cramer, president of the Iowa Family Leader’s board of directors, lost his confirmation vote in the senate Monday. Bob Vander Plaats, the Family Leader’s chief executive, held a news conference this week to call for a re-vote.

(as said) “It is more than disturbing to see the senate, controlled by the Democrats, to deem him unfit to serve on the Board of Regents,” Vander Plaats said. “…They deemed him unfit because he holds to some core standards, some core values, one of them being that he believes marriage is the union of a man and a woman.”

Vander Plaats says Democrats have imposed an unfair “litmus test.”

(as said) “I think all Iowans should be concerned,” Vander Plaats said, “that there should be a cautionary flag raised about what is going on here.”

According to Senate Rules, a re-vote could have been scheduled if a senator who voted against Cramer on Monday had filed some paperwork by Tuesday night calling for another vote, but that didn’t happen. Vander Plaats is not convinced.

(as said) “I do believe, as a matter of fact if you read the statutes that surround this, I think there’s plenty of gray area, where (Senate Democratic Leader Mike) Gronstal and Branstad could find a remedy,” Vander Plaats said. “It might be as easy as Branstad saying, ‘I’m going to reappoint (Cramer) and you guys reconsider him.”

The governor says that’s not an option.

(as said) “You know the rules and I know the rules,” Branstad told reporters. “…I don’t think that’s possible.”

Branstad beat Vander Plaats in the 2010 Iowa Republican Party Primary for governor. Cramer backed Vander Plaats in that race, yet Branstad asked Cramer to serve on the Board of Regents. The governor also asked Board president Craig Lang to serve another six-year term.

(as said) “I was very disappointed with the shabby way that both Craig Lang and Robert Cramer were treated,” Branstad said. “We, you know, made a valiant effort.”

Branstad notes both men got “yes” votes from a majority of the 50 senators, but the people Iowa’s governor nominates to state boards and commissions have to win a two-thirds majority of 34 senators. Lang fell four votes short. Cramer was seven votes short. Branstad says Cramer’s background as a construction company executive would have been helpful as the state universities embark on major building projects.

(as said) “I don’t think a religious litmus test ought to be imposed on people,” Branstad said. “And I think people ought to be judged on their experience and their ability and I think that Robert Cramer was very well-qualified to serve.”

A key senator involved in the debate over Cramer’s nomination says even if a re-vote were taken, the outcome would be the same.

Update From Osceola Rural Electric

Directly from Osceola Rural Electric:

General Manager Jeff TenNapel appreciates the member’s cooperation and understanding with the ongoing outages due to the ice storm. Currently we have five rural electric cooperatives (20 men and trucks) helping with the restoration. Restoration is slow due to damage system wide. OEC’s hope by Friday evening is that we will have 70% of our system on. Sunday we hope to have everyone on – or temporarily on, provided the weather cooperates.

Communities Will Be Picking Up Trees, Branches

Downed Limbs In Terrace Ice StormNorthwest Iowa — Northwest Iowa communities are planning to take care of trees and limbs that have fallen in the recent ice and snow storm. If you are a city official, email if you’d like your community’s plan added to the list.

  • In Ashton:

Ashton residents should put tree limbs and branches on the side of the road in the ditch and they will be picked up.  The Ashton Tree dump has been closed.  A secondary dump is located east of the tracks by the cement silo.

  • In Boyden:

The City of Boyden has contracted help for the recent storm clean up. Please try and have your limbs and branches on the street as close to the curb as possible by Tuesday, April 16, 2013.

  • In George:

Residents may take their trees and branches and place them on the street in front of their house. The City will pick them up. They emphasize that they must be on the street, and not on the grass please.

  • In Ocheyedan:

The City of Ocheyedan has begun the cleanup efforts for Ocheyedan. Crews are starting with Main Street and will continue to work over the next few days to pick up trees limbs and branches. Residents are asked to put any fallen tree limbs and branches on the road as close to the curb of your property as possible. Please be aware of any tree trimming or tree removal companies that come to your door. Any tree trimming or removal companies are asked to stop at the City Office or contact the City Clerk. Remember, DO NOT prepay for any services! If there are any questions, please do not hesitate to call the City Office (712-758-3602) or by calling the City Clerk (712-720-9039). You may also contact the Mayor, City Council, or any City Personnel. The City of Ocheyedan appreciates everyone working together during this cleanup effort. *Also see Sibley/Ocheyedan announcement in the Sibley section.

  • In Rock Rapids:

Both limbs from terrace trees and those from trees on your own property may be placed in the terrace for pick up by city crews. The city does ask for your patience. City crews will be removing trees and branches from terraces on a low-priority basis, which will continue indefinitely until completion. Or, if immediate action is desired, residents may perform cleanup or contract for it, at their own expense. For more information, go to our Lyon County site,

  • In Sanborn:

The Sanborn tree dump is closed, but a temporary site has been set up for your convenience. It is located east of the cement silos behind the elevator. You can enter from Walker Street heading east. The area is marked with 4 green posts and white flags.

  • In Sheldon:

With the recent storm and number of trees and branches that are down, the City of Sheldon will begin a city-wide cleanup as soon as possible for all property owners that place these items along the curb line of the streets. They will probably begin cleanup efforts on Friday, April 12, but do realize a number of property owners will need some time to trim trees ect. The City of Sheldon also asks for your patience and that it may take a couple of weeks and trips for the crews to cover the community. We would please ask that you continue to use extreme caution in cleaning up these areas for possible downed power lines that have not been repaired and additional dangerous trees that could still fall due to snow, ice and wind.

  • In Sibley:

The City of Sibley will begin city-wide tree branch cleanup as soon as possible for all property owners that place these items in the area known as the “parking” or “terrace”. This is the area between the sidewalk and the street, usually planted to grass. Please continue to use extreme caution in cleaning up affected areas.

THIS FRIDAY April 19th the Sibley/Ocheyedan High School student body will be helping the communities of Sibley and Ocheyedan in cleaning up from the devastating ice storm that hit the communities last week. IF any parents or loyal patrons would be willing to help supervise and donate their time and/or bring pickups, trailers, tractors, skid loaders to assist in loading branches and to transport debris to the local dumps—PLEASE contact the Sibley/Ocheyedan High School at (712-754-3601) as school officials will gladly get you on a work list.

Rock Rapids Woman Injured In Larchwood Accident

Ambulance LightbarLarchwood, Iowa — A Rock Rapids woman was seriously injured and taken to Sanford Hospital in Sioux Falls after an accident in Larchwood.

The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office reports that about 5:45 PM on Wednesday (4/10), 52-year-old Elizabeth Jean “BJ” Grafing of Rock Rapids was driving her 2009 Pontiac Torrent eastbound on Iowa Highway 9. For no known reason, the Grafing vehicle drove off the road to the left, into a ditch, then continued along Iowa Highway 9. The vehicle struck the approach to Dement Street, vaulting over the street and striking a tree in the yard, on the northeast corner of Iowa Highway 9 and Dement Street.

Grafing was transported to Sanford Hospital in Sioux Falls.

The vehicle was a total loss, sustaining about $15,000 in damage. The accident was not caused by weather-related or road conditions, according to the report.

Lyon County Deputies, along with Larchwood Fire Department and the Larchwood Emergency Medical Services responded to the scene.