Sheldon Fire Company Called To Site Of Burning Rail Cars

Sheldon Fire Call 040313Ritter, Iowa — The Sheldon Fire Company was called out Wednesday (4/3) to the rail cars that Progressive Rail company is burning near Ritter. The Fire Company was called just before 1 PM for extra help controlling the burning cars.

Fire Chief Jerry Meyer says they were called by the salvage company that is cutting up the recently derailed rail cars to extinguish insulation and bean oil residue on a tank car that caught fire during the cutting process.

The Fire Company was on scene about an hour.

Progressive Rail has advised the O’Brien County Communications Center that they will be burning out there for possibly up to three weeks, as part of the derailment cleanup. Two derailments happened in the same location in late January and late February of this year.

Documentary Movie About Autism Features Segment About Rock Rapids Family

wesselsRock Rapids, Iowa — A special movie about autism is about to premier, and a northwest Iowa family has a connection. Not only that, but they appear in the movie.

The independent film “The United States of Autism” took 11,000 miles, 40 days and 21 families to get to the big screen. Making its theatrical bow in New York City, Friday, April 5, the Pepsi Refresh Project-winning film begins a national tour raising money for autism around America.

“The United States of Autism” follows Richard Everts’ journey across America to visit families and individuals living with autism. Interviewees come from a broad cultural spectrum from Mormon to Muslim and Hispanic to Chinese. Each person shows how autism has shaped their world and, in many cases, made them stronger. What Everts learns along the way changes not only his life, but the lives of those he meets, forever.

Rock Rapids fifth-grader Sam Wessels and his family are one of the families featured in the film. Wessels tells us what his experience has been with autism.

Sam Wessels’ mom, Lin Wessels says Sam has really improved since he was diagnosed, and their experience is not typical.

She says that they were approached by the movie’s producer’s wife on Facebook. She says they were noticed because of their political activism.

Wessels says that due to Iowa’s first in the nation caucus status, they were able to speak about autism to every 2012 Presidential Candidate.US of Autism Poster

The movie, which features a small segment about Sam Wessels and his parents Mark and Lin, is going to be shown at the historic Palace Theater in Luverne, Minnesota on Sunday, April 14, 2013, at 2:00 PM. Tickets can be purchased that day or in advance. The director will be there for a question and answer session, as will the Wessels family.

Tickets can be purchased by calling 507-283-8294 or at

“The United States of Autism” will donate 25% of net proceeds from each screening to a local family/organization/individual affected by autism. Over 20 cities have committed to theatrical showings for the movie.

For more information on hosting or to request a screening, go to

On a related note, Sam Wessels is also up for an award.  Sam and Lin created a video for CNN iReport a while back, with Sam telling in his own words what it’s like to have autism and how since he has a voice, he wants to use it to help others with autism.  The video is a CNN Annual iReport Awards finalist.  The results will be announced May 14.  Click here for the link to the video.

Hear the whole interview that KIWA did with Lin and Sam Wessels by clicking the play button below.

Sheldon City Council Approves Trilogy Plans and Deep Well Agreement, Debates Downtown Project and More

The Sheldon City Council has decided against installing sidewalks in the Trilogy addition before the lots are sold.

Council member Ron Rensink had suggested this procedure to provide a continuous sidewalk throughout the area from the beginning.  In the past sidewalks were not installed until a home was built on a lot.   At their recent meeting in March most council members expressed the feeling that the same policy should be used in the new addition, but since Rensink was not present they tabled discussion until this Wednesday.

Rensink told the council that he had found out that the American Disabilities Act requires that a turn-around area be provided in every two hundred feet of sidewalk.  Normally the driveways provide this area.  So, he made a motion to exclude the sidewalks from the infrastructure project.  The low bid of $298,000 was submitted by Vander Pol Excavating of Orange City.  A change order to remove the sidewalk cost of $24,398 will be acted on later.

Jan and Keith Ralston came to the council on behalf of Farmers Market, asking for help in window repairs at the old depot.  Since the windows have been repeatedly broken by vandals, they want to replace some of them and add a type of hardware cloth screen to protect them.  They stated that they expect to have larger sellers joining their Farmers Market in the coming years, and the Depot would be an ideal location.  They are submitting a request for an O’Brien County Community grant, and felt that it would be helpful if the City of Sheldon would show their support financially.  After discussion the council voted to contribute fourteen hundred dollars from the City’s Depot Reserve Fund.

In other business, the council approved an agreement with DGR Engineering for the drilling of a new 650 foot deep well.  The estimated total cost for the project is $417,000.

The Council also set the date and time for several public hearings including one for financing of the downtown Infrastructure project.  This brought up a question from Ron Rensink who asked if approval of the capital Loan Note in the amount of $1.56 million dollars would mean they approved of the entire project as well.  This led to considerable discussion including explanation of the procedures that still have to be followed.  And the question of whether or not the plan includes trees for downtown. There will be an informational meeting for the public at four p.m. April 17th at which time details of the project will be explained. This will be followed by a City Council Public Hearing at 4:30.

We’ll have full details on the downtown infrastructure discussion and upcoming opportunities for the public on later KIWA newscasts and this website.

Sioux Falls Man In Lyon County Jail, Charged In SD With Threatening Judicial Officer

Jail Door2Rock Rapids, Iowa — A Sioux Falls man is being held in the Lyon County Jail in Rock Rapids after he was arrested on a warrant.

The Lyon County Sheriff’s Department reports their deputies arrested 43-year-old Robin J. Cwach of Sioux Falls.

Cwach is being held on the Lyon County charge of Fugitive from Justice due to a valid warrant issued for his arrest in South Dakota. He is wanted in Minnehaha County South Dakota on a charge of Threatening a Judicial Officer, which is a felony; and Misuse of Phone-Obscene, Lewd Calls, which is a misdemeanor in South Dakota.

Cwach is currently being held in the Lyon County Jail and is awaiting extradition to South Dakota.

Sanborn Woman And Passenger Taken To Hospital After Spencer Area Accident

Ambulance LightbarSpencer, Iowa — A Sanborn woman was taken to the hospital after an accident on Friday (3/29) near Spencer.

The Clay County Sheriff’s Office reports that about 8:05 PM, 84-year-old Alma Donkersloot of Sanborn was northbound on M50, about a mile east of Spencer in a 2013 Chevy SUV. Fifty-seven-year-old Patrick Jones of Spencer was also northbound on M50, ahead of Donkersloot in a 1997 John Deere 7410 farm tractor.

Donkersloot was traveling north when she rear-ended the tractor.

Donkersloot and a passenger in her vehicle — Carol Baumgarn — were transported to the Spencer Hospital by Spencer Hospital Ambulance. Baumgarn was treated for a fractured right leg. Jones was treated and released at the scene.

Donkersloot’s Chevy was totaled. Jones’s John Deere received minor damage.

Dickens Fire and Rescue, Spencer Fire and Rescue and Spencer EMT’s assisted the Sheriff’s Office on the scene.

Branstad, Reynolds Talk Economic Development, Tackle Other Issues At Town Hall Meetings

branstadDes Moines, Iowa — Iowa’s Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds are in northwest Iowa.

The executive pair made three stops in our area yesterday (4/2). We caught up with the Governor after he had been at Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn School in Sanborn, the Sibley Public Library in Sibley, and the Forster Community Center in Rock Rapids. We asked him about the issues he has been hearing about in northwest Iowa.

We also asked him about his health care plan, and when we could expect to see it. Branstad has said the state is required to expand Medicaid to thousands more Iowans, and he doesn’t think the state should take federal money for this because the federal money may not always be there.

Branstad and Reynolds’ stops today (4/3) include the Terrace View Events Center in Sioux Center and the Cherokee Noon Rotary at Danny’s Sports Spot in Cherokee.