Ellsworth, MN Resident Sentenced On Felony OWI Charge

Rock Rapids, Iowa — An Ellsworth, Minnesota resident has been sentenced on felony OWI charges.
drunk driving OWI DWI iStock
The Lyon County Attorney’s Office reports that Janeen Dirks of Ellsworth has been convicted of Operating While Intoxicated 3rd Offense, a Class D Felony, Habitual Offender.

Dirks was ordered to enter the Residential Treatment Facility Program, complete substance abuse treatment, complete a driving unimpaired program, and was placed on probation to the Third Judicial District Department of Correctional Services for a period of three years.

Dirks’ license was revoked for a period of six years. Dirks was also ordered to pay court costs and a surcharge.


Senate Passes Mental Health Bills After Debate

Des Moines, Iowa — A northwest Iowa state senator was in the thick of the debate this past week as the State Senate had an often bitter debate over the future of care for Iowans with acute mental illnesses.
David Johnson 2015
A Republican from northwest Iowa offered an alternative that said mentally ill patients should be placed in the most appropriate and highest level of care possible. Senator Rob Hogg, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, scoffed.


(as said) “Oh, by the way, maybe you’re voting because you want more patients to go to Cherokee in northwest Iowa,” Hogg said.

One of the state’s four Mental Health Institutes is located in Cherokee. Senator David Johnson, a Republican from Ocheyedan, snapped back.


(as said) “Shame on you, Senator Hogg, for thinking I’m trying to move everybody to Cherokee,” Johnson said. “We’re talking about people here, not politics.”

The debate was sparked by Governor Branstad’s move to close the state-run Mental Health Institutes in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant. Senator Mark Chelgren, a Republican from Ottumwa, favors keeping both facilities open, but Chelgren says legislators are “arrogant” if they think they know better than the professionals where mentally ill patients should be placed.


(as said) “State Mental Health Institutes are not the only place to get quality care for patients,” Chelgren said.

Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, suggested Republicans in the Senate were searching for a “fig leaf.”


(as said) “To cover up for the governor’s bad decisions in his proposal to close Clarinda and Mount Pleasant and it’s unfortunate that you all have to defend that,” Bolkcom said. “And I’d have to say you’re not doing a very good job of it.”

After that comment, Republican senators retreated into a private meeting for two hours before emerging shortly before 6:30 p.m. Senators passed a bill that called on officials to keep the Clarinda and Mount Pleasant Mental Health Institutes open and accept patients through June 30th. Another bill that passed on a 29-19 vote called for keeping the M-H-I’s open until a “long-term” plan was in place to ensure there’s care somewhere for the most severely mentally ill Iowans. Senator Rich Taylor, a Democrat from Mount Pleasant, says legislators need to look out for the state’s most vulnerable citizens.


(as said) “In my opinion, this is one of the most important issues that we’re going to face in this legislature this year or in years to come,” Taylor said. “We have to take care of these people. I beg you all to join with me.”

Senator Mark Costello, a Republican from Imogene, represents the Clarinda area and he made a plea to keep the Clarinda M-H-I open at least temporarily.


(as said) “I’ve received letters from family members that have expressed the fear that their loves ones may not survive the transfer,” Costello says. “…I just feel this bill is important. We want to make sure that these patients are cared for.”

Senator Liz Mathis, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, says the state’s psychiatrists and executives from private hospitals say they’re not ready to pick up the slack once Clarinda and Mount Pleasant close.


(as said) “Turning off the lights at a mental health facility is not a transition plan,” Mathis said.

On Tuesday, a Republican from Mount Pleasant lashed out at the governor’s plan to close the Clarinda and Mount Pleasant Mental Health Institutes. Representative Dave Heaton called it a “radical” move to close the state-run facilities before the private sector was prepared to care for Iowans with severe mental illnesses.

Story from Radio Iowa

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Fire Damages Sioux Center Business

Sioux Center, Iowa — A business was damaged in a fire on Friday, March 13, 2015 in Sioux Center.
Sioux Center FD
According to Sioux Center Fire Chief David Van Holland, about 10:20 AM, the Sioux Center and Hull Fire Departments were called to the report of smoke coming from the roof of Las Palmas Mexican Grocery Store at 33 Fourth Street Northwest, which is the former bowling alley building, a block west of Highway 75. The same building houses Promise Community Health Center, but their part of the building sustained no damage says Van Holland.

The chief says the fire department saw smoke coming from the east side of the building as they approached the scene.

He says some remodeling had been going on inside and some hot sparks got into an area that they shouldn’t have been, which he says started the fire.

Van Holland says no injuries were reported.

The Hull and Orange City Fire Departments assisted on the scene.

Chief Van Holland reports that there was five to ten thousand dollars-worth of damage.  He says they used a minimal amount water to fight the fire, and crews were on scene for about an hour.


Arrests Made In Three Cases

Rock Rapids, Iowa — Three people were arrested in three separate cases in Lyon County on Thursday, March 12.
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The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office reports that the first case started when Lyon County Deputies observed a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed in Rock Rapids on Thursday. The vehicle was clocked on radar at 102 miles per hour in a 55 zone. Deputies attempted to stop the vehicle and followed it to 1397 Harrison Avenue, a mile north of Rock Rapids on K52. Authorities say the driver then fled on foot into the residence. A short time later, deputies say he was apprehended and identified as 26-year-old Elliot DeWit of Rock Rapids. DeWit was transported to the Lyon County Jail and charged with speeding, interference with official acts, and operating while intoxicated.

In another case from the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office, they report that also on Thursday, March 12th, they arrested 21-year-old Leonard Michael Doiel, whose address is listed as “homeless.” They say Doiel was arrested by Lyon County Deputies on a charge of failing to comply with the Iowa sex offender registry requirements, an aggravated misdemeanor. Doiel was registered as living at a home on South Park Street in Inwood, but he does not live there. He was arrested in Rock Rapids.

The Lyon County Deputies also report that they arrested 33-year-old Nathaniel Byron Kassel of Rock Rapids in Rock Rapids and charged with disorderly conduct on Thursday, March 12. Deputies say Kassel resisted arrest and was also charged with interference with official acts. Both charges are simple misdemeanors.


Sportsmen’s Club Banquet Saturday Night

Sioux Center, Iowa — The 2015 Sioux County Sportsmen’s Club Banquet is coming up on Saturday, March 14th. It’s at Dordt College’s Rec Center. Doors open at 5:00 PM.
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We had a chance to talk with Denny Hoksbergen, and he told us about the door prizes and games.


He highlights a few of the door prizes and raffle items.


He says they’ve got a great meal planned.


At about 7 PM, Hoksbergen says they’ll start the auction.


That’s not all, says Hoksbergen.


He says they encourage you to bring your kids too. He says they keep it rolling and finish up at a decent hour to let you get your kids in bed on time.

Banquet tickets are $40 each ($15 more on the day of the banquet), $15 for children 15 & younger. Tickets can be purchased online by clicking here.

Grand Prizes:

  • Benelli 12 Gauge
  • Kimber 308 Cal
  • Savage FV 22-250
  • Winchester SX3 12 Gauge
  • Ruger 10-22
  • Sig P238
  • American Classic 1911 .45 Cal Pistol
  • $1,000 Gift Certificate to Joe’s Appliance (located in Orange City)
  • $500 Scheels Gift Card
  • $2,000 Travel voucher to the Caribbeans from Siouxland Travel of Orange City
  • Louisiana Smoker/Grill from Joe’s Appliance
  • G5 Quest Compound Bow from Scheels

Proceeds from the sale of tickets go towards public land acquisition and the preservation of wildlife habitat in Sioux County.

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Park Bridges Still Need Work

Rock Rapids, Iowa — Almost three years ago we told you that the Rock Rapids City Council is in the middle of a long process to decide the fate of a bridge at the opening to the city’s popular Island Park.

The bridge, at the end of the park’s cobblestone entrance is over a channel put in over 100 years ago, reportedly by the railroad to divert the Rock River when they were building their trestle, thereby creating the island that gave Island Park its name.

But three years ago a report said that the bridge was in need of repair or replacement. In fact, the city council closed the bridge for a short time, and in so doing closed the main entrance to the park. They later decided to keep it open while they tried to find a solution. Another bridge further north into the park at the beginning of the channel also needs repair or replacement.

Since then, Rock Rapids was dealt a heavy blow with last summer’s record flood. We checked in with Rock Rapids Mayor Jason Chase on the bridge situation. He says while their main priority is flood recovery, the bridges are still on their radar.


Chase says other matters are more pressing right now.


“Confluence” is the name of the park planning firm with which the city contracted to help improve Island Park. That was before the flood. He says they have taken a few steps toward fixing the situation.


Chase says the council knows the bridges and the cobblestone entrance are important to residents and other users of the park, and as money and time allow, they will keep searching for the appropriate action to take.

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