School Board Accepts Resignations, Approves Contracts

Sheldon, Iowa — The Sheldon Community Schools Board of Education accepted letters of resignation from seven people during Wednesday night’s regular monthly meeting.

Sheldon-Schools-logoThose resigning include:  High School Principal and Head Football Coach Matt Meendering who has accepted a position as High School Principal at Dowling Catholic High School in Des Moines; Beth Bunkers and Kay Youngs who are both taking early retirement from the District; Adam Orban who is leaving to accept a Vocal Music Teacher position with the Glenwood Community Schools; Jen VanWyk, who has accepted a teaching job in another district, Dave Gross, who is leaving his position at East Elementary; and Dance Team Head Coach Daphne Feekes.  The Board accepted all seven resignations.

In other District employee-related news, the Board voted to issue teacher contracts for the 2015/16 school year.  The complete list of teacher salaries for the 2015/16 school year can be found by clicking here.  The Board also issued coaching contracts for the upcoming school year.  That list can be viewed by clicking here.

The Board had a discussion about the KeBecca special education services contract.  Superintendent Robin Spears told the Board that the program has a maximum capacity of seven students, but the District has never had more than six students in the program at any time.  He says that currently there are only two Sheldon students in the program and four students from other school districts.  Spears says he’s “leaning toward a recommendation that the District discontinue the KeBecca Program and send it’s two students back to Children’s Home Services in Sioux Falls.”  No action was taken at Wednesday’s meeting, but the Board scheduled a Special Meeting next Wednesday, March 18th, at 6:30 pm to discuss this issue, along with the District’s employee health insurance.

The Board also set the date and time for their FY-2016 Budget Hearing and Certification.  It will be held during the April Regular Monthly Meeting, Wednesday April 8th.  The meeting will be called to order at 6:00 pm, with the Budget Hearing and Certification scheduled for 6:30.

Vander Plaats Speaks In Favor Of Cannabis Oil

Des Moines, Iowa — A Sheldon native and former candidate for governor who has become a leader in Iowa’s Christian conservative community is calling on Iowa lawmakers to legalize the growing and harvesting of marijuana, so cannabis oil can be produced and dispensed here as treatment for chronic epilepsy.
Bob Vander Plaats 2015
Bob Vander Plaats says he “cheered silently from the sidelines” last year as the parents of children with intractable epilepsy successfully lobbied for a new law that decriminalized possession of cannabis oil as a treatment for the condition.

(as said) “While last year we stayed quiet, this year we believe we need to lend voice because we see a gap — and we see an unnecessary gap,” Vander Plaats said. “And the unnecessary gap is while last year legalized the access to cannabis oil, there really isn’t any access for these parents.”

Vander Plaats — with his wife, Darla, at this side — spoke out at a statehouse news conference Wednesday afternoon, March 11th. The couple’s third son, Lucas, has a very rare brain disorder that has caused severe seizures. Vander Plaats says that’s why he and his wife have such respect for the parents who are seeking access to cannabis oil.

(as said) “Now, as Iowans, we believe we need to take the next step,” Vander Plaats said. “And we need to take the next step and figure out how it is we get this medical cannabis oil into the hands of parents so that their children can benefit from it and benefit from it greatly.”

Vander Plaats is speaking as an individual, not as president of The Family Leader, a Christian conservative organization, and Vander Plaats says he’s not backing any specific bill.

(as said) “We have a lot of bright minds in this capitol, people who I respect greatly,” Vander Plaats says, “that I think we can cross this hurdle fairly quickly.”

Vander Plaats says he believes Iowa State University and the University of Iowa, for example, have the “expertise” to grow, harvest, process, manufacture and dispense cannabis oil. Several advocates for access in Iowa to cannabis oil attended the Vander Plaats news conference. A half hour later, many of the same people attended a subcommittee hearing on a Senate bill that would set up a system for making and dispensing cannabis oil in Iowa. If that bill becomes law, cannabis oil could be used as treatment for a variety of chronic conditions, like post traumatic stress, and could be used by cancer victims to try to control their pain and nausea.

Story from Radio Iowa

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Major Damage In Highway 60 Accident

Hospers, Iowa — A traffic accident that closed down the southbound lanes of Highway 60 south of Hospers for several hours Tuesday evening was a big mess to clean up, and caused over a quarter of a million dollars in damage, but no injuries were reported.
truck rollover 3-10
The Sioux County Sheriff’s Office says Highway 60’s southbound lanes were closed about 8:20 PM Tuesday evening and did not re-open to traffic until about 1:30 AM Wednesday morning.

According to Sioux County Chief Deputy and Emergency Management Director Nate Huizenga, Hospers Fire, Rescue, and Ambulance Personnel were paged for the report of a semi rollover accident near 410th Street on Highway 60, about a mile southeast of Hospers.

The Sheriff’s Office reports that 47-year-old Clint La Rock of Sparta, Wisconsin was driving a 2010 Freightliner southbound on Highway 60 when he lost control of the semi on the shoulder of the road causing the semi to overturn onto its side.

No injuries were reported.

The semi sustained $85,000, damage. The cargo, which was stone slab countertops, was a total loss estimated at $240,000.

La Rock was cited for failure to maintain control.

The Iowa State Patrol also assisted on the scene.

Des Moines Water To Sue NW Iowa Counties

Des Moines, Iowa — The Des Moines Water Works Board voted Tuesday to proceed with a lawsuit against three northwest Iowa counties.

file photo
file photo

Leaders of the utility claim officials in Buena Vista, Calhoun and Sac Counties have failed to adequately manage drainage districts in their area, causing nitrate levels in the water downstream to rise to record high levels. Governor Terry Branstad and Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey have criticized the utility, claiming voluntary efforts to reduce nitrate levels will improve water quality. Des Moines Water Works Board chairman Graham Gillette says he agrees there are “some beneficial things” in the so-called Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS).

(as said) “The problem is it doesn’t address our most current concerns — the fact that we’re running our denitrification units now in the middle of winter,” Gillette says.

Des Moines Water Works has seven denitrification units. Gillette says the units usually aren’t needed in the winter months when water usage drops off.

(as said) “Running these units in winter is unprecedented and it is costly to our rate payers to do so,” Gillette says. “But that fact…that we’ve been running these units since December is only a snapshot of the problem. The bigger problem is that we continue to face this increased nitrate concentration in our rivers.”

Bill Northey, the state’s agricultural secretary, spoke with Radio Iowa in January after Des Moines Water Works first raised the possibility of a lawsuit. Northey said there’s been “great progress” through volunteer efforts to reduce phosphorus runoff and soil erosion on the farm and the same approach will help limit nitrogen runoff.

(as said) “We see some lakes that had phosphorus issues historically that don’t now, as they’ve worked on projects, and we’re just starting to engage on the nitrogen side the same way we have on phosphorus. So, I really believe that we’re going to be more successful,” Northey said.

A member of the Iowa House who represents two of the counties named in the lawsuit said managers of the Des Moines Water Works have insulted “every family farmer in northwest Iowa.” Republican Gary Worthan is a farmer from Storm Lake. In January, he spoke on the House floor and talked of the blood he and his ancestors have shed while working the farm that’s been in his family since 1878.

(as said) “And to have someone insinuate that I would intentionally send that legacy down the river due to bad farming practices, it’s an affront to me,” Worthan said, “and it’s an insult to every family farmer in northwest Iowa.”

But, Gillette suggests the NRS places most of the burden on farmers to solve the problem of reducing nitrate pollution.

(as said) “This lawsuit isn’t about us against farmers, it’s about figuring out how we can all work together better,” Gillette said.

Bill Stowe, CEO and general manager of Des Moines Water Works, alleges the drainage districts in the three northwest Iowa counties are violating the federal Clean Water Act. The system to remove the nitrates costs $7,000 per day to operate, according to Stowe.

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Farm And Home Shows This Week

Sibley and Rock Rapids, Iowa — It’s Farm and Home Show season in northwest Iowa and two of them are going on this week.

We talked to Sheryl Peters, the Sibley Chamber Director. She tells us that the show is going to be in a different location this year.

She says the festivities start at 8 AM with a fundraiser breakfast.

The breakfast is also being served at the elementary building. After that, the real Farm and Home Show starts at 9.

Peters says Osceola Community Hospital will be showcasing the Mega Heart Exhibit, where you can learn how your heart works, says Peters.

Again, the Sibley Farm and Home Show is Saturday from 9 to 2 with an FFA Breakfast at 8, all at the Sibley-Ocheyedan Elementary School.

Meanwhile, the Rock Rapids Farm and Home Show is this Thursday, March 12th. Rock Rapids Chamber Director Angie Jager tells us about it.

She says new this year are some chamber gift certificate drawings. The American Legion and VFW are also teaming up in the evening for a pancake supper. That’s the Rock Rapids Farm and Home Show, on Thursday, March 12th, at the Forster Community Center from 2 to 8 PM.

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Spirit Lake Man Wins $100,000 Lottery Prize

Spirit Lake, Iowa — A Spirit Lake man has won a $100,000 lottery prize.
Merle Sorum
Merle Sorum of Spirit Lake claimed the second of six top prizes of $100,000 available in the Iowa Lottery’s “Cash Frenzy” instant-scratch game.

Sorum claimed his prize recently at the lottery’s regional office in Storm Lake. He purchased his winning ticket at Dyno’s, on 18th Street in Spirit Lake.

Cash Frenzy is a $10 scratch game. Players match numbers to win prizes. If they match any of “Your Numbers” to any “Winning Number,” they win the prize shown. If they uncover a “2X” game symbol, they win double the prize shown, and if they uncover a “3X” game symbol, they win triple the prize shown.