Caucuses Expected To Draw Large Crowds

2016 caucuses democrat republican eledonkNorthwest Iowa — Area voters are expected to turn out in large numbers for Monday’s Iowa Caucuses, the first-in-the-nation test for each party’s presidential candidates.  In fact, the chairman of the Iowa G-O-P says Republican turn-out on Caucus Night may surpass the record set in 2008 when 120-thousand Republicans participated in the Caucuses.

That’s Jeff Kaufmann, chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa. Kaufmann isn’t offering a specific prediction, however.

Andy McGuire, the chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, is predicting “strong” turn-out for this year’s Democratic Caucuses, but says she doesn’t expect it to surpass the record set in 2008.

2008 was the year Barack Obama won the Iowa Caucuses, and 240-thousand Iowa Democrats participated in the 2008 Caucuses.  The 2016 Iowa Caucuses will be held around the state this coming Monday night, February 1st at 7 pm.

A list of caucus locations in O’Brien, Osceola, Lyon and Sioux counties can be found here.

Several NCC Staff Honored For Service

Sheldon, Iowa — Several Northwest Iowa Community College staff members were honored for their service recently at the college’s annual Employee Recognition Ceremony.
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Marlys Schwebach of Alton, was recognized for 35 years of service. Schwebach, a Tutor/Specialist in the Learning Center, has been with NCC since 1980. Recognized for 20 years of service were Ruth Hobson of Lake Park and Jan Snyder of Sanborn. Hobson, the Director of Nursing Education and a Nursing Instructor; and Snyder, the college’s Vice President for Institutional Advancement & External Affairs have both been with NCC since 1995.

NCC employees who were recognized for fifteen years of service included Assistant Registrar Sarah Fykstra of Hull; Financial Aid Coordinator Todd Huesman of Sheldon; and Tutor/Specialist in the Learning Center, Steve Pearce of Hartley.

Seven Northwest Iowa Community College employees were recognized for their ten years of service. They include Carpentry/Construction Technology Instructor Ryan Cannoy of Sheldon; Radiologic Technology instructor Mary Cowan of Cherokee; Electrical Instructor Phil Louters of Sheldon; Heavy Equipment Operation & Maintenance instructor Mark Pritts of Sheldon, Registrar/Associate Dean of Students Beth Sibenaller-Woodall of Sutherland; Administrative Assistant – Dean of Applied Technology and Workforce Lesa Stofferan of Sibley, and VECTOR Coordinator Roy Wohlert of Hartley.

Also honored was the recipient of the Outstanding Employee Award. This time the honor was given to Assistant Registrar Tara Fjeld of Sheldon. Fjeld has worked at the College for the past seventeen years in the Registrar’s Office. College officials say she was chosen for the outstanding employee award because of her service to NCC, its students, staff and faculty, as well as performance of duties, commitment to personal or professional development, and team/committee participation.

City Council Budget Session Is Wednesday Morning

city councilSheldon, Iowa — The Sheldon City Council will meet in special session Wednesday January 27th at 6 a.m.  This meeting is for the purpose of discussing the City Budget for the 2016-2017 fiscal year.

Wednesday morning’s meeting will be held in the upper level of the Sheldon Community Services Center.

Four Area Residents Get Federal Prison Time On Drug Charges

handcuffs - subject inSioux City, Iowa — Two Sanborn residents, a Hartley man, and a resident of Sioux City were sentenced Monday in federal court in Sioux City for Conspiracy To Distribute Methamphetamine.

37-year old Isaac Esquivel, and 30-year old Valerie Ortega, both of Sanborn, 49-year old Joe Leal of Hartley and 31-year old Mackenzie Jellema, of Sioux City, each received prison terms after guilty pleas to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, according to the United States Attorney’s Office.

According to authorities, at the guilty pleas, each admitted their involvement in a conspiracy that distributed more than 50 grams of pure methamphetamine in the O’Brien County area.  In total, law enforcement reportedly made undercover purchases and seizures from the group totaling 271.78 grams of methamphetamine.

According to authorities Ortega and Esquivel were sentenced in Sioux City by United States District Court Judge Donald E. O’Brien, and Leal and Jellema were sentenced by United States District Court Judge Mark W. Bennett. Esquivel was sentenced to 36 months’ imprisonment and a term of supervised release of two years. Jellema was sentenced to 48 months’ imprisonment; Leal was sentenced to 81 months’ imprisonment and Ortega was sentenced to 42 months’ imprisonment. A special assessment of $100 was imposed for each. Jellema, Leal and Ortega must each also serve a 5-year term of supervised release after the prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Shawn S. Wehde and investigated by Iowa Department of Narcotics Enforcement, Spencer Police Department, Clay County Sheriff’s Office, O’Brien County Sheriff’s Office, Sheldon Police Department, Iowa Great Lakes Drug Task Force and the Southwest Iowa Narcotics Enforcement Task Force.

Trump Comment Draws Fire

Sioux Center, Iowa — A comment made by Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump at Dordt College in Sioux Center has received worldwide attention.Trump

During his appearance at Dordt on Saturday, January 23rd, 2016, while he was praising the loyalty of his supporters, Trump stated, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”

Dordt’s president, Erik Hoekstra has responded to the comment, saying the college doesn’t support the “odd and inappropriate comment”. In his statement, however, Hoekstra says they will continue to welcome Presidential candidates to their campus, citing their students’ wisdom to discern “what Christ-like leadership looks like.”

Dordt has extended an invitation to all Presidential candidates, including those from both major parties to speak at Dordt. Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush will visit Dordt on Friday, January 29. Bush is scheduled to speak at 6:45 p.m. Friday in the Campus Center at Dordt.

Hoekstra’s statement:

Prior to Mr. Trump’s visit to Dordt College, I wrote an open letter to explain Dordt College’s reasons and rationale behind inviting candidates of both parties to our campus. I continue to stand behind the decision to allow our students and the broader community to have first-hand access to the American political process and capture the unique opportunities we have in Iowa as the first state to cast actual votes each presidential cycle.

In that statement, I said, “Each time a candidate comes to campus, I have a certain sense of ‘cringe’ for what it says to our students—political speeches are always full of broad-brush promises about what the candidate will do. There isn’t a candidate or party that can be 100% biblical or reformational—at least it seems that way to me. Opening our facilities to political candidates in no way implies an endorsement of their views.” I continue to stand by that statement.

Today’s comment by Mr. Trump regarding the loyalty of his followers, namely that “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters,” went far beyond a broad-brush promise about his policies or plans for our country. In no way do I, nor does the college, support such an odd and inappropriate comment. I have no concept of why Mr. Trump thought that was an apt example to highlight the loyalty of his followers.

However, we will continue to invite candidates to our campus. Our students can handle such comments and they are wise enough to discern what Christ-like leadership looks like. I also trust our faculty and staff to walk with students through the important process of putting their faith into action in every area of life. I’ve talked with many students about the various candidate visits, including conversations with students today after Mr. Trump’s visit, and our students are all more discerning about how to vote in the upcoming caucus because of this first-hand access.

If people are wondering about Dordt College and our application of Scripture to everyday challenges, I’d say: Come study with us. We won’t spoon-feed you the answers to every question, but you’ll grow in your faith in Jesus Christ and be challenged to put real-world decisions into the context of Scripture—and we’ll walk with you through that process.

Planning Underway For New Hospital

Rock Rapids, Iowa — A new hospital is in the planning stages in Rock Rapids.
sanford rock rapids sign
Years ago, the name of the current Sanford Rock Rapids hospital was “Merrill Pioneer Community Hospital.” While the name has changed, the private organization that owns the hospital remains Merrill Pioneer Community Hospital.

While it is a private organization filed with the state, and there’s no municipal or county interest, there is an association that helps make decisions with the board of directors. MPCH Association was organized when the original hospital was built in the 1950’s, according to hospital officials.

According to vice president of the hospital’s board, John Hulshof, MPCH wants to build a new facility. MPCH has previously expressed interest in building in the new development area called Forster Development, west of Highway 75 and north of Twelveth Street. The land in that area is currently undeveloped farmland.

The affiliation with Sanford Health System is a lease of the hospital and its facilities to Sanford. He says the 1999 MPCH lease with what was then Sioux Valley and now is Sanford expires in three years. Hulshof says that since MPCH may need a year to secure financing commitment and design the project, followed by approximately two years of construction, the MPCH board is holding membership meetings for information and decision purposes.

Hulshof says since MPCH is a private organization, the meetings are not open to the public.