New Event Center Discussed

Sheldon, Iowa — The Sheldon City Council has approved tax increment financing for Ag Partners’ new feed mill construction.
Council Chambers
The project is expected to generate ten new jobs. The council also heard a report from O’Brien County Development Director Kiana Johnson. She said the biggest tool they have for aiding development is the Revolving Loan Fund. This fund, created in 1991 has built a lending pool of over two million dollars. She reported that the fund has assisted projects in Sheldon totaling $863,947. She summarized the progress of development projects in the county with the most recent being the formation of a marketing task force to attract businesses ancillary to Wind Energy Development.

The council also heard from Dave Raak of HTC communications who was there to answer some questions he has received from council members. One of those was why they had not been advised in advance of the recent rate increase. The franchise agreement with the city states that the cable company must advise the council through the Cable TV Committee if there was to be a rate increase. However the Cable TV Committee was dissolved years ago and he apologized for not reporting directly to the council. Raak said they have not had a rate increase since 2011 and the current increase was needed to meet the rising costs of paying for on air TV stations. He said their company pays 1.2 million dollars per year for programs. He also talked about the many improvements HTC has made over the past few years in Sheldon. The most recent is the building of a fiber optic hub located in the area behind the Village Store. They have also built a second fiber optic cable from the west side of Sheldon to the east side of the town. This will provide backup service in the event a cable is cut or damaged.

In other business the council approved a contract with Knife River Midwest of Sioux City for asphalt overlay and other improvements to five city blocks near the downtown area. Knife River submitted the low bid of $226,465.

And the Council voted to approve both a Topographic Survey and Geotechnical Survey in the community park area where the proposed Events Center would be built. City Manager Scott Wynja explained that these surveys are necessary as part of the preliminary design work can be done. Council member Randy Fonkert voted against the surveys expressing the opinion that the city should slow down on the entire project.

Wednesday evening about forty people attended a public meeting to review the updated Community Park Master Plan. We’ll have details about that meeting on Friday’s KIWA newscasts.

Terrorism Charge Dropped

Rock Rapids, Iowa — A Rock Valley man who was arrested on a felony charge of Threats of Terrorism has had that charge dismissed.
Lyon County Sheriff Car Door 60-8
The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office reports that they arrested 53-year-old Michael Eugene Kats of Rock Valley early on Wednesday April 8, 2015.

Deputies say the arrest stems from a search after Kats allegedly made a 911 call to the Lyon County Sheriff’s Department and sent multiple text messages to Lyon County Deputies.

Kats was charged with Harassment of a Public Officer, a Simple Misdemeanor, and was also originally charged with Threats of Terrorism, a Class C Felony.

Lyon County Attorney Shayne Mayer moved to dismiss the charge because of insufficient evidence. District Judge Patrick Carr dismissed the threat of terrorism charge on Monday.

Kats pled not guilty to the Harassment of a Public Officer charge, and has requested a jury trial. No date has been set.

Garbage Truck Destroyed In Fire

Larchwood, Iowa — A garbage truck was destroyed in a fire on Tuesday, April 14, 2015 near Larchwood.
Fire Lightbar
According to Larchwood Fire Chief Damon Langenhorst, about 8:55 AM, the Larchwood Fire Department was called to the report of a garbage truck on fire at 1448 Adams Avenue, seven miles west of Larchwood on A18.

The chief says the fire department saw a fully engulfed garbage truck in the driveway as they approached the scene. He says they used water and foam to fight the fire.

The truck was owned by Denny’s Sanitation in Rock Rapids, according to Denny’s staff.

Langenhorst reports that there were no injuries to people, pets, or livestock.

He says the cause of the fire is undetermined.

Chief Langenhorst reports that while the garbage truck was totaled, there was no damage to any structures, and somewhat surprisingly, no grass fire as a result of the truck fire. He says they used between 500 and 750 gallons of water to fight the fire, and crews were on scene twenty five to thirty minutes.

Elevator Unification Vote Continues

Rock Valley, Iowa — Voting continues on the unification of several grain cooperatives in northwest Iowa. Three co-ops would merge into one: United Farmers Cooperative, Farmers Elevator Cooperative and Cooperative Elevator Association. UFC general manager Jeff Christiansen says the ballots that were sent to co-op members last week will be tabulated next week.
grain elevator silos

(As above) “The ballots were sent out to the patrons on the 6th of April and they have to be back in by the 17th, which is Friday,” Christiansen says. “They will be counted by each of our audit firms individually on Monday the 20th.”

If approved, the company’s new name will be Cooperative Farmers Elevator, with the corporate headquarters in Rock Valley. Administrative offices will remain open in Ocheyedan and George. FEC general manager Mark Finck says a merger has several benefits for farmer members. He says all three have “decent balance sheets,” they can share technology and with a merger, there will be four rail lines that can bring in fertilizer. Finck says 100-percent of member equity would be preserved under the new structure.

(As above) “It would be board members from all three co-ops that would serve on the new board,” Finck says. “The continued long-term financial success is always a positive. The ballots will be opened next Monday. If all three companies would pass it, then the unification start date would be September 1.”

Cooperative Elevator Association general manager Rob Jacobs would be CFE’s new general manager, operating out of Ocheyedan. Finck would be the Chief Financial Officer, and Jeff Christiansen from UFC would be manager of the grain division.

Radio Iowa assisted with this story.

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King Calls For End Of IRS

Washington, DC — April 15th is Tax Day in the United States. Congressman Steve King has released a video statement calling for the end of the IRS and the establishment instead of what he calls a “Fair Tax”.
steve king forster center
He says when people get a refund they act as if the IRS is paying them.

He says under his plan, all tax would be tied to purchases for personal use.

The Congressman says that an income tax penalizes production, and therefore economic development.

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Western Christian Jets Compete Nationally

The Western Christian JETS (Junior Engineering) program recently competed in a national engineering test based on the theme of “The Power of Engineering”.

Western Maroon
Western Maroon picture: Front Row: Carter Vanden Bos, Alejandro Castelan, Jackson Kleinwolterink. Back Row: Dana Faber, Kaysha Steiger, Brittany Buren, Samantha Pausma, Amanda Van Tol
Western White
Western White Team: Bottom Row L to R: Avery Kats, Mariah Kleinwolterink, Kyle Vander Plaats, Ryan Zevenbergen. Back L to R: Jordan Walhof, Treyton Schemper, Alex Vander Stoep, Aaron Van Middendorp

Three Western Christian teams (2 varsity and 1 junior varsity) took on the task of answering engineering questions related to biofuel, nuclear and solar energy, wind turbines and many more topics. In the JV division the JV team finished 15th out of 42 teams nationally. At the varsity level, the Western Maroon team finished 5th in the state of Iowa and 27th nationally. The Western White team finished 1st in the state and 3rd nationally in division 1. Because of Western White’s high ranking, the team moves on to the next round of the national testing which will be written essays that will be evaluated and scored by test judges.

Western JV
Western JV picture: Front Row: Kailey Heemskerk, Rachel Heynen, Lindsey Zuidema, Brooke Haverhals. Back Row: Trent Van Maanen, Nolan Vande Griend, Tanner Miedema, Emily Van Ginkel

The JETS program is led by Shawn De Stigter, Science Instructor at Western Christian High School.