Businesses Warned Of New Scam

Scam AlertNorthwest Iowa — The Better Business Bureau is warning businesses about a very sophisticated scam that’s already cost one company in the region millions of dollars. Jim Hegarty, president of  the bureau’s Omaha-Council Bluffs chapter, says the ruse could also expose thousands of workers to identity theft as the hackers disguise themselves as a company’s C-E-O in an email.

The con artists will hack into a company’s internal email servers and do reconnaissance for perhaps several weeks before launching their attack.

A company in the region, which was not identified, fell victim to the scam.

The best defense is having strong firewalls and remaining vigilant to check up directly on email requests that seem out of the ordinary, involve employees’ personal information or large amounts of money.

Property Taxes Due; Pay Before Mar 31 To Avoid Penalty

Northwest Iowa — County treasurers in northwest Iowa are reminding you that the second half installment of your property taxes was actually due the first of this month, and it may be paid without penalty on or before Thursday, March cash bills dollars

Taxes can be paid online, in person, or by mail. The treasurers advise that if you want to pay your taxes online, the web site to use is There is a small fee for paying online via e-check, and a percentage-based fee for paying with a credit card. Also, not all counties offer online payment of taxes. O’Brien, Sioux, Osceola, and Lyon Counties do offer the service.

If you’re going to pay your taxes in person at your county treasurer’s office, the treasurers want you to bring them the proper stub.

If you’re mailing your payment, you need to send the proper stub with your payment, and the postmark must be on or before March 31st to avoid penalty.

If you have questions, contact your local county treasurer’s office.

Little Rock School Put On Lockdown Friday Morning

Little Rock, Iowa — A situation with what was called an “unstable” person with a weapon near the Little Rock Elementary building of George/Little Rock Schools the morning of Friday, March 18th caused Lyon County Sheriff’s officials to request a “lockdown” at the school.
Lyon County Sheriff Car Door 60-8
Lyon County Sheriff Stewart Vander Stoep says that about 9:04 AM, the Sheriff’s Office received a call about a man who lives near the school being out-of-control and possibly suicidal. The Sheriff says the man apparently had a gun, and since the home was within a block of the Little Rock elementary, as a precaution the school was contacted and placed into lock-down.

The Sheriff says the situation has since been resolved.

A release from the Sheriff’s Office says the man was taken into custody by Lyon County Deputies without incident and at last report was being evaluated at the Sanford Rock Rapids Hospital.

They say the school was taken off of lock-down at about 9:24 AM.

UPDATE: Hinton Chief Says Grain Dust May Have Sparked Explosion

Plymouth Co SheriffHinton, Iowa — Two people were hurt in an explosion and fire Thursday afternoon at the Central Valley Ag grain elevator in Hinton.  Hinton Fire Chief Chad Beck says the explosion was likely the result of grain dust being ignited and the blast was very powerful.

The two injured workers were transported first to a Sioux City hospital, then airlifted to the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. Plymouth County Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo says a day care facility near the grain elevator was evacuated as were two residents from nearby homes. Officials are concerned about the safety and soundness of the structure of the gain storage silo, after noticing it had shifted while firefighters were on top of the structure. Fire officials are concerned the structure may collapse.

Hinton, Iowa — Two individuals were taken to Sioux City hospitals following an explosion early Thursday afternoon in Hinton.

Plymouth County Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo says the Plymouth County Communications Center received several 911 calls shortly after 1 pm Thursday of an explosion at the Central Valley Ag elevator in Hinton.  Hinton Fire and Ambulance crews were dispatched to the scene, along with law enforcement.

Van Otterloo says once emergency personnel arrived on the scene they learned that there were injuries, and that additional medical and fire units were needed.  The Sheriff says that, along with Hinton, the Merrill and Le Mars Fire Departments were called.  Van Otterloo says Siouxland Paramedics and Le Mars Ambulance were called to the scene, as well.  Van Otterloo says the conditions of the two people transported to Sioux City are not known, nor were their identities released.

The Sheriff says Highway 75 and County Road C-60 were shut down for just over an hour until the immediate scene was made safe by the fire departments.  He says it was initially feared there may have been potential for a second explosion.  Van Otterloo says the railroad was also contacted, and all train traffic through the area was suspended.  He says some of the area’s homes were evacuated until the scene was made safe.

Van Otterloo says the Hinton Fire Department is leading the investigation with the assistance of the State Fire Marshal’s Office, and Hinton Police Department.  He says the cause of the explosion is not known at this time.

The Iowa State Patrol, Iowa DOT, and Merrill Police all assisted at the scene.

Strouth Back In As Development Director

New-Sheldon-SignSheldon, Iowa — For a few weeks the City of Sheldon has been without a Development Director, but now, that position has been filled with the re-appointment of the one who recently resigned.

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Rick Nordahl, president of the SCDC announced that Curt Strouth who had resigned to take a position at Iowa State Bank had changed his mind and is going to remain in the Development Directors Chair.  Nordahl stated that “With Strouth’s passion for economic development, along with his strengths of business attraction and retention-working with downtown preservation efforts and facilitating community partnerships, our community will benefit from his decision to stay with the SCDC”.  Mayor Tricia Meendering added…”Sheldon has been very progressive with the Highway 60 development while maintaining the downtown business community, and I look forward to continuing to work with Strouth, building on his tremendous progress and continuing the city’s reputation, ‘Where Families Come First’.”  Strouth has been the Community Development Director since December of 2013.

In other business City Manager Scott Wynja reviewed the possible funding plan for the proposed events center.  The City has been awarded a Vision Iowa Grant of $840,000.  They have already received $965,000 in donations and pledges.  This along with money from the Local Option Sales Tax will pay for all but $3,170,000 of the 5.2 million dollar project.  It was pointed out that the $5.2-million figure includes not only the building, but all the furnishing such as tables and chairs.  It will also cover the cost of water and sewer service to the building, the access road and parking lot.

It has been estimated that the operation of the Events Center could cost the city up to $100,000 a year.  Wynja also explained a possible plan for that funding.  The two percent increase in the Hotel-Motel tax which was recently approved will provide an estimated $52,000 per year.  The city has received a pledge of $22,500 per year for ten years and they could use the Local Option Sales tax for an additional $25,000.  In past years the Local Option Sales Tax fund has been making payments on the Community Services Center Renovation Loan.  That loan has been paid off, so these funds are now available for the events center.

Council members brought up the question of who would manage the Events Center, and it was decided to start getting information from firms who specialize in such management under a contract with the City to see if this was a feasible approach.

On April 6th at 4:30 pm there will be a Public Hearing on the Authorization of a Loan Agreement and the Issuance of not to Exceed $3,400,000  in General Obligation Capital Loan Notes for the evens center project.  At the April 20th council meeting there will be a public hearing on Plans and Specifications and Form of Contract for the project.

In other business, Public Works Director Todd Uhl told the council that the city is lifting the water conservation measure that was put in place in April of 2013.  This water watch called for Sheldon residents to voluntarily restrict water use. Uhl said that with the ample ground water this Spring they feel this is no longer necessary.  He also added that the City’s well water levels are good and the hardness of the city water should be coming down.

This Is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Sheldon, Iowa — March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

Sanford Sheldon physician Dr. Ryan Becker says colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the United States and the second leading cause of death from cancer.

Dr ryan_becker
Dr. Becker

Dr. Becker says the good news, however is that most of the time it is preventable.

He says the best way to prevent colorectal cancer is to get screened regularly starting at age
50. He says there are other tests that can be done as well, and new technology is becoming available that may offer an imaging alternative to the colonoscopy — but it’s not available yet.

He says there are often no signs or symptoms of colorectal cancer – that’s why it’s so
important to get screened.

He says people over age 50 have the highest risk of colorectal cancer. You may also be at higher risk if you are African American, smoke, or have a family history of colorectal cancer.

He says that he has talked with the other physician that does colonoscopies in Sheldon, General Surgeon Dr. Jongewaard about it, and Dr. Jongewaard says in his years at Sanford Sheldon, he has noticed a significant decrease in the number of actual colorectal cancer cases being treated. Dr. Becker contributes much of that to the number of screenings that are being done.

Becker says you can learn more at an appointment with your physician. If you’d like to find information online, he suggests (click on a link to follow):