Four Sheldon Girls to Perform With All-Iowa Honor Dance Team

Sheldon Orabs 2Des Moines Iowa — Four members of the Sheldon Dance Team earned spots on the 2016 All-Iowa Honor Dance Team and will perform on Saturday at the State Basketball Tournament. The Orab four include Bryn Groff, Madison Uhl, Alexa VandenHull and Kelsey VanDrie.  The team has become a tradition at the Girls State Basketball Tournament. All dance teams represented are members of the Iowa State Dance Team Association and the girls are chosen based on ability, attitude, dedication and leadership qualities.

Auditions were held last fall at Ames Community Schools. After just hours of practice together the students put on a show that is nationally recognized as one of the finest of it’s kind. Grand View University serves as the host for the Thursday and Friday rehearsals.

The pregame performance will include fifty dancers performing a patriotic salute. The halftime production will perform during the 3A Championship game halftime on Saturday. The halftime group involves 224 dancers representing 100 Iowa high schools. This year’s theme is a medley of songs with the theme of “work”. Opening tip off for the 3A Championship game is set for 4:00 pm Saturday March 5th.

Senator Johnson Wants Oversight Of Medicaid Switch

Des Moines, iowa state capitol svaIowa — A bill to establish more state oversight after 560-thousand Iowa Medicaid patients are shifted into privately-run managed care plans was up for debate in the Iowa Senate on Tuesday. Senator Amanda Ragan, a Democrat from Mason City, says with nearly five-and-a-half billion dollars in state money being spent on the program next year, the legislature should ensure health care providers are properly paid and patients have some sort of recourse if they’re denied care.

Senator David Johnson, a Republican from Ocheyedan, also has been raising concerns about privatizing Medicaid.

But Governor Branstad objects.

Branstad says he’s willing to hire a few more state workers to handle complaints from patients and Iowa health care providers once Medicaid is privatized April 1st.

Branstad says since the private companies will have their own employees to take complaints and resolve disputes, there’s no need to hire dozens of state workers to “oversee the overseers.” Branstad made his comments this weekend during an appearance on Iowa Public Television.

Voters Voting On Fire Station Expansion

Orange City, Iowa — Orange City voters are going to the polls today (March 1) to decide the fate of a $2.7 million bond issue to help finance a $3.5 million expansion of the city’s fire station. The polling place is Living Water Community Church in Orange City, and the poll closes at 8 PM. Fire officials say the expansion is needed due to safety and overcrowding issues.
OCFD 2016
Planning for the expansion started in December, 2014, according to Orange City Fire Chief Denny Vander Wel. He says the city council decided that the idea should be looked into, and an architect was hired. He says seven drawings have been considered. At one point the building was to include law enforcement as well, but that was eventually decided against.

He says the city happens to own the land next to the fire station, so they’ll be staying in the same place.

Vander Wel says the current fire station, built in 1973, lacks adequate training and work space and has limited storage. The chief also says there is an increased need to clean and sanitize equipment, gear, and firefighters, as they get into much more than just wood smoke.

If the ballot measure passes, the Orange City Fire Station will be expanded by 11,700 square feet, and 3,200 square feet of the current station will be remodeled. The station is to include a gear room, showers, ADA-compliant restrooms and a chief’s office.

Vander Wel says that for a $100,000 home, taxes would go up $47 per year — however, due to other projects and equipment rolling off the City’s tax burden, if the bond issue passes, property owners should not see an increase for the fire station.

concept drawing
artist’s concept drawing – click to expand

More information on the proposed expansion can be found on the Friends of the Orange City Fire Department’s website, www., or Facebook page.

Neunaber Pleads Guilty In Plea Agreement

Le Mars, Iowa — An Akron man who is accused of killing his mother in June, 2014 has pled guilty in a plea agreement.
Forty-six-year-old Jonathan Neunaber was charged with First Degree Murder, which is a class “A” felony, punishable by a mandatory life sentence without parole. In a plea agreement accepted by the court on Monday, February 29th, 2016, Neunabor pled guilty to Second Degree Murder, a class “B” felony; and Willful Injury, a class “C” felony.

In the agreement, Neunaber agreed to be sentenced to a term not to exceed fifty years for the murder charge and a term not to exceed ten years on the willful injury charge for a consecutive term not to exceed sixty years in prison.

Judge Steven Andreasen noted that seventy percent of the sentence — or 35 years — would need to be served before Neunaber would be eligible for work release or parole. In the plea agreement, Neunabor would also have to pay victim restitution in the amount of $150,000 in regard to the murder charge as well as other costs and expenses.

Neunabor’s legal team had raised possible defenses of insanity and diminished responsibility and a motion to suppress evidence, but under the terms of the plea agreement, these would be dropped.

When he told the judge about the case at the hearing, Neunabor said that when his father died, he was not prepared to be the man of the house and be responsible for several things. He said after he killed his mother he took some pills with the intent that they’d all be buried together. But he said that didn’t work. He also admitted that he used a steel pipe to strike his mother and that, “I struck my mother more times than I’d like to.”

The judge had ruled in January that Neunaber was competent to stand trial.

The bodies of both of Neunaber’s parents were discovered in their rural Akron home in July, 2014. Autopsy results showed that his father, 83-year old Donald Neunaber, had died of natural causes, but that his mother, 80-year old Esther Neunaber died from blunt force trauma to the head.

Jonathon Neunaber was arrested the next day after being stopped for a traffic violation in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.

No sentencing date has been set.

More than 31% Of Iowa Electricity Supplied By Wind

WindTurbinesPrimghar, Iowa — Iowa now supplies more of its electricity from wind power than any other state, and the Highland Wind Farm near Primghar is the largest wind farm in Iowa.  Governor Terry Branstad has announced that Iowa now generates over 31.3% of its energy from wind, becoming the first, and only, state in the Unites States to top the 30% mark.  That’s according to data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Branstad, who chairs his own Governor’s Wind and Solar Energy Coalition, says the state has seen exponential growth in wind energy, and the data released by the federal government reinforces that.

According to the report, growing wind farms in the state have attracted $11.8-billion dollars to the state’s economy.  Branstad says wind can supply 40% of the Hwakeye State’s in-state electricity generation within the next five years, generating eneough electricity for 6.3 million average American homes.

Tom Kiernan, who is CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, says Iowa is tapping into a homegrown resource more than ever, thanks to American innovation and U.S. workers building the most productive wind turbines in the world.

While Iowa finished in the number one spot on the list, the other Midwest states in the top ten were South Dakota in second, at 25.5%, Kansas third at 23.9%, North Dakota fifth at 17.7%, and Minnesota sixth at 17.0%.

Suppliers Behind Rising Gas Prices

gas 1.99Northwest Iowa — We told you last week that gas prices in northwest Iowa have been on the rise for the past couple of weeks, and a fuels analyst at the Iowa Department of Agriculture says that’s due to an adjustment in the supply.

Harold Hommes says the gas refineries are the issue with rising prices.

Hommes says, while he wasn’t surprised to see a price increase, he was surprised by the amount of that increase.

He says suppliers had a glut of gasoline, and once that worked down some, they raised the price.

Hommes says the oversupply left little room for the refineries to make much on the sale of gas.

The average price of a gallon of gas statewide last week was one dollar, 67 cents, up seven cents from the week before. Gas prices have jumped as much as 18 cents in the last two weeks in parts of our area, with pump prices in Sheldon Monday afternoon at $1.76.