Appeals Court Rules Rock Valley Man’s 2002 Attempted Murder And Voluntary Manslaughter Conviction Should Stand

Rock Valley, Iowa — A Rock Valley man’s conviction on charges of Attempted Murder and Voluntary Manslaughter will stand. That decision from the Iowa Court of Appeals.
Sixty-four-year-old Philip Ter Maat was accused of killing his wife Melinda in 2002. Her body was found along a recreation trail in Rock Valley.

Ter Maat plea bargained a murder charge down to Attempt to Commit Murder and Voluntary Manslaughter, and did not appeal his conviction or the sentence.

However, in 2010 he filed a motion for correction of an illegal sentence, claiming that the two convictions violated the state’s “one death, one homicide” rule. The appeals court disagreed.

They said that “Attempt To Commit Murder” is not a homicide offence, it is only an attempt to commit homicide. The court drew a definition for homicide from a 2009 case that said that homicide is the killing of one person by another. Since “Attempt to Commit Murder” does not result in the killing of another person, they reasoned that it is not a homicide offense, and so Ter Maat’s conviction should stand.

Four Men Injured In Construction Accident In Milford; One Transported By Helicopter

Milford, Iowa — A construction accident Wednesday in Milford injured four men. Milford Police say the four were in a lift basket about five feet off the ground when the man driving the machine hit the brakes. Authorities say the basket wasn’t properly strapped down, causing it to fall four to five feet to the ground.
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Those that were injured were Hector Vasquez, Joaquin Lopez, Alberto Ohilel, and Filberto Martinez. Injuries included back, leg and facial injuries. Ambulances transported the men to Lakes Regional Health Care in Spirit Lake. Reports are that one of the injured men was transported to another hospital by helicopter.

The workers were putting a roof on a building.
Lakes Regional Healthcare ambulances and paramedics; the Terril ambulance; the Milford Fire Department; Arnolds Park Fire and Rescue; the Milford, Okoboji and Arnolds Park Police Departments and the Dickinson County Sheriff’s office responded to the scene to help.

Sheldon Alums To Volunteer In New Zealand

Sheldon, Iowa — Two local students from Sheldon will be traveling to New Zealand this coming summer as volunteers to protect endangered animals and environments. Gage Karolczak and Katherine Albers are participating in the unique travel program.
Karolczak and Albers
The program is under the leadership of an organization called International Student Volunteers ( The two from Sheldon will join 20 to 50 other individuals from around the globe in a four-week program, leaving on May 28th.

“Helping others and traveling have always been passions of mine,” says Albers. She says that going on a mission trip to Uganda was just the beginning. She says she wants to continue working with other cultures for the betterment of the world. Albers, daughter of Chris and Carren Albers of Sheldon, is currently studying Private Studio Dance at Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minnesota.

Karolczak credits the Boy Scouts for his passion for the environment.

In New Zealand, volunteers will spend their time working outdoors on a habitat restoration project or conducting scientific wildlife research. Many of the projects involve meaningful interaction with indigenous Maori communities. To generate the greatest impact, ISV volunteers will work alongside local organizations and grassroots groups that specialize in problem-specific conservation projects. Karolczak tells us about it.

He tells this opportunity presented itself when someone came to speak during one of his classes that he was taking as a freshman at the University of Oklahoma.

Karolczak, son of Todd and Paulette Karolczak of rural Ashton, is currently studying Music Performance at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK.

“The cost to make this trip is about $6000 for each of us,” said Karolczak.  He says they definitely need some help in making this trip a reality.

Those interested in making a donation can do so at the website. Click on the “Make a Payment” link. Be sure to list the person’s full name and ISV ID number (shown below). OR you can contact Katherine or Gage directly:

Katherine Albers ISV ID# 150268                PH. 712-324-1941

Gage Karolczak ISV ID# 150279                PH. 712-348-7114

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Environmental Coalition Files Motion Over Issues With Bakken Oil Pipeline Meetings

File Photo
File Photo

Des Moines, Iowa — Several environmental groups have filed a complaint with the Iowa Utilities Board over issues they say they have with meetings put on by those proposing the Dakota Access Pipeline – the proposed Bakken crude oil pipeline cutting across Iowa.

That pipeline is supposed to go through Lyon, Sioux, and O’Brien Counties on its way southeast across the state toward a refinery.

We had a chance to talk with Iowa Utilities Board spokesman Rob Hillesland about it. He tells us that a coalition of thirteen different groups brought the complaint.

The coalition claims Energy Transfer Partners and the Dakota Access Pipeline failed to give proper notice to landowners and county communities before conducting statewide informational meetings in December, as required by Iowa Code. Their two main complaints were that the company did not send landowners notice changing the date of a December 2 informational meeting in Wapello County to December 16 by certified mail, and that in published public notices announcing the informational meetings, they stated a minimum pipeline depth of 60 inches on agricultural lands. During the meeting presentation, company representatives stated a minimum depth of 48 inches. The coalition fears that some landowners, thinking that the pipeline would be too deep to affect them, may have stayed away from the meetings.

The coalition also told about one landowner who never received a notice about the meetings until they were over, and they are concerned there may be more people who didn’t know about the meetings.

Hillesland lists the groups in the coalition.

He says any responses from the public need to be filed by next Tuesday, January 20th.

Hillesland says the board may do anything from stopping the regulatory process and requiring the company to re-do all the meetings, all the way down to taking no action, or anything in between. It is not known when the decisions will be made.

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Senator Ernst To Deliver GOP Response To Obama’s State Of The Union Address

Washington, DC — Iowa’s rookie U.S. Senator is getting a prime speaking slot next week.
Republican congressional leaders have picked Iowa Senator Joni Ernst to deliver the Republican response to President Obama’s “State of the Union” address next Tuesday. This is the first time Republican leaders have asked a first-year senator to speak in the prime time slot. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell says Ernst understands that middle-class Americans want Congress “to get refocused on their concerns.”

Ernst released a written statement, saying Congress must “…implement real solutions as we chart a new path forward for our great nation.”

Ernst says that during this Congress, we must help grow a vibrant economy, see to it that our veterans receive promised quality care and that our military has the tools to defend our nation’s security.

She says we also need to, “ensure the federal government begins to run more effectively and efficiently.”

The televised response to the president’s annual “State of the Union” speech is carefully crafted and has lately been used by whichever party does not hold the White House as a forum to showcase its future leaders.

Senator Marco Rubio and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal have both delivered the Republican response during President Obama’s presidency and both are now considered possible presidential candidates in 2016.

Radio Iowa assisted with this story.

Sheldon Teacher’s Union Seeks Wage & Benefit Increase

Sheldon, Iowa — The Sheldon Education Association, the union representing the teachers of the Snowy School BusSheldon Community School District, presented their Opening Proposal to the Sheldon Community Schools Board of Education at a meeting Wednesday night.

Teacher Jim Gude presented the proposal to the Board.  The proposal calls for a 5.48% increase in salary and benefit amounts, including a $950.00 increase in the base teacher pay, from $38,950.00  to $39,900.00.  In addition, the union is seeking a 10% increase in the District’s contribution to health insurance, as well as other increases.  To view the union’s proposal, click here.

In other business, the Board voted to purchase a new 64 passenger Blue Bird bus at a total net cost of $80,487.  The Board had received a trio of bids for the bus, with the winning bid coming from School Bus Sales.  The bid accepted was the lowest of the three bids received.

The Board received an update on the progress of the District’s new website at Wednesday night’s meeting.  Spears says  the website is still under construction with completion and launching slated for the end of January.  The District Office and buildings will be adding information to the pages related to their areas.