March 5, 2015 - 6:24 pm - Posted in News

Boyden, Iowa — A machine shed was heavily damaged in a fire on Thursday, March 5, 2015 near Boyden.
Boyden FD Fire Department
According to Boyden Fire Chief Galen Blankers, about 11:10 AM, the Boyden Fire Department was called to the report of shed on fire at 3742 350th Street, three miles west and three miles south of Boyden.

The chief says the fire department saw smoke coming out of the eaves and roof vents of the machine shed as they approached the scene. He says they used water to fight the fire, which had extended into the wall and attic space of the building. Some equipment stored in the building did receive damage, but the chief says he thinks it should be repairable.

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

The fire department was assisted by the Hull Fire Department and Hull Ambulance personnel.

He says the cause of the fire was undetermined, but accidental in nature. He says it started on the workbench.

Chief Blankers estimates that there was nearly $100,000 in damage. He says the building was insulated and lined.

He says they used between 2000 and 2500 gallons of water to fight the fire. Blakers says that due to a lot of overhaul work, crews were kept busy on scene. He says they cleared from the call about 3:40 PM.

February 28, 2015 - 8:21 am - Posted in News

Sioux Center, Iowa — Two children were taken to a hospital following an accident this past week.
Sioux Center Ambulance
The Sioux County Sheriff’s Office reports that shortly after 4 PM on Wednesday, February 25, 31-year-old Danny Estrada of Rock Valley was driving a 1999 Audi A6 northbound on Highway 75. He stopped on the roadway to wait for oncoming vehicles before attempting a left turn onto 360th Street, says the report. It says 42-year-old Reid Stansky of Owatonna, MN was driving a 2012 Dodge Ram northbound on Highway 75 behind Estrada.

Stansky began passing Estrada on the right, says the report and struck the Audi.

Passengers in Estrada’s vehicle, a three-month-old girl and a four-year-old boy, were both transported by
private vehicle to the Sioux Center Hospital.

The Audi sustained approximately $2,500 in damages. The Dodge sustained an estimated $3,000 in damages.

Stansky was cited on a charge of unsafe passing. Estrada was cited on a charge of failure to have a valid driver’s license.

Des Moines, Iowa — A bill that would raise the speed limit to 75 miles an hour on many miles of interstate highways in Iowa has cleared its first hurdle in the state senate. Senator Randy Feenstra, a Republican from Hull, says 75 is the posted speed limit in neighboring South Dakota and the data he’s seen doesn’t indicate “an uptick” in traffic accidents and fatalities there.
speed limit 75

(as said) “We have done a lot of things on our interstates, specifically putting the wire in between the two roadways, that have made it a lot safer,” Feenstra says, “thus, hopefully, allowing it to have traffic go a little faster.”

Senator Wally Horn, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, supports a higher speed limit, too.

(as said) “I’ve been in Phoenix where there’s five lanes going 80 miles an hour, so it isn’t a real danger factor, as far as I know,” Horn says. “The roads are built for it and we can do it, so I would support raising it to 75.”

Horn and Feenstra signed off on the bill so it now is eligible for a vote in the Senate Transportation Committee. Senator Chris Brase, a Democrat from Muscatine was also on the subcommittee, but he opposes the higher speed limit.

(as said) “Being a fire fighter/paramedic, it’s just not something that I can be supportive of. I think the speed limits are reasonable at this time,” Brase says. “…I shouldn’t say this, but I think the majority of people are traveling above the posted speed limit on the interstate the way it is.”

According to Iowa D-O-T data, the average speed on Iowa interstates is about 72 miles an hour, just above the current speed limit of 70. Thomas Stanberry, a lobbyist for the Iowa Insurance Institute, says a higher speed limit means a greater number of accidents.

(as said) “The property and casualty industry has a lot of data that shows at five mile per hour increments in the increase in the speed limit, particularly interstate speed limits, the number of accidents increases substantially,” Stanberry says.

Senator Horn jokes that legislators have a basic question to ponder: “Does God decide you die in a car wreck or is it the speed limit?” Legislators raised Iowa’s speed limit from 65 to 70 in 2005 and Iowa is now among the 20 states that have 70 as the upper speed limit for interstate traffic. Sixteen states have a speed limit of 75, while the remaining 14 states have posted speed limits of less than 70 miles an hour. Senator Brad Zaun, a Republican from Urbandale, is the sponsor of the bill that would raise Iowa’s speed limit to 75 miles an hour and he’s “encouraged” the bill is now eligible for a committee vote.

(as said) “There’s a long ways to go in regards to this,” Zaun said after yesterday’s subcommittee meeting. “I just wanted it to get a fair hearing.”

Seventy-five is the posted interstate speed limit in states to Iowa’s west like South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas. The speed limit is 70 in Minnesota, Missouri, and Illinois. Wisconsin is the only neighboring state to have a lower speed limit. Sixty-five is the upper limit on all rural and urban interstates in Wisconsin.

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February 27, 2015 - 8:16 am - Posted in News

Sioux Center, Iowa — The Governor and Lt. Governor of Iowa were in Sioux Center on Thursday and took part in some public gatherings.
JEP_Governors visit-134
One of them was about a STEM grant. The Governor’s STEM Advisory Council has named Sioux Center High School as the recipient of a $50,000 district-matched award to implement a new science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) classroom. Sioux Center High School was one of four recipients chosen from a group of 23 applications submitted last summer.

Sioux Center High School proposed a partnership with Dordt College. The proposal includes plans for redesigned learning spaces and curriculum in partnership with the college. Working together will allow the school district and Dordt to share costs, to partner in professional development, and to better evaluate new technologies and teaching strategies.

Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds also attended the ribbon cutting of Sioux Center’s new universal preschool building, the Discovery Campus Preschool Learning Center.

The preschool is a collaborative endeavor between the City of Sioux Center, Dordt College, Sioux Center Health, Sioux Center Community Schools, and Mid-Sioux Opportunity.

February 26, 2015 - 11:03 am - Posted in News

If you have some experience with Microsoft Word, it is time to get hands-on experience discovering the tools and features of Microsoft Excel 2013. Excel is a powerful program that helps users to create and organize spreadsheets that will save you time, help you communicate better and have a professional look. In this class, the instructor will guide you through the steps of building a user-friendly worksheet, both for the reader and the creator. Then you will be introduced to the important formula/function feature in Excel. Learning how to use Excel formulas is very critical for the successful use of spreadsheet software. The more you learn about formulas, the more you will want to know!

This class will be held at Northwest Iowa Community College in Room 514H, Section #43940 on Tuesdays, March 17 and 24 from 5:30—9:30 pm. OR in the Sioux Center Library Computer Lab, Section #43939, on Thursdays, March 19 and 26 from 12:30—4:30 pm.

Twyla Vogel will be the instructor for the class. The cost is $59.

To register, call Northwest Iowa Community College at 712-324-5061 or 800-352-4907 and ask for Continuing Education.

February 24, 2015 - 3:56 pm - Posted in News

Orange City, Iowa — A man from Arkansas has been sentenced in Sioux County District Court to a ten-year prison term for delivery of methamphetamine.
Sioux County Courthouse_sva
Sioux County Attorney Thomas Kunstle says that 30-year-old James Kent Skoglund of Saint Joe, Arkansas, has been sentenced in Sioux County District Court for the crime of Delivery of Methamphetamine.

Kunstle’s office says that on November 8, 2014, an undercover officer made arrangements, through a confidential informant, to purchase an “8 ball” of methamphetamine from Skoglund for $325. Through the informant, they say Skoglund sold methamphetamine to the undercover officer in an apartment in Rock Valley. After the transaction, uniformed officers searched the apartment where the transaction took place finding methamphetamine, a scale, a pipe, and a butane lighter, all located near Skoglund.

He was sentenced to an indeterminate ten-year prison term, in addition to charges, surcharges, fees, costs, and other penalties.

February 21, 2015 - 7:57 am - Posted in News

Orange City, Iowa — An Orange City man has been arrested after he allegedly misused his emergency lights.
The Sioux County Sheriff’s Office reports that on Thursday evening, February 19, they arrested 20-year-old Benton Vargason of Orange City.

The arrest stemmed from an incident that occurred on Wednesday evening, February 18 in Sioux Center. Deputies say Vargason is accused of vandalizing another person’s vehicle.

Following that incident, they say the victim of the vandalism followed Vargason. They allege that Vargason used his blue volunteer firefighter emergency lights to stop the person’s vehicle at the intersection of 380th Street and Harrison Avenue, one mile east of Sioux Center.  

Vargason was arrested and charged with harassment and unlawful use of emergency vehicle lights.

February 20, 2015 - 11:15 pm - Posted in News

Sibley, Iowa — Sentencing has been postponed for a former Osceola County Sheriff’s Deputy who pled guilty in a plea agreement in the case of several stolen items being found on a farm place in rural Osceola County.

Block, Michael

According to court records, sentencing for 52-year-old Michael Lawrence Block of Sibley has been pushed back a month, to March 20th, 2015. Block pled guilty earlier this month in Osceola County District Court to seven counts of first-degree theft, as well as a serious misdemeanor charge. Block is alleged to have been in possession of several pieces of stolen agriculture and construction equipment from Osceola, O’Brien, Sioux, and Lyon Counties.

As part of the plea agreement, eleven other charges were dropped.

February 20, 2015 - 4:33 pm - Posted in News

Sioux Center, Iowa — Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds will participate in the Dedication and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony of the new Preschool Learning Center on the Discovery Campus in Sioux Center.
New Sioux Center Preschool facility
Dordt College’s preschool, Stepping Stones, is one of the schools housed in the new building.

Dr. Timothy Van Soelen, head of the Dordt College education department, says that they are excited about the collaborative venture. He says that the facility has classrooms and playgrounds that allow the curriculum to extend beyond the four walls of the classroom. And the opportunity to participate in the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program will allow all children to attend preschool, as well as providing a wonderful environment in which Dordt’s early childhood majors can teach and learn.

The ribbon cutting program will be held Thursday, February 26, from 12:30 to 1:15 p.m. Refreshments will be available.

The event is a public recognition of the ongoing partnership between Sioux Center Schools and Dordt College, as well as an opportunity to celebrate partnerships with local businesses, according to Sioux Center Community School District Superintendent Pat O’Donnell.

The preschool is a collaborative endeavor between the City of Sioux Center, Dordt College, Sioux Center Health, Sioux Center Community Schools, and Mid-Sioux Opportunity.

February 20, 2015 - 4:14 pm - Posted in News

Orange City, Iowa — A Vermillion woman has been sentenced in Sioux County Court for conspiracy to deliver methamphetamine.
Sioux County Attorney Thomas Kunstle says that 34-year-old Shelly Lee Snow of Vermillion, SD, was found guilty in December of Conspiracy to Deliver and/or Possess with Intent to Deliver Methamphetamine, a Class C Felony, and was sentenced this past week.

On July 11, 2013, a controlled drug buy was set up by the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office through a confidential informant being utilized and monitored by the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office. Police placed a “wire” audio transmitting device on the confidential informant so they could hear what was going on inside the home during the buy. Deputies also gave the confidential informant $350 to purchase an “8-ball” of methamphetamine, after which he entered the home stating he was “looking to buy meth.”

Two deputies set up surveillance to monitor the Hawarden home where the controlled buy was to take place. Deputies observed a black Cadillac Escalade, a vehicle they knew to be driven by Shelly Snow, arrive at the home. The deputies also heard the female voice they recognized to be Shelly Snow through the “wire.”

Inside the home, the confidential informant handed the $350 to Shelly Snow saying he “needed an 8-ball.” Court records indicate she left the home, drove to Sioux City, returned to Hawarden, and someone else gave the meth to the informant.

Snow was sentenced to a suspended ten year prison sentence and three years of probation. Among other conditions, she also has to pay a fine and is to obtain a substance abuse and/or mental health evaluation and follow any recommended treatment; maintain full-time employment; not frequent places that primarily serve alcohol and/or beer; abstain from all alcohol and illegal drugs, and be subject to random drug and alcohol tests.