January 28, 2023 - 5:34 am - Posted in News

Thanks to Trevor Fiddelke for the pictures.

Granville, Iowa — A house was destroyed in a fire on Thursday evening, January 26, 2023, near Granville.

According to Granville Fire Chief Karl Kellen, at about 5:15 p.m., the Granville Fire Department was called to the report of a house fire at 4450 Nest Avenue, two miles east and one mile north of Granville.

The chief says the fire department saw the single-story house fully involved with fire as they approached the scene. He says since there was so much fire, they used an exterior attack to fight the fire and fought it with hand lines.

Kellen says no injuries were reported, and no one was in the house at the time of the fire.

The fire department was assisted by the Paullina, Hospers, and Alton fire departments.

He says the cause of the fire is undetermined at this time.

Chief Kellen reports that the home was destroyed in the blaze.

He says the 48 firefighters who responded were on the scene for about four hours.

Kellen tells us the occupants of the home are staying in a hotel for now and are making arrangements with family for a place to live until they can get their dwelling situation worked out. According to social media, accounts are being set up with northwest Iowa banks to accept donations.

Northwest Iowa — After this week’s signing of Governor Kim Reynolds’ “School Choice” bill into law, northwest Iowa public school superintendents are unsure to hopeful about the future.

The new law is expected to give $345 million to parents to send their students to private schools. It will provide state-funded accounts for the parents of private school students. In the first year, low-income parents who enroll a child in a private school could apply for nearly $7600 in state funding to cover tuition, computers, textbooks, and tutoring. In 2026, all private school parents could apply for the state money. According to school officials, the $7600 represents the entire amount that the district gets from the state per pupil, per year. However, the districts will get $1200 per year per pupil for pupils whose parents have elected to send them to private schools instead. Interestingly enough, depending on the district and the number of pupils CURRENTLY enrolled in private schools, it might mean an INCREASE in funding in some districts.

Sheldon Community School District Superintendent Cory Myer says, “I believe most families appreciate the high quality of education we provide in Sheldon and our families feel good about the choice they made when they enrolled in our school district.”

Sibley/Ocheyedan Community School District Superintendent James Craig says, “I really don’t have an indication about families moving to private school. Our conversations with parents are usually for open enrollment or homeschooling, so I have no idea where that will go for us.”

West Lyon Superintendent Shawn Kremen says, “It’s so hard to predict at this point, I don’t know that it will impact us a whole lot at this point, but again not sure.”

Central Lyon Superintendent Brent Jorth says, “It’s hard for me to estimate how many families will opt to attend a private school, because the choice is truly the private school’s to make. From my perspective, Central Lyon will continue to fulfill its mission to provide an exceptional education, opportunities, and resources for all students to become productive, life-long learners. Our families are very fortunate to have a teaching staff that is dedicated to empowering students to achieve at high levels as demonstrated in a track record of academic success and career readiness. Our school board and staff will continue to partner with families and our community to provide students with learning opportunities in and out of the classroom that will prepare them to be life-long learners, productive members of the community, and responsible citizens.”

Boyden-Hull Superintendent Steve Grond says, “I don’t know how it will impact Boyden-Hull and surrounding schools. We offer an excellent education at Boyden-Hull for all students, which we will continue to deliver. Overall, I believe that students and parents are pleased with the education they receive while at Boyden-Hull.”

MOC/Floyd Valley Superintendent Russ Adams says, “I am hopeful that our families recognize the outstanding quality of education they are receiving for their children at MOC-Floyd Valley, but time will tell.”

Sioux Center, Iowa — The City of Sioux Center has received $25,000 from the Pella Foundation toward recreational trails in Sioux Center.

Officials from the Pella Foundation tell us the foundation is the philanthropic arm of Pella Corporation. The foundation announced the $25,000 grant this week to help with the construction of new recreation trails in Sioux Center, expanding the total length of trails to more than eight miles.

Sioux Center Mayor David Krahling says, “We really appreciate the generosity of Pella for something that will benefit the whole community and the entire area. We’re grateful for Pella’s commitment to support quality of life and economic growth here.”

City officials tell us that expanding recreation trails continues to rise to the top in community priorities, including in the 2018 community survey, which residents ranked as a top priority for future park investments. The officials tell us trails connect neighborhoods, schools, parks, commercial areas and public facilities, and studies have linked them to community vitality.

The Pella Foundation provides grants and works to shape the communities in which Pella Corporation team members live and work. Pella Corporation opened its Sioux Center manufacturing facility in 2000.

January 25, 2023 - 3:15 pm - Posted in News

Rock Valley, Iowa — A Rock Valley man faces a number of felony drug charges after a traffic stop on Monday, January 23, 2023.

According to the Rock Valley Police Department, one of their officers made a routine traffic stop for an equipment violation. The officer identified the driver as 57-year-old Terrance Wayne Buescher of Rock Valley.

The officer says Buescher exhibited signs of impairment consistent with drug intoxication. As officers investigated, Rock Valley Police Department’s K-9 “Gus” was deployed and alerted to the odor of illegal narcotics coming from Buescher’s vehicle. Officers tell us that a subsequent search of the vehicle allegedly revealed several packages of methamphetamine, non-prescribed generic Adderall pills, a digital scale, hypodermic needles, a loaded 9mm handgun, and several other drug paraphernalia items.

Buescher was arrested and was transported to the Sioux County Jail. They tell us he was charged with Possession with Intent to Deliver a controlled substance, a class B felony; Possession with Intent to Deliver a controlled substance, a class C felony; and two counts of Failure to Affix Drug Tax Stamp, a class D felony. He was also charged with misdemeanor counts of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Operating While Under the Influence 1st Offense, Possession or Carrying a Dangerous Weapon While Intoxicated, and Unlawful Possession of a Prescription Drug.

Des Moines, Iowa — Governor Kim Reynolds has signed her “School Choice Plan” bill into law. It is expected to give $345 million to parents to send their students to private schools.

One of only three Republican senators to vote “no” on the bill was a state senator that represents a portion of our area. District 3 Republican State Senator Lynn Evans voted against the bill. Iowa Senate District 3 consists of all of O’Brien, Osceola, and Buena Vista counties, along with most of Clay and Cherokee counties. Evans is the former superintendent of the Alta-Aurelia Community School District.

Most Republicans in the Iowa legislature have voted for Governor Kim Reynolds’ top 2023 priority — a bill that will provide state-funded accounts for the parents of private school students.

Republican Representative John Wills of Spirit Lake opened Monday’s House debate by saying the bill is about freedom.

Democrats like Representative Sue Cahill of Marshalltown say the choice is up to private school administrators since nothing requires private schools to accept all students.

After five and a half hours of debate, the bill cleared the House on a 55 to 45 vote. Senators debated in earnest for about three hours, passing the bill just before 12:30 this (Tuesday) morning on a 31-to-18 vote. Representative Steven Holt, a Republican from Denison, says state funds will now follow a child to the school that best fits their needs.

Representative Thomas Moore of Griswold opposes the governor’s two, less expansive “school choice” proposals and he is one of nine House Republicans who voted against this year’s proposal.

Three Republican Senators opposed the plan. Representative Skyler Wheeler, a Republican from Hull who backed the bill, says public school parents got frustrated during the pandemic and asked for this alternative.

Representative Sharon Steckman, a Democrat from Mason City, disagreed.

In the first year, low-income parents who enroll a child in a private school could apply for nearly $7600 in state funding to cover tuition, computers, textbooks, and tutoring. In 2026, all private school parents could apply for the state money. Representative Austin Baeth, a Democrat from Des Moines, says an estimated 79 percent of the money will be spent on kids already enrolled in private schools.

Wills says if Iowans didn’t want school choice, they wouldn’t have expanded the Republican majorities in the legislature — and would not have reelected Governor Reynolds by a 19-point margin.

All Democrats in the legislature voted against the bill. Senate Democratic Leader Zach Wahls says the governor’s plan is Robin Hood in reverse.

Reynolds held a private ceremony in her formal office Monday to mark the start of “School Choice Week.”

click to enlarge

Northwest Iowa — The latest unemployment numbers show Lyon and Sioux counties continue to have the lowest unemployment in the state. Meanwhile, the latest numbers available show the state unemployment rate held steady at three-point-one percent in December.

Iowa Workforce Development director, Beth Townsend, says there were some positive signs as the year wrapped up.

The labor force participation rate dropped slightly as Townsend says about 17-hundred people dropped out of the workforce.

Townsend says the state entered 2023 on good footing in the face of some ongoing national issues.

Employers continue to cite the need for more skilled workers, and she says that’s one thing Iowa Workforce Development will continue working on.

She says there are a lot of good programs trying to create employee pipelines that are crucial to fixing the workforce crisis employers face.

The latest numbers available for local unemployment are those from November. Workforce officials remind us that these numbers are not seasonally adjusted.

Sioux County remains the county with the lowest unemployment in the state, at 1.7 percent, unchanged from the previous month. Lyon County has the second-lowest unemployment, at 1.9 percent, up a tenth of a percent from the previous month, when it was 1.8 percent. Unemployment in Osceola and O’Brien counties remains low as well. Osceola County’s unemployment was at 2.0 percent in November, up from 1.8 percent in October. And in O’Brien County, unemployment is at 2.4 percent, up from 2.1 percent the month before.

January 21, 2023 - 8:07 pm - Posted in News

Alvord, Iowa — An Orange City truck driver was injured in a single-vehicle rollover accident near Alvord Wednesday afternoon.

According to the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office, about 3:30 Wednesday afternoon, They responded to a single-vehicle rollover in the 2300 mile of Elmwood Avenue.

Deputies say Bradley VandeWeerd, of Orange City, was driving a 2018 Peterbuilt semi tractor, pulling a load of wet distilled grain. According to authorities, while making a corner VandeWeerd’s trailer tires went off the roadway, causing both the trailer and tractor to overturn on to the passenger side, in the ditch.

VandeWeerd reportedly sustained minor injuries during the event and was transported to Hegg Memorial Hospital in Rock Valley by Lyon County Ambulance.

The truck and trailer are estimated to be a total loss, with an estimated value of $200,000.

Sioux Center, Iowa — The new domed sports complex is open in Sioux Center after a grand opening on Friday, January 20th.

Sioux Center City Manager Scott Wynja tells us the American State Bank Sports Complex has something for everyone.

He says they’ll also have an open turf field for the public.

Wynja tells us work has been going on for a full year on the 250-by-470-foot facility, which is expected to draw 200,000 visits each year. For more information, you can visit asbsportscomplex.com.

Alton, Iowa — An Alton woman and her passenger were taken to the hospital after an accident near Hull on Thursday, January 19th.

The Sioux County Sheriff’s Office reports that at about 4:20 p.m., 77-year-old Pearl Kellen of Alton was driving a 2004 Chevrolet Silverado southbound on Highway 75, two miles southwest of Hull, when she lost control of the pickup, which entered the west ditch and rolled.

The Hull Ambulance Squad took Kellen and her passenger to the Sioux Center Health Hospital.

Damage to the Chevrolet pickup was estimated at $6,000.

The sheriff’s office tells us the Hull Fire Department and Hull Ambulance Squad assisted with the response to the accident.

Sheldon, Iowa – A long-time Sheldon auto dealership is changing hands.

In a joint press release, officials with Drenknow Motors in Sheldon and Total Motors in Le Mars have announced a transition of ownership.

According to the press release, Drenkow’s employees and entire operation (including the Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram and Ford franchise brands) will continue to serve the Sheldon community as they have for the last 58 years, under new ownership.

Total Motors officials tell us their operation is a family-owned and operated company with two dealership locations. They currently are in Le Mars and Holstein, Iowa (Vollmar Motors) and have Chevrolet and GMC in their current franchises. The dealerships are owned by the Scott and Michelle Taylor family.

They tell us that in February, Total Motors will join the team at Drenkow Motors and will continue business as usual.

Scott Taylor says, “We are excited to join the Sheldon community and to continue the great legacy that the Drenkow family has created over the last 58 years. We are excited to help serve their customers and the surrounding area for years to come.”

On Thursday, January 26th, Drenkow Motors will have been open for 58 years officially.

A statement from Steve and Sheila Drenkow stated, “The Drenkow family would like to thank Sheldon and surrounding communities for all their support over the years. Ron Drenkow started Ron Drenkow Motors on January 26, 1965. Steve took over the dealership in 1991 and has enjoyed serving all the individuals that have walked through Ron Drenkow Motors’ doors. We are extremely excited that another family-owned dealership will be taking over the business and supporting the Sheldon community.”

Company officials tell us the business will continue to operate under the name Drenkow Motors and will remain in the same location and provide the same great services and products as they have for 58 years. They say, “Customer service and satisfaction are and will always be the most important part of the way Total Motors and their dealerships operate.”