Primghar, Iowa — A Hospers man faces a ten-year prison sentence and an indeterminate 2-year sentence after his sentencing on sex abuse charges.

According to Sioux County Attorney Thomas Kunstle, 68-year-old James “Jim” Stephan Hanno of Hospers has been sentenced in O’Brien County District Court for the crime of Indecent Contact with a Child. Sioux County Attorney Kunstle prosecuted the case on behalf of the State of Iowa, in connection to charges occurring in Sioux County, but coordinating with the O’Brien County Attorney’s Office.

Kunstle’s office tells us that the criminal investigation began in January of 2022 after the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office was notified by Minnesota authorities that Hanno had been identified as a suspect in a sexual abuse investigation in Cottonwood County, Minnesota and O’Brien and Sioux counties in Iowa, involving two minor victims.

On Monday, March 20, 2023, the O’Brien District Court accepted Hanno’s no-contest plea to Sexual Abuse in the Third Degree stemming from O’Brien County, and a guilty plea to Indecent Contact with a Child stemming from Sioux County. The Court sentenced Hanno to an indeterminate 10-year prison sentence for Sexual Abuse in the Third Degree and an indeterminate 2-year prison sentence for Indecent Contact with a Child. The Court further ordered Hanno to register as a sex offender for life, and to a special lifetime parole sentence after release.

March 17, 2023 - 4:22 pm - Posted in News

Sheldon, Iowa — With the coming of spring we also prepare for severe weather season. If you’d like to know more about severe weather, there is a Storm Watch class scheduled for next week at Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon.

Warning Coordination Meteorologist Peter Rogers with the National Weather Service’s Sioux Falls Office tells us about it.

Rogers says while many who attend are law enforcement, EMS personnel, firefighters, and plant safety managers, the class is open to the public.

He tells us what to expect if you go.

The class is free, thanks to the emergency management agencies of O’Brien, Sioux, Lyon, and Osceola counties, but the folks at NCC would like you to register. You can do that online by clicking here. For more information from NCC, you can call 800-352-4907 or 324-5061.

There are other classes scheduled around the wider area. For more information about those, click here.

Sheldon, Iowa — A Granville man has been arrested on drug charges after a traffic stop near Sheldon.

According to a criminal complaint filed with the O’Brien County Clerk of Court’s Office by the county sheriff’s office, 22-year-old Anthony Nicholson of Granville is accused of methamphetamine possession. He was arrested on Wednesday, March 15th, 2023 south of Sheldon.

The complaint states that the deputy made a traffic stop on a vehicle in which Nicholson was a passenger. The deputy says that during the stop, Nicholson was allegedly found in possession of a zip-top bag with white crystalline residue in it that was consistent with methamphetamine. He says Nicholson told him that he also had seven grams of meth and a meth pipe on his person.

Nicholson was charged with failure to affix a drug tax stamp, a class D felony; along with misdemeanor charges of possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug parapharnalia. If convicted of the felony count, Nicholson could face up to five years in prison.

He faces a preliminary hearing on Friday, March 24, 2023.

Nicholson was transported to the O’Brien County Jail in Primghar, and was booked in, but has since been released after posting a $5000 cash or surey bond.

March 16, 2023 - 3:09 pm - Posted in News

Sioux Center, Iowa — A passenger vehicle was destroyed in a fire on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, in Sioux Center.

According to Sioux Center Fire Chief David Van Holland, at about 1:30 p.m., the Sioux Center Fire Department was called to the report of a car fire near Fareway.

The chief says the fire department saw the vehicle on fire as they approached the scene, and they extinguished it. He says the driver had parked it in the parking lot and had gone into the store to buy groceries, and when she returned, the minivan was on fire.

Van Holland says no injuries were reported.

He says the cause of the fire is undetermined, but they’re pretty sure it started in the engine compartment.

Chief Van Holland reports that the vehicle was totaled in the blaze.

He says the firefighters who responded were on the scene for about a half hour.

Sanborn, Iowa — Congressman Randy Feenstra (Republican, from Hull) hosted a town hall with local farmers, producers, and constituents in Sanborn this Wednesday, March 15th, to discuss the upcoming Farm Bill and other issues.

Feenstra says he enjoyed meeting with Iowans — including “our hardworking farmers and producers — to hear their suggestions and priorities for the upcoming Farm Bill.”

The topics included everything from Feenstra’s work to reauthorize the successful 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and stop China from buying American farmland to what Feenstra calls “the unfair inheritance tax,” to biofuels production, and international trade.

He says, “Meeting with Iowans will always be a top priority for me as I travel all 36 counties in my district at least twice a year.”

Twenty-four people attended the event.

Feenstra also announced his Agriculture Advisory Board at the town hall. The board is comprised of 60 members of the greater agriculture community from all 36 counties in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District and represents a wide range of industries, including corn, soybeans, pork, beef, turkey, dairy, eggs, cattle, goat, seed, fertilizer, veterinary medicine, equipment manufacturing, FFA, conservation, agricultural lending, and research and development.

In our part of northwest Iowa, from Lyon County, Dean Meyer, Dwight Mogler, Doug Stensland, and Scott Schneidermann are on the board. From O’Brien County, the board members include Kelly Nieuwenhuis, Jeremy Van Ess, and Corey Rozenboom. There’s one board member from Osceola County, and that’s Rob Jacobs. Five members on the board are from Sioux County. They are Brad Kooima, Steve Rehder, Craig Moss, JT Dean, and Jeff Altena.

Additionally, Feenstra spoke to O’Brien County Sheriff’s deputies about the scourge of fentanyl in rural Iowa and the need to secure our border.

The other members of the Agriculture Advisory Board:

Dr. Calie Burgart, Audubon County
Former State Senator Jerry Behn, Boone County
Mitchell Sievers, Buena Vista County
Andy Kosky, Buena Vista County
Darcy Maulsby, Calhoun County
State Representative Mike Sexton, Calhoun County
Will Reever, Carroll County
Ramona Nitz, Cherokee County
Chad Tentinger, Cherokee County
Will Jones, Clay County
Ty Rosburg, Crawford County
Al Giese, Dickinson County
Jim Boyer, Emmet County
John Latham, Franklin County
State Representative Shannon Latham, Franklin County
Brian Borcherding, Franklin County
Don Latham, Franklin County
Leo Ettleman, Fremont County
Sam Martin, Fremont County
Jeff Jorgenson, Fremont County
Ben Slinger, Hamilton County
Jake Van Diest, Hamilton County
Darrin Kruger, Hancock County
Tony Smith, Harrison County
Nick Nielsen, Humboldt County
Jolene Riessen, Ida County
Sara Winkleman, Kossuth County
State Senator Jeff Edler, Marshall County
Wyatt Edler, Marshall County
State Representative David Sieck, Mills County
Dan Witten, Monona County
Eric Bruhn, Palo Alto County
Andy Schroeder, Plymouth County
Don Kass, Plymouth County
Darin Dykstra, Plymouth County
Grant Wells, Pocahontas County
Chris Perdue, Pottawattamie County
Chad Hansen, Sac County
Gabe Ferry, Shelby County
Bill Couser, Story County
Marty Chitty, Story County
John Fredrickson, Webster County
Gregg Hora, Webster County
Jacob West, Winnebago County
Barbara Sloniker, Woodbury County
Mark Nelson, Woodbury County
Ethan Lambert, Wright County

Sheldon, Iowa — We just don’t seem to be able to shake Old Man Winter for very long this year. Another storm system is set to strike northwest Iowa this Thursday, and forecasters may even use the “B” word — “blizzard” with this one.

We talked to meteorologist Andrew Kalin with the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, and he tells us about it.

The “blizzard” word is not one that the Weather Service just kicks around. Kalin says it would take some specific conditions for them to call a storm a “blizzard.”

We asked him how much snow they’re expecting before it’s done.

And he says the snow will leave colder temps in its wake.

The forecast says it’s looking like it will take until at least Tuesday to get back into the 40’s.

March 11, 2023 - 11:53 pm - Posted in News

Des Moines, Iowa — The electric utility that serves Sheldon and several other northwest Iowa communities is announcing that some of its trucks will, for the first time, run on their own product — electricity.

MidAmerican Energy says it is the first utility company in the state to try all-electric utility trucks. Company spokesman, Geoff Greenwood, says these are the large bucket trucks that allow them to get up in the air and work on power lines.

He says the Des Moines-based company has purchased three trucks and they will put them through their paces in the field before buying more.

Greenwood says the trucks have a 135-mile range.

He says they have fast chargers at their facilities where the trucks can be charged overnight. Greenwood says they don’t make much noise — which will make it easier for crews to communicate in the field. He says they will put out no emissions, which allows crews to train on them using an indoor facility.
Greenwood says the cost of operating the trucks is something they are also reviewing.

Greenwood says the trucks are charging up with renewable energy from their own wind farms — which brings things full circle.

In our area MidAmerican provides both gas and electric service in Sheldon, Archer, Germantown, Calumet, Sutherland, Granville, Newkirk, Hospers, Boyden, Hull, Rock Valley, Doon, Alvord, and Inwood. They also provide electric service only in Beloit, Carmel, Middleburg, Chatsworth, Ireton, Maurice, Carnes, and Gaza.

March 11, 2023 - 11:03 pm - Posted in News

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Northwest Iowa — Has the snowfall affected the drought? According to one report, it has.

According to the latest information from the US Drought Monitor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the area of extreme drought has been shrinking. As late as Valentine’s Day, about half of O’Brien County was in extreme drought, along with about half of Cherokee County and nearly all of Buena Vista, Pocahontas, Humboldt, Woodbury, and Monona counties. But the latest Drought Monitor report, released at the end of last week shows much less extreme drought. It’s now limited to a small part of Woodbury, Monona, and Harrison counties.

The area of exceptional drought along the Missouri River south of Sioux City, however, hasn’t changed much.

For the most part, the rest of our area of northwest Iowa hasn’t changed much either. There’s still an area that’s only labeled “abnormally dry” in western Lyon and northwestern Sioux counties. The rest of Lyon County and most of Sioux and Osceola counties are in moderate drought, with severe (but not extreme or exceptional) drought in all of O’Brien County, extending a little into Sioux and Osceola counties and continuing three counties south and four east.

Most of the state is at least abnormally dry, except for the eastern few tiers of counties and a bubble of about 12 counties in south-central Iowa.

Northwest Iowa — Saint Patrick’s Day is this coming Friday and this week is traditionally one of the deadliest weeks of the year for motorists and pedestrians in Iowa and nationwide.

Trooper Kevin Krull with the Iowa State Patrol says they’re joining other law enforcement agencies to spread the message about the dangers of drinking and driving — and to take impaired drivers off the road.

The program started on Saturday and runs through this coming Sunday, March 19th. Krull says if you’re at a St. Pat’s party on foot, you’ll need to be especially cautious.

During the week of St. Patrick’s Day last year, 48 people were either seriously injured or killed in car crashes on Iowa’s roads.

He says drivers should also stay alert, slow down, stay off their electronics. Krull says everyone needs to play a part to stay safe.

Union County, South Dakota west of Hawarden, Iowa– Three people were taken to a hospital and one of them was transferred to a Sioux City hospital after an accident west of Hawarden on Wednesday night, March 8, 2023.

The South Dakota Highway Patrol reports that at about 11:10 p.m., 47-year-old Jeffrey Baker of Chatsworth was driving a 2008 Buick eastbound on County Road 13, five miles west of Hawarden near River Road. They tell us that 38-year-old Kyle Paulsen of Alcester, SD was westbound on 13 in a 2008 Chevy pickup.

The report says that for some reason the Buick crashed head-on into the pickup.

An ambulance took Baker to Hawarden Regional Health. He was later transported to a hospital in Sioux City. His injuries were called “life-threatening.” A 30-year-old passenger in his vehicle and Paulsen (the driver of the pickup) were both taken to Hawarden Regional Health by ambulance as well.

Charges are pending against both drivers, according to the South Dakota Highway Patrol. They tell us the investigation continues and all information is only preliminary.