Accident

On January 7th, 2021, the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office investigated a motor vehicle accident in the 4800 Block of 370th Avenue. Following an investigation, the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office determined that William Hickman (31) of Laurens was driving a 2004 GMC Sierra pick up northbound in the 4800 Block of 370th Avenue. At the curve on 370th Avenue, Hickman’s vehicle went straight into the ditch, hit an embankment and became airborne before hitting a fence and some boulders. Hickman’s vehicle sustained an estimated $6000.00 worth of damage, and $200.00 worth of damage to the fence from the accident. The Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office cited Hickman for failure to maintain control of his vehicle. There were no reports of injuries from the accident.

A criminal charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

Arrest

On 1/7/2021 the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office arrested Aaron Phillip Krusen (32) of Rolfe on 2 valid Palo Alto County arrest warrants. Krusen was served an arrest warrant for Theft in the 5th Degree and a No-Bond arrest warrant for Violation of a No-Contact Order. Following his arrest, Krusen was placed in jail to await his initial appearance before a judge.

A criminal charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

Accident

On January 7, 2021, at 4:03 p.m., the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office was called to the Lakeland Convenience Store in Ruthven for a two vehicle that happened in the parking lot. Upon investigation it was determined a 2004 Dodge Ram 2500 owned by Gustin Farms LLC, operated by Steven Gustin (50) of Dickens, IA., was backing from a parking spot and did not see another vehicle entering the parking lot. The Gustin vehicle made contact with a 2015 Buick Lacrosse owned and operated by Robert Simington (56) of Ruthven, IA. Damage to the Gustin Farms vehicle was estimated at $300. Damage to the Simington vehicle was estimated at $2,000. No injuries were reported at the scene.

Accident

On January 6th, 2021, the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office and Kossuth County Sheriff’s Office investigated a motor vehicle accident in the 4000 block of 580th Avenue. Following an investigation, the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office determined that James Bowman (29) of Algona was driving a 1996 Mercury Grand Marquis south in the 4000 block of 580th Avenue. Bowman’s vehicle lost traction to the roadway, slid into the west ditch and collided with a utility pole owned by Iowa Lakes Electric Coop. There were no injuries reported in the accident. There was an estimated $3,000.00 damage done to Bowman’s vehicle and an estimated $250.00 damage done to the utility pole

Accident

On January 6th, 2021, at 08:59, the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office investigated a motor vehicle accident in the 4400-blk 280th Street. Following an investigation, the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office determined that Kevin Shumate (61) of Fenton was driving a 2007 Chrysler PT Cruiser east in the 4400 block of 280th Street and lost control of his motor vehicle, which then slid sideways into the south ditch, rolled once and came to rest on its top. Shumate sustained only minor injuries in the accident. Shumate’s vehicle sustained an estimated $5,000.00 in damages from the accident. The Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office cited Kevin Shumate for operating a motor vehicle without a valid driver’s license and failure to reduce speed to a reasonable and proper rate, which are both simple misdemeanors.

A criminal charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

Drug Arrests

On 01/04/2021 the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office was called to investigate the theft of packages from a residence in Ruthven. During the course of the investigation a female suspect was identified as Riley Fagen (18) of Ruthven.

On 01/05/2021 the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s contacted Riley at her residence in the 1800 block of Bruce St., Ruthven, Iowa. As a result of that contact and the continuing investigation, a search warrant for the residence was applied for and granted. As a result of the search warrant Riley Fagen was placed under arrest and charged with theft 5th degree (simple misdemeanor), trespassing (simple misdemeanor), possession of marijuana (serious misdemeanor), possession of methamphetamine (serious misdemeanor), possession of drug paraphernalia (simple misdemeanor) and distribution to a person under 18 (B felony). Benjamin Novack (21) of Jeffers, Minnesota was placed under arrest and charged with possession of marijuana 2nd offense (serious misdemeanor), possession of controlled substance 3rd offense (D felony), possession of drug paraphernalia (simple misdemeanor), and distribution to a person under 18 (B felony). Brandon Harris (38) of Milford, Iowa was placed under arrest and charged with possession of marijuana 3rd offense (aggravated misdemeanor), possession of controlled substance 3rd offense (D felony), possession of drug paraphernalia (simple misdemeanor), and distribution to a person under 18 (B felony).

Riley, Benjamin, and Brandon were all transported to the Palo Alto County Jail and booked in to await their initial appearance before a judge.

A 17-year-old juvenile was also located at the residence. That juvenile was placed under arrest and charged with possession of methamphetamine (serious misdemeanor), possession of marijuana (serious misdemeanor) and possession of drug paraphernalia (simple misdemeanor). The juvenile was transported to the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office and released to a parent.

The Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Emmetsburg Police Department at the Sheriff’s Office with the handling and processing of the suspects.

A criminal charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

Accident

On January 3, 2021, at 5:48 p.m., the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a car versus deer accident in the 3700 block of 525th Avenue near Cylinder. It was determined a 2016 Chrysler Town and Country van, owned and operated by Darci Conner (57) of Emmetsburg, IA was northbound on 525th Avenue when a deer emerged in the roadway. The Conner vehicle made contact with the deer causing an estimated $7,500 in damage. No injuries were reported at the scene.

Accident

On 1/1/2021 at 3:28 a.m., the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a single vehicle vs. deer collision that occurred in the 3200 block of 420th Avenue. According to the report given, a 2007 Chevy Impala, owned and driven by Kenshaud Raydee Winston, age 33 of Emmetsburg, was traveling north on 420th Avenue and struck a deer that emerged from the east ditch. The Winston vehicle sustained an estimated $3000 worth of damages. There were no reported injuries as a result of the collision.

Palo Alto County Public Safety Center

Construction of a new facility to house the Palo Alto County Jail, Palo Alto County 911 Communication Center, Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office and Palo Alto County Emergency Management has been in the works for many years. March 2, 2021 will allow the citizens of Palo Alto County to determine if all the work and planning will continue. March 2, 2021 has been set by the Board of Supervisor’s as the date for the special election; bond referendum, to move forward with the construction of the Palo Alto County Public Safety Center.

The current structure housing the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s office, Jail and Communication Center was constructed in 1908. The Sheriff of Palo Alto County lived in the structure when it was first constructed. So, in essence, the current jail which is 112 years old, and the repurposed house, which now comprises the Communication Center, Jail Booking Room, Jail Kitchen, and Information Technologies (IT) rooms, is outdated and not safe. This structure was never intended to and does not meet the demands of today’s jail standards and communication demands.

As of 2020, only two other facilities in Iowa were older than ours. Age alone does not disqualify a structure from serving a useful purpose. However, structure condition, current demands, state regulation, and liability issues do play a role.

How did we arrive at the point we are right now with this potential new structure? In March of 2017 I had a serious conversation with Delbert Longley, the State of Iowa Jail inspector. Mr. Longley and I discussed our past jail inspections; which occur annually, future projections and issues with our current facility. I continued to update the building as much as possible, as is done yearly, and evaluate our current facility and future needs.

In October of 2018, I requested Mr. Longley speak with our Board of Supervisor’s and update them on the status, condition and projection of our facility. I felt it was my duty as Sheriff to bring my concerns forward and address the security, safety, liability and future direction of the Sheriff’s Office, Jail and Communication Center. After that meeting it was apparent that our structure was in such a condition as to warrant further investigation.

After research, consultation and interviews, the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisor’s signed a contract on July 23, 2019 with Midwest Construction Consultants. John Hansen; owner of the company, was contracted to do a facility evaluation and needs assessment. As John began collecting information and compiling data, he too suggested the formation of a Building Committee as an independent group to evaluate the data collected and make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors.

On October 24, 2019 the first meeting was held with the Building Committee with representatives from all parts of Palo Alto County. This group was offered tours of the current facilities to see firsthand my concerns of our existing structure. Information was shared with them concerning the facilities evaluation and needs assessment as they were completed. In December of 2019 the committee agreed that architectural firms should be solicited and interviewed and on March 24, 2020 the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisor’s signed a contract with Rick Weidner to be the architect for this project.

COVID entered the scene at this point but work continued on this project. Phone calls, emails and zoom meetings were the norm. After an initial design, many discussions and design changes, the Building Committee approved a design concept and an estimate of probable cost on September 21, 2020. The following day the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors approved the same design and estimate of probable cost.

The facility would consist of a modern 18 bed jail with expansion capabilities, 911 Communication Center, Sheriff’s Office, Emergency Management Office and State Probation facilities. The name of the facility would be the Palo Alto County Public Safety Center. The estimate of probable cost is 5.625 million dollars.

The approval of the estimate of probable cost came with the request to seek funding to repay the bonds that did not include a tax increase for the construction project. The Palo Alto County Board of Supervisor’s have chosen to finance the Public Safety Center with TIF funds generated from the wind turbine farm in the northeast part of Palo Alto County. Yes, this means the Palo Alto County Public Safety Center can and will be built and financed without a tax increase.

Palo Alto County is in a unique position to construct a modern facility that will address our existing structural conditions, meet current demands, state regulation, and liability issues for many years to come. This can all be achieved with utilizing some of the revenue generated from the wind turbine project and not cause an increase in taxes.

Your vote needs to be heard on this project. March 2, 2021 has been set as the date for an election; bond referendum, on the question of entering into a loan agreement and issuing bonds for the purpose of undertaking the project for construction, to furnish and equip the Palo Alto County Public Safety Center.

Additional information will be provided over the next few months concerning various aspects of this project. The intent is to provide the information needed for each of you to make an informed vote.

Happy New Year!

Sheriff Lynn J Schultes

Warrants Served

On December 30, 2020 the Palo County Sheriff’s Office served Troy Petersen (23) of Graettinger, Iowa, with two additional Palo Alto County warrants. The warrants stem from ongoing investigations into area burglaries. Troy Petersen was charged with 3rd degree burglary (D Felony) and 5th degree criminal mischief (Simple Misdemeanor). The warrants carried a combined $5,500 cash or surety bond. Mr. Petersen was incarcerated in the Palo Alto County Jail when he was served with the warrants. He remained jailed to await his initial appearance before a judge

A criminal charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.