Tobacco Compliance

The Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office has taken a pledge to keep tobacco, alternative nicotine and vapor products out of the hands of Palo Alto County under age persons.

Known as I-PLEDGE, the program is a partnership with the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division (ABD) to educate local retailers and to enforce Iowa’s tobacco, alternative nicotine and vapor product laws. Since the program’s inception in 2000, the statewide tobacco compliance rate has grown to 90%. By participating in the program, the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office has committed to do its part to increase the compliance rate even more this year.

I-PLEDGE places emphasis on retailer training. Clerks who successfully complete an online course and then pass an exam will become I-PLEDGE certified. This allows a retail establishment to use an affirmative defense against a civil penalty if the certified clerk makes an illegal sale.

I-PLEDGE’S retailer training is a great way for clerks to prepare themselves to refuse illegal tobacco, alternative nicotine and vapor product sales. The training also assists retailers to ensure they maintain a compliant and responsible establishment.

Palo Alto County Deputies will also be conducting compliance checks on local establishments as a part of the I-PLEDGE program. Underage customers, under the supervision of law enforcement officials, will enter establishments and attempt to buy tobacco, alternative nicotine and vapor products. Clerks who make the illegal sale will be cited on the spot.

Criminal penalties for selling tobacco, alternative nicotine and vapor products to an underage person include a $135 fine for the first offense, a $325 fine for the second offense and a $645 fine for the third and subsequent offenses. However, handing out citations is not the intent of the I-PLEDGE program.

“By partnering with the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division, we hope to educate clerks and maintain a compliant retail environment in our community.” Sheriff Lynn Schultes said. “Moreover, we pledge to help keep tobacco, alternative nicotine and vapor products out of the hands of underage persons in Iowa.”
To take the I-PLEDGE training or search certification records go to https://abd.iowa.gov/.

Disorderly Conduct Arrest

On 11/21/2021 at 3:18 P.M., the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office was called to a residence in the 1800 Block of Washington Street in Ruthven for an unknown female causing a disturbance. After an investigation, the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office arrested Theresa Bittner (57) of Ruthven for disorderly conduct, a simple misdemeanor. Bittner was transported to the Palo Alto County Jail without incident, where she awaits her 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.

Warrant Arrest

On 11/18/2021 at 11:51 P.M. the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office arrested Sara Wells (37) of Swea City, Iowa on two Palo Alto County arrest warrants for Theft 5th Degree, and Accessory After the Fact. The warrants carried a combined $850.00 cash only bond. Sara was unable to post bond and was transferred from the custody of the Kossuth County Sheriff’s, and transported to the Palo Alto County Jail to await her 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.

Assault Arrest

On 11/18/2021 at 8:35 p.m., the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office received an emergency 911 phone call regarding an incident involving an assault that had taken place in the 600 block of N Van Gordon Ave in Graettinger. Upon an investigation into the incident, the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office arrested Andrew John Larson, age 45 of Graettinger, on the charges of Willful Injury (Serious Assault causing serious injury), a Class C Felony, Child Endangerment (Aggravated Misdemeanor), Operate Vehicle Without Owner’s Consent (Aggravated Misdemeanor), and Driving While Barred (Aggravated Misdemeanor). Larson was transported to the Palo Alto County Jail and held until his initial appearance before a magistrate judge.

The Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Emmet County Sheriff’s Office.

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 11/17/2021 at 7:22 p.m., the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a single vehicle vs. animal accident that had occurred in the 3900 block of 360th Street. According to the report given to the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office, a 2021 Chevy Equinox owned and driven by Rolin Ray Muhs, age 65 of Spencer, was traveling west on 360th Street and struck an animal that emerged from the north ditch. The Muhs vehicle sustained an estimated $6000 worth of damages. There were no reported injuries as a result of the accident.

Accident

On 11/17/2021 at 4:35 p.m., the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office investigated a single vehicle vs. deer accident that occurred in the 3700 block of 360th Street. According to the investigation conducted by the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office, a 2013 Chevy Malibu owned and driven by Haylee Sue Lamasters, age 24 of Creston, IA, was traveling west on 360th Street and struck a deer that emerged from the south ditch. The Lamasters vehicle sustained an estimated $7000 worth of damages.

The Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by Wickman’s Towing

OWI Arrest

On 11/16/2021 at 5:22 p.m., the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a single vehicle vs. deer collision that occurred in the 3100 block of 370th Avenue. According to the investigation conducted by the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office, a 2017 Toyota Camry owned and driven by, Nancy Fay Nissen age 67 of Wallingford, was traveling southbound on 370th Avenue, and struck a deer that was in the roadway. The Nissen vehicle continued southbound, crossed the centerline of the roadway and came to rest in the east ditch. Nissen was checked at the scene by medical personnel from the Palo Alto County Health System.

Subsequently, the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office arrested and charged Nissen for Operating a motor vehicle while under the Influence/Impaired (OWI-1st Offense) and Failure to Maintain Control. Nissen was transported to the Palo Alto County Jail. Nissen was held until her initial appearance before a magistrate judge.

The Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office was assisted on scene by the Palo Alto County Health System and Wickman’s Towing.

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 Tuesday, November 16, 2021, at 2:59 a.m., the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office investigated a car versus deer accident in the 2700-blk of 370th Avenue. After investigation into the accident, it was determined Tyler Rexroat (28) of Ruthven, IA. was northbound on 370th Avenue in a 2002 Chevrolet Yukon when a deer emerged in the roadway from the west ditch. Rexroat collided with the deer causing an estimated $4,500 in damage. No injuries were reported at the scene.

Accident

On 11/15/2021 at 5:22 P.M. the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office was called to the 4500 block of 420th St., Emmetsburg, Iowa for a car verse deer accident. A 2001 Ford F250, owned and operated by Dalton Bunda (21) of Emmetsburg, was west bound when a deer entered the roadway and collided with the vehicle. The vehicle sustained minor damaged estimated at $1500.00, and there were no reported injuries as a result of the accident.

Accident

On 11/15/2021 at 10:49 A.M, the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office was called to Upper Des Moines Opportunity Inc. for a vehicle that had backed into a pole. After an investigation it was determined that a 2013 Ford Fusion, owned and operated by Sheila Haley(26) of Mallard, was backing up in the driveway of Upper Des Moines Opportunity Incorperated’s parking lot and backed into a power pole. The vehicle sustained an approximate $1400.00 worth of damage. There were no reports of injuries.