Home News Friday News, September 25th

Friday News, September 25th


Former Plymouth County Sheriff’s Deputy Charged With Felonies

LEMARS, Iowa — A former Plymouth County Sheriff’s Deputy was taken into custody Thursday by agents with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.
Aaron Leusink has been charged with multiple criminal charges related to burglaries and thefts that occurred while he was employed as a Plymouth County Sheriff’s deputy between December 2017 and January 2020.

Leusink has been charged with:

– 1 count of Burglary 1st Degree (Class B Felony)

– 2 counts of Burglary in the 2nd Degree (Class C Felony)

– 2 counts of Burglary in the 3rd Degree (Class D Felony)

– Felonious Misconduct in Office (Class D Felony)

Other charges include:

– Unlawful Possession of Prescription Drugs (Serious Misdemeanor)

– 1 count of theft in the 4th Degree (Serious Misdemeanor)

– 3 Counts of theft in the 5th Degree (Simple Misdemeanor)

A $30,000.00 cash or surety bond has been set for Leusink. However, has
since posted bond and has been released.

On April 16, 2020, the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office, while conducting a review of their internal records, became aware of potential criminal acts that involved Leusink. At that time, Plymouth County Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo requested that the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation review and handle the investigation.

Leusink was terminated on April 23, 2020, from the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office.




Plymouth County Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo Comments On The Leusink Incident

On 9/24/20, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) executed an arrest warrant on Aaron John Luesink, former deputy with the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office, for multiple acts of burglary and stealing relating to prescription medications.  Luesink was placed on administrative leave during an independent investigation by the DCI, then terminated from the sheriff’s office in April of 2020.

While conducting an internal investigation into misconduct while on duty, Sheriff Van Otterloo and Chief Deputy Te Brink suspected alleged criminal activity by Leusink and immediate contact was made with the DCI requesting their assistance in this investigation.

Every day the employees of the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office put forth a tremendous amount of effort to serve with integrity, honesty, and public trust.  It is disheartening to have that effort tarnished by the actions of one person, whose misconduct does not define who we are.  Former deputy Leusink neglected his oats in acting in a manner unbecoming of an officer of the law.  He will face the consequences of his actions.  Meanwhile, the men and women of the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office are dedicated to serve and protect and will continue to do so.

As the Plymouth County Sheriff, I promise to continue serving our constituents with the values we have outlined in our “Mission Statement:”  HONESTY and INTEGRITY, COMMITMENT, TEAMWORK, PROFESSIONALISM, ACCOUNTABILITY, AND COMMUNITY.  I want to publicly thank my tremendous staff for their support and encouragement during this time.

Mike Van Otterloo, Sheriff of Plymouth County




Political Science Professor Says People Are Tired Of The Barrage Of Political Campaign Ads

(Le Mars) — With only six weeks until election day, political campaigns are heating up with more accusations being thrown about with all candidates.
Political ads have dominated the airwaves of television, radio, and they have also appeared on social media platforms, especially when you look at the U-S Senate race between Republican Senator and incumbent, Joni Ernst, and the
Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield. Officials indicate the race to represent Iowa in the U-S Senate may be one of the most expensive campaigns in the nation. What effect does the constant barrage of political ads have on the voter? Jeff Taylor is a political science professor for Dordt University at Sioux Center, and says he is tired of seeing the constant messages, and believes the common voter may also feel the same way.

Taylor says the political campaigns are taking a “shot-gun” approach with their messages, when he believes a more narrow focus may be all that is needed.

The Dordt University professor says another reason for people feeling political campaign fatigue is because the Ernst vs. Greenfield campaign got started earlier in the year than the traditional start of political television campaigns.




Le Mars Community School Officials Urging Football Fans To Stay At Home

(Le Mars) — Le Mars Community Schools have announced due to the increased COVID-19 mitigation attempts, if you are wanting to attend the Le Mars Community and Boyden-Hull Rock Valley football game, and it is not an absolute necessity, school officials ask that you consider not attending the game, and instead listen to the game on KLEM radio with Denny Callahan.




Tulip Festival Officials Announce Court Candidates

Orange City, Iowa — Orange City’s 2021 Tulip Court was elected on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020.
Tulip Court members for the 2021 Tulip Festival include: Elsie Bartels, daughter of Eric and Vanessa Bartels, Laura Beltman, daughter of Daryl and Shirley Beltman, Maci Brenneman, daughter of Patrick and Dana Brenneman, Grace Dahl, daughter of Rik and Amy Dahl, and Lindsey Jacobsma, daughter of Melinda Jacobsma and the late Randy Jacobsma.
A Queen’s Tea and Pageant will be held in November to crown the 2021 Tulip Festival Queen. The Queen and Court will serve as ambassadors for Orange City’s 80th annual Tulip Festival, set for May 13-15, 2021.
Tulip Festival news, event information, volunteer opportunities and more can be found on the festival’s
website at www.octulipfestival.com.




Farm Safety Specialist Says Farmers Need To Take Frequent Breaks To Reduce The Likelihood Of Accidents

(Le Mars) — We continue our series focusing on farm safety during this National Farm Safety Week. As we have learned, farming ranks as the most dangerous occupation, but an Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Farm Safety Specialist says there is a simple way farmers can reduce the number of farm related accidents. Chuck Schwab says during the stress and hurried times of harvest, farmers need to remember to take a break once in a while.

Schwab explains when farmers continue to work long hours without a rest, the senses and judgement become distorted.

The farm safety specialist says another way to avoid farm-related accidents is to shut down the equipment when working and making repairs, and to keep all shields and protective guards in place.

Schwab reminds farmers to carry a charged cell phone, and always inform family members where you will be working, and to tell them the approximate time you will report.




Survey Shows Iowans Suffering From Anxiety And Depression From COVID-19 Isolation

(Des Moines) — A recent survey published by the Centers for Disease Control found anxiety and depression are at an all-time high among Iowans. Liz Cox — C-E-O of the Polk County Mental Health Region — says nearly 40 percent of Iowans reported feelings of despair and worry during the pandemic.

Cox is urging Iowans to address their stress and seek help.

Cox says many school districts have hired mental health counselors or reserved spaces for staff and students to talk with someone via a “telehealth” connection. A 2019 report found the teenage suicide rate in Iowa increased 30 percent in the previous three years.

State officials say pharmacy records appear to indicate many Iowans are seeking help, as there’s been a 20 percent increase this year in prescriptions for medications that address anxiety and depression.




Northwest Iowa Schools Looking For Classroom Alternatives

(Sibley) — As new cases of COVID-19 increase in some northwest Iowa counties, local school administrators say they’re doing what they can to keep students in class. More than 200 students and staff in the Sibley-Ocheyedan (Oh-CHEE-din) Community School District are in isolation or quarantine because of COVID-19 — and that includes Superintendent James Craig. Craig says rather than move to virtual instruction, the district is developing a plan to split up classrooms.

Craig hopes to have the new seating schedules ready when students get to school Monday.

The superintendent at M-O-C-Floyd Valley says his district is renting four movie theaters for high school classes, so students can spread out better.
Lyon, Sioux and Osceola counties have 14-day positivity rates over 20 percent.  Plymouth County is again over 15 percent positivity rates.





Iowa Insurance Division Charges Two Companies With Wrongdoing

(Des Moines, IA) — The Iowa Insurance Division’s Enforcement Bureau is alleging wrongdoing by two companies. Division spokesman Chance McElhaney says Trinity Healthshare Incorporated and The Aliera (Uh-leer-uh) Companies allegedly acted as an unauthorized insurer by offering healthcare insurance products to Iowa consumers which were not approved for sale in Iowa. McElhaney says both Aliera and Trinity are alleged to have utilized unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the offer and sale of these health care products. He says they both denied the allegations and there will be an administrative hearing. McElhaney says ask that anybody who purchased a policy through Trinity or Aliera contact the Iowa Insurance Division.




U-I Administrator Hopeful About COVID-19 Vaccine

(Iowa City, IA) — The University of Iowa’s Vice President for Medical Affairs says he is encouraged about the prospect for a COVID-19 vaccine. Brooks Jackson says “the data emerging on the leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates currently in large phase-three clinical trials in the U-S looks very promising.”
The U-I is one of the sites in the Pfizer trial and he says they recently completed the target enrollment for the trial. Jackson says they are beginning now to work to plan for the logistics of COVID-19 vaccine distribution in coordination with the Iowa Department of Public Health. He says plan will ensure they’ll be ready to administer rapidly, one or more COVID-19 vaccines when the time comes.




Vice President Pence Coming To Iowa Next Week

(Des Moines, IA) — Vice President Mike Pence visit Iowa next week to speak at the Family Leader Foundation’s event called “Faith in Leadership, America’s Need for Revival.”
The Republican Vice President is set to speak at the October 1st event along with U-S Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, author Joel C. Rosenberg and MyPillow C-E-O Mike Lindell. Carson was in Des Moines earlier this week to tour a supportive housing facility for low-income seniors. Pence’s has made four other trips to Iowa this year — with the last visit in August — where he touted President Donald Trump’s support among farmers and law enforcement officers.