2017 Year in Review: Stories 6-10
This is part of a series looking back at 2017.
No. 6 — ARNOLDS PARK AMUSEMENT PARK PLANS
Motorists along Highway 71 in Arnolds Park likely saw the construction taking place in 2017 as part of the amusement park’s first phase of multi-million-dollar upgrades. Subsequent phases will continue into 2018 and beyond. The Park's non-profit board hopes to expand and improve the Maritime Museum and administrative offices. The historic Roof Garden and Majestic Pavilion will get a new look and the Iowa Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame Museum will have a new location. The completed Park will have an updated Preservation Plaza stage and cul-de-sac to the north end of Zephyr Drive to provide a pedestrian-friendly area along the shoreline.
No. 7 — STANDOFF ENDS IN TRAGEDY
Local officers were in the line of fire in the spring of 2017. The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation was called in after a standoff and exchange of gunfire April 30 in a Milford neighborhood near Okoboji High School. The DCI thinks 52-year-old Robert Brunner pointed a handgun at responding officers from Milford and Arnolds Park. Shots were exchanged between Brunner and a Milford police officer. Authorities were eventually able to enter Brunner’s Milford home at about midnight and found him dead inside the home. Results suggest Brunner sustained a gunshot wound to his torso and a fatal self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head.
No. 8 — KIDNAPPING CASE ENDS WITH CONVICTION
A Spencer man accused of kidnapping, assault and robbery at a Wahpeton apartment could spend up to 17 years in prison.
District Court Judge David Lester on Sept. 25 sentenced 20-year-old Tanner Meysenburg on three charges stemming from a pair of incidents in February 2017.
Meysenburg and 23-year-old Jordaen Duhn of Spencer were accused of forcing their way into a residence as part of a Feb. 20 robbery attempt at 1127 Lakeside Ave. in Wahpeton. An occupant at the apartment was then transported against his will to Milford. The 19-year-old was "able to escape by crawling out of the vehicle's window as it traveled down Highway 71," according to a Feb. 22 sheriff's statement. The teenager ran to a place of safety. Authorities think it was Duhn and Meysenburg who then fled the scene. Meysenburg agreed to charges of second-degree burglary — a Class C forcible felony — and assault while participating in a felony, a Class D forcible felony as part of an agreement with prosecutors. As part of a September court appearance, Meysenburg also entered a guilty plea to a separate third-degree attempted burglary charge. Investigators think Meysenburg was trying to break into Roger’s Auto and Tire and Out Back Lounge in Milford on Feb. 2. Duhn’s April 5 "not guilty" plea remains in place. The court scheduled a pre-trial conference for her case on Feb. 20, 2018.
No. 9 — ATTEMPTED MURDER CHARGES
Two Spirit Lake investigations led to attempted murder charges filed at the Dickinson County Courthouse in 2017.
Judge David Lester on Dec. 4 signed off on a year-long sentence for 55-year-old Scott Sidles of Spirit Lake. He intentionally fired a pistol at a group of people. The bullet hit one of his neighbors who was sitting in a chair on her porch the night of Oct. 2, 2016. Sidles was sentenced to one year in the Dickinson County Jail following guilty pleas in September to "reckless use of a firearm," a Class C felony and "assault with a dangerous weapon," an aggravated misdemeanor.
Just over a week later, Lester put another attempted murder case on hold. He ordered 30-year-old defendant Nicholas Thompson of Spirit Lake to undergo a mental health evaluation. Thompson was taken into custody June 22, after investigators think he used an 8-inch knife to attack a man in the 900 block of 22nd Street in Spirit Lake. He was charged with attempted murder, a Class B felony; willful injury causing serious injury, a Class C felony; going armed with intent, a Class D felony and assault while displaying a dangerous weapon, an aggravated misdemeanor.
No. 10 — CRUZ BLOCKS NORTHEY'S USDA BID
A statewide leader with deep local roots found a role in the Trump administration — then hit a roadblock in the confirmation process. President Donald Trump named Bill Northey of Spirit Lake to one of three key positions in the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Sept. 1. Iowa's Secretary of Agriculture was in line to become Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation under U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. But, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in November acknowledged responsibility for holding up Northey’s nomination. The senator from Texas told Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds refining industry concerns prompted his interference in Northey’s confirmation process. Cruz hoped the delay would force a meeting with senators from the Midwest about the Renewable Fuel Standard.