I've lived in Sibley for nearly my entire life, excluding a brief period where I lived in the town of Ocheyedan, 12 miles to the east. I've been a child here, a student here, and now a homeowner.
When I created this website it may have surprised many readers to have learned that, contrary to what some of them have implied (🙄), I really do enjoy living here. Among my friends from school - now over a decade ago - I was one of only three to stay here after finishing college.
Sometimes I honestly wish that my spouse and I had decided to move to a bigger city like Sioux Falls, South Dakota, or even a bigger town like Sheldon, Iowa to the south, or Worthington, Minnesota to the north. But I'd be lying if I said there weren't times we're glad we stayed in Sibley, too.
Throughout the rest of this page, I'm going to do my best to explain that Sibley has a lot of good things going for it. However, in my own opinion, it also has its share of shortcomings. It's up to you as the reader to weigh the good against the bad.
One of those shortcomings is a business that many of us in town have taken to calling the "Blood Plant". It's an agricultural processing plant located smack dab in the heart of downtown Sibley, within spitting distance of the only grocery store in town. This "Blood Plant" got its name from a particular type of processing they do there; they take pig blood, dry it, and turn it into pet food.
Needless to say, the scent from drying tons of pig blood isn't going to smell like roses and sunshine. The "Blood Plant" used to emit downright noxious fumes and odors every day -- odors that you could smell no matter where you live in Sibley. It was like walking into a wall of the worst, most pungent smells you could imagine.
That business, its emissions, and our local government's dealings with them were the reasons I built this website to begin with. I'm happy to report that the frequency of the odor has been significantly reduced since near the middle of 2017. Where before you could walk into a miasma of noxious vapors four to five days every week, my friends and family now only smell them two or three times a month. While the City council would have you believe emissions from the "Blood Plant" have been completely reduced to zero, I strongly disagree, and we're still tracking the situation on this website. You can read about it here.
It should go without saying that everything you just read, and everything you're about to read, is purely opinion. Only a fool would take it as fact.
Despite my legal battle with the City of Sibley, I'm doing my best to be fair to the town itself, because I do like living here. If you think something does or does not belong on this list, please don't hesitate to contact me at email@example.com. I'd be happy to discuss it with you.
- As an individual lucky enough to be in a profession where I can work wherever I want, The Lantern coffeehouse is easily one of my favorite places to be. I'm not even much of a coffee-drinker, but the vibe is just right and the owners are very friendly. It's my understanding that it was even rated as one of the best coffee houses in Iowa.
- The Osceola Recreational Trails Association has done a very good job of not only adding new hiking trails all around the town, but also updating old gravel and dirt trails with freshly-poured concrete. They're a great way for the population to stay healthy and get exercise for both themselves and their pets.
- El Tio Nacho's is not only one of my favorite Mexican restaurants, it's one of my favorite restaurants ever. The food is less "5-star Michelin Chef" and more "Mi Abuela's Comfort Food", and I can't think of a single time I've regretted eating at El Tio's instead of somewhere more fancy.
- Sibley very recently got fiber internet capabilities through Premier Communications. As a professional that makes their living online, access to fiber internet was something I thought I'd only get in bigger cities.
- The community recently completed fundraising for a new community pool. The current pool is in desperate need of repair or replacement, and it looks like that is finally starting to happen.
- The Sibley-Ocheyedan School District was named one of the "Best Communities for Music Education" in 2018, an award shared with only 583 other communities in the country.
Some of these complaints are petty, and some of them are much more serious. However, this website has an audience, I know the city council is reading, and I want to do what I can to improve the town by bringing attention to some of the problems that exist here.
Again, if you think something does or does not belong on this list, please don't hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Many of the roads in town, especially the cobblestone roads located "downtown" on "main street" are in very poor condition. It makes the town look poor, run-down and leaves a bad impression not only on the mind but possibly the vehicle as well. I'm no civil engineer, but there has to be a better method of road maintenance than the city's current strategy of "dig a huge chunk out of the road and just fill it with dirt for months at a time, inevitably creating potholes everywhere".
- Despite what the town's government would have you believe, there are still days when the "Blood Plant" pollutes the air over the town with its wall of odors. We've moved across town since the days we were living on 10th Street across from the plant, but we can still smell it where we live near the pool and golf course.
- Now the business that owns the plant has sued the City of Sibley for $3.5 million in Federal court, alleging that the city's nuisance ordinance is unconstitutional and arbitrarily enforced. It should go without saying that, while I sadly no longer have much empathy for the city government, I really hope that they win that lawsuit. I fear the plant will go back to stinking up the town on the daily if the city loses.
- There are too many damned Republicans. 😉
- Despite all of the new trails put up by the trail association, Sibley could really use one of the dog parks that many other towns take for granted. Like many other millenials, when my spouse and I are ready to buy our next house we'll be looking very closely at towns that have dog parks.
- Sibley is pretty poor in the "places to eat" department. You've got six choices: El Tio Nacho's, Subway, Pizza Hut, Pizza Ranch, the Beach House, and 1015 Steak Company. As much as I love El Tio, it's easy to get bored of these places when you've eaten at each of them dozens of times. If you live in Sibley, you're either eating at one of those six establishments, traveling 15-20 miles to Worthington, Minnesota or Sheldon, Iowa, or you're making your own meal.
- Some officials in the city government, in my own opinion (insert additional legal caveats here ad nauseum to really drive home the point that nothing on this page should be taken as fact), squander taxpayer money on spurious advice and pointless legal services, threatening civil litigation that even a first-year law student would know has no possibility of succeeding. Those officials may be interested in reading about (and I'm making no allegations of any kind with this list):
- The First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which, among other things, grants citizens the right to freely criticize the government without fear of repercussion.
- The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which, among other things, extends the restrictions applied to the Federal Government to the States.
- The definition of libel, particularly that a government cannot be libeled, and that libel must be malicious to constitute grounds for a lawsuit for damages. Minor errors in reporting are not libel.
- Rule 32:3.1 of the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct, which makes it clear that lawyers should inform themselves of the facts of their clients' cases and the applicable law to determine that they can make good faith arguments in support of their clients' positions. Any lawyer familiar with the above points would agree that, for example, a good faith argument could not be made in a case where officials acting as a governmental body attempt to censor a citizen and violate that citizen's First Amendment rights.
- Reaching out and asking nicely instead of making threats. They may find the recipient surprisingly receptive, not the adversary they apparently thought, and won't end up being sued by the ACLU and turned into a national example of how not to respond to criticism.