Should you move to Sibley, Iowa?


But if you can't decide, I'll give you my opinion on both the good and the bad so that you can make an informed decision.

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, which is mostly no longer a problem at the time of this writing, was a business located two blocks from the most "bustling" part of "downtown" Sibley. That business, and our local government's dealings with them, was the reason I built this website.

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.

Let's start with the history of this website before diving into the pros and cons of moving to Sibley; more specifically, the reason this website was created:

"The Blood Plant"

Keep in mind that everything you're about to read about "The Blood Plant" is largely not a problem anymore. Although it's difficult to find any news on the subject at this time, it seems that "The Blood Plant" has mostly stopped producing the offending odors described below; However, myself, my spouse and members of my family still smell them occasionally, and others in Sibley (as reported in the Gazette Tribune newspaper) do not consider the odors to be 100% eliminated.

If you're a resident or visiting Sibley and you've detected what you think is the odor and fumes I've described below, I'd be very interested in hearing from you. Please email me at Our correspondence will remain private, you will not be identified.

In 2013, the Iowa Economic Development Authority gave $150,000 in financial assistance to a business that moved into an old factory building in Sibley. Not long after the business got up and running, locals began to refer to the facility with the not-so-affectionate moniker "The Blood Plant" thanks to the absolutely terrible, wretched odors emanating from the building.

We're not just talking an "oh, that was a little stinky" kind of smell. We're talking a rotten blood, stale beer, "I wonder if I should see a doctor after breathing that" wall of fumes. The putrid air seemed to hang over much of the town for 3-4 days every week. It was particularly nasty on hot and humid summer days.

At the time I lived very close to the offending facility. It was absolutely terrible, we couldn't open our windows in the spring, summer or fall thanks to the seemingly malignant stench. Driving down 10th Street would make you instantly regret using your vehicle's air conditioner. And need I mention: the facility is located right down the block from Superfoods, the only grocery store in town.

One Sibley resident, who lived near the plant at the time, regretted purchasing his home due to the "overwhelming aroma" . It was so bad for him that he was forced to turn off his air conditioner in the summer, and his wife's in-home daycare had suffered due to its close proximity to the source of the smell.

After living so close to "The Blood Plant", I eventually grew fed up from what I perceived as total inaction from the city council and government of Sibley. I resolved to use my skills as a professional developer and programmer to create this very website. The goal: document as much as I could about the situation, call out the city on what I perceived to be a streak of inaction and ineffectiveness, and affect change.

In fact this website was surprisingly effective at drawing attention to the issue with over 2000 visitors on just one day in December of 2015 - largely from the Sibley area alone. It's also been a bit of a sticking point for some of the more salty in town, culminating in (once again, in my own opinion) a misguided attempt to scare me into taking this website down, First Amendment rights to criticize the government be damned.

But again, let me reiterate: the problem with "The Blood Plant" is largely not a problem in Sibley anymore. It's my understanding that eventually the city began fining the facility for public nuisance violations and both sides filed lawsuits against each other, but I'm personally unable to find much news on the subject.

What Sibley has going for it.

  1. For many years it seemed that Sibley, much like thousands of other towns in the midwest, was slowly dying. The businesses and storefronts located "downtown" on "main street" were closing down, one after another. You wouldn't be surprised to see a tumbleweed blow by. However, over the last year especially it seems like Sibley's "downtown" is going through what I can only describe as a revival. New businesses are moving in and old businesses are relocating there.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. The community recently completed fundraising for a new community pool. The current pool is ( in my opinion) in desperate need of repair or replacement, and it looks like that is finally starting to happen.

What Sibley has going against it.

Largely these complaints are somewhat petty, but to be honest: this website has an audience, I know the city council is reading, and I want to make this town better despite accusations of the opposite. If you have an idea that you think should be posted here, let me know! Send an email to

  1. 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.
  2. In my opinion, 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.
  3. There are too many damned Republicans. 😉
  4. 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 Alley 7 bar, 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.
  5. 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 chastised or lightly roasted on the internet. I've been more than fair to the city in this update and would hate to see it at the wrong end of a civil rights lawsuit.

The Verdict

When it comes down to it, I'm happy living in Sibley. If you had asked me if I could recommend moving to Sibley back when I created this website and "The Blood Plant" was at its peak reign of terror, I would have immediately said "No". But that problem is mostly taken care of, and at this time I'd be happy to say "Yes" as long as you like the small-town life as I do. Sibley has its drawbacks and could use improvements in many areas, but so could many other small towns.

However, if the problem ever arises again, I will not hesitate to update this website.