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Local
Sale pending? Clear Lake's Barrel Drive-In closes, future uncertain (with photos)
 Steve Bohnel  / 
 10.05.17

CLEAR LAKE | A drive-in diner that has served the Clear Lake community for nearly six decades has shut it doors.

The Barrel Drive-In, a diner renowned for its broasted chicken and homemade root beer, permanently closed late last week.

Julie Pals, 54, is a local photographer who snapped pictures of the diner's iconic barrel being hauled away Sept. 29. 

Courtesy Julie Pals 

The Barrel Drive-In's iconic barrel was hauled away Sept. 29.

"I was sad about it," Pals about the diner closing. "I was hoping someone would save it, I love the Barrel chicken and the atmosphere the place had."

Several Clear Lakers and North Iowans expressed their reaction to the news on a post on the Clear Lake, Iowa, Facebook page Sept. 30.

Jeff Heinz / JEFF HEINZ, The Globe Gazette 

Barrel Drive-In employee Justin Bryant says community support has been "fantastic."

"If it weren’t for the Barrel drive-in, I wouldn’t be here," wrote Kelsey Kuns, a photographer based in Washington, D.C. "My parents met while working there as teenagers. Sad to see it go."

"Oh so Sad!!" wrote Diana Grinkley, who now resides in Manchester, Illinois. "How am I going to get my DELICIOUS Barrel chicken!! I can't believe it's closing for good. Good luck to you Seth and GOD Bless!"

Seth Thackery, owner/operator of The Barrel Drive-In, declined comment Tuesday. 

"I have just been recently advised not to say anything until the closing has gone through," he said via email. 

File photo 

Barrel owner Seth Thackery. 

The Barrel Drive-In had been put up for sale earlier this year, after community members had rallied to try to save it.

As of Wednesday evening, county property records show Thackery still owns the drive-in. It is listed on Iowa Realty's website at $398,000.

Dick Hayes, the real estate agent listed with the property, declined to comment Wednesday.

Jeff Heinz / File photo 

The Barrel Drive-In in Clear Lake in July 2014. 

Casey's General Store — which has a branch next door — has offered to buy the property in the past. Kirk Haworth, vice president of real estate, and Jay Soupene, senior vice president of operations, didn't immediately respond to phone messages left by the Globe Gazette Wednesday. 

In August 2014, volunteers painted the entire exterior of the building. Earlier that month, Thackery won $75,000 in internet marketing, business consulting and other related services.

ARIAN SCHUESSLER, The Globe Gazette 

Volunteer Doug Marty of Williamsburg, Va., helps paint the Barrel Drive-In. The fresh paint is part of a community effort to help repair and retain the historic drive-in.

A "Save the Barrel" website was made, and business was so successful that year that Thackery stayed open a month later than usual.

The following year, he opened the drive-in with new lights, renovated bathrooms and a new sound system that played 1950s tunes for customers.

Jeff Heinz / JEFF HEINZ, The Globe Gazette 

The Barrel Drive-In's dining area was renovated over the winter.

Now, the nearest Barrel Drive-In is in West Union, about a 90-minute drive away.

Of all the things Pals enjoyed while eating there, she'll miss one thing the most.

"The food," she said with a laugh. "Probably the food."

Jeff Heinz / File photo 

The Barrel Drive-In in Clear Lake in July 2014. 


Local
Update: One in custody for threat against Algona Schools, officials say
 Ashley Miller  / 
 10.04.17

Threats via social media prompted three North Iowa school districts to go into lock-down Wednesday afternoon, while another canceled classes for the day.

Algona and Clarion-Goldfield-Dows school officials reported receiving threats against their districts late Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon.

One person was taken into custody in relation to threats made against Algona Schools, Superintendent Marty Fonley said in a district post on Facebook Wednesday evening.

Wednesday evening a 16-year-old Algona youth was charged with threat of terrorism, a Class D felony, for making a threat of violence on a social media post Tuesday evening, said Kendall Pals, Algona police chief.  

The district had canceled classes Wednesday but planned to resume school as normal Thursday.

“The threat itself has been deemed, by law enforcement, to be non-credible and a completely isolated incident involving one individual,” Fonley said in the post. “There has been no connection found between this incident and what is happening in other places throughout the state and nation.”

Johnston Schools, located in suburban Des Moines, canceled classes Tuesday and started late Wednesday due to threatening text messages parents and others received.

Investigators said they couldn’t substantiate "any credible or imminent threat" against the district, and noted similar threats have been reported across the country.

"Some of these are likely to be copycats or and hoaxes, others may be a continuation of threats from the group that initially targeted Johnston,” the Johnston Police Department said in a news release Wednesday.

The department said the threat has been deemed as a “cyber-crime” in which hackers prey upon “our worst fears in a day and age where school violence has become all too real.”

"Basically, being general here, it was a threat of violence at the school," Pals said Wednesday. The district referred to it as an unspecified “threat against the Algona school system.”

As a result of a social media threat against Clarion-Goldfield-Dows, the district and neighboring Eagle Grove and Belmond-Klemme went into lock-down Wednesday afternoon. The lock-down was later lifted. 

CGD "had information about a social media message in which a person made an indirect threat on a school we assumed to be in our area, no name," Superintendent Bob Olson said via email Wednesday afternoon. Olson wouldn't say what the message involved, or what type of social media it was posted on. 

The message had been shared with a "student at a local high school," the Wright County Sheriff's Office said in a news release. 

"We take these threats very seriously and will work closely with local law enforcement and the school districts to ensure the safety of their students and staff," Wright County Sheriff Jason Schluttenhofer said in the release. 

Schluttenhofer said there is "no credible threat to any of our schools." Law enforcement will be present at local schools the next few days as a precaution. 

CDD was in lock-down until law enforcement declared an "all-clear," Olson said. 

The district had planned to dismiss early at 1:30 p.m., but Olson said buses and students were held until the "all-clear" was issued around 2:20 p.m.

Citing ongoing investigation, Olson said he wasn't able to provide any additional information. 

Other schools throughout the state have also reported receiving threats this week. 

On Wednesday, officials in eastern Iowa said they were investigating and monitoring threats posted on social media about a possible shooting at Davenport North High School. 

Davenport Schools said in a statement classes would continue as usual, as law enforcement had determined the threats were not credible. About 300 of the high school's 1,100 students stayed home Wednesday. 

Storm Lake High School in northwestern Iowa was evacuated Monday afternoon after a bomb threat was discovered written on the wall of a men's restroom. The building was later determined to be safe. 


Local
Charles City nursing facility closes in December
 
 10.04.17

CHARLES CITY | A Charles City nursing facility will close in December, the facility announced Wednesday.

Cedar Health, a 57-bed facility, is located at 807 Fifth St. in Charles City. Residents and other parties were notified by mail of the closure, giving them 60 days’ notice.

Mike Steinkruger, managing member of MMS Healthcare, LLC who operates Cedar Health, was did not immediately respond to two phone calls and voice messages for comment.

Steinkruger cited financial uncertainties for the closure. 

The facility has a one-star rating out of five stars on Medicare.gov. According to Medicare online records, over the last reporting year from Sept. 1, 2016, to Aug. 31, 2017, there were two complaint inspections and one standard inspection.

In the July 20, 2017, inspection, three quality care deficiencies, two environmental deficiencies, and one administration deficiency were found.

The original nursing home was built in 1958 and called Salisbury Nursing Home, which was operated as Salisbury Baptist Home until 2007. ACC Enterprises then purchased the home and updated the two-story structure.

In 2014, Steinkruger purchased Cedar Health and helped create Cedar Services which includes Cedar Health and Cedar Bridge, a rehab to home.