Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The New

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Sheriff: 9/11, school shootings changed law enforcement

The Washington County Sheriff says the overall role of local law enforcement has changed since the terrorist attacks of 2001. Jerry Dunbar the shootings at Columbine, Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois have also had an impact. He says officers were once trained to "take cover and wait for loads of back up." He says now they need to be ready to "respond immediately."

M-P middle school lacking in NCLB standards

The Mid Prairie Middle School has been identified as a school in need of assistance according to No Child Left Behind standards. Superintendent Mark Schneider says main areas of concern are in special education, reading, and students with low socio-economic status. He says while theyre not happy being on the list, they are rationally looking for ways to improve results. Schneider says one way they are attempting to fix the situation is by reorganizing language and reading courses.

Mohling expects crop storage to be tight this fall

A local agriculture expert expects crop storage to be tight this fall. Gene Mohling is a regional director with the ISU Extension Service. He says farmers should be lining up places to stash grain as soon as possible if they can't keep it on farm. Mohling says the soybean crop is shaping up to be pretty average, but corn is on pace to break yield records. He says the biggest problems farmers are facing is disease, and the potential for an early frost. 

Voter turnout lacking during bond referendum

Around 40% of registered voters in the Washington school district cast ballot's in this week's election. County Auditor Bill Fredrick says that's not the highest turnout for a bond vote. It was 29% in December of last year, roughly 46 % in April of 2006, and a little more than 42% in in April of 2003. 

Fundraiser planned for teen who drowned

Friends and family of the late Clinton Fankhauser are having a fundraising dinner and dance tomorrow (9/12). Karen Minard says the event will be raising money for the family of the fifteen year old who drowned in the Iowa River in July. She says they will bring in four different bands to play and will have raffles throughout the night. Tickets can be purchased by calling her at 319-461-9051. 

Livestock Indemnity deadline approaching

The Washington County Farm Service Agency wants to remind all producers that the deadline for the Livestock Indemnity Program is Monday (9/14). It offers assistance to producers who have experienced livestock death due to blizzards, extreme heat or cold, and other inclement weather. Losses must have occurred after January 1, 2008 in order to be eligible. For more information, contact your local FSA office. 

Picture day at WJHS

Picture day is coming up at the Washington Junior High. All students and staff members will be photographed for school records on September 17. Picture packets were sent home with students earlier this month. If they choose to buy a package they need to have their coin envelope filled out with the money enclosed by next Thursday. For more information call the junior high office. 

Nature for toddlers program

The Washington Conservation Board is hosting a nature for toddlers program tomorrow. The "Little Dippers: Silly Seeds" program is geared toward kids three and younger. It includes a short story, craft time and a hike to look for seeds. All children must be accompanied by an adult. To register contact the Kirkwood Washington Center at 653-4655. 

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fairfield farmer announces candidacy for ag secretary

A Fairfield based dairy farmer has officially tossed his hat into the ring for Iowa's Agriculture Secretary in 2010. Francis Thicke formed an exploratory committee in March, and announced his candidacy yesterday (9/9). Thicke is seeking the Democratic Party's nomination, and is currently the only declared candidate making a run at incumbent Republican Bill Northey. 

218 down to one lane

Drivers heading south on US-218 will encounter some roadwork through tomorrow (9/11). The Iowa Department of Transportation says the right lane of the southbound road will be closed south of the Highway 22 interchange. The DOT says drivers may experience slight delays due to maintenance work. Drivers are urged to use caution in roadwork areas.

Bond vote more successful than previous years

Even though the Washington School bond measure didn't pass, it got more support than previous efforts. In 2006, two bond referenda fell short by roughly 20 percent. Then last year another proposal lacked about 12 percent. This time around, it needed nine percent more. It called for borrowing almost $12 million as part the first phase $36-million overhaul of the district's facilities.

Crop Update

Below average rainfall last week combined with low humidity came as welcome news to many Iowa Farmers, especially those in low lying areas on the eastern side of the state. Greg Tahssen , with the U-S-D-A, says disease continues to be a concern. Tahssen says corn and soybean conditions statewide are still in good to excellent conditions, but progress is well behind. Two percent on corn in southeast Iowa is safe from frost, that compares with the five year average of 17 percent.

Disease report: Washington Co. healthy overall

The Iowa Department of Public Health released their annual disease report yesterday and Washington County looks pretty healthy. Public Health Director Edie Nebel says most of the reports in the county include isolated cases of food-borne illnesses. Nebel says whenever a case is reported in Washington, an investigation is set up to find out how and where the person got sick. 

Louisa Extension offers smoking cessation

The Louisa County Extension Office is offering a free smoking cessation class in October. The Extension's Kaitlyn Wintermeyer says 83 percent of current smokers in Iowa say they wish they could quit. She says this program will help prevent and deal with cravings. The program October 14 through November 25. To register, call 319-523-2381. 

MSW SWEEP this Saturday

Main Street Washington is having a SWEEP, or Support Washington's Economic Enhancement Projects, event this Saturday. Executive Director Amy Vetter says it's a celebration to recognize the completion of the sidewalks on East Washington Street. She says there will be a prize given for the most creatively decorated broom. The sweep is being held in conjunction with Washington's annual Craft Show, which features more than 100 exhibits and vendors from across the Midwest. 

Family 4-H Program

The Washington County 4-H program is trying to get more families involved. They're hosting a session with their volunteers to teach them how to better encourage family involvement in 4-H, as part of the Iowa State University Extension Youth Development training. The statewide goal is to prepare volunteers who work with young people. The Washington session is September 16 at the County Fairgrounds. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

School Bond Issue Fails

Voters in the Washington School District have said no to the first phase of a massive facilities overhaul. 51 % voted for issuing almost $12-million in general obligation bonds during yesterday's election. The measure required at least 60% to pass. School Board President Eric Turner says their next step is to explore their options. Turner says he felt it was one of the best plans that's been laid before voters for Washington School facilities. 

Lewis tops Frakes

Another woman is joining the Washington School Board. Voters in district 7 last night elected Sheryl Lewis to the post. Lewis Captured 220 votes, topping her opponent Harold Frakes. He grabbed 149 votes. The two had vied for the seat being vacated by Cathy Rich at the end of this term

Roe Holds off Drown

Washington School Board member Patty Roe will be serving another term. Roe says voters likely chose her because of her experience. Roe captured 244 votes, topping her opponent's Tsalika Drown who had 142. This will be Roe's second term on the Board of Education. 

2 incumbents; 1 new comer join M-P Board

The Mid Prairie School Board will soon have a new member. Last night voters elected Stacia Bontrager to the board with 199 votes. The two incumbents, Jack Dillon and Jim Hussey will retain their seats on the board with 215 and 202 votes respectively. The members will all serve three year terms.

GOP calling for special session

A GOP gubernatorial hopeful wants to see a special legislation called to solve the states budget problems. Rod Roberts is a member of the state House of Representatives and seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Roberts says the state needs leadership in dealing with economic issues. Roberts says Gov. Chet Culver needs to stop ignoring budget shortfalls and call the state legislature back to session. He says the governor and legislature need to take responsible steps in correcting both current and future budget projections.

11 tickets issued during alleged underage drinking party

An alleged underage drinking party resulted in 11 citations in Washington County over the holiday weekend. 911 reports indicate police were called to 2471 Palm Avenue just after ten Sunday night. Officers issued possession tickets to 10 people whose ages range from 17 to 20. 43 year old Richard Redlinger was cited under Washington County's social host ordinance, which provides penalties to those who knowingly allow underage drinking on their property. 

Clarinetist featured at Learn at Lunch

The September Learn at Lunch will feature music from a blind clarinet player. Dick Ramberg lost his sight to retinal cancer as a child. However, Ramberg still found success as a musician, financial advisor and advocate for people with disabilities. He'll be sharing his story in Washington this month. The Learn at Lunch is on September 21st. Ramberg will also be preforming with the Barbary Coast Dixie Land Band at the Washington Community Center. Contact the chamber of commerce for more information or to make a reservation.

Hispanic Heritage

Columbus Junction will be kicking off Hispanic Heritage Month with some south of the border music. Community Development member Mallory Smith says the cultural event will feature the music of Las Guitarras de Mexico on September 18. Smith says the Des Moines-based group specializes in traditional Mexican ballads played with authentic instruments. She says the band will play during the Farmers Market from 4:30-6:30 and at Hacienda Restaurant from 8-10.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Republican gubernatorial candidate says SC overstepped bounds on gay marriage ruling

A Republican gubernatorial hopeful says one of his top priorities is allowing Iowans to vote whether to allow same sex marriage. Rod Roberts is from Carroll. He's currently serving in the Iowa House of Representatives. He says the State Supreme Court overstepped it's bounds in making the ruling that allows same sex marriage.

Election Day

Voters across Iowa head to the polls today to elect school board members. In Washington, they'll decide on a different school issue as well. Voters will be asked if the district should levy nearly 12 million dollars in general obligation bonds for the first phase of a massive facilities overhaul. The plan calls for the building a a new high school, renovating the current one, and turning it into the junior high. The polls are open until 8:00 this evening.

Absentee taxpayers

Washington County is having some trouble with absentee taxpayers. Treasurer Jeff Garrett says his office has run into numerous situations where they attempt to collect property taxes, and find out that there is no longer a home at the location, or the structure is uninhabitable. Garrett says this often happens with mobile homes. He says the county is pretty limited in these types of situations because the structures aren't worth much at a tax sale.

Sheriff warns of potential scam

Washington County Sheriff Jerry Dunbar is warning residents about a potential phone scam where the caller claims to be raising money for law enforcement. Dunbar says the local sheriff's organization and the Iowa State Sheriff's and Deputy Association no longer solicit by phone, and rely on direct mail. He says the best way to tell if a letter is legitimate is to look for his signature and the acronym ISSDA. He says the phone scammers claim to be with the United States Deputies Association. He says they are looking into what can be done with the organization and it's claims.

School Board preview

Washington School Board members will be going over election results at tomorrow's (9/9) meeting. They'll also be selecting a delegate for the 2009 Iowa State Association of School Boards Assembly, and sign off on a Riverboat Foundation Grant Proposal. Members are also slated to approve an architect recommendations from the facilities committee. The meeting starts at 7:00 in the school administration building.

Leadership Washington

Leadership Washington celebrates its 20th anniversary this month. Main Street Executive Director Amy Vetter says the 20th anniversary class includes seventeen individuals representing a wide range of organizations in Washington County. She says Leadership Washington covers a number of important issues to Washington such as economic development, industry, and agriculture. Vetter says a special luncheon will be held tomorrow (9/9).

Conservation grants available

The Washington Soil and Water Conservation District is encouraging residents to apply for conservation grants. WSWC Secretary Teresa Munn says they want to get residents interested in improving and maintaining the natural beauty of Washington County. Applications must be postmarked by December 1. For more information, call 653-6654.

Harkin hopes to prevent healthcare related infections

One of Iowas US Senators wants to help prevent healthcare-associated infections. Senator Tom Harkin recently announced more than $880,000 to help persons infected with these conditions after entering a hospital for another problem. Harkin says 1.7 million people are affected annually by HAIs which results in about 99,000 deaths.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day

Government offices, financial institutions and many businesses are closed today in observance of Labor Day. The Washington County Mini Bus will also not be running. Labor day was first celebrated in1882 when workers in New York City marched from city hall to Union Square in the first ever Labor Day Parade. Congress declared it a legal holiday 12 years later.

Transit Officers

The Washington County Sheriff's Office is hiring some transportation officers. Sheriff Jerry Dunbar says they've been asked to house more federal inmates than initially expected in the new jail. Dunbar says they were unable to find enough certified officers for the job. He says that's why they're creating a pool of candidates who will undergo training and work for the department on a part time basis.

School Elections

Voters across Iowa head to the polls tomorrow to elect school board members. In Washington Five candidates are seeking three open seats. There are contested races in districts five and seven. In Mid Prairie, four candidates are seeking three at large seats. Two of them are incumbents. In Highland there are no contested races, and all running are incumbents.

Heidie Vittetoe

A Washington School Board candidate up for reelection tomorrow says her experience is one of her biggest assests. Heidie Vittetoe is running unopposed in district 6. Vittetoe was initially scheduled as a guest on the Washington Page for KCIIs Candidates series last week, but requested her time be given to the Common Ground for Washington Schools group.

Kalona City Council

The Kalona City Council will decide on a number of city revitalization plans during their meeting this Tuesday. Chamber member Laurie Mostek says much of the focus of the project has been improving the streets and infrastructure in town. The council will also discuss approval of 53-thousand dollars for the lift station project among other issues. The public is invited to come and voice their opinion, but will be limited to five minutes per person.

Energy Expo

The Beach Boys arent the only ones focusing on renewable energy in southeast Iowa this week. The Iowa Renewable Energy Association, or I-Renew, will hold a renewable energy and sustainability expo this Saturday. I-Renew Executive Director Mike Carberry says the group will cover everything from solar to geothermal energy and ways to make buildings energy efficient. Carberry says they will also discuss green jobs and how to live a healthier lifestyle.

Operation ReLeaf

Alliant Energy is encouraging residents to promote resource conservation by planting trees this fall. Allaints Nancy Craig says in the Operation ReLeaf campaign offers three-thousand landscaping trees to residents for as low as $25. She says planting trees is an appealing and cost-efficient way to reduce home heating and cooling costs. Craig says order forms are available on Alliant Energys website or by calling the DNR at 515-281-6749.

Doggie Paddle

The third annual Washington Dog Park's "Doggie Paddle" is this Wednesday. Before park officials drain the pool in Sunset Park, dog owners are invited to let their pooch have a dip. Admission is five dollars per dog, and they must be current on their shots. Proceeds benefit the Washington Dog Park. Paws and More will also be on hand offering microchipping. The Doggie Paddle runs from 4-8 this Wednesday.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

KCII and Hy-Vee Great Grab Giveaway Grand Prize Winners

Congratulations to Ruth Bellinger, Orbie Brown, Connie Reed, Rose Streff and Aimee Vayan, our  KCII and Hy-Vee Great Grab Giveaway grand prize winners.  They all won a 3-minute/$100 shopping spree at the Washington Hy-Vee that starts this morning at 10am.  They also get to get inside the Great Grab Box to collect other prizes and time certificates to ad time and money to their shopping spree.

NEWS UPDATE - Area Schools Below Standards

The Iowa Department of Education reports that a record number of Iowa schools are failing to meet the standards of federal No Child Left Behind legislation. Approximately 20%--293 of Iowas 1,442 schools fail to meet the legislative targets on test scores, attendance and graduation rates. Schools that fail to meet goals for 2 years in a row fall into the category of in need of assistance. Area schools include Washingtons Stewart and Lincoln Elementary, Mid Prairie Middle School, and Columbus High School.

Beach Boys in Fairfield

Fairfield will become the green energy capitol of America this Labor Day when the rock band the Beach Boys will hold a benefit concert at the middle school. The citys Ken Chawkin says Fairfields mayor will also award lead singer Mike Love the title of Energy Czar for the day. Chawkins says the band is one of the most vocal advocates for energy independence. He says Mondays concert will be one of the nations first green concerts.

US Cellular Tower

US Cellular customers in Pleasant Plain received a boost recently with the completion of a new signal tower south of town. US Cellulars Kevin Schuster says the new tower will give customers access to their 3G broadband network, giving them high-speed internet access on their cell phones. Schuster says with cell phones so important these days, the new tower will help local residents receive quality service.

Iowa Soil

A Naturalist at the Washington County Conservation Center says much of what Iowa is famous for can be credited to what's under our feet. Pam Holz says soil that makes for rich farming is also ideal for wetlands. Holz says that's because it contains a high percentage of clay, which holds water very well. She says this is why farmers often need to till their fields. On the other hand, she says it's not ideal for septic tanks. She says they need to be above the water table.

Heritage Reports

The Heritage Area Agency on Aging is looking for more representation from Washington County. Max Lewis is Chairman of the Washington County Taskforce. He told supervisors this week they are looking for at least two people to serve three year terms. Heritage is a division of the Iowa Department of Aging. Anyone interested in serving should contact the Washington County Board of Supervisors.

Childrens Foundation

A couple from Washington is embarking on a fundraising tour for the Children's Foundation next week. Steve and Diana Stout had initially decided to buy a retirement home in Mexico. They later decided to sell they're home and travel the US to raise money for the foundation which aids abused and abandoned children. The Stouts are getting ready to travel all over the US in their motor home to solicit money from Rotary organizations in various communities. Steve has been involved in Washington's Rotary. They plan to leave on Wednesday.

Piano Wiz Kids

The Iowa Mennonite School's Fine Art Series kicks off this month with "Piano Wiz Kids." Instructor Susan See says the event will feature kids as young as 11 playing some of the most difficult piano pieces ever created. The IMS Fine Arts series will also feature music from Carrie Newcomer in February, and It's About All Reunion which is program made in the spirit of old time radio in March. "Piano Wiz Kids" is September 12.

Vets Picnic

Military men and women are being invited to the third annual Washington County All Veteran's Picnic. Post 29 American Legion Vice Commander Barb Duder says vets have unique bond. The picnic starts with a social hour at Marr Park tomorrow afternoon at three with a social hour. Duder says people should bring a side dish for the potluck.

Sports Clinic

Iowa Mennonite School will be offering a free sports clinic this month for students wishing to participate in athletics. The schools Larry Swartzendruber says the September 19 event will be a joint girls softball and basketball clinic. He says the softball portion of the day will be from 9-11 am with basketball from noon-2 pm. Swartzendruber says a boys clinic for similar sports will be held in November. For more inforation, call 319-656-2073.

Friday, September 4, 2009

NEWS UPDATE - 1 killed in rollover accident

A 16 year old Tiffen girl was killed, and two other teens were hospitalized after a rollover accident on I-380, near North Liberty last night. The Iowa State Patrol Says Alyssa Benedict was a passenger in the van, and that she was not wearing her seatbelt. Another passenger, 16 year old Rachel Petersen of Tiffen, and the driver 15 year old Rachel Stewart of North Liberty were taken to the University of Iowa Hospital. Police say Stewart lost control when the van entered the median and overturned, coming to rest on its top. They say the accident remains under investigation.

Greiner pulling for Brandstand's return

A former state lawmaker from Keota is lobbying hard to see former governor Terry Brandstad return to office. Sandy Greiner says Brandstand's previous experience dealing with the farm crisis in the 1980s would be helpful in the current economic climate. Greiner says Brandstads experience with the Flood of 93 will also help him with recovery efforts after last summers floods. She says the Draft Brandstad PAC is currently encouraging him to run again. More information can be found at

To till, or not to till

A U.S. Department of Agriculture study suggests conventional tillage practices could actually hold back more carbon than a no-till operation. Researchers have found that below the surface, plowed fields hold just as much, if not more carbon than no till. However, they say no till fields will contain more carbon, if they are left that way. A common practice is to plow one year, and no till the next. Iowa State University Soil Scientist Mahdi Al-Kaisi says leaving crop residue has many other benefits, including a reduction in erosion.

Supervisors approve English Valley Estates

Washington County Supervisors have given the green light to a subdivision near Kalona. English Valley Estates will be located just west of town. Assistant County Engineer Jacob Thorius told supervisors this week, the last thing developers will have to do, is raise the elevation of the site. Supervisors approved the final plat for the project. That means construction can begin as soon as all DNR specifications are met.

Downtown construction schedule pushed back

Construction on the south Side of Washington's square is taking longer than initially predicted. City Administrator Dave Plymann says progress on the new library and street upgrades were delayed because of material shortages. Plymann says crews are currently working on flooring and painting in the library. He says they hope to have everything wrapped up in a few weeks.

Snap-On No Compromise tour planned

Plans are in the works for a Snap-On Tools promotional event in downtown Washington. Joe Carroll is a Snap On sales developer based in Washington. He says the No Compromise tour will feature a custom built vehicle known as the Glo-Mad, which is a 57 Chevy Nomad, partially built out of Snap On Tools. The event is scheduled for October tenth in Downtown Washington.

Louisa businesses fair well with smoke free act

More than a year after the Smokefree Air act was passed, Louisa County Tobacco Use Prevention Coordinator Kaitlyn Wintermeyer says only three businesses have received violations in the past year. She says none of these businesses received a second notice. She says this shows how supportive employers are of the act.

Non profits invited to meet

Non-profit organizations in Washington are invited to a special Chamber of Commerce meeting next Thursday (9/10) at 3:30 pm. Executive Director Tim Coffey says the meeting will be especially valuable for volunteer or non-profit board members, as they will discuss new policies that organizations must follow. For more information and to reserve a seat, call 653-3272.

Final day of election interviews

This is the final day (9/04) of school board candidate interviews on KCII. We'll be airing the final segment of the Mid Prairie meet the candidates forum on In Touch With Southeast Iowa during the Mid Day Magazine. We'll also air an interview with members of the common ground for Washington School's committee on the Washington Page during the Morning Magazine.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

GOP Gubernatorial candidate stops by KCII

A Republican gubernatorial hopeful says he would handle flood recovery in a much different manner. Rod Roberts is a GOP member of the Iowa House, from Carroll. He says the state should have responded more quickly last summer. Roberts says he was happy that money from the economic emergency fund was appropriated in January this year, however...he feels it was "a day late, and a dollar short." Roberts says only about a third of the fund was used for flood recovery. The Carroll Republican stopped by KCII's Studios yesterday (9/2) on his way to the Old Thresher's Reunion in Mt. Pleasant.

YMCA Childcare director: preschool vital to success later

Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy says they hope to offer ninety percent of four year olds access to preschool by 2011. Murphy says studies suggest learning during the preschool years helps prepare students for success later in life. That's an assessment Washington YMCA Childcare Director Shalon Hoyle agrees with. Hoyle says preschool is also a time when children begin to learn social skills. She says that's why their program is "play based." The Y's program is funded through the state's voluntary preschool program.

Candidate interviews

KCII continues school board candidate interviews today (9/3). Tsalika Drown will be on the Washington Page at 7:30 during the morning magazine. Drown is a challenger in Washington's district 5. There will also be more comments from last week's Mid Prairie candidates forum on In Touch with Southeast Iowa, during the Mid Day Magazine. These, and programs from earlier this week are available online, head to our home page and click on Radio Plus.

Ag Expo planned

The latest in agriculture technology will be on display near Crawfordsville this this month. The ISU Extension service says the Advances in Precision Agriculture EXPO will feature demonstrations on auto steer, auto shutoff planters and strip tilling and planting with guidance systems. The EXPO is being held on September 17 at the ISU Southeast Iowa Research Farm. Contact the Washington County Extension for More information.

ISU Extension 20 taking shape

With the restructuring of state ISU extension offices, southeast Iowas Region 20 is beginning to take shape. The Extensions Kathy Vance says this region includes the counties of Louisa, Henry, Des Moines, and Lee. She says with the restructuring, county and area director positions have been eliminated and replaced by regional directors. Vance says Region 20 is one of the most progressive offices in Iowa, holding more meetings than other offices and working to overcome budget cuts.

Sigourney hopes to give all students laptops

Students at Sigourney High School will be getting a bonus this school year. The schools Shannon Web says during their Apple Roll-Out tonight, the school will be handing out some unique learning tools to high school students. Web says in the next few years they hope to give all K-12 students in their district their own laptops. She says with technology such a big element in teaching today, the laptops will be a good addition to students studies. The Apple Roll-Out will be held tonight in the high school at 6:30.

Zahs nominated for NEA Award

A former Washington Junior High teacher is being honored by the National Education Association. Michael Zahs, who retired last year, was nominated for a Teaching Excellence award. While Zahs did not win the award, he is being recognized during the Salute to Excellence in Education Gala in Washington D-C. Iowa State Education Association President Chris Bern says Zahs is "really the embodiment of what teaching and learning is all about."

St. James forms Right to Life chapter

Washington is home to a new chapter of a national pro-life organization. The Washington Right to Life group is based in St. James Catholic Church and will hold regularly meetings the first Tuesday of every month. The groups Angela Fritz says their mission is to raise awareness of the rights of unborn children and support life from conception. For more information, contact St. James Catholic Church

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Supervisor Chair: zoning objections based on lack of information

A committee is almost done drafting a zoning ordinance for Washington County. The proposal has drawn fire from some members of the community. Board of Supervisor Chair Jim Miksch says part of that, is from a lack of information. Miksch, and other supervisors have recently sat in on lengthy discussions on the developing ordinance. A final public hearing is expected near the beginning of October. After that it would move on to the Board of Supervisors for final approval, or dismissal

Local counties among disaster areas

Jefferson, Iowa, Keokuk and Mahaska are among the 22 counties declared federal disaster areas due to recent crop losses during storms earlier this summer. Washington County was given secretarial designation. That expands eligibility for individuals to get USDA 

Farmers need to report damage

Local farmers are urged to report uninsured crop and property damages due to the recent flash flooding. Emergency Management Coordinator Larry Smith says teams will be coming in to assess losses and they need reports from local victims. Smith says anyone wishing to report losses should call 641-660-1825 as soon as possible as the damage assessment team will be working in the next few days.

Fairfield man injured while fleeing police

A Fairfield man was hospitalized over the weekend after rolling his vehicle during a police chase. The Iowa State Patrol says 25 year old Judah James Bolser was eastbound on Highway 34 attempting to elude officers when his SUV rolled over and came to rest on the drivers side. The State Patrol says Bolser was driving under the influence during the time of the accident.

Washington School candidate: invest now, save later

An incumbent on the Washington School Board says the district can save money later, by investing now. Patty Roe is up for reelection in district five. To hear more from Roe tune in to the KCII Morning Magazine for the Washington Page. We'll be interviewing a different candidate each day this week on the program. 

M-P School candidate: arts integral to education

A Mid Prairie School Board member up for reelection next week says the arts are an integral part of a student's overall education. Jack Dillon is the longest serving member currently on the board. He says a sense of belonging is vital to learning. Dillon took part in a candidates forum. To hear more from that forum, tune in to the KCII Mid Day for In Touch With Southeast Iowa. 

Angus Association welcomes Jr. member from Washington

The American Angus Association is welcoming a new junior member from Washington. Riley Sieren will join nearly 33,000 other active adult and junior members in the largest beef registry association in the world. Junior members are eligible to register cattle, and take part in Angus Association sponsored shows and other national and regional events. 

Salsa Judging

The tenth annual Washington Farmers Market Tasters Choice Salsa Contest is this tomorrow (9/3). Market Master Bob Shepherd says contestants need to furnish a labeled quart of their own home made salsa by 4:45. He says sampling starts at 5:00 in Central Park. After that, tasters will be asked to vote on their favorites. Shepherd stresses that double dipping wont be allowed, and that everyone is invited to enter a salsa, or serve as a judge. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Common Ground hopeful facilities committee will entice voters

A group that's hoping Washington School bond measure is approved on election day says voters should be aware of a new facilities committee. John Thorne says the committee will serve as a sort of facilities watchdog, and act as a liaison between taxpayers, and the school board. The measure calls for issuing nearly $12-million for phase one of a massive overhaul of all the district's buildings, and construction of a new high school.

Schmitz: local schools not skimping on student support

A local lawmaker says despite an economic recession, area schools aren't skimping on student support. Fairfield State Senator Becky Schmitz says statistics show an increase in per-student funding across the board at local schools. She says in the last three years, total per-student funding has increased by at least 14-percent among area schools. Schmitz says these increases has much to do with bipartisan support for education in the legislature.

Lewis: Schools should be run like a business

A Washington School Board candidate says schools should be run like a business. Sheryl Lewis is running in district seven. She says businesses are always looking for ways to reduce expenses. To hear more from Lewis tune in to the KCII Morning Magazine (9/1) for the Washington Page. That program will be played again during the Mid Day Magazine.

Bontrager: Schools need to be aggressive finding funding

A candidate for Mid-Prairie School Board says they need to aggressively seek extra funding sources. Challenger Stacia Bontrager says one of a board members biggest responsibilities is making sure the district is financially healthy. Bontrager participated in candidates forum last week. To hear more from that forum, tune in to the KCII Mid Day Magazine (9/1) for In Touch With Southeast Iowa.

Vine Avenue completed

The Washington County Engineer says his office has completed a project funded by stimulus money. David Patterson says Vine Avenue between 150th and highway 22 is open after being reconstructed. He says they received more than $732,000 from the federal government. Patterson says the comparison between the old and new highway is "like night and day."

Park Board discusses security measures

Washington Park Board members are talking security at tonight's (9/1) meeting. Parks Superintendent Tim Widmer says they've already taken some steps after a break in at the pool. The board will also be brushing up on workers compensation rules, and setting the 2010 pool season dates. The meeting starts at 6:30 in Washington City Hall.

IMS alum's work to be displayed

The work of an IMS graduate will be on display beginning next week as part of the schools Stories in Stone exhibit. IMS Director of Development Larry Swartzendruber says class of 92 graduate Adam Flemmings abstract sculptures of alabaster and limestone are made with only a traditional hammer and chisel. Flemmings work will be open for viewing beginning September 12 and some pieces may be purchased.

Brinning brings home bacon at swine showing

A Keota 4-Her won top honors in swine show at the Iowa State Fair. Youth Coordinator Kati Peiffer says McKenna Brinning exhibited the Grand Champion Market Barrow August 18. Brinnings winning pig was auctioned off during the State Fairs Sale of Champions August 22.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Cheers and jeers at Loebsack's town hall meeting

Eastern Iowa Congressman Dave Loebsack was greeted by a mix of cheers and jeers during a town hall meeting Saturday in Washington. Healthcare reform was at the center of the discussion, and one of the biggest concerns was that legislation currently on the table, would drive private insurers out of business. Those at the meeting in favor of healthcare reform says insurance companies already make life and death decisions for people, and spend too much on overhead costs.

Keokuk man killed in crash near Coralville

A Keokuk man was killed yesterday in a single vehicle crash in Johnson County. The Iowa State Patrol says 20 year old Nathan J Bowden was northbound on 380, near Coralville at about 1:00 AM when he crossed the median and smashed into a light pole. Police say the accident remains under investigation.

Chamber holds informational meeting ahead of bond vote

The Washington Chamber of Commerce is hosting an informational meeting on the upcoming school bond issue. Chamber Executive Director Tim Coffey says they want citizens to be as informed as possible before election day. Coffey says unlike some chambers, they're not taking a position on the bond issue. The meeting is tomorrow night at 7:00 at the high school auditorium.

IASB offers advice on choosing school board members

School elections are next week, and the Iowa Association of School Boards has some recommendations for choosing candidates. The IASB says while there is no "ideal" board member profile, they should have a "laser like focus on improving achievement for all students...act with professionalism and integrity when monitoring district finances...and understand the board's roles and responsibilities."

Kalona revitalization

Downtown Kalona may be getting a facelift, depending on how a planning meeting goes tonight (8/31). Chamber board member Laurie Mostek says much of the attention is focused on street resurfacing and water draining issues. Mostek says an Iowa City-based firm will be on hand tonight during the meeting to discuss renovation plans and see what areas residents would like improved. She says community members are encouraged to participate in the meeting.

BOS Preview

Washington County Supervisors are slated to accept the final plat for the English Valley Estates subdivision at this week's meeting. They'll also continue discussions on a property tax abatement request. Supervisors are also expected to approve a joint service agreement for the E-911 Service Board. The meeting starts at 9:30 tomorrow morning in the Washington County Courthouse.

IUB: winterize now

As summer begins to fade, the Iowa Utilities Board is urging residents to get a jump on winterizing their homes. The IUB's Rob Hillesland says that includes things like putting plastic over windows, replacing aging insulation and installing more efficient doors and windows. More information about weatherazation is available on the IUB's website.

Moonlight Paddle

Southeast Iowans will be able to enjoy a canoe ride under the stars this Friday (9/4) at Louisa County Conservations Moonlight Paddle. The groups Katie Hammond says the event will feature a leisurely cruise along the Odessa Wildlife Trail beginning at 9:00 pm. She says the event will run until 11:00 that night, and boats are available to rent for $10- per person for a double canoe and $15 for a kayak. Call 319-523-8381 for more information.

Small business loans

Small business owners can get a hand recovering after certain natural disasters. Iowa State Universitys Small Business Development Center will offer support at no cost to business owners in recovering from floods, fires, and tornadoes. Center Director Jim Heckmann says the program has already assisted over three-thousand disaster victims and 350 companies.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Loebsack to visit Washington

Congressman Dave Loebsack is in Washington tomorrow (8/29) for a town hall meeting at the high . One likely discussion topic is healthcare reform. Loebsack has told KCII many of the problems stem from issues with Medicare and other programs. He says while Americas quality of healthcare is one of the best, the problem is making it accessible to everyone. The Loebsack will be speaking at the high school auditorium Saturday morning at 9:30 am.

M-P Candidates take questions

Candidates for Mid-Prairie School Board took questions last night during a public forum. Some areas of discussion included the new administration sharing agreement with Keota, the Home School Assistance Program, and the role of a board members. Incumbents Jim Hussey and Jack Dillon, are vying for three at large seats against newcomers Stacia Bontrager and Angi Wilson. To hear highlights from the Mid-Prairie Candidates forum, tune in to In Touch With Southeast Iowa all next week during the KCII Mid Day Magazines.

Final Satellite voting and Demon opener

The Demon Football Team opens the season tonight (8/28), but those in attendance will be able to do more than take in football. Washington County Auditor Bill Fredrick says they will be offering the final satellite polling place ahead of school elections. Tonight's polls will will be open from 4:30 to 9:00 at Case Field.

Season flu shots expected to be early

Washington County's public health administrator says they could be offering seasonal flu shots a little earlier than normal this year. Edie Nebel says that's because they'll be offering a vaccine for the H1N1 virus as well. She says nothing is definite at this point. She says it's also unclear how much H1N1 vaccine Washington County will receive.

Supervisor hopes to lobby state on voting 911 commissioners

A Washington County Supervisor hopes to lobby the state legislature to allow more voting members on the local 911 Commission. Steve Davis says Iowa law prevents contracted entities from having a vote on such commissions. He says they hope to be in contact with lawmakers to have the rules changed.

Keokuk, Wash, Jefferson Counties hardest hit by heavy rain

Parts of southeast Iowa says more than seven inches of rainfall between Wednesday and early Thursday. State Climatologist Harry Hillaker says parts of Washington, Jefferson and Keokuk Counties were hit the hardest Hillaker says while it's been a very wet year, The state is still not on pace to set any precipitation records.

Home tax credits offered

As the economy starts to recover, more incentives are becoming available for first time homebuyers. Iowa Association of Realtors President Terry Knapp says first time buyers can receive up to $8,000 in tax credits. Knapp says low mortgage rates and high inventory in Iowa have kept the state's housing market stable. He says purchases must be made by November 30 to qualify.

Better communities program

Washington residents will have a chance to learn how to better their community September 8. The YMCA will host Kent Zimmerman, CEO of the Wallace Centers of Iowa who will discuss building communities through dialogue, active learning, and citizen engagement. Zimmerman will also show participants how they can apply for certain grants to improve the community.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

400 voters cast absentee ballots

More than 400 voters in the Washington School District have cast absentee ballots so far ahead of next month's election. County Auditor Bill Fredrick says 213 of them came from satellite polling places earlier this week. Fredrick says all absentee ballots are stored until they are ready to be tabulated on the actual election day. There will be one more satellite polling location this Friday at Case Field during the Demon Football home opener.

M-P meet the candidates night

Mid Prairies Meet the Candidates night is this evening (8/27) at the high school. Education Association President Karri Bell says all candidates have been deeply involved in both the school district and surrounding communities. She says two candidates are incumbents with one being the current board president. Bell says the Meet the Candidates night will give participants an opportunity to better know all hopefuls and to find out which is the best choice for them. The event starts tonight at 6:30.

County to devise disaster mitigation plan

Washington County is working on a hazard mitigation plan, with some financial help from Homeland Security. County Engineer David Patterson says they already have an emergency preparedness plan in place. He says this is what to do in the long term in the wake of a disaster. Patterson says they are working with the East Central Iowa Council of Governments to develop the plan. The total grant amount is around $38,000.

Emergency planning to discuss H1N1

The Washington County Emergency Planning Committee is preparing for the H1N1 Virus. Public Health Adminstrator Edie Nebel says they're discussing planning and the forming of an ethics committee to deal with vaccination. Nebel says they're also talking about a Regional Emergency Preparedness exercise that's coming up in October. The Committee is meeting tomorrow (8/28) morning at the Sheriff's Office at 10:00.

Wellman Community Center expected to be done by November

Wellman will receive nearly $800,000 to help build a new community center thanks to the USDAs Community Facilities Program. Mayor Ryan Miller says the $6-million facility will fill many of the towns needs. He says the building will hold both workout and childcare facilities, and will be used by local schools. Miller says with the federal grants and funds raised from the community, they should have enough to finish and furnish the new community center. He says as of now the project is about 70-percent finished. He expects the center to open sometime in November.

WCRF fall grant cycle begins

Applications are available for the Washington County Riverboat Foundation's fall grant cycle. They can be downloaded on their website at, or picked up at the their office in Washington. They advise applicants to review all guidelines before filing the application because some procedures have changed. The deadline to file is October 9.

Watermelon Day

The Washington YMCA's Watermelon Day celebration is this evening (8/27). Y Executive Director Greg Woller says the annual event serves as a sort of end of summer party. He says many of the activities will center on watermelon. Woller says they'll be closing down the block of East Main Street that the Y is on for the event. Things get started at 5:00. Admission is seven dollars. Kids under five are free.

Riverside 4-Hers bring home Swin Showmanship Award

Two Washington County 4-Hers earned top honors in livestock showmanship at the State Fair last week. Lexi and and Macey Marek of Riverside were named top showmen for the intermediate and junior divisions of swine showing. ISU Extension Director Gene Mohling says showmanship is different from other livestock competitions because it focuses on the presentation of the animal rather than the animal itself. Both Lexi and Macey are members of the Jackson Jets 4-H Club.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Facilities committee continues architect screenings

The Washington School Facilities Committee is moving to the next phase of architect screenings tomorrow (8/27). They'll be interviewing Cedar Rapids based OPN at 3:30, Des Moines based DLR Group at 5:00, and West Des Moines' SVPA at 6:30. Architects are being chosen to help with a proposed facility overhaul of all school district buildings, and construction of a new high school. Whether that happens is contingent upon voters approving more than $11-million in bonds during the September 8th Election.

Orscheln to move to old Wal-Mart building

Washington's old Wal-Mart building will be occupied again by next year. Orscheln Farm and Home's corporate office tells KCII their Washington store will be moving to the former Wal-Mart location sometime during the the 2010 calendar year. The store is currently operating in the 1600 Block of East Washington. Management at the local location say they are unable to comment at this time. The company specializes in outdoor, farm, ranch and rural lifestyle items.

Washington Co. behind state, federal unemployment numbers

Statewide unemployment numbers edged up to 6.5 percent last month, hitting a mark not seen since 1986. Iowa Work Force Development Director Elizabeth Buck says most jobs were lost in manufacturing. In Washington County, unemployment numbers dropped slightly from 5.3 to 5.2 percent last month. Local and statewide numbers are still favorable when compared with the nation as a whole. The U-S unemployment rate was at 9.4 percent in July.

Crop Update

Cool, wet weather continues to keep Iowa crop development behind schedule. However, most corn and soybeans are rated in good to excellent condition. Gene Mohling is a regional director with the ISU Extension Service. He says pests and disease continue to be a concern. 93 percent of corn is in or past the milk stage, which is on par with the five year average. 88 percent of soybeans are setting pods, which is about eight percent behind average.

ID thieves could use old medication bottles

Simply throwing away prescription drug containers may be a dangerous way to get rid of them. Senior Medicare Patrol Planning Director Brenda Sayre says the user information on the labels can be used by identity thieves to retrieve valuable personal information. Sayre says any papers that have social security numbers or Medicare numbers should be shredded to avoid danger. She also says blacking out a persons name or other personal information on labels is also helpful.

ICA regional meeting

New products and services will be the focus at the Iowa Cattlemens Associations regional meeting next Thursday (9/2). ICA Communications Manager Trent Wellman says the organizations executive vice president will be on hand to provide an ICA update, and a DNR representative will speak to the group about watershed programs for cow and calf operations. Wellman says the group will also hold an election for the Southeast Regional Vice President position. If you are interested in attending, call 1-800-888-1730.

Semi annual manure application traning

The Washington County Extension Office is reminding confinement operators and commercial manure applicators that they are required to undergo regular training. Iowa law mandates two hours of continuing education annually, and or take and pass an exam once every three years. The continuing education and the test are available at local DNR offices. For more information contact the Washington County Extension.

SE Iowans bring home big rabbit prizes

Two southeast Iowans won big at the State Fair this past week with a little help from some unusually large rabbits. Marge Westercamp of Batavia won top honors in the Largest Rabbit contest on Friday with Fawny, her 20 lb. 4 oz. pet. Westercamps rabbit easily stood above the next largest one by more than four pounts. Brightons Jennifer Wharton placed second with 16 lb. 2 oz. rabbit Jack.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Slain couple's estate sells for $1 million

The estate of a southeast Iowa couple killed by their son has been auctioned off to seven buyers for nearly one million dollars. Sandra and Michael Bentler, and their three daughters we're killed in 2006 at their home in rural Bonaparte. Their son Shawn was convicted of the slayings in 2007. The 445 acre estate was divided into seven tracts of land. One included the Bentler home and 28 acres of surrounding land. State law prohibits those convicted of murder from benefiting from their victims' deaths.

Redbrick School becomes museum

A new museum to the area's country schools has been established just outside Washington. Carlton Mangold, with the County Historic Preservation Commission, says the Red Brick School House was one of nearly 150 that once operated in Washington County. Mangold says about eight thousand dollars was donated to renovating the Red Brick School House. He says a great deal of historical items were also given to the effort. There will be an open house the last weekend in September.

Mt. Pleasant woman injured after rollover

A Mt. Pleasant woman was hospitalized last night after a crash on a Henry County road near highway 34. The Iowa State Patrol says 79 year old Sarah Hassenfritz lost control of her SUV near 260th and Nebraska Avenue when she entered the road ditch causing the vehicle to overturn. They say she was not wearing her seatbelt at the time of the crash. Hassenfritz was taken to Henry County Hospital, and later transferred to University of Iowa Hospital. The State Patrol says the accident remains under investigation.

Miller House considered for Natl. Historic Places

The Washington City Historic Preservation Commission is lobbying to have a piece of property added to the National Registry of Historic Places. The commission is meeting tomorrow (8/26) at 7:00 at the public library to review nomination papers. Individuals who are curious about the National Register of Historic Places nomination process are encouraged to attend.

Northey to visit SE Iowa

Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey will be swinging through the area next week. He's hosting town meetings at the Farm Bureau Offices in Washington and Sigourney. Northey will also attend an event recognizing Iowa football coach Hayden Fry in Coralville. All of the visits are set for Friday September fourth. He'll be in Coralville at 10:00 am, Washington at 1:00 pm and Sigourney at 3:00 pm.

AGTRAI this weekend

The annual Ainsworth Antique Tractor Ride is this weekend. Organizer Paul Tobin says the cross-county ride will take participants from Ainsworth, to Columbus City, and back again through the country. He says while the ride is the main event, its also an opportunity for Ainsworth residents to celebrate their community.

CJ Woman named to Natl. Auxilary post

A Columbus Junction woman recently participated in a national VFW conference in Arizona. Kathy Schreiber of the Riverside Auxiliary 6414 traveled to Phoenix where she began her role as National Veterans and Family Support Director. The Ladies Auxiliary to the VFW nationally raised over $2.5-million to fight cancer and support research. The convention was held earlier this month.

IMS grad receives ag award

An IMS graduate recently received one of the nations highest agricultural awards. Jocelyn Marner is the daughter of Ken and Mary Marner and a 2009 graduate of Iowa Mennonite School. Marner received the DeKalb Agricultural Accomplishment Award after taking eight semesters of agricultural education at IMS. She joins more than 160,000 students who have won the award nationwide.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Grassley talks about "bipartisan" healthcare effort

A key player in the ongoing healthcare debate is Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley. Grassley is a ranking minority member on the Senate Finance Commitee, and has been a leading voice in the "Gang of Six." Grassley has countered claims that he's abandoned a bi partisan healthcare bill. He says "three Republicans and 58 Democrats is not bipartisan"

Satellite voting this week

Voters in the Washington School district have to chance to vote ahead of next month's election at three locations this week. County Auditor Bill Fredrick says voters can cast absentee ballots from 3:30 to 7:00 tomorrow (8/25) night at the Lincoln Elementary Gym, and from 4:00 to 7:30 at the Stewart Gym. There will be another polling place from 4:30 to 9:00 this Friday at Case Field during the Demon football home opener.

M-P meet the candidates night

Mid Prairie School Board candidates will be taking questions during a forum this . Education Association President Karri Bell says four candidates will compete for three vacancies on the board, and this process will help voters make the best choice for them. Bell says they hope people will leave the meeting knowing all candidates want to make a better school and community. The meeting is at 6:30 Thursday (8/27) night in the high school.

Architects selected for Washington School facilities

The Washington Facilities Committee has selected three design firms for the proposed school bond issue. School Board Secretery Jeff Dieleman says OPN Architects of Cedar Rapids, DLR Group of Des Moines, and SVPA Architects of West Des Moines have all been chosen to be reviewed for the plan, which would build a new high school and convert the current school into the new junior high.

Many schools starting this week

Students in Washington are heading back to the classroom this week. Police Chief Greg Goodman wants to remind people to be more alert, especially during the mornings and afternoons. Washington, Mid Prairie and Saint James all start classes this Wednesday (8/26). Lone Tree, Winfield Mount Union and WACO all start today (8/24). Highland starts tomorrow (8/25). Sigourney and Keota begin Thursday (8/27).

Farm storage loans available

Changes are coming to Iowas Farm Storage Facility Loan program. State Farm Service Agency Director John Whitaker says with the changes, producers of certain crops will be able to get financing to upgrade storage facilities. He says participants must pay a down payment of 15 percent and the maximum loan amount is $500,000.

Circle of Support

The Washington County chapter of Circle of Support meets tonight. United Methodist Church Pastor Julie Poulson says the group got started in Washington earlier this year. She says it's their goal to end poverty. Poulson says everyone is welcome at these meetings. Tonight's starts 5:30 at the United Methodist Church in Washington.

Men's Fun Day

The Washington Chamber of Commerce's annual Men's Fun Day is this Wednesday. Chamber Executive Director Tim Coffey says it will be a day of golfing, socializing and fundraising. The day starts at the Washington Golf and Country Club with a two person best shot golf outing. Tee times are available between 9:00 and 4:30. Coffey says there's a social hour at 5:00 followed by dinner. He says proceeds will help fund the chamber scholarships.

Friday, August 21, 2009

911 Sup. talks about emergency texts

The first ever emergency text message was sent this month in Iowa during a test in Black Hawk County. Washington County 911 Supervisor Cara Sorrells says it's the next logical step in emergency communications. Sorrells says the desire to be able to send text messages stem from campus shootings, and other situations where a person can't actually talk on a phone. Sorrells attended the test in Black Hawk County as part of her duties as president of the Iowa National Emergency Number Association.

Pheasant count completed

A local wildlife expert expects the pheasant population to be down again this year. Don Pfeifer with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says part of that is to blame on harsh weather, and diminishing grassland. Pfeifer just got done with the DNR's annual pheasant count. The numbers are expected to be out soon. The first day of pheasant hunting is October 31.

Ag land assessments unchanged in Washington County

Many counties in Iowa have seen a jump in the assessed value of farmland. Washington County Assessor Lil Perry says that's not the case here. She says the reason for increases elsewhere comes from state equalization orders. She says her office applied those at the beginning of the year. Perry says ag land assessed values increased by 46-percent this year, but she expects the rollback to be in the 30-percent range

Absentee voting available

The Washington County Auditor is encouraging residents to vote early for the upcoming school board election. Bill Frederick says people will have the option to vote absentee by using satellite polling locations around town in the coming weeks. He says polling locations will be setup beginning next Tuesday at Lincoln and Stewart Elementary and later at Case Field during a football game. Frederick says the his office is accepting applications for absentee ballots by mail if residents are unable to go to the polls.

Birth rate stays mostly stable locally

Birth rates have historically dropped during recessions. The Center for Health Statistics says the recent downturn was no exception. The federal agency says there were 68,000 fewer births in the U-S last year, versus 2007. However, that hasn't been the trend locally. Washington County Hospital CEO Don Patterson the number of births was up slightly this fiscal year, versus last.

SIDS Walk this weekend

The annual Iowa SIDS Foundation Walk for the Future is being held tomorrow (8/22) in locations across Iowa, including Washington. Tricia Lipski is the local walk coordinator. She says SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is defined as the death of any child from one month to one year old, where no other cause of death can be determined. Registration for the walk starts at 8:00 am. The walk itself starts as 9:00 in Sunset Park.

4-Hers bring home state fair ribbons

Seventeen Washington County 4-Hers are bringing home ribbons from this years State Fair. Projects cover a range of subjects such as livestock, photography, cooking, and horticulture. 4-H Youth Coordinator Kati Peiffer says the participants have shown exceptional learning and ability. A full list of State Fair participants is available on our homepage.

Pork youth confrence

The Iowa Pork Producers Association will hold its Pork Youth Team Leadership Conference next month. Washington County 4-H Youth Coordinator Kati Peiffer says the conference gives youth a head start in becoming a leader in Iowas pork industry. She says all junior and high school students are welcome. To register for the program, call the Washington County Extension Office at 653-4811.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Amount of H1N1 vaccine unknown

Washington County's Public Health Administrator says they don't know how much vaccine they'll be receiving this fall for the H1N1 virus. Edie Nebel says they've been told to find out how many people fit the priority group, which would include children and healthcare workers. She says they're also forming an ethics committee for when they have to make decisions about who does and does not receive the vaccine.

Councilors talk food vendors

Washington City Councilors are considering regulations that would apply to street vendors in the wake of a new barbecue stand operating on the square. John and Shelly Blakeney say they thought they had went through all the proper channels before they started serving food. The presence of John's Barbecue in downtown Washington has at least one business owner upset. Mario Savaidis owns Dino's Pizza. He says it's one thing to open a restaurant, but another to operate a food stand right outside his place. City councilors have granted the Blakeney's temporary permission to continue operating the barbecue stand until the issue is further explored in committee.

Digital mammography will serve more patients

New digital mammography equipment at Washington County Hospital should allow them to serve more patients. Radiology Director Denny Brown says they can capture and process images more quickly now. Digital mammography produces an almost instant image on a monitor. That allows technicians to see if it's a good image right away, rather than having to process film and look at it on a view box.

Schmitz on healthcare

A local state lawmaker says the federal government needs to take pointers from Iowa when it comes to healthcare reform. Fairfield Senator Becky Schmitz says the Hawk-I program should serve as an example. Schmitz points out that Hawk-I was started by a Republican governor, and supported by two Democratic governors.

...on energy

A local lawmaker wants to see more of southeast Iowa become energy independent. Fairfield State Senator Becky Schmitz says the state government has set aside funds for both for-profit and non-profit organizations to make improvements that would help save energy and money. Schmitz says when things like heating and cooling efficiency is improved, more money can be saved on both residential and public utility bills. She says these local grants can range from one thousand to fifty thousand dollars.

New community guide

The Washington Chamber of Commerce will soon publish a new community guide. Chamber Executive Director Tim Coffey says 5,000 total copies will be produced and distributed this winter. He says along with the printed guide, an electronic guide will also be produced and available to download from the Chamber website. Coffey says since 1996, the site has received 220-million visitors.

More flood money for E. Iowa

Congressman Dave Loebsack recently announced more than $7-million in flood recovery for the city of Coralville. Loebsack says these funds will come directly from the Economic Development Agency in addition to funds already in place. He says much of this money will go to constructing flood walls and elevating the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railway Company rail line.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Semi rollover closes roadway

A semi rollover at the intersection of G36 and US 218 caused some lanes of traffic to be closed yesterday. The Iowa Department of Transportation says the rollover closed the left turn lane from eastbound traffic on G36 onto southbound 218. No other information is official at this time.

New Wal-Mart opens today

Washington's new Wal-Mart will officially open for business this morning (8/19). Their will be a ribbon cutting ceremony at 7:30, and the public will be invited in after 8:00. The new store is a "super-center." Wal-Mart officials say it will feature more products, and employ more people. The store is moving from it's current location on highway 1, to the new building on highway 92, just east of Washington.

Washington judge nominated for appellate court

A judge from Washington is in the running to fill a vacancy on the Iowa Court of Appeals. Michael Mullins is one of three who have been nominated. He was appointed to the bench in 2002. He got his law degree from Drake University Law School, and spent 19 years in private practice. Governor Chet Culver has a month to decide between Mullins, Bruce Zager or David Danilson.

BOS hires architect for health dept. move

Washington County has hired an architect to study potential new locations for the health department. Board Chair Jim Miksch says Cedar Rapids based Soluman Lang also conducted a space needs study for the health department. Miksch says they'll be considering current county owned buildings, as well as building new. He says the evaluation should yield some "definite information" before the end of this year.

School board again looking at architect

Washington School Facility Committee members will be interviewing architects again tonight (8/19). Last night (8/18) they held screenings for an architect to help with design work on a new high school. Tonight they are are looking for someone for renovations at Stewart and Lincoln. The meeting starts at 6:30 in the school administration meeting.

$850k in local option sales taxes

Washington County's local option sales tax brought in more than $850,000 last fiscal year. Treasurer Jeff Garret says that's down a little versus the last two years. Garrett says these funds go into the rural services fund, which lessen the amount of property taxes residents pay.

Loebsack shuffles schedule

Congressman Loebsack has changed the locations of some of his town hall meetings in southeast Iowa this weekend. The Democrat will now hold his Columbus Junction town hall meeting Saturday (8/22) in the Columbus Community High School gym. The congressman will also be visiting the Washington Public Library next Saturday morning (8/29) from 9:30-10:30. Loebsack says he changed the locations of some meetings so more people would have the opportunity to attend.

IMS starts

Iowa Mennonite School began its school year this week kicking off southeast Iowas back to school lineup. Principal Tony Miller began the year with an assembly in Celebration Hall where he welcomed 127 students including 20 freshman and 27 faculty and staff. IMS welcomes international students from Kazakhstan, South Korea, Albania, Georgia, and Serbia. Other area schools will begin their years in the upcoming weeks. Check our homepage for a complete list of start dates.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tree removed for safety reasons

A large tree had to be removed on the east side of the Washington High School yesterday. Superintendent Dave Sextro says a large limb came down Saturday, and the whole tree is rotting, and will have to be taken out for safety reasons. Sextro says they're not sure if winds from weekend storms knocked the limb down, or if it simply fell victim to rotting.

Sieren named 1st runner up in State Fair Queen Contest

Washington County Fair Queen Shelby Sieren has been named first runner up in the Iowa State Fair Queen Contest. Sieren is a recent graduate of Keota High School, and has been involved in 4-H since she was in fourth grade. Sieren is the daughter of Scott and Renee Sieren. As the first runner up for the State Fair Queen Contest, she'll receive a $1,000 scholarship and a $300 U-S Savings Bond.

WACO geothermal on schedule

WACO High School is looking to become greener this school year. Superintendent Greg Ray says the high school is currently working on installing a geothermal heating and cooling system. Ray says this project has been in progress since this time last year, but equipment failure and a chilly winter delayed work until recently. He says despite these setbacks, the project is back on schedule and expected to be completed by the time students return next Monday.

5 from Washington Co. advance in Bill Riley Talent Contest

Five young women from Washington County have advanced to the semifinal round of the Bill Riley Iowa State Fair Talent Search. Erin Sheets of Keota, Kelsey and Tara Gent of Wellman, Nikole Moeller and Courtney Kleese both of Washington, will perform again Friday.

...also at the fair

Local residents are winning big at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. Ryan Schneider of Riverside placed second in the animals, insects, and wildlife category of photography, while Karen Schafer of Brighton received first place in both the frosted chocolate layer cake and coffee cupcakes category. KCII will be bringing you updates on all local State Fair news this week.

Washington School Board to screen architects

Washington School District Advisory Committee on School Facilities will be screening architects at a meeting tonight (8/18). They're looking for someone to help design a new high school, and spearhead renovation projects at other buildings. The plan is contingent upon whether voters approve issuing roughly $11-million in bonds during next month's elections. The meeting starts tonight at 6:30 in the school administration building.

Park Board to review memorial plaque proposal

Washington Park Board members will review designs for a memorial plaque to be located at the skate park at tonight's meeting. Parks Superintendent Tim Widmer says the plaque will honor Clinton Fankhauser, who drown last month in the Iowa River, and was an avid skateboarder. Park board members will also consider a rate increase for school groups who come to the aquatic center, and progress on the bandstand project. The meeting starts tonight at 6:30 in Washington City Hall.

Drug free grants

Congressman Dave Loebsack recently awarded organizations in Washington and Henry County $100,000 grants to help fund drug free programs. Loebsack says the Drug Free Communities Support program works on a local level in order to prevent youth access to drugs, tobacco, and alcohol. He says funds will go to Washington County organizations and Henry County Agricultural Extension District in Mt. Pleasant.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Washington man hospitalized after plane crash

A 78 year old Washington man was hospitalized last night (8/16) after a plane crash northeast of town. The communications center says Edward Jarrard was taken by private vehicle to Washington County Hospital after landing his Piper Warrior in a farm field near 240th and Palm Avenue. They say the extent of his injuries was unknown last night. Personnel from the Washington County Sheriff's Office responded to the crash. The Federal Aviation Administration was also contacted.

Supervisors consider architects

Washington county supervisors could be hiring an architect at this week's meeting. The board is considering moving the health department to a new location, and is expected to hire a the architect to conduct a feasibility study. Supervisors are also slated to be present at a public hearing on county zoning. The zoning meeting is tonight (8/17) at 5:30 at the Marr Park Conservation Center. Their regular meeting is tomorrow (8/18) morning at 9:30 in the Washington County Courthouse.

Kalona Council to adjust sewer project

A change of plan may be in store for a sewer project in Kalona. The City Council will consider approving a budget increase of $4,800 for the sewer adjustment on 10 Street and J Avenue. The project is part of the larger paving work being done on those streets. The council will also consider a lease agreement with Mid Prairie School District for use of their preschool in the Kalona Community Center. The meeting will be tonight at 7:30 in the public library.

Governor launches long term care campaign

Governor Chet Culver has launched an educational campaign centered around long term care insurance. Mary Weinand is a Family Resource Field Specialist for the ISU Extension Service. She says about 65 percent of seniors will require some type of long term care. She says it's also beneficial for younger people to look into as well.


The Iowa SIDS Foundation Walk for the Future is this weekend in Washington's Sunset Park. Tricia Lipski is one of the event organizers. Her son Jacob fell victim to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in 2005. Lipski says money raised by this weekend's 5-K walk will go towards SIDS research. Registration for the walk is at 8:00 Saturday (8/22) in the big pavilion in Sunset Park. The walk itself starts at 9:00.

Prairie Walk

Marr Parks Prairie Walk will be held next week. Naturalist Pam Holz says this program will offer participants the chance to enjoy the beauty of Iowas natural prairie. She says the program will not only give residents a chance to enjoy nature, but will also educate them on Iowas natural diversity, landscape, and the history of the prairie. The Prairie Walk will be next Saturday beginning at 10:00 am.

Cruise nights this weekend

Classic car enthusiasts will have plenty to do in Washington this weekend. Saturday (8/22) it's the Back to the 50's and 60's cruise night on the square. There will also be a performance by the CR dance team that evening. On Sunday (8/23) it's the annual PAWS Central Park Motor Expo. Registration is from nine to noon; the show runs from noon to four.

Transit Vehicles

US Senator Tom Harkin announced recently Iowa will receive more than $7-million for transit projects. Harkin says many Iowans rely on public transportation every day and these funds will help take care of their daily needs. 35 new transit vehicles will be purchased using these funds and many existing ones will receive new surveillance equipment.

Friday, August 14, 2009

WFD receives $150k check

The city of Washington's new fire truck serves as they're sort of flagship vehicle. Fire Chief Tom Wide says the engine can carry up to five firefighters, and dispense foam to extinguish two different types of fires. Wide received a $150,000 check from the Washington County Riverboat Foundation during a ceremony yesterday (8/13). WCRF Vice President Pattie Koller. She says the money is part of their bi-annual grant cycle given out to various government bodies and non profit groups.

2nd tall corn sculpture on display at state fair

A second metallic replica of the the world's tallest corn stalk is on display at the Iowa State Fair this week. The record was set in 1946 by Washington County farmer Don Radda. Don's daughter Julie, and her husband Wayne decided to build a replica for the Washington County Fair grounds earlier this year. It became so popular, they decided to build a second model. It's currently on display at the Agriculture Building at the Iowa State Fair Grounds in Des Moines.

DNR investigating fish kill

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is investigating fish kills in Johnson and Keokuk Counties. The first happened in German Creek near Sigourney. The DNR says workers saw fish trying to leap out of the water, which indicates a toxic substance in the stream. That evening they found dead catfish, bluegills and minnows. They say initial water samples show low levels of ammonia. DNR says another kill happened in the Picayune creek near Kalona. A specialist found high levels of ammonia after a property owner reported manure odors late Tuesday night. Dead Suckers, Chubs and Minnows were found. The state agency says the investigations are ongoing.

State Empowerment considering regional shift

Community Empowerment agencies could be shifting to regional system. Tasha Beghtal serves as program coordinator for both Henry and Washington Counties. She says the state is looking at moving away from county by county management. She says as a result, Henry and Washington Counties have been considering merging. They'll be discussing the proposal at a meeting next Thursday (8/27) at 4:30 PM in the Federation Bank building in Washington

$500k for passenger rail

$500,000 of Governor Culvers I-JOBS funds will be going to passenger rail efforts. Riverside State Representative Larry Marek says hes highly in favor of the proposed Chicago to Iowa City rail link. He feels it would be a great alternative mode of transportation. He says with gas prices rising, the $40 round trip ticket would make it a more economical way of traveling. He says if all goes well the rail link could be completed in two years.

Bond issue featured at Learn at Lunch

This month's Learn at Lunch put on by the Washington Chamber of Commerce and ISU Extension Service will feature the Common Ground for Washington School's committee. They're advocating issuing bonds for a massive facilities overhaul at the school district. The group's Luke Horak and Joe McConnell will be talking about the upcoming referendum. School representatives will also be on hand to answer questions. To reserve a seat email Anne Moore at the Chamber of Commerce no later than 9:00 Monday (8/17) morning.

Fair review

There will be a Washington County Fair evaluation meeting at the fairgrounds August 27 in the upstairs meeting room. 4-H Youth Coordinator Kati Peiffer says 4-Hers, parents, leaders, committee members, and the Fair Board are all invited to attend. She says they will discuss positives from this past year and take suggestions for next years fair.

Loebsack in CJ

Congressman Dave Loebsack will be in southeast Iowa next Saturday. He will be stopping in Columbus Junction to discuss cost and access to healthcare. Loebsacks Communications Director Sabrina Siddiqui says the congressman will be holding a series of these meetings across southeast Iowa in order to gauge residents feelings.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Keota man killed in crash

A 72 year old Keota man was killed in a Tuesday crash in Mahaska County. The Iowa State Patrol says James V. Bowen was driving westbound on Highway 92 when he crossed the center line and collided with a semi tractor. The semi then collided with a third car. The State Patrol says the driver of the semi was transported to a hospital while the driver of the third car was not injured. Funeral arrangements for Bowen are pending with the Powell Funeral Home and Cremation Service in Keota.

City waiting on test results to lift boil order

The city of Washington is waiting on test results before it lifts a boil order on the north side of town. Last week a water main burst causing water to flow into the sanitary sewer which backed up into at least half a dozen homes. City Administrator Dave Plymann says insurance companies for the city, a contractor working near the water main, and homeowners will determine who's at fault, and who has to pay the claim.

34 municipal positions up for election in November

Eight Washington County communities will hold elections for mayor and city councilors this November. The Washington County Auditors Office says 34 positions will be up for election. The first date to file is August 24, the deadline is September 17.

Grassley refutes "Iowans for Tax Relief"

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is refuting claims by the group "Iowans for Tax Relief" that he's working with Democrats on a healthcare bill. Grassley says he's there to ensure that the country doesn't end up with a "government run" system. The New Hartford Republican says the country's healthcare system does need some work, but feels congress could make it worse if they're not careful. The "Iowans for Tax Relief" began circulating an email this week urging people to politely voice their concerns over the single payer system at Grassley's town hall meetings. Meanwhile, a Democratic state lawmaker from eastern Iowa is calling on Grassley to dispel what he calls myths about the healthcare debate. Iowa City State Senator Joe Bolckom says Grassley should focus on healthcare consumer reforms.

Nature Loop started

A new barn quilt loop got started this week in Washington County. Barn quilt committee co-chair Julie Mangold says the "Crow's Nest" quilt on the side of Steve Greiner's barn is the kick off of the nature loop, which will run through the southwest part of the county. Mangold says the nature loop is the third barn quilt trail the county has to offer. There's also the Amish loop through the northeast part of the county, and the liberty loop through the southeast. She says they also hope to develop the agriculture loop in the northwest.

Garden Crops

Corn and soybeans could be hurt by an early frost, but that's not the case for certain garden crops. Keokuk County Extension Director Gary Bickmeier says things like lettuce, broccoli, and spinach are slightly behind the average, but remain hearty during colder weather. Bickmeier says other things like tomatoes must be picked once they turn green and then ripen indoors.


This evening's (8/13) Thursday Night Live activities in downtown Washington will feature the music of Patrick Hazel. The Chamber of Commerce says Pat has traveled with world with his unique style of music. They say he's "classical trained and Mississippi River raised." He uses a harmonica, keyboard and his voice for an earthy blues sound. Pat takes the stage at 6:30. The farmer's market starts at 5:00

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Engineer discusses bike ban

A group calling itself the "Citizens for Safety Coalition of Iowa" is advocating a bicycle ban on the state's farm to market roads. Washington County Engineer David Patterson says about one-third of roads in the county are farm to market routes. He says the state has a map showing preferred bicycle routes for both county and state roads.

Loebsack starts E. Iowa tour

Congressman Dave Loebsack began his month-long tour of town hall meetings yesterday (8/11) which will eventually bring him to Washington, Columbus Junction, Fairfield and Mt. Pleasant. Loebsack says these meetings are held so he can discuss topics and issues important to Iowans. The congressman will hold the Mt. Pleasant meeting Saturday at the Civic Center at noon. There is a complete schedule on the main page of this website

Riverside could take over county park

Riverside could be taking over a Washington County park. Conservation Director Steve Anderson says the city is in a better position to care for the park than the county is. He says the entire park is actually in the city limits. There will be a public hearing tonight (8/12) at 4:30 at the Marr Park Conservation Center on the proposal.

Rubio sewer system update

Plans for a new sewer system in Rubio are moving slowly. County Supervisor Wes Rich says the Regional Utility Services System is trying to implement new cluster-based septic systems for the town, but is first required to obtain permission from residents. He says they currently have approval from 65-percent of the residents and are working on the rest. He says these improvements would help create a healthier environment and improve quality of life for residents.

Area schools starting soon

Area schools are starting up this month, some as early as this week. Washington County Sheriff Jerry Dunbar says this will mean an increase in both pedestrian and motor vehicle traffic. Dunbar says people also need to mindful of school buses. He says it's illegal to pass a stopped school bus with it's flashing stop signals extended.

M-P teachers starting soon

Students at Mid-Prairie don't start classes for two more weeks, but teachers will be back next week. Superintendent Mark Schneider says the new year will kick off for new teachers on August 18 with an orientation day. New teachers will review school policies and go over important dates and events for the upcoming year.

Hamakua seeks donations for rummage sale

Hamakua Place Youth Center in Washington is planning a garage and bake sale in late September. Center Director Deb Bodensteiner says they are looking for donations of gently used household items such as furniture. She says they do have space to store it if people want to move items now. Bodensteiner says donations are tax deductible.

WCT presents Frankenstein

The Washington Community Theater is putting on a production of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein this October. It's described as a rescue of the classic story from simplistic notions of horror and fear. Auditions for the production will be held the first two days of September at the Washington Community Center. Scripts are available at the Public Library. Roles are available for eight men three women and one boy.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Celebrate your Senses to be featured in video series

Main Street Washington's inaugural Celebrate Your Senses event is being featured in a video series by an Iowa based blogger and regional magazine editor. Allen Huffman is with Clear Lake based Regional Renaissance Reporter. He learned about Celebrate your Senses while at Trekfest, in Riverside. The preview video is available on YouTube. It can be found by running a search for Celebrate your Senses.

Early frost could threaten crops

Iowa is on pace to set a record for corn yields, and the southeast part of the state is no exception. Gene Mohling with the ISU Extension service says most areas have enough moisture to sustain corn and soybean crops until harvest. Mohling says crop maturity is slightly behind due to an unusually cool and wet season. He says this could be troublesome in the event of an early frost.

WCHC purchases digital mammography equipment

Washington County Hospital and Clinics is now able to offer high tech treatment in fighting breast cancer. WCHC spokeswoman Kathleen Brinning says the facility has purchased scanners and computers which can store information and test results digitally. Brinning says this will eliminate the need to develop film prints of scans and reduce the need for repeat scans due to under or over exposure. If you would like to schedule a mammogram or have any questions, call the hospital at 319-863-3964.

Harkin: healthcare reform resistance based on misinformation

Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says a great deal of money can be saved on medical costs through prevention. He blames resistance to healthcare reform on "misinformation" and "scare tactics" Harkin says there are a lot of people who stand to lose money if the system is overhauled. The Democrat is traveling around Iowa, hosting town hall style meetings on healthcare reform.

WPD traning new K-9

The Washington Police Department is training a new four legged officer. Canine Handler Brett Sorrells says Ultro is a 15 month old Belgian Malinaw, who will be trained in a couple of different areas. Sorrells says he's had Ultro for about a month. He says the two of them are in the "bonding stage." Sorrells says that involves getting the animal used to his surroundings and other people.

WFD receives $150K grant

The Washington Fire Department will get some extra help in purchasing a new engine. The Washington County Riverboat Foundation will present the fire department with a $150,000 check during a ceremony Thursday. The Riverboat Foundation supports various non-profit and government projects that improve. They invite all to the presentation ceremony at 10:00 am.

Where to get vitamin D

10 percent of American kids dont get enough vitamin D. Thats according to a recent study by USA Today. Washington County Public Health Administrator Edie Nebel says vitamin D is primarily obtained through sunlight and not enough time in the sun can result in a deficiency. Nebel says kids need at least ten to fifteen minutes of sun exposure a day along with the vitamin D found in foods. She says additional nutrition can be found in vitamin supplements. Nebel says kids need plenty of vitamin D in order for healthy bone development.

Park Board approves new reservation policy

The Washington Park Board has adopted a new policy for reserving the large pavlion in Sunset Park. It can be reserved for 25-dollars per day. Parks Superintendent Tim Widmer says the reservation will be advertised for six days before the event. He says the new policy only applies to the big pavilion, and that all other shelters are on a first come first serve basis. For more information or to make a reservation contact Widmer at 653-5220.