Washington County Supervisors are trying to work out a sticky situation with the city of Riverside. County Auditor Bill Fredricks says they are discussing a contract the two entities forged when the Riverside Casino was built. He says it deals with bonds issued by the county, to help Riverside purchase new water and wastewater facilities. He says the county issued bonds to help pay for Riverside's facilities, under the agreement that the city would pay them annually until the bonds had been relieved. Fredrick's says the city of Riverside now feels they shouldn't have to make the annual payments. He says that's been a point of contention between the county and Riverside.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
A 36 year old illegal immigrant has pleaded to guilty a felony assault charge in Washington County. Gilberto Morales-Estrada was charged with assault causing serious injury. Washington County Attorney Bard Edmondson says the charge stems from an incident last November when Morales stabbed another man in the chest, and left him. He has been sentenced to five years in prison and fined $750 for court costs and restitution. Morales will be transported to prison to begin his sentence. Edmondson says he will then be deported to Mexico
A Kalona man has been sentenced to 15 years in prison after being convicted on child endangerment charges Friday. 46 year old Joseph Schrock was also convicted as a habitual offender. Washington County Attorney Barb Edmondson says the charges against Schrock stem from a September 2007 incident which left a four year old seriously injured. Edmondson says evidence presented at his trial shows Schrock was riding an A-T-V without the owner's permission and crashed with the four year old as a passenger. She says Schrock had been drinking prior to the accident, and that his actions delayed emergency medical care for the child. According to the investigation, there was a 40-foot trail of blood and debris at the crash site. In addition to his prison sentence, Schrock must also pay Washington county nearly $10-thousand for costs relating to being held in jail.
A southeast Iowa legislator is supportive of a measure would give the middle income population a tax break. Representative Larry Marek says the proposal would also attract more businesses. Marek says he was initially skeptical, but now feels the bill would be beneficial. The Riverside Democrat says the legislation is still in its early stages, and it will be a while before it advances.
A local tax expert says the proposed middle income tax break pending in the state legislature might not be as enticing as it sounds. Dan Bontrager is a CPA with Bontrager Tax in Kalona. He says cutting income taxes in one area, usually means higher taxes for another group of people, or increased sales or property taxes. Bontrager says he's always wary about pending legislation, because it can change so many times before it becomes law. The middle income tax break would provide tax relief for Iowans who make less than 125-thousand dollars per year, but would end the practice of allowing federal taxes to be claimed as a deduction at the state level.
The Mid Prairie School district will be receiving some money from the economic stimulus package. Superintendent Mark Schneider says they dont know who much theyll be getting. He says they will do everything they can to make sure the money is used in a productive manner to make sure all the kids in the district benefit.
The Kalona Elementary Playground Improvement Committee is continuing their mission to provide a safe and healthy playground for the elementary school and community. Jan Knebel says their goal for Phase II is to replace the old unsafe rotting wooden equipment. She says they have installation dates lined up for Friday, June 12th and Saturday, June 13th. They will have a landscape structures installation supervisor on hand to help work through the build process. They are asking for volunteers those two days to help build the new equipment. Following the completion of the project any individual or business who donated more than $100 will be recognized on a wall of fame display board located at the elementary school. Contact Jan at 319-325-8462 with any questions.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Washington County Supervisors are slated to approve the annual five year road construction program at tomorrow's meeting. County Engineer David Patterson says they have about nine-million dollars budgeted for the five year period. He says the amount of money they have to work with hasn't changed much since he's been in Washington County, but how much construction materials cost has skyrocketed. Patterson says to combat the price inflation, the county road department is at a minimum staff level. He says they've also saved money by replacing bridges with unique, and cheaper railroad car structures. Patterson's department is required to submit the five year road construction program to the Iowa Department of Transportation each year.
A long awaited road repair project is expected to be done soon. Resident Construction Engineer at the Mount Pleasant branch of the Iowa Department of Transportation Jeff Johnson, says they hope to get started on the G-36 interchange very soon. Johnson says they had hoped to have the project done by last fall, but soil conditions, combined with on earlier than expected winter forced them to hold off until now. G-36 is where 218 and 27 intersect Washington County road G-36.
The Washington City Council will revisit a liquor license request from Cafe Dodici at this week's meeting. The restaurant would like to serve alcohol at tables located on the sidewalk outside the establishment. At the last council meeting, members decided they would table the request. If allowed, this would be the first outdoor license in Washington. Cafe Dodici co-owner Lori Williams feels she has proven herself, and run respectable business. Councilors are worried about what kind of precedent allowing the license might set and whether or not the outdoor area would obstruct traffic. The meeting will be this Wednesday night at 7:00 in the Washington Public Library.
Those who want to know more about the American Red Cross are invited to a "Saving Lives" event tomorrow night in Washington. Spokeswoman Jennifer Pickar says information will be available on how people can get involved in volunteer programs. Pickar says the Red Cross can utilize volunteer's existing skills as well. So any retired police officers, EMT's or firefighters can be of great value. The "Saving Lives" event will be tomorrow night from 6:30 to 7:30 at Washington State Bank.
The Kalona First Responder's Spring Blood Drive will be tomorrow and Wednesday at Kalona United Methodist Church Hall, from 2-7 PM. Ethel Bontrager says donors should eat a good meal 4 hours prior to donating. She says free cholesterol screening and rewards points are offered to successful donors. The donations will support patients at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. For appointments or questions, call at 656-2481.
Samantha Beachy and Melissa Gingerich, seniors at IMS, will present a shared recital of piano and cello music on Saturday, April 11 at 7 p.m. in Celebration Hall. Pianists Joni Beachy, Midori Beachy, Maria Davis, Abbie Miller, and Hannah Bartel will be joining Beachy on selected piano ensemble pieces. Beachy and Gingerich will play collaborative works for cello and piano and Gingerich's teacher, Kate Vos, will also join her on a work for two cellos. Again the recital will be Saturday, April 11 at 7 p.m. in Celebration Hall, a reception will follow the concert.
Iowa has a relatively low crime rate compared to the national average. Gary Bickmeier, Keokuk County Extension Education Director says the use simple efforts to deter, delay and deny criminals from committing burglary is one possible reason. He says locks, lights and trimming trees and bushes helps increase security immensely. He says you should assess your vulnerability and identify the possible threat for burglary to better understand your risk. For information on this or other subjects contact the Keokuk County Extension Office at 800-515-2680.
April is Child abuse Prevention Month. MaryAnn Williams, with the Americorp's Community Program to Protect Children, says they've adopted pinwheels as a symbol for their campaign. She says they'll be visiting schools throughout April to spread their message. Williams says child abuse isn't just the obvious. She says it can include neglect, mental or psychological abuse.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Applications for the KCII Business to Business Scholarship have been sent to area high-schools. Each year the station awards two graduating seniors $250 to continue their education in business. Those interested are encouraged to talk to their guidance counselors, or they can stop by our studios in downtown Washington to pick up an application. Applications need to be received by May 15. We'll announce the winners on May 22nd.
Those who want to know more about the American Red Cross are invited to a "Saving Lives" event this Tuesday in Washington. Spokeswoman Jennifer Pickar says information will be available on how people can get involved in volunteer programs. Pickar says the Red Cross can utilize volunteer's existing skills as well. So any retired police officers, EMT's or firefighters can be of great value. The "Saving Lives" event will be this Tuesday from 6:30 to 7:30 at Washington State Bank.
The Kalona First Responder's Spring Blood Drive will be this Tuesday and Wednesday, March 31st and April 1st at Kalona United Methodist Church Hall, from 2-7 PM. Ethel Bontrager says donors should eat a good meal within 4 hours prior to donating. She says free cholesterol screening and rewards points are offered to successful donors. Your donation will support patients at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. For appointments or questions, call at 656-2481.
Come to Lower Deer Creek next Sunday, April 5th for a grilled chicken dinner served between 11:30--1:30. All donations and pledges given will go toward Kenton and Kidron Miller's 3 year mission term to Berlin, Germany. Kenton and Kidron are partnering with Mennonite Mission Network and anticipate leaving for Berlin this May to work with a missionary family in church planting.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
If you see a fire near Marr Park this Friday night...don't be alarmed. The Washington County Conservation Board will be holding a controlled prairie burn. Naturalist Pam Holz says prairie lands need to be burned off periodically. Holz says the burn also helps keep invasive species out. She says the event can be quite spectacular to see. The public is invited to an informational session Friday April 3 at the Park at 7:30 pm. The burn will take place at 8:00. Holz says it can happen very quickly, and urges attendees not to be late.
Fruit bearing bushes and vines like strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, are a staple of many midwestern gardens. However, they can present some challenges. Shelia Gerot is a Washington County Master Gardener. She says there are a few rules to follow. She says strawberries shouldn't be planted too deep. She says they have a little crown that needs to be kept at the ground level. Gerot also says you shouldn't pick any fruit during the first year first of the plant's life, that way the roots can get established and put on a better crop the following year.
Fruit bearing bushes and vines like strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, are a staple of many midwestern gardens. However, they can present some challenges. Shelia Gerot is a Washington County Master Gardener. She says there are a few rules to follow. She says strawberries shouldn't be planted too deep. She says they have a little crown that needs to be kept at the ground level. Gerot also says you shouldn't pick any fruit during the first year first of the plant's life, that way the roots can get established and put on a better crop the following year.
Pack a lunch and grab a friend. The Louisa County Conservation group is holding a kayak and canoe event on Saturday, April 25, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Lake Odessa. Katie Hammond, with the Louisa County Conservation says this guided trip on the Odessa Water Trail will be an adventurous paddle winding through the panoramic wildlife area. The paddling trip will start and end at Snively Campground. Participants of all ages and levels of experience are encouraged to attend though children under age 14 must be accompanied by an adult. She says all participants will need to register by April 20th. Online registration, maps and additional information are available at www.NaturallyLouisaCounty.com or call 319-523-8381.
During the month of April, on Wednesdays from 10:30-11:00am in the Childrens Area of the Kalona Public Library, Youth Services Librarian Marissa Tartaglia will be holding story times for preschoolers. She says story times help build early childhood literacy skills through listening, finger plays, rhymes and songs. The Story time themes for April are spring, Easter, wild about libraries, silly poetry, and dinosaurs. For more information, contact Marissa at 319-656-3501.
The Kalona Elementary Boosters are holding there 24th annual Family Fun night tonight. Ryan Schlabaugh says the purpose of the Family Fun Night is to provide a kid friendly activity and help raise money for the Kalona Elementary School. He says there will be a lot of fun games and activities for everyone. He says they have items donated to them by business throughout the area including some tickets both local and major sports team events. The Family Fun night will this evening from 5:30 until 8pm at the Mid Prairie Middle School.
The sounds of the 60's and 70's can be heard this Tuesday in Washington. Sound of Washington, which is a relatively new organization, is putting on the concert. Kim Ecklor helped co-found the choir for special needs adults. She says her and a friend got the idea from their workplace. She says they worked with a woman who was bedridden, who had a wonderful singing voice. Sounds of the 60's and 70's will be held this Tuesday at Hamakuah Place. A free will donation will be taken.
Friday, March 27, 2009
The Washington County Riverboat Foundation has announced their 9 first quarter city grants for this year. Jim Logan, Administrative Assistant with the WCRF says the awards total more than $171,000 The WCRF Municipal Grant program distributes 25% of its total revenues directly to the cities in Washington County based on population. Logan says in 2008, the WCRF distributed more than 819-thousand dollars to the nine cities in Washington County and has distributed almost two-million dollars since its inception. These funds are programmed by each City Council. Washington will receive more than $90,000, the City of Kalona will receive nearly
$30,000, Riverside will get more than $11,000, and Brighton will receive almost $9000.
$30,000, Riverside will get more than $11,000, and Brighton will receive almost $9000.
The assistant supervisor for the Washington County 911 Dispatch center recently hosted the Iowa chapter of the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials event in Des Moines. Teresa Todd says emergency communicators are the unsung heroes of emergency personnel. Todd was on a committee that selected award winners during the ceremony. She says there were seven teams and five single entries. She says it was difficult to choose because so many communicators do such a good job.
Prom and Graduation season is just around the corner, and the Washington Police Department wants to make sure the celebrating is done safely and responsibly. Sergeant Sean Ellingson says his department will be coordinating with other agencies to have a stepped up presence during those times. Ellingson also says the city of Washington has a law on the books that provides stiff penalties for anyone who provides alcohol for minors. He adds that the Washington High School has a zero tolerance policy, meaning any student caught using drugs or alcohol will be ineligible for extracurricular activities.
Members of Washington's Municipal Band say they are very grateful for the recent donation of 175-thousand dollars to improve the Central Park Bandstand. Wayne Brock, and John Winga are two members of the band who have been playing for 60 years. They visited John Jackson in Fairfield to ask for help renovating the bandstand. Winga and Brock say they plan on having Mr. Jackson come to Washington for the opening night of Band season, which will be the first Thursday in June.
As the Baby-Boomers enter their golden years, a health issue is becoming increasingly common...macular degeneration. Doctor Rob Negrete, with Washington Eye Care Center, describes the affliction as the erosion of a part of the retina, which can cause vision loss. Negrete says one of the most difficult aspects of macular degeneration, is its difficulty to identify. He says it doesn't cause any pain, which is why he recommends people over the age of 60 who experience changes in their vision should see an eye doctor. He says there is no cure for the disease, but studies suggest certain multi vitamins combined with a healthy diet can help.
This year Kalona Days will mark the community's 130th birthday. Kalona Days Co-Director Susan Finley says they are attempting to construct the worlds largest quilt Cake. She says it will be a normal edible cake that will be decorated like quilt patterns. Finley says it will be a contest and anyone may enter. She says you can come to the Kalona General Store and pick up a pattern. Finley says they are hoping Kalona days will be put into the Guinness book of world records with this cake. Kalona Days will be June 19 - 21
A new study suggests 4-H can help make young people better citizens, leaders and communicators. 4-H Youth Development State Specialist Kelli Tallman says she asked a random selection 4-H'ers to rate themselves on those skills before, and after joining the program. Tallman says 4-H also helps hone conflict resolution skills through group projects and various presentations. She also says those who take part in the program also display less risky behavior such as underage drinking.
Many students in Lousia County were impacted by last year's record flooding. Mike Jay, Columbus Junction Athletics Director thinks sports programs gives students a good avenue to let loose. Jay says not only do athletics help students to vent any frustration they may have, but it helps them with their academics.
A North Liberty man is facing a laundry list of charges after allegedly leading police on nearly an hour long chase in Washington County last night. 20 year old Steven Lee Myers Junior is charged with Operating While Intoxicated, Driving Under Suspension, Failure to Yield to Emergency Vehicle, Eluding, and multiple traffic violations. According to a release from the Washington Safety Center, officers tried to stop Myers south of Riverside. Myers refused to do so. They say the chase ended with myers striking a patrol car and hitting a ditch at 230th street and Washington Avenue. Myers is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
KCII announced their radio active bingo winner this morning. Donna Rinner, of Wayland says she turned in four bingo cards per week since the contest started on January 26th. When informed of the news, Rinner was pleasantly surprised. Since the contest started, KCII gave away $800 in gift certificates to weekly bonus bingo Winners. Rinner's name was randomly selected out of 2300 qualifying bingo cards. The contest had listeners fill out the cards when they heard sponsor's commercials and programs on KCII. Congratulations to Donna, and thanks to all the sponsors who made our radio active bingo contest a huge success.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
The city of Washington is going to start cracking down on people who leave trash in their yards. Ordinance committee chairman Mike Roth says the city
More than 200 area high-school students, and a few parents came to Washington High School yesterday for college prep day. Among them was W-H-S junior Joey Villalpando. He says despite the current economic environment, he's confident he'll find work after college. Villalpando says he's interested in finding a career in computers. William Mcconnell is another student interested in electronics. He also says he's not worried about finding a job. Washington High guidance counselor Kathy Stender described the event as an excellent showing. She says she's very pleased to hear about the students optimistic attitudes. She also says they know if they can find the means to go to college, there will be a job for them when they graduate.
The city of Washington is going to start cracking down on people who leave trash in their yards. Ordinance committee chairman Mike Roth says the city has been, quote too soft on nuisance abatement in the past, and it shows in several areas of Washington. Roth says the city will aggressively address complaints. He says property owners will first be contacted about addressing the problem. He says if they choose to ignore the notice, they could be subject to a $250 dollar fine. Roth says residents can file a complaint, and keep their identity confidential by calling 653-6584. There will be a chance to get rid of unwanted items during the city wide clean up the week of April 20th. Roth says they will also be notifying residents who own dangerous buildings, and informing them that arrangements need to be made to have the structure fixed, or demolished.
The City of Kalona is one of the few cities in the area that have manually operated alarms instead of an automated system. Fire Chief Steve Yotty says they test the alarm every day to make sure they stay in working order. Yotty says it is very important to know what to listen for. He says the tornado warning signal is a steady 3 minute siren and the all clear is a minute and a half signal that gives everyone the all clear.
A plan to renovate the city of Washington's Central Park Bandstand is expected to get underway by the end of this summer. That news comes after former Washington resident John Jackson made a 175-thousand dollar donation to the project. Washington Parks Superintendent Tim Widmer says one of their goals is to keep the bandstand's historic look. Widmer says even though Mr. Jackson's generous donation gives them enough money to start on the bandstand, they'll continue to raise money for other Central Park needs. He says that includes maintenance funds for the fountain and money to remodel the bathrooms. The volunteer committee spearheading the project will meet this evening at 7:00 at the Washington Public Library.
The Obama administration sees science education as key to economic recovery and American prosperity. That's an assessment Washington High School biology teacher Diane Gray agrees with. She feels students at W-H-S are given ample opportunity. Gray says science education is also valuable for a few other reasons. She says the emphasis on math and critical thinking helps them in other coursework. She also says being well informed on emerging science issues, helps them to become better citizens as many of those issues have begun to enter the political arena.
Faced with new technology, and private package delivery services, the U.S. Postal Service isn't doing as well as it once did. Many have been forced to cut services and reduce routes. John Marshall is the Post Master in Washington. He says two people at his Post Office have chosen to take early retirement. Marshall says there are no immediate plans to cutback on services, but he admits having fewer people does put them behind schedule from time to time. He says some Post Offices have begun to utilize automation systems, which has spurred a reduction in employees elsewhere. He says right now, there are no plans for such an operation in Washington.
Iowa City Wal-Mart has given $1,000 dollars to the Kalona Elementary Playgournd Improvement Project Committee. Store Manager, Kurt Penfold presented a check to Committee Chairperson, Jan Knebel. Knebel says the money will be used to purchase new equipment for the large playground which will be installed on June 12 and 13th.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
The Washington-Lousia County Drug Task Force could be getting an additional officer. Currently one officer is shared between the two counties, as well as the cities of Washington and Columbus-Junction. Washington Sheriff Jerry Dunbar says whether or not it happens, depends on if one of those agencies is able to hire on an additional officer. Dunbar says his department lacks the financial resources to hire additional personnel at this time. He says another agency might be able to. Dunbar feels the extra officer could cut down on overtime costs and make area drug enforcement more effective.
A contractor from Mount Pleasant will put the finishing touches on the renovations at the Washington County Jail. The Board of Supervisors voted yesterday to award the the job to H-E-S construction for at total cost of just over 192-thousand dollars. Sherrif Jerry Dunbar says this will essentially make the project complete. Dunbar says H-E-S will complete the work release areas which were purposely left unfinished,one for men and one for women. He says this adds another 24 beds to the facility. He also says this is not an addition to what Washington County voters approved for the new jail.
Washington County's Mental Health and Disability Services agency is laying out its three year strategic plan. Director Bobbi Wolf says the plan is required by the state, and lays out the agency's goals and plans for that three year period. She says that includes a recovery center. Wolf says they will try to fund the recovery center through grants from the state, and the local river boat foundation. The Strategic plan also provides a way for Wolf's department to lay out its services and access points.
Iowa's fledgling financial situation could mean some rather drastic cuts for certain early childhood programs. Tasha Beghtol with Washington County Empowerment, says her organization could be looking at a nearly 15-percent cut in state funding. She says no decisions have been made as to what areas would suffer due to such cuts. Empowerment covers a wide array of early childhood needs from education to healthcare. Beghtol says locally, the organization provides things like the Parents as Teachers program, dental programs and preschool scholarships.
Governor Chet Culver has proposed issuing around 750-million dollars in bonds for projects around Iowa designed to create jobs and jumpstart the economy. However, two southeast Iowa legislators say the I-Jobs program isn't as "shovel ready" as some might think. State Senator Becky Schmitz and Representative Larry Marek say there's still a lot more to find out about the proposal. The Governor spent yesterday traveling around eastern Iowa to pitch his bonding plan.
Recent tornadoes in Iowa are a reminder that severe weather season can arrive without warning. Tornado Season is starting and many people do not know what to do when a tornado warning is in effect. Weather Eye Meteorologist Nicolle Morock says it is important to know the difference between a watch and a warning. She says a tornado warning means there is rotation in the weather system or weather spotters have seen a tornado touch the ground. Morock says when a warning is in effect the best thing to do is to find cover and put as many walls between you and the storm as possible. She also says if a sturdy shelter isn't avaliable, the best thing to do is find a low laying area. She says you never want to stay in a vehicle or manufactured home during a tornado or strong straight line winds, because they can be tossed very easily.
The WACO High School Music and Drama Department in association with Tams-Witmark Music Library will present Lerner and Loewe's CAMELOT this weekend, March 27 and 28, in the high school gym. Performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. each evening with an admission charge of $6 for adults and $4 for students. Tom Ferguson is the stage director and Millie Youngquist is the vocal director. There is also an eight member pit band complete with strings to provide music for the show. Students from the high school and junior high are combining for this show, with the lead roles being performed by Mason Ferguson as King Arthur, Bekah Kennelly as Queen Guinevere, and David Woods as Lancelot.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
More than 200 people came to the Washington Knights of Columbus Hall last night for the Chamber of Commerce's annual Our Town Awards Dinner. Awards were given in a variety of different categories. Perhaps one of the most prestigious honors was the chamber's citizen of the year award, which was given to Margaret Wolf. Wolf was recognized for her numerous contributions to the community. Other awards included the community service award which was given to the Washington Fire Department, and business of the year which was given to Washington County Hospital and Clinics.
A woman who made Iowa history paid a visit to Washington yesterday. LaMetta Wynn was the featured speaker at the Chamber of Commerce's Our Town Awards Dinner. Wynn is the former mayor of Clinton, and is the first African American Woman to serve as a mayor in Iowa. She says a person's success as a community leader depends help from others. Wynn says Washington is filled with such leaders. Wynn also served on the Clinton Community School board and the Commission on the Status of African American's in Iowa. She was also named as one of the 25 Most Dynamic Mayors in America by Newsweek Magazine.
A Fairfield man is considering running for the post of Iowa's Agriculture Secretary. Francis Thicke is forming an exploratory committee to investigate the option. Thicke says he's considering his candidacy because he feels there are areas of agriculture that need to be further explored. Thicke says Iowa agriculture needs to be more sustainable. One example he offers is planting crops in between the corn and soybean rotations such as rye, which he says would help hold soil in place. Thicke is an organic dairy farmer, who has also served in the U-S Department of Agriculture. He says he hopes to know for sure whether or not he'll run for office by this summer.
A warning for local merchants: Federation Bank's Wellman branch reports a quick change artist has been trying to bilk money from cashiers in the community. This is when a person enters a business and asks for change, when the person is handed the change they pull another roll of money out of a different pocket and claim they were shorted. The man who attempted the scam in Wellman is described as being in his mid forties with sandy blond hair. On Friday he was reported to be wearing a white and blue striped fleece shirt and blue jeans.
Mid-Prairie is one of hundreds of school districts nationwide that will hold a panel discussion to raise awareness about important issues facing teens and their families. Kelly Swift, Student Advocate for Mid-Prairie Schools, says suicide prevention, underage drinking, drug use, and risky behavior will be discussed. The meeting will be April 6th at 7:00PM in the Mid-Prairie Middle School Gymnasium.
Charla Howard of Washington would like to send out a challenge to all parents and past students that have pre-worn prom dresses and/or shoes to donate them to families that need a little extra help with expenses. She says in these times some families might not be able to afford brand new prom dresses and that most dresses are used only once and then are left hanging in a closest. Howard says this is a way to help people in the community.
Iowa Public Television has announced the network will embark on a new initiative designed to get kids across the state to engage in exercise and reading this spring. Kerri Bell with the Kalona Elementary School says one elementary school classroom and one library in each county has been selected to participate in a Healthy Hike competition, with students working to log minutes exercising and minutes reading throughout the month of April. The Kalona Public Library and Kalona Elementary 2nd graders will be participating. At the end of the competition, participating classrooms will take a Healthy Hike to their local participating library for a story time and celebration. For more information on the Healthy Hike, educators and families are encouraged to visit www.iptv.org/dantastic.
As the seasons change, so can the needs of our automobiles. Glenn Martin, who owns Glenn's Auto in Washington says cold weather can take its toll on vehicles. He says first and foremost, you need to check a few things to make sure your car is safe to operate such as tires, windshield wipers and rims.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Two southeast Iowa legislators painted a less than rosy picture of the state's financial situation this weekend. Representative Larry Marek and Senator Becky Schmitz visited Washington Saturday to offer an update. Schmitz says state agencies and programs could face nearly eight percent in budget cuts. Representative Marek says while Iowa has faired better than other states during the recession, the sting is still being felt. Marek says state income has dropped by another 81-million dollars for this fiscal year. He says if unemployment numbers don't improve, the problem could continue into the 2010-2011 budget. The two legislators did offer some good news. Schmitz says she's happy about recent health care reforms, while Marek is pleased with a new child labor law.
Around 30 people came to the Washington County Courthouse Saturday to get an update on state government from Senator Becky Schmitz, and Representative Larry Marek. Balancing the budget, money for infrastructure and education were some of the biggest issues discussed. Washington resident Jan Rosien says it was a productive meeting. Rosien says she was very interested to hear about education. She's concerned that if teachers aren't adequately compensated, they'll look to other states for jobs. Rosien also says she understands that there are a lot of different areas that need attention, but simply not enough money to go around.
Washington Mayor Sandra Johnson says she's concerned with how her community, and others like it across the state pay for their infrastructure. Johnson says there are a limited number of ways for cities to come up with the cash. She says she's worried about how Washington will pay for a state mandated waste water treatment plant. She would like for more money to be available to municipalities through the water quality improvement fund, because it carries a zero percent interest rate.
A local veteran's affairs commissioner says he's glad a bill reorganizing his agency didn't go through. Terry Phillips, with the Washington County VA says the measure has merit, but thinks more consideration needs to go into House Study Bill 270. Phillips says the current system, which utilizes an unpaid commission to determine what benefits are given out and how they are administered, has been working well. Phillips also says they recently underwent a change at the county level, and feels another change could be counterproductive.
Current and potential small business owners are encouraged to attend a small business program March 31st. Gary Bickmeier, Keokuk County Extension Education Director says it is a series of informal dialogues focusing on the challenges faced by local businesses. Bickmeier says the ongoing series is held on the last Tuesday of every month at the Sigourney Pizza Ranch Meeting Room. For further information on the program, call the Keokuk County Extension Office at 641-622-2680 or 800-515-2680.
In every school district there may be some students that may be homeless. Columbus School district Superintendent Rich Bridenstein says there are 5 definitions for being homeless. Bridenstein says they have a homeless student coordinator that he meets with on a quarterly basis. He says the record flooding last year did not affect many residential building but mainly businesses.
The Mid Prairie school board is still discussing the issue of sharing Superintendent Mark Schneider with the Keota school district. Earlier this year, State Sen. Matt McCoy proposed limiting the number of school district superintendents to one per county, which would result in nearly 350 current superintendent positions being reduced to 99. He also proposed the forced consolidations of schools with student populations of fewer than 750. Schneider said though there is not much danger now of either of the proposals happening, that was not to say there might not be more legislative support in the future. Schneider told both Keota and Mid Prairie boards that any agreement the two school districts proposed would first be the subject of public hearings. Both School boards will meet at 7 p.m., Monday, March 30, at the Mid-Prairie High School.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Around 30 people came to the Washington County Courthouse yesterday to get an update on state government from Senator Becky Schmitz and Representative Larry Marek. Budget cuts, health care, issuing bonds for road work and education were some of the biggest concerns expressed by area residents. Both legislators say they and their colleagues face some difficult decisions in figuring out the new budget. In all, state programs and agencies could be facing nearly eight percent in cuts.
Some local leaders say they oppose a measure that would force government bodies to strive to have an equal number of men and women serve on local boards and commissions. Washington County Supervisor Adam Mangold says its often difficult just to fill such positions in a rural area. Mangold also says the requirement might keep them from finding the person who is most qualified. He made the comments during a legislative briefing at the Washington County Courthouse yesterday.
The Midwest Regional Mennonite Orchestra Festival Concert is this afternoon at 3:00 p.m. at IMS in Celebration Hall. The festival participants are Bethany Christian High School from Goshen, IN, Central Christian High School from Kidron, OH, and Iowa Mennonite School. An offering will be taken to help defray festival costs.
In every school district there may be some students that may be homeless. Columbus School District Superintendent Rich Bridenstein says there are 5 definitions for being homeless. Bridenstein says they have a homeless student coordinator that he meets with on a quarterly basis. He says the record flooding last year did not affect many residential building but mainly businesses that would affect a childs home.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
The Iowa State Legislature is in the process of figuring out next year's budget. Large cuts are anticipated in a number of areas. 48th District Senator Becky Schmitz says it's now a matter of trying to figure out which areas can sustain those cuts. Schmitz says they'll probably have to put a lot of proposed projects on hold. Schmitz and 89th District State Representative Larry Marek will be in Washington this morning at ten for a legislative update. If you can't make it to the courthouse, KCII will be replaying the briefing at 1:00 this afternoon. And you will be able to find a PODCAST at www.kciiradio.com, click on Radio Plus.
If you want to see the future, a good place to start is at school. Today's students will be tomorrow's leaders...so what's being done to prepare them? Washington High School Principal Shane Ehresman will lay that out this Monday during a Learn at Lunch. Ehresman says technology is probably one of the biggest recent changes in education. He admits that some technology, like mp3 players and cell phones, can be distracting. However, he says technology has had a mostly positive impact. To hear more from Ehresman, plan on attending the Learn at Lunch session this Monday. The meal is only seven-dollars and the Washington Chamber of Commerce needs people to make reservations by 9:00 Monday Morning. The event will be from noon to one at the Washington County Extension building.
There have been a lot of grass fires in the Kalona area over the last week. Fire Chief Steve Yotti says there have not been any major losses yet but the weather is getting dryer. Yotti says they have had an average of 2 or 3 fires a day. Yotti says the best thing to do when burning is to make sure that everything around is wet and to make sure that you have plenty of materials on hand to douse a fire if it starts to get out of control.
The internet has revolutionized the way we do things...from paying bills, to staying in touch with friends. But there's one area where many people would like to see more online access...government. Many municipalities have no website and can't accept payments via the internet. Both the the city of Washington and Washington County have websites. County I-T director Cyndie Sinn says she'd like to do more with their online content, but says they simply lack the resources. Sinn says their site essentially serves as an index for people to find links to other government agencies. She hopes one day the site will flow better, provide more information and have a search feature. Sinn says they do not currently have an employee whose sole duty is managing their website.
The IMS Basketball team went to the state championships and placed 3rd. IMS Principle Tony Miller says the students were very excited and he could tell the students were feeling very proud to be a part of IMS. He says they won the sportsmanship award and says that was a good reflection on the students and the community. Miller says he is very proud of the team and the student body for doing so well while at the same time they never forgot there academics.
WACO Schools are updating their lists of children who will be attending kindergarten at WACO Elementary School next year. Elementary Principle Vicky Reynolds says if you have a child who will be 5 years old before September 15th to call WACO at 319-658-2931. She says the Kindergarten Parent Orientation meeting will be held on Monday April 6th at 7pm at the school library in Crawfordsville. If you are unable to attend the meeting, she asks that you call the school at 319-658-2931.
Playing outside is arguably one of the greatest joys of childhood. However, in a world dominated by computers, video games and cell phones...it seems to be a lost past time. Pam Holz, with the Washington County Conservation Board, is looking to revive the time honored tradition. Holz is hosting a "Naturalist Playdate" Saturday March 28th at Marr Park at 1:00 pm. The program is free and open to the public. No registration is required. For more information contact the conservation board at 319-657-2400.
Friday, March 20, 2009
The Columbus Junction Senior Center is getting a little bit of help rebuilding after last years flooding. The Washington Rotary Club donated $10,000 to the cause yesterday. Rotary Club member Paul Horak says they were able to secure the funds through the organization's regional body. Horak says since Washington didn't suffer flood damage, it seemed best to focus their efforts on a neighboring town. Columbus Junction Senior Center officials say they were pleasantly surprised by the donation, and are very grateful. They say reconstruction is almost complete and they hope to open in about a month.
Spring is in the air, and for many that also means allergy season is rapidly approaching. J.R. Fikuart is a pharmacist at Nu-Cara in Washington. He says allergy sufferers should check on things like the pollen count before heading outdoors. Fikuart says drugs like Claritin and Zyrtec are some of the best allergy treatments available. He says they're also available in generic form. He says other drugs like Benadryl are also very effective, but can make the user groggy and cause dry mouth and eyes. Fikuart says he and other pharmacists are happy to answer questions about allergies.
Three members of the Washington High School Speech Team will be competing in the All-State Individual Speech showcase later this month. Andrew Schneider will be performing radio news, While Brian Langr and Nolan Bread will compete in storytelling. An all state performance is the highest individual speech award in Iowa. Breard and Langr also received All-State honorable mentions for their acting performances. The All-State contest will be held March 30 at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.
Washington Junior High band students recently earned high marks in two major contests. In the large group concert band competition in Ottumwa, they received an overall rating of one, which is the second highest score on a scale of eight. Band members also recently participated in the solo and ensemble night. Members played as duets, trios or quartets. There were three elementary solos, and and two junior high solos. 7th grade pianist Madeline Hora, 8th grade clarinet player Keri Murphy and elementary clarinet player Cathy Meserole received the title of Oustanding Performers.
The Kalona Playground Improvement committee is receiving donations from many area businesses. Jan Knebel with the committee says she received a call from the Iowa City Wal-Mart. She says they are giving the playground project a check for $1000. Jan will be going to their morning meeting next Tuesday, March 24th to receive the check. Knebel says the donations helps to bring them closer to their goal of a fun and safe playground for all the kids in the community.
IMS will host the annual Midwest Regional Mennonite Orchestra Festival this weekend. IMS Principle Tony Miller says the Festival is comprised of Bethany Christian, Central Christian, and Iowa Mennonite and will culminate with a concert Sunday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. Miller says each individual orchestra will perform a selection, followed by the Festival Orchestra combining all schools together. An offering will be taken to help defray festival costs.
A workshop-seminar on attracting Purple martins will be held next Saturday, March 28, beginning at 9:10 A.M. at the CAM Iowa Clothing Center, 1005 Nutmeg Ave in Kalona. Jim Walters is one of the coordinators and says the Purple martin is one of our most wanted songbirds since a well-maintained colony brings joy to any neighborhood. He says martin populations are rebounding across North America as people put up improved housing and learn proper monitoring techniques. There will be a $2.00 registration fee and lunch will be available at the site. The event will be held next Saturday, March 28 at the CAM Iowa Clothing Center in Kalona.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
The Washington Community School District is getting almost $140,000 dollars in Title I funds from the Economic Recovery package. According to a release from Senator Tom Harkin's office, the money can be used to hire teachers and teacher assistants, provide tutoring, create school computer labs, fund parent involvement activities, purchase instructional materials, host professional development for teachers and create pre-kindergarten classes. In all, Iowa schools are expected to receive more than $50 million in stimulus money. Washington Schools could see their slice of the pie as early as this month.
The Sigourney Schools are helping students to learn about starting and operating their own business. Superintendent Todd Abrahamson says they received money from the Harkin new construction grant. He says they will be opening Keokuk County Career Academy for high school juniors and seniors, and interested adults next fall. Abrahamson says they have a lot of students that are well on there way to becoming successful entrepreneurs. He says they already have one student who has developed and patented a product that has a company from West Des Moines looking at it and working with the student.
The Washington County attorney wants to cut down on paperwork. Barb Edmondson says her office will begin utilizing a computerized case management system. Edmondson says aside from being able to access local files more easily, it will also enable her to better communicate with other counties as well as police departments and other public agencies. She also says it will have a rather sizable startup cost but feels it will save money in the long run. Edmondson also says its hoped that one day every county in Iowa will participate in the program.
The Washington City Council wants some more time to consider a liquor license request. Cafe Dodici would like to serve alcohol at tables located on the sidewalk outside the establishment. Council members decided they would like to table the request at last night's meeting. Cafe Dodici co-owner Lori Williams says she understands their decision. She feels the sort of outdoor cafe she wants to establish would be a great addition to Washington's down town area. City council members say they want to make sure it wouldn't obstruct traffic. Mayor Sandra Johnson says they have to be mindful about what kind of precedent allowing the measure might set.
The Secretary of the Iowa Department of Agriculture says the recent decline in farm land values is probably a normal fluctuation. Bill Northey says property prices are locked up in a long term view. He says last summer's flooding probably didn't have much to do with the drop. Northey says the prices are impacted by yields, and the expense a farmer pays to utilize the land. To hear more from Northey tune in to KCII this afternoon at 1:00, and again at 6:00 this evening for a special edition agriculture news magazine.
The Kalona Public Library will be hosting an origami crafts event Friday, March 27 from 3:30 to 4:15PM in the Velma Skola Program Room. Youth Services Librarian Marissa Tartaglia says children ages 5 to 12 are invited to make a variety of origami crafts, such as a jumping frog, pinwheel star, and a flying crane. She says this program is free of charge and no registration is necessary. For more information call the library at 319-656-3501.
Mid Prairie schools have been hosting foreign exchange students for many years. One student, Katrina, came from the eastern part of Russia to live and learn in the Mid Prairie School District. Karina says she is really enjoying living here and getting to know many other kids but it is very different than the school she came from. She says it is very different than the part of Russia that she is used to because of the wide open spaces. Karina says this is an experience that she will take with her through out her entire life.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
The Louisa County Sheriff's office received a call of a person on the Iowa River Bridge on Highway 99 east of Wapello around 3:30 Monday afternoon. Chief Deputy Adam Claudle says he wasn't too far away when the call came in and responded. He says he watched as the person went off the bridge then went into the water and got her out to safety. Claudle says the Wapello Rescue Unit and Ambulance responded and the person was transported to Great River medical Center for observation, he says that she is doing well and getting treatment.
An effort to raise enough money to renovate the city of Washington's Central Park bandstand got a huge boost recently. Former Washington resident and Municipal Band member John Jackson has donated $175,000 to the effort. This, combined with money from the Washington Betterment Foundation, the City Park Board and the Washington County Riverboat Foundation puts the project in the realm of reality. John Jackson was a charter member of the Washington Municipal Band in 1932, and went on to be a member of the 34th Army Band, Iowa Army National Guard, where he served during World War-II. Organizers of the volunteer committee in charge of the fund raising effort say Mr. Jackson "now has the appreciation of 7,000 Washington city citizens and countless citizens throughout Washington County and beyond." They say they will continue to solicit funds to make further improvements to Central Park.
The director of Washington County's Ambulance Service says there needs to be some changes in certain laws, or many counties could find themselves doing without. Richard Young says they are mandated to do a lot of different things by the state and federal government, but are rarely given enough financial help. Young says this, combined with a lot of out of work people without insurance has created some hardships for the ambulance service. Right now counties in Iowa are not required to provide an ambulance. Young says if they were, it might take some of the burden off of individual counties, as the state might be more apt to help.
Transportation serves as a lifeline, keeping industries of all types running. Many parts of Iowa especially rural areas, are facing a huge decision...how to pay for road improvements. Washington County Engineer David Patterson says wherever the money comes from, it would be wiser to act sooner than later. Many people are against issuing bonds to pay for improved infrastructure because it would drive the state further into debt. Patterson says it might actually save money in the grand scheme. He says if policy makers continue to wait, construction prices will continue to go up. Patterson says issuing bonds would lock in those prices.
The Lone Tree City Council has passed a resolution giving a $2500 grant to first time home buyers on the purchase of a home in Black Otter Creek Addition, known as Finley Addition. City Councilor Helen Lemley says she wants to get Lone Tree building again. Lemly says at this time Yakish Construction, M & R Construction and Magruder Construction have agreed to a $5000 building credit. This is in addition to the American Recovery Act giving first time home buyers up to $8000 in tax credits, essentially giving qualifying home buyers a $20,500 credit toward the purchase of a home in the Finley Addition.
The Kalona City Park and pool are getting ready to be used. Todd Fitzsenry , the Kalona Parks and Recreation supervisor says they are getting the parks ready for use by cutting grass and making sure everything is within there safety guidelines. He says the opening day will be April 15th.
Spring is in the air, and many people are getting their gardens ready. But, if there's a spot on your property that always seems to hold water, and is too wet for even grass to grow, Linn County Master Gardener Judy Stevens can help. She will lead a program on rain gardens this Tuesday, March 24 at the Washington County Extension Office at 7:00 pm. She'll discuss what flowers and plants you can use in low places that will thrive and grow. The event is free and open to the public. For more information contact the Washington County Extension office at 319-653-4811.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
As agriculture changes, many smaller operations are finding it more difficult to compete with larger ones. However, southeast Iowa's state representative says that's not necessarily a bad thing. Larry Marek says many smaller producers have begun turning to niche crops. Marek says without larger operations, there would be acres left unused. He also says commercial outfits provide much needed jobs.
A new waste water plant for the city of Washington could eventually mean higher utility prices. The new facility is being constructed as part of an agreement with the state Department of Natural Resources. City Administrator Dave Plyman says given the scale of the project, a price increase is almost inevitable. Plyman says the facility is scheduled for completion in 2011. He says the city is in the process of acquiring land and working out the engineering proposals. Plyman also says construction could start as soon as this year. The Washington City Council will meet this Wednesday night at 7:00 in the Public Library.
The manager of the Southeast Iowa Multi-County Solid Waste Agency says things have been getting expensive lately. Bill Fluke says they are in the process of expanding their landfill, which can be pretty pricey. Fluke says they plan on adding about one-and-a-half acres to their facility this year, then an additional four to five acres down the road. He says according to the current plan, SEMCO has a little more than 26-years of permitted space left, however that can be expanded as necessary.
Farmers, landowners, businesses, schools and homeowners interested in learning more about wind power are invited to take part in the 2009 Wind Energy Conference coordinated by Iowa State University on Friday, March 20 at the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center in Fairfield. The day will include various exhibits, breakout sessions and panelists discussing the wind resources available in Iowa, the opportunities and threats related to the industry, and perspectives from current turbine owners and operators. Those wishing to participate should contact the Jefferson County Extension Office at (641) 472-4166. The cost is $20 per person and will be limited to the first 200 registrants.
With Computers and cell phones in everyones daily lives the art of writing is still an important topic in schools, Kalona Elementary School teacher Kerri Bell says they put a lot of time into teaching writing and making sure the students write as much as possible. Bell says technology has enhanced the way they teach and she believes that even though there are a lot of kids that would rather type an e-mail or text message, they make sure that the art of writing is not lost and it seems to working.
Being a teenager can be a difficult time. Planned Parent of Southeast Iowa is hoping to make that time a little easier for young women and their parents in the Washington area. They'll be having a special half day program entitled Girl Talk this Saturday morning from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Washington Public Library. It's designed to help mothers and daughters communicate about puberty and issues associated with being a teen. Workshops will focus on Self-Esteem, Body Image and Communication. For registration call Amanda Swan at 319-795-6774. Cost is 19-dollars for mother and daughter. Registration is due by tomorrow.
The Washington County 4-H County Council held a 4-H Dodgeball Tournament on Sunday, March 8th at Washington High School. There was a total of 17 teams that competed, with an approximate 102 4-Hers. Kati Peiffer, 4-H-Youth Coordinator says The Riverside Ramblers 4-H club, Cody Schneider, Colton Schneider, Ryan Schneider, Kyle Schneider, Brad Lampe and Brett Walsh, placed first in the Senior/Intermediate Division. The Washington County 4-H County Council planned the event as a way for 4-Hers to have fun and meet other youth. Peiffer wishes to thank those who helped with the tournament and to Washington High School for the use of the gym.
Monday, March 16, 2009
March 16, 2009 Traffic will be restricted to one lane on Iowa 1 southbound from Iowa 92 to Iowa 78 in Washington County because of a culvert replacement project, according to the Iowa Department of Transportation. Two-way traffic will be maintained at all times during construction. Flaggers will be used to assist traffic through the work zone. The project is expected to be completed by 3 p.m. today.
The Washington County Board of Supervisors will lay out how they plan on spending some federal stimulus money at this weeks meeting. They'll be discussing, and possibly approving an agreement for the Federal Highway Stimulus Program Project. This comes as welcome news during a time when many agree local roads are in need of help. Recently the Washington County Iowa Farm Bureau held a workshop meeting with County Supervisors and the County Engineer to discuss possible solutions to the deteriorating secondary road problem. County Engineer David Patterson says these roads are most vulnerable this time of year as the ground starts to thaw. Patterson says this is why they're putting an embargo on certain unpaved routes. The board of supervisors will meet this Tuesday morning at 9:30 at the Washington County Courthouse.
After signing disaster legislation as the first new law this year, Governor Culver announced that Iowans in 14 counties affected by last summers natural disasters can apply for unmet needs grants created by the legislation. Applications for the unmet needs grants are currently being accepted by Long-Term Recovery Committees for people in Benton, Buchanan, Butler, Cerro Gordo, Dubuque, Franklin, Fremont, Johnson, Linn, Louisa, Muscatine, Montgomery, Polk and Scott counties. Applicants have until June 30, 2010, to apply for any existing funds. Applicants may call the Iowa Concerns Hotline at 1-866-849-0323.
The school boards of the Keota Community School District and Mid-Prairie Community School District have agreed to a joint meeting tonight. The Keota School Board informally approached the Mid-Prairie School Board members more than two months ago about sharing a superintendent. Mid-Prairie Superintendent Mark Schneider told school board members Monday, March 9, that he had met with the Keota Board the week before in closed session to discuss the matter. The Board will meet tonight in the media Center at Mid Prairie High school at 7pm.
Senator Tom Harkin announced that the Iowa Department of Education will award Iowa school districts $5.8 million in Harkin Grants to repair, modernize, and build new schools. Sigourney Community School District will receive $146,185. The grant will help purchase and renovate the former 10,000 square foot Wohler Building, currently used as an auction house, located on Highway 92 close to Sigourney High School and Alternative School.
While many government funded entities are struggling financially, one local group isn't as strapped for cash as most. Kati Peiffer, with the Washington County Extension's 4-H program, says while it would always be nice to have more money, they get plenty of help from local businesses and families who support the program. Be sure to tune in to KCII Monday March 16 at 1:00 pm for a special edition agriculture magazine featuring Peiffer. The topic is agriculture education.
For someone outside the agriculture community, the industry probably doesn't conjure thoughts of cutting edge technology. However, quite the opposite is true. GPS, genetic engineering and specialized drainage and irrigation techniques are just a few examples of major advances that have been made in ag technology. Despite this, Washington County Extension Education Director Gene Mohling says market awareness is one of the biggest changes hes seen in recent years. He says a few generations ago might not have paid attention to what was happening in other countries. However, that's not the case today. Be sure to tune in to KCII Monday March 16 at 1:00 pm for a special edition agriculture magazine featuring Mohling. The topic is agriculture education.
Congratulations to the seven Washington High School students who participated in state-level individual speech competition in Vinton on over the weekend Of the eleven events that continued past the district contest, nine received Division I ratings from a panel of three judges, while two earned Division II. Each student had at least one event receive the Division I rating. Brian Langr, Mackenzie Roth, Andrew Schneider, Greg Schneider, Steffany Adrian, Nolan Breard, and Regan Loula are to be commended for their efforts! All-state nominations will be announced Monday March 16.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Discussion on the city of Washington's water treatment plant will continue at this week's council meeting. The council will revisit a request for approval of a proposal from Fox Engineering to amend the facilities plan for the proposed wastewater plant. They will also consider purchasing a new pump at a cost of a little more than five-thousand-dollars. The council will also take up a request from the Washington High-School to close east Madison Street, and a liquor license request from the new Super Wal-Mart. The meeting starts at 7:00 Wednesday night in the public library.
While many government funded entities are struggling financially, one local group isn't as strapped for cash as most. Kati Peiffer, with the Washington County Extension's 4-H program says while it would always be nice to have more money, they get plenty of help from local businesses and families who support the program. Be sure to tune in to KCII tomorrow afternoon at 1:00 for a special edition agriculture magazine featuring Peiffer. Monday's topic is agriculture education.
The school boards of the Keota Community School District and Mid-Prairie Community School District have agreed to a joint meeting tomorrow. Keota School Board informally approached the Mid-Prairie School Board members more than two months ago about sharing a superintendent. Mid-Prairie Superintendent Mark Schneider told school board members Monday, March 9, that he had met with the Keota Board the week before in closed session to discuss the matter. The Board will meet tommorow in the media Center at Mid Prairie High school at 7pm
IMS will host the annual Midwest Regional Mennonite Orchestra Festival. March 20-22. The Festival comprised of Bethany Christian, Central Christian, and Iowa Mennonite will culminate with a concert Sunday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. Each individual orchestra will perform a selection, followed by the Festival Orchestra combining all schools together directed by guest conductor Carey Bostian. A small jazz band conducted by guest conductor James Pisano will also perform. An offering will be taken to help defray festival costs.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
The state of Iowa is receiving more than 121-million dollars to put towards efficiency grants. Iowa Congressman Dave Loebsack says the money is from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and will support home weatherization and modernizing heating and cooling equipment through rebates. Mike Roe with Roe Heating in Washington says some simple ways to take advantage of the program and see a lot of savings is by insulating basements, and sealing any leaks in a home.
Flooding, erosion and land and commodity values are all things that have southeast Iowa farmers worried. Washington County Extension Education Director Gene Mohling says economic tensions in other areas are now catching up with the agriculture sector. However, he feels the recent decision by Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack to ramp up ethanol usage in blended fuels should help. He also says the recent decline in farmland values is probably not as bad as it sounds, because prices were artificially inflated.
This year will mark the 130th Birthday of the city of Kalona. This year Kalona Days will be the celebration of the anniversary, and Mayor Jerry Kauffman says he knows the people of Kalona will make it another 130 years. Kauffman says Kalona days will be a great celebration and the people of Kalona deserve it. He says every day the people make Kalona a better place. Kauffman says he wont be around to see another 130 years but he will do his part to help make it as good as possible.
The Washington School District is getting a chunk of the nearly six-million dollars recently released by the Iowa Department of Education. Washington School's will get 100-thousand-dollars to to upgrade fire safety equipment such as smoke and heat detectors. The money will also help pay for improved emergency exits. The funds became available through a pilot program started by Democratic Iowa Senator Tom Harkin. Harkin says when teachers don't have to worry about the limitations of their classrooms, the opportunities for creative learning become easier to imagine.
Washington County has placed a 5 ton vehicle embargo on certain roads to prevent damage from heavy loads during the spring thaw. County Engineer David Patterson explained that the embargo is intended to minimize damage to key roads as the frost comes out during the spring by encouraging heavy loads to use alternate, paved routes. As of right now there are no roads in the Kalona area that have been embargoed. The County Engineers Office may issue special permit to allow vehicles in excess of 5 gross tons to operate on the embargoed roads. Information needed for the permit includes vehicles and owner information as well as the product and dates being hauled. For more information, please call (319) 653-7731.
The Washington Wal-Mart has awarded the Kalona Elementary Playground Project committee $2,000. Kerri Bell, a member of the Improvement committee was at the Washington Wal-Mart on Friday to receive the check from Store manager Dennis parcel. Kerri Bell says this money brings them closer to there goal and she says they still have a lot of fundraisers coming up within the next few months and everything is looking good.
Southeast Iowa will be the location for a new movie about love, growing up and paintballing. The Iowa Film Office says "Splatter" will be filmed in locations all over the state, with several in this area. Production is scheduled to start in may, and the filmmakers are looking for actors. According to a summary released by the I-F-O, the movie is about a man who uses a paintball tournament to try to win back the love of his ex-wife, and the respect of his son. For more information contact the Iowa Department of Economic Development.
Friday, March 13, 2009
A volunteer committee is looking to give Washington's Central Park Bandstand a face lift. Committee member Don Pfeifer says their goal is to maintain the structure's historical charm, while adding modern conveniences. That includes a bigger stage, improvements in acoustics and making the facility more accessible. Pfeifer says they hope to raise 330-thousand dollars for the renovation. The group will meet again on March 26..
The Washington School District is getting some help in its quest to save money. Superintendent Dave Sextro says Alliant will conduct an energy audit of the district's buildings. He says this will help them find ways to cut back on gas and electrical usage. It will include things like insulation, more efficient lighting and automated systems. Sextro says the audit should take four to six weeks and could save them nearly $130,000.
There has been a lot of moisture this winter. State Climatologist Harry Hillaker says this winter was a lot dryer than the winter of 2007 which help attribute to the record flooding of 2008. Hillaker says the winter of 2007 was record breaking. He says 2007 was very wet, record wettest August ever, 4th wettest October ever and 2nd wettest December ever, which all led to the record flooding in 2008. Hillaker says with the lack of snow still on the ground, he doesnt see a lot of melting and rising water levels in the spring which should hold off another record flooding.
The recent donation of $20,000 to United Fund of Columbus Junction to assist families in the Columbus Junction and Wapello areas with flood recovery is beginning to have an impact. Mallory Smith, United Fund of Columbus Junction secretary says certificates for $150 and $100 to be used toward the purchase of furniture, appliances and building supplies at Louisa County owned businesses have been mailed to recipients and these certificates are starting to be redeemed. Smith says they are really pleased that this money not only helps the flood victims but also supports local businesses
Wapello has seen its share of flooding in the last few Years. Kathy Vance, the Louisa County Public Information Officer says crews built the levee on Highway H22 up another 5 feet over the last few days making it impassable to traffic, but better for water control and it is holding the water back from the Oakville bottoms. Vance says they are keeping the water at bay and it does not look like they are in dangers like last years record flooding.
So what happens after high-school? Students looking for the answer to that question are invited to Washington High-Schools College Fair. Kathy Stender, with Washington Schools Guidance Office says around 60 different colleges, trade schools, community colleges and military recruiters will be on hand. She says it will also serve as an opportunity for parents to learn a little more about post secondary education. The fair will take place March 25 at the Washington High-School Gym. For more information contact Stender at 319-653-4245.
A measure that would allow Iowa's home schooled students to be taught driver's education at home hit a wall in the state legislature this week. Andrea Farrier is a lobbyist for the Iowa Home School Assistance Program, and teaches in Kalona. She says the bill was essentially killed when it got kicked from one committee to another in the House. Farrier says allowing students to be taught driver's-ed at home in other states has increased safety, and saved money.
24 classrooms at Stewart and Lincoln Schools in Washington are getting some upgrades. Washington School District Technology Director Jeff Brock says they'll be installing ceiling mounted speakers and projectors creating media ready rooms. Brock says the overall project will cost around $120,000. They'll be getting a grant for $40,000 from the Washington County Riverboat Foundation. In the end, the school district will need to chip in $80,000 towards the new classrooms. In other school news the board will take public comments on the proposed budget at the April 8 regular board meeting.
Farm land values have been on the decline over the past six months, southeast Iowa State Representative Larry Marek says it's a normal fluctuation. Marek says last year's high production numbers drove the price up, and now that price is stabilizing. He is worried that another fruitful year could mean higher property taxes for Iowa farmers.
Heavy rains have affected many streets in Kalona and Riverside. County Engineer David Patterson says there are a few streets that have been closed down due to flooding. Patterson says there are four roads that are closed; 130th street west of highway 1, nutmeg ave north of the English river, willow ave north of 130th street and 230th street west of larch ave. Patterson says the reason for the closures are because of water on top of the roads creating a dangerous area. Nutmeg Ave in Kalona has been washed out and needs to be repaired. Patterson says they are estimating that the roads should be opened up by Friday evening. Currently the flood warning for the area that includes Kalona has been extended into today.
Columbus Junction has been staying dry during the rainy weather. City Clerk Julie Heindel says they are in no danger of flooding so far. She says the only thing that has happened is the fairgrounds have been holding water but they are pumping the water back into the river. Heindel says no business are closing and the city is on stand by just in case.
Flooding has been affecting everyone from roads to business and even to farm lands. Gene Mohling, County Extension Education Director says farm lands may be in danger of erosion. Mohling says farmers may have to apply fertilizer again to low lying areas. He says it will vary by field and location depending on how fast the water is moving or if the water just sits and then runs off. He says everything is always dependent on the weather.
Iowa Senator Tom Harkin wants it do be easier for American workers to form labor unions. Harkin and other members of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee have introduced legislation that would stiffen penalties against employers that illegally fire or discriminate against workers for their union activity. Harkin says laborers are the backbone of our economy. He also says the 40 hour work week and and minimum wage helped pull the country out of the great depression, and feels this measure could help with the current economic times.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he's fearful that lower commodity prices, combined with declining land values could cause some hardships for farmers this year. On the plus side, Grassley says many producers might have funds set aside from the last two years. Grassley also says it was a bad decision for President Barack Obama to cut direct payments based on gross income.
While the Washington County Relay for Life is still months away, organizers are wasting no time getting things ready. There will be a team captain and kickoff meeting this Monday night at the Washington Pizza Ranch. The organization is asking that anyone interested in attending R-S-V-P by tomorrow for food reservations. To make reservations, or if you want to participate but can't make the meeting contact Joni McArtor at 319-653-6367
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
The Washington School District is looking to trim its budget in the upcoming fiscal year. Superintendent Dave Sextro says they've been able to make some cut backs by offering early retirement, and then leaving some of those positions vacant. Sextro says they make every effort to make cuts that won't directly effect students. Spending reductions, and the budget for next year are just a few of the items on the agenda for this evenings school board meeting.
Vehicles weighing more than 5 tons will have to stay off of rural roads in Washington County for a while. County Engineer David Patterson says they will embargo roads which are susceptible to damage during the spring thaw. Patterson says free permits will be available for residents who must transport thinks like animal feed, heating fuel or gasoline. He says the restrictions are in effect whenever sings are in place.
Washington County plans on spending a little more than $20-million in the upcoming fiscal year. The board of supervisors approved the 2009-2010 budget at this mornings meeting. The tax levy will increase by nearly five percent. Board Chairman Jim Miksch says even though its a bigger increase than previous years, it was necessary to stave off future fiscal problems. He also says economic times have been better locally than other parts of the country, and world.
The Washington County Sheriff's Office is one of more than 200 Iowa law enforcement agencies taking part in a special Traffic Enforcement program, or
The Washington County Sheriff's Office is one of more than 200 Iowa law enforcement agencies taking part in a special Traffic Enforcement program, or STEP. The enforcement is scheduled to run from March 12 to the 17, and is designed to encompass the Saint Patrick's Day weekend. Washington County Chief Sheriff's Deputy Darren Dennler says his agency will be out in increased numbers looking for speeding and O-W-I violations.
If you've considered or have planted black berries, raspberries, apples, pears, peaches or other fruits, you've probably wondered if you should be spraying, pruning, or doing any of a number of tricks that solve fruit growing problems. Gary Bickmeier, Keokuk County Extension Education Director says for answers to these and other questions, you should attend the Fruit Tree & Brambles Care and Selection Clinic Thursday, March 12th. The program has been moved to a new location due to wet grounds, it will now be held at the Expo in Sigourney at 5:30 pm. Tickets are available from any Keokuk County Master Gardener or by calling the Extension Office at 800-515-2680 or 641-622-2680.
Water on the roadway caused the closure of Highway 99 just east of Wapello at the Wapello Bridge yesterday. It also affected Highway G62 until it climbs east toward X61 in Louisa County.Staci Griffin, Director of Louisa County Emergency Management, says, they strive to stay ahead of rising water and close the roads, but residents are reminded not to drive into standing water and call authorities if they see rising water on neighborhood roadways.
Daffodils for the American Cancer Society were delayed. Kierstan Peck, Community Relations with the American Cancer Society says the truck with the daffodils left Washington state early this week and is scheduled to be in Iowa City tomorrow. She says this means that the daffodils will be available for pick up or delivery in most areas on Friday. Peck says if Friday does not work, you may be able to pick up your flowers on tomorrow afternoon. For information give her a call at 319.653.3768
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Washington County's Board of Supervisors is expected to approve next year's budget this morning. County Auditor Bill Fredrick says road work continues to be one of their biggest expenses. He says they have had to carefully balance what the county needs, with what citizens can afford. The board of supervisors will meet at 9:30 this morning in the Washington County Courthouse.
The IMS boys basketball team has advanced to the semi-final round of the state tournament. Yesterday IMS beat Ventura 62-46. If you missed the game or would like to relive it you can head to kciiradio.com and click on radio plus. So now IMS will be back at Wells Fargo Arena on Thursday to play Rock Valley. Rock Valley beat Villisca 77-49. Thursday's game between IMS and Rock Valley will be at 12:15 pm for the right to play for the 1A championship.
The Washington School District is looking to trim its budget in the upcoming fiscal year. Superintendent Dave Sextro says they have been able to make some cut backs by offering early retirement, and then leaving some of those positions vacant. Sextro says they make every effort to make cuts that won't directly affect students. Spending reductions, and the budget for next year are just a few of the items on the agenda for tomorrows school board meeting.
Heavy rainfall over the past few days is taking its toll on local roadways. Washington County Engineer David Patterson says between ten and twelve locations had to be barricaded in places where floodwaters covered the road. He says the extent of the damage won't be known until the waters recede. The National Weather Service doesn't expect that to happen until late this tomorrow.
Louisa County Officials have closed County Road H22, known locally as the K Road indefinitely to keep water on the west side of the temporary levee that crosses that roadway. Kathy Vance with the ISU Extension says crews built the levee up another 5 feet over the last few days making it impassable to traffic, but better for water control and it is holding the water back from the Oakville bottoms. Vance says the County Engineer and emergency management personnel are keeping an eye on Highway 99 east of Wapello.
The rivers have started to rise because of the weather over the past few days. The National Weather Service forecasts major flooding along the Iowa River in Wapello, Lone Tree and Columbus Junction, as well as at the English River near Kalona. Kalona Mayor Jerry Kauffman says over the weekend the English River did crest and spilled over the roads but no major damage was done. Kauffman says some homes got some water in their basements and the water had started to pool in spots downtown, but as soon as the rain stopped the water receded.
Tourism Season is coming soon and a lot of places are getting ready. Nancy Roth with the Kalona Historical Village says they stay prepared all winter long. She says their tourism season usually starts in early April. Roth says they dont have too much to do to get ready. She says they will start opening the buildings that were closed for the winter in late March when the weather starts to stay warmer. Roth says the village still attracts tourists throughout the winter but the busiest part of the season is around June and July and during Kalona Days.
Monday, March 9, 2009
The IMS boys basketball team makes their return to the state tournament in Des Moines today. IMS is playing Ventura, who is making their first trip to the state tournament in school history. Ventura is a town of about 700 people 14 miles west of Mason City. As for IMS, their last two trips, in 05 and 07, they reached the finals and lost close games. You'll be able to hear the game right here on the one to count on KCII. The game is scheduled to start at 2 pm.
The Washington County Iowa Farm Bureau is hoping find a solution to improving county secondary roads. Regional Manager for the Iowa Farm Bureau Jerry Anderson says the conditions of these roads are not very good primarily because they were built to handle limited traffic and vehicles from the 50's and 60's. Anderson says today there is more traffic and heavier vehicles. The Farm Bureau recently held a workshop with county officials to discuss some possible solutions. Now Anderson says the plan is to survey members to identify which solution they favor, and work with supervisors to take action along those lines.
Lincoln Literacy Night is coming to Lincoln Elementary Thursday night. One of the organizers and Lincoln Teacher Linda Shields says this is for parents and children. She says they will have four informative sessions going on for parents. Those include how to motivate kids to read, fun ways to improve your child's vocabulary, bullying, and what programs are offered at the library. The kids will take part in games and story time. The parents will have time to go to two of the sessions so they want to choose the two they find most beneficial. Lincoln Literacy night will be Thursday from 6-7:30 at Lincoln Elementary.
Seniors are preparing for college. Mid Prairie High school is holding a College Prep night tonight at 7pm. School Councilor Sarah Kos says they are brining in people from around the state to allow the seniors and juniors to ask questions and learn what to expect in college. Kos says it is geared mainly towards seniors but juniors are welcome to attend as well. The Prep night will be tonight at 7pm at the Mid Prairie High School
You are invited to a Souper Bowl Supper and it has nothing to do with football. The Second Annual Souper Bowl Supper will be held in the cafeteria at Washington High School next Monday. There will be a variety of soups and all the trimmings and drinks, prepared by the high school Nutrition and Fitness class. The soups will be served in handmade ceramic bowls made by the Ceramics and Sculpture classes. The proceeds go to Washington HACAP. You can purchase tickets in advance for $6. The Souper Bowl Supper is next Monday from 4:30 to 6:30. You can call 653-2143 for ticket information.
The American Cancer Society Daffodil Days is scheduled for this week with daffodils scheduled to be delivered in many locations tomorrow. Kierstan Peck, Community Relations with the American Cancer Society says because of poor weather conditions out west, the daffodil delivery has been delayed. She says at this particular time, they do not have the revised truck schedules. As soon as she receives this information she will let everyone know. Peck says she is not expecting to receive any deliveries until at least Thursday or Friday.
The Riverside City council is meeting tonight. On the agenda there will be an open public hearing on the 2009-2010 budget estimates. The council will ask for any oral or written objections and then finish with a resolution to approve the budget estimate. The council will meet at the city hall at 5pm.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
The IMS boys basketball team makes their return to the state tournament in Des Moines tomorrow. IMS is playing Ventura, who is making their first trip to the state tournament in school history. Ventura is a town of about 700 people 14 miles west of Mason City. As for IMS, their last two trips, in 05 and 07, they reached the finals and lost in close games. You'll be able to hear the game right here on the one to count on KCII. The game is scheduled to start at 2pm.
You are invited to a Souper Bowl Supper and it has nothing to do with football. The Second Annual Souper Bowl Supper will be held in the Cafeteria at Washington High School next Monday. There will be a variety of soups and all the trimmings and drinks, prepared by the high school Nutrition and Fitness class. The soups will be served in handmade ceramic bowls made by the Ceramics and Sculpture classes. The proceeds go to Washington HACAP. You can purchase tickets in advance for $6. The Souper Bowl Supper is next Monday from 4:30 to 6:30. You can call 653-2143 for ticket information.
Seniors are preparing for college and Mid Prairie High School is holding a College Prep night tomorrow at 7pm. School Councilor Sarah kos says they are brining in people from around the state to allow the seniors and juniors to ask questions and learn what to expect in college. Kos says it is geared mainly towards seniors but juniors are welcome to attend as well. The Prep night will be tomorrow at 7pm at the Mid Prairie High School.
Kalona Days are being put together; this years theme is celebrating the 130th birthday of Kalona. Festival Director Dave Finley is now accepting applications for food vendors, arts & crafts vendors, as well as groups, organizations and businesses that wish to have a booth or display at this 2 day event. Organizers are constructing what may be the largest quilt cake of its kind in America. For information or a vendor application please call the Kalona General Store 319-656-3535.
Friday, March 6, 2009
The Washington Community School District's Business Manager wants to clarify the latest superintendent's contract approved by the school board. The board approved keeping Interim Superintendent Dave Sextro on for one more year at around $124,000, which is the same value of the contract the district had with previous superintendent, Dave Schmidt. District Business Manager Jeff Dieleman says this year's contract pays Sextro around $93,000, but the district pro-rated the contract because Sextro started in late August and he had some unpaid vacations scheduled. So while the value in the latest contract appears higher, Dieleman says it's actually the same contract.
The Washington City Council has approved their budget for the upcoming fiscal year and it will mean a little higher property taxes. After the council held a public hearing on the budget they passed it last night. According to City Administrator Dave Plyman for someone with a $100,000 home, they paid around $1700 in property taxes last year, about $560 of that was city property tax. He says if the home value was the same this year you'd pay around $600 in city property taxes. Plyman says the driving force behind the increase is a drop in money coming into the city from sales taxes.
The Washington County Engineer's Office is getting a new GPS system. County Engineer David Patterson says this will replace an older system they have which is about 10 years old. Patterson says this new system is not like the one you by at a department or the Garman GPS units, this is much more accurate, with as he puts it golf ball size accuracy. The new system will cost $22,500 and work with a new GPS network the state is activating. Patterson says the equipment is instrumental in their work.
Today is Washington Community Y Director Darren Pickles last day. Pickles is moving to Pennsylvania to run a brand new 45,000 square foot facility on 10 acres of land in the Lancaster metro area. Pickles says he wasn't looking to move and the opportunity just kind of fell on him. He says one of the toughest decisions he's had to make is to leave the Washington area, but the move will mean his family will be closer to friends and relatives in the east. Darren Pickles has been the director of the Washington Community Y since March 2005.
One of the most important parts of playing sports is staying healthy. Eric Turner with Jet Physical Therapy says Chuck Miller is a therapist that goes to IMS to help with the sports department. Miller is an IMS Graduate and enjoys helping the teams out. Turner says the post season is very important to athletes and that they put a lot of pressure on themselves and that can cause unwanted injuries. Miller says he is hopeful for the IMS boys basketball team in the post season and hopes to see them go to the finals of the state tournament.
Kalona Elementary School has a program in place to help kids learn to become the best they can be. Principle Jim Cayton says its called the Super Kid program. He says it is a reward system for good behavior and good academics. Cayton says they have many prizes available from pizza slices to an iPod. He says the kids have been having fun with the program and are enjoying wearing the t-shirts that are black in color and have a big superman logo on the front. The program runs all year.
The Winfield Mt. Union Community School Board will be meeting on Monday. On the agenda the board will be employee conduct and appearance and what is expected. The School Board will also be discussing the senior class trips and a shared wrestling program with New London. The School Board will be meeting on Monday at 6:30pm in the media center.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Washington County Supervisors are off to Des Moines for a statewide convention. The Iowa State Association of Counties is putting it on. Washington Supervisor Chair Jim Miksch says there are various workshops and it's an opportunity to interact with other supervisors in the state, which sometimes can be as good as some of the workshops. Miksch says a couple of the workshops he feels will hit close to Washington will be one talking about alternative ways to fund county secondary road repairs and managing times when revenues are lower.
Some federal dollars coming from the stimulus package has Washington County doing a paving project on old 218 a little sooner than planned. Jacob Thorius with the County Engineer's Office says they anticipate receiving around $750,000 from the stimulus package. He says they will overlay old 218 or Vine Avenue with concrete from Highway 22 south to 160th Street which is about 4.5 miles. Thorius says originally the project was four years out but with this federal money they'll be able to do it this year.
This is Gambling Awareness Week, and MECA of Iowa City is working to get information out about their services. Todd Morris works in the Gambling Treatment Division and he says Riverside Casino and Golf Resort has let them set up at their entrance this week to let people know what they offer. He says more often it's a loved one of a compulsive gambler seeking help than the actual person having the problem. Morris says you can find out what they offer by visiting their website www.mecaservices.com.
President Obama's proposed budget for the USDA would phase out direct farm payments for operations generating more that half million dollars in revenue annually. Regional Manager of the Iowa Farm Bureau Jerry Anderson says direct farm payments are payments farmers received based on their production history for their crops. Anderson says while half a million in annual sales sound like a huge operation, last year with beans in the teens and higher prices it wouldn't take a huge operations to trigger that limitation. He says in years where prices are lower such as this year direct payments can help farmers not lose money. The savings from the cut would go to a child nutrition program.