Thursday, April 30, 2009

H1NI found in SE Iowa

Two probable cases of swine flu have been discovered in Southeast in Des Moines County and one in Clinton County. Washington County Public Health Administrator Edie Nebel says her agency and counterpart agencies across the state have a plan to deal with such a situation. Nebel says that might include identifying people with the virus, and determining where and how they contracted it. Governor Chet Culver tells the Des Moines Register. tests will be done today to determine if the cases are in fact the HINI virus. He says if that's the case, he will declare a public health disaster.

Schmitz looks back on '09 legislative session

Despite the volatile economy, Iowa lawmakers this session were able to balance the budget and put 400-million dollars in the state's rainy day fund. Fairfield State Senator Becky Schmitz says one area she was glad they were able to sustain, is education. Schmitz says she's disappointed they weren't able to do more for mental health funding. She says Iowa has had a hard time providing funding and keeping mental health professionals in the state. Schmitz says one of her personal goals was to provide some sort of health insurance for mental illnesses.

Marek's take on legislative session

Mid Western states such as Iowa have been some what shielded from the recession, but have not been invincible. State Representative Larry Marek of Riverside says one item he was glad to see pass in the legislature was a bonding plan. Marek says federal stimulus money will help them leverage the more than 700-million dollars in bonds. One thing that disappoints Marek is the lack of funding for county secondary roads. He says the answer to the problem was a fuel tax, which was taken off of the table by the governor.

Same sex marriage issue mostly quiet

Throughout Iowa the different counties are having different reactions gay marriage. In Keokuk County, Recorder Melissa Bird, says they have had no problems. She says no one has protested or called her. Bird says she has received an online petition that many other recorders around the state have gotten. She says she has had a few calls asking for information on registering but can not divulge whether they were same sex couples or not. Bird says no matter what she will continue to do her job as mandated by the state.

Dust control deadline Today (4/30) is the deadline to obtain a dust control permit in Washington County. The cost for such a permit is $25, but will g

Dust control deadline
Today (4/30) is the deadline to obtain a dust control permit in Washington County. The cost for such a permit is $25, but will go up to $75 after today's deadline. Residents must keep their dust control locations marked with green flags provided by their contractor until November first. For more information visit

Financial seminar

Being a parent can be a difficult task during these tough economic times. Melissa Myers with West Chester Savings Bank is conducting a financial education seminar for Parents as Teachers this evening (4/30). The event is tonight from 6:30 to 7:30 at the Washington Presbyterian Church. To register contact Parents as Teachers at 653-7758.

Sheriff to use speed trailer

The Washington County Sheriffs office is going to be using their speed trailer again this year. Dunbar says with the computer up and running, they can record traffic count as well as speeds.He says this has been very useful and the information has been requested by several city councils as well as the county's secondary roads department. Dunbar says with this type of information, they can get an accurate count and speed of traffic on certain roads.He says the trailer will be put up in random spots through out Washington County.

Day camps

The Washington County Extension Office is having summer day camps this year. 4-H Youth Coordinator Kati Peiffer says this year's camps include Oceans of Fun. She says this is for youth who have completed kindergarten and first grade as of this June. She says the camp will explore water and ocean life. She says space is limited to 20 people. Visit the extension's website for more information and to get registered. Or call 319-653-4811

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Local vet: it's okay to eat pork

With swine flu in the news, a local veterinarian says its perfectly safe to eat pork. Doctor Terry Mangold, at Town and Country Vet Clinic, says people don't need to worry about catching swine flu by coming in contact with pigs either. Mangold says pork producers should watch their animals for symptoms of the disease which include heavy cough and pneumonia. He says swine flu is essentially a new strain of influenza that's mutated from other strains that effect humans, birds and swine.

WHS gets $50k grant

Washington High School is getting $50,000 in grant money for its engineering academy program. Principal Shane Ehresman says the money will be used to purchase equipment and software. He says engineering provides a multitude of important skills. The money is coming from the Iowa Community College System, the Iowa Department of Economic Development and the Kern Family Foundation.

Washington Police make burglary arrest

A 16 year is facing felony charges in connection with three burglaries in the city of Washington. Sergeant Sean Ellingson says they will file three counts of burglary and three counts of theft in connection with break ins at the Washington Junior High, Griggs Music Shop and Rider Sales. Ellingson says its difficult to put a dollar amount on all the items taken from the three locations, but feels all of them will fall under second degree theft which is between one and ten thousand dollars. He says computer items taken from the Junior High are valued at at least seven thousand dollars. He says there are other burglaries being investigated and anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Washington Police.

Bringing Washington Co's septic systems into compliance

About 2,500 homes in rural Washington County are using un-permitted septic systems. That's according to Environmental Health Administrator Jeff Thoman. He says discharging wastewater without the proper septic system in place can present a major health hazard. Thoman says there are grants and low interest loans available to help homeowners bring their septic systems up to date. To find out more contact the Washington County Department of Environmental Health.

Tracking stimulus money

Congressman Dave Loebsack launched a new Recovery Act map that charts where and how Recovery Act funds are being spent in the second district. According to a new report released by the US Government Accountability Office, Iowa intends to effectively and efficiently tracking the federal funds. Loebsack says Iowa is one of 16 states being monitored by the GAO on the implementation of the Act.He encourages people to review the Recovery Act Map, which is being updated as each new project is announced. Residents of the second district can visit Congressman Loebsacks website to see where Recovery Act dollars are being spent.

3 new events at Kalona Days

Kalona Days organizers have announced 3 new events for the early summer celebration. Kalona Days Director Dave Finley says the new events are nail driving contest which is a competition for the fastest time in driving 43 nails into a 4x 4 section of wood. Finley says there will also be a salsa judging as well as a watermelon seed spitting contest. The winners of each contest will receive various amounts of Kalona Kash. Kalona Days is sponsored by the Kalona Chamber of Commerce. For more information contact Dave Finley at (319)656-3535

Be safe this Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is next week and most people celebrate the weekend before. Deputy Caudel with the Louisa County Sheriff's office says in the past they have not had too much of a problem with people taking there parties to the streets. He says they wont be doing anything different this year. Caudel says if people plan to drink to always be responsible. He says have a designated driver with you or take a taxi. He says being safe can not only save your life but the lives of those around you.

Call before you dig

April is considered the beginning of construction season in the Midwest. Ben Booth, with Iowa One Call says something everyone from professional contractors to back yard handymen need to do, is call before they dig, to avoid impacting underground utilities. Booth says if you don't contact Iowa One Call 48 hours before digging, and disrupt a service, you can be held liable for it. He says their service is free and the best way to get a hold of them in Iowa is by dialing 8-1-1. For more information visit the Iowa One Call website.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

WPH monitoring for swine flu

A local health official says her department is monitoring reports on swine flu from state and federal agencies. Washington County Public Health Adminstrator Edie Nebel recommends, as with any influenza, frequent hand washing and covering your mouth when you cough. She also says if you do feel ill, to stay home. There have been no cases of swine flu reported in Washington County or Iowa.

Columbus Jct man home after Friday crash

A Columbus Junction man is back home after being hospitalized over the weekend following a car accident on the Highway 92 bridge over the Iowa River. University of Iowa Hospital officials say 50 year old Manuel Martinez was discharged, after being airlifted to their facility Friday. According to a report from the Iowa State Patrol, Martinez's vehicle smashed into a trailer being pulled by a tractor, driven by 27 year old Benjamin Lacina of West Branch. The report indicates Martinez's vehicle then collided with a pickup truck driven by 52 year old Peggy Griffin of Lets. Police say charges are pending.

Washington Recorder receives anti-gay marriage petition

At least 100 area residents believe the Washington County Recorder shouldn't issue same sex marriage licenses. That's how many signatures were on a series of petitions left at Connie Pence's office yesterday (4/27). Pence says things have been quiet despite the fact that yesterday was the first day that gay couples could obtain marriage licenses in Iowa. She says no one came in to apply for such a license, and there have been no protesters. Pence has previously said she will issue same sex marriage licenses to those who seek them, in accordance with the law.

Mostly quiet on first day of gay marriage

The Louisa County Recorder says things were quiet yesterday, despite it being the first day that recorders could issue same sex marriage licenses. Recorder Leanne Black says she's heard of problems in other areas. Black says if any couple wishes to obtain a marriage license, she will do her job. She says they don't have any hard copies of the licenses, but do have digital copes ready to print out. Black says she has yet to see the first same sex marriage license request.

Pure Water for All

More than 20 people were on hand at the Halcyon House yesterday to hear about the Pure Water for All Foundation from John and Mary Jo Hays. The Washington couple formed the non profit organization in 2005. Mary Jo says its rewarding to bring safe water to underdeveloped parts of the world. If you'd like to get involved, contact John and Mary Jo Hays. Monetary donations can be sent to the Pure Water for All Foundation, at 403 West Main Street in Washington.

Kalona Quilt Show

The Kalona Quilt Show brought thousands of people to the community over the weekend. Katie Karnes with the Wooden Wheel in Kalona says they had over 1000 people visit the quilt show. She says people come from all over to view the quilts, including Texas, California and Utah. Two-thirds of the quilts on display were new, meaning they haven't been part of the show before, and the rest are antique quilts. Karnes says all in all it was a good 3 day event with the weather steady and many nice people enjoying not only the quilts but Kalona as well.

Kalona Arabic program grant runs out

The Kalona Elementary Arabic Program federal Grant is running out. Zahra Alattar is the Arabic Teacher and says that this year will be the last for the program. She says the students have been learning more than just a language. She says it teaches students to open their minds to other cultures in the world and to look at things a different way. Alattar is hopeful the district can find an alternative funding source.

Early childhood

A traumatic event can impact a child for the rest of their life. Likewise, healthy activities can have a positive effect. Shalon Hoyle, with the YMCA of Washington's early childhood program, says having kids just play together can be significant. Hoyle says they one of their biggest goals is to have preschoolers learn how to interact socially with their peers, so they are more comfortable when they get to kindergarten.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Schmitz on legislative session

The Iowa Legislature wrapped up their session this weekend. Fairfield Senator Becky Schmitz says every aspect of this session was affected by the deepening national recession. She says Iowa's revenue was cut short, while their was a sharper demand for state services. Schmitz says this session was historic, because they are still in the process of trying to help areas that were impacted by last year's floods. The Fairfield Democrat says she's pleased that the legislature approved items such as the alternative energy plan, and offering health insurance to 30-thousand people without coverage.

Dunbar happy with new sex offender law

Washington County's Sheriff says he's pleased with legislation that will modify Iowa's sex offender laws. Jerry Dunbar says the previous law, which didn't allow sex offenders to live within two thousand feet of an area where children were likely to be, was difficult to enforce. Dunbar says the new law creates "exclusion zones," which are areas where sex offenders are not allowed to be. They include places like playgrounds, schools or daycares.

Washington BOS

Economic development and environmental health are on the Washington County Board of Supervisor's plate this week. They'll hear a report from Washington County Environmental Health Department and the Washington Economic Development Group at tomorrow's meeting. They'll also consider approving a fireworks permit and make an appointment to the Washington Library Board. The meeting begins at 9:30 tomorrow morning at the Washington County Courthouse.

WCHC Board

The Washington County Hospital and Clinics Board will be discussing an identity theft prevention program at this week's meeting. They'll also hear a financial report, and consider a new bathing system and digital mammography. Board members will also hear about annual performance improvements. There will be a closed session to discuss either patient improvement initiatives, or marketing or pricing strategies. There will be a second closed session to consider personnel issues. The meeting is this Wednesday at 4:00 pm in the Robert Nicola Conference Room.

Small Business Network

The Keokuk County Small Business Network Program is tomorrow evening. The seminar will feature Healing Arts Massage owner Gini Garrett and Sigourney School Superintendent Todd Abrahmson, who will discuss the school's E Seal Program. They'll also be discussing location and timing and how it's factored into business decisions. The event is tomorrow evening at the Sigourney Pizza Ranch. To find out more contact the Keokuk County Extension office.

Kalona Sidewalk Sale

The Kalona Chamber of Commerce is promoting shopping locally. Larry Moehler, Chamber President says at the last chamber meeting there were discussing having a Sidewalk Sale and have decided to hold the event today. Moehler says they have also submitted an application for a grant from The Riverboat Foundation to start advertising Kalona and promote tourism.

A spring time delicacy

While wet weather might not be needed by local farmers, heavy rainfall combined with warm temperatures is conducive to fungi. In the Midwest that means Morel Mushroom hunting. Steve Anderson with Washington County's Conservation Board, says dead elm trees are a good place to look.He says Washington County has a wide array of public land for people to mushroom hunt on. Anderson says what's really special about Morels, is how little scientists know about how, or why they grow where they do.

WCHC Board

The Washington County Hospital and Clinics Board will be discussing an identity theft prevention program at this weeks meeting. They'll also hear a financial report, and consider a new bathing system and digital mammography. Board members will also hear about annual performance improvements. There will be a closed session to discuss either patient improvement initiatives, or marketing or pricing strategies. There will be a second closed session to consider personnel issues. The meeting is this Wednesday at 4:00 pm in the Robert Nicola Conference Room.

MP Student visits Grassley

Mid Prairie High School student recently had a chance to see an Iowa lawmaker in his natural element. Kyle Fischer visited Washington D-C, and visited with Senator Chuck Grassley. Grassley says he enjoyed meeting Fischer, and hearing his views on federal legislation. Fischer is a junior at Mid Prairie and was at the Capital during the National Youth Leadership Conference. The organization also toured historic landmarks. A photo of Kyle Fischer and Senator Grassley can be seen on our website, at

Omlet Breakfast

On Saturday, May 2 the Kalona Rotary will be hosting their annual omelet breakfast fundraiser at the Kalona Methodist Church from 6:30 11:00 a.m. All proceeds from the breakfast will go towards the Kalona Elementary playground improvement project. This is the second year with them sponsoring the playground. Stop in and have an omelet to help support the Rotary and the playground

Blood Drive

This years MPHS blood drive will be held on May 1st. School Councilor Sarah Kos says Students, faculty, staff, and community members are encouraged to sign up with our student representative this week. She says the blood drive is being sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center. Anyone who is interested in donating blood is encouraged to attend. She says you do not have to be a student of have a student that attends Mid Prairie to donate. For questions or to set up a time to donate call the Mid Prairie High School.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

1 airlifted after Columbus Jct crash

A Columbus Junction man was airlifted to the University of Iowa Hospital after a traffic accident on the Highway 92 bridge over the Iowa River last night. According to a report from the Iowa State Patrol, 50 year old Manuel Martinez was taken by Air Care after his vehicle smashed into a trailer being pulled by a tractor, driven by 27 year old Benjamin Lacina of West Branch. The report indicates Martinez's vehicle then collided with pickup truck driven by 52 year old Peggy Griffin of Lets. Police say charges are pending.

April Showers...and thunderstorms

Scattered thunderstorms are expected through out the rest of the weekend. The National Weather Service says a few of those could become severe, bringing hail, and high winds. NWS says the greatest threat for severe weather is between 2 and 8 pm, with the threat diminishing after sunset. Round two will roll into the area tomorrow afternoon and evening. There is the potential for large hail and more damaging winds. The National Weather Service says isolated tornadoes are possible with this type of activity. Two to four inches of rainfall are possible by late Monday. In case of severe weather, stay tuned to KCII for Severe Weather Action Team Coverage.

Washington couple on a clean water mission

Water is essential to life as we know it. Yet, there are those on the planet who don't have access to a safe supply of it. Since 2005, John and Mary Jo Hays of Washington have made it their goal to change that through the Pure Water For All Foundation. John Hays says he's seen instances, where children had to drink water used to wash clothing. John Hays and his Wife Mary Jo will share their experiences this Monday (4/27) morning at 10:00 at the Halcyon House. It's free and open to the public.

Financial fair next month

The recession has impacted everything from Wall Street to main street, and many are searching for answers to financial problems. Washington State Bank will be having a financial fair to address some of those problems. WSB loan officer Brandon Long says the economic turmoil felt by larger financial institutions, hasn't effected smaller banks such has his. He says the financial fair will feature WSB Vice President Sue Basten. She'll share strategies for a volatile market and her thoughts on the future of the banking industry. The fair is Tuesday May 5. Visit the bank's website for details.

Iowa's air

Iowa got a B on the clean air section of the first ever state department of natural resources environmental report card. Dennis Ostwinkle, with DNR's region 6 in Southeast Iowa, says Muscatine and Scott County have been put on a federal watch list for exceeding allowable air pollution standards. Ostwinkle says this can cause problems for people who are asthmatic. He says burning trash is another air quality concern. Ostwinkle says it's an illegal practice, but many do it anyway. To find out more about local air quality, visit the DNR website.

MP students at tech fair

The Mid Prairie High School Tech Club had a great showing at the ITEC Technology Fair this month in Cedar Rapids. Jordan Adam, Barry Schintler and Cody Michel received a red ribbon for their Pivot animation project. Alex Thurman and Gabe Yoder received a blue ribbon for their Focus Fairy video on safe driving for teens. Josu Rivera earned a blue ribbon for his baseball-playing robot, and Chase Cady earned a blue ribbon and a 1st place purple ribbon for his Guitar Hero playing robot. Cady was also invited to present at the ITEC Regional Conference in the fall.

Lake Belva Deer

Lake Darling will still be dry until next year, which could drive up attendance at other local lakes. Keokuk County Conservation Board Executive Director Dave Long isn't expecting an influx. He says they are taking reservations for their cabins, but the campsites are on a first come first serve basis. He says they will open the beach in early May.

WCHC Volunteers

More than 70 Washington County Hospital and Clinics volunteers were honored at a luncheon at Cafe Dodici this week, in honor of National Volunteer Week. WCHC Foundation Director Kathleen Brinning says the hospital has more than 100 people who offer up their time. She says volunteers are crucial to the survival of any hospital. She says it doesn't require a huge time commitment. Brinning says since they are open all the time, they can find a schedule to fit almost anyone. For more information about volunteering call 319-863-3920

Onesies for SIDS

Washington's Noon Kiwanis recently donated onesies to Washington County Hospital and Clinics' Obstetrics department. These weren't your normal infant apparel. The onesies are designed to bring awarness to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. They read "Fragile, This Side Up." on the front, and have the clubs name and logo on the back. Experts are unaware of a specific cause for SIDS, but believe its safer for babies to sleep on their backs. Other Kiwanis clubs in Iowa have made similar donations.

Friday, April 24, 2009

More spring like weather expected

Fog and heavy rainfall are expected in Washington County and much of Southeast Iowa today. A dense fog advisory remains in effect until 10:00 this morning. This means visibilities will be reduced to less than one quarter of a mile. If driving, slow down, and leave plenty of distance ahead of you. The National Weather Service expects thunderstorms to roll into the area this evening. In the event of severe weather, stay tuned to KCII for Severe Weather Action Team coverage.

IDNR Report

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources released its first ever environmental report card this week addressing issues such as water quality, wildlife and air pollution. Dennis Ostwinkle is Regional Superintendent for DNR's District 6, which covers southeast Iowa. He says water quality is a concern in this area. Ostwinkle says the city of Washington's waste water plant is one example of a situation they deal with. He says the plant is essentially too small for the community to grow any larger. He says there are sometimes run off issues when the area receives heavy rainfall. City officials have said they hope to start looking at bonds to build a new facility this year.

Washington civic groups recognized

Washington service organizations were honored yesterday for organizing blood drives during a ceremony at the UP Church. Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center Donor Resources Director Amanda Hess says a blood drive in Washington, usually brings in about 100 units. She says that's an a excellent showing for a community this size. Hess says only five percent of Americans are eligible to give blood, but one in five people entering U.S. hospitals need it. Washington Mayor Sandra Johnson received the humanitarian award on behalf of the city's civic groups. She says they'll find a special spot in city hall for it to be displayed.

Columbus Jct moving forward with levy

Raising Columbus Junction's levy has become a team effort. Federal, state and local officials have been enlisted to asses the project and its costs. Columbus Junction city council member Harold Prior says they hope to lessen the roughly $600,000 price tag by using local soil. One snag in the process is the impact it might have on local wildlife. The Army Corp of Engineers requires a wetland charting, which could take several weeks. A review of the charting by the Corp of Engineers might not be completed until late this summer.

Special Columbus Jct Farmer's Market

The City of Columbus Junction is having a special Farmers Market today. Mallory Smith with the Columbus Junction Community Development Center says this market will feature bedding plants, baked goods and some fresh produce. She says In case of rain the market will be held inside. The market will run from 4:30 to 6:30pm at the American Legion parking lot, 22 Second St., in Columbus Junction. The regular Columbus Junction farmer's market season begins May 15 and runs until October 9th.

Kalona Rotary helping playground

On Saturday, May 2 the Kalona Rotary will be hosting their annual omelet breakfast fundraiser at the Kalona Methodist Church from 6:30 11:00 a.m. Jan Knebel, Kalona Elementary Playground Improvement Committee Chairperson says all the proceeds from the breakfast will go towards the Kalona Elementary playground improvement project. She says this is the second year the Kalona Rotary will be helping with the project.

4-H Pancake Breakfast successful

Nearly 400 people came to the Washington County 4-H's pancake breakfast fundraiser over the weekend. Youth Coordinator Katie Peiffer says money raised from the event will help improve the Washington County Fairgrounds. She says that includes new non livestock project displays and a livestock barn with a small show ring included.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Washington Schools to receive $180k in stimulus money

The Washington Community School District is receiving more than 180-thousand dollars in federal economic stimulus money. That's according to an estimate released yesterday by the Iowa Department of Education. The money is intended to create and retain jobs, improve student achievement and ensure transparency. IDE Director Judy Jeffery says. The success of the education portion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will depend on the shared commitment of school officials, parents and students. She says during this time of great opportunity, they must be responsible, in their actions, wise in their decisions and clear in their intentions.

Financial Literacy

April is Financial Literacy Month, and you don't have to be a Wall Street Banker to participate. Anne Black with Iowa AARP says there a simple things you can do to review your finances, and make better decisions. Black says there are a whole host of resources to help consumers spend smarter. She says that includes the AARP, ISU Extensions and local banks. To find out more visit the AARP's website.

Video game addiction like any other

A recent study by Iowa State University shows eight-and-a-half percent of kids surveyed are addicted to video games. The researcher used the same model for evaluating gambling addictions. Steve Stine, with MECA in Iowa City says what someone is addicted to isn't as important as why. Stine says addiction is a way people deal with other emotional issues. He says to truly treat the addiction, you have to uproot their underlying problems. Stine says he's heard of an instance where a young man played video games for 27 hours straight without eating or sleeping. He says that's similar to what some drug addicts go through.

Health clinic changes

The Washington County Public Health Immunization Clinic scheduled for today has been changed. Brenda Slabaugh, Office Manager & Immunization Clerk with the Washington County Public Health & Home Care says it is normally held at the Kalona Community Center. She says the clinic will instead be held in the basement community room of the Freedom Security Bank, 402 B Avenue, Kalona, from 10 to 11 a.m. She says if there are any question to call 319-653-7758

ACS recognizes volunteers

In celebration of the 36th annual National Volunteer Week, the American Cancer Society recognizes and celebrates the efforts of its more than three million volunteers nationwide who are making a difference for people facing cancer every day. Kierstan Peck with the American Cancer Society, says in Louisa County more than 30 volunteers give their time and talent to fight back against the disease. She also says as we recognize this special week, she wants to thank each of the volunteers in Louisa County for dedicating their time and energy to their cancer-fighting mission. She says volunteers impact the community in ways that could not be done without their personal commitment.

1st ever Miss Latina Washington

The first ever Miss Latina Washington will be this weekend. Planning committee member Carlos Rich says it will be similar to a Miss USA event. He hopes Miss Latina Washington will serve as an bridge building opportunity. Rich says Miss Latina contestants are high school students from Washington, and will be judged in a variety of categories. The event is this Saturday (4/25) evening at eight in the Knights of Columbus Hall and Event Center. The public is invited. There is an admission charge.

MP ranks high in placement

Mid Prairie ranks high in advanced placement. High School principal Gerry Beeler told the M-P School Board that the High School ranked 7th in the state in Advance Placement program. Beeler said this is the third straight year that Mid Prairie has ranked in the top 10 in AP rankings. Superintendent Mark Schneider said the next board meeting will be on May 11 at 7 p.m. at the Alternative Learning Center in the Wellman Community Building. Reports will include at risk program and the math program. The board will also act on a 28E agreement concerning sharing the business manager with Keota. Schneider said he hopes to have an assistant business manager in place by July 2 to work with Doug Slaubaugh who plans to retire at end of this year.

1 hospitalized after Ainsworth crash

A 48 year old Winfield man was hospitalized briefly Tuesday after a traffic accident in Ainsworth. According to a report from the Iowa State Patrol, Kenneth Hunt was transported by ambulance to Washington County Hospital and Clinics after his vehicle collided with another car at the four corners interchange. Police say Hunt was treated at the hospital and released. The driver of the other vehicle, 72 year old Kenneth McNeill of New London, was cited for failure to yield.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Washington Safety Center becomes Comm Center

The Washington County Safety Center is expanding, and getting a new name...sort of. Right now the emergency communications department is the only agency occupying the old sheriff's building, and there using only a fraction of the space. The board of supervisors yesterday approved allowing them to utilize other parts of the building and changing the name to the communications center. Supervisors say they are between a rock and a hard place because it seems wasteful to not use the space, but would cost too much to renovate. They also say it is too risky to interrupt 911 service with any major renovations.

Washington recorder will issue same sex marriage licenses

The first same sex marriage licenses can be issued next week in Iowa. Some groups opposed to gay marriage are offering to pay county recorders' legal expenses if they refuse to issue the licenses. Washington County Recorder Connie Pence says she's received no such offer, and will issue the the licenses, as required by law. Pence says they are still waiting on new forms that don't include the words bride and groom, but instead party A and party B. She says the appropriate paperwork for same sex marriage licenses are supposed to be at her office by Monday. 

Washington Farmer's Market

This spring's cold and wet weather is putting a damper on local gardening. Washington Farmer's Market Master Bob Shepherd says the selection at this year's first farmer's market could be a little slim. Shepherd expects a good showing of early spring produce. He says there's always a good selection of baked goods that aren't dependent on the weather. The first Washington Farmer's Market will be Thursday May 14 in Central Park.

Washington Recycling

Today is Earth Day. Some will plant a tree, others might try to conserve energy. Washington County Supervisor Jim Rosien says local residents need to keep recycling in mind. He says the materials the county collects aren't worth as much as they used to be, but its better to recycle rather than see trash accumulate in road ditches, or in a landfill. He urges anyone with recycling questions to contact the Washington Recycling Facility at 653-6373.

Wellman water system on schedule

The Wellman Water system is getting an upgrade. Wellman City Administrator Dave Ross says everything is going well and they are on schedule to have the new reverse osmosis system put in place. Ross says the contractor expects to have the new system up and running by this time next year.

Wellman city clean up

The City of Wellman will be holding their city wide clean up the second weekend of May. City Clerk Donna Wade says they are getting volunteers to man the collection site. Wade says residents still need to buy a ticket for 5 dollars and then they can take all the trash they want to the collection site. Again the clean up days will be Friday and Saturday May 8th and 9th in Wellman, for more information or to purchase a ticket contact the Wellman City Hall.

Avoiding scams

Avoiding online scams seems to be getting more difficult. Con artists are becoming more sophisticated, and technology makes it easier for them to be convincing. Bob Brammer, with the Iowa Attorney General's Office, says its best to err on the side of caution. Brammer says its best to never give out personal information such as social security or bank account numbers over the phone, or internet. He says if you feel you've been the victim of a scam, to contact his office.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Scam Alert

KCII has received a tip about an internet scam targeting Iowans. A company calling itself WA Surveys out of Seattle is circulating Mystery Shopper emails to try to get people to shop at various locations, and write a report on the business' performance. They are playing on the name of the Secret Shopper program which is legitimate. The company tries to get people to establish a Citi Bank account so they can deposit payments. They ask the the victim to conduct these Mystery Shopping trips out of pocket and say they'll reimburse them through the Citi Bank account. The reason WA surveys is targeting Iowans, is because there is no Citi Bank branch in the state. If you feel you have been the victim of a scam, contact your financial institution and your local law enforcement agency.

Kalona Council welcomes new member

The Kalona City Council lost a member but gained a new one. Aaron Kos resigned from the Kalona City Council because he and his family are moving outside of the city limits. Kalona Mayor Jerry Kauffman says he will be missed and he enjoyed the assets Kos brought to the table. 47 year old David Kempf has been named to replace Kos on the city council. Kempf's appointment to the council was unanimously approved. Kempf is a Mid Prairie graduate and has lived in Kalona most of his life.

Flags at half staff today

Flags at government buildings will be at half staff today to honor a fallen Iowa soldier. 20 year old Cpl. Jason Pautsch of Davenport was among five Americans killed last week during an attack on a police headquarters building in Iraq. Governor Chet Culver has ordered the flags to be flown at half staff. It applies to both U-S and state flags. Businesses and residents who display flags are also encouraged to participate.

Work on Water Tower Park to begin

Washington's Water Tower Park is undergoing some changes. The city council recently approved using fill dirt to level off the southeast corner of the property. Parks Superintendent Tim Widmer says its hoped that they will eventually put a soccer field there. There was some resistance to the proposal from city councilman Bob Shepherd. He says a plan for that park has already been developed. Council members have only approved leveling the southeast east corner of the property. What it will become is still unclear. Most seemed to agree that Washington needs more green space.

BOS Preview

Three Washington County agencies will present their quarterly reports at this mornings board of supervisors meeting. Reports from the sheriff, auditor and recorder are the first three items on the agenda. Supervisors will also discuss office space at the safety center, as well as operational expense allocation. The meeting begins at 9:30 in the lower level of the Washington County Courthouse.

Volunteer Week

In addition to being National Volunteer Week, this is also Volunteer Week in the City of Washington. Mayor Sandra Johnson made the proclamation at the last city council meeting. She says volunteerism is vital to any community. Johnson says Washington has wonderful volunteers. This Thursday local service organizations will be presented with an award from America's Blood Centers for spearheading blood drives. Johnson says they had a great turnout for the volunteers city clean up as well.

1st Spring Preview Show a Success

Washington County 4-H County Council sponsored the 1st annual Washington County Spring Preview Cattle Show on Saturday, April 18th. The show was an IJBBA sanctioned show, held at the Washington County Fairgrounds. 105 youth from across the state exhibited cattle.Kati Peiffer,4-H/Youth Coordinator, says reserve champion breeding heifer went to Elley Neuzil of Ainsworth. $150 in prize money was sponsored by the Riverside Ramblers 4-H Club. She says the event was a huge success with plans underway for next year. She says a large group of volunteers made the show possible.

Kalona Days still seeking food vendors

Kalona Days director, Dave Finley is still seeking more food booth vendors to fill out the June 19 20 event. He says they still have a few prime spots in the food court. It is a great opportunity for individuals, groups, clubs and churches to make a good profit over the two day event. Finley says fees are only $50 which covers both days. He says this is a fraction of what other similar events charge. The fees help defray the costs of Kalona Days which is presented by the Kalona Chamber of Commerce. For information or vendor applications call (319)656-3535 at the Kalona General Store.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Strong feelings on gay marriage

For it, or against it...almost everyone who attended a legislative briefing in Washington over the weekend had something to say about gay marriage. State Representative Larry Marek, and Senator Becky Schmitz say it's an extremely complicated issue. Marek and Schmitz point out that the legislature does not have the authority to reverse a state supreme court decision. They say the most viable solution for those opposed to gay marriage, is a constitutional amendment. Iowa could have a constitutional convention next year if voters so choose.

Mid income tax break could entice business

A measure that would give middle income Iowans a tax break, but take away the ability to claim federal taxes as a deduction at the state level could draw more business to the state. That news from State Senator Becky Schmitz, who was in Washington Saturday for a legislative briefing. Schmitz, alongside Representative Larry Marek, say the measure would mean a savings for about three-quarters of Iowa's population. Marek says Iowa is one of only a few states left that allow federal deductibility.

Main Street Washington brings home three awards

Washington's Main Street program took home three statewide awards Friday. Main Street Iowa recognized them for the annual SNOW holiday event, Creating unique notebooks to help volunteers and the renovation of the Bryson building on the downtown square. Washington Main Street Director Amy Vetter says she was excited to hear about the awards, and is looking forward to continuing the organization's mission.

State Main Street Director pleased with Washington's first year

The city of Washington joined the Main Street program last year, and the head of Iowa's Main Street organization says it's been a good year for them. State coordinator Jane Seaton says she's been impressed by what's happened so far. Seaton says she looks for wonderful things to continue to come from Main Street Washington. Seaton offered her comments during a statewide awards banquet on Friday.

1st ever Demon Dash for Cash

Close to two-hundred people came out to run in the first ever Demon Dash for Cash in Washington Saturday. The 5K walk or run was a fundraiser for Washington Schools. School Board President Eric Turner says proceeds will help purchase new books for Lincoln, Stewart, the junior high and high school. Organizer Terri Hartzler says it was designed to be a community exercise, in more ways than one. She says they hope to make it an annual event.

Kalona Council meeting

A regular meeting of the Kalona City Council will be tonight at the Kalona Library meeting room at 7:30. The Council will consider street repairs of 2nd Street and 3rd Street South of J Avenue for Chip Seal Coat Repair of $8,375 and Asphalt Paving of $56,970. The Council will also hear from Don Yoder and Phil Ropp in regards to Kalona Valley Apartments and discussion of Solid Waste Ordinance. Again the meeting is tonight at the Kalona Library meeting room at 7:30.

Local artists displays work

Local Artist Paulette Buckingham will be offering art composition and interpretation programs at the Kalona Public Library for adults and children. Youth Services Librarian Marissa Tartaglia says the Adult Program will be held Monday, April 27th from 7-8PM and will focus on identifying the elements of a work and how those elements determine its quality. The Childrens Program will be held on April 30th from 1:30-2:30pm in the Velma Skola Program Room. The Childrens Program will include a hands-on art activity. . For more information, please contact the youth services librarian at 319-656-3501

Wellman garage sale

The Wellman City wide garage sale will be held in just a few short weeks. The garage sale will be held Saturday, May 2nd from 8 a.m. to Noon and maps will be available at Wellman businesses starting April 30th. They will available at Casey's, Freeman Foods, Reggie Tire and Federation Bank. More information will be available when it gets closer to the event.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Spring Cleanup

All items for Washington's city wide clean up need to be out at the curb by no later than 6:00 am tomorrow. Mayor Sandra Johnson says this is not an amnesty period for regular garbage. She says residents will still need to purchase stickers to have it hauled away. She says they will not be taking hazardous materials such as household chemicals, paint or pesticides. She says they will also not accept electronics such as computers and televisions. Such items can be disposed of at the recycling center for a fee. For full details on the city wide cleanup visit our website at

Legislative Briefing

Between 30 and 40 people came to the Washington County Courthouse yesterday to hear comments from State Senator Becky Schmitz, and Representative Larry Marek. Gay marriage, the middle income tax break and economic stimulus money were some of the most frequented topics. There was also a group of students from the Maharishi University of Management in attendance. They say they want to see the legislature support more sustainable farming methods. The briefing was sponsored by the Washington Chamber of Commerce.

Exchange Students

Want to open your home to an exchange student or do you know someone who would? Marcia Miller with the Lower Deer Creek Church in Kalona says Iowa Resource for International Service is looking for host families for their exchange program. She says students are English-speaking high school juniors from Nigeria and Tanzania. IRIS works through the Youth Exchange and Study program funded by the State Department. If you have any questions or would like some more information, please contact IRIS directly at 515-292-7103 or check the website at

Local Artist

Local Artist Paulette Buckingham will be offering Art Composition and Interpretation programs at the Kalona Public Library for adults and children. Youth Services Librarian Marissa Tartaglia says the Adult Program will be held Monday, April 27th from 7-8PM and will focus on identifying the elements of a work and how those elements determine its quality. The Childrens Program will be held on April 30th from 1:30-2:30pm in the Velma Skola Program Room. The Childrens Program will include a hands-on art activity. . For more information, please contact Youth Services Librarian Marissa at 319-656-3501.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Legislative Day

State Senator Becky Schmitz, and Representative Larry Marek Will be in Washington today for the chamber of commerce's fourth legislative briefing. The two will field questions at the courthouse from 10 until noon. Tune in to KCII this afternoon at 1pm when we'll rebroadcast the event during a special edition news magazine. It will also be available at our website

Ridiculous Day

The annual Washington Ridiculous Day festivities will proceed this year whether or not construction in the downtown area is complete by this June. Amy Vetter, with Main Street, says Washington has the oldest Ridiculous Day Celebration in Iowa. Vetter says this year's festivities will include a singing contest, a pigtail contest and a cutie-pie contest. There was concern that the event would conflict with construction on the new library, Vetter presented an alternate plan to the city council this week to be used if that is the case. This will be the 69th annual Washington Ridiculous Day. It will be held June 6.

Share Iowa

In tough economic times, many people look for ways to trim their budgets. There's a program in Iowa known as Share. It's designed to help consumers save on food purchases. The group's Becky Newman stresses that this is not a handout. Share works like a food cooperative in that they buy their items in bulk. The difference is that they ask participants to complete two hours of community service, and share their time and talents to be a part of the food program. Share operates an office in Washington. To find out more call 1-800-344-1107.

Blood Award

Washington service organizations will be recognized for organizing and hosting blood drives this Thursday. Washington received a national award from America's Blood Centers. Chris Ciasto with the Mississippi Regional Valley Blood Center says it's remarkable, considering they were up against large corporate entities like Toyota. Ciasto and other representatives of the MVRBC will be in Washington this Thursday to hand the award off to the local service organizations during a blood drive at the U.P. Church.

Learn Sign Language

Three students from the University of Iowa will be offering an introductory sign language program at the Kalona Public Library on Friday, April 24th from 3:30-4:30PM. Youth Services Librarian Marissa Tartaglia says the program will focus on learning signing games and basic signs. They will also be taking suggestions from the participants regarding which signs they would like to learn. Tartaglia says no prior knowledge of sign language is necessary. This program is free of charge; no registration is necessary. For more information, please contact the library at 319-656-3501.

Tree Beautification

The Washington Tree Beautification Committee will have its annual tree giveaway and target street planting next Saturday. Committee member Linda Embree says they have variety of species up for grabs this year. Embree says they are also looking for volunteers as well. This year the organization's target street is South Marion. Embree says they will plant between 40 and 50 trees. To find out more contact Washington City Hall, or a Tree Beautification Committee member.

Quality Assurance Trust Fund

This week, the Iowa Senate voted to draw down millions in federal dollars to improve quality of care for nursing home residents and increase the pay of direct care workers. Senator Becky Schmitz says Senate File 476 creates a Quality Assurance Assessment Program, which will collect a fee from Iowa nursing homes. The new revenue would go into a Quality Assurance Trust Fund to draw down almost $40 million in matching federal dollars. The nursing homes in the area that will benefit are Halcyon House, Parkview Manor, Pleasantview Home, United Presbyterian Home and Washington Care Center.

National Minority Cancer Awareness Week

The American Cancer Society reports encouraging news in Cancer Facts & Figures for African Americans 2009-2010. Kierstan Peck, Community Relations with the American Cancer Society says African Americans are continuing to experience lower death rates from cancer. She says in honor of National Minority Cancer Awareness Week, April 19-25; take a few moments to talk to your friends and family members about what they can do to take charge of their health to reduce their cancer risk. Peck says nearly 50 percent of all cancer deaths might be prevented if we stopped smoking or using tobacco products, maintained a healthy weight by eating right and getting regular exercise, and got the recommended cancer screening tests. For more information call 1-800-227-2345 or visit

Friday, April 17, 2009

Washington hotel tax considered

Should the city of Washington have a hotel tax? Local tourism officials say yes, but hotel owners say no. Tim Coffee, with the chamber of commerce says its not actually a tax on the hotel owners, or Washington residents. Hawkeye Motel Owner Gordon Olberding says this is not a good time to be considering such a tax. He also says there's no plan for what the money would be spent on. Olberding and other local hotel owners came to this week's city council meeting to express opposition to a measure that would put the tax on the ballot for voters to decide on. They say Washington isn't a tourist attraction, and most of their business comes from people coming to the area to work. The council tabled the measure.

MP Board approves pay hike

A 2.2% across the board pay hike for certified and non-certified staff in the Mid-Prairie Community School District was approved for the 2009-10 fiscal year by the M-P Board of Education Monday evening. Superintendent Mark Schneider says that the projected certified salaries, including benefits, would increase from $4,415,051 to $4,512,240, a hike of $97,189. Schneider says he estimated that the district would save about $51,000 in difference in salaries between long time employees who retired and their replacements.

F-16 symbolizes the near end of a generation

A U-S Military F-16 fighter jet passed over Washington at about noon yesterday as World War II veteran John Butler was laid rest in Elm Grove Cemetery. Mike Voght is curator of Iowa's Gold Star Military Museum in Fort Dodge. He says Butler is part of a rapidly disappearing generation. Voght says its important to maintain contact with our remaining World War II vets who are willing and able to share their stories. John Butler was 90 when he passed away. He was 23 years old during the attack on Pearl Harbor that thrust the United States into the conflict.

Auto body industry doing well

The Auto Body industry does not seem to be declining during this recession. Chris Swartzendruber, with C.S Auto body in Kalona, says he is seeing more and more people come in to get their car worked on, rather than just trading it in for a new vehicle. He says the Auto Body Industry is not recession proof, but it is in no danger of collapsing. Swartzendruber says in most cases it will cost less to fix a vehicle rather than add a new set of payments onto a new vehicle. He says if a vehicle is treated well it can last a decade or more. 

Much Ado About Nothing

This evening is opening night for the Washington High School Drama Department's Spring production. Actor Ben Tebockhorst says even though "Much Ado About Nothing" is a Shakespearian piece, it provides plenty of opportunity for some laughs. Tebockhorst is playing the lead male role, alongside leading lady Regan Loula. They say the play is about their characters being adverse romance, while their friends try to get the pair to fall in love. Doors open at the Washington Community Center this evening at 7:30. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for students.

Bittersweet day for WHS Physics teams

Washington High School students were unsuccessful in their bid to bring home a first place team trophy from the Iowa Physics Olympics in Des Moines yesterday. They did capture first place in the water heater competition. Team member Caleb Boyd says they used a bicycle to turn a pulley inside of a thermos of water. He says the pulley had an abrasive brush attached to it that caused friction on the side of the thermos, and heated the water to 125 degrees Fahrenheit. 

'08 floods highlight wetland's importance

Earth Day is this Wednesday and the naturalist at the Washington County Conservation board says it's important to keep Iowa's wetlands in mind. Pam Holz says Iowa has lost 90-percent of its wetlands, and last year's flooding was a stern reminder. Holz says they will have an Earth Day scavenger hunt tomorrow (4/18) afternoon from 1:00 to 3:00 at Marr Park for families to learn about Iowa's native wetlands. In case of inclement weather, there will be nature bingo inside the conservation center building. For more information contact the conservation board at 319-657-2400. 

Lake Belvedere Booked

With the spring here, the park attendants in Lake Belvedere are looking back on the winter. Dave Long, Executive Director with Keokuk County Conservation, says the winter season went extremely well. Long says they are not taking any reservations for camping this year because they are completely booked through the fall, he says it wont hurt to call and make sure if a weekend you like is available because due to a cancellation.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Qwest gives WHS $16,000

Washington High School is getting $16,000 from the Qwest Teacher's and Technology grant program. Math teacher Tom Langr is one teacher who's classroom will benefit from the grant. He says it will help them purchase graphing calculators, which are invaluable in today's changing world. The money will also help purchase computer interface technology for use in science and math classes. Representatives from Qwest and the Iowa School Boards Foundation were on hand yesterday to present a check to the school during an assembly.

Washington Council tables liquor request

Whether or not a Washington restaurant can serve alcohol in a sidewalk cafe setting is still up in the air. City council members decided to table the request from Cafe Dodici for a third time at last night's meeting. Councilor Fred Stark says they need some time to look at other communities' ordinances. Stark says the nearby cities of Fairfield and Mount Pleasant have such an ordinance. He describes gathering the information as a "monumental task" and is unsure of what the outcome might be. Some council members have expressed concern over what kind of precedent allowing the request might set. The issue is expected to come up at the next meeting.

General Assistance requests down in Washington Co.

Fewer people requested Washington County General Assistance this quarter, versus last. G-A Director Sue Rich says that saved them about $500. She says warmer weather could be one reason for the decline. During the last quarter, Washington County General Assistance spent more $2,000. During this most recent quarter they spent a little more than $1,600.

State budget's local impact

With the legislature talking about the state budget, many people are wondering how that will affect there home town. Jerry Kauffman, Kalona Mayor says the state is trying to save as much money as possible. Kauffman says even though they might not receive state money, Kalona is doing o-k and he is no fear of Kalona being in any financial danger.

WHS Physics team state bound

Physics students at Washington High School head to Des Moines today to compete in statewide competition at Drake University. WHS students finished in the top two spots in six categories this month during the district physics contest. Teacher Jeff Richard (Ri-shard) says teaching science content is becoming increasingly important. Richard says its promising to see young women becoming more interested in science. He says engineers are in need of more women, in the typically male dominated profession, to provide a different view point. Richard also says the public is invited to attend the physics contest today at Drake.

Alliant urges electrical safety during planting season

With spring field work is in full swing for Midwestern farmers. Dave Koch with Interstate Power and Light Company, wants to remind rural customers to work safely and be aware of overhead power lines when operating heavy machinery, large sprayers, or using ladders. He says high-voltage power lines are not insulated and pose a significant risk for electrocution on farms. Electrocution can occur when objects and people are moving and come in contact with the overhead power lines. Koch says electrical currents can also arc to a conductive material near a power line without actually touching it, so its important to always maintain a clearance of at least 10 feet. Following basic farm safety rules can save lives and prevent injury. For more information about outdoor electrical safety, you can visit

Property tax credit forms available

Washington County property tax credit forms are now available. Treasurer Jeff Garret says property owners or renters that were either age 65, or declared totally disabled and whose household income was less than $20,031 as of the end of last year may be eligible for a property tax credit or rent reimbursement. Garret says mobile home owners that were age 23 at the end of last year whose total household income was less than $20,031 may also be eligible. Qualified persons are encouraged to pick up the appropriate forms at the County Treasurer's Property Tax Department at 222 West Main Street in Washington.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Local economist: recovery will be slow

A recent survey by Blue Chips Economic Indicators shows 86-percent of economists surveyed believe the economic downturn will end this year, but unemployment will continue to climb into next. Saul Mekies is a professor of economics at Kirkwood College. He says companies hurt by the recession won't soon forget. Mekies says the economy probably won't get any worse, but won't really start to improve until next year. He says so much of the country's financial infrastructure is based on confidence, which hasn't really come back yet. He points to recent comments by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke who says he's "fundamentally confident."

VA Grant discontinued

A state grant designed to help veterans who might not qualify for certain types of assistance is drying up. Sue Rich, with Washington County Veteran's Affairs, says that might not be a bad thing. She says instead of applying for the grant, each county will get a $10,000 allocation. Rich says it's good that each county will receive the money. However, she says they might not be able to spend it on the same things the grant covered. Rich says that includes transportation costs, outreach services and education.

Selecting local board and committee members

The chairman of the Washington County Board of Supervisors wants a clearly defined system in place for how they go about nominating people to commissions and committees. Jim Miksch says it's important for the supervisors to appoint the best possible candidates. Miksch says many of the supervisor appointed boards will have spots opening up this year. He hopes to have a system in place by this fall. One possible hang up is pending legislation that would require them to appoint an equal number of men and women to such commissions.

Rubio to construct wastewater system

Rubio Iowa has been selected for the USDA Rural Development Earth Day Event on April 21st. Washington County Supervisor Wes Rich says Regional Utilities Sanitary Service has been working on the Rubio wastewater collection and treatment project now for a couple of years. There will be a brief check presentation next week. The money will go towards a wastewater collection and treatment system for the town of Rubio. Representatives from USDA-RD, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, County Representatives, and Regional Utilities Sanitary Service Representatives will be present. The public is invited to attend the Event at 10:00AM on April 21st in the Rubio Community Center.

Online classes gaining popularity

Few would argue that the internet has revolutionized nearly every aspect of society. One such area is education. Nancy Rash is the director of the Kirkwood Washington Center. She says a student can get a degree from her institution and almost never come to campus. Rash says it works out very well for many of their students who are also working, or may have children. She says the sky is essentially the limit when it comes to online course offerings. She says they are only as limited as the technology, and its cost.

Kalona Clean Up

The Kalona City clean up day will be held the weekend of mothers day. Karen Christner, Kalona City Clerk, says they do not have any information on hours just yet. Residents will be able to take their trash to a designated spot in the Kalona Park. Again the Kalona City Clean up day will be held the weekend of mothers day in the Kalona City Park.

National Telecommunicator Week

This is National Telecommunicator Week, and Washington Safety Center 911 Supervisor Cara Sorrells says her staff deserves the recognition. They recently held a banquet and awards were given out for things like exceptional handling of suicidal callers, perfect attendance and longevity. Sorrells says the entire staff was recognized for operations during last years flooding. She says even though Washington County wasn't greatly impacted by the catastrophe, the calls coming into the Communications Center doubled as motorists tried to get from one place to the other. Sorrells also says no one calls 911 because they are having a good day.

Local ranch joins Angus Association

The 3 Z Ranch in West Chester is now a member of the American Angus Association. Bryce Schumann, CEO of the national breed registry says they are the largest beef cattle registry association in the world. He says they have computerized records including detailed information on nearly 16 million registered Angus. Schumann says they record ancestral information and keeps production records on individual animals for its members.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Marek hopeful legislature will adjourn this week

A state lawmaker from Southeast Iowa is hopeful the legislature will end its session this week. Representative Larry Marek says they hope to have a budget in place. He says one area of uncertainty for him is a proposed middle income tax break. Marek says the legislation would save money for about 75% of the population, but would also cost the other 25% more. Marek, along with Fairfield State Senator Becky Schmitz will be in Washington this Saturday morning at 10:00, for a legislative briefing at the courthouse. 

SE Iowa receives EFSP money

Congressman Loebsack announced that $49,191 has been awarded to the Second District by the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) through the Recovery Act. These funds will bring immediate relief to communities to address unemployment, poverty, and unmet needs. The second District includes Washington, Louisa, Henry and Jefferson County. After the floods of 2008, our local emergency shelters were overburdened and overstretched. Congressman Loebsack says as we continue to bring in funds for disaster relief, it is important not to let our families who were spared from the floods fall by the wayside as they struggle with the current economic downturn. The funds will be distributed to support social service agencies and will be used to supplement food, shelter, rent, mortgage and utility assistance programs for people with non-disaster related emergencies.

Washington Co. to charge for fireworks permit

Washington County residents who want a fireworks permit will soon have to pay for it. County Auditor Bill Fredrick says the board of supervisors recently approved the $10 fee. Fredrick says the fee will help them recover costs from long distance phone calls, and postal costs associated with granting fireworks permits. The new rule goes into effect tomorrow 

Washington Supervisors discuss new state regulations

Washington County's board of supervisors are going to be brushing up on some procedures that deal with appointing people to commissions and committees at this morning's meeting. A recently passed state law requires government leaders to strive to have an equal number of men and women serve on such commissions. It allows them to have an uneven ratio in the event that a position sits vacant for an extended period of time. Some Washington County Supervisors have previously stated that they are against the law, because it can sometimes be difficult to fill such positions. They'll meet at 9:30 this morning in the lower level of the courthouse. 

Local honey farmer favors new pesticide rules

A local bee keeper says he likes new regulation dealing pesticide applicators and apiaries. Ron Wehr operates a honey farm near West Chester. He says under the old law, some bee keepers might not have been protected. Wehr says the new regulation doesn't allow pesticide spraying near apiaries between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm. He says that's the time frame when bees are most active, therefore most susceptible to the chemicals. 

Washington Council to revisit outdoor liquor request

Whether or not a restaurant in Washington can serve alcohol outdoors could be decided at tomorrow's city council meeting. The request is from Cafe Dodici. Some councilors, such as Mike Roth, are concerned over what kind of precedent allowing such a license would set. Cafe Dodici co owner Lorraine Williams says in an ever changing business world, policy makers need to be ready to adjust rules and regulations. The city council has tabled the outdoor liquor license request twice. If it's allowed, the new ordinance would likely be modeled after another community's code. The meeting begins at 7:00 pm in the public library

Kalona Council matches fund raising effort

The Kalona City Council has approved a 10% match to all funds raised by the Kalona Elementary School playground committee up to $250,000 or a maximum of $25,000. Jan Knebel says the committee has raised enough to purchase the playground equipment but still needed to raise $208,000 for a safe surface under the equipment. Knebel says they are looking for volunteers to help build the equipment in June. Knebel says she is very proud to be a part of something that the entire community has embraced and cant wait to see it through to the completion.

MP School Board

The Mid Prairie School Board met last night and discussed a number of topics. The board focused on curriculum, finance and short and long term planning. The board spent 10 minutes adopting a certified budget for the 2009-2010 School Year. They spent 45 min hearing a technology report.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Tax deadline approaches

To some, the most hated day of the year is April 15th, tax day. Dan Bontrager with Bontrager tax in Kalona says to make sure that you get everything you need done before the due date because the penalties can be high. He says most people know about getting a penalty for filing late, but he says most people don't know that there is a second penalty for paying late as well. Bontrager says an extension to file doesn't always mean an extension to pay. He says if you think you might be late it is better to be safe than sorry and file for an extension, and if you question anything to contact a professional. He says it could save you more money than you think.

Same sex marriage won't change procedure

Iowa's status as the first Midwestern state to allow same sex marriage won't change things much for county officials. Washington Recorder Connie Pence says they are waiting on new marriage license forms that won't request information regarding the bride and groom. Pence says they hope to have the new documents before April 27. She says they have yet to see their first application for a same sex marriage.

Speaker highlights diversity in Iowa

According to the U-S Census Bureau, Hispanics and Latino's are the fastest growing demographic in the country. How do they adjust to the U-S? how is the U-S adjusting to them? Himar Hernandez is a community development specialist with the ISU Extension in Ottumwa. He says one aspect of American culture he struggled with, was some of the unwritten rules. Hernandez says the U-S has become less like the "great melting pot" it was once labeled, and has allowed immigrants of all cultures to maintain their heritage, while still participating in the American way of life. Hernandez will be in Washington for a Learn at Lunch Monday April 20 at the ISU Extension Building. Contact the Washington Chamber of Commerce for more information.

Street closures

Starting next Monday, April 20th Vine Avenue (W64) will be closed from 135th to 150thStreet for construction. McCulley Culverts Inc. will be performing work on two culverts located on Vine Avenue in preparation for concrete paving work that will be occurring later this summer. Residents are encouraged to use Highway 218 as a detour route.

Lake Darling clean up

The Friends of Lake Darling are hosting their annual park clean up day on Saturday at 9am. Park Manager Merill Lucas says the friends group has been hosting this event for a number of years and they average around 25 volunteer each year. Lucas says this is the perfect time of year for this event because litter that is hidden by snow or tall grass at other times is visible. Anyone interested in participating should meet at the Lake Darling State Park shop near the entrance at 9am on Saturday. For more information call 319-694-2323

Washington Mental Health to hold WRAP sessions

The Washington Mental Health Center is holding a free Wellness Recovery Action Planning sessions, or WRAP. The six week seminar is designed for anyone who is searching for direction, balance and personal empowerment. Sessions will be held every Tuesday evening from 6:30 to 8:30. To find out more or get registered, contact Connie at the Washington Mental Health Center 653-6161. The first of six WRAP sessions will be tomorrow evening.

Mid Prairie prom this weekend

Its that time of year again: prom season. The Mid Prairie prom is this Saturday, April 18th. School Secretary Carmela Ulin says the theme of the Prom this year is a Touch of Class and the colors are purple, black and silver. She says the post prom party will be at Colonial Lanes in Iowa City from midnight until 3am. She says there will be bowling, putt putt, billiards and different games to play. Both the Prom and after party are considered lock in events, once the students enter they may not leave and then return again. Post prom at Colonial Lanes will shut there doors and will not allow entry after 1am to make sure that all students are safe and to promote sobriety.

Kiwanis Easter Egg hunt

Between three and four hundred local children went on the prowl for candy during the A-M Kiwanis Easter Egg hunt on Saturday. Organization member Don Wells says it was one of their better turnouts. He attributes part of that to the nice weather. Wells says they hid more than 100 pounds of sweets throughout Washington's Sunset Park. He also says the children were divided into three age groups: preschoolers and kindergarten, first and second grade, and then third through sixth grade.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


The Washington High School National Honor Society recently announced their newest inductees. Seniors Sarah Emry, Lauren Linge, Brad Sievers and Madelyn Walsh were chosen for the organization. Fourteen juniors were also elected to membership. Those chosen, had a grade point average of 3.25 or higher. They were also considered for membership on the basis of character, leadership and service. New members will be inducted into the National Honor Society at a ceremony May 12th at 7:30 PM at the Washington Presbyterian Church.

Learn at Lunch

According to the U-S Census Bureau, Hispanics and Latino's are the fastest growing demographic in the country. How do they adjust to the U-S? how is the U-S adjusting to them? Himar Hernandez is a community development specialist with the ISU Extension in Ottumwa. He says one aspect of American culture he struggled with, was some of the unwritten rules. Hernandez says the U-S has become less like the "great melting pot" it was once labeled, and has allowed immigrants of all cultures to maintain their heritage, while still participating in the American way of life. Hernandez will be in Washington for a Learn at Lunch Monday April 20 at the ISU Extension Building. Contact the Washington Chamber of Commerce for more information.

Tax Deadline

To some the most hated day of the year is April 15th, Tax day. Dan Bontrager with Bontrager tax in Kalona says to make sure that you get everything you need done before the due date because the penalties can be high. He says most people know about getting a penalty for filing late, but he says most people dont know that there is a second penalty for paying late as well. Bontrager says an extension to file doesnt always mean an extension to pay. He says if you think you might be late it is better to be safe than sorry and file for an extension, and if you question anything to contact a professional, he says it could save you more money than you think.

Quilt Cake

The Kalona Chamber of Commerce as part of the annual Kalona Days Celebration, June 19 and 20 is attempting to construct the largest quilt cake of its kind. Dave Finley, co-chairperson with Kalona days says Participants will enter a 9x13 sheet cake decorated with their family, business or organizations design. These individual cakes will be assembled into a single large cake resembling a quilt. For applications and information contact the Kalona Days Headquarters at the Kalona General Store (319) 656-3535 or email

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Kalona Theft

On Thursday, at approximately 3:56 PM, the Washington County 911 Dispatch received a report of theft in the Kalona area. A black male subject entered CJs Gas Station in Kalona and removed an undisclosed amount of cash from the cash register. No weapon was displayed. The subject fled in a white vehicle westbound from Kalona. This case is under investigation by the Washington County Sheriffs Office.

Washington Spring Preview Show

The first ever Washington County Spring Preview Cattle Show will be a week from today (4/18) at the fairgrounds. It's expected to bring about 400 people from all over Iowa to compete. Tim Messenger is a 4-Her who was on the committee that helped bring the show to Washington. He says it's a good way to get ready for other events. In conjunction with the show, 4-H groups are having a pancake and more breakfast from 7:00 am to 10:30 in the basement of the fairgrounds building. Adults are $6-dollars and kids under 12 are $4-dollars. Proceeds will go towards Washington County Fair improvements. The cattle show will begin at 11:30 am April 18.

Demon Dash for Cash

The first ever Demon Dash for Cash will be a week from today (4/18) in Washington. Event organizer Teri Hartzler says the 5-K walk or run was created as a community building event, and as a way to raise money for Washington Schools. Hartzler says proceeds from the run will help purchase reading materials for Stewart, Lincoln, the junior high and high school. She says they will also have drawings and giveaways. She says they hope to make this an annual event. To find out more contact the Washington School District.

WHS Spring Art Show

The Washington High School Art Department's Spring Show is now on display at the Helen Wilson Gallery in the Public Library. Art Teacher Bonnie Moothart says the display includes photography, paintings, drawings and pottery completed by students at the school. The works will be on display through April 30th.

Brighton Easter Egg Hunt

The Brighton Chamber of Commerce will be holding their annual Easter Egg Hunt today at 1pm at the Brighton Ball Park. Brian Arnold with the Brighton Chamber says it will be a day of fun and hunting. He says the age groups are for preschool through 6th grade. Arnold says there will be prizes and gifts and if you have any question give him a call at 319-694-5020.

Relay for Life

There will be a Relay for Life meeting on Monday at 6:30PM at the Columbus City, City Hall. Kierstan Peck, Community Relations with the American Cancer Society says anyone who is interested in helping with the Relay for life is invited to attend the meeting. For questions call Kiersten Peck at 319-752-0240.

Twilight Jazz

The YMCA of Washington will be all jazzed up later this month. Roger Adams, with the -Y- says the Twilight Dinner and Jazz Festival will be April 23 at the YMCA. He says there will be a five course meal, and of course music from the Washington Junior High and High School Jazz Bands. Adams says the gym at the -Y- will be transformed with stage lighting. Tickets are $20. They include dinner and the show. Proceeds will benefit YMCA programming.

WHS senior to carry Special Olympics Torch

A Senior at Washington High-School will carry the torch at the East Central Area Special Olympics Games next weekend at Coe College in Cedar Rapids. Rebbecca Enfield is the Daughter of Doug and Carol Enfield. "Becca" as she's known to her friends, participates in Soccer Skills, Bowling, Basketball Skills, Snow Shoeing, Nordic Skiing, and Track & Field. She also volunteers at Up With Kids Day Care. Special Olympics mission is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities

Friday, April 10, 2009

Washington Schools Cut Custodians

The decision to eliminate custodial positions at the Washington School District drew some complaints at this week's board of education meeting. Superintendent Dave Sextro says its never easy to decide where to make cuts. He says their lawn care department was costing the district more than $40-thousand dollars per year. This week, board members approved a contract with a lawn care company for about $24-thousand dollars per year.

Groups Clash Over High School Rennovation

Major renovations at Washington High-School are causing some conflict between the board of education, and a local citizens committee. The citizen's committee wanted board members to commit to an architect at this week's meeting, but school board President Eric Turner says they didn't like the wording of the resolution. Turner says they've decided to wait on a report from the Iowa Construction Advocate Team, which is expected next month. The independent citizens committee wanted to put architect John Shaw's plan on the ballot for voters to decide on. Turner says that's still a possibility, but they want wait to see what ICAT has to say. 

E-911: the hub of communications

It takes a carefully coordinated effort to mobilize emergency personnel during severe weather. The hub of that effort is emergency telecommunications. Cara Sorrells is the supervisor at the Washington Safety Center. She says they have a rigorous procedure for such situations. Sorrells says while emergency officials rely on her office to serve as a relay point for information, she says they rely on those officials to serve as their eyes and ears in the field.

Washington Construction

Construction season is just around the corner, and the city of Washington is hoping to wrap up several projects this year. City Administrator Dave Plyman says they plan on finishing the new library, and the main street improvement project. He says they'll also start looking at a new water tower Plyman says they'll consider bonds this June to pay for the tower, as well as some of the initial costs of a much needed waste water plant. 

Kalona Roads

The Kalona city council has approved many road repairs. City Adminstrator Doug Morgan says they are also working on broken asphalt and crack filled repairs consisting of 27 sq. yards in several places. That includes a parking lot at 6th Street and B Avenue, paving intersection of A Avenue and 6th Street, as well as chip seal coat repairs to 2nd Street and 3rd Streets south of J Avenue.

Keokuk Learn at Lunch

With food prices on the rise, people are considering alternatives to the types of food they buy and where they eat. Gary Bickmeier, Keokuk County Extension Education Director, says the Iowa State University Extension has just launched the Spend Smart, Eat Smart website to help consumers make educated decisions on how and where they spend their food dollars. Keokuk County residents are encouraged to learn about the new interactive website at a Lunch and Learn program at the Keokuk County Health Center on April 28th in Sigourney. Reservations may be made by calling the Keokuk County Extension Office at 641-622-2680. The cost of the meal is $5.00 and reservations are limited to 30 and are due by Monday, April 20th.

Two cited under social host ordinance

A fairly new Washington County ordinance addressing adults, who provide a place for minors to drink alcohol has yielded two citations. County Attorney Barb Edmondson says Gary Don and Mary Lou Miller, both age 38, of Wellman were issued civil citations last month for knowingly permitting underage drinking on their premises. The social host ordinance was passed by the board of supervisors last year. Edmondson says it's aimed at "party houses" where adults host parties for underage drinkers, but may not directly supply the alcohol. Edmondson also says these are the first prosecutions under the ordinance.

Earth Day Louisa County

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Lundy waives preliminary hearing

A Sigourney man accused of killing his father has waived his preliminary hearing. Keokuk County AttorneyJohn Schroeder, says that means his office does not have to prove that they have enough evidence to continue with a trial. Schroeder says it is not uncommon for the preliminary hearings to be waived in cases such as this. Kenneth Lundy is accused of shooting and killing his father on April 2nd after getting into a heated argument over money. Schroeder says they have until May 17th to submit all pertinent Information for trial. Lundy is being held in the Keokuk County Jail on a $50,000 bond. Lundy cannot plead guilty or not guilty until the trial because of due process, he is considered innocent until proven guilty.

WCSD passes budget, tax levy

Washington Community School Board members approved a roughly $23-million dollar budget at last night's meeting. A major point of contention for members of the public who attended offer comment was the $1.58 increase in the district's tax levy. School board members pointed to the fact that the state is taking corrective action against the district for exceeding their budget during the 2007-2008 school year. They also says financial experts suggested increasing the levy by $1.90 to $2.00.

Code Red

Keokuk County has implemented the CodeRED Emergency Notification System. Larry Smith, the Keokuk county emergency managemet coordinator says it is known as a reverse 911 system. He says it is an ultra high-speed telephone communication service for emergency notifications. The system is capable of dialing 50,000 phone numbers per hour. It then delivers a recorded message to a live person or an answering machine, making there attempts to connect to any number. Smith says the system will only be used for emergency purposes. He says to be safe everyone needs to make sure they are in the database. Smith says Louisa County has been using this system for a while now and it has saved lives and is proud that Keokuk County has CodeRED. To make sure you are in the Database log onto the Keokuk county website at

Law enforcement cell phones

Severe weather strikes without regard to man made boundaries, so it's important for emergency personnel to work together. Washington County Sheriff Jerry Dunbar say his agency uses cell phones to keep in contact with other emergency entities. He says that can present a problem if a cell tower is damaged, or the system is overwhelmed. He says law enforcement agencies do have a preferred channel that can override non emergency cell phones. He says they only use it if it's absolutely necessary.

Emergency Telecommunicators Week

In recognition of National Public Safety Communications week, the Washington Safety Center will have an awards banquet this weekend. Supervisor Cara Sorrells says being an emergency communicator can be a demanding job. She says they get a variety of calls...from the the hysterical...and sometimes humorous. Sorrells says despite the challenges associated with her line of work, she and her colleagues enjoy what they do, and the fellowship they have. Sorrells says they'll be giving out awards for things like perfect attendance, and longevity at this weekend's banquet. It will be held at the Washington County Conservation Center at 11:00 Saturday Morning. She says the event is open to the public.

Wellman ready for severe weather

The City of Wellman is ready for severe weather. City Administrator Dave Ross says they bought a new tornado siren last year and has it connected to the Washington County Safety Center. He says they can also set it off manually if necessary. Ross says they have a storm shelter in the basement of city hall so when the weather is calling for severe weather including tornadoes they will open it up for anyone who wishes to use it.

Bill threatens HSAP

Legislation pending in Des Moines could threaten Iowa's Home School Assistance Program. Andrea Farrier is a teacher at Mid Prairie Schools and a lobbyist for HSAP. She says the measure would allow school district's to get rid of the program. Last year the state cut the amount of HSAP money district's get in half, but stipulated that they couldn't reduce funding. A measure pending at the State House would allow them reduce, and even eliminate their funding. While this worries Farrier about what the implications would be statewide, she doesn't feel any local school districts would pursue such action. Riverside State Representative Larry Marek has said he would oppose any such legislation.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tornado drill this morning

The Washington and Keokuk County emergency management coordinator says local emergency sirens are in working order, and will be put to the test this morning. Larry Smith says communities in the two counties will test the sirens as part of a statewide tornado drill. Smith says these sirens are for outdoor purposes, therefore people should also have weather radios for use in their homes. Smith says most communities test their sirens at least once a month. He says some even conduct a daily test. Smith will join the KCII Severe Weather Action Team via phone during the mock tornado drill scheduled for this morning at 10:15. He'll explain what's happening and what his duties are during such a situation.

Washington ag assessments up

Washington County agricultural land valuations will increase by 46-percent this year, while agricultural buildings will rise by eight to nine percent. Assessor Lil Perry says both of those will be decreased through a 35-percent state rollback. Perry says this is one of the largest rollbacks in recent years. She says sometimes there isn't one at all. Perry also says Washington County is usually average in its local valuation increases, and this year was no different.

Washington Schools exceed budget

The Washington Community School District exceeded its authorized budget for the 2007-2008 school year by more than $124,000, and violated Iowa law. As a result, the Department of Management is reducing the district's budget for the 2008-2009 school year. Superintendent Dave Sextro says he's confident they won't overspend their budget again. School board members are expected to pass a 23-million dollar budget at tonight's meeting. It starts at 7:00 in the adminstration building.

Washington Sheriff seeks reserve officers

The Washington County Sheriff's Department is look for people to serve in their auxiliary unit. Deputy Darren Dennler says their reserve officers fill in when full time deputies are sick or need vacation time. He says they also assist with special security details and emergencies. Dennler says those interested in joining the auxiliary have to go through an application process, a physical agility test, background check and a weapons qualification. He also says reserve officers have to live in Washington County. To find out more contact the Sheriff's Office.

Marek expects same sex marriage ruling to stand

A state representative from southeast Iowa expects the recent Supreme Court ruling allowing same sex marriage to stand. Larry Marek says the both chambers of the legislature would have pass a measure two years in a row, have it signed by the governor and then put to a vote before they could repeal such a decision. He says the earliest that could happen would be in 2012.

Kalona Council talks stop signs

The Kalona City Council is talking stop signs. At this week's meeting they discussed putting one up for vehicles traveling on 3rd Street to stop at C Avenue. Also at the meeting they discussed funding aid for the Kalona Elementary Playground Improvement project as well as the many road repairs that are needed. One of the main topics at the city council meeting was the re-roofing and residing of the Rec Center.

Louisa Co's severe weather system

When severe weather hits Louisa County the sheriffs office stays alert and is responsible for keeping everyone safe and informed. Chief Deputy Caudle says when severe weather hits Louisa County they have many things that they can do to get information out such as a code red. He says code red is an ultra high-speed telephone communication service for emergency notifications. This system allows them to telephone all or targeted areas of the county in case of an emergency situation that requires immediate action. He says the system is capable of dialing hundreds of phone numbers per minute. It then delivers a recorded message to a live person or an answering machine, making three attempts to connect to any number.

Kindergarten Roundup

It's that time of year when we begin to think about the 2009-2010 school year. Mid Prairie Secretary Judy Goodrich says the Kindergarten round up for Wellman Elementary and Washington Township Elementary is today (Wednesday). Wellman Elementary will be from 9:00-11:00 AM and Washington Township will be from 1:00-3:00 PM. She says students must be 5 years of age on or before September 15 to enter Kindergarten this fall. For more information contact Judy Goodrich, Central Office Secretary, at 319-646-6093 to request registration materials.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Natural gas odor prompts three evacuations

Still no concrete answer as to what caused a natural gas odor that prompted the evacuation of three buildings in Washington yesterday. Alliant Energy spokeswoman Nancy Craig says crews were called to inspect the high school, hospital and a local church. She says no gas leaks were discovered, but crews did find two "incidental" situations at the high school. The first was on a pizza oven, the second was a boiler vent. She says neither of these were the source of the odor, but were discovered as workers conducted their inspection. Craig says one possible explanation is that an odor similar to natural gas is what people were smelling.

Lightning: more dangerous than tornadoes

During severe weather...the earlier you know the better. There's an entire career field dedicated to studying weather and learning how to prepare for it. Laura Lockwood is a meteorologist with Weather Eye. She says one aspect of severe weather that many people overlook is lightning. Lockwood says lightning actually kills more people each year than tornadoes. Lockwood also says you shouldn't do things like talk on a land line phone or shower during a thunderstorm because lightning can travel through utility lines and plumbing. This is Severe Weather Awareness Week. Check back here every day this week for more weather related news coverage.

Washington Schools slated to pass $23-million budget

The Washington Community School Board is slated to pass a roughly $23-million dollar budget at tomorrow night's meeting. Superintendent Dave Sextro says their on the right path to correct some of the district's past financial problems. Sextro says recent budget cuts at the state level haven't helped the situation. He says the district has been able to save money through early retirements. The school board will take public comment on the budget at tomorrow's meeting. It's at 7:00 pm in the school administration building.

New sewer method

The city of Washington is in the market for a new waste water treatment facility. City Administrator Dave Plyman says not only will the new facility be able to treat a higher volume of water, but will treat it using a different method. He says the new system won't bog down during cold weather like the old one. The city council is starting to look at acquiring land for the new facility. The project is expected to cost between 12 and 18-million dollars.

Grassley to have local listening posts

Senator Chuck Grassley's regional director, Mary Day, will be holding open office hours in Johnson, Jones, and Washington counties on Tuesday, April 21. These office hours, or listening posts, provide an opportunity for Iowans to obtain casework assistance or to express views and ask questions on any subject. She will be in Washington County at the Wellman City hall from 3 to 4pm. Senator Grassley says these open office hours are designed to help more Iowans access the assistance that is available from the office of their United States Senator. He hopes any Iowan with federal agency-related casework or questions and comments will take advantage of his staffs visit to their area. For questions you can contact Grassley's Cedar Rapids office at 319-363-6832.