Sunday, May 31, 2009

Washington Co Historical Society Launches website

Washington County's Historical Society is launching a website. Board member Terry Oneill says they decided to put some of their content online so tourists can plan a trip through Washington County's historical landmarks. Oneill says there's no real centralized archive of historical information about Washington County. He's hoping this website will change that. The site can be visited at

Babysitting Basics

Washington County Extension will be offering a second Babysitting Basics course June 15-19. Nancy Adrian with the Extension office says the course will cover topics such as age appropriate toys, activities, safety information, and first aid procedures. Adrian says the course is available for both boys and girls completing 5th grade and above. Registration forms can be picked up at the Extension office and are due by June 5 along with a $25 fee. For questions, contact Nancy Adrian at 653-4811.

Kalona City Council

The Kalona City Council will be meeting tomorrow in the Kalona Public Library. Items on the agenda include discussion of the farmers market, approval of cigarette permits for local stores, and discussion for the issuing of a liquor license for Tuscan Moon Grill. The meeting will be held in the librarys meeting room at 7:30 pm.

Jefferson Co. Board of Supervisors

The Jefferson County Board of Supervisors will be holding an open meeting on tomorrow. The meeting will be held in the first floor meeting room of the Jefferson County Courthouse in Fairfield. Items on the tentative agenda include a meeting with the county engineer and attorney, discussion of a fireworks permit, and consideration of a disposal system contract. There will be an opportunity for comments from the public.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Washington SWEEP

Washington community members gathered in Central Park yesterday (5/29) to celebrate the Centennial Fountain's 70th anniversary. Among those present were Sarah Morrison Miller. She witnessed the fountain being built in the late 30's. She says her father was part of the committee that spearheaded the project. Morrison Miller says today the fountain is just as beautiful, and has served as a centerpiece for Washington.

Grassley Flood Relief

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says the federal government is committed to providing assistance to victim's of last year's flooding. The New Hartford Republican says they have a plan in place in case FEMA money runs out. Grassley's not worried about that happening. He says there is still money allocated for Iowa that has not been spent yet. To date Washington County has received nearly $254,000 in federal aid.

Loebsack Stimulus

Some school administrators have expressed concern over how Iowa is using federal stimulus money. The state is using the funds to back fill cuts made by the Iowa legislature this spring. Congressman Dave Loebsack says it's meant to preserve jobs until the economy turns around. Iowa is getting $54-million in economic recovery money. Loebsack says in education, most of that money is going to title-1 programs, special education and reduced cost lunches.


Washington County will continue to contract out certain mental health services to Southeast Iowa Case Management. Supervisors this week approved the new arrangement. Case Management Director Marcy Murphy says her agency acts as a sort of liaison. Her company provides services for 12 other counties in the region.

Kill A Watt

Washington County's Extension office is inviting area residents to see how much energy specific appliances in their homes use. The agency has partnered with the Iowa Energy Center to provide a meter that measures voltage, amperage, wattage, run time and total kilowatt-hours of electricity being consumed. The device works by plugging it in to any household outlet, and then plugging a 12 volt appliance into the meter. The extension has the devices for Washington County residents to check out free of charge for a one week period of time.

Family Wellness Carnival

Summer vacation is a time for fun in the sun and for families to take part in activities together. Bright Futures Chiropractic in Kalona is holding a Family Wellness Carnival today so that parents and kids can understand the importance a healthy lifestyle. Dr. Chris Grier says that the event will feature various games and activities as well as opportunities to learn about good health choices. Grier says the summer months provide the perfect time for families to begin a wellness routine that they can build on once school begins again.

MCC Sale

Mennonite Churches from all across southeast Iowa assembled at the Johnson County Fairgrounds for the annual MCC Sale. The event kicked off yesterday (5/29) with the opening of food, craft, and plant booths and continued with a marinated turkey or pork loin dinner. The two day event will also include live music as well as a quilt auction. Proceeds from the MCC Sale will go to support relief programs sponsored by the Mennonite Central Committee.

Antique Show

On June 12, vendors from over eight states will be gathering in Kalona for the 6th annual Antique Show. Sponsored by the Kalona Historical Society, the show features items such as furniture, books, fine china, toys, jewelry, and more. Unique to this years show is a dealer on hand to buy your gold and silver and give you cash. The show will be held in the Kalona Historical Village and proceeds will go towards a new addition to the main building.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Local banker says they have the capital to weather commercial loan decline

Almost a third of Iowa's banks reported two percent or more of their loans as non performing last quarter. That's a mark not seen in more than 15 years. Federation Bank President Dale Torpey says his institution is among those feeling the sting of the commercial loan market. He says while there is some trouble, they have plenty of capital to weather it. He also says Their portfolio is diverse enough to keep them protected. 

SE Iowa crop update

USDA statistics show 93% of corn in Southeast Iowa is in the ground, while 60% of the crop has emerged. The federal agency's report indicates 21% of soybeans have emerged while 67% have been planted. Corn planting was delayed in some areas as due to wet weather, prompting more soybeans. State Climatologist Harry Hilaker says last week's weather was welcomed by southeast Iowa farmers as temperatures were more than 5 degrees above average, and rainfall was well below normal. 

Washington residents invited to SWEEP

Washington's Centennial Fountain is being celebrated with a SWEEP this morning (5/29), or Supporting Washington Economic Enhancement. Main Street's Amy Vetter says the Central Park centerpiece is 70 years old, and has been a major focal point of the downtown. She says residents are invited to the park this morning (5/29) at 8:30 and encouraged to bring a broom.

Study: nearly 1/2 of Louisa Co residents are commuters

A recent study by Iowa Workforce Development shows almost half of Louisa Countys 12,000 citizens seek employment in other counties. Elias Gutierrez with Louisa County Development says the countys proximity to larger working zones and bigger employers make it easy for residents to find suitable employment there. Despite the exodus of workers, however, Gutierrez says many still find Louisa a great place to live, which gives the county a competitive advantage.

DNA samples needed for Ak-Sar-Ben

All youth intending to exhibit swine or feeder calves at Ak-Sar-Ben 4-H Livestock Exposition in Omaha, Nebraska in September must have DNA samples collected by June 15th. Kati Peiffer, 4-H/Youth Coordinator says DNA samples must be collected by an Extension staff member. She says nominating through the Iowa State Fair process is not acceptable for Ak-Sar-Ben. An additional sample must be collected. Contact the Washington County Extension Office, 319-653-4811 to schedule a time for your samples to be collected. 

VB Co Relay 4 Life

Van Buren County residents are invited to help in the fight against cancer. Kierstan Peck Community Relations with the American Cancer Society says the American Cancer Society Walk/Run of Van Buren County is a unique fundraising event in which participants walk or run a 3 mile or 1 mile course. She says this years walk/run will take place on Saturday, June 6 at the Van Buren County Fairgrounds. If you are a cancer survivor and would like to take part in the Walk/Run of Van Buren County please call Wanda Clemenson, walk/run chairperson at 319.293.6209. All survivors receive a 2009 Walk/Run of Van Buren County t-shirt.

Kalona Cash

People can use more than just money in Kalona. The chamber of commerce says Kalona Kash is a great way to get what you want while supporting Kalona businesses. They say during Kalona Days many of the prizes will be large amounts of Kalona Kash. She says Kalona Kash can be used in any business in Kalona and is treated the same as regular money. 

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Unemployment numbers fall in April

Unemployment rates fell by more than half a percentage point last month in Washington County. Statistics gathered by the Iowa Workforce Development Board show Washingtons unemployment rate for March was 4.5%, and 3.9% in April. Statewide jobless claims dropped a tenth of a percent to 5.1%. last month. IWD Director Elisabeth Buck says the numbers suggest Iowas economy may be in the early stages of a turn. She cautions that the market is still very week and any recovery is expected to be modest and prolonged.

Employment stable at casino

The economic recession has effected people and businesses in different ways. Riverside Casino General Manager Joe Massa says they have not been immune to the recession and have been hit just like everyone else. Massa says they have been able to maintain their level of employment and have not had to lay anyone off. 

BOS makes final adjustments of fiscal year

Washington County Supervisors have shuffled money around for the last time this fiscal year. At this week's meeting, they approved around $910,000 in additional expenditures, and about $452,000 in extra revenue. County Auditor Bill Fredrick says the money being spent comes mostly from house keeping items. He says the majority of the revenue is grant money the county is receiving. 

Healthy Kids Act

The Healthy Kids Act goes into effect fall of next year. It removes junk food from schools and mandates exercise time. Washington County Hospital Dietitian Anne Sposato says the effort needs to be matched by parents in order to reduce childhood obesity. She says as more families have both parents working, kids are eating more fast food and unhealthy snacks while at home. 

Schools out, but policy still applies

While students are enjoying their time outside the classroom this summer, they may still be expected to follow school policies. Mid Prairie Superintendent Mark Schneider says his districts policy runs through summer vacation and if a student breaks the rules, they'll be penalized once school begins. He says that includes missing out on all extra-curricular activities.

Before you turn on the A/C...

Air conditioning season is upon us, and there are a few things that can be done to save energy and money. J & S Heating and Air Conditioning owner Scott Wiles says units should be cleaned and inspected. He says that includes replacing filters and removing any debris. Wiles also says it's best to keep air conditioners running during hot humid stretches rather than turning them on and off. 

Kalona 1st Responders Grant

The Washington County Riverboat foundation gave out just over $700,000 to area agencies as part of their spring grants. The Kalona First responders will receive $30,000 to finish their classroom addition to help improve the training and readiness The Kalona First responders have been trying to finish the classroom addition for several years.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Loebsack tours WCHC

U.S. Representative Dave Loebsack is gearing up for the debate on health care. Loebsack is touring medical facilities in Southeast Iowa. The Mount Vernon Democrat says health care needs to be a careful blend of private and public efforts. Loebsack says the federal S-CHIP program, or HAWK-I as it's known in Iowa is one sign of progress. He made his comments yesterday (5/26) while touring Washington County Hospital.

Grassley on health care

Senator Chuck Grassley says there are problems with the states current healthcare policies. One of his biggest concerns is the fact that many lower-income families are unable to afford insurance coverage which results in poorer health conditions. Grassley says people with preexisting medical conditions are often disqualified from coverage. He says even if they are allowed to join a plan, they often can't afford. The New Hartford Republican says his goals for health care reform would include making insurance "affordable and accessible."

Washington Co renews fuel contract

Agri-Land Farm Service will continue to provide fuel for Washington County's road department. Supervisors approved a new contract with the Winterset based cooperative at yesterday's (5/26) meeting. County Engineer David Patterson says Agri-Land will provide ethanol blended gasoline, two types of standard diesel fuel and bio-diesel. The only other bid for the contract came from Brighton based Cobb Oil. Their's was higher by $2,000.

WHS student receives Alliant scholarship

A student at Washington High School is getting a $1,000 scholarship from the Alliant Energy Foundation. Kelsey Bishop graduated this year and is one of twenty five students receiving the community service based scholarships. Bishop plans to study nursing at Mount Mercy College this fall. She's the daughter of Cameron and Kathy Bishop. Alliant says they considered leadership, volunteerism and the content of a 300 word essay when they selected the recipients.

Winter pushes back last day of school

With the ice and snow of winter the Mid Prairie School District had to cancel many days of school. Because of the canceled school days the last day of school for students was pushed back. The last day of school for students will be next Tuesday, June 2nd and they will be released one hour early. As it stands right now, the first day of school for the 2009-2010 school year will be Wednesday, August 26th.

Ending Polio

Washington County residents are being invited to Bike to End Polio. Myron Graber from the Washington Rotary Club says the event has a ride for everyone, ranging from short rides to even a 56 mile trek along county roads. Graber says 100 percent of the 25 dollar entry fee goes to polio fighting efforts, and the entry cost covers both snacks and a t-shirt. The Biking to End Polio Now event will begin with registration at 6:30 am on June 6. For information contact Myron Graber at 653-1674.

When to spray for bagworms

The Keokuk County Extension is urging property owners to hold off on spraying for bagworms. Education Director Gary Bickmeir says there has been considerable interest in Southern Iowa as people worry about the caterpillars defoliating their trees. For more information contact the Keokuk County Master Gardeners, or the Keokuk County Extension office.

Cash up for grabs at Kalona parade

There will be several ways to win money at this years Kalona Days. Kalona Days Director Dave Finley says cash prizes of $150, $75 and $50 will go to the top three entries in the Kalona Days parade. He says the parade will start at 10 a.m. and line up will be on the west ends of C and B Avenue and proceed east on B Avenue to 7th Street.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Washington BOS slated for closed session

Washington County Supervisors are slated to go into closed session this morning (5/26) to discuss an ongoing legal dispute with the city of Riverside. County Auditor Bill Fredrick says they helped levy funds for several infrastructure projects when the casino was built, and as a result Riverside is supposed to pay the county $175,000 per year out of the revenue they receive from the casino. Attorney's for Riverside say the contract caused the city to exceed its debt limit, therefore making in void under state law. The meeting starts at 9:30 this morning in the Washington County Courthouse.

Loebsack in Washington today

Congressman Dave Loebsack will be in Washington this afternoon (5/26). The Mount Vernon Democrat will be at Washington County Hospital and Clinics at 2:15 as part of his Healthcare Reform Tour. He'll be meeting with health care providers to get a better understanding of the services they provide and their payment delivery systems. Loebsack will also visit University Hospitals in Iowa City and Unity Healthcare in Muscatine. He says he's gathering information for the upcoming health care debate in Washington D-C.

Teen pregnancy numbers stable in SE Iowa

A spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Southeast Iowa says teen pregnancy numbers have been fairly static in this region. Terri Bonar says much of the country has seen an increase. She says part of the reason for the nationwide hike is the use of abstinence only education. Bonar says areas of the country that utilize such methods actually have higher rates of teen pregnancy.

Washington Library update

The fence blocking the street in front of the new library in Washington will be coming down next month. City Administrator Dave Plyman says they'll still have to block traffic while a contractor works on the downtown improvement project. The library is expected to move into the new facility this summer. They say they're taking inventory and making decisions about what will travel with them. As a result the Teen Advisory Board will be selling video and audiotapes at the Ridiculous Days celebration on June 6.

Liquor request in limbo

Whether a Washington restaurant can serve alcohol in an outdoor setting is still up in the air. City councilors have left the item tabled at the past couple of meetings. Mayor Sandra Johnson says the ordinance committee is looking into the request from Cafe Dodici. Johnson says if the ordinance committee drafts guidelines to allow the restaurant's request the item will likely be un-tabled. She says if they don't come up with anything she'll ask councilors to take it off the table and put the issue to rest.

Louisa Co to receive more disaster funds

The Iowa Department of Economic Development (IDED) announced the state approved additional disaster recovery projects in seven cities affected by natural disasters in 2008. Louisa County will receive $1,557,000 through the CDBG and $11,865,000 through the EDA Disaster Relief Grant to. The City of Columbus Junction will receive $920,000 through the CDBG and $2,930,000 through the EDA Disaster Relief Grant. The funding sources are the Community Development Block Grant Contingency and Imminent Threat Funds.

Kalona Pool

It feels like summer outside and many kids and parents are ready to start heading to the pool. Kalona Parks Superintendent Todd Fitzsenry says they have been working very hard to make sure that the Kalona City Pool is open and ready. Fitzsenry says they will be open from 1pm until 6pm on weekends until school is out for the summer.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Two killed in three vehicle crash

Two people were killed and five were injured in a three vehicle car accident in Washington County Saturday. The Iowa State Patrol says 30 year old Samuel Langstaff and 29 year old Jacqueline Langstaff, both of Indianola died after the crash at the intersection of Lexington Avenue and Highway 92. 17 year old Andrew Brock and 16 year old David Haifley both of Washington, along with 19 year old Travis Filben of Keota were taken to University Hospitals in Iowa City. 26 year old Jared Freel and 15 year old Spencer Miller of Washington were taken to Washington County Hospital. Police say Brock failed to stop at the intersection and smashed into the Langstaff's vehicle pushing them in front of a semi driven by Freel. They say charges in the accident are pending.

Memorial Day activities

There are several local events to mark Memorial Day. At 8:00 am the Boy Scouts will conduct a flag raising at the Post Office. There will also be a ceremony at 8:30 at the Crooked Creek Bridge to honor Marines and Sailors. Retired Navy Chief Richard Goodall will be the speaker. At 10:00 am there will be a ceremony at Elm Grove Cemetery honoring all veterans, with Dave Stouffer speaking.

Schmitz: legislative session good for military members

As Americans observe Memorial Day, a Southeast Iowa state lawmaker says the 2009 legislative session did a lot for veterans and active military members. Fairfield Senator Becky Schmitz says they passed measures to help with everything from college education, to assisted living. One piece of legislation Schmitz is particularly pleased with protects active duty National Guard members by making it a misdemeanor to foreclose on or repossess their homes.

Local vet's thoughts on Memorial Day

A local veteran says Memorial Day shouldn't be a sad time, but rather a day that celebrates America's armed forces. Dan McClure says it sometimes difficult for non-military people to understand what it was like to endure combat. He says for that reason it seems like the biggest supporters of veterans are often times other veterans. McClure says Memorial Day is more about honoring those who have passed on, than those that are still alive.

U of I to poll Washington

University of Iowa's political science department is going to be conducting a survey of Washington. City Administrator Dave Plyman says he's working with the mayor and U of I officials to formulate the questions. The survey is being conducted through the Mikva Challenge, which is a Chicago based service organization. Political science professors at U of I will bring inner city high school students from the windy city to teach them about public opinion polling.

WMU chooses new Supt.

The Winfield Mount Union School District has chosen a new superintendent. A new contract has been extended to Patrick Cohen of Mt. Pleasant. Cohen has served as principal or assistant principal for the Mt. union schools for the past 7 years, where he also served as a teacher. The contract will be presented to the school board for approval on Wednesday. Mr Cohen will begin work as superintendent on July 1st.

MP Reunion

On June 26 to 27, 2009, the Mid Prairie Foundation is inviting all the Mid Prairie alumni from the past 40 years to attend the second All School Reunion. Jeffrey Swartzentruber with the reunion committee says the weekend kicks off with a doubleheader at the High School baseball field and the culmination of the weekend will be the Alumni Banquet at the high school from 6 to 8 with a lot of activities in between. Swartzentruber says there will be a lot more activities that they are planning and will keep everyone updated.

Grassley on credit card legislation

One of Iowa's Representatives on Capital Hill says recent credit card legislation will empower consumers. Senator Chuck Grassley says the measure will end the practice of allowing companies to make contractual changes without notifying consumers. The New Hartford Republican says Americans should be able to choose who they do business with, and this legislation allows them to make an informed decision when it comes to credit cards.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

History of Memorial Day

Governmental offices, banks and some businesses will be closed tomorrow in observance of Memorial Day. Memorial day dates back to the 1800's. It was originally called Decoration Day, and was a time set aside to honor those killed in the U-S Civil War by decorating their graves. It was first widely observed on May 30 in 1868.

Local Memorial Day Ceremonies

There are several local events to mark Memorial Day tomorrow. At 8:00 am the Boy Scouts will conduct a flag raising at the Post Office. There will also be a ceremony at 8:30 at the Crooked Creek Bridge to honor Marines and Sailors. Retired Navy Chief Richard Goodall will be the speaker. At 10:00 am there will be a ceremony at Elm Grove Cemetery honoring all veterans, with Dave Stouffer speaking. For more information contact Allan Fuhr at American Legion at 653-6773.

MP Graduation

The Mid Prairie Seniors have completed their final year of high School. As of today seniors from Mid Prairie will start on whatever path of life they choose, whether it be college, military or joining the work force. The Mid Prairie Graduation will be at 1:30pm at the high school.

All School Reunion

On June 26 to 27, 2009, the Mid Prairie foundation is inviting all the Mid Prairie alumni from the past 40 years to attend the second All School Reunion. Jeffrey Swartzentruber with the reunion committee says the weekend kicks off with a doubleheader at the High School baseball field and the culmination of the weekend will be the Alumni Banquet at the high school from 6 to 8 with a lot of activities in between. Swartzentruber says there will be a lot more activities that they are planning and will keep everyone updated.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

More police presence this weekend

Fewer people are expected to hit the road this Memorial Day weekend, but the Iowa State Patrol will still have an increased presence. District 13 Trooper Jason Marlow says they didn't have any major problems last year, but things are different this year with all the road construction. Police agencies across Iowa and much of the country are in the middle of a nationwide seatbelt enforcement effort.

Federal aide for Washington Co tops $253K

FEMA says Washington County has received nearly $254,000 in aide since last year's flooding. The federal agency says 19 households will receive $85,000 in housing assistance. The other state needs program has approved one Washington County household for nearly $2,500 in aide. FEMA says the U-S Small Business Administration has approved more than $50,000 in low interest loans for Washington County businesses. For more information on federal disaster aide, visit FEMA's website.

Wellman Parkside Center nearing completion

The Wellman Parkside Activity Center construction is still underway slowly but surely. City Clerk Donna Wade says with the harsh winter and wet spring construction has had to slow down and even stops at some points. Wade says they expect the project to be completed and the center ready for use by early fall of this year.

Washington FD gets new truck

The Washington Fire Department is getting a new truck. City Administrator Dave Plyman says the department was in desperate need of a new vehicle. Plyman says the new truck will cost about $300,000 half of which is being paid for with a grant from the Washington Riverboat Foundation.

Graduation safety

Area high schools are saying their goodbyes to the class of 2009. Washington County Sheriff Jerry Dunbar says it's an exciting time, but also needs to be safe. He says area residents and graduates each need to do their part. Washington is one of the first counties to enact a social host ordinance. It provides penalties for anyone who knowingly allows minors to drink alcohol on their property. Washington's graduation ceremony is tomorrow (5/24) afternoon at 1:30 at the high-school varsity gym.

SE Iowan completes Air Force training

A Southeast Iowa native has completed Airforce Basic Training. Airman Derek Boyse graduated at Lackland Airforce Base in San Antonio Texas. He completed an intensive eight week program. As a result Boyse is receiving four credits towards and associate degree in applied science through the Air Force Community College. Boyse is the son of Peggy Strickler of Kinross and Wyatt Boyse of Kalona. He's a 2008 graduate of the English Valley High School.

Riverside Farmer's Market

The 2009 season of the Riverside Casino & Golf Resorts Farmers Market is about to start. Jessica Athen, Special Events Coordinatorfor the Riverside Casino & Golf Resort says the first market will be held Sunday, May 31st and will continue until the end of September, with the last market on Sunday, September 27th. She says during the season, markets will be held in the Riverside Casinos parking lot the last Sunday of the month from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm. Vendor registration forms are available at theRiverside Casino & Golf Resort's Gift Shop and Resort Club. If you have any questions please contactJessica Athen at 319-648-1234 ext. 1975. She says Vendor space is available at no charge.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Riverboat foundation awards $700k

38 local organizations are getting more than $700,000 in grant money from the Washington County Riverboat Foundation. Some of the biggest allotments include $90,000 for athletic facilities improvements at Mid Prairie Schools, more than $78,000 for the Washington Area Softball Association to build an indoor hitting facility and $75,000 for the Brighton Fire Department to purchase a pumper.

Washington to borrow $3.5 million

Washington is levying $3.5 million in bonds for a new water tower, and a new sewer plant. City Administrator Dave Plyman says the debt will be paid off over a 20 year period with property taxes. He says water rates will also have to be increased. Plyman says the money will also be used to purchase land for the new sewer plant to be located on. He says some of it might be used to expand Elm Grove Cemetery.

Vacancy on Kalona zoning commission

Kalona City Council members have yet to fill a vacancy on the city's planning and zoning commission. City Clerk Karen Christener says members tabled action on the matter at this week's meeting. She says the council is also considering quotes for roof and siding replacement at the community center. Councilors did approve street closures for Kalona Days. They tabled a request to serve alcohol at an outdoor area during the festival.

Washington Choral: "Let Freedom Ring"

The Washington Choral Society is kicking off the Memorial Day Weekend tonight (5/22) with the "Let Freedom Ring" concert. The organization's Mike Jewel says the event is a way to honor veterans, and those currently serving in the armed forces. The concert is this evening at 7:00 at Washington's United Methodist Church. Admission is 10 dollars for adults and five for students. Veterans and active military members get in free.

Entertainer this weekend at YMCA

Family entertainer Mike Presby will be at the Washington YMCA tonight and tomorrow. Presby describes himself as an illusionist and magician. His act includes comedy and live animals. Presby says his show is geared towards audience members of all ages. He'll put on his act at the -Y- this evening at 7:00 and again tomorrow afternoon at 12:30. For more information or to get tickets contact the YMCA of Washington.

KCII announces scholarships

Megan Adams of Mid Prairie and Riley Sheetz of Keota are the recipients of the 2009 KCII Business to Business scholarships. KCII General Manager Joe Nichols says these scholarships are especially important during these tough economic times. Nichols encourages area high school juniors to look for applications for the KCII Business to Business scholarships next spring.

RFL Meeting

Relay for Life of Louisa County is having a meeting June 1st to share the importance of the event with local residents. The meeting is at 7:00 pm at the L & M Elementary School cafeteria. For more information, or to volunteer contact Kierstan Peck at 319-653-3768.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

News Update-Washington County Riverboat Foundation Releases Grant

The Washington County Riverboat Foundation board last night awarded $700,180.00 for their spring grant period. Below you can download the list of recipients.

More Information 
Click Here To Download List

Reaction to the $36 million proposal for WSCD

Reactions are mixed after a $36-million proposal for overhauling Washington School facilities was laid on the table this week. Washington County resident and former educator Bill Frakes says he likes the idea of preserving the high-school building, but not annexing the current junior high to a new facility. The biggest question remains funding. The Construction Advocate Team recommends using state sales tax money, and a few rounds of bonding.

New Stewart principal excited to start

The new principal at Washington's Stewart Elementary school says she's excited to start her job and evaluate the school. Rhoda Harris is coming from the Deep River Millersburg School District. She says taking a look at test scores will be her first goal. Miller's current position is being eliminated this summer as Deep River Millersburg is reorganizing with English Valley. Her first official day on the job in Washington will be August first.

Washington Council okays "Celebrate Your Senses"

The Washington City Council is green lighting an early August Celebration in the downtown area. Members have approved closing a portion of Main Street, and allowing alcohol to be served at "Celebrate Your Senses." The only resistance at last night's meeting came from at large Councilor Karen-Wilson Johnson. She feels the event can be just as successful without serving alcohol.

Miksch: Washington Co. legally correct

The chairman of the Washington County Board of Supervisors feels a revenue sharing agreement between Riverside and the county is valid. Jim Miksch says he doesn't see any reason why the city shouldn't continue payments. When the casino was built, a TIF and urban development district were created. As a result, the city agreed to make annual payments to Washington County.

MP Schools to receive $300k

The Mid Prairie School district will receive more than 300 thousand dollars for expansion of Title I and IDEA programs. Superintendent Mark Schneider says the Title I program provides funds to high risk students who are in even greater need during the economic downturn and IDEA is the major federal program that provides funding for special education and related services to students with disabilities. Schneider says he and his staff are exploring exactly how the money will be used.

SE Iowa Company looking to hire

Many companies are eliminating jobs during this recession, but a Southeast Iowa company is looking to hire. Steve Jennings is head of Grasshorse Production in Mt. Pleasant. He says they are looking for 2D and 3D film animators. Jennings describes Grasshorse as a visual effects and animation company. He says they've worked on films such as Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the TV show Powerpuff Girls. He says artists with a background and education in animation should contact Grasshorse for an interview.

Hospice Golf Tournament

Hospice of Washington County is holding their annual memorial golf tournament next month. Robyn Harvey-Smith, Director of Marketing with Hospice says they hold these tournaments every year but this year they are holding the event to honor a community leader and a fellow golfer; Short Peterseim. She says Short and his wife Jan ran the Peterseim Funeral Home in Kalona. She says Short passed away last year in June. The Tournament will be Thursday, June 25th, at 11:30am at the Kalona Golf Course and it will be a four person best ball scramble. For more information about cost and registration forms contact the Hospice of Washington County at 319-653-7321.

Master Gardeners

People are exploring the possibility of saving money by growing some of their own food. Gene Washington County Extension Education Director Gene Mohling says there's an increased interest invegetable gardening withthe decline in the economy. He says Master Gardeners can provide a good resource of information. Mohling says they are highly visible volunteers in their counties. He says the Master Gardener program is unique for its community emphasis and because it directly utilizes the broad research-based resources of Iowa State University. If you are interested in becoming an Iowa Master Gardener, contact your county extension office to find out more information about training in your area.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

$36 million plan proposed for WCSD

Representatives from the Iowa State Association of School Boards recommend a $36-million multi year overhaul of the Washington School District's facilities. Construction Advocate Duane Van Hemert says the plan should be acceptable those who want to preserve the the district's historic buildings, and those who want students to benefit from newer facilities. It calls for building a new high school, and moving junior high students to the current high school.

Riverside/County dispute continues

Attorneys for Riverside have sent a letter to Washington Supervisors indicating the city doesn't intend to make annual payments to the county as previously arranged. County Auditor Bill Fredrick says an urban renewal and TIF district was created to help the city pay for infrastructure when the casino was built. He says as a result, Riverside is supposed to pay the county $175,000 per year. Attorney's for the city say the agreement caused them to exceed their debt limit, and is therefore void under state law.

Washington Council considers bonds

Washington City Council members will consider $3.5 million in bonds at tonight's (5/20) meeting. Mayor Sandra Johnson says some of the money is going toward an engineering phase of a new wastewater plant. She says many cities in Iowa are facing a similar problem as they decide how to upgrade infrastructure. Johnson says the general obligation bonds they plan on using carry a high interest rate, and often force municipalities to increase fees. Tonight's meeting starts at 7:00 in the public library.

Washington business owner awarded $227K

A jury awarded a Washington business owner more than $227,000 in a ruling on a civil trial this week. Iowa City based Apex Construction and Coralville based VJ Engineering were each found partially at fault for a 2006 building collapse on Washington's South Marion Street. The structure was owned by Alfonso Raymundo. Court documents show jurors found Apex 37% responsible for the collapse, while VJ was 63% at fault. At the time of the collapse, Apex was remodeling the building, and VJ had provided engineering services. Judge Dan Morrison will hand down the official ruling at a later date.

Construction to start at Lake Darling

Construction at Lake Darling State Park is expected to begin as soon as the ground is dry. Rachel Erb with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources,says this major renovation includes the construction of a new dam and spillway as well as sediment ponds, shoreline armament and fish habitat. Erb says they are hoping to start taking bids for construction around July with construction beginning shortly after. She says the projected completion date is the fall of 2010.

Loebsack rep in Washington

A representative of Congressman Dave Loebsack will be in Washington today (5/20). Jared Hershberger will be at the public library from 10 am-12 pm to field questions and comments on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Hershberger says he can also help individuals who are having difficulty with a government agency, or have concerns or suggestions for Loebsack.

SEMCO Meeting

The Southeast Iowa Multi-County Solid Waste Agency will hold there next meeting this morning at 9am. On the agenda, the agency will Award contract for the abutment and temporary cover placement construction project as well as hear the landfill managers report. Anyone who wishes to address the board may do so. The meeting will be held at the SEMCO Landfill office in Richland at 9am.

KFD Auction

There will be an Auction on Saturday, June 13th (Keota Fun Days weekend) at 1:00 pm under the Keota town water tower. Kris Lyle with Printers Workshop & Timeless Charm in Keota says the Keota Educational Foundation is putting on the auction as a fundraiser for local scholarships. If you have something you wish to donate, you can do so by calling Butch at 319-330-1964 or 641-635-2058, or you may bring your item into Timeless Charm Gifts during regular business hours.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

WCSD Board to hear facilities report

Washington School Board members tonight (5/19) will hear a report on the district's facilities. Superintendent Dave Sextro says the board requested the report from the Iowa Construction Advocate Team. Sextro says members of the public are encouraged to attend as there will be time for a question and answer session after the presentation. The meeting starts at 6:30 this evening in the Washington High School Auditorium.

BOS to consider personnel changes

Personnel changes are on the docket for Washington County Supervisors this morning (5/19). They're slated to approve requests from the environmental health and secondary roads departments, as well as the county attorney's office. Supervisors will also consider the withdraw of property from an agricultural district. They'll also discuss a formal response stemming from an on going legal dispute with the city of Riverside. The meeting starts this morning (5/19) at 9:30 in the lower level of the Washington County Courthouse. 

Wet weather could spur more soybeans

More than 4-inches of rain fell in Washington last week, and some parts of southeast Iowa saw more. Washington County Extension Education Director Gene Mohling says the soggy conditions could force farmers to plant more acres to soybeans, as the optimum window for corn planting draws to a close. Mohling says soybeans yields don't drop as much as corn yields during a shorter growing season.

IFFAA scholarships available

The Iowa Foundation for Agricultural Advancement has scholarships available to soon to be college freshmen. IFFAA is a non-profit organization comprised of agricultural enthusiasts dedicated to encouraging 4-H and FFA livestock, poultry and agricultural project members to pursue ag-related careers. IFFAA manages the annual Iowa State Fair Sale of Champions and the Winners Circle Scholarship and Awards program. The lists of 2009 scholarships as well as the official application form are available to download at Applications are also available at the Washington County Extension Office, 319-653-4811. The deadline for incoming freshmen is June 1st.

Seatbelt enforcement stepped up

Police officers across Iowa are stepping up enforcement of the state's seatbelt law this week and next. Courtney Greene, with the state department of public safety, more than 14-thousand people who weren't wearing a seatbelt died in car accidents in the U-S in 2007. She says in Iowa, nearly half of those killed in in crashes weren't wearing a seatbelt. Greene says statistics indicates motorists are at higher risk during the evening and nighttime hours. The "Buckle Down on Those Not Buckled Up Day and Night" campaign runs through the end of this month. 

Brighton Chamber seeks food vendors

Kalona Days Bingo

Kalona Days will bring back activities that people have enjoyed in the past. Kalona Days Director Dave Finley says one activity people have mentioned they thoroughly enjoyed was Bingo. He says bingo games will start after the 9:30 AM parade finishes on Saturday June 20th sponsored by Freedom Security Bank of Kalona. Games can earn players Kalona Cash. He says these certificates are used like cash in Kalona businesses. Players may purchase bingo cards for $0.25 each for each game played. Half of the amount collected for each bingo game will be divided equally between the game winner(s). The winners will also be presented a raffle ticket that will enter them into a drawing after the last game of the day is played for a grand prize of $50 in Kalona Cash. Bingo games will be played in the Freedom Security parking lot.

WJHS Teacher thankful for Orange & Black

A teacher at Washington Junior High says she's very thankful to all the local businesses who donated to their annual Orange and Black Day. Connie Hoffman Szenby says the event wouldn't have been possible without their help. Szenby says Orange and Black is a community service day, where students do yard work around town.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Washington Supervisors expected to discuss revenue sharing agreement

Washington County Supervisors plan to go into closed session at tomorrow's (5/19) meeting to discuss an ongoing dispute with Riverside over a revenue sharing agreement. County Attorney Barb Edmondson says the contract was forged when the Casino was built. Riverside has said it creates constitutional debt, which would make the agreement void under state law. Edmondson has said she believes the contract is legal and enforceable.

Washington Schools still figuring out stimulus money

The Washington School District is getting almost $370,000 in federal stimulus money. Superintendent Dave Sextro says the state has instructed them to use that money to backfill cuts made earlier this year. He says this poses a problem when the stimulus money runs out, if the state funding level remains the same. Sextro says they'll meet with the state board of education next month, and hopefully find out more information.

WMU looking for new superintendent

Winfield Mount-Union School District is looking for a new Superintendent. Current Superintendent Lynn Ubben says she is moving to another district to be closer to her family. Ubben says they have selected four candidates. Interviews are scheduled to be start this week. The board intends to make their selection late this month, with the new superintendent assuming duties beginning July 1.

WPD Dog earns national recognition

A search and rescue dog from Washington is receiving national recognition. WPD K-9 handler Brett Sorrell's says his partner Storm has been named the Search and Rescue Canine of the Year by the National Association for Search and Rescue. Sorrells says Storm's sense of smell is so keen, she's been able to identify unique scents through water.

ISU crop specialist: soybean to soybean OK

Last spring's flooding and wet weather forced many Southeast Iowa farmers to plant soybeans, where they had hoped to plant corn. Iowa State University Crop Specialist Palle Peterson says while planting that ground to soybeans again isn't desirable, it shouldn't pose a major problem. Peterson says the yield loss should be less than 5% as compared with a regular crop rotation.

Small business seminar

Small business owners and operators are meeting at the Pizza Ranch in Sigourney next week. Keokuk County Extension Education Director Gary Bickmeir says the group meets on the last Tuesday of every month. He says this month's speakers will be the owner's of Jody's Togs and the owners of the Country and More Store. They'll talk about increasing customer traffic by diversifying products and services. The program is at 6:00 Tuesday, May 26. Contact the Keokuk County Extension office for more information and to register.

4H clothing event deadline

Washington County 4-Hers are reminded that June 1 is the sign-up deadline for the clothing event. All 4-Hers are eligible to participate. Kati Peiffer, 4-H/Youth Coordinator says youth may participate in the fashion revue, the clothing selection, $15 challenge or all three. She says the clothing event judging will be held on Wednesday, June 24, 3:30 p.m. at the Washington County Extension Office on the fairgrounds. Please contact the Washington County Extension Office by June 1, if you are interested in participating at 319-653-4811.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


A search and rescue dog from Washington is receiving national recognition. WPD K-9 handler Brett Sorrell's says his partner Storm has been named the Search and Rescue Canine of the Year by the National Association for Search and Rescue. Sorrells says Storm's sense of smell is so keen, she's been able to identify unique scents through water.

Pork Scholarship

Natalie Friese has been awarded the 2009 winner of the Washington County Pork Producers Scholarship. Friese is the daughter of Dennis and Angie Friese. She's a senior at Washington High, and plans to pursue a degree in nursing after graduation. Friese has served as Pork Queen of Washington, and went on to claim the title of Pork Queen of Iowa. 

Clothing Event

Washington County 4-Hers are reminded that June 1 is the sign-up deadline for the clothing event. All 4-Hers are eligible to participate. Kati Peiffer, 4-H/Youth Coordinator says youth may participate in the fashion revue, the clothing selection, $15 challenge or all three. She says the clothing event judging will be held on Wednesday, June 24, 3:30 p.m. at the Washington County Extension Office on the fairgrounds. Please contact the Washington County Extension Office by June 1, if you are interested in participating at 319-653-4811. 

IMS Graduation

IMS alumnus Firman Gingerich, currently the pastor of Blooming Glen Mennonite Church, near Blooming Glen, PA, will deliver the commencement address, "Friends, in a Facebook World", to 33 graduating seniors this evening at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Police Grants

The Washington Police Department is hoping to get a new officer, and some new equipment. Chief Greg Goodman says they've applied for a Cops Recovery Hiring Grant, and another that would help them buy tactical equipment. Goodman says they still haven't heard about either of those grants. He says an additional officer would reduce overtime costs.

Hospital Recession

Washington County Hospital and Clinics has dodged a bullet during the recession. CEO Don Patterson says they completed their new facility before tough economic times started to affect the Midwest hit. He says other hospitals in Iowa have had difficulty obtaining capital for new construction.

Wellman Cruise Night

The first Wellman Cruise Night starts tonight. Rick Stauffer headed up the project of putting the Cruise Night together and says the cruise night is Wellman Ball association Night. He says the Association will have a concession stand and a 50/50 drawing. Stauffer says the cruise nights will be themed Back to the 50s and 60s. Stauffer says all money raised will be donated to Kyle Petty's Victory Junction Gang Camp which is a camp for kids with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses. The Cruise night will be held in Wellman on 8th Ave. If it is raining too much it will be moved to tomorrow.

Historic Preservation Commission

The Washington Historic Preservation Commission and its national parent organization will release the results of a planning for preservation project next week. The effort aimed to identify historic properties in Washington. According to the National Register of Historic Places, a property must be at least 50 years old, and possess significance and integrity to be listed on the register. The public is invited to see what steps need to be taken to earn the recognition this Monday (5/18) at 7:00 pm at the Blair House.

2010 Community Chest

Non profit organizations that want to apply for inclusion in the 2010 Community Chest campaign are being asked to contact the group secretary Roberta Lampkin. Lampkin says new organizations will need to fill out the appropriate paperwork. She says they can provide assistance if needed. She also says the 2009 agencies will automatically be sent the necessary forms. For questions, or to start the application process, contact Lampkin at 319-653-2048.

Casting Call

Film makers shooting in Washington are looking for people to appear as extras in "Splatter." They're having an open casting call tomorrow (5/17) at the community theatre from noon to 5:00. Casting Director Ann Wilkinson says they are looking for people to play patrons at an upscale restaurant, or a funky bar. She says there will be a small deferred honorarium paid to those selected to appear in one of the scenes.

Highland Graduation

Graduation ceremonies for Highland High school will be held tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. in the high school gymnasium. Superintendent Chris Armstrong says he is very proud of the seniors and everyone involved of helping throughout the school year. He says we may see a few doctors out of this years class as well as people who just may change the world. Armstrong says parents and siblings of the graduates are welcome to use the floor seating. Friends and other family members of the graduates are welcome to use the bleachers.

Summer Reading Programs

The Kalona Public Library is now accepting registration for the Children and Teen Summer Reading Programs. Marissa Tartaglia, Youth Services Librarian says this years theme is Be Creative and focuses on art and music. She says the Children's Program is divided into Family Programs, Preschool Programs, K-2nd Grade Programs and 3rd-5th Grade Programs. To register, pick up a form at the Library. She says Registration ends May 30th and all programs are free of charge. For more information, please contact Marissa at 319-656-3501.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Flash flooding possible

Much of eastern Iowa is under a flash flood watch today. The National Weather Service says scattered showers and thunderstorms will continue across the watch area this morning, producing rainfall amounts greater than one inch in some locations. More storms are expected to redevelop along a cold front dropping into the region from the northwest. NWS says total rainfall amounts of more than two inches are possible. In case of severe weather, stay tuned to KCII for Severe Weather Action Team coverage.

SEIA Agency on Aging warns of scams

The Southeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging is warning about con artists posing as state employees. The organization's Brenda Sayre says the scammers tell people they work for the state treasurer's office, and that they have unclaimed money for the victim. Sayre says you never have to pay in order to claim money or research the state's "unclaimed funds." She says if you come across anything suspicious the best course of action is to notify law enforcement agencies immediately. For more information and assistance with financial scams, older Iowans may contact SMP at 1-800-423-2449.

Roads closed for film crews

Streets in Washington will be closed periodically throughout this month and into next while crews film the movie "Splatter." The 900 block of South Iowa will be closed from 8 to noon today (5/15). On May 29th Iowa will be closed from 6:00 pm to 9:00 am near Cafe Dodici. The 900 block of Iowa will be closed again from 8 to noon on May 30th, as will the 600 block of Third Avenue. On May 31 the street in front of Fourth Avenue Bar and Grill will be closed from 8 to noon, along with Washington Street in Sunset Park. For a complete listing of roads that will be closed CLICK HERE

Farmer's Market kicks off '09 season

The Washington Farmer's Market kicked off their 2009 season in the city's Central Park last night. Market Master Bob Shepherd says it provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs to get a start, and Washington to showcase what it has to offer. Farmer's market's continue every Thursday night this summer on Washington's down town square. 

Washington summer events

Many Midwestern communities have signature events like Kalona Days, Keota Fun Days, and Riverside's Trek Fest. Amy Vetter, with Main Street, says plans are in the works for such an event in Washington. Vetter says they are also working on Ridiculous Days which will be June 6 in Washington's downtown. She says it's a sort of bazar of local businesses. Vetter says this is one of, if not the oldest Ridiculous Days events in Iowa. 

Extension to become more "issue focused"

Washington County's Iowa State Extension director says his agency's restructuring will make it more issue focused. Gene Mohling says it will streamline how and where resources are utilized by identifying areas that share common interests. Mohling says as the extension service shifts from individual counties, to a regional focus, they'll be able to work together more effectively. 

Master Gardeners plant sale

The Washington County Master Gardeners are having a plant sale tomorrow (5/16). Master Gardener Barb Mottet says the sale will run from 8-11 am at the Washington County Fairgrounds, in the old school house. Mottet says there will be a variety of perennials for sale as well as garden related items. 

Kalona Library holds art event

Mid Prairie Schools dismiss early on May 21st, and the Kalona Public Library wants to give students something to do. Youth Services Librarian Marissa Tartaglia says they'll be offering on art program in the Velma Skola Program Room. She says kids and teens are invited to participate in a variety of art activities. She says registration is not required, and the program is free of charge. For more information call the library at 319-656-3501.

Fish n' Fun

The Louisa County 4-H and Conservation Service are teaming up to offer a Fish 'n Fun day nest month. Katie Hammond, with Lousia County Conservation, says the day will start with a casting competition, followed by training session and a fishing derby. She says there will be prizes for the biggest fish, most fish and smallest fish. She says rods, reels and tackle boxes are a few of the prizes up for grabs. Hammond says participants should bring their own fishing equipment and bait. Fish N' Fun is June 13. For more information contact the Louisa County Extension office.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Washington School Audit

An audit of the Washington School District shows declining enrollment and a falling solvency ratio. Mary Babinat, with Newton Based Nolte Cornman and Johnson, says a solvency ratio is an industry term for working capital. Her report indicates it dropped for the district by more than eight percent between 2006 and 2008. Babinat says part of that is related to the district's falling enrollment. Babinat delivered her report at last night's school board meeting.

WCHC CEO's thoughts on health care reform

The CEO at Washington County Hospital and Clinics says President Obama's goal to reform health care isn't going to be an easy task. Don Patterson says changes in the industry will have to be done little by little, because of it's complex nature. Patterson admits that not everyone in the U-S has adequate access to health care. He says Iowa, and Washington County in particular are probably above average.

Nursing shortage not seen in Washington

A nursing supervisor at Washington County Hospital and Clinics says her facility is not experiencing a nursing shortage like some areas of the country. Pat Huber says the nationwide deficiency is two prong. She says skilled nurses are being lost to retirements, and the demand for nurses climbs as the Baby Boomers enter their golden years.

Bauer named to board of health

The Washington County Board of Public Health is whole again. The supervisors this week appointed Lori Bauer to fill a vacancy left by Mike Christensen. Supervisor Chairman Jim Miksch says they were fortunate not to have to consider the recently enacted gender balance rule in their decision, because the board of health already has a good ratio.

Kalona Council adopts ID theft prevention

The Kalona City Council is taking steps to reduce the chance for identity theft among their utility customers. Councilors recently adopted a resolution that adds 22 points in addition to precautions already in place under the Postal Information and Security System. Councilman Steve Lafaurie developed the additional information. He's researched the "red flag" procedures. City Administrator Dough Morgan will serve as the compliance officer.

Paperless Police

A local police officer believes law enforcement will eventually go paperless. Greg Goodman is Chief of Police for the city of Washington. He says they've already reduced the amount of paper they use in their record keeping. Goodman also says they're also in the process of getting laptops for their squad cars so they can instantly access information while in the field.

Floral guru at Washington Farmer's Market

Floral guru Anita Davis will be the featured guest at tonight's Farmer's Market in downtown Washington. Market Master Bob Shepherd says Davis and others from the Louisa County Fair Flower Department will bring perennial divisions from their home gardens to sell. He says proceeds from this sale will go towards restoring display gardens outside Floral Hall, which were destroyed by last year's flooding. The Farmer's Market begins at 5:00 this evening in Washington's Central Park.

Kalona Cash at Kalona Days

There will be several opportunities to win Kalona Cash at this year's Kalona Days. Director Dave Finely says there will be the usual games like bingo. He says there will also be competitions like the watermelon seed spitting, and a nail driving contest. Finley says there will also be a 50/50 drawings. KCII. will have the Big Red Radio on hand and will announce winners each hour.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Washington engineer anticipates hikes in fuel costs

The Washington County Engineer is anticipating high fuel prices again this summer. David Patterson says demand goes up during warm weather as more people travel, and government agencies undertake the bulk of their construction projects. The board of supervisors yesterday (5/12) approved letting the annual fuel contract for Patterson's office.

Planting season much better than last year

Despite a wet spring, farmer's are making good progress this planting season compared with last. Washington County Extension Education Director Gene Mohling says about 85% of corn is in the ground, and nearly 20% of soybeans have been planted. Mohling says the one drawback of this is a lower price. Last year delays and flooding drove the price of both commodities up significantly.

Advice from the chief of police

Washington's police chief is advising residents to review their security measures in the wake of a recent string of break ins. Greg Goodman says taking simple steps like locking your home and vehicle can significantly reduce your risk. He says motion activated lights can also greatly deter potential intruders.

MP Sup. won't receive raise

Mid Prairie Superintendent Mark Schneider won't receive a pay increase as he effectively becomes superintendent of Keota this summer. Mid Prairie staff received a 2.2% pay increase recently, but Schneider turned down his raise. He'll begin his duties as dual superintendent July 30th.

Alliant warns of scams

Alliant Energy is warning customers to beware of con-artists posing as utility workers. Alliant spokesman Dave Koch says workers in the field never collect money for any service. He says customers can always ask to see their Alliant Energy identification badge as well. Koch urges anyone who sees suspicious activity to call their local law enforcement agency.

Washington JH Band at Tulip Time

Mediacom customers can get a look at the Washington Junior High Band performing at the Pella Tulip Time Festival Parade. Band Director Craig McClenahan says the cable provider has made the performance available on their on demand channel. He says the parade can be seen by going to channel one and selecting "Mediacom Local."

Louisa RFL teams forming

The Louisa County Relay for Life event is a few months away, but a local American Cancer Society official says teams are starting to form. Kierstan Peck says the relay is on August first, when teams will gather at the L and M Elementary School. She says the event will go from noon on the first, until midnight on August second. For more information on how to start or join a team contact the American Cancer Society at 319-653-3768, 1-800-ACS-2345 or

4-H leadership opportunities

The Iowa 4-H is looking for students to volunteer during the 2009 summer camp season. Washington County 4-H coordinator Kati Peiffer says current freshman can serve as leaders in training with day camp for 6-10 year olds. She says sophomores and juniors can be counselors in training, and assistant cabin counselors for a week. To find out more, or register, visit

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Severe weather possible

Severe weather could be heading our way tonight (5/12) and tomorrow. The National Weather Service in the Quad Cities says rounds of thunderstorms will occur ahead of an approaching warm front. They say severe storms could occur in Southeast Iowa this evening and throughout the day tomorrow (5/13). Hail, and high winds are possible. In case of severe weather, stay tuned to KCII for Severe Weather Action Team coverage.

Schmitz says no to rate hike

A southeast Iowa lawmaker is urging her constituents to air their opinions at this week's Iowa Utilities Board meeting. Senator Becky Schmitz says they'll be taking public input on a proposed rate hike by Alliant Energy. The meeting is tomorrow (5/13) evening at the Ottumwa High School. Schmitz says people can also voice their opinion at the Iowa Utility Board's website.

MP teachers change schedule, not jobs

Three Mid Prairie Teachers have undergone a scheduling change. Luetaa Ropp, Norman Brooks and Collete McClellen resigned their schedule B duties, and switched to C. Superintendent Mark Schneider says the three have not resigned from their teaching positions at the school district as many have speculated.

Washington Sheriff seeks new K-9 car

The Washington County Sheriff's Department is hoping to get a new squad car, specially designed for their K-9 officer. Sheriff Jerry Dunbar says they use a regular cruiser right now. He says K-9's are an important tool in police work. Dunbar says they are applying for a grant, and are seeking public comment on the matter.

Kiwanis campaign for chaplain at childrens' hospital

Washington's Noon Kiwanis Club is having a prayer breakfast tomorrow. Kiwanis member Dan Voss says they're raising money to get a full time chaplain on board at University of Iowa's Children's Hospital. Voss says they hope to raise around one-million dollars towards the effort. The breakfast is tomorrow (5/13) morning. For more information or to purchase tickets contact Voss at 653-4313.

WHS vocalists head to Ames

Four students from Washington are singing in the Iowa High School Music Associations Outstanding Performers Showcase. WHS vocal director Robert Youngquist says Tyler Lynch, Brad Crone, Brian Langr and Caleb Boyd were selected for an Outstanding Performance Award for their quartet performance at statewide competition this spring. This special recital by all of Iowa's Outstanding Performer award winners is today (5/12) from 9:00 AM, Until 3:00 PM in the performance rooms of the Iowa State University Music Building.

Kalona has open spot on zoning commitee

There is a spot open on the Kalona Planning and Zoning commission. At the last city council meeting Mayor Jerry Kauffman said he would have a suggestion for an appointment to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Wendell Nisly. He noted that a new state law requires appointed boards be gender balanced by 2012.

4-H Deadlines this week

Washington County 4-Hers have a deadline coming up. 4-H/Youth Coordinator Kati Peiffer says 4-Hers will be unable to exhibit at county fair or State Fair if they have not turned in an enrollment form. She says livestock ID forms, also known as 106 forms, need to be turned in as well. Peiffer also says state conference registrations and fee need to be turned in by this Friday, May 15th. If you have any questions, please contact the Washington County Extension Office, 319-653-4811.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Hy-Vee: pork sales still strong in Midwest

Despite recent media coverage of swine flu, Hy-Vee says they haven't noticed any sharp decline in pork sales. Chris Freisleben, with Hy-Vee's corporate office, says people in this region are more attuned to agricultural issues, and likely had a better understanding of how the H1N1 virus spread. She says they don't have any concrete numbers at this point, but nothing has set off any warning signals regarding a decline in pork sales. 

ISU Economist: pork sales suffer nationwide

An economist at Iowa State University says unfounded concerns that pork products may be tied to the H1N1 influenza outbreak are starting to be reflected in the market place. John Lawrence is director of ISUs Beef Center. He says the market price of hogs has declined by nearly $5, per hundred weight since late April. Lawrence says the decline comes at a time of year when pork prices usually rise, and continue to increase into the summer. He says biosecurity is a high priority for Iowa Pork producers, and the outbreak will reinforce the awareness of tactics needed to ensure safety in U.S. products.

Name change for aquatic center still pending

There's a petition going around Washington asking residents to support naming the city's aquatic center after former YMCA swim coach Milo Steele. Parks Superintendent Tim Widmer says the name would be appropriate, but they want to consider everyone's opinion. Widmer says any decision on the matter would not be solely up to the park board. He says it would also require city council approval. He asks anyone with an opinion on the matter to express it to the park board.

FDIC coverage increased

In an effort to boost confidence, the federal government has increased the amount of money they'll cover through the Federal Deposit Insurance Company. Washington State Bank loan officer Brandon Long says that's a double edged sword for smaller banks. He says more than 30 banks have failed during this recession, but no one has lost money in an FDIC insured account. He says the coverage increase is tentatively set to expire in December, but there have been rumors of the federal government extending it.

Washington BOS

Washington County Supervisors will appoint a weed commissioner at this week's meeting. Auditor Bill Fredrick says this person will be in charge of controlling noxious plant life this summer. The supervisors will also make an appointment to the Board of Health. Several road related items are also on the agenda, including contracts for culvert projects and surface overlays on Vine Avenue, and establishing a bid letting date for the annual fuel contract. The meeting starts at 9:30 am this Tuesday in the lower level of the Washington County Courthouse.

Washington Farmer's Market this week

Washington's first farmer's market of the season is this Thursday. Market Master Bob Shepherd says despite this spring's wet weather, asparagus, rhubarb and radishes are sure to be available. Shepherd says there will also be bedding plants, hanging potted plants and baked goods. He says "Bits 'n Blades" will be on hand weather permitting to sharpen scissors, knives and other tools. The farmer's market starts at 5:00 pm in Central Park. 

Salsa Judging at Kalona Days

Theres going to be a new event at this years Kalona Days. $50 in Kalona cash, as well as bragging rights, will go to the person who makes the best salsa. JWs Foods is sponsoring the first ever salsa contest during the early summer Celebration. A panel of judges will rate salsas on a scale of 1-10 in appearance, balance of flavor and texture. Entry forms and rules are available by through Kalona Days Director Dave Finely. 

Dunbar encourages residents to congratulate a grad

A local law enforcement official wants area residents to remember what it was like when they approached high school graduation. Sheriff Jerry Dunbar says its a time when young people realized they are now considered adults. He says the new graduates this year have the same thoughts. Dunbar encourages residents to take the time, and shake the hands of the new graduates while wishing them well. He says its up to all of us to give our future leaders the confidence and support they need to be successful.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

WHS Baccalaureate Services

Baccalaureate services for Washington High's class of 2009 are a week from today (5/17). The Christian worship service is open to all family and friends of the senior class. Several seniors will be involved in the praise band, vocal choir and puppets. Anyone who has pictures of the graduates' faith experiences, and would like to share them to during the ceremony's video show, should contact Lynette Sievers by the end of the day today.

BOS Preview

Washington County Supervisors will appoint a weed commissioner at this week's meeting. Auditor Bill Fredrick says this person will be in charge of controlling noxious plant life this summer. The supervisors will also make an appointment to the Board of Health. Several road related items are also on the agenda, including contracts for culvert projects and surface overlays on Vine Avenue, and establishing a bid letting date for the annual fuel contract. The meeting starts at 9:30 am this Tuesday in the lower level of the Washington County Courthouse.

Home School Fundraiser

Mid Prairie's Home School Assistance Program is hosting a fundraiser at Barnes & Noble in Coralville on Saturday May 16th. Community Supporters can make purchases in the store from 9 am to 10 pm on that day and the program will receive a percentage back for supplies for our Lending Library. They will be hosting two events that are free and open to the public that evening. 6:00 PM will be a fun game night with prizes and at 7:00 PM they will have a Pajama Story time. Attendees are encouraged to wear pajamas to the event. Staff teachers will be reading stories and doing activities while sipping hot chocolate samples from the Barnes & Noble Cafe.

Graduation Thoughts

This is the time people are thinking about high school graduation. Washington County Sheriff Jerry Dunbar says Remember the thoughts that ran through our minds; we all realized we were now considered adults, high school was behind us, and the world was laid at our feet. He says these new graduates have the same thoughts. Dunbar says when you meet one of these new graduates, take the time to give them a firm hand shake, look them in the eye, and sincerely wish them well. Its up to all of us to give these leaders of our future the confidence and support they need to be successful.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Severe Weather in SE Iowa

A series of severe thunderstorms moved through Southeast Iowa last night, bringing heavy rains, quarter sized hail, and winds in excess of 60 miles per hour. KCII received reports of a semi trailer being blown over in Keokuk County, and damage to a sign on Highway 218 in Washington County. The KCII Severe Weather Action Team went on the air just before 7:00 last night, and finished coverage a little after 8:00 when the warning expired.

Corn Country Cruisers open 2009 season

The Corn Country Cruisers are having their first cruise night of this season this evening on Washington's Downtown Square. Organization member Ken Linmeyer says it will be meet the pros night. He says they'll have representatives from Mid America Engine Builders, King's Hot Rod Shop and Papa Clutch Customs. The cruise night runs from 5-9 this evening in downtown Washington.

Help Washington letter carriers stamp out hunger today

Washington letter carriers are collecting donations for the "Stamp Out Hunger" food drive this morning (5/9). Carrier Andy Miller says they're asking residents to put non perishable food items outside their house to be picked up along with the mail. This is the first year Washington has participated in the campaign. Miller says after they collect the food, they'll take it to the post office to be weighed. After that it heads to local food banks.

Sheriff's open house

Washington County residents are invited to get a look at the new sheriff's office again today. Sheriff Jerry Dunbar says he wants to give them a chance to see the facility that was paid for with their tax dollars. The public is invited to the open house. It goes from 9:00 am to noon today (5/9)

Free food stand literature at Extension

Community festival season is just around the corner, and the Washington County Extension Office wants to make sure food stand operators are ready. The extension's Nancy Adrian says selling a variety of food and beverages can be an effective fundraising activity, however organizers and workers need to be aware of certain regulations. She says the extension office has the publication "Food Stand Operations-What you Need to Know" available for free. To obtain a copy, contact the extension office.

WCHC offers breast cancer seminar

Washington County Hospital and Clinics is having a free breast cancer public forum Monday. Dr Terri Howes from the Iowa City Cancer Treatment Center, Dr Abbie Thrower from Cancer Care of Iowa City and WCHC Radiologist Dr. Douglas Boatman will discuss breast cancer treatment and diagnosis. There will be a question and answer session. The seminar is this Monday afternoon from 1:30 to 3:00.

MP Baccalaureate

The Mid Prairie Baccalaureate Ceremony will be held on Wednesday, May 20th at 7pm. Scott Swartzendruber with the Kalona Mennonite Church says there will be many presenters and music for the seniors. He says the senior band and Choir will perform special music for the graduates and families. He says this service is sponsored by the council of Mid Prairie Churches.

Market sheep and goats weighed in

Washington County 4-Hers and FFA members this month weighed in market sheep and goats for the 2009 Washington County Fair on Saturday,. 4-H/Youth Coordinator Kati Peiffer says a total of 45 kids weighed & tagged a total of 259 head of sheep. This is a slight increase from last years numbers at weigh-in.She says Eighty-one sheep were nominated for the Iowa State Fair through retinal scans and two head were nominated for Ak-Sar-Ben through DNA hair samples

Friday, May 8, 2009

State funding cuts for higher ed

The governmental relations director at Kirkwood Community College says using federal stimulus money to backfill state funding cuts for higher education could come back to haunt lawmakers. Steve Ovel says legislators reduced the base state funding level. He says that essentially gives them until 2011 to find new sources of revenue.

4-H safe in wake of restructuring

A local ISU Extension official says area 4-H programs aren't in jeopardy as his agency undergoes a restructuring. Gene Mohling is the education director for Washington and Johnson counties. He says there is no reason to worry, because 4-H groups won't be affected. He says many groups that rely on the extension office won't be impacted.

Water Tower Park plans move forward

Plans for the development of Washington's Water Tower Park are moving forward. Parks Superintendent Tim Widmer says using the area for athletics is still possible, but not on a large scale. He says that won't be a threat to the park's green space, or an existing visioning plan. Widmer says they continue to level off the area, and remove chunks of buried concrete.

Washington starts engineering on new sewer plant

The city of Washington will borrow about $780,000 for a phase of engineering on the new wastewater treatment plant. The money is being borrowed interest free through the Iowa Finance Authority. Mayor Sandra Johnson has expressed frustration because they can only obtain such loans for the engineering phases of the project, not construction.

Kalona paving projects

Kalona is undertaking some paving projects this summer. The city council has awarded contracts for the paving of 10th street and F Avenue, and a new sidewalk from J Avenue to K Court along the West side of 6th street. West Liberty based All American concrete was awarded bids for the two projects. The city council is postponing repairs to the Kalona Recreation and Community Center.

Sheriff holds open house

Washington County residents are invited to get a look at the new sheriff's office today. Sheriff Jerry Dunbar says he wants to give residents a chance to see the facility that was paid for with their tax dollars. The public is invited to the open house. It goes from 1:00 pm to 7:00 today, and again from 9:00 am to noon tomorrow (5/9).

Circle of Support starts up Washington branch

A fairly new service organization is starting a Washington chapter. United Methodist Church Pastor Julie Pouslon says the Circle of Support group is aimed at ending poverty. She says its part charity, and part mentoring. To find out more, plan to attend the Circle of Support meeting this Tuesday (5/12) at 7:00 at the United Methodist Church.

Positive Parenting

Louisa County's Iowa State University Extension service is offering several positive parenting seminars this summer. All courses are free and open to the public. The Keck Memorial Library will host "Off to a Good Start," kindergarten readiness program for families with children ages 3-5. Classes are every Monday evening from 5-6, at the library in Wapello. They run May 11 through June 29.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

NEWS UPDATE - One arrested after break in at Washington business

A Washington man is facing a laundry list of charges after allegedly breaking in to a local restaurant. 36 year old Charles Miller Junior is charged with burglary, third degree theft, possession of burglary tools, and attempted burglary. According to 9-1-1 reports, officers were called to Unc and Neph's on the city's west side after receiving a report about a break in last night. Miller is considered innocent unless proven guilty.

Washington Council puts hotel tax on ballot

Washington residents will be voting on whether the city should impose a hotel tax this November. City Councilors unanimously approved the measure at last night's meeting. Residents on either side of the issue packed the public library during the discussion. They included hotel owners who say the tax will damage their business, and economic developers who say the measure is a great opportunity for extra revenue.

Wellman hires public works director

The Wellman City Council has hired their first public works director. This week, Aaron Shoemaker was appointed to the post. City Administrator Dave Ross says he has the experience and knowledge needed. Ross says the city council gave him the ok to hire Shoemaker but the council still needs to approve a resolution for his salary. He says Shoemaker started his new job on Tuesday.

Columbus Jct keeps a watchful eye on river

With the forecast calling for severe weather, many towns affected by last years flooding are preparing. Julie Hiendel, city clerk for Columbus Junction, says they have all their pumps ready and are keeping an eye on the Iowa river and making sure the same thing doesnt happen again. She says they are more prepared this year and learned a lot from last year's events.

Economic turnaround not significant for Midwest

A local banker says recent reports about the economy improving don't have a lot of bearing in the Midwest. Brandon Long is a loan officer at Washington State Bank. He says the local economy hasn't been significantly impacted by the recession, and isn't as influenced by the reported turnaround. He says the community banking model has kept many smaller institutions shielded from the downturn, as more aggressive methods have hurt larger ones.

Marek expects rail service in SE Iowa

A southeast Iowa legislator says this part of the state could see passenger rail service in the next two to three years. Riverside's Larry Marek says he's spoken with Governor Chet Culver about the possibility. Marek says Iowa would likely partner with Illinois on the project. He says they need to discuss the option with Amtrak and freight rail owners.

Washington engineer goes plastic

Cash or check? is a question seldom asked these days. It's now, what type of card? Washington County Engineer David Patterson says his office needs their own credit card, because they are doing more business online. The board of supervisors this week approved giving the engineer's office their own credit card. Patterson says this will reduce potential conflicts and confusion when other departments need to use the county credit card designated for use by all departments.

Local schools rank high in AP testing

Two area schools were among the top 50 schools in Iowa based on the opportunities for students to take advanced placement exams. Mid-Prairie High school ranked 9th while Iowa Mennonite School ranked 36th. The index assesses AP participation among public and private schools in Iowa, and ranks schools on ratios based on AP exams given and the number of graduates in a given year. The top 25 schools will be honored during the annual Belin-Blank Recognition Ceremony on Oct. 18 at the University of Iowa.


A non profit group in Iowa is trying to raise awareness about dental-phobia. Dr. Ed Schooley, with Delta Dental of Iowa says some studies indicate there are 30-40-million people who harbor a fear of the dentist. Schooley says the industry is developing guidelines to ease dental-phobia. He says oral care is vital, because many health problems have been linked to a lack of proper mouth care.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Building collapse lawsuit resumes

Testimony continues this morning in a civil trial centered around a 2006 building collapse in Washington's downtown area. Eight jurors are hearing cases against Iowa City based Apex Construction and Coralville based VJ-Engineering. Alfonso Raymundo owned the South Marion street property at the time of the collapse. The law suit he filed in 2007 alleges fault against the two eastern Iowa businesses. Yesterday, jurors heard testimony from city building inspector David Bruns, and Apex co-owner Steve Schmidt. One point of contention is how preliminary, and more advanced plans for structure's remodeling were handled by the city, and the two defendants. At the time of the collapse, Raymundo had hired Apex to overhaul the building. The city required Apex to submit the plans, with a certified engineer's approval. At that point, Apex consulted-VJ Engineering. The city later approved the plans. Testimony in the trial will continue at 9:00 this morning (5/6) at the Washington County Courthouse. 

Severe weather possible today

Severe weather could be in Washington County's future today. The National Weather Service says intense thunderstorms are possible from mid afternoon through early evening, along and ahead of an advancing cold front. The storms could bring quarter sized hail and wind gusts of up to 70 miles per hour. Stay tuned to KCII during severe weather for Severe Weather Action Team Coverage. 

Washington Council revisits liquor request

Washington City Council members are again revisiting an outdoor liquor license request at tonight's meeting. Cafe Dodicci co-owner Lorraine Williams says she's been trying to obtain such a permit for a long time, and feels she should get it. Some city council members have expressed concern over what kind of precedent allowing the license would set. The meeting begins tonight at 7:00 in the Washington Public Library. 

Washington Co to help DOT

Washington County's engineering department is helping out the Iowa Department of Transportation on a couple of local construction projects. County Engineer David Patterson says they'll provide inspection services on the repaving of old Highway 218, as well as the bridge at Coppock. He says both of those projects are expected to be completed by this summer. He says the state will reimburse Washington County for these services. 

Federal deductibility tough for economic development

Economic development officials say Iowa sometimes gets a bad wrap because they say taxes look higher than they are. Ed Raber, with the Washington Economic Development Group, says since businesses and individuals can claim federal taxes as a state deduction, it often makes Iowa's tax rate look high, and might scare away potential businesses.

Marek pleased with historical tax credits

A Southeast Iowa lawmaker says he was glad to see Governor Chet Culver sign into law, a measure that more than doubles the amount of tax credits available for renovation of historic sites. Representative Larry Marek says it should help invigorate small town Iowa. The city of Washington recently took a number of awards home from Main Street Iowa, an organization that helps orchestrate historical renovations. 

Keeping A/C running properly

As the mercury rises, many Iowans might be kicking on their air conditioners. A local heating and cooling company says its important to keep A/C units in proper working order. Denise Wiles, with J and S Heating and Air Conditioning says you need to keep the unit's air filter clean. She says many people don't even realize there is an air filter. Wiles says the filter will needed to be changed periodically, depending on where you live. She says it will be more often if you live near gravel or dirt roads. Wiles also says air conditioners should be inspected and given a "tune up" at least once a year.

Skunk River canoe trip

The Washington County Conservation Board is having a canoe trip this month. Naturalist Pamela Holz says they'll travel down the Skunk River from McKain's River access, to the Brighton access. Holz says they'll canoe through some scenic woodland tracts including Brighton Timber. The trip is May 16, and costs $5. Holz says canoeists must be at least 10 years old and have some prior experience. To register call the Washington Kirkwood Center. For questions call the Washington County Conservation Board. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Fatal crash remains under investigation

A car accident near Wellman that resulted in the death of a local man remains under investigation. Washington County Sheriff Jerry Dunbar says his department and the Iowa State Patrol are looking into whether or not charges will be filed against 15 year old Jared Gent. Dunbar says Gent failed to yield at the intersection of 170th and Juniper Avenue, and collided with a vehicle driven by 24 year old Ryan Detweiler. Detweiler was taken to University Hospitals in Iowa City, where he remained until he passed away Sunday. 

Washington Council to revisit hotel tax

Voters in Washington could be given a hotel tax option at tomorrow's city council meeting. The Chamber of Commerce is hoping councilor's will put the item on the ballot for the next election. City council members tabled the request at the last meeting in the midst of strong opposition from local hotel owners. The meeting begins tomorrow (5/6) night at 7:00 in the Washington Public Library. 

Economy down...crime up

A local law enforcement official says there has been a slight crime increase in Washington County. Sheriff Jerry Dunbar says the economy is partially to blame. He says some turn to crime as they struggle to pay bills and put food on the table. Dunbar says as pressure mounts on people, they are more likely to commit crime of passion, rather than a planned out act of violence. The Sheriff encourages all residents to check their security measures. He also urges anyone who sees suspicious activity to contact his department, or the appropriate law enforcement agency. 

MP takes steps to avoid H1N1

Area schools are reviewing their preparedness in the wake of the swine flu outbreak. Mid Prairie Superintendent Mark Schneider says they are taking the necessary actions. Schneider says he has spoken with the school nurses and sent a letter home with students detailing there plan. He says they are doing everything they can to keep the H1N1 virus out of the Mid Prairie School District.