Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fire destroys barn in rural Ainsworth

A barn was lost, but no injuries were reported after a fire in rural Ainsworth. The Washington County Safety Center says they received a report Sunday night indicating the barn at 3270 185th street was "fully engulfed" in flames. Personnel from Ainsworth and Riverside Fire Departments as well as the Washington County Ambulance Service, Rural Electric Cooperative and the Sheriff's Department all responded to the blaze. The safety center says the value of the structure is unknown.

portion of 218 closed today

One southbound lane of U-S 218 will be closed in Washington County today. The Iowa Department of Transportation says the right lane will be closed between County Road G26 and Iowa 22 near Riverside while crews conduct patching operations. Motorists are asked to use caution near on and off ramps, and to watch for workers and equipment. The maintenance work is expected to be completed by 4:00 tomorrow (7/1) afternoon.

Washington School Board to talk petition language

The Washington School Board is discussing bond petition language at a special meeting tonight (6/30). Last week members approved a $36-million facilities plan that was developed by representatives from the state association of school boards. In order to come up with the money for the plan, voters will have to approve issuing bonds. Before that can happen, a petition with enough signatures has to be submitted to election officials. Tonight's meeting starts at 6:30 in the school administration.

Weather favorable for corn, soybeans

Warm, dry weather is in the forecast this week, and that's coming as welcome news to southeast Iowa farmers. Washington County Extension Education Director Gene Mohling says much of the region saw excessive amounts of rainfall in the past few weeks, making weed control difficult. Mohling says the wet weather has also hampered hay harvests. He says in some spots the first cutting was completely lost. High temperatures are expected in the low eighties this week with little or no chance of rainfall.

Fireworks permits down this year

With the Fourth of July this weekend, the auditors office has been busy issuing permits for private fireworks displays. County Auditor Bill Frederick says his office this year has issued 18 permits to residents, as opposed to 25 issued last year. Despite this drop, he says there are some issued after the holiday for special celebrations, such as weddings or reunions. Frederick says the process to receive a permit is long, and at this point it is impossible to get one in time for the holiday.

Supervisor concerned with minibus during winter

A Washington County supervisor is concerned with how reliable the county minibus is during the winter months. Jim Rosien says a great deal of people rely on the service to get them to and from work, and it creates a hardship when the service stops during inclement weather. Rosien says they're fortunate to have Washington County Developmental Center to serve as a back up for area residents with disabilities.

Washington Library gearing up for move

The Washington Public Library is gearing up for it's move to the new building. Director Patrick Finney says one of the biggest challenges will be keeping things organized during the transition. He says it won't be a fun process, but will be worth it once their settled in. Construction at the new library is expected to be complete by August. Finney says they hope to set a grand opening date in the near future.

57 hoof it in 5-H run/walk

Some residents of Washington County got a sneak peak of the upcoming Washington County Fair this past weekend at the 4-H sponsored 5k run/walk. Originally slated for June 19, rain and severe weather postponed the first annual event until this past Friday. Kati Peiffer, 4-H Youth Coordinator says 57 people participated in the inaugural run, and were able to catch a glimpse of fair preparations as animals were already being assembled for the July 19-24 county fair.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Washington man pleads guilty to stealing guns from flooded homes

(AP) - A Washington man has been sentenced to more than four years in prison for stealing guns from homes that had been evacuated during last year's floods. 21 year old Benjamin Willett pleaded guilty in U-S District Court in Davenport for unlawful possession of firearms. The U-S attorney's office says Willett, and two other men broke in to at least four Coralville homes that had been evacuated and stole at least 25 guns. Police searched the men's apartments and found 16 stolen guns, after an undercover officer bought one of them from the men.

Supervisors talk wind energy

Washington County Supervisors are talking wind energy at this week's meeting. They'll hear a presentation from Assessor Lil Perry on how land that wind turbines go on will be valuated. Kansas City Based TradeWind Energy has been working with local officials on developing a plan for what could be the largest wind farm in Iowa. It would most likely be located in the northern part of the county and stretch from Riverside, to the Keokuk County line.

BOS's asked to support overturn of SC ruling allowing same sex marriage

Conservative groups are urging county boards of supervisors to pass resolutions supporting a constitutional amendment that would overturn Iowa's Supreme Court Decision allowing gay marriage. Washington County Board Chair Jim Miksch says it is not something they're looking in to. Miksch doesn't see much of a future for Washington supervisors to be involved in such an issue. A Handful of boards in other parts of the state have passed the non-binding resolution.

Schmitz expects more budget cutsSchmitz expects more budget cuts

A southeast Iowa state lawmaker says the legislature is looking at more "belt tightening" in the next fiscal year. Fairfield Senator Becky Schmitz hopes they can get by without a special session, but says it might be necessary. Schmitz expects the sting of the economic downturn to be felt into next year. She anticipates the state's needs will outlast the federal stimulus money.

Washington in high compliance with SmokeFree act

Nearly a year after the passing of the Smokefree Air Act, many Washington area businesses say the law has had an overall positive effect. In the past year only three businesses have received a notice of violation from the Iowa Department of Public Health, none of those three has received a second notice. Sarah Yoder with Washington County Tobacco Use and Prevention says businesses who do allow smoking see higher costs, higher insurance premiums, and lower employee productivity.

Tristate Local Food Conference

Southeast Iowa will be host to this year's Tri-State Local Food Conference. Elizabet Humbe is a local food coordinator for Hometown Harvest. She says this year's conference will focus on sustainability. The event is a collaborative effort by a range of educational institutions, local food proponents, and economic and financial entities. It'll be held this September in Fairfield. To find out more visit www.travelfairfieldiowa.com.

4-H Alumni

Although the Washington County Fair is about a month away, preparations are already well underway to make this years event something special. 4-H Youth Coordinator Katie Peiffer says one event she is very excited for is the alumni steer show, where the past and present of 4-H will come together. Peiffer says the event is not just beneficial for the youngsters in the organization. She says current members can share stories and helpful advice to the alumni as well. Even though some of the alumni may not have dealt with cattle during their years, she still says it will be a fun way to get past members interested and involved with 4-H again.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Washington Superintendent worked with Parkersburg football coach

Washington's Schools Superintendent says the death of Parkersburg football coach Ed Thomas is a great loss to Iowa's education system. Dave Sextro worked with Thomas on the state high school athletic association. Sextro says Thomas "was an icon for the school, and will be greatly missed." Thomas was shot to death this week by a former player at a weight room facility next to the school. He'd served as football coach for Aplington-Parkersburg for 34 years.

10 positions up for election on school boards

Ten board positions in three school districts will be up for election this September in Washington County. Three of those are in Highland, three in Mid Prairie and Four in Washington. Every position is for a four year term that ends in 2013, with the exception of Washington's district 5, which is to fill a vacancy ending in 2011. The first day for candidates to file with school board secretaries is July 6. The deadline to file is July 30. Each position requires a certain amount of signatures to file, although the county auditor's office suggests exceeding that minimum.

Lone Tree subdivision home buyers to receive tax credit

First time homebuyers may be getting some help in finding a house in Lone Tree. A meeting will be held on Tuesday to discuss $20,000 in tax credits for buyers in the citys Black Otter Subdivision. These tax incentives range from a $2,500 loan from the city itself, and an eight-thousand dollar grant from the Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The USDA is currently holding similar meetings across the state in an effort to encourage the growth of rural homeowners in Iowa.

Bandstand project moves forward

Architectural plans for renovating Washington's Central Park Bandstand are complete, and almost ready for city council approval. Moline, Illinois based architect John Mahon presented the blue prints at yesterday's (6/26) park board meeting. He says maintaining the structure's historic charm will be one of the biggest challenges. The city council is expected to set a public hearing date at their next meeting. After that they would approve the plans. Construction could start as early as this August.

30,000 kids to enter Hawk-I program

Laws passed by the Iowa Legislature go into effect next month. Fairfield State Senator Becky Schmitz says one of the most sweeping changes provides health insurance to more children through the Hawk-I program. Hawk-I is partially funded through the federal State Children's Health Insurance Program. It provides coverage based on income.

Riverside Farmer's Market

The city of Riverside will be holding their monthly Farmers Market tomorrow (6/28) at the Riverside Casino. Public relations director Sharon Hazelhoff says although their event is only once a month, it still provides citizens with quality, home-grown produce and many other goods. She says the casino is proud to be a supporter of the Farmers Market because it is good for the community and a fun event for the public. Hazelhoff says the event will be held in the casino parking lot from 10 2 tomorrow.

Washington couple takes eyeglasses to Panama

A couple from Washington are heading to Panama with more than 20,000 pairs of eyeglasses. Craig and Barb Swift work with One Sight, a non profit group that aims to bring corrective eye-wear to under served areas of the world. They say there are many people in the world who have poor vision, and don't have the means to do anything about it. Craig and Barb will spend the next week in the Central American country. There, volunteers keep a data base of donated eyeglasses and with the aide of optometrists, find one's that best fit certain individuals. Their goals is to help eight thousand people

Friday, June 26, 2009

Washington School board approves $36-million plan

The Washington School Board is moving forward with a plan that proposes a $36-million overhaul of the district's facilities. Members last night unanimously approved the undertaking which calls for voter approved bond issuance. The board will meet on June 30th to draft petition language. If that petition receives enough signatures, it'll be put on the ballot this September. The measure would require at least 60% of voters to be in favor in order to pass.

DNR weighs in on Crawfordsville water

With the city of Crawfordsville under a boil order, much concern has been focused on keeping both city and private wells safe from contamination. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says once a well is subject to flooding or another source of groundwater, bacteria and viruses can enter the water supply making it unsafe for consumption and bathing. Groundwater can also damage the wells pump components. The DNR says only a certified drinking water laboratory and a certified well contractor can determine if water has become safe for use again. For information, call the Iowa DNR.

School safety in wake of Parkersburg shooting

The shooting death of a prominent high school football coach has gained state and national attention, and might have some wondering what precautions exist to prevent such a tragedy in Washington. High school principal Shane Ehresman says the public has limited access to the building. Eheresman says they also keep in close contact with law enforcement and sometimes request police presence at extra-curricular activities. Other school district facilities have similar policies in place. Superintendent Dave Sextro says they can't go into too much detail about their emergency procedures, without jeopardizing their effectiveness.

New laws take effect July 1

The start of July marks a new fiscal year for Iowa. It's also when laws passed during this year's legislative session go into effect. Fairfield Senator Becky Schmitz says on of the biggest changes was to the state's sex offender law. The change creates exclusionary zones where offenders aren't allowed to loiter. It also prohibits them from being employed at places like schools, libraries and swimming pools.

Park board to discuss final bandstand plans

Washington Park Board members will be discussing final plans for the renovation of the Central Park Bandstand at a special meeting today (6/26). Park's Superintendent Tim Widmer says the architect will be on hand. A volunteer committee this spring set out on a fundraising effort for the project. It didn't take them long to reach their $330,000 goal. Former Washington resident and municipal band member John Jackson donated $175,000 in March. This combined with money from the Washington Betterment Foundation and a grant from the Riverboat Foundation helped them reach their goal in just a few weeks. Today's meeting (6/26) starts at 2:00 in city hall.

Hot weather means high attendance at local aquatc center

Hot and humid weather this week has been good for attendance at Washington's aquatic center. Manager Brendan McNulty says they've had roughly 300 to 400 swimmers each day in addition to sunbathers. He says during a regular day when the heat isn't as oppressive they might see a maximum of 150 people. The Washington Aquatic Center is open seven days of the week from 1-8 pm.

Trekkies gather in Riverside

Riverside will be the center of the sci-fi galaxy today (6/26) and tomorrow (6/27) with the annual Trek Fest event. This year the city will host three members of the original Star Trek cast, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, and Walter Koenig. Carol Riggan, President of the Riverside Area Community Club, says both Trek fans and non-fans will have plenty of things to do and see at this years event, which is expected to be the biggest in its 25 year history. She says the community also received support from Paramount Pictures, owner of the Star Trek franchise.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Excavator operator escapes harm

The operator of this excavator was unharmed after it tipped over while demolishing a building next to Nu Cara Pharmacy on Washington's E. Madison Street Thursday. The TC Tiling and Excavating employee says there was a hole in the basement that didn't get compacted, and when the machine's tracks got to close it pulled it in. At about 3:00 Thursday afternoon he said they were on their way to get another piece of equipment to tip the excavator upright. (Photo: KCII/Nick Wilkens)


Crawfordsville under boil order until further notice

Crawfordsville is under a boil order until further notice after crews discovered a hole in the casing of the town's well. City council member Michell Blum says workers replaced a pump, and when they turned it on, it churned up sludge. She says the community will need to drill a new well, which could take a month or longer. Blum says Crawfordsville uses roughly 25,000 gallons of water per day, and is currently hauling water from Olds to keep the water tower full. She says residents are urged to boil water for human consumption for at least one-minute.

Unemployment up in Washington Co. but still low compared to state numbers

Unemployment numbers were up across the board last month. However Washington County's jobless claims are still down compared with the statewide average. Iowa Work Force Development statistics show Washington County's rate for May was 4.6%, that's up from 3.9% in April. The statewide average climbed to 5.8% compared with 5.1% in April. Iowa is still faring better than the rest of the country. The nationwide unemployment rate hit 9.4 % in May.

One injured after crash on 92

A Davenport woman was hospitalized after her Dodge Neon side-swiped a semi on highway 92, just east of Columbus Junction at about noon yesterday. The Iowa State Patrol says 21 year old Amanda Stocker was taken by Air Care to University Hospital in Iowa City. The accident report indicates she was westbound when her Dodge Neon drifted over the center line, and collided with the tractor-trailer. Neither the driver of the semi, or the driver of a third vehicle that was hit with flying debris were injured. Police say charges are pending and the accident remains under investigation.

Washington Schools could adopt $36 million plan tonight

Washington School Board members could adopt at $36-million facilities tonight. They're having a work session to have a detailed discussion on the various facets of the plan. After that, they're scheduled to have a special meeting to accept the proposal. The school district enlisted the help of the Iowa Association of School Boards in coming up with a facilities plan. Last month that plan was presented during a public meeting at the high school. Tonight's work session starts at 6:30 in the administration building, with the special meeting scheduled at 8:00.

2009 a quiet year for severe weather

Southeast Iowa has seen it's fair share of severe weather over the past few weeks, but overall things have been relatively quiet this year. State Climatologist Harry Hillaker says the declining La-Nina event combined with a cool spring has kept violent weather occurrences down. Hillaker says rainfall is up slightly so far this year, with the far southeast corner of the state reporting the highest numbers.

Mohling says extra workload won't be a problem

Newly appointed regional ISU Extension Education Director Gene Mohling says he's ready to roll up his sleeves and get to work. Mohling was named to the position as part of a statewide restructuring of the extension service. Mohling is no stranger to this type of scenario. Before the restructuring he served as education director for Johnson and Washington Counties, and also oversaw Iowa County for a three year period.

Sheriff's Reserve adds officer

The Washington County Sheriff's Office is adding an officer to it's reserve unit. Supervisors this week approved the appointment of Crawfordsville resident Eric Long. Chief Deputy Darren Dennler says they hope to eventually have around 20 auxiliary officers in the unit. He says these officers can cut down on the department's overtime costs and assist with special details. Dennler says anyone interested in joining should contact the sheriff's office.

Farmers reminded to report acreage

With summer just beginning and the farming season well underway, farmers are reminded to report their crop acreage to the Farm Service Agency in Iowa by next Tuesday. Dennis Olson with the FSA says failure to report acreage by the appointed deadline may result in late-filing fees. He says the reports received will be used in a number of agricultural programs as well as used for tracking future crop history. Olson says the minimum late fee is $46 per farm.

Home inspection company coming to SE Iowa

One of the largest home inspection franchises in the country will be setting up shop in Mt. Pleasant. The HouseMaster company recently announced their plans to open an office in the southeast Iowa town and to give the controls to local resident Aaron Schuman. Schuman says owning the HouseMaster branch will give him an opportunity to give something back to the community, while running a business of his own at the same time. Company officials cited Schumans management skills as well as community connections as perfect qualities for a franchise owner.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mohling named to regional Extension position

Washington County's Extension Education Director has been tapped to serve in a regional position for the extension service. Gene Mohling will serve Washington, Keokuk, Johnson and Iowa Counties. Iowa State is selecting 20 regional education directors as part of a statewide restructuring. University Vice President for Extension and Outreach Jack Payne says these positions were created to facilitate an issue based approach to delivering programming and resources.

Severe Weather strikes again

A round of severe thunderstorms rolled through the area last night knocking out power to thousands of customers across southeast Iowa. KCII received scattered reports of downed trees and flooded out roadways. WeatherEye and National Weather Service personnel reported a majority of the most severe weather stayed north of Washington County, although there were local reports of motorists being pushed around roadways by high winds. The KCII Severe Weather Action Team went on the air at about 5:30 last night and finished their broadcast a little after 7:00.

Washington Co. roads suffer from severe weather

Washington County's road department has gone into recovery mode in the wake of recent severe weather. Engineer David Patterson says heavy rainfall and high temperatures have taken their toll on local roadways. Patterson says they've put other projects on hold while repairing weather damaged routes. Over the weekend, some parts of eastern Washington County saw four to five inches of rainfall.

Understanding flood insurance

Last year's record flooding has many thinking about flood insurance. However it's different than most other types of insurance. Paul Horak, with Horak insurance, says the federal government is the only provider of this type of coverage. He says if it were privately administered, the price would be sky high, because of there is a very small group of people to spread a high risk around on. Horak says most of Washington County does not participate in the National Flood Insurance Program. But he says there are some other options for those who want flood protection.

Crop update

Hot, summer like weather is coming as welcome news to Iowa farmers, however heavy rainfall and damaging winds and hail are not. USDA statistics show some parts of southeast Iowa are struggling with flooding, which is hampering hay harvest weed control efforts. While there were scattered reports of crop damage from severe weather, the start of summer brought more than favorable conditions for corn and soybean growers. Corn in the southeast part of the state should have no trouble reaching the knee high by the 4th of July benchmark. Its average height is at 18 inches, while the average tallest height is 32 inches.

Supervisors consider relocating health dept.

The Washington County Health Department could be moving. Supervisors have approved seeking an engineer to study a building at the Orchard Hill Complex as a potential new location. Many on the board say it makes financial sense to have a county agency in a county owned building. However, some residents say it's easier for people with disabilities to access a building in the city of Washington's downtown. The health department currently rents space in the Federation Bank Building.

Blood drive moved

The effect of weekend storms are still being felt in Washington. A blood drive was scheduled tomorrow (6/25) at the United Presbyterian Church. The church was also scheduled to have vacation bible school outside this week, but high winds damaged their tents and other outdoor equipment, forcing them inside. The blood drive will now be held at the Knights of Columbus Hall from 1:30 to 6:30 Thursday afternoon.

Loebsack rep to visit Wellman

The city of Wellman will be host to one of Congressman Dave Loebsacks top aides tomorrow (6/25). Sabrina Siddiqui, communications director for Loebsack, says the aide will be on hand to discuss issues such as healthcare, the recovery act, and any other concerns citizens might have. Siddiqui says Loebsack routinely sends aides out to hold these meetings in order to find out what issues matter most to Iowans. The meeting will be held in Wellman City Hall from 1-3 pm.

Support group at Lending Hands

Lending Hands Adult Day Care in Washington will be holding a support group this week. Bonnie Boshart with Lending Hands,Boshart says this months session will focus on Alzheimers and what kinds of things can be done to prevent the disease.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

WCPH's tips on beating the heat

A heat wave is hitting Iowa this week, and the director of Washington County's Public Health Department says it's important to avoid heat exhaustion and stroke. Edie Nebel says heat exhaustion is when the body can't cool down fast enough, while heat stroke is when the body's cooling system stops working all together. She says it's important to stop outdoor activities if you feel fatigued. She also says keeping hydrated is essential to beating the heat.

Extension restructuring could be advantageous for Washington County

The chair of Washington County's Extension Board says a statewide restructuring of the extension service could be benefical. Kathy Ebert says the plan will allow Washington, and several neighboring counties to pool their resources, which could increase access to field specialists. Ebert says Washington County's office staff, as well as the 4-H program will not be effected by the restructuring. A regional director is expected to be announced Friday. This person will oversee Washington, Johnson, Iowa and Keokuk Counties.

WCRF announces 2nd quarter grants

The Washington County Riverboat Foundation is allocating nearly $239,000 for the second quarter of this year through it's municipal grant program. WCRF distributes 25% of it's revenues directly to cities in Washington County, based on population. This quarter the city of Washington is getting almost $126,000. City Administrator Dave Plyman says all of the money is going towards the library project. He says the building is still on schedule to be completed by this August.

City collecting downed limbs

Weekend storms brought high winds, which downed many trees and tree limbs around Washington. The city's maintenance department is collecting tree material this week. They'll begin pickup today (6/23) on the northeast side of town and move in a counter clockwise direction. Residents are asked to bundle or box as much material as they can to aid in an efficient clean up. The city plans on finishing collections by this Friday (6/25). Questions can be directed to the maintenance and construction office at 653-2947.

Harkin announces transportation money

Senator Tom Harkin recently announced a $4.1 million grant to improve Iowas roadways and other transportation systems. Two southeast Iowa towns will benefit from these funds. Muscatine will receive $450,000 to conduct an environmental study and enhance U.S. Highway 61. Ft. Madison will receive nearly $900,000 to build a new intersection on a county road and a main highway bypass. Harkin says improvements to Iowas transportation infrastructure will provide a much needed boost to the states economy and improve quality of life.

Washington Schools continue mail in registration

The Washington School District is continuing mail in registration this year. Families with students currently enrolled will be mailed a registration packet next month. Parents can also access additional forms at the district's website. Packets can be dropped off at the school administration building or returned by mail. All registration packets need to be received by the end of July. Any families that are new to the district will have a chance to tour facilities, speak with guidance counselors and get registered on August 18 during registration day.

Summer Reading

Kalona kids will get the chance to show their artistic side this week with the Kalona Public Librarys Summer Reading Program. Marissa Tartaglia is in charge of the program this year and she says there are a number of different arts and crafts activities planned. Tartaglia says all are welcome to participate in these activities, whether they registered or not. She says the program focuses on encouraging kids to read during the summer. The program will run all this week at the Kalona Public Library.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Severe weather marks first day of summer

The first day of summer in southeast Iowa was marked with several rounds of intense thunderstorms and reports of tornadoes. Storm spotters reported a tornado touch down between Wellman and Kalona. KCII also received numerous reports of funnel clouds. Heavy rainfall has also prompted several flood warnings in the area, which remain in effect this morning. KCII's Severe Weather Action Team went on the air a little after eight last night, and finished their broadcast just after ten. The National Weather Service says another series of storms could sweep through the area today and into this evening. In case of Severe Weather, stay tuned to KCII for Severe Weather Action Team coverage.

$36-million school facilities plan could be adopted this week

Washington School Board members could adopt at $36-million dollar facilities plan this week. They're having a work session Thursday to have a detailed discussion on the various facets of the plan. After that, they're scheduled to have a special meeting to accept the proposal. The school district enlisted the help of the Iowa Association of School Boards in coming up with a facilities plan. Last month that plan was presented during a public meeting at the high school.

Extension hopes to know who regional director is by Friday

Washington County's ISU Extension expects to find out who the new regional director will be by the end of this week. Board president Kathy Ebert says she was told that a decision will be made by Friday. One candidate is Gene Mohling, who is Washington County's Extension education Director. Washington County is being grouped in with several other nearby counties as part of a statewide restructuring of the extension service. As a result, the extension education director position is being eliminated, and replaced with a regional director.

Regional housing trust fund

A local economic development expert says Washington County should look at partnering with a neighboring county to create a regional housing trust fund. WEDG Director Ed Raber says such a collaboration would increase the chances of getting state money. Iowa created the housing trust fund more than a decade ago. It allows municipalities to create a publicly managed fund to support local housing needs.

New building for comm-center considered

Washington County's E-911 Services Board is looking into the prospect of a new building for the communications center. Comm-center Supervisor Cara Sorrells says they're considering hiring a Minnesota based engineer to advise them. She says it's the same company that assisted them with their radio tower. Sorrells says one possible problem with a new facility, is the tower. She says if they move too far away, they'd have to get a new one. She says that can cost as much as $350-thousand dollars. The 911 board will meet next Monday (6/29)

National History Day

Students from across Iowa got the chance to meet one of the top Iowa lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Nearly 600,000students from middle schools and high schools visited Washington, D.C. for National History Day and Senator Chuck Grassley had the chance to meet with the Iowa group. Grassley says he enjoys meeting with the students because they share a passion for history. He says having such a passionate group of students make the trek to the nations capitol shows Iowas commitment to quality education.

Wear pink today

Area residents are being encouraged to wear pink today (6/22) to show support for a four year old Ainsworth girl with liver cancer. Jenna Waters is the daughter of Jared and Christina Waters. She was diagnosed with liver cancer in January. She's undergoing a long and high risk surgery today.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hamakua Fundraiser

Hamakua Place youth center in Washington is taking pre-orders for its Schwan's fundraiser until the end of this week. Center Director Deb Bodensteiner says you can also stop by the Washington Kum this Saturday (6/27) to order items off the truck. She says Hamakua will receive a percentage of the sales. Bodensteiner says if you want to pre-order you can stop by the center and take a look at a catalog. She also says people can buy through this fundraiser and still give credit to their local Schwan's driver.

Wear Pink

Area residents are being encouraged to wear pink tomorrow (6/22) to show support for a four year old Ainsworth girl with liver cancer. Jenna Waters is the daughter of Jared and Christina Waters. She was diagnosed with liver cancer in January. She's undergoing a long and high risk surgery tomorrow.

National History Day

Students from across Iowa got the chance to meet one of the top Iowa lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Nearly 600-thousand students from middle schools and high schools visited Washington, D.C. for National History Day and Senator Chuck Grassley had the chance to meet with the Iowa group. Grassley says he enjoys meeting with the students because they share a passion for history. He says having such a passionate group of students make the trek to the nations capitol shows Iowas commitment to quality education.

Kalona Special Meeting

The Kalona City Council will be meeting for a special session Monday (6/22) at 5:00 pm. The purpose of the meeting will be to discuss a Use of Highway Right of Way for Utilities Accommodation for the Kalona Telephone Cooperative. A Use of Highway application allows for utility work on busy roads and highways across Iowa. The Kalona City Council will hear the proposal in the Kalona Community Center.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Teaching Career

The Iowa Board of Regents has approved a program that will make it easier for people to enter into a teaching career. The Teacher Intern License Program provides training for people with bachelor's degrees who want to get into teaching. Diana Gonzales works in the Board of Regent's office. She says This is program is not for recent college graduates, but rather a way to entice people who considered teaching, but went a different direction after college. To find out more visit the board's website.

Severe Weather

A round of severe thunderstorms tore through Washington County and much of southeast Iowa yesterday evening bringing strong winds, intense lightning and heavy rainfall. KCII received numerous reports of downed power lines and trees as well as damage to vehicles and and buildings. WeatherEye reports winds in excess of 70 miles per hour, while we recorded nearly in inch of rainfall in a little more than an hour's time at our downtown Washington Studio. The KCII Severe Weather Action Team went on the air at about four-thirty and concluded coverage at about 5:40.

REAP Funds

Washington's Economic Development Group is encouraging the city to seek Resource Enhancement and Protection money through the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. WEDG Director Ed Raber says the state legislature this year appropriated a record amount of money for the program. He says the city could use the money on a number of projects including improvements at Water Tower Park.

Mid Prairie Meeting

The Mid Prairie School Board will be meeting on Monday for their regular session and headlining this weeks meeting is a discussion of FLAP grants. The Foreign Language Assistance Program is a federal 3-year grant given to schools to help advance kindergarten through high school foreign language classes and resources. Also on the agenda is a discussion on bread, milk, and gas bids, and maintenance of the elementary playground.

Kathy Ebert elected to the State Extension Board

Washington County's ISU Extension has a friend in high places. Kathy Ebert is the local Extension Board president. She was recently elected to the State Extension Board. Ebert says she's also serving as treasurer for the state board. She's one of 15 members who serve across the state. That could change as the Extension undergoes a restructuring. Ebert says the new system will create 20 regions, which might merit additional representatives.

Board of Supervisors Preview

Fourth of July is just a few weeks away, and it's evident by the Washington County Board of Supervisors' agenda. They'll consider eight fireworks permit requests at next week's meeting. They're also slated to renew agreements with Lending Hands, and the County Mini Bus. The supervisors are also expected to make additional appointments to the eminent domain commission and and sign off on architectural services for potential renovation of a building at Orchard Hill. The meeting starts Tuesday at 9:30.

West Nile Virus

Hot weather accompanied by rainfall can create a virtual mosquito paradise. Aside from the itchy bites, the insects can also leave the West Nile Virus with their victims. Iowa Department of Public Health Veterinarian Anne Garvey says that's why it's important to use insect repellent.Garvey says another way to avoid mosquitoes is to stay indoors during dusk and dawn. She says that's when they're most active. She also says mosquitoes lay their eggs in water, which is why it's important to change water in things like bird baths, pet dishes and wading pools every three days.

Riverside Memorial

Armed forces veterans who call Riverside home will be honored in a brand new memorial to be constructed in American Legion Park. The Riverside Veterans Memorial Park Committee co-chairperson Michelle Reuss says the monument will pay tribute to both past and present members of the armed forces. She says for the size of the town, Riverside boasts a large number of veterans and it is important for future generations to know the sacrifice and courage of its citizens.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Severe Weather

A round of severe thunderstorms tore through Washington County and much of southeast Iowa earlier this evening bringing strong winds, intense lightning and heavy rainfall. KCII received numerous reports of downed power lines and trees as well as damage to vehicles and buildings. WeatherEye reports winds in excess of 70 miles per hour, while we recorded nearly in inch of rainfall in a little more than an hour's time at our downtown Washington Studio. The KCII Severe Weather Action Team went on the air at about four-thirty and concluded coverage at about 5:40.

More Information
Click for pictures of after the storm

Severe weather possible today, tonight

The National Weather Service says severe thunderstorms are likely to occur in Southeast Iowa today, and this evening. They say the atmosphere is very unstable and well organized thunderstorms will be capable of producing strong straight line winds and intense rainfall. Minor flooding and flash flooding could happen in certain areas. In case of severe weather stay tuned to KCII for Severe Weather Action Team Coverage.

Fairfield man killed in motorcycle crash

The Iowa State Patrol is investigating a Jefferson County crash that resulted in the death of a Fairfield Man. Police say 50 year old Robert Daley II was killed when his motorcycle slammed into a pickup truck driven by 17 year old Jordan Bradfield, also of Fairfield. They say Bradfield was turning into a private drive off Libertyville Road, when Daley, who was traveling in the opposite direction, struck the passenger side of the truck. No other information was immediately available.

Kalona halts Rec Center project

The roofing and siding touchups on the Kalona Rec Center will be put on hold for a while. Kalona City Council members recently received a petition arguing that the city did not follow state law during the bidding process for contractors. According to Iowa Code, if a public improvement project bid exceeds 100-thousand dollars, the city government cannot divide it into two parts. The filer of the petition says they are not seeking any damages from the city, but only wants the city to follow the proper channels and follow the law.

Teens arrested for burglary

Three area youth have been charged for a burglary at the Kalona BP convenience store that occurred early yesterday morning (6/18). The Washington County Sheriffs Office reported that cigarettes and an undisclosed amount of money was taken from the store. Aaron Bender, Miles Coppes, and Katelyn Davis were all charged with possession of tobacco under age. Bender and Coppes were also charged with burglary and theft. The stolen items have since been recovered.

WEDG says more industrial space needed

The director of the Washington Economic Development Group says the city is in need of more industrial land. Ed Raber told councilors this week most most of the industrial park is spoken for. Raber says Washington does own additional land that's zoned for industry, but isn't obligated or part of an industrial park. He says in the long term he'd like to see WEDG and the city partner to create a new designated industrial area.

WEDG says more industrial space needed

The director of the Washington Economic Development Group says the city is in need of more industrial land. Ed Raber told councilors this week most most of the industrial park is spoken for. Raber says Washington does own additional land that's zoned for industry, but isn't obligated or part of an industrial park. He says in the long term he'd like to see WEDG and the city partner to create a new designated industrial area.

County Zoning

Washington County is considering a zoning ordinance, which could interfere with local cities' ability to grow. Without such an ordinance, cities are allowed to claim a two mile radius outside their limits. However, if the county implements zoning, that land would fall under their jurisdiction. The contractor working with the county recommends towns declare "urban reserve districts" in areas they want to see future growth. The county zoning commission, and the city of Washington have a joint meeting scheduled July 14, to discuss such districts.

Engineer prepared for gas hikes

The Washington County Engineer says higher fuel costs this summer shouldn't hinder any of their projects. David Patterson says they usually expect, and budget for the increase, but do have plans in place if the price skyrockets like last year. He says that might include holding off on rock hauling until the price comes down. The Iowa Department of Energy Independence reports the price for a gallon of unleaded gas with 10% ethanol was up 40-cents this month compared to May.

Summer food service

Columbus Community School District is participating in the USDAs Summer Food Service Program. The objective of the program is to ensure that children in the community receive the same nutritious meals that they receive under the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs during the school year. Serving locations are at Roundy Elementary and Conesville Community Center. Meals will be provided to all children of the area free of charge and there will be no discrimination in the course of the meal service.

Local businesses benefit from Father's Day

Father's Day is this weekend and that means gifts for dad. Washington Hy-Vee Store Director Chuck Underhill says they usually see an increase in sales in their meat department around this time. Underhill says they also see a rise in gift card and greeting card sales. He also says there's more traffic through their garden center, as people shop for dads with green thumbs.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Washington Aquatic Center gets new name

Washington's Aquatic Center is getting an extra word in it's title. Council members last night voted to add Steele, in honor of former YMCA swim coaches Maxine and Milo Steele. The committee that drove the renaming effort say the Steeles had a profound impact on area youth. Opponents say the Steele's coached the Y team, not the city team and that it would have been more appropriate to name just the pool after them not the entire aquatic center.

G-36 opens

Getting from Washington to Iowa City will now be a little easier. The Iowa Department of Transportation office in Mt. Pleasant announced yesterday (6/17) that the U.S. 218 and G-36 interchange in Washington County is finished and open to traffic. The DOT thanks motorists for their patience and cooperation while the improvement was underway.

Sheriff prepared for high fuel costs

The Washington County Sheriff's Office says they're ready for higher summertime gas prices. Sheriff Jerry Dunbar says they usually try to budget for it. He says last summer when prices were over four dollars a gallon, they did things like take extra weight out of their cars and turn them off when running radar to check for speeders. Dunbar says if prices get high enough they would consider cutting patrols or asking the board of supervisors for additional money. At this time, he says it probably won't be necessary. The state Office of Energy Independence says the price for a gallon of unleaded gas with 10% ethanol was up 40-cents this month compared to May.

Lake Darling construction expected to start in August

The Lake Darling restoration project is expected to get underway as soon as the ground is dry. The project engineer says they hope to be ready for project bidding by next month, and start construction in August. Some of the restoration highlights include a new dam and spillway, dredging and beach work as well as restocking the fish population. Another new feature is sediment ponds. These are designed to help capture runoff and keep the lake from silting in the lake in the future.

Local vets seek funds for memorial

A collection of local veteran's organizations are on a fundraising campaign for a memorial park in Washington County. Roger Hanson is part of that group. He says the park will be located on two acres of donated land near the Sheriff's Office. Hanson says the memorial will honor all military branches including the Coast Guard and Merchant Marines. He says they're having a golf tournament tomorrow (6/19) to help raise money for the project. It starts at noon at the Kalona Golf Club. It's $50 per golfer and open to everyone.

"Birdies for Charity"

Golf enthusiasts can keep track of birdies and help a local non-profit group during this year's John Deere Classic. The "Birdies for Charity" asks people to pledge either a one time donation or commit a certain amount for every birdie made. Proceeds this year will benefit Lending Hands Adult Day Care in Washington. To pick up a pledge card or find out more contact Lending Hands 653-2661.

Keeping cool...and efficient

As the temperature heats up, many across southeast Iowa are concerned with maintaining a cool, comfortable home without raising utility bills. Gary Bickmeier with the Keokuk County Extension says there are many federal tax credits available for people looking to become energy efficient. He says these tax credits can be used to purchase items to make the home greener, which will pay off even more due to lower utility bills. To find a list of available credits and qualifications, visit energystar.gov/taxcredits.

Bike with the mayor

The third annual "Mayor's Bike Ride" is this weekend in Washington. The trek will tour the new pavement on Filmore Street, and head down the Kewash Trail to the bridge. Participants are meeting in Central Park this Saturday (6/20) at 9:00 am. The ride will also end in the park with refreshments. The cost is $10 which benefits local non-profit groups. Organizers say it's a relatively easy ride, and everyone is invited to join in.

M-P's all school reunion

Mid Prairie High School will see alumni from many past years return for the All School Reunion on June 26 and 27. Superintendent Mark Schneider says the event will include many activities from a baseball game and golf tournament to a banquet. He says teachers from years past will be honored on a Wall of Fame and participants can also take part in a live and silent auction. Schneider says all are invited to the event, and all proceeds will fund scholarships for future Mid Prairie graduates.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dense fog advisory in effect

Washington County and much of Southeast Iowa are under a dense fog advisory this morning. The National Weather Service says visibility will be reduced to less than a quarter mile in areas. They advise that motorists slow down, use their headlights and leave plenty of stopping distance in front of them. The fog advisory is expected to expire at 8:00 this morning (6/17)

Property tax delinquencies up

The number of delinquent property taxes is up this year in Washington County. Treasurer Jeff Garret says his office sold 47% more certificates at this year's tax auction, while the total dollar amount was up by a around 19%. Garret says the numbers suggest fewer high dollar parcels were delinquent. Garret says the tax auction gives investors a chance to buy up delinquent certificates, therefore keeping tax funding to various government bodies stable.

BOS sets wages

Washington County Supervisors have approved wage increases for next fiscal year. Board Chairman Jim Miksch says they had instructed all departments to try to keep their overall budget increases to less than 1.5%. However, he says they wanted to allow for 3.5% pay increases. Miksch says they have a number of union employees scheduled for such an increase, and the board wanted to be fair to the non union ones. 

Loebsack rep visits Washington

A representative of Congressman Dave Loebsack will be in Washington today (6/17) to field questions on the American Recovery and Reinvestment act. Jared Hershberger will be at the chamber of commerce building from from 1-3 pm. Loebsack says he wants to ensure accountability, transparency and oversight with the distribution of recovery act funds. Hershberger will also be visiting Mt Pleasant this morning. 

New PT at WCHC

Washington County Hospital and Clinics is increasing the size of it's physical therapy department. CEO Don Patterson says they've hired Breena Luers as a full time physical therapist. He says she will work with both inpatients and outpatients. Luers has a Doctorate in Physical Thereapy from Des Moines University. She says she looks forward to working with patients of all ages, but takes a special interest in children. Luers, and her husband Justin reside in Keota. 

Bagworm spraying

Along with the common summer pests of mosquitoes, ticks, and gnats, area residents are also concerned about bagworms. Gary Bickmeier with the Keokuk County Extension says that the large number of bagworms in 2008 has created high interest in spraying for them this year. However, Bickmeier says not to spray too early, but to wait until bagworm eggs hatch and small larvae appear on trees. He recommends inspecting trees, especially ones where the insects were present last year, and if caterpillars and tiny bags are present, now is the time to spray.

Kalona Days this weekend

A 40-year old celebration will be having its 41st anniversary in Kalona this weekend. Dave Finley with the Kalona General Store says Kalona Days has been going on annually since 1968 and there are plenty of activities to get all members of the family involved. Finley says one of the biggest highlights for the event is the parade on Saturday morning. He says they usually have a big turnout for the parade and once people show up, they will see how much more there is to do at the event. Finley says Kalona days is a fun and economical way for a family to spend a Saturday.

Thoroughly Modern Millie opens tomorrow

The Washington Community Theater's production of "Thoroughly Modern Millie" opens tomorrow (6/18). Director Ben Bentler says this is a fun play that takes place in the 1920's. He says a large cast, lots of interesting sets and dancing are some of the highlights. Curtain time is 7:30 tomorrow (6/18) evening at the Washington Community Center. The show runs through Sunday (6/21). 

Relay For Life 5k Results

The Relay For Life of Washington County 5k race took place Friday, June 12th. 

More Information Click here for results

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Funding shortfalls could effect Washington Co.

A shortfall in state funding could mean fewer jobs at the University of Iowa. U of I spokesman Tom Moore says around 130 positions could be eliminated. Moore says they hope that number will come down due to retirements and a higher freshmen enrollment this fall. 750 Washington County residents work for the University of Iowa.

Schmitz wants to "wait and see" before special session

A Southeast Iowa State Lawmaker wants to avoid a special session to address budget shortfalls. Fairfield Democratic Senator Becky Schmitz says holding a special session might cost taxpayers more than it's worth. A legislative panel recently slashed the branch's budget by four-million dollars. Republicans have reluctantly backed the plan saying it doesn't go far enough. 

Loebsack announces loan program

More help for Iowas citizens and businesses from Capitol Hill. Congressman Dave Loebsack recently announced the Americas Recovery Capital, or ARC, program to allow small businesses to take out 35 thousand dollars to pay down existing business debts. Loebsack says the economic downturn and last years record floods are major reasons for putting forth this program. The act went into effect yesterday and is expected to help many areas, especially Columbus Junction whose downtown area was nearly completely submerged by floodwaters.

Supervisors to talk pay roll

Washington County Supervisors are talking payroll at this morning's (6/16) meeting. They're slated to approve next year's wage and step wage recommendations. They also sign off on three withdrawls from agricultural districts, and appoint additional members to the eminent domain commission. The meeting starts at 9:30 in the lower level of the Washington County Courthouse. 

ISP Safe Saturdays

The Iowa State Patrol is stepping up it's weekend presence. Jason Marlow is a safety education officer for District 13 in Mount Pleasant. He says the "Safe Saturdays" will put every uniformed officer out on the roadways. Marlow says statistics show accidents are more likely to happen at night. He says 65-percent of alcohol related fatalities in Iowa last year, happened at night. Staffing levels for District 13 we're up 41% this weekend. Unfortunately their was a fatal accident in Jefferson County. 

Keokuk Co. BOS

Administrative employees for Keokuk County may be getting added benefits. Headlining yesterdays (6/15) board of supervisors meeting was a proposal for a premium only plan which would allow pre-tax deduction of employee contributions to insurance premiums. The Keokuk County Courthouse was also an area of interest, as the board also considered allowing two area organizations use of the building for the weekend of July 3-5. Those two groups were the First Christian Church, and Youth United.

Report card A's earn free movie rentals

Report card A's will pay off in more than one way for area students this summer. The Washington Family Video is giving free rentals for A's in core classes. They say that includes math, language, reading, history, geography, science and spelling classes. The free rentals are offered to any student kindergarten through high-school, and can be redeemed until the end of this month. 

Monday, June 15, 2009

M-P among top schools in country

Mid Prairie is one of the top high schools in the nation, according to a recent issue of Newsweek. The news magazine published a list of its top 1500 schools and high school principal Gerry Beeler says its the goal of all schools to put students first, but its always nice to get a little recognition. Beeler says its not uncommon for them to be recognized as a top high school. He says the University of Iowas Bell and Blank Center runs a similar study of top schools in Iowa, and Mid Prairie consistently ranks in the top ten.

MS to hold "Community Conversation"

Main Street Washington is looking for public input on what the future should hold for the city's downtown. Main Street Executive Director Amy Vetter says the "Community Conversation" will be the first in a series of public forums. The meeting is tomorrow (6/16) at 6:30 at the UP Church.

Harkin aide to visit Washington

More lawmakers are focusing on southeast Iowa this month as a top aide to U.S. Senator Tom Harkin will be visiting Washington County to discuss healthcare. Harkin says there needs to be a greater effort made at preventing illness, rather than treating it after it occurs. Harkin is the chair of Health Education Labor and Prevention, or HELP, and his staff has been traveling across Iowa to give communities better access to constituent services. Harkins aide will be in Washington June 25 at Washington County Hospital and Clinics at 8:30 am.

Supervisors seek candidates for eminent domain commission

Washington County Supervisors are looking for bankers, auctioneers, property managers, appraisers and loan issuers to serve on the eminent domain commission. Supervisor Adam Mangold says people who serve on the commission can excuse themselves from hearing a case if they feel there is a personal conflict. He also says they have enough volunteers from the city of Washington, and are looking for people from other communities to serve.

Sheriff Dunbar: remember the fireworks permits

Washington County Sheriff Jerry Dunbar says residents who want to have fireworks displays this 4th of July need to remember to get a permit. Dunbar says applications for the permits need to be received at least two weeks in advance. He says it's best to have someone who's been properly trained shoot off fireworks. Dunbar also says people need to be mindful of where the debris is going to land. To obtain an application contact the county auditor's office.

RFL '09 raises $74K

Area residents took steps against cancer this weekend during the Washington Relay for Life. Kim Hatfield is the local representative for the American Cancer Society. She says Relay for Life is their primary fundraiser. She says the money is used for research and to support cancer victims. The event raised more than $74,000.

Library event

The Washington Public Library hosting pictorial and oral account of two Iowans who embarked on a 1,400 mile canoe trip. Dennis Weidemann wrote "This Water Goes North." It tells the story of two Iowa farm boys who canoed from Minnesota to the Hudson Bay in Southern Canada. Weiddemann will share the story at 7:00 pm this Tuesday (6/16) in the Helen Wilson Gallery at the library. It's free and open to the public.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Account Executive Wanted

KCII Radio in Washington, Iowa is looking for our next sales superstar. You may or may not have radio experience and you may or may not have sales experience... we will train the right person. We may be small market, but we are not small business. We have other locations and a history of successful, profitable radio stations.

You would be taking over a growing territory (so you would not be starting from the bottom). You would be a joining a fun and exiting team helping local businesses grow their revenues through marketing. We have proven sales systems and need the right person with great energy to implement and work these systems for their clients.

Company health insurance available (we pay 1/2), commissions and bonuses available in the 1st year, base pay guarantee, paid vacation, retirement plan available, and we are an equal opportunity employer.

If you're in a dead end job or are sick of sitting in an office... this is your opportunity to get out of the office and meet some great business owners and show them ways to grow their business. Management opportunities may be available in the future for the properly motivated candidate.

Send your resume and cover letter to suhr.michael@manhbroadcasting.com

Interviews will begin immediately. Your future career awaits at KCII Radio!

"Pandemic" to have little impact in Iowa

The World Health Organization has declared the first flu pandemic in more than 40 years. However, the Iowa Department of Public Health says the number of H1N1 cases in Iowa remains at a "sporadic" level. Statistics from the Center for Disease Control show 92 confirmed or probable cases of the virus in the Hawkeye state, which is well below the national per state average of 264. Washington County Public Health Director Edie Nebel says there have been no reported cases in Washington County, and Iowa's policy towards H1N1 remains the same. 
quick stats on H1N1:
Probable/Confirmed in IA - 92
Total probable/confirmed nationwide -13,216
Average cases per state-264
State with highest number of cases Wisconsin 2217
State with lowest number of cases Alaska 1

CJ Councilor says flood relief money should be used for prevention

U.S Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack returned to Iowa this week. Iowas former governor toured Columbus Junction to assess flood recovery efforts and to promote the recent 24 million dollar recovery aid funds. Harold Prior with the Columbus Junction City Council says his top priority for these funds would be to raise the citys levee by four or five feet. He says it would be better to put the money towards preventative measures, so it would not have to be used for recovery for the next flood.

Marek: no special session necessary

A Southeast Iowa state lawmaker says holding a special legislative session to trim the budget isn't necessary. Riverside Democratic Representative Larry Marek says even though revenues have been down, the state still has reserve money that can carry them through to the next fiscal year. This week a panel of lawmakers voted to cut the legislative branch's budget by 10-percent, or four-million-dollars. They also approved pay freezes and travel restrictions. Republicans back the plan but have said it doesn't go far enough. They want to see a special session to "get a handle on the budget."

Meet the new YMCA director

The new director at Washington's YMCA is almost through is first week, and he says one of the biggest things he's noticed so far is the weather. Greg Woller came from Rhinelander in northern Wisconsin, where he worked for ten years at a YMCA. Woller says one of his first goals is to survey the Washington facility and programs, and see if there is anything that can be improved. He says one of the interesting things about the Washington -Y- is it's history. He says it's intriguing to know that several generations of a family might have used the same building. 

Savor Washington

Washington residents can sample food from around the world, without leaving the square this weekend. Main Street's Amy Vetter says tomorrow's Spring Forward, and Savor Washington event will feature cuisine from five downtown restaurants. Vetter say they elected to have the event tomorrow, because it will be a busy time on the square with Relay for Life and the Corn Country Cruise night also going on.

RFL tomorrow

The Washington Relay for Life is tomorrow, and one of the organizers says they're expecting a good turnout. Sherry Renoux says they have more than 30 teams signed up for the event, which is close to average. However, she says many of the teams have more than the usual 15 members. Renoux expects a record number of walkers. The event starts tomorrow (6/13) at noon in downtown Washington. 

Riverside Hover Rally

The future home of Captain Kirk will take another step towards the future June 19-21 as Riverside will host hovercraft races. The Hoverclub of America will be bringing their "Hoverally" to Riverside Casino and their vehicles will be demonstrated on the waters of the Iowa and English Rivers. Hoverclub of America's designers and pilots have been featured on the Discovery Channel and the Learning Channel and they will be on hand to demonstrate the hovercrafts to the public.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Washington School Board holds off on $36 million proposal

Washington School Board members last night chose to hold off on approving a $36 million proposed overhaul of the district's facilities. They want time to hold a work session to gather input on the plan. They'll have that session on June 23, followed by a special meeting to adopt the plan on the 25th. In order to put a bonding proposal on the September ballot, more than 100 signatures need to be gathered and submitted to election officials by July 14.

Gender balance a challenge for VA

A new state law requiring appointed boards to be gender balanced could prove troublesome for the Washington County Veteran's Affairs Commission. Commissioner Terry Philips says there are simply fewer female veterans than males. However, he says this will give them an opportunity to identify women who have served. The gender balance law goes into effect in 2012.

Arborist: 25% of Washington trees ash

About 25% of street trees in the city of Washington are ash, which could be bad news if the Emerald Ash Borer makes it's way to this area. Andy Dahl is the arborist at University of Iowa, and a member of Washington's Tree Beautification Committee. He says the destructive insect would have a devastating impact on Washington. Dahl says other states have had limited success controlling the Emerald Ash Borer. He says the best approach is to limit its spreading. He says that's why it's important to use local firewood, and not transport it.

Tyson says products are safe in wake of Russia ban

A spokesperson for Tyson Foods says his company is "confident about the safety" of their pork products in the wake of Russia refusing products from two Iowa plants. Gary Mickelson tells KCII their fresh pork operation's are federally inspected. He also says they have an in house quality assurance staff. He says they'll be working with the USDA and Russian officials to resolve the trade situation as quickly as possible. The Des Moines Register reported the Russian meat plant oversight group said E. coli bacteria was found in some meat from the Waterloo and Columbus Junction plants.

Municipal band kicks off season

The Washington Municipal Band's first performance of the 2009 season is this evening (6/11) in Central Park. Wayne Brock is one of the band's most experienced musicians. He says there's no greater experience than being on stage and seeing the park filled with people. The band will perform this evening (6/11) at 8:00 as part of Washington's Thursday Night Live festivities. The event also features music from guitarist David Moore and a farmer's market.

Family gathers to remember car accident victim

Family and friends of the late Travis Filben will be celebrating the life of the 19 year old in a rather unconventional way. Scott Young, father of Filben, says they will be having a celebration of life party, in addition to the more formal funeral. He says they will be honoring Filben by playing some of his favorite games and eating some of his favorite foods. Young says all are welcome to this event and welcome to share in their memory of Filben. The event will be at the east pavilion in Wellman City Park at 3:00 pm today (6/11).

Whoopee Days

The city of Brighton will be letting loose this weekend with their annual celebration of Whoopee Days. Brighton Chamber President Brian Arnold says they use a tried and true formula of events that always brings in a good crowd. Arnold says participants will be treated to a variety of events and activities, including the always popular mud run and armband night where an armband will allow you to ride as many rides as you like for two hours. Arnold says hes also excited for the country/western band Lockren to perform on Saturday night during the street dance.

Highway 22 down to one lane

Highway 22 in Riverside is reduced to one lane again today (6/11) for road maintenance. The Iowa Department of Transportation says motorists should watch for crews and equipment and obey traffic control signs. They say both lanes of the roadway should be reopened by this afternoon at about 3:30 pm.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

More flood relief

Some southeast Iowa communities may soon be getting more help from the government for flood recovery. Congressman Dave Loebsack recently announced over $24 million in recovery act funds that will be used to rebuild devastated communities and protect Iowa farmers and landowners from future natural disasters. These recovery act funds will protect against more than just flooding, as the money will also go to protecting communities against droughts and erosion.

Bio-Security Workshops

Six workshops focusing on bio-security are being offered this month and next in Southeast Iowa. Washington and Keokuk County Emergency Management Coordinator Larry Smith says the sessions train people how to respond to foreign animal diseases. Smith says the programs are free of cost and are sponsored by Homeland Security, The Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau and the Iowa Beef Industry Council. For more information or to register contact your local emergency management coordinator.

Weekly crop update

Southeast Iowa farmer's are in need of a different type of weather than the rest of the state. State Climatologist Harry Hilaker says statewide rainfall was up about 50% last week, which came as welcome news in may places, but was excessive locally. USDA statistics show almost 90% of Southeast Iowa's corn emerged, with 63% of soybeans above ground. There is still some soybeans to be planted in Southeast Iowa, but statewide progress is ahead of last year.

Finding a job

National unemployment numbers were up again last month, and many are looking for work. Kirkwood Washington Center Director Nancy Rash says one of the most important tools a job seeker has is their resume. She also says it's important to follow any directions and employer gives regarding the application process. Kirkwood offers a number of college credit and continuing education courses centered around employment and career development. Contact the Kirwood Washington Center for more information.

Tire Safety

This is National Tire Safety Week, and as Benjamin Franklin said "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of the cure." Joe Greiner owns Greiner Discount Tires in Washington. He says it's important to keep an eye on air pressure, and tread condition. Greiner says during hot weather, it's important to check tire pressure when the tires are cool, not after driving around all day. He also says keeping tires in proper working order can also save money, because under-inflated tires cut down fuel efficiency.

Underwood Bridge open

Construction on the bridge over Long Creek on Underwood Avenue in Washington County is done. The county engineers office says $428,000 project was completed on time by Winfield based Schmidt Construction. They say the new three span concrete bridge replaced the 90 year old "pony truss bridge" and provides increased serviceability for local residents.

Summer Pests

Along with warm summer weather comes the inevitable nuisance of summer pests. Ken Holscher with the ISU extension says the most common insects during the summer months are black flies, mosquitoes, and ticks. Holscher says that a common misconception about ticks is that they live in trees when in reality they wait in tall grass and short bushes. He says ticks cant survive in sunny areas, so keeping your lawn mowed and short is a good way to control the tick population. Holscher says the record flooding of last year has given many pests extra breeding grounds to build bigger populations.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Keota man dies of injuries sustained during Memorial Day crash

A Keota man has died of injures he sustained in a car accident over Memorial Day Weekend. 19 year old Travis Filben was pronounced dead Sunday at University Hospitals in Iowa City. Filben was a passenger in a vehicle that smashed into an SUV at the intersection of Lexington Avenue and Highway 92 on May 23. The accident also claimed the lives of a Indianola couple. Celebration of Life Services for Filben will be at 2:00 pm this Thursday at the Powell Funeral Home in Wellman. Filben was a graduate of Keota High School and a member of the Iowa National Guard. 

Washington School Board slated to discuss $36 million proposal

Washington School Board members are discussing a proposed $36-million overhaul of the district's facilities at tomorrow's meeting (6/10). It calls for the current high school to become the junior high, and the current junior high to become an annex of a new high school building. The proposal also restructures the school system to have grades 9-12 at the high school, and 6-8 at the junior high. The meeting starts tomorrow night at 7:00 in Washington School Administration Building. 

MP, Keota to share positions

The school districts of Keota and Mid Prairie will be sharing a number of positions in the coming school year. Mid Prairie Superintendent Mark Schneider says the two districts agreed on sharing a media specialist to assist both schools with hardware and software needs. He says Mid Prairie will be selling these services to Keota and it will contribute to the salary of two individuals contracted for such work. Schneider says the two districts will also share a superintendent and business manager. 

G36 update

The Iowa Department of Transportation says they hope to have some more information by the end of this week about when the G-36 interchange in Washington County will be completed. Jeff Johnson is an engineer with the DOT's Mt. Pleasant Office. He says they have one more section of concrete to pour, some guardrails to put in as well as signage, traffic marking painting and lighting to complete. Johnson says how quickly they can get this done depends heavily on the weather. 

Washington County zoning

Washington County continues to develop a zoning policy. County engineer David Patterson says a local commission has been working on drafting an ordinance, that will soon be coming up for a vote by the board of supervisors. Supervisors last night (6/9) had a work session with the zoning commission.

Washington, Ainsworth to receive grant money

Two Washington County communities are receiving money through the states Community Disaster Grant Program. Ainsworth is getting a little more than $2,000 to reshape a drainage ditch on north Railroad Street. The city of Washington is also receiving just over $2,000 to purchase generators and pumps. 500 counties and communities across Iowa are benefiting from this $22-million allocation. This is the final round of funding through the Rebuild Iowa Bill, which is a piece of legislation passed in response to last years flooding and tornadoes. 

Extension gets IFBF money

Washington County's Extension office is getting $250 from the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation. The money is being used to purchase "Building Blocks of Learning" sets that will be used by three year olds and their parents as they prepare for preschool. The I-F-B-F has been awarding these community enhancement grants since 2005 and to date has given out more than $100,000. 

Monday, June 8, 2009

Severe weather last night

A severe thunderstorm moved across Southeast Iowa late last night effecting parts of Washington County. The National Weather Service issued a warning at a little after 11:00 pm. KCII's Severe Weather Action Team was on the air until about midnight. There were reports of heavy rainfall and quarter sized hail. 

Preventing "cramming"

Utility bills can be confusing. Unfortunately some unethical companies know that and use it to "cram" their customers with extra charges. Iowa Telecom spokesman Dan Eness says that can happen when a third party gets involved. Eness says "cramming" isn't something his company participates in, but their customers can be mislead by people who say they represent Iowa Telecom. Eness also says if something looks awry on your phone bill to contact your phone provider and have them provide a detailed explanation of charges. 

DTV switch this week

The digital television switch happens this Friday. Tony Lipski at Archer Appliance and Electronics says even with a digital television, or a converter box connected to an older set, people might still have to make some adjustments. He says some stations might jump around on the spectrum, so on June 13 people who utilize broadcast signals should run the auto scan on their TV's. 

Washington Council considers renaming aquatic center

At least 700 people are passionate about renaming Washington's aquatic center after former YMCA swim coaches Milo and Maxine Steele. That's how many names were collected for a petition making the request. Former members of the "Green Toads" recently addressed the city council, and attested to the Steele's commitment to volunteerism and community service. The council is now considering renaming the aquatic facility the Washington-Steele Aquatic Center.

Halcyon House celebrates 50 years

The Halcyon House in Washington is celebrating it's 50th anniversary this year. The senior living center has expanded its programming and facility since was established in 1959. Executive Director Chris Marshal in the future they hope to allow more people to stay in their homes longer. Marshal says they'll recognize the facility's 50th year, with a ceremony on June 19 in the front lawn. She says the public is invited to hear a reflection on the past, and what the future holds for the Halcyon House. 

ACS honors cancer survivors

The American Cancer Society yesterday honored the nearly 11 million cancer survivors with National Cancer Survivors Day. The nationally-recognized commemoration honors cancer survivors across the country as well as the 110,000 survivors in Iowa. The American Cancer Society is a 3-million member grassroots organization that works to support patients and their families. The organization has fought to pass smoke-free laws, improve healthcare access, and raise money for cancer research.

Summer reading programs

With so many activities taking place this summer, the Kalona Public Library reminds you that one of the best activities is simply reading a book. Their Summer Reading program will be starting up tomorrow and the theme this year is Be Creative. Marissa Tartaglia with the library says the program will also incorporate music and art activities. She says the program has events and activities for all ages from kindergarten to teens. Information on the Be Creative Summer Reading Program can be found at 319-656-3501.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

New state committee formed in anticipation of further cuts

Iowa is receiving hundreds-of-millions of dollars in federal stimulus and recovery money, but a Southeast Iowa state lawmaker says tough budget times arent over. Fairfield Senator Becky Schmitz says Its unlikely that revenues will turn around by the time the Legislature reconvenes in January, and its unlikely that federal stimulus dollars will be so plentiful next year. Schmitz says the legislature needs to start planning for cuts now. She says theyre creating a a new State Government Reorganization Committee to find ways to improve state services, share costs across departments, increase efficiencies, and save money. 

Halcyon House Celebrates 50 years

The Halcyon House in Washington is celebrating it's 50th anniversary this year. The senior living center has expanded its programming and facility since was established in 1959. Executive Director Chris Marshal in the future they hope to allow more people to stay in their homes longer. Marshal says they'll recognize the facility's 50th year, they'll have a ceremony on June 19 in the front lawn. She says the public is invited to hear a reflection on the past, and what the future holds for the Halcyon House. 

Cancer Survivors Day

The American Cancer Society today honors the nearly 11 million cancer survivors today with National Cancer Survivors Day. The nationally-recognized commemoration honors cancer survivors across the country as well as the 110,000 survivors in Iowa. The American Cancer Society is a 3-million member grassroots organization that works to support patients and their families. The organization has fought to pass smoke-free laws, improve healthcare access, and raise money for cancer research. 

Summer Reading

With so many activities taking place this summer, the Kalona Public Library reminds you that one of the best activities is simply reading a book. Their Summer Reading program will be starting up tomorrow and the theme this year is Be Creative. Marissa Tartaglia with the library says the program will also incorporate music and art activities. She says the program has events and activities for all ages from kindergarten to teens. Information on the Be Creative Summer Reading Program can be found at 319-656-3501.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Emerald Ash Borer in Iowa

The first evidence of the tree killing Emerald Ash Borer has been discovered in Iowa, and the ISU Extension Service is letting people know what can be done to protect ash trees. They say treatments are available but need to be utilized only if an infestation is confirmed. The Extension says only ash trees are susceptible to EAB. They also say treatment methods only work if ash trees are healthy and growing. Insecticide should not be used unless you live within a 15 mile radius of a confirmed EAB infestation. For more information on the destructive beetle, visit the Extension's website. 

Ridiculous Days

One of Iowa's Oldest Ridiculous Days celebrations is today in downtown Washington. The festivities kick off with "Bags of Bargains" which runs from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm. Silly fun is from 10am to noon with registration at 9:30. That includes a cutie contest, pigtail contest Oreo stacking and more. There is also an open invitation for residents to "share their silly side" with the community during the parade. Registration begins at 11:00 am at the high school parking lot.

Ridiculous Book Sale

As part of today's Ridiculous Days celebration, the Washington Public Library is selling reduced price books as well as audio and videotapes. They say as they prepare to move into their new facility this summer, they have to decide what items will travel with them. Proceeds from this sale will go towards teen summer reading club prizes and teen programming. The sale begins this morning at 9:00 in the Helen Wilson Gallery at the Library, and runs until 1:00 this afternoon. 

Grassley Pork Market

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he doesn't expect a ban on U.S. pork products in several foreign countries to have a chilling effect on trade relations. Grassley says safety scares have happened in the past and the market always rebounds. He says other countries might be using the ban as a way to boost their local pork industries. The New Hartford Republican says domestically, the department of agriculture can buy up U.S. pork to stabilize the price. 

Flight Breakfast

The Flight Breakfast at Washington's municipal airport is tomorrow morning from 7-11. It's being hosted by the American Legion. Organization member Terry Philips says this is the first year theyre hosting the annual event. Philips says in addition to pancakes and sausage, the Flight Breakfast also features a variety of aircraft that can be seen landing and taking off. He says youngsters will also have an opportunity to go on a free plane ride through the Young Eagles Cedar Rapids chapter. 

Fireworks Safety

While everyone knows that firework displays are fun to watch, many dont know the risks that are involved. Kalona Fire Chief Steve Yotty says when mishandled or used without proper training, fireworks can cause serious injury including hearing loss, physical loss of limbs, and worse. He says fire departments know the proper way to handle them and set them off. Fireworks are illegal in Iowa, and Yotty says when unqualified users try to set them off they can also start fires as well as explosions due to the hot and dry summer weather. 

Friday, June 5, 2009

Severe weather possible

The National Weather Service says isolated thurnderstorms are possible late this afternoon and into this evening. They say a complex system is developing in Nebraska, and could reach eastern Iowa by midnight. Severe weather is possible throughout the weekend and into next week. The National Weather Service says it's too early to identify specific threats, but they say there is potential for heavy rainfall and flash flooding. In case of severe weather stay tuned to KCII for Severe Weather Action Team Coverage.

Washington Council votes down liquor request

A downtown Washington restaurant will not be able to serve alcohol in an "outdoor cafe" setting. Washington Council members voted to deny the request from Cafe Dodici at this week's meeting. At large councilor Merle Hagie was the only yes vote. He says the matter at least deserved further research.

Downtown construction to begin

Construction crews are expected to start milling this morning (6/5) as part of Washington's downtown enhancement project. City Administrator Dave Plyman says work will be done on Washington Street, between Marion and Second Avenue. Plyman says in addition to a new street surface, the project also includes new brick work on the sidewalks, and new curbs and gutters. The city engineer's office says they will not allow crews to block any of the parade routes for tomorrow's Ridiculous Days celebration.

MP hires asst. business manager

The current business manager at Mid Prairie schools will be getting some new help in the coming months. Cindy Steege of the Solon School District was hired during a special school board meeting to become the new assistant business manager at Mid Prairie. Superintendent Mark Schneider cited her professionalism, initiative, and communication with the public and faculty as big selling points. He says Steege is already familiar with the system at Mid Prairie because Solon uses many of the same software programs they do.