Monday, August 31, 2009

Cheers and jeers at Loebsack's town hall meeting

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

Keokuk man killed in crash near Coralville

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

Chamber holds informational meeting ahead of bond vote

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

IASB offers advice on choosing school board members

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

Kalona revitalization

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

BOS Preview

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

IUB: winterize now

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

Moonlight Paddle

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

Small business loans

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

Friday, August 28, 2009

Loebsack to visit Washington

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

M-P Candidates take questions

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

Final Satellite voting and Demon opener

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

Season flu shots expected to be early

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

Supervisor hopes to lobby state on voting 911 commissioners

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

Keokuk, Wash, Jefferson Counties hardest hit by heavy rain

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

Home tax credits offered

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

Better communities program

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

Thursday, August 27, 2009

400 voters cast absentee ballots

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

M-P meet the candidates night

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

County to devise disaster mitigation plan

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

Emergency planning to discuss H1N1

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

Wellman Community Center expected to be done by November

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

WCRF fall grant cycle begins

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

Watermelon Day

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

Riverside 4-Hers bring home Swin Showmanship Award

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

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Facilities committee continues architect screenings

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

Orscheln to move to old Wal-Mart building

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

Washington Co. behind state, federal unemployment numbers

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

Crop Update

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

ID thieves could use old medication bottles

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

ICA regional meeting

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

Semi annual manure application traning

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

SE Iowans bring home big rabbit prizes

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

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Slain couple's estate sells for $1 million

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

Redbrick School becomes museum

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

Mt. Pleasant woman injured after rollover

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

Miller House considered for Natl. Historic Places

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

Northey to visit SE Iowa

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

AGTRAI this weekend

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

CJ Woman named to Natl. Auxilary post

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

IMS grad receives ag award

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

Monday, August 24, 2009

Grassley talks about "bipartisan" healthcare effort

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

Satellite voting this week

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

M-P meet the candidates night

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

Architects selected for Washington School facilities

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

Many schools starting this week

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

Farm storage loans available

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

Circle of Support

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

Men's Fun Day

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

Friday, August 21, 2009

911 Sup. talks about emergency texts

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

Pheasant count completed

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

Ag land assessments unchanged in Washington County

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

Absentee voting available

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

Birth rate stays mostly stable locally

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

SIDS Walk this weekend

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

4-Hers bring home state fair ribbons

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

Pork youth confrence

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

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Amount of H1N1 vaccine unknown

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

Councilors talk food vendors

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

Digital mammography will serve more patients

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

Schmitz on healthcare

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

...on energy

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

New community guide

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

More flood money for E. Iowa

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

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Semi rollover closes roadway

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

New Wal-Mart opens today

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

Washington judge nominated for appellate court

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

BOS hires architect for health dept. move

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

School board again looking at architect

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

$850k in local option sales taxes

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

Loebsack shuffles schedule

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

IMS starts

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

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tree removed for safety reasons

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

Sieren named 1st runner up in State Fair Queen Contest

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

WACO geothermal on schedule

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

5 from Washington Co. advance in Bill Riley Talent Contest

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

...also at the fair

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

Washington School Board to screen architects

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

Park Board to review memorial plaque proposal

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

Drug free grants

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

Monday, August 17, 2009

Washington man hospitalized after plane crash

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

Supervisors consider architects

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

Kalona Council to adjust sewer project

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

Governor launches long term care campaign

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


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

Prairie Walk

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

Cruise nights this weekend

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

Transit Vehicles

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

Friday, August 14, 2009

WFD receives $150k check

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

2nd tall corn sculpture on display at state fair

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

DNR investigating fish kill

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

State Empowerment considering regional shift

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

$500k for passenger rail

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

Bond issue featured at Learn at Lunch

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

Fair review

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

Loebsack in CJ

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

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Keota man killed in crash

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

City waiting on test results to lift boil order

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

34 municipal positions up for election in November

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

Grassley refutes "Iowans for Tax Relief"

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

Nature Loop started

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

Garden Crops

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


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

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Engineer discusses bike ban

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

Loebsack starts E. Iowa tour

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

Riverside could take over county park

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

Rubio sewer system update

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

Area schools starting soon

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

M-P teachers starting soon

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

Hamakua seeks donations for rummage sale

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

WCT presents Frankenstein

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

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Celebrate your Senses to be featured in video series

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

Early frost could threaten crops

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

WCHC purchases digital mammography equipment

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

Harkin: healthcare reform resistance based on misinformation

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

WPD traning new K-9

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

WFD receives $150K grant

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

Where to get vitamin D

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

Park Board approves new reservation policy

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

Monday, August 10, 2009

Search and rescue exercise held in Washington

Emergency workers from across the board descended on Washington Saturday to search for a missing Woman near the Kewash trail. Fortunately no one was actually missing. It was a simulation put on by Iowa based STAR-1 Search and Rescue. Even though it was a drill, workers treated it like the real deal. The drill ran from 10:00 to 3:00 Saturday.

Barn quilt unveiling tomorrow

The Washington County Barn Quilt Committee is unveiling its latest addition this week. Julie Mangold is committee co chair. She says it will symbolize the beginning of a new barn quilt trail. The Washington Chamber of Commerce is holding an Alive After Five at Steve Greiner's, just west of the city on 250th Street in conjunction with the unveiling. It runs from 5 to 6:30 Tuesday (8/11) night.

Severe WX in Washington Co.

A line of severe thunderstorms rolled across eastern Iowa last night bringing heavy rain, high winds and lightning. Washington County avoided the brunt of the storm, but damage was reported in counties to the north and south. KCII's Severe Weather Action Team went on the air at about 7:40 and finished the broadcast at 8:30.

Washington School Board to continue facility discussions

Washington School board members will go over a summary of the district's facilities plans, funding projections and legal opinions at tonight's meeting. Duane Van Hemert and Sam Harding of the Iowa Construction Advocate team will be on hand. School board members will also hear from representatives of Piper Jaffray and Company, which is an investment bank. A representative of Ahlers and Cooney, which is a Des Moines based law firm, will also be present. The meeting starts at 6:30 tonight in the school administration building.

M-P School Board

The Mid Prairie School Board will hold its regular meeting tonight at 7:00 in the high school media center. The board will take a look at their yearly progress report and will also consider transferring SILO funds to debt service. They will also be looking ahead to a special board governance convention to be held in Mt. Pleasant in October.

Library project slightly behind

Construction on the new Library in Washington is a little behind schedule. City Administrator Dave Plymann says it will still be completed this month. Plymann says they're still planning to have the library and downtown enhancement projects down at roughly the same time.

"Beachboy" in Fairfield

Fairfield will be host to a musician from the Beach Boys this Saturday. Singer and songwriter Mike Love will be in town to promote the bands upcoming concert in September. Love says he is a frequent visitor to the Maharishi University of Management and enjoys the time he spends in Fairfield. He says the upcoming concert on September 7 will be one of the first green concerts.

SE Iowans cash in on lottery

Two southeast Iowans were big winners in the Iowa Lotterys fiscal year 2009. Peggy Clark of Wayland won $25,000 in the Lotterys 7s Bingo scratch game she purchased in Washington. Scott Buckner of North English bought his Powerball ticket at a Caseys in Wellman which won him $20,000. The Iowa Lottery reported winners from every county in Iowa during its last fiscal year.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Highway Crash

Two people were transported to University of Iowa Hospital after a collision at the Highway 92 and US 218 intersection on Thursday. According to the Iowa State Patrol, James Butner of OFallon, Missouri failed to stop when exiting the southbound lane of 218 when he struck Bruce Heckhart of Ottumwa heading east on Highway 92. Two other individuals in Heckharts vehicle were uninjured.

Rescue Drill

Emergency personnel will be sweeping an area near Washington today on a search and rescue mission. The STAR-1 team is conducting a simulation to test their skills and qualify new members. Washington Police Officer and STAR-1 member Brett Sorrells says they can't specifically disclose where it will take place. STAR-1 is an Iowa based search and rescue training operation. They hold exercises such as this one to train their members and other emergency officials on how to handle a missing person situation.

Heat Wave Health

With weekend temperatures expected to reach the upper 90s, residents are advised to take precautions when going outside. Washington County Public Health Administrator Edie Nebel says high temperatures combined with low hydration can result in some serious health problems. Nebel says the two most frequent problems encountered are heat exhaustion and heat stroke. She says exhaustion is characterized by a rapid pulse and stomach or headaches, while stroke can even result in death if ignored. Nebel says its important to get inside and cool off and drink liquids if you begin to feel too hot.

Safety Manual

Washington County is updating its employee safety manual. Safety committee member, and sheriff's deputy Darren Dennler says the county's insurance carrier told them they need to have a manual in place, or rates would be increased. Dennler says the manual applies generally to all county employees. He says the various departments are developing more specific ones.

Road Closure

190th Street will be closed from Cedar Ave. to Dogwood Ave. due to construction next Thursday. According to the Washington County Engineers Office, a bridge will be replaced with a triple box culvert on G26. The Engineers Office advises residents to use Highway 92 to W38 as a detour. No completion date has been set.

Wellman Community Center

Wellman has been given the go-ahead to build a new community center for the town and surrounding area. Wellman YMCA branch director Angie Boyse says the city has never had a facility like this before despite support for it. Boyse says the new facility will have all the amenities associated with a YMCA such as weight rooms, a gymnasium, and fitness classes. She says while the project is being supported by the YMCA in Washington, the facility will serve as a community center for Wellman and smaller surrounding communities.

4-Hers at State

Twenty 4-H'ers from Washington County will have non livestock exhibits at the Iowa State Fair this month. Categories include things like educational exhibits, working exhibits and public speaking. 4-H Youth Coordinator Katie Peiffer says livestock entries don't advance from the county level the way these projects do. She says 4-H'ers with livestock simply following a nominating process. To see a full list of non livestock projects at the fair, head to KCII Radio Dot Com.


Some familiar tunes with a different message will be featured at Hamakua Place in Washington tonight. The Apologetix is a band that takes popular rock songs and adds lyrics with a Christian message. Lead Singer J Jackson says it's something a lot of people can get in to. The Apologetix will perform at 7:00 tonight at Hamakua Place. Tickets are $15 at the door.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Search and Rescue Drill this weekend

Local public safety entities will hone their search and rescue skills in Washington this weekend. Washington Police Officer and canine handler Brett Sorrells says they're hosting a drill. He says it will consist of both classroom and field training. Sorrells says the Star 1 Search and Rescue Team, of which he is a member, will take part in the search. He says he's unable to release the specifics of where the drill will take place, but wants residents to know about so they won't be alarmed by an increased law enforcement presence.

Four arrested on meth charges

Four southeast Iowans are facing drug charges after police uncovered a meth lab in Jefferson County. Officers from three different agencies responded to a chemical smell in Batavia this week. Janice Kay McVey, Kenneth Francis McVey, Daniel David Sels, and Michael Anthony Nulph are charged with manufacturing methamphetamine. Janice McVey, Sels, and Nulph are also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and a controlled substance.

Mayor reflects on Lt Governor Visit

Kalona officials say they're pleased with how Lt. Governor Patty Judges visit went this week. Mayor Jerry Kauffman says they are very interested in promoting tourism in Kalona and having the Lt. Governor stop by was a learning experience. He says one aspect Judge really liked was the glass exhibits at the historical village. Kauffman says Kalona is one of the top tourist destinations in the state and they try to actively promote that throughout Iowa.

Brighton residents invited to visioning meeting

Brighton residents will meet Monday (8/10) to discuss what needs improvement in town. Nancy Adrian with the Washington County Extension says these visioning meetings have been held since last August and residents have already come up with some ideas. She says some of these have been establishing health clinics in town, carpooling, and local housing renovations. She says the meetings are an informal session where participants vote on which three areas they feel need the most attention.

Schmitz hopeful transportation spending will spur economy

A state senator from southeast Iowa says an increase in transportation funding should help boost the state's slumping economy. Fairfield Democrat Becky Schmitz says she hopes the program will improve infrastructure, put people to work and cycle more money through her district. Opponents of the plan says it's unwise to spend more money when revenues are down.

Downtown nearing completion

Washington's downtown is getting closer to being completed. City Administrator Dave Plyman says portions of Washington Street on the south side of the square are now open. Plyman says the project is on schedule from a contractual perspective. He says it's still expected to be completed this month.

Engineer gets NRCS grant

The Washington County Engineer's Office is getting a grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Head Engineer David Patterson says the money is being spent to repair a road that's in danger of sliding into the English River. Patterson says the grant would cover 80 percent of the overall project with a 20 percent match. He estimates the repair would cost around $85,000.

Apologetix in Washington

Popular music meets a Christian message tomorrow (8/8) in Washington. The Apologetix is a parody band that takes rock music, and changes the lyrics to a spiritual message. They're playing tomorrow night at (8/8) at Hamakua Place in Washington. Their songs include titles like Born Again Child which is a parody of Born to Be Wild.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Lt. Governor swings through Kalona

After swinging through Kalona Historical Village Tuesday, Lt. Governor Patty Judge says everyone should stop by for a visit. Judge has been touring eastern Iowa towns in an effort to promote local tourism and the heritage of Iowa. She says the Historical Village is a great glimpse of the areas Mennonite heritage and life 100 years ago. Judge says she only wishes she had more time to spend in the village and she advises all visitors to give themselves ample time for enjoyment.

Farmer protests land acquisition

A local farmer involved in a legal dispute with the city of Washington says he wants to sit down with councilors and settle things outside of a courtroom. The city is trying to obtain about 60 acres of land from John Berdo to relocate the municipal airport's runway. City attorney Craig Arbuckle says there is a legal process they must follow.

WCHC CEO: health coverage shouldn't be a problem

Just over two-thousand Washington County residents under the age of 65 are without health insurance according to the U-S Census Bureau. Washington County Hospital CEO Don Patterson says there are a wide array of options for the uninsured. He says that includes HAWK-I for kids, MEDICARE for seniors and a charity care program at the hospital for those in between. he Census Bureau report indicates nearly 11 percent of Iowans are without coverage.

VA Commissioner urges vets to sign up for benefits

Washington County's Veteran's Assistance Office is urging local men and women who've served in the armed forces to register for benefits. VA Commissioner Terry Phillips says even if you don't feel you need the benefits, it's still important to get your information in the system. Phillips says a lot of the paperwork involved in registering can be rather cumbersome. He says VA Director Sue Rich is well versed and can help veteran's fill it out. He's especially encouraging younger veterans to sign up.

WPD getting new radar devices

The Washington Police Department is getting some new radar devices for their marked patrol cars. Chief Greg Goodman says the old ones are in dire need of replacement. He also says the new ones are much more advanced. Goodman says the radars are being purchased with money from a federal stimulus grant. He says they are also getting new tactical and duty vests. In all, the department got a little more than $25,000.

Harking pushes medical device safety

Iowa Senator Tom Harkin is pushing legislation that would allow people injured by medical devices to seek damages against their manufacturer. Harkin says Last year, in Riegel v. Medtronic, Inc., the Supreme Court held that FDA approval of these medical devices essentially immunizes manufacturers from liability under state tort causes of action. He's advocating SR512, or the Medical Device Safety Act.

National Farmers Market Week

Washington's farmers market master is encouraging people to attend tonights market in recognition of National Farmers Market Week. Bob Shepherd says the Farmers Market is important because it celebrates local producers rather than large companies from far away. He says Muscatine is usually the farthest place from which they accept produce, but they still aim to keep the money and market local. The Market opens at 5:00 in Central Park

Johnson Co. looks to replace flood damaged armory

Johnson County is looking to replace a flood damaged National Guard building in Iowa City with funds from Gov. Culvers I-JOBS program. Facilities Manager David Kempf says since the floods of last June, the building has become unusable and dilapidated due to flood damage. He says its location near a main thoroughfare calls for a more appealing facility. Kempf says they want to replace the building with a parking lot and green area for public use. He says the total cost would be around $1.3 million, but the new space would be more welcoming and useable to residents.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Conservative investments still impacted by downturn

Wall Street wasn't the only investment arena hit by the economic downturn. Washington County Treasurer Jeff Garrett manages investments for the county. He says conservative options like CD's also suffered. Garrett says state law puts strict limits on how municipalities invest tax dollars. He delivered his investment report to county supervisors at yesterday's (8/4) meeting.

Councilors to talk airport land deal

Washington City Councilors are looking for public input on a potential land deal that would accommodate moving the municipal airport's runway. Mayor Sandra Johnson says they would make the landowner an offer for the property, but might have to seek condemnation. The city and property owner John Berdo have been engaged in an ongoing legal dispute. Tonight's (8/5) public hearing will gauge support for using tax dollars to buy roughly 60 acres of Berdo's farmland. The meeting starts at 7:00 in the Washington Public Library.

H1N1 vaccination expected by October

Washington County's Public Health Director says the first death in Iowa from H1N1 will likely lead to more interest in vaccination. Edie Nebel says they expect to have such a vaccination available by this October. Nebel says there will be a priority list. She says it will likely include children under 18 and pregnant women. She reminds residents to cover their cough, wash their hands frequently and stay home if they feel sick.

Boswell to stop in Sigourney

Congressman Leonard Boswell will be making a stop in Sigourney next week to hold a listening post style meeting. Boswell will listen to concerns about health care and take questions regarding the Americas Affordable Health Care Choices Act. Boswell says while there is no easy solution to solving the health care question, he is still committed to making coverage more affordable. He says he would also like to maintain quality and value of coverage.

Crop update

What was likely the coolest July on record in Iowa has contributed to a lag in crop development. The USDA says the amount of corn silked in southeast Iowa is 10 percent behind the five year average, while the amount in or beyond the milk stage is more than 20 percent behind. Local soybean blooming is more than 10 percent behind normal, while pod setting is nearly 30 percent behind. However, the majority of both top and subsoil moisture in southeast Iowa is rated in the adequate range.

Iowa gets top marks for finance

A state senator from southeast Iowa is touting national recognition for the Hawkeye state's financial status. Fairfield Democrat Becky Schmitz says this is the second year in a row Iowa has received a Triple-A rating from Standard and Poor's. Iowa is one of only 11 states to receiving top marks from the the rating company. Iowa has also been rated as the fourth best state to do business in by CNBC. Schmitz feels"It says a lot about the bipartisan efforts by legislators to foster a pro-business climate"

CJ 4-Hers get scholarships

Two Columbus Junction 4-Hers have been awarded 1000-dollar scholarships from the Iowa Foundation for Agricultural Advancement. Sandra Dion and Elyssa McFarland are both nine-year members of 4-H and are both freshmen at Iowa State University. Dion says being involved in 4-H has given her a good work ethic as well as a sense of responsibility. McFarland says 4-H has taught her to work hard and has fueled her interest in agriculture.

Keokuks 4-H Hall of Fame inductee

A Keokuk County woman will be inducted into the 4-H Hall of Fame this month. Marie Atwood joined 4-H in 1934 as part of the Adams Hustlers club and was leader of the Stick-To-It club from 1965-1982. Keokuk County Extension Director Gary Bickmeier says Atwood has passed down that dedication to 4-H to her children and grandchildren who have been deeply involved as well. Bickmeier says Atwood, along with other inductees, will be honored during the Iowa State Fair, August 23.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Riverside man killed in S.D. crash

A Riverside man was killed Friday evening after being involved in a motorcycle crash in South Dakota. The South Dakota State Patrol says 36 year old James Ingersoll was traveling with friends on his way to the Sturgis motorcycle rally. They say he failed to note traffic slowing down in front of him on highway 90, just outside Mount Vernon, and struck a camper. Police say Ingersoll was thrown from the bike and sustained head injures. They say he was not wearing a helmet. Funeral services for Ingersoll are at 1:30 this afternoon at Stacy Lewis Home for Funeral and Cremation Services in Columbus Junction.

Coldest July on record

Preliminary findings from the National Weather Service indicates parts of Iowa saw the coldest July on record this year. State Climatologist Harry Hillaker says an unusual jet stream is one reason for the cooler weather. Hillaker says this has been good news for corn and soybean crops. He says the best yields come during cooler weather. The lowest July average temperature in Iowa was in 1891 at 68.3 degrees. This July the average has been 68.1 degrees. But Hillaker says more temperature reports could alter that number.

Loebsacks town hall meetings

Congressman Dave Loebsack is swinging through eastern Iowa this month to hold a series of town hall style meetings on healthcare reform and stimulus money. He'll be in Columbus Junction on August 22nd, and Washington on the 29th. Loebsack is visiting 16 area communities between August 15 and September 12th.

Second Nature

Alliant Energy is encouraging its industrial customers to purchase energy from renewable sources through the "Second Nature" program. Alliant's Eileen Parker says the voluntary contribution helps support a variety of "green" power sources including wind and solar. Parker says money paid to the "Second Nature" program will allow the utility to buy more energy from such sources. For more information or to enroll, contact Alliant Energy.

Back to School

Summer is winding down it will soon be time to for schools to start. Mid Prairie and Keota Superintendent Mark Schneider says although vacation is ending, being optimistic about the school year will make the transition much easier. Schneider is juggling two districts. He says he wants to make himself visible at both schools so students and parents wont see him as a stranger. He expects this time of year to be a very busy. Mid Prairies school year starts the 26 and Keota starts the 27.

Davison to be inducted to 4-H Hall of Fame

A Washington County man is being inducted into the 4-H Hall of Fame. Donald Davison will be inducted during a ceremony at the 4-H Exhibits at the Iowa State Fair later this month. Davison has served as a 4-H leader and fair board member for two decades. 90 counties in Iowa have selected inductees for outstanding service and dedication. The Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame was created in 2002 to commemorate the program's 100th anniversary.

Riverside 4-Her gets scholarship

A 4-Her from Riverside is getting a 500 dollar scholarship from Pioneer Hi-Bred international. The ISU Extension Service says Cody Schneider is a nine year member of 4-H. He's the son of Dan Schneider and Stephanie Leur. His projects include market beef, swine and photography. Schneider recently graduated from Highland High School. He plans to attend Kirkwood Community College and study agricultural business.

Software Co expanding

A Fairfield-based software technology company has been awarded $200,000 to help increase its workforce over the next 36 months. Lets Order Online Inc. founder Michael Blitz says their company provides customer service and ordering software to restaurants across the country with over 3,000 hours of market research. Blitz says this grant will allow them to create more jobs for the local community while providing a service that can be used around the world.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Artists use recycled materials

Two artists at this weekend's "Celebrate your Senses" event in Washington work in rather unconventional mediums. There was Lisa VanGilst of Oskaloosa. She runs a sort of salvage yard for purses. She says this guarantees a unique purse. Another artist at the street festival takes things most of us throw away, and makes sculptures. Don Hutchings runs Black Crow Forge in Conesville, where he makes scrap metal into statues. Hutchings work might utilize a washer for a bird's eye, or a hog feeder pan for it's body.

National Farmer's Market Week

This is National Farmer's Market Week. Bob Shepherd is market master in Washington. He says in addition to providing a source for locally grown produce, it's also a good place for socializing. Shepherd says a five year old study indicates as much as $35-million gets spent at Iowa farmer's markets annually. Shepherd says they are planning another economic impact study. To hear more from Shepherd tune in to the KCII Morning Magazine at 7:30 when he'll be our guest on the Washington Page.

Cash for Clunkers still operating

A Washington car dealer says the government's "Cash for Clunkers" program has been very popular. John Gretter owns Gretter Autoland. He estimates around 300 people came to his dealership last week to inquire about the program. He says it's good for car dealers and related industries. The U-S Department of Transportation says the "Cash for Clunkers" program is still operating. It gives a discount to consumers who trade in cars and trucks for more fuel efficient models. For more information visit.

SEMCO takes wood waste

The head of the Southeast Iowa Multi County Solid Waste Agency says their organization is offering a new service. Bill Sloop says the can now accept wood waste such as lumber and brush and convert it into wood chips. He says people can use these chips for mulching, weed control, and keeping moisture around newly planted trees. Sloop says people can also save money by bringing yard waste and lumber to SEMCO for a lower cost than it would be if they just threw it away. He says this method can also help save space in landfills which will help drive down waste costs in the future.

Supervisors to hear quarterly reports

Quarterly reports are on the docket for Washington County Supervisors this week. They'll hear from general assistance, veterans affairs, the recorder and treasurer at the Tuesday meeting. They're also slated to review the investment report and adopt an updated code of ordinances. The meeting starts at 9:30 Tuesday morning in the Washington County Courthouse.

Kalona Council

The Kalona City Council will be focusing facelifts for some parts of the city during Mondays meeting at 7:30 pm. The council will be considering implementation of handicap parking spaces for some streets and discussing their downtown revitalization effort. The council will also consider replacing a pump in the citys well supply. The public will have the opportunity to voice their opinions with a five minute time limit.

Washington Park Board

The Washington Park Board is talking maintenance at tomorrow's meeting. Their slated to discuss painting at the skate park. They'll also review reports on drainage issues at Pizza Hut and a report on maintenance at the tennis court. The park board is also expected to consider allowing ninth grade football practice at Green Field. The meeting starts at 7:30 tomorrow night in Washington City Hall.

Leadership Washington

Leadership Washington is giving residents the chance to get up to date on all the issues facing the city. Assistant Chamber of Commerce Director Ann Moore says the 2009-2010 Leadership Washington program will celebrate its 20th anniversary. She says the program was put in place to educate residents about the problems and issues that face the community. Moore says if anyone would like to apply for this program, the deadline is August 15. Contact the Chamber for more details

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Celebrate Your Senses

The first ever Celebrate your Senses street festival is today in downtown Washington. Craig Swift is president of the Main Street Washington Board. He says it's an homage to a multi day art festival that used to be held in Washington. Kids activities start at 10 this morning Battle of the Bands gets underway at 5:30. The street dance featuring Bob Dorr and the Blue Band runs from 9 to midnight. There will also be a variety of vendors providing food.

Lt. Governor in Kalona

Lt. Governor Patty Judge will be visiting many towns in southeast Iowa and one of which will be Kalona. The Lt. Governor will be stopping by the Kalona Historical Village on Tuesday to encourage Iowans to stay close to home this vacation season. Judge says touring local attractions will give a boost to local economies and keep business running. Judge will be visiting ten cities in all over a two-day period, and will also be stopping in Mt. Pleasant.

Childhood Education

A state lawmaker wants to see a greater emphasis on early childhood development. Fairfield Senator Becky Schmitz says through her own experiences as a school social worker she has seen the benefits of early childhood development. She says things like the volunteer pre-school program is a perfect example of the ways in which Iowa is working on childhood education. She says this program creates a good relationship between the states K-12 program and local pre-school systems. Schmitz says in this way, the two institutions work together to help educate youth and prepare them for later years.


A new state law requires incoming freshmen and kindergarteners to have a dental screening before school starts this year. Shelia Temple is the I-SMILE Coordinator for the Washington County Health Department. She says kids need to have their first dentist visit by the time they turn one. She also says children usually lack the dexterity to adequately clean their teeth until about age eight, so parents need to check and make sure kids are brushing properly. For more information contact the Washington County Health Department.

Back to School

August is here and that means schools will be starting up soon. Columbus Schools lead the pack in this area. They start classes August 15. Iowa Mennonite begins on the 17th. Lone Tree, WACO and Winfield Mount Union start on the 24th. Classes start at Highland on August 25th. Washington, Mid Prairie and Saint James all start the 26th, and Sigourney and Keota begin on the 27th. For a complete listing of school start dates head to KCII Radio Dot Com.

ISU Scholarship

A 4-H'er from Keota is getting a $1000 scholarship from Orschlen Farm and Home Supply. Sara Sieren has been involved in 4-H for nine years. She's the daughter of Tim and Ethel Sieren. Her projects include market beef, swine and photography. Sieren recently graduated from Keota High School. She plans to attend Iowa State University and study animal science.

Ola Babcock Miller

The origins of the Iowa State Patrol are rooted in Washington County. Ola Babcock Miller was the first woman to serve as Secretary of State, and was from Washington County. She started the highway patrol in the 1930's. Rosemary Harris is an actress who portrays famous women from Iowa. She performed as Ola Babcock Miller during this week's Thursday Night Live in Downtown Washington.

4-H Scholarship

A Riverside 4-Her will be getting a gift from Pioneer Hi-Bred Inc. in the form of a $500 scholarship. Cody Schneider is the son of Dan Schneider and Stephanie Leur and was awarded the Pioneer Community College scholarship for his involvement in market beef, swine, sheep, and photography. Schneider says 4-H has given him the qualities needed to become a positive role model in society. Schneider will be attending Kirkwood Community College this fall.