Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Natural gas odor prompts three evacuations

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

Lightning: more dangerous than tornadoes

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

Washington Schools slated to pass $23-million budget

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

New sewer plant...new method

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

Grassley to have local listening posts

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

Senior Medicare Patrol

Education Programs through the Senior Medicare Patrol program are available in Des Moines, Henry, Lee and Louisa Counties. Senior Medicare Patrol is sponsored by Southeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging, Inc. and it is a nationwide program administered in part through the U. S. Administration on Aging. Brenda Sayre with the SE IA Area Agency on Aging says trained retired professionals provide community education programs about Medicare fraud, waste and abuse along with identity theft and scams to elders and their caregivers, local banks, home health agencies and service groups. She says community education is free and they like to set-up informational booths at health fairs, seminars and other places the public would gather. To schedule a program or ask questions: call SE IA Area Agency on Aging at 1-800-292-1268 or 319-752-5433.

Washington Aquatic Center could get new name

The Washington Aquatic Center could be getting a new name. Parks Superintendent Tim Widmer says a group of people want the center named after Milo Steel, who used to coach the YMCA Swim Team and recently passed away. He says they are looking for public input on the matter and will be discussing it at this evening's meeting. They'll also be talking about the Central Park Bandstand renovation project. The meeting begins at 5:00 tonight in Washington City Hall.