Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Local economist: recovery will be slow

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

VA Grant discontinued

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

Selecting local board and committee members

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

Rubio to construct wastewater system

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

Online classes gaining popularity

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

Kalona Clean Up

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

National Telecommunicator Week

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

Local ranch joins Angus Association

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