Friday, April 17, 2009

Washington hotel tax considered

Should the city of Washington have a hotel tax? Local tourism officials say yes, but hotel owners say no. Tim Coffee, with the chamber of commerce says its not actually a tax on the hotel owners, or Washington residents. Hawkeye Motel Owner Gordon Olberding says this is not a good time to be considering such a tax. He also says there's no plan for what the money would be spent on. Olberding and other local hotel owners came to this week's city council meeting to express opposition to a measure that would put the tax on the ballot for voters to decide on. They say Washington isn't a tourist attraction, and most of their business comes from people coming to the area to work. The council tabled the measure.

MP Board approves pay hike

A 2.2% across the board pay hike for certified and non-certified staff in the Mid-Prairie Community School District was approved for the 2009-10 fiscal year by the M-P Board of Education Monday evening. Superintendent Mark Schneider says that the projected certified salaries, including benefits, would increase from $4,415,051 to $4,512,240, a hike of $97,189. Schneider says he estimated that the district would save about $51,000 in difference in salaries between long time employees who retired and their replacements.

F-16 symbolizes the near end of a generation

A U-S Military F-16 fighter jet passed over Washington at about noon yesterday as World War II veteran John Butler was laid rest in Elm Grove Cemetery. Mike Voght is curator of Iowa's Gold Star Military Museum in Fort Dodge. He says Butler is part of a rapidly disappearing generation. Voght says its important to maintain contact with our remaining World War II vets who are willing and able to share their stories. John Butler was 90 when he passed away. He was 23 years old during the attack on Pearl Harbor that thrust the United States into the conflict.

Auto body industry doing well

The Auto Body industry does not seem to be declining during this recession. Chris Swartzendruber, with C.S Auto body in Kalona, says he is seeing more and more people come in to get their car worked on, rather than just trading it in for a new vehicle. He says the Auto Body Industry is not recession proof, but it is in no danger of collapsing. Swartzendruber says in most cases it will cost less to fix a vehicle rather than add a new set of payments onto a new vehicle. He says if a vehicle is treated well it can last a decade or more. 

Much Ado About Nothing

This evening is opening night for the Washington High School Drama Department's Spring production. Actor Ben Tebockhorst says even though "Much Ado About Nothing" is a Shakespearian piece, it provides plenty of opportunity for some laughs. Tebockhorst is playing the lead male role, alongside leading lady Regan Loula. They say the play is about their characters being adverse romance, while their friends try to get the pair to fall in love. Doors open at the Washington Community Center this evening at 7:30. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for students.

Bittersweet day for WHS Physics teams

Washington High School students were unsuccessful in their bid to bring home a first place team trophy from the Iowa Physics Olympics in Des Moines yesterday. They did capture first place in the water heater competition. Team member Caleb Boyd says they used a bicycle to turn a pulley inside of a thermos of water. He says the pulley had an abrasive brush attached to it that caused friction on the side of the thermos, and heated the water to 125 degrees Fahrenheit. 

'08 floods highlight wetland's importance

Earth Day is this Wednesday and the naturalist at the Washington County Conservation board says it's important to keep Iowa's wetlands in mind. Pam Holz says Iowa has lost 90-percent of its wetlands, and last year's flooding was a stern reminder. Holz says they will have an Earth Day scavenger hunt tomorrow (4/18) afternoon from 1:00 to 3:00 at Marr Park for families to learn about Iowa's native wetlands. In case of inclement weather, there will be nature bingo inside the conservation center building. For more information contact the conservation board at 319-657-2400. 

Lake Belvedere Booked

With the spring here, the park attendants in Lake Belvedere are looking back on the winter. Dave Long, Executive Director with Keokuk County Conservation, says the winter season went extremely well. Long says they are not taking any reservations for camping this year because they are completely booked through the fall, he says it wont hurt to call and make sure if a weekend you like is available because due to a cancellation.