Thursday, June 18, 2009

Washington Aquatic Center gets new name

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

G-36 opens

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

Sheriff prepared for high fuel costs

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

Lake Darling construction expected to start in August

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

Local vets seek funds for memorial

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

"Birdies for Charity"

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

Keeping cool...and efficient

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

Bike with the mayor

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

M-P's all school reunion

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