Archive for March, 2009

Kalona is prepared for severe weather

Posted: Thursday, March 26th, 2009 at 7:25 am

The City of Kalona is one of the few cities in the area that have manually operated alarms instead of an automated system. Fire Chief Steve Yotty says they test the alarm every day to make sure they stay in working order. Yotty says it is very important to know what to listen for. He says the tornado warning signal is a steady 3 minute siren and the all clear is a minute and a half signal that gives everyone the all clear.

Bandstand project expected to get started by summer

Posted: Thursday, March 26th, 2009 at 7:25 am

A plan to renovate the city of Washington’s Central Park Bandstand is expected to get underway by the end of this summer. That news comes after former Washington resident John Jackson made a 175-thousand dollar donation to the project. Washington Parks Superintendent Tim Widmer says one of their goals is to keep the bandstand’s historic look. Widmer says even though Mr. Jackson’s generous donation gives them enough money to start on the bandstand, they’ll continue to raise money for other Central Park needs. He says that includes maintenance funds for the fountain and money to remodel the bathrooms. The volunteer committee spearheading the project will meet this evening at 7:00 at the Washington Public Library.

Science education

Posted: Thursday, March 26th, 2009 at 7:24 am

The Obama administration sees science education as key to economic recovery and American prosperity. That’s an assessment Washington High School biology teacher Diane Gray agrees with. She feels students at W-H-S are given ample opportunity. Gray says science education is also valuable for a few other reasons. She says the emphasis on math and critical thinking helps them in other coursework. She also says being well informed on emerging science issues, helps them to become better citizens as many of those issues have begun to enter the political arena.

Post Office cutbacks

Posted: Thursday, March 26th, 2009 at 7:24 am

Faced with new technology, and private package delivery services, the U.S. Postal Service isn’t doing as well as it once did. Many have been forced to cut services and reduce routes. John Marshall is the Post Master in Washington. He says two people at his Post Office have chosen to take early retirement. Marshall says there are no immediate plans to cutback on services, but he admits having fewer people does put them behind schedule from time to time. He says some Post Offices have begun to utilize automation systems, which has spurred a reduction in employees elsewhere. He says right now, there are no plans for such an operation in Washington.

IA City Walmart donates $1,000 to local playground

Posted: Thursday, March 26th, 2009 at 7:22 am

Iowa City Wal-Mart has given $1,000 dollars to the Kalona Elementary Playgournd Improvement Project Committee. Store Manager, Kurt Penfold presented a check to Committee Chairperson, Jan Knebel. Knebel says the money will be used to purchase new equipment for the large playground which will be installed on June 12 and 13th.

Local drug task force looking to add officer

Posted: Wednesday, March 25th, 2009 at 6:57 am

The Washington-Lousia County Drug Task Force could be getting an additional officer. Currently one officer is shared between the two counties, as well as the cities of Washington and Columbus-Junction. Washington Sheriff Jerry Dunbar says whether or not it happens, depends on if one of those agencies is able to hire on an additional officer. Dunbar says his department lacks the financial resources to hire additional personnel at this time. He says another agency might be able to. Dunbar feels the extra officer could cut down on overtime costs and make area drug enforcement more effective.

Washington Jail almost complete

Posted: Wednesday, March 25th, 2009 at 6:56 am

A contractor from Mount Pleasant will put the finishing touches on the renovations at the Washington County Jail. The Board of Supervisors voted yesterday to award the the job to H-E-S construction for at total cost of just over 192-thousand dollars. Sherrif Jerry Dunbar says this will essentially make the project complete. Dunbar says H-E-S will complete the work release areas which were purposely left unfinished,one for men and one for women. He says this adds another 24 beds to the facility. He also says this is not an addition to what Washington County voters approved for the new jail.

Washington Mental Health lays out three year plan

Posted: Wednesday, March 25th, 2009 at 6:56 am

Washington County's Mental Health and Disability Services agency is laying out its three year strategic plan. Director Bobbi Wolf says the plan is required by the state, and lays out the agency's goals and plans for that three year period. She says that includes a recovery center. Wolf says they will try to fund the recovery center through grants from the state, and the local river boat foundation. The Strategic plan also provides a way for Wolf's department to lay out its services and access points.

Empowerment could see funding cuts

Posted: Wednesday, March 25th, 2009 at 6:56 am

Iowa's fledgling financial situation could mean some rather drastic cuts for certain early childhood programs. Tasha Beghtol with Washington County Empowerment, says her organization could be looking at a nearly 15-percent cut in state funding. She says no decisions have been made as to what areas would suffer due to such cuts. Empowerment covers a wide array of early childhood needs from education to healthcare. Beghtol says locally, the organization provides things like the Parents as Teachers program, dental programs and preschool scholarships.

Marek, Schmitz question I-Jobs

Posted: Wednesday, March 25th, 2009 at 6:55 am

Governor Chet Culver has proposed issuing around 750-million dollars in bonds for projects around Iowa designed to create jobs and jumpstart the economy. However, two southeast Iowa legislators say the I-Jobs program isn't as "shovel ready" as some might think. State Senator Becky Schmitz and Representative Larry Marek say there's still a lot more to find out about the proposal. The Governor spent yesterday traveling around eastern Iowa to pitch his bonding plan.

Severe weather season is here

Posted: Wednesday, March 25th, 2009 at 6:55 am

Recent tornadoes in Iowa are a reminder that severe weather season can arrive without warning. Tornado Season is starting and many people do not know what to do when a tornado warning is in effect. Weather Eye Meteorologist Nicolle Morock says it is important to know the difference between a watch and a warning. She says a tornado warning means there is rotation in the weather system or weather spotters have seen a tornado touch the ground. Morock says when a warning is in effect the best thing to do is to find cover and put as many walls between you and the storm as possible. She also says if a sturdy shelter isn't avaliable, the best thing to do is find a low laying area. She says you never want to stay in a vehicle or manufactured home during a tornado or strong straight line winds, because they can be tossed very easily.

WACO students present Camelot

Posted: Wednesday, March 25th, 2009 at 6:54 am

The WACO High School Music and Drama Department in association with Tams-Witmark Music Library will present Lerner and Loewe's CAMELOT this weekend, March 27 and 28, in the high school gym. Performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. each evening with an admission charge of $6 for adults and $4 for students. Tom Ferguson is the stage director and Millie Youngquist is the vocal director. There is also an eight member pit band complete with strings to provide music for the show. Students from the high school and junior high are combining for this show, with the lead roles being performed by Mason Ferguson as King Arthur, Bekah Kennelly as Queen Guinevere, and David Woods as Lancelot.

Wolf named Washington Chamber Citizen of the Year

Posted: Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 at 4:53 am

More than 200 people came to the Washington Knights of Columbus Hall last night for the Chamber of Commerce's annual Our Town Awards Dinner. Awards were given in a variety of different categories. Perhaps one of the most prestigious honors was the chamber's citizen of the year award, which was given to Margaret Wolf. Wolf was recognized for her numerous contributions to the community. Other awards included the community service award which was given to the Washington Fire Department, and business of the year which was given to Washington County Hospital and Clinics.

Special guests shares life story at chamber dinner

Posted: Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 at 4:52 am

A woman who made Iowa history paid a visit to Washington yesterday. LaMetta Wynn was the featured speaker at the Chamber of Commerce's Our Town Awards Dinner. Wynn is the former mayor of Clinton, and is the first African American Woman to serve as a mayor in Iowa. She says a person's success as a community leader depends help from others. Wynn says Washington is filled with such leaders. Wynn also served on the Clinton Community School board and the Commission on the Status of African American's in Iowa. She was also named as one of the 25 Most Dynamic Mayors in America by Newsweek Magazine.

Farfield man considering run for Ag Secretary

Posted: Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 at 4:47 am

A Fairfield man is considering running for the post of Iowa's Agriculture Secretary. Francis Thicke is forming an exploratory committee to investigate the option. Thicke says he's considering his candidacy because he feels there are areas of agriculture that need to be further explored. Thicke says Iowa agriculture needs to be more sustainable. One example he offers is planting crops in between the corn and soybean rotations such as rye, which he says would help hold soil in place. Thicke is an organic dairy farmer, who has also served in the U-S Department of Agriculture. He says he hopes to know for sure whether or not he'll run for office by this summer.

Beware of quick change artists

Posted: Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 at 4:46 am

A warning for local merchants: Federation Bank's Wellman branch reports a quick change artist has been trying to bilk money from cashiers in the community. This is when a person enters a business and asks for change, when the person is handed the change they pull another roll of money out of a different pocket and claim they were shorted. The man who attempted the scam in Wellman is described as being in his mid forties with sandy blond hair. On Friday he was reported to be wearing a white and blue striped fleece shirt and blue jeans.

Panel discussion on teen issues

Posted: Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 at 4:46 am

Mid-Prairie is one of hundreds of school districts nationwide that will hold a panel discussion to raise awareness about important issues facing teens and their families. Kelly Swift, Student Advocate for Mid-Prairie Schools, says suicide prevention, underage drinking, drug use, and risky behavior will be discussed. The meeting will be April 6th at 7:00PM in the Mid-Prairie Middle School Gymnasium.

Calling all prom dresses

Posted: Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 at 4:45 am

Charla Howard of Washington would like to send out a challenge to all parents and past students that have pre-worn prom dresses and/or shoes to donate them to families that need a little extra help with expenses. She says in these times some families might not be able to afford brand new prom dresses and that most dresses are used only once and then are left hanging in a closest. Howard says this is a way to help people in the community.

IPTV launches health hike

Posted: Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 at 4:44 am

Iowa Public Television has announced the network will embark on a new initiative designed to get kids across the state to engage in exercise and reading this spring. Kerri Bell with the Kalona Elementary School says one elementary school classroom and one library in each county has been selected to participate in a Healthy Hike competition, with students working to log minutes exercising and minutes reading throughout the month of April. The Kalona Public Library and Kalona Elementary 2nd graders will be participating. At the end of the competition, participating classrooms will take a Healthy Hike to their local participating library for a story time and celebration. For more information on the Healthy Hike, educators and families are encouraged to visit

Warm weather cars

Posted: Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 at 4:44 am

As the seasons change, so can the needs of our automobiles. Glenn Martin, who owns Glenn's Auto in Washington says cold weather can take its toll on vehicles. He says first and foremost, you need to check a few things to make sure your car is safe to operate such as tires, windshield wipers and rims.