Archive for March, 2009

State budget outlook less than rosy

Posted: Monday, March 23rd, 2009 at 4:07 am

Two southeast Iowa legislators painted a less than rosy picture of the state's financial situation this weekend. Representative Larry Marek and Senator Becky Schmitz visited Washington Saturday to offer an update. Schmitz says state agencies and programs could face nearly eight percent in budget cuts. Representative Marek says while Iowa has faired better than other states during the recession, the sting is still being felt. Marek says state income has dropped by another 81-million dollars for this fiscal year. He says if unemployment numbers don't improve, the problem could continue into the 2010-2011 budget. The two legislators did offer some good news. Schmitz says she's happy about recent health care reforms, while Marek is pleased with a new child labor law.

Legislative briefing well received

Posted: Monday, March 23rd, 2009 at 4:06 am

Around 30 people came to the Washington County Courthouse Saturday to get an update on state government from Senator Becky Schmitz, and Representative Larry Marek. Balancing the budget, money for infrastructure and education were some of the biggest issues discussed. Washington resident Jan Rosien says it was a productive meeting. Rosien says she was very interested to hear about education. She's concerned that if teachers aren't adequately compensated, they'll look to other states for jobs. Rosien also says she understands that there are a lot of different areas that need attention, but simply not enough money to go around.

Washington Mayor concerned over water funding

Posted: Monday, March 23rd, 2009 at 4:06 am

Washington Mayor Sandra Johnson says she's concerned with how her community, and others like it across the state pay for their infrastructure. Johnson says there are a limited number of ways for cities to come up with the cash. She says she's worried about how Washington will pay for a state mandated waste water treatment plant. She would like for more money to be available to municipalities through the water quality improvement fund, because it carries a zero percent interest rate.

V.A. reorganization stalls out

Posted: Monday, March 23rd, 2009 at 4:05 am

A local veteran's affairs commissioner says he's glad a bill reorganizing his agency didn't go through. Terry Phillips, with the Washington County VA says the measure has merit, but thinks more consideration needs to go into House Study Bill 270. Phillips says the current system, which utilizes an unpaid commission to determine what benefits are given out and how they are administered, has been working well. Phillips also says they recently underwent a change at the county level, and feels another change could be counterproductive.

Small business program

Posted: Monday, March 23rd, 2009 at 4:05 am

Current and potential small business owners are encouraged to attend a small business program March 31st. Gary Bickmeier, Keokuk County Extension Education Director says it is a series of informal dialogues focusing on the challenges faced by local businesses. Bickmeier says the ongoing series is held on the last Tuesday of every month at the Sigourney Pizza Ranch Meeting Room. For further information on the program, call the Keokuk County Extension Office at 641-622-2680 or 800-515-2680.

Homeless students

Posted: Monday, March 23rd, 2009 at 4:04 am

In every school district there may be some students that may be homeless. Columbus School district Superintendent Rich Bridenstein says there are 5 definitions for being homeless. Bridenstein says they have a homeless student coordinator that he meets with on a quarterly basis. He says the record flooding last year did not affect many residential building but mainly businesses.

Keota-Mid Prairie superintendent sharing

Posted: Monday, March 23rd, 2009 at 4:04 am

The Mid Prairie school board is still discussing the issue of sharing Superintendent Mark Schneider with the Keota school district. Earlier this year, State Sen. Matt McCoy proposed limiting the number of school district superintendents to one per county, which would result in nearly 350 current superintendent positions being reduced to 99. He also proposed the forced consolidations of schools with student populations of fewer than 750. Schneider said though there is not much danger now of either of the proposals happening, that was not to say there might not be more legislative support in the future. Schneider told both Keota and Mid Prairie boards that any agreement the two school districts proposed would first be the subject of public hearings. Both School boards will meet at 7 p.m., Monday, March 30, at the Mid-Prairie High School.

State legislators visit Washington

Posted: Sunday, March 22nd, 2009 at 4:09 am

Around 30 people came to the Washington County Courthouse yesterday to get an update on state government from Senator Becky Schmitz and Representative Larry Marek. Budget cuts, health care, issuing bonds for road work and education were some of the biggest concerns expressed by area residents. Both legislators say they and their colleagues face some difficult decisions in figuring out the new budget. In all, state programs and agencies could be facing nearly eight percent in cuts.

Opposition to gender measure

Posted: Sunday, March 22nd, 2009 at 4:08 am

Some local leaders say they oppose a measure that would force government bodies to strive to have an equal number of men and women serve on local boards and commissions. Washington County Supervisor Adam Mangold says its often difficult just to fill such positions in a rural area. Mangold also says the requirement might keep them from finding the person who is most qualified. He made the comments during a legislative briefing at the Washington County Courthouse yesterday.

Festival Concert

Posted: Sunday, March 22nd, 2009 at 4:08 am

The Midwest Regional Mennonite Orchestra Festival Concert is this afternoon at 3:00 p.m. at IMS in Celebration Hall. The festival participants are Bethany Christian High School from Goshen, IN, Central Christian High School from Kidron, OH, and Iowa Mennonite School. An offering will be taken to help defray festival costs.

Homeless Students

Posted: Sunday, March 22nd, 2009 at 4:07 am

In every school district there may be some students that may be homeless. Columbus School District Superintendent Rich Bridenstein says there are 5 definitions for being homeless. Bridenstein says they have a homeless student coordinator that he meets with on a quarterly basis. He says the record flooding last year did not affect many residential building but mainly businesses that would affect a childs home.

Legislative Preview

Posted: Saturday, March 21st, 2009 at 4:04 am

The Iowa State Legislature is in the process of figuring out next year's budget. Large cuts are anticipated in a number of areas. 48th District Senator Becky Schmitz says it's now a matter of trying to figure out which areas can sustain those cuts. Schmitz says they'll probably have to put a lot of proposed projects on hold. Schmitz and 89th District State Representative Larry Marek will be in Washington this morning at ten for a legislative update. If you can't make it to the courthouse, KCII will be replaying the briefing at 1:00 this afternoon. And you will be able to find a PODCAST at www.kciiradio.com, click on Radio Plus.

Learn at Lunch

Posted: Saturday, March 21st, 2009 at 4:04 am

If you want to see the future, a good place to start is at school. Today's students will be tomorrow's leaders…so what's being done to prepare them? Washington High School Principal Shane Ehresman will lay that out this Monday during a Learn at Lunch. Ehresman says technology is probably one of the biggest recent changes in education. He admits that some technology, like mp3 players and cell phones, can be distracting. However, he says technology has had a mostly positive impact. To hear more from Ehresman, plan on attending the Learn at Lunch session this Monday. The meal is only seven-dollars and the Washington Chamber of Commerce needs people to make reservations by 9:00 Monday Morning. The event will be from noon to one at the Washington County Extension building.

Grass Fires

Posted: Saturday, March 21st, 2009 at 4:03 am

There have been a lot of grass fires in the Kalona area over the last week. Fire Chief Steve Yotti says there have not been any major losses yet but the weather is getting dryer. Yotti says they have had an average of 2 or 3 fires a day. Yotti says the best thing to do when burning is to make sure that everything around is wet and to make sure that you have plenty of materials on hand to douse a fire if it starts to get out of control.

County Web

Posted: Saturday, March 21st, 2009 at 3:56 am

The internet has revolutionized the way we do things…from paying bills, to staying in touch with friends. But there's one area where many people would like to see more online access…government. Many municipalities have no website and can't accept payments via the internet. Both the the city of Washington and Washington County have websites. County I-T director Cyndie Sinn says she'd like to do more with their online content, but says they simply lack the resources. Sinn says their site essentially serves as an index for people to find links to other government agencies. She hopes one day the site will flow better, provide more information and have a search feature. Sinn says they do not currently have an employee whose sole duty is managing their website.

IMS Basketball and the Student Body

Posted: Saturday, March 21st, 2009 at 3:54 am

The IMS Basketball team went to the state championships and placed 3rd. IMS Principle Tony Miller says the students were very excited and he could tell the students were feeling very proud to be a part of IMS. He says they won the sportsmanship award and says that was a good reflection on the students and the community. Miller says he is very proud of the team and the student body for doing so well while at the same time they never forgot there academics.

WACO Elementary Kindergartners

Posted: Saturday, March 21st, 2009 at 3:54 am

WACO Schools are updating their lists of children who will be attending kindergarten at WACO Elementary School next year. Elementary Principle Vicky Reynolds says if you have a child who will be 5 years old before September 15th to call WACO at 319-658-2931. She says the Kindergarten Parent Orientation meeting will be held on Monday April 6th at 7pm at the school library in Crawfordsville. If you are unable to attend the meeting, she asks that you call the school at 319-658-2931.

Naturalist Playdate

Posted: Saturday, March 21st, 2009 at 3:50 am

Playing outside is arguably one of the greatest joys of childhood. However, in a world dominated by computers, video games and cell phones…it seems to be a lost past time. Pam Holz, with the Washington County Conservation Board, is looking to revive the time honored tradition. Holz is hosting a “Naturalist Playdate” Saturday March 28th at Marr Park at 1:00 pm. The program is free and open to the public. No registration is required. For more information contact the conservation board at 319-657-2400.

Washington Rotary donates $10K to local senior center

Posted: Friday, March 20th, 2009 at 4:54 am

The Columbus Junction Senior Center is getting a little bit of help rebuilding after last years flooding. The Washington Rotary Club donated $10,000 to the cause yesterday. Rotary Club member Paul Horak says they were able to secure the funds through the organization's regional body. Horak says since Washington didn't suffer flood damage, it seemed best to focus their efforts on a neighboring town. Columbus Junction Senior Center officials say they were pleasantly surprised by the donation, and are very grateful. They say reconstruction is almost complete and they hope to open in about a month.

Allergy season approaches

Posted: Friday, March 20th, 2009 at 4:53 am

Spring is in the air, and for many that also means allergy season is rapidly approaching. J.R. Fikuart is a pharmacist at Nu-Cara in Washington. He says allergy sufferers should check on things like the pollen count before heading outdoors. Fikuart says drugs like Claritin and Zyrtec are some of the best allergy treatments available. He says they're also available in generic form. He says other drugs like Benadryl are also very effective, but can make the user groggy and cause dry mouth and eyes. Fikuart says he and other pharmacists are happy to answer questions about allergies.