Archive for June, 2009

WEDG says more industrial space needed

Posted: Friday, June 19th, 2009 at 4:34 am

The director of the Washington Economic Development Group says the city is in need of more industrial land. Ed Raber told councilors this week most most of the industrial park is spoken for. Raber says Washington does own additional land that’s zoned for industry, but isn’t obligated or part of an industrial park. He says in the long term he’d like to see WEDG and the city partner to create a new designated industrial area.

County Zoning

Posted: Friday, June 19th, 2009 at 4:34 am

Washington County is considering a zoning ordinance, which could interfere with local cities' ability to grow. Without such an ordinance, cities are allowed to claim a two mile radius outside their limits. However, if the county implements zoning, that land would fall under their jurisdiction. The contractor working with the county recommends towns declare "urban reserve districts" in areas they want to see future growth. The county zoning commission, and the city of Washington have a joint meeting scheduled July 14, to discuss such districts.

Engineer prepared for gas hikes

Posted: Friday, June 19th, 2009 at 4:34 am

The Washington County Engineer says higher fuel costs this summer shouldn't hinder any of their projects. David Patterson says they usually expect, and budget for the increase, but do have plans in place if the price skyrockets like last year. He says that might include holding off on rock hauling until the price comes down. The Iowa Department of Energy Independence reports the price for a gallon of unleaded gas with 10% ethanol was up 40-cents this month compared to May.

Summer food service

Posted: Friday, June 19th, 2009 at 4:33 am

Columbus Community School District is participating in the USDAs Summer Food Service Program. The objective of the program is to ensure that children in the community receive the same nutritious meals that they receive under the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs during the school year. Serving locations are at Roundy Elementary and Conesville Community Center. Meals will be provided to all children of the area free of charge and there will be no discrimination in the course of the meal service.

Local businesses benefit from Father’s Day

Posted: Friday, June 19th, 2009 at 4:33 am

Father's Day is this weekend and that means gifts for dad. Washington Hy-Vee Store Director Chuck Underhill says they usually see an increase in sales in their meat department around this time. Underhill says they also see a rise in gift card and greeting card sales. He also says there's more traffic through their garden center, as people shop for dads with green thumbs.

Washington Aquatic Center gets new name

Posted: Thursday, June 18th, 2009 at 4:38 am

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

Posted: Thursday, June 18th, 2009 at 4:38 am

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

Posted: Thursday, June 18th, 2009 at 4:38 am

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

Posted: Thursday, June 18th, 2009 at 4:37 am

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

Posted: Thursday, June 18th, 2009 at 4:37 am

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"

Posted: Thursday, June 18th, 2009 at 4:37 am

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

Posted: Thursday, June 18th, 2009 at 4:36 am

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 energystar.gov/taxcredits.

Bike with the mayor

Posted: Thursday, June 18th, 2009 at 4:36 am

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

Posted: Thursday, June 18th, 2009 at 4:36 am

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.

Dense fog advisory in effect

Posted: Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 at 5:08 am

Washington County and much of Southeast Iowa are under a dense fog advisory this morning. The National Weather Service says visibility will be reduced to less than a quarter mile in areas. They advise that motorists slow down, use their headlights and leave plenty of stopping distance in front of them. The fog advisory is expected to expire at 8:00 this morning (6/17)

Property tax delinquencies up

Posted: Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 at 5:07 am

The number of delinquent property taxes is up this year in Washington County. Treasurer Jeff Garret says his office sold 47% more certificates at this year's tax auction, while the total dollar amount was up by a around 19%. Garret says the numbers suggest fewer high dollar parcels were delinquent. Garret says the tax auction gives investors a chance to buy up delinquent certificates, therefore keeping tax funding to various government bodies stable.

BOS sets wages

Posted: Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 at 5:07 am

Washington County Supervisors have approved wage increases for next fiscal year. Board Chairman Jim Miksch says they had instructed all departments to try to keep their overall budget increases to less than 1.5%. However, he says they wanted to allow for 3.5% pay increases. Miksch says they have a number of union employees scheduled for such an increase, and the board wanted to be fair to the non union ones. 

Loebsack rep visits Washington

Posted: Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 at 5:07 am

A representative of Congressman Dave Loebsack will be in Washington today (6/17) to field questions on the American Recovery and Reinvestment act. Jared Hershberger will be at the chamber of commerce building from from 1-3 pm. Loebsack says he wants to ensure accountability, transparency and oversight with the distribution of recovery act funds. Hershberger will also be visiting Mt Pleasant this morning. 

New PT at WCHC

Posted: Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 at 5:06 am

Washington County Hospital and Clinics is increasing the size of it's physical therapy department. CEO Don Patterson says they've hired Breena Luers as a full time physical therapist. He says she will work with both inpatients and outpatients. Luers has a Doctorate in Physical Thereapy from Des Moines University. She says she looks forward to working with patients of all ages, but takes a special interest in children. Luers, and her husband Justin reside in Keota. 

Bagworm spraying

Posted: Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 at 5:06 am

Along with the common summer pests of mosquitoes, ticks, and gnats, area residents are also concerned about bagworms. Gary Bickmeier with the Keokuk County Extension says that the large number of bagworms in 2008 has created high interest in spraying for them this year. However, Bickmeier says not to spray too early, but to wait until bagworm eggs hatch and small larvae appear on trees. He recommends inspecting trees, especially ones where the insects were present last year, and if caterpillars and tiny bags are present, now is the time to spray.