Today’s Local News

Local economist: recovery will be slow

Posted: Wednesday, April 15th, 2009 at 6:28 am

A recent survey by Blue Chips Economic Indicators shows 86-percent of economists surveyed believe the economic downturn will end this year, but unemployment will continue to climb into next. Saul Mekies is a professor of economics at Kirkwood College. He says companies hurt by the recession won't soon forget. Mekies says the economy probably won't get any worse, but won't really start to improve until next year. He says so much of the country's financial infrastructure is based on confidence, which hasn't really come back yet. He points to recent comments by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke who says he's "fundamentally confident."

Online classes gaining popularity

Posted: Wednesday, April 15th, 2009 at 6:27 am

Few would argue that the internet has revolutionized nearly every aspect of society. One such area is education. Nancy Rash is the director of the Kirkwood Washington Center. She says a student can get a degree from her institution and almost never come to campus. Rash says it works out very well for many of their students who are also working, or may have children. She says the sky is essentially the limit when it comes to online course offerings. She says they are only as limited as the technology, and its cost.

Rubio to construct wastewater system

Posted: Wednesday, April 15th, 2009 at 6:27 am

Rubio Iowa has been selected for the USDA Rural Development Earth Day Event on April 21st. Washington County Supervisor Wes Rich says Regional Utilities Sanitary Service has been working on the Rubio wastewater collection and treatment project now for a couple of years. There will be a brief check presentation next week. The money will go towards a wastewater collection and treatment system for the town of Rubio. Representatives from USDA-RD, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, County Representatives, and Regional Utilities Sanitary Service Representatives will be present. The public is invited to attend the Event at 10:00AM on April 21st in the Rubio Community Center.

Selecting local board and committee members

Posted: Wednesday, April 15th, 2009 at 6:27 am

The chairman of the Washington County Board of Supervisors wants a clearly defined system in place for how they go about nominating people to commissions and committees. Jim Miksch says it's important for the supervisors to appoint the best possible candidates. Miksch says many of the supervisor appointed boards will have spots opening up this year. He hopes to have a system in place by this fall. One possible hang up is pending legislation that would require them to appoint an equal number of men and women to such commissions.

Kalona Clean Up

Posted: Wednesday, April 15th, 2009 at 6:26 am

The Kalona City clean up day will be held the weekend of mothers day. Karen Christner, Kalona City Clerk, says they do not have any information on hours just yet. Residents will be able to take their trash to a designated spot in the Kalona Park. Again the Kalona City Clean up day will be held the weekend of mothers day in the Kalona City Park.

Local ranch joins Angus Association

Posted: Wednesday, April 15th, 2009 at 6:26 am

The 3 Z Ranch in West Chester is now a member of the American Angus Association. Bryce Schumann, CEO of the national breed registry says they are the largest beef cattle registry association in the world. He says they have computerized records including detailed information on nearly 16 million registered Angus. Schumann says they record ancestral information and keeps production records on individual animals for its members.

National Telecommunicator Week

Posted: Wednesday, April 15th, 2009 at 6:26 am

This is National Telecommunicator Week, and Washington Safety Center 911 Supervisor Cara Sorrells says her staff deserves the recognition. They recently held a banquet and awards were given out for things like exceptional handling of suicidal callers, perfect attendance and longevity. Sorrells says the entire staff was recognized for operations during last years flooding. She says even though Washington County wasn't greatly impacted by the catastrophe, the calls coming into the Communications Center doubled as motorists tried to get from one place to the other. Sorrells also says no one calls 911 because they are having a good day.

SE Iowa receives EFSP money

Posted: Tuesday, April 14th, 2009 at 7:08 am

Congressman Loebsack announced that $49,191 has been awarded to the Second District by the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) through the Recovery Act. These funds will bring immediate relief to communities to address unemployment, poverty, and unmet needs. The second District includes Washington, Louisa, Henry and Jefferson County. After the floods of 2008, our local emergency shelters were overburdened and overstretched. Congressman Loebsack says as we continue to bring in funds for disaster relief, it is important not to let our families who were spared from the floods fall by the wayside as they struggle with the current economic downturn. The funds will be distributed to support social service agencies and will be used to supplement food, shelter, rent, mortgage and utility assistance programs for people with non-disaster related emergencies.

Marek hopeful legislature will adjourn this week

Posted: Tuesday, April 14th, 2009 at 7:08 am

A state lawmaker from Southeast Iowa is hopeful the legislature will end its session this week. Representative Larry Marek says they hope to have a budget in place. He says one area of uncertainty for him is a proposed middle income tax break. Marek says the legislation would save money for about 75% of the population, but would also cost the other 25% more. Marek, along with Fairfield State Senator Becky Schmitz will be in Washington this Saturday morning at 10:00, for a legislative briefing at the courthouse. 

Local honey farmer favors new pesticide rules

Posted: Tuesday, April 14th, 2009 at 7:07 am

A local bee keeper says he likes new regulation dealing pesticide applicators and apiaries. Ron Wehr operates a honey farm near West Chester. He says under the old law, some bee keepers might not have been protected. Wehr says the new regulation doesn't allow pesticide spraying near apiaries between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm. He says that's the time frame when bees are most active, therefore most susceptible to the chemicals. 

Washington Supervisors discuss new state regulations

Posted: Tuesday, April 14th, 2009 at 7:07 am

Washington County's board of supervisors are going to be brushing up on some procedures that deal with appointing people to commissions and committees at this morning's meeting. A recently passed state law requires government leaders to strive to have an equal number of men and women serve on such commissions. It allows them to have an uneven ratio in the event that a position sits vacant for an extended period of time. Some Washington County Supervisors have previously stated that they are against the law, because it can sometimes be difficult to fill such positions. They'll meet at 9:30 this morning in the lower level of the courthouse. 

Washington Co. to charge for fireworks permit

Posted: Tuesday, April 14th, 2009 at 7:07 am

Washington County residents who want a fireworks permit will soon have to pay for it. County Auditor Bill Fredrick says the board of supervisors recently approved the $10 fee. Fredrick says the fee will help them recover costs from long distance phone calls, and postal costs associated with granting fireworks permits. The new rule goes into effect tomorrow 

Washington Council to revisit outdoor liquor request

Posted: Tuesday, April 14th, 2009 at 7:06 am

Whether or not a restaurant in Washington can serve alcohol outdoors could be decided at tomorrow's city council meeting. The request is from Cafe Dodici. Some councilors, such as Mike Roth, are concerned over what kind of precedent allowing such a license would set. Cafe Dodici co owner Lorraine Williams says in an ever changing business world, policy makers need to be ready to adjust rules and regulations. The city council has tabled the outdoor liquor license request twice. If it's allowed, the new ordinance would likely be modeled after another community's code. The meeting begins at 7:00 pm in the public library

MP School Board

Posted: Tuesday, April 14th, 2009 at 7:05 am

The Mid Prairie School Board met last night and discussed a number of topics. The board focused on curriculum, finance and short and long term planning. The board spent 10 minutes adopting a certified budget for the 2009-2010 School Year. They spent 45 min hearing a technology report.

Kalona Council matches fund raising effort

Posted: Tuesday, April 14th, 2009 at 7:05 am

The Kalona City Council has approved a 10% match to all funds raised by the Kalona Elementary School playground committee up to $250,000 or a maximum of $25,000. Jan Knebel says the committee has raised enough to purchase the playground equipment but still needed to raise $208,000 for a safe surface under the equipment. Knebel says they are looking for volunteers to help build the equipment in June. Knebel says she is very proud to be a part of something that the entire community has embraced and cant wait to see it through to the completion.

Same sex marriage won’t change procedure

Posted: Monday, April 13th, 2009 at 7:42 am

Iowa's status as the first Midwestern state to allow same sex marriage won't change things much for county officials. Washington Recorder Connie Pence says they are waiting on new marriage license forms that won't request information regarding the bride and groom. Pence says they hope to have the new documents before April 27. She says they have yet to see their first application for a same sex marriage.

Tax deadline approaches

Posted: Monday, April 13th, 2009 at 7:42 am

To some, the most hated day of the year is April 15th, tax day. Dan Bontrager with Bontrager tax in Kalona says to make sure that you get everything you need done before the due date because the penalties can be high. He says most people know about getting a penalty for filing late, but he says most people don't know that there is a second penalty for paying late as well. Bontrager says an extension to file doesn't always mean an extension to pay. He says if you think you might be late it is better to be safe than sorry and file for an extension, and if you question anything to contact a professional. He says it could save you more money than you think.

Lake Darling clean up

Posted: Monday, April 13th, 2009 at 7:40 am

The Friends of Lake Darling are hosting their annual park clean up day on Saturday at 9am. Park Manager Merill Lucas says the friends group has been hosting this event for a number of years and they average around 25 volunteer each year. Lucas says this is the perfect time of year for this event because litter that is hidden by snow or tall grass at other times is visible. Anyone interested in participating should meet at the Lake Darling State Park shop near the entrance at 9am on Saturday. For more information call 319-694-2323

Street closures

Posted: Monday, April 13th, 2009 at 7:40 am

Starting next Monday, April 20th Vine Avenue (W64) will be closed from 135th to 150thStreet for construction. McCulley Culverts Inc. will be performing work on two culverts located on Vine Avenue in preparation for concrete paving work that will be occurring later this summer. Residents are encouraged to use Highway 218 as a detour route.

Speaker highlights diversity in Iowa

Posted: Monday, April 13th, 2009 at 7:40 am

According to the U-S Census Bureau, Hispanics and Latino's are the fastest growing demographic in the country. How do they adjust to the U-S? how is the U-S adjusting to them? Himar Hernandez is a community development specialist with the ISU Extension in Ottumwa. He says one aspect of American culture he struggled with, was some of the unwritten rules. Hernandez says the U-S has become less like the "great melting pot" it was once labeled, and has allowed immigrants of all cultures to maintain their heritage, while still participating in the American way of life. Hernandez will be in Washington for a Learn at Lunch Monday April 20 at the ISU Extension Building. Contact the Washington Chamber of Commerce for more information.