Today’s Local News

Smoking Ban 1 year later

Posted: Friday, July 3rd, 2009 at 6:36 am

A year after the passing of the Smokefree Air Act, reports from Louisa County say businesses are enjoying the clean air. Kaitlyn Wintermeyer with the county extension says while less than two percent of businesses have violated the law, they are still open to changing policies in order to comply. Since the law applies to outdoor public areas as well, Wintermeyer says shes interested in seeing how Louisa County residents act during the summer festivals in public parks. She says her department has had no trouble in responding to further violations from businesses.

County Engages IC Law Firm

Posted: Thursday, July 2nd, 2009 at 4:45 am

The stage has been set for a legal showdown between Washington County and the city of Riverside. Supervisors this week formally engaged Iowa City based Meardon, Sueppel and Downer as their representative in the revenue sharing dispute. The conflict stems from an arrangement forged when the Riverside Casino was built. Attorney’s for the city have said the contract is void under state law, because it creates constitutional debt. County Attorney Barb Edmondson has said she feels the agreement is legal and enforceable. The deadline for Riverside to make an annual payment was yesterday (7/1).

Alliant: Cap and Trade Means Higher Energy Costs in Midwest

Posted: Thursday, July 2nd, 2009 at 4:45 am

Alliant Energy says the current cap and trade bill moving through Congress could mean double digit bill increases for their customers. Company spokesman Scott Drzycimski says Midwesterners are very dependent on coal, which means companies like Alliant won’t receive as many carbon credits. He says this will force them to purchase these credits from other utilities, ultimately driving energy prices up.

Crop Duster Crashes Near Ainsworth

Posted: Thursday, July 2nd, 2009 at 4:45 am

A Mt. Pleasant man was hospitalized yesterday (7/1) after a crop duster he was piloting went down north of Ainsworth. 39 year old John Koehn Newton was taken to University Hospital in Iowa City by Washington County Ambulance personnel. 911 supervisor Cara Sorrells says officials from the Sheriff’s Office, Ainsworth Fire Department and the Ainsworth First Responders were also called to the scene. Sorrells also says the fuel was reported to be leaking from the plane, and a hazardous materials crew was called to assist.

911 Commission Moves Forward With Building Study

Posted: Thursday, July 2nd, 2009 at 4:43 am

Washington County’s 911 Board is moving forward with a study that will explore a new location for the communications center. Their splitting the cost with the Communications Commission. Minnesota based engineer Leonard Kohnen (cane-inn) will conduct the study. The communications center is currently located in the old jail. Center Supervisor Cara Sorrells says one potential hang up is the radio tower. She says if they move too far away from it, they’d have to build a new one.

4th of July Closures

Posted: Thursday, July 2nd, 2009 at 4:42 am

The 4th of July falls on a Saturday this year, but many government offices will be closed tomorrow (7/3) in observance of the holiday. Most Post Offices will close at noon, and the Washington County Mini Bus will not be running. The 4th of July has been celebrated since 1776. It commemorates the first Continental Congress adopting the Declaration of Independence. Although the signing of the Declaration was not completed until August, the 4th of July holiday has been accepted as the official anniversary of U.S. independence and is celebrated in all states and territories of the U.S.

Harkin Touts Student Loan Measure

Posted: Thursday, July 2nd, 2009 at 4:42 am

Iowa students and college graduates will be getting some much-needed help in repaying student loans. Senator Tom Harkin announced as of yesterday (7/1) the income-based repayment option will become available. Students who chose to pay their loans using this method will make smaller payments if their income is less, and larger payments when their income increases. Harkins says this option will be very helpful for students struggling to find employment after graduation.

Washington Council Approves 2 Downtown Events

Posted: Thursday, July 2nd, 2009 at 4:42 am

The Washington City Council has approved two downtown events for next year. Relay for Life, and The Corn Country Cruisers are again making the square their home. Mayor Sandra Johnson says it’s important to maintain activity in the city’s heart. Johnson encourages any organization planning a special event to put together a proposal and visit with the council about it. Johnson says when the new library and the downtown enhancement project are completed, it should make the area even more attractive for such events.

Lake Belva Deer Expecting Large Crowds For 4th of July

Posted: Thursday, July 2nd, 2009 at 4:41 am

The Fourth of July weekend has always been a popular weekend for fishing, boating, and swimming. Dave Long with the Keokuk County Conservation Board says this year is no exception. He says Belva Deer Recreation Area outside Sigourney has seen a high number of visitors due to the nice weather and upcoming holiday. Long says the lake always hosts a great deal of visitors around this time, and even heavy road construction was not enough to deter patrons this year.

Wind Farm Could Bring $5-million annually to Washington Co.

Posted: Wednesday, July 1st, 2009 at 4:55 am

A proposed wind farm could eventually bring $5 million in property tax revenue to Washington County per year. Assessor Lil Perry told supervisors this week that would be the case if they adopted a special valuation ordinance that increases the tax rate annually by 5%. Perry recommends supervisors look into the special ordinance, as it would help keep the revenue local. They appointed a special committee this week to do just that. This year the Iowa legislature approved allowing wind farms to enjoy both the special valuation and a state tax credit.

Crop Update

Posted: Wednesday, July 1st, 2009 at 4:54 am

Crops in southeast Iowa are doing well after last week’s heat wave, but some areas still need to dry out. USDA statistics show 37% of area topsoil moisture at a surplus, with 41% of subsoil moisture in the excessive range. The corn stand is at 90% with an average height of 36 inches, while 90% of soybeans have emerged. Southeast Iowa’s alfalfa crop has been hard hit by heavy rains and high humidity. The first cutting is more than 25% behind the statewide average.

Marek: More Cuts Likely

Posted: Wednesday, July 1st, 2009 at 4:52 am

An Iowa lawmaker from Washington County expects more state cuts this fiscal year. Representative Larry Marek says all arms of government are exploring ways to save money. He says the legislature is trying to keep next year’s session as short as possible, while the judicial branch is looking at more furlough days. Iowa’s new fiscal year started today (7/1).

Washington Council to Talk Personnel

Posted: Wednesday, July 1st, 2009 at 4:52 am

Personnel issues are on the table for Washington City Council members tonight (7/1). They’re slated to continue discussions on setting cost of living salary adjustments for non union employees. This was a contentious issue at the last meeting. They’ll also consider establishing a new supervisory position in the water and waste water departments, and confirm an appointment to a city accountant position. The meeting starts 7:00 tonight (7/1) in the Washington Public Library.

Extension Offers Food Safety Training

Posted: Wednesday, July 1st, 2009 at 4:51 am

With the threat of food-borne illnesses always an issue, the ISU Extension will be offering a way to prevent these diseases. On July 21, the extension will be holding a food safety seminar in Burlington which will teach participants the proper ways to clean, prepare, and handle foods which could potentially carry bacteria. The program is being offered as part of the National Restaurant Association and the Iowa Food Code.

Dr. Plattenberger Contracted for Jail Services

Posted: Wednesday, July 1st, 2009 at 4:51 am

The Washington County Jail has hired a doctor to provide health care to inmates. Sheriff Jerry Dunbar says they’ll continue their contract with Washington County Hospital. He says Dr. Robin Plattenberger is a good fit for the position. Dunbar says it will cost them a little more per visit. However he says Dr. Plattenberger can offer them a wider range of services.

Wapello Student Appointed to Leadership Role

Posted: Wednesday, July 1st, 2009 at 4:50 am

A Wapello High School student was recently appointed to a leadership in a prominent anti-smoking organization. Bailey Wonders was elected to the executive council of Just Eliminate Lies, and Kaitlyn Wintermeyer, tobacco control project coordinator in Louisa County says Wonders is perfect for the job. Wintermeyer says the JEL chapters in southeast Iowa high schools focus mainly on raising awareness of the tobacco industrys influence on youth. She says as part of the executive council, Baileys duties will include a lot of meetings and organizing statewide events.

portion of 218 closed today

Posted: Tuesday, June 30th, 2009 at 4:54 am

One southbound lane of U-S 218 will be closed in Washington County today. The Iowa Department of Transportation says the right lane will be closed between County Road G26 and Iowa 22 near Riverside while crews conduct patching operations. Motorists are asked to use caution near on and off ramps, and to watch for workers and equipment. The maintenance work is expected to be completed by 4:00 tomorrow (7/1) afternoon.

Fire destroys barn in rural Ainsworth

Posted: Tuesday, June 30th, 2009 at 4:54 am

A barn was lost, but no injuries were reported after a fire in rural Ainsworth. The Washington County Safety Center says they received a report Sunday night indicating the barn at 3270 185th street was “fully engulfed” in flames. Personnel from Ainsworth and Riverside Fire Departments as well as the Washington County Ambulance Service, Rural Electric Cooperative and the Sheriff’s Department all responded to the blaze. The safety center says the value of the structure is unknown.

Supervisor concerned with minibus during winter

Posted: Tuesday, June 30th, 2009 at 4:52 am

A Washington County supervisor is concerned with how reliable the county minibus is during the winter months. Jim Rosien says a great deal of people rely on the service to get them to and from work, and it creates a hardship when the service stops during inclement weather. Rosien says they’re fortunate to have Washington County Developmental Center to serve as a back up for area residents with disabilities.

Fireworks permits down this year

Posted: Tuesday, June 30th, 2009 at 4:52 am

With the Fourth of July this weekend, the auditors office has been busy issuing permits for private fireworks displays. County Auditor Bill Frederick says his office this year has issued 18 permits to residents, as opposed to 25 issued last year. Despite this drop, he says there are some issued after the holiday for special celebrations, such as weddings or reunions. Frederick says the process to receive a permit is long, and at this point it is impossible to get one in time for the holiday.