Today's Local News

Supervisors renew garbage contract

Posted: Wednesday, July 8th, 2009 at 5:31 am

Washington County Supervisors yesterday (7/7) voted to renew the solid waste contract with Mark’s Sanitation. The per ton fee increased by less than a dollar. County Auditor Bill Fredrick reminded supervisors that such contracts need to be occasionally let for a bid. Fredrick says they don’t always seek bids when a contract expires because it can be a cumbersome process. He says there is a provision that allows them to simply renew as they did yesterday. He says they might look into creating multi-year contracts that would require bids when they expire.

Brighton braces for RAGBRAI

Posted: Wednesday, July 8th, 2009 at 5:31 am

As hundreds of bike riders gear up for the upcoming RAGBRAI, Brighton is preparing itself for the flood of people. Chamber President Brian Arnold says while the bikers wont be staying in Brighton for very long, the city still has plenty of entertainment and vendors for both participants and residents to enjoy. Arnold says the city has turned down a number of larger companies wishing to have booths during the event in favor of smaller, local vendor in an effort to help put money back into the community.

Crop Update

Posted: Wednesday, July 8th, 2009 at 5:30 am

Southeast Iowa farm fields finally got a chance to dry out last week, but were hit with another round of rainfall on Independence Day. USDA statistics show this part of the state’s corn stand at 90% as it enters the tassel stage, while 16 % of soybeans are blooming. Local alfalfa harvests continue to lag behind the rest of the state. The first cutting is at 77%. That’s compared with 94% statewide.

Land shift expected to hinder conservation

Posted: Wednesday, July 8th, 2009 at 5:30 am

A joint study by Iowa State and Drake Universities shows a majority of Iowa’s farmland is owned by people on the brink of retirement. Richard Simms with the Natural Resource Conservation Service says the potential for a land shift could mean a a smaller number of people managing more acres. He says it would be challenging for NRCS because fall and spring are the times whens such techniques need to be implemented.

Trails network envisioned

Posted: Wednesday, July 8th, 2009 at 5:30 am

Many Iowans are training for the annual RAGBRI event this month. Bicyclists in Washington County have plenty of places to practice. Lyle Moen, with the recreational trails committee says they get a lot of compliments. Moen says it’s their goal to link all the trails in the county and create a network. He says that could make the area a sort of bicycling vacation spot. Moen says the trails are also used by hikers, bird watchers and other nature enthusiasts.

4-H Grant

Posted: Wednesday, July 8th, 2009 at 5:29 am

A new super-center on the east side of town isnt the only addition Wal-Mart is making in Washington. The Wal-Mart Foundation recently donated 1-million dollars to youth organizations in fifteen states, and in southeast Iowa that means 4-H clubs will begin new community wellness programs. National 4-H Councilman Kyle Jones says the new Youth Voice: Youth Choice program will get 4-Hers out into the local area to promote healthy living, nutrition, wellness, and physical activities. Jones says Iowa will receive $50,000 to implement the program.

Sheriff warns drivers about tall vegetation

Posted: Wednesday, July 8th, 2009 at 5:29 am

The average corn height in southeast Iowa is just over four feet, and it’s approaching a level where it can obstruct motorists view. Washington County Sheriff Jerry Dunbar says people traveling in rural areas need to be extra cautious as roadside vegetation continues to get taller. Dunbar says even though many countryside intersections don’t have traffic control signs, it’s still a good idea to treat them as if there was a yield sign. He also says drivers need to be wary of slow moving farm implements such as hay racks and tractor driven mowers.

Tipping fee hike spurs Washington to push reycling program

Posted: Tuesday, July 7th, 2009 at 4:31 am

An increase in the tipping fee at SEMCO Landfill has Washington’s Mayor urging residents to utilize the city’s recycling services. Sandra Johnson says it can save both the city and its residents money. She’s urging people to keep things like paper, clear glass and milk jugs separated from regular trash. Johnson says the city can provide a recycling cart to property owners free of charge. SEMCO’s tipping fee recently went from $45 to $50. The city of Washington and Washington County share the cost of the local recycling facility.
(Photo: SEMCO Landfill KCII stock photo)

Work release areas of jail to be completed soon

Posted: Tuesday, July 7th, 2009 at 4:30 am

The new Washington County Jail is nearly completed. Sheriff Jerry Dunbar says the two work areas that were purposely left unfinished should be completed by the end of the month. He says the contractors have done an excellent job and come in under budget. Dunbar hopes the new facility can serve as a place where 45-50 federal inmates can be housed. He says it could bring in more than one million dollars per year for Washington County.

Sub-drain added to downtown enhancement

Posted: Tuesday, July 7th, 2009 at 4:29 am

Washington’s downtown enhancement project recently got a little more expensive. City engineer Rob McDonald told councilors they’d need to spend as much as $10,000 on a sub drain. He says the drain is necessary to keep water from accumulating under the pavement and causing damage when it freezes during the winter months. The third ward’s Mike Roth wanted more time to consider approving the expenditure, but didn’t want to hold up the project. He says the downtown enhancement and new library projects are both coming along on schedule and will hopefully be done around the same time.

Washington Co. Fair 2 weeks away

Posted: Tuesday, July 7th, 2009 at 4:29 am

The Washington County Fair is less than two weeks a way, and organizers say this year’s entertainment should be one for the record books. Fair board Vice President Don Lewis says Washington County’s Fair has been named as a “blue ribbon fair” by the Iowa Association of Fairs. This year’s grandstand events include sanctioned tractor and truck pulls, rodeo riders, a demolition derby and up and coming country musician Jake McVey. The fair starts July 19 and runs through the 24th.

Kalona tourism benefits from "Stay-cations

Posted: Tuesday, July 7th, 2009 at 4:29 am

As July kicks off, many families are beginning to think more about this years summer vacation. Nancy Roth with the Kalona Historical Village says the rough economy encourages travelers to stick close to home, and the village has seen a higher number of visitors due to this. Roth says tourism at the village was a little slow towards the beginning of the summer, but July is typically the hot month. She says tourism at the village helps the local economy by helping other area businesses see a greater number of visitors as well.

92 bridge work starts today

Posted: Tuesday, July 7th, 2009 at 4:28 am

The bridge over the Iowa River in Columbus Junction will be reduced to one lane today (7/7) as crews begin approach repair. The Iowa Department of Transportation’s website says traffic will be guided by temporary signals. A 12-and-a-half foot width limit on the span also goes into effect today. The DOT’s website says they expect to lift the restriction by the end of August.

I-DOT gets $3 million for SE IA roads

Posted: Tuesday, July 7th, 2009 at 4:28 am

Southeast Iowa will receive more help for recovery efforts for last years floods. The Iowa Department of Transportation will soon receive over $3-million to repair and maintain traffic routes that were damaged after the June floods of last year. Funds such as these will be of great importance to area communities, including Columbus Junction which has an important bridge on Highway 92 over the Iowa River and saw severe damage by floodwaters.

RR crossing work in Washington

Posted: Tuesday, July 7th, 2009 at 4:05 am

The City of Washington Engineers office reports that 12 Avenue will be closed to traffic beginning this morning due to construction on IC&E Railroad crossings. 12 Avenue joins B Avenue as the two roads affected by the construction. City Engineer Rob McDonald says detour routes will be available for both north and southbound traffic.

Washington School Board slated to call for special election

Posted: Monday, July 6th, 2009 at 4:50 am

Washington School Board members this week are expected to to pass a resolution calling for a special election in September. The purpose of the election is to have residents vote on whether the school district should issue nearly $12-million in general obligation bonds to get started on a massive facilities plan. The overall proposal calls for spending around $36-million to build a new high school and renovate other district buildings. The bonding proposal would require 60% of voters to be in favor to pass. The meeting starts at 7:00 Wednesday night (7/8) in the school administration building.

Lake Darling won’t fill up this summer

Posted: Monday, July 6th, 2009 at 4:49 am

Lake Darling won’t be filling up this summer as initially planned. A news release from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources indicated the state agency had planned to suspend construction, and allow the basin to fill through labor day. However, The Cedar Rapids Gazzette reports that the DNR will keep the gate outlet open and allow runoff to exit the lake. The DNR State Parks Bureau Chief tells the newspaper they decided the best course would be to stay with the original construction plan.

BOS preview

Posted: Monday, July 6th, 2009 at 4:49 am

Washington County Supervisors will soon be taking public comment on ordinances that will go into effect this year. They’re slated to set a public hearing date at this week’s meeting. They’ll also sign off on a pickup truck purchase by the secondary roads department. Supervisors are also expected to approve a contract for rural solid waste disposal services with Marks Sanitation. The meeting starts at 9:30 Tuesday (7/7) in the Washington County Courthouse.

Chicago teens visiting Washington this week

Posted: Monday, July 6th, 2009 at 4:49 am

Washington residents will be getting phone calls from a group of Chicago high school students this week. These teens are working with the University of Iowa’s political science department to conduct a public opinion poll. Mayor Sandra Johnson says she leaped at the opportunity when the university first contacted her. She says the survey will have around 30 questions. The students are conducting the survey through the Mikva challenge. It’s designed to engage low income Chicago youth in politics. It’s named after former White House Counsel, judge and U-S Congressman Abner Mikva.

Fundraising at Hamakua

Posted: Monday, July 6th, 2009 at 4:48 am

A recent fundraiser brought in more than $235 for Hamakua Youth Center in Washington. Center director Deb Bodensteiner says teens sold more than $1,500 in Schwans food. Bodensteiner says says they’re next fundraiser will be July 28. She says the teens will be grilling pork burgers and hot dogs for a free will offering. Proceeds are being used for upcoming fall youth programs and a new slushie machine.