Today's Local News

Bill threatens HSAP

Posted: Thursday, April 9th, 2009 at 5:27 am

Legislation pending in Des Moines could threaten Iowa's Home School Assistance Program. Andrea Farrier is a teacher at Mid Prairie Schools and a lobbyist for HSAP. She says the measure would allow school district's to get rid of the program. Last year the state cut the amount of HSAP money district's get in half, but stipulated that they couldn't reduce funding. A measure pending at the State House would allow them reduce, and even eliminate their funding. While this worries Farrier about what the implications would be statewide, she doesn't feel any local school districts would pursue such action. Riverside State Representative Larry Marek has said he would oppose any such legislation.

Tornado drill this morning

Posted: Wednesday, April 8th, 2009 at 5:18 am

The Washington and Keokuk County emergency management coordinator says local emergency sirens are in working order, and will be put to the test this morning. Larry Smith says communities in the two counties will test the sirens as part of a statewide tornado drill. Smith says these sirens are for outdoor purposes, therefore people should also have weather radios for use in their homes. Smith says most communities test their sirens at least once a month. He says some even conduct a daily test. Smith will join the KCII Severe Weather Action Team via phone during the mock tornado drill scheduled for this morning at 10:15. He'll explain what's happening and what his duties are during such a situation.

Washington Sheriff seeks reserve officers

Posted: Wednesday, April 8th, 2009 at 5:17 am

The Washington County Sheriff's Department is look for people to serve in their auxiliary unit. Deputy Darren Dennler says their reserve officers fill in when full time deputies are sick or need vacation time. He says they also assist with special security details and emergencies. Dennler says those interested in joining the auxiliary have to go through an application process, a physical agility test, background check and a weapons qualification. He also says reserve officers have to live in Washington County. To find out more contact the Sheriff's Office.

Washington Schools exceed budget

Posted: Wednesday, April 8th, 2009 at 5:17 am

The Washington Community School District exceeded its authorized budget for the 2007-2008 school year by more than $124,000, and violated Iowa law. As a result, the Department of Management is reducing the district's budget for the 2008-2009 school year. Superintendent Dave Sextro says he's confident they won't overspend their budget again. School board members are expected to pass a 23-million dollar budget at tonight's meeting. It starts at 7:00 in the adminstration building.

Washington ag assessments up

Posted: Wednesday, April 8th, 2009 at 5:17 am

Washington County agricultural land valuations will increase by 46-percent this year, while agricultural buildings will rise by eight to nine percent. Assessor Lil Perry says both of those will be decreased through a 35-percent state rollback. Perry says this is one of the largest rollbacks in recent years. She says sometimes there isn't one at all. Perry also says Washington County is usually average in its local valuation increases, and this year was no different.

Marek expects same sex marriage ruling to stand

Posted: Wednesday, April 8th, 2009 at 5:16 am

A state representative from southeast Iowa expects the recent Supreme Court ruling allowing same sex marriage to stand. Larry Marek says the both chambers of the legislature would have pass a measure two years in a row, have it signed by the governor and then put to a vote before they could repeal such a decision. He says the earliest that could happen would be in 2012.

Louisa Co’s severe weather system

Posted: Wednesday, April 8th, 2009 at 5:15 am

When severe weather hits Louisa County the sheriffs office stays alert and is responsible for keeping everyone safe and informed. Chief Deputy Caudle says when severe weather hits Louisa County they have many things that they can do to get information out such as a code red. He says code red is an ultra high-speed telephone communication service for emergency notifications. This system allows them to telephone all or targeted areas of the county in case of an emergency situation that requires immediate action. He says the system is capable of dialing hundreds of phone numbers per minute. It then delivers a recorded message to a live person or an answering machine, making three attempts to connect to any number.

Kalona Council talks stop signs

Posted: Wednesday, April 8th, 2009 at 5:15 am

The Kalona City Council is talking stop signs. At this week's meeting they discussed putting one up for vehicles traveling on 3rd Street to stop at C Avenue. Also at the meeting they discussed funding aid for the Kalona Elementary Playground Improvement project as well as the many road repairs that are needed. One of the main topics at the city council meeting was the re-roofing and residing of the Rec Center.

Kindergarten Roundup

Posted: Wednesday, April 8th, 2009 at 5:14 am

It's that time of year when we begin to think about the 2009-2010 school year. Mid Prairie Secretary Judy Goodrich says the Kindergarten round up for Wellman Elementary and Washington Township Elementary is today (Wednesday). Wellman Elementary will be from 9:00-11:00 AM and Washington Township will be from 1:00-3:00 PM. She says students must be 5 years of age on or before September 15 to enter Kindergarten this fall. For more information contact Judy Goodrich, Central Office Secretary, at 319-646-6093 to request registration materials.

Lightning: more dangerous than tornadoes

Posted: Tuesday, April 7th, 2009 at 5:21 am

During severe weather…the earlier you know the better. There's an entire career field dedicated to studying weather and learning how to prepare for it. Laura Lockwood is a meteorologist with Weather Eye. She says one aspect of severe weather that many people overlook is lightning. Lockwood says lightning actually kills more people each year than tornadoes. Lockwood also says you shouldn't do things like talk on a land line phone or shower during a thunderstorm because lightning can travel through utility lines and plumbing. This is Severe Weather Awareness Week. Check back here every day this week for more weather related news coverage.

Natural gas odor prompts three evacuations

Posted: Tuesday, April 7th, 2009 at 5:21 am

Still no concrete answer as to what caused a natural gas odor that prompted the evacuation of three buildings in Washington yesterday. Alliant Energy spokeswoman Nancy Craig says crews were called to inspect the high school, hospital and a local church. She says no gas leaks were discovered, but crews did find two "incidental" situations at the high school. The first was on a pizza oven, the second was a boiler vent. She says neither of these were the source of the odor, but were discovered as workers conducted their inspection. Craig says one possible explanation is that an odor similar to natural gas is what people were smelling.

Grassley to have local listening posts

Posted: Tuesday, April 7th, 2009 at 5:20 am

Senator Chuck Grassley's regional director, Mary Day, will be holding open office hours in Johnson, Jones, and Washington counties on Tuesday, April 21. These office hours, or listening posts, provide an opportunity for Iowans to obtain casework assistance or to express views and ask questions on any subject. She will be in Washington County at the Wellman City hall from 3 to 4pm. Senator Grassley says these open office hours are designed to help more Iowans access the assistance that is available from the office of their United States Senator. He hopes any Iowan with federal agency-related casework or questions and comments will take advantage of his staffs visit to their area. For questions you can contact Grassley's Cedar Rapids office at 319-363-6832.

New sewer plant…new method

Posted: Tuesday, April 7th, 2009 at 5:20 am

The city of Washington is in the market for a new waste water treatment facility. City Administrator Dave Plyman says not only will the new facility be able to treat a higher volume of water, but will treat it using a different method. He says the new system won't bog down during cold weather like the old one. The city council is starting to look at acquiring land for the new facility. The project is expected to cost between 12 and 18-million dollars.

Washington Schools slated to pass $23-million budget

Posted: Tuesday, April 7th, 2009 at 5:20 am

The Washington Community School Board is slated to pass a roughly $23-million dollar budget at tomorrow night's meeting. Superintendent Dave Sextro says their on the right path to correct some of the district's past financial problems. Sextro says recent budget cuts at the state level haven't helped the situation. He says the district has been able to save money through early retirements. The school board will take public comment on the budget at tomorrow's meeting. It's at 7:00 pm in the school administration building.

Senior Medicare Patrol

Posted: Tuesday, April 7th, 2009 at 5:19 am

Education Programs through the Senior Medicare Patrol program are available in Des Moines, Henry, Lee and Louisa Counties. Senior Medicare Patrol is sponsored by Southeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging, Inc. and it is a nationwide program administered in part through the U. S. Administration on Aging. Brenda Sayre with the SE IA Area Agency on Aging says trained retired professionals provide community education programs about Medicare fraud, waste and abuse along with identity theft and scams to elders and their caregivers, local banks, home health agencies and service groups. She says community education is free and they like to set-up informational booths at health fairs, seminars and other places the public would gather. To schedule a program or ask questions: call SE IA Area Agency on Aging at 1-800-292-1268 or 319-752-5433.

Washington Aquatic Center could get new name

Posted: Tuesday, April 7th, 2009 at 5:17 am

The Washington Aquatic Center could be getting a new name. Parks Superintendent Tim Widmer says a group of people want the center named after Milo Steel, who used to coach the YMCA Swim Team and recently passed away. He says they are looking for public input on the matter and will be discussing it at this evening's meeting. They'll also be talking about the Central Park Bandstand renovation project. The meeting begins at 5:00 tonight in Washington City Hall.

Florida family donates land in SE Iowa

Posted: Monday, April 6th, 2009 at 5:29 am

A family from Florida is being honored today for donating land in southeast Iowa. Clemencia and Martin Nolan will be among those recognized during the "Gift to Iowa's Future" ceremony in Des Moines. The Nolans donated a portion of their Iowa property's value through a bargain sale. The 160 acres of wetland are near a tributary of the English River and are enrolled in the USDA Wetland Reserve Program. The property will be funded and managed by the conservation boards of Washington, Keokuk and Iowa Counties.

Corridor Career Fair

Posted: Monday, April 6th, 2009 at 5:28 am

As the unemployment rate continues to climb, here's a bit of welcome news. The Corridor Career Fair will be April 25 at Kirkwood Community College's main campus in Cedar Rapids. Brenda Dodge with Iowa Workforce Development says more than 60 employers are expected to participate. Dodge says job seekers will be able to meet with employers from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. She says there will also be resume critiquing available and an internet cafe for online applications. The career fair will also feature a variety of workshops. Visit www.coridorcareers.com for more information.

Severe Weather Week

Posted: Monday, April 6th, 2009 at 5:28 am

When severe weather descends, it takes a carefully coordinated effort to keep the area safe. It involves a multitude of government and private entities, one of which is the Washington Police Department. Sergeant Sean Ellingson says their job is to keep the city running smoothly during a severe weather situation. Ellingson says they maintain radio contact with the city's maintenance department, and serve as first responders to areas where utility conduits may have been damaged. Ellingson says other city departments do their jobs very well, which allows them to continue to focus on law enforcement during severe weather. This is part of our ongoing Severe Weather Awareness Week. Check back here every day for more weather related coverage.

Washington County B.O.S.

Posted: Monday, April 6th, 2009 at 5:27 am

Washington County Supervisors will get an update on agricultural valuation assessments at this week's meeting. They'll also be checking off on applications for Washington County Riverboat Foundation Grants. They are also slated to approve a resolution for a fireworks permit and application fee. The meeting is this Tuesday morning at 9:30 in the lower level of the Washington County Courthouse.