Today's Local News

WHS ahead of state graduation rate

Posted: Friday, April 3rd, 2009 at 6:17 am

The number of high-school dropouts was up last year in Iowa. Washington High School Principal Shane Ehrsman says that isn't being reflected locally. He says WHS was ahead of the statewide graduation rate in 2007 by nearly seven percent. Ehresman says they have weekly meetings to identify at risk students. He says a measure being considered in Des Moines that would raise the dropout age from 16 to 18 is probably a good idea. He says even if a student is having trouble, they can still participate in the Assure Alternative School Program and receive their diploma.

Relay for Life seeks sponsors

Posted: Friday, April 3rd, 2009 at 6:16 am

The American Cancer Society urges local companies to take up the fight against cancer in their community by becoming sponsors of Relay for Life. Kierstan Peck with the American Cancer Society says cancer touches everyone, and involvement in Relay for Life is a great way to show that a company cares. Peck says 32,538 of people will participate this year in 87 Relay for Life events across Iowa. If you would like to become a corporate sponsor or find out how to build a team for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life of Louisa County, call 319.653.3768 or visit www.RelayForLife.org.

Mid-Prairie’s geothermal system

Posted: Friday, April 3rd, 2009 at 6:16 am

The Kalona Elementary School has had a geo-thermal heating system for 5 years. Superintendent Mark Schneider says the system is working very well. He says a lot of people say the system will pay for itself within 5 years, but he says thats different for them because it was a retro fit and not a new installation. Schneider says the geo-thermal system does a very good job in heating and cooling the school and they can see the difference in the utility bill.

The grass is always greener…if

Posted: Friday, April 3rd, 2009 at 6:15 am

Spring is here, and a few things done now can help keep lawns healthy during the summer. Washington County Extension Education Director Gene Mohling care needs to be taken when considering fertilizer options. He says its best to start with a soil sample. Mohling says once the yard has greened up and been mowed twice, it's time to start looking for weeds. He says many lawn and garden stores carry a spring time granule that will fight weeds, and fertilize at the same time. For more information call the Washington County Extension at 319-653-4811.

Royer explains GIS

Posted: Friday, April 3rd, 2009 at 6:15 am

Washington County is part of a growing list of Iowa counties that have started compiling their geographical information in house. Duane Royer heads up Washington County GIS. He says it involves more than just updating maps. Royer says GIS is utilized by virtually every county agency…from public safety…to the assessor's office. He estimates its cost at about 100-thousand dollars per year. At this week's board of supervisor's meeting, many different department heads attested to the service's usefulness. They say it more than pays for itself.

Washington Police look to add officer

Posted: Thursday, April 2nd, 2009 at 4:10 am

The city of Washington’s police department could be adding an officer. Chief Greg Goodman says it hinges on whether or not they receive a grant that would fund the position for a three year period. Goodman says the additional officer would help alleviate scheduling conflicts, and would get them closer to having two officers on duty at all times.

There is money to be lent

Posted: Thursday, April 2nd, 2009 at 4:09 am

A local bank president says the the financial crisis affecting national financial institutions, and driving the recession hasn’t been a problem for him. Dale Torpey with Federation Bank says many times the financial news is isn’t as bad as it sounds. Torpey says local banks didn’t get caught up in the subprime mortgage situation that spelled disaster for some larger institutions. He also says these smaller banks, including his own, have money to lend. He says Federation Bank has more money to lend now, than they have had in previous years.

Washington Council tables liquor request

Posted: Thursday, April 2nd, 2009 at 4:06 am

Washington City Council members need some more time to ponder an outdoor liquor license request from Cafe Dodici. They decided to table the request for a second time at last night's meeting. Councilor Mike Roth is uneasy about what kind of precedent allowing the license might set. The council will look at how other communities have structured similar licenses. Cafe Dodici co-owner Lorraine Williams feels municipalities need to be ready to adjust their ordinances.

Wastewater discharged in Louisa Co

Posted: Thursday, April 2nd, 2009 at 4:05 am

An unknown amount of wastewater was discharged and flowed to the Iowa River Tuesday when a force main ruptured in Wapello. According to a news release, city staff had to shut a pump station down near Van Buren Street to fix the main pipe, allowing untreated wastewater to discharge until the pipe was repaired at 11:20 a.m.The city will test water samples collected near the pump station.The Department of Natural Resources does not anticipate taking enforcement action at this time.

Quitting tobacco during price hike

Posted: Thursday, April 2nd, 2009 at 4:05 am

The yesterday's increase in tobacco taxes at the federal level, combined with a hike in the products price is spurring a spike in the number of people looking to kick the habit. Sarah Yoder is the Washington County Tobacco Use and Prevention Coordinator. She says quitting can be a very difficult thing to do. Yoder says people who are trying to quit shouldn't be too hard on themselves if they do slip up and have a smoke, or a dip. She says there are rebates available through the Iowa-Quitline for nicotine replacement products such as the patch or gum. To find out more about quitting contact Yoder at 319-530-0366.

Schools for energy efficiency

Posted: Thursday, April 2nd, 2009 at 4:04 am

Interstate Power and Light Company, along with MidAmerican Energy and Black Hills Energy, are helping area schools identify ways to save money on their energy bills by encouraging simple energy-efficient habits, such as turning off lights and unplugging unused appliances. Each school that signs up to participate in the SEE program will be given an energy audit by the utilities at no charge. The energy audit will identify immediate or future projects that the school can participate in to save additional energy. Reducing energy use and energy costs will free up funds for other school needs.

Stitch This

Posted: Thursday, April 2nd, 2009 at 4:03 am

Area 4-H'ers are encouraged to get involved with the Stitch This competiton at this summer's State Fair. Katie Peiffer with Washington County 4-H says the event will have teams disassemble a wedding dress and re-sew it into another wearable garment. Peiffer says this is another program which demonstrates how 4-H isn't just for farm kids. The challenge is open to 4-H members grades nine through twelve. They can sign up in groups of four, or be placed on a team by signing up individually. Registration is due by June 1.

Kalona pool status

Posted: Thursday, April 2nd, 2009 at 4:03 am

With Spring officially here and the weather warming up, Kalona is getting ready to open the pool. Todd Fitzsenry, the parks and recreations supervisor, says they are working to get in compliance with state regulations to make sure the pool is safe for everyone that visits. He says there were some drain issues but feels everything should be good to go when the pool opens up for the summer.

City, County increase recycling money

Posted: Wednesday, April 1st, 2009 at 7:49 am

The phrase “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is becoming less and less true in Washington County. Supervisor Jim Rosien says the rising costs of transportation, combined with the declining value of recyclable materials is putting a financial squeeze on the local recycling facility. Yesterday the supervisors approved a measure that gives the recycling center $12,000 more of county money. The city of Washington recently approved increasing their financial support as well. The facility is shared between the city and county.

Wash Co. to approach Riverside about revenue sharing

Posted: Wednesday, April 1st, 2009 at 7:49 am

The city of Riverside and Washington County are at odds over a revenue sharing agreement that was forged when the casino was built. County Attorney Barb Edmondson says they should continue to be paid part of the roughly $1.7-million the city gets from Riverside Casino. Riverside City officials have stated in letters to the county, that they feel the agreement has created constitutional debt, therefore the city was not authorized to enter into the contract in the first place. A meeting between the two entities is expected before July first, when payment is due.

Kalona moving to high speed internet

Posted: Wednesday, April 1st, 2009 at 7:48 am

A lot of people that use the internet still use dial up which is slow moving and ties up phone lines. Gary Davis with the Kalona Co-op Telephone Company says they are seeing a push towards high speed internet. He says people in the Kalona area are going with a faster service at a slow but steady pace. Justyn Miller says they have offered high speed internet to all residents since they first offered the service in Kalona. He says that is rare for many companies because in a lot of bigger cities there are a lot of suburbs that still do not have high speed internet available. Miller says they are going forward with a faster service that many big companies are not offering yet.

WCHC goes for the green in more ways than one

Posted: Wednesday, April 1st, 2009 at 7:48 am

Blankets are helping save Washington County Hospital and Clinics around 30-thousand dollars a year. These aren’t your normal blankets though. Daryl Bunting with Iowa insulation installed the blankets on mechanical equipment in the hospital’s boiler room. The upfront cost of the project was nearly $80,000, which is expected to be recovered in less than two years. The insulation blankets were installed as part of an energy audit conducted by Alliant Energy. In addition to the annual savings, Alliant has also given WCHC a nearly $23,000 grant for following the recommendations of the audit.

15 opt out of labor union

Posted: Wednesday, April 1st, 2009 at 7:48 am

15 Washington County Public Safety employees will be leaving their labor union. Sheriff Jerry Dunbar doesn’t expect the move to effect his department much. Included in the exemption were two clerical workers and thirteen jailers. Washington County Supervisors approved the exemption at yesterday’s meeting.

Bohr recognized for 4-H contributions

Posted: Wednesday, April 1st, 2009 at 7:47 am

Howard Bohr of Wellman was honored on March 15th for his 53 years of leadership and devotion to the 4-H Program. Kati Peiffer, 4-H/Youth Coordinator says Howard was a leader of the Limecreek Livewires. She says past and present members attended an open house at the St. Joseph Catholic Church to honor and thank Howard for all his time and work. Peiffer says Howard has been a strong believer in the communication project that 4-H, members gave their yearly presentations for Howard to observe. Past members also spoke of Howards dedication.

Utility moratorium ends today

Posted: Wednesday, April 1st, 2009 at 7:47 am

Interstate Power and Light’s moratorium on service disconnections ends today. Dave Koch (Coach) is a spokesperson with IPL. He says customers who are behind on their payments are encouraged to contact his company to avoid service interruption. Koch also encourages customers who are experiencing financial hardship to contact their local community action agency to see if they qualify for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance program. To set up a payment plan, or discuss payment options call Alliant Energy at 1-800-327-2708, or visit www.alliantenergy.com