Today's Local News

Washington hotel tax considered

Posted: Friday, April 17th, 2009 at 5:26 am

Should the city of Washington have a hotel tax? Local tourism officials say yes, but hotel owners say no. Tim Coffee, with the chamber of commerce says its not actually a tax on the hotel owners, or Washington residents. Hawkeye Motel Owner Gordon Olberding says this is not a good time to be considering such a tax. He also says there’s no plan for what the money would be spent on. Olberding and other local hotel owners came to this week’s city council meeting to express opposition to a measure that would put the tax on the ballot for voters to decide on. They say Washington isn’t a tourist attraction, and most of their business comes from people coming to the area to work. The council tabled the measure.

Much Ado About Nothing

Posted: Friday, April 17th, 2009 at 5:25 am

This evening is opening night for the Washington High School Drama Department's Spring production. Actor Ben Tebockhorst says even though "Much Ado About Nothing" is a Shakespearian piece, it provides plenty of opportunity for some laughs. Tebockhorst is playing the lead male role, alongside leading lady Regan Loula. They say the play is about their characters being adverse romance, while their friends try to get the pair to fall in love. Doors open at the Washington Community Center this evening at 7:30. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for students.

Auto body industry doing well

Posted: Friday, April 17th, 2009 at 5:25 am

The Auto Body industry does not seem to be declining during this recession. Chris Swartzendruber, with C.S Auto body in Kalona, says he is seeing more and more people come in to get their car worked on, rather than just trading it in for a new vehicle. He says the Auto Body Industry is not recession proof, but it is in no danger of collapsing. Swartzendruber says in most cases it will cost less to fix a vehicle rather than add a new set of payments onto a new vehicle. He says if a vehicle is treated well it can last a decade or more. 

F-16 symbolizes the near end of a generation

Posted: Friday, April 17th, 2009 at 5:25 am

A U-S Military F-16 fighter jet passed over Washington at about noon yesterday as World War II veteran John Butler was laid rest in Elm Grove Cemetery. Mike Voght is curator of Iowa's Gold Star Military Museum in Fort Dodge. He says Butler is part of a rapidly disappearing generation. Voght says its important to maintain contact with our remaining World War II vets who are willing and able to share their stories. John Butler was 90 when he passed away. He was 23 years old during the attack on Pearl Harbor that thrust the United States into the conflict.

‘08 floods highlight wetland’s importance

Posted: Friday, April 17th, 2009 at 5:24 am

Earth Day is this Wednesday and the naturalist at the Washington County Conservation board says it's important to keep Iowa's wetlands in mind. Pam Holz says Iowa has lost 90-percent of its wetlands, and last year's flooding was a stern reminder. Holz says they will have an Earth Day scavenger hunt tomorrow (4/18) afternoon from 1:00 to 3:00 at Marr Park for families to learn about Iowa's native wetlands. In case of inclement weather, there will be nature bingo inside the conservation center building. For more information contact the conservation board at 319-657-2400. 

Bittersweet day for WHS Physics teams

Posted: Friday, April 17th, 2009 at 5:24 am

Washington High School students were unsuccessful in their bid to bring home a first place team trophy from the Iowa Physics Olympics in Des Moines yesterday. They did capture first place in the water heater competition. Team member Caleb Boyd says they used a bicycle to turn a pulley inside of a thermos of water. He says the pulley had an abrasive brush attached to it that caused friction on the side of the thermos, and heated the water to 125 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Lake Belvedere Booked

Posted: Friday, April 17th, 2009 at 5:14 am

With the spring here, the park attendants in Lake Belvedere are looking back on the winter. Dave Long, Executive Director with Keokuk County Conservation, says the winter season went extremely well. Long says they are not taking any reservations for camping this year because they are completely booked through the fall, he says it wont hurt to call and make sure if a weekend you like is available because due to a cancellation.

Qwest gives WHS $16,000

Posted: Thursday, April 16th, 2009 at 4:54 am

Washington High School is getting $16,000 from the Qwest Teacher's and Technology grant program. Math teacher Tom Langr is one teacher who's classroom will benefit from the grant. He says it will help them purchase graphing calculators, which are invaluable in today's changing world. The money will also help purchase computer interface technology for use in science and math classes. Representatives from Qwest and the Iowa School Boards Foundation were on hand yesterday to present a check to the school during an assembly.

General Assistance requests down in Washington Co.

Posted: Thursday, April 16th, 2009 at 4:53 am

Fewer people requested Washington County General Assistance this quarter, versus last. G-A Director Sue Rich says that saved them about $500. She says warmer weather could be one reason for the decline. During the last quarter, Washington County General Assistance spent more $2,000. During this most recent quarter they spent a little more than $1,600.

Washington Council tables liquor request

Posted: Thursday, April 16th, 2009 at 4:53 am

Whether or not a Washington restaurant can serve alcohol in a sidewalk cafe setting is still up in the air. City council members decided to table the request from Cafe Dodici for a third time at last night's meeting. Councilor Fred Stark says they need some time to look at other communities' ordinances. Stark says the nearby cities of Fairfield and Mount Pleasant have such an ordinance. He describes gathering the information as a "monumental task" and is unsure of what the outcome might be. Some council members have expressed concern over what kind of precedent allowing the request might set. The issue is expected to come up at the next meeting.

State budget’s local impact

Posted: Thursday, April 16th, 2009 at 4:52 am

With the legislature talking about the state budget, many people are wondering how that will affect there home town. Jerry Kauffman, Kalona Mayor says the state is trying to save as much money as possible. Kauffman says even though they might not receive state money, Kalona is doing o-k and he is no fear of Kalona being in any financial danger.

WHS Physics team state bound

Posted: Thursday, April 16th, 2009 at 4:48 am

Physics students at Washington High School head to Des Moines today to compete in statewide competition at Drake University. WHS students finished in the top two spots in six categories this month during the district physics contest. Teacher Jeff Richard (Ri-shard) says teaching science content is becoming increasingly important. Richard says its promising to see young women becoming more interested in science. He says engineers are in need of more women, in the typically male dominated profession, to provide a different view point. Richard also says the public is invited to attend the physics contest today at Drake.

Alliant urges electrical safety during planting season

Posted: Thursday, April 16th, 2009 at 4:47 am

With spring field work is in full swing for Midwestern farmers. Dave Koch with Interstate Power and Light Company, wants to remind rural customers to work safely and be aware of overhead power lines when operating heavy machinery, large sprayers, or using ladders. He says high-voltage power lines are not insulated and pose a significant risk for electrocution on farms. Electrocution can occur when objects and people are moving and come in contact with the overhead power lines. Koch says electrical currents can also arc to a conductive material near a power line without actually touching it, so its important to always maintain a clearance of at least 10 feet. Following basic farm safety rules can save lives and prevent injury. For more information about outdoor electrical safety, you can visit

Property tax credit forms available

Posted: Thursday, April 16th, 2009 at 4:46 am

Washington County property tax credit forms are now available. Treasurer Jeff Garret says property owners or renters that were either age 65, or declared totally disabled and whose household income was less than $20,031 as of the end of last year may be eligible for a property tax credit or rent reimbursement. Garret says mobile home owners that were age 23 at the end of last year whose total household income was less than $20,031 may also be eligible. Qualified persons are encouraged to pick up the appropriate forms at the County Treasurer's Property Tax Department at 222 West Main Street in Washington.

VA Grant discontinued

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

A state grant designed to help veterans who might not qualify for certain types of assistance is drying up. Sue Rich, with Washington County Veteran's Affairs, says that might not be a bad thing. She says instead of applying for the grant, each county will get a $10,000 allocation. Rich says it's good that each county will receive the money. However, she says they might not be able to spend it on the same things the grant covered. Rich says that includes transportation costs, outreach services and education.

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.

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.