Area News Stories
MAN CHARGED IN PURSUIT: "I PANICKED"
Charges of eluding have been filed relating to a high speed chase at the beginning of the week. Bryant Allen Groenendyk is charged with eluding, which is an aggravated misdemeanor.
According to a criminal
complaint and affidavit, on Monday February 24th, an Iowa State
Patrolman attempted to stop Groenendyk after he was observed driving 72
mph in a 55 mph speed zone on Highway 92. The affidavit states that after
the Trooper activated his lights and sirens, the vehicle driven by
Groenendyk accelerated at a high rate of speed onto
In addition to the eluding charge, Groenendyk faces numerous traffic violations as a result of the pursuit.
A criminal charge is an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.
CITY COUNCIL DEBATES SIDEWALKS STIPULATION
A sidewalk waiver request was the main bone of contention Tuesday evening at the Oskaloosa City Council’s second meeting of the month. The meeting was held one day later than usual due to the President’s Day federal holiday.
Up for consideration was a request from developer Brian Booy to waive a stipulation that he build a sidewalk at his development Tuscany Village on Edmundson Drive. On November 21st, 2011 the Oskaloosa City Council voted 7-0 to accept a final site plan from Booy for Tuscany Village. At that meeting, the council also voted to require that Booy build a sidewalk for the development. City Councilor Aaron VerSteeg expressed disapproval at that meeting and did not vote in favor of the sidewalk stipulation.
During discussion Tuesday evening, VerSteeg and City Councilor Jason VanZetten both expressed concerns that they have with requiring a sidewalk be built. Van Zetten and VerSteeg stated that the sidewalk in question will not be connected to any other sidewalks and that at the present time, there is no current plans by the city to build any other sidewalks to connect with the sidewalk in question. VanZetten and VerSteeg also pointed out that in a letter from Booy to the Council he stated that the property owners in Tuscany Village do not support the building of sidewalks. Both city councilors believed that the council should waive the sidewalk stipulation. City Councilor Joe Caligiuri expressed the belief that the sidewalk should be built noting that future development in future years could lead to additional sidewalks in the area. After further discussion, the council voted 2-5 with Councilors Jason Van Zetten and Aaron VerSteeg voting yes to waive the sidewalk requirement. As a result of the vote, the waiver request was struck down.
In other action, the council:
· Unanimously approved plans, specifications, form of cost, and estimate of costs for the First Ave East Sidewalk project.
· Unanimously approved an ordinance rezoning property at 1115 South 11th Street from Multiple Family Residential District to Limited Industrial District and unanimously approved an ordinance waiving the third reading of the rezone.
· Unanimously approved filing the financial reports for January 2014
· Unanimously approved pay request number 4 to DeLong Construction in the amount of roughly $45,000 for work completed on the West Side Sanitary Sewer Improvements Project.
· Unanimously approved the appointments of Michael Collins and Jennifer Rice to the Oskaloosa Municipal Housing Agency
Voted 5-2, with Councilors Van Zetten and VerSteeg voting No, to go into closed session to discuss collective bargaining strategy.
The next meeting of the Oskaloosa City Council will be held on March 3rd at 6:00 pm in the City Council Chambers.
NEW SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS FOR SIGOURNEY NAMED
Sigourney Community School District Board President Mark O’Rourke announced today that Mr. Dave Harper has been employed as the district’s superintendent of schools beginning July 1, 2014. Mr. Harper will replace interim superintendent Dr. Craig Scott who has been employed the past year.
Dave Harper has served as Evans Middle School Principal in the Ottumwa Community School District for the past two years. Prior to that he served as an administrator in the Pekin Community School District for three years where he also taught for seven years. Dave was a career military officer and served most recently in Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2004 to 2006.
Mr. Harper earned an undergraduate degree in elementary education from Buena Vista University. He completed an MA in Educational Leadership from Drake University in 2008. He will complete his superintendent certification this summer from the University of Northern Iowa.
Dave comes very highly recommended by his students, staff, and fellow administrators. He has received numerous honors from serving his country and in his role in education. The most often cited commendation by others of Dave is that he has great passion for young people.
The entire Sigourney community is pleased to welcome Dave and his family to the district. A “welcome to Sigourney” reception will be held in the near future.
RITENOUR BACK IN CUSTODY DAYS AFTER BEING RELEASED ON BAIL
Alicia Ritenour has been brought back into custody, just two days after posting bond. Court records indicate that trial information and an arrest warrant for Ritenour was issued late Thursday afternoon. In addition, a new bond has been set for Ritenour. District Court Judge Randy DeGeest set Ritenour’s new bond at $500,000.
Alicia Ritenour faces charges of Murder in the 1st degree and Child Endangerment resulting in Death. She was arrested on February 4th in connection with the death of her 18 month old daughter Ava.
Ava Ritenour was found deceased on January 24th at the Southern Hills Apartment Complex after police received a 911 call from the apartment complex. According to a criminal complaint and affidavit in the case, the child appeared to have been deceased for a "significant period of time" when she was found by police. The complaint and affidavit also stated that a witness reported to authorities that they heard a "loud thump during the middle of the previous night coming from the room where the infant sleeps, while the mother was alone in the room with infant."
A subsequent autopsy revealed that Ava had died of trauma to the head. The state medical examiner's office fixed the cause of death as homicide.
Arraignment has been set for March 7th at 9:00 am in the Mahska County Courthouse.
A criminal charge is an accusation and the defendant should
be presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.
SCHOOL BOARD APPROVES CALENDAR WAIVER REQUEST
Oskaloosa school Board met in regular session Tuesday in the school board room. A large contingent of William Penn University students was in attendance to observe. School board president Carl Drost was absent. Tom Richardson chaired the meeting.
The board held a hearing on a waiver request to start the school year earlier than state law allows. Approval was made to begin the Monday following the close of the Iowa State Fair. School could begin on Aug. 17 if the state education department grants the waiver. The district will operate on a 1,080 hours instead of the traditional 180-day school year.
Matt Dunsbergen, principal at the elementary for the past six years, tendered his resignation effective at the end of the current school year. He will be taking an administrative position in the Ankeny School District. The board accepted the resignation unanimously.
Superintendent Russ Reiter told the board that a decision in a long going lawsuit came down and the case had gone to arbitration. The district was awarded just over $300,000. The lawsuit came against three companies regarding flooring issues at the high school when renovations were made at the time the elementary school was built.
The board met in closed session to continue evaluation of Superintendent Reiter.
The board will meet on Monday Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. to continue work on board goals and budgetary items. Board business manager Chad Vink stated there could be information regarding declaring surplus property for sale.
The next regular meeting will be on March 11 at 7 p.m.
In other business:
Professional Learning Community from the fourth grade math teachers was made to the board. The teachers asked board members to work out a multi-step word problem in a short period of time. The teachers explained they use multiple strategies to teach learning multiplication facts.
The smart goal for fourth grade math is 100 percent of the students will reach 80 percent on assessments. The teachers use a data wall as a visual for the students to see their proficiency as a class.
Elementary School in need of Assistance team made a short presentation. The group has developed goals including integration of math and reading into the grade level benchmarks.
Dawn Collins made a presentation on the elementary after school program. It is a cooperative program between the school and YMCA. The grant funds used are from the 21st Century Grant.
Parents must commit to keep the child in. The program for at least four days per week and until 5:30 p.m. each day. There are 10-15 slots currently available. Grant funds are leveraged with other funds from United Way, the school district and DHS sources.
High school language arts class was added. The course will be a one-term course that meets more of the Iowa Core. It will include more reading and writing. It will be a science fiction type course titled "to infinity and beyond."
Approved seeking bids for two new school busses at an estimated $120,000 each.
UNITED WAY VITA TAX SITE IS NOW OPEN TO USE
Oskaloosa, IA – The 2014 tax season is quickly approaching, and United Way of Mahaska County is announcing that VITA is up, running and open to people who meet the qualifications. United Way is currently looking for individuals interested in becoming IRS Certified VITA Volunteer Preparers. Julie Hyland, the VITA Site Coordinator, says “More volunteers mean we can help more people.”
Tax preparation assistance will be offered beginning in February and continue into mid-April, and assistance will be by appointment only. To make an appointment or to volunteer, contact Julie at (641)672-1169. Site hours are typically on Saturdays and select weeknights, but will vary depending on volunteer availability.
A free online course and certification is offered to all volunteers, and no formal education is required. United Way staff member Julie Hyland, who oversees the VITA Tax Site program, will provide prospective volunteers with training workbooks and additional information. Everything is done online, including an online course and a certification test that can be taken up to two times. Anyone interested in becoming an IRS Certified VITA Volunteer Preparer or receptionist needs to contact Julie at (641) 672-1169 as soon as possible.
The VITA Tax Site is an opportunity for low to middle-income families (annual income of $50,000 or less) to have their taxes filed by a certified preparer, free of charge. When the program begins, families requiring the VITA Tax Site services will need to set up an appointment. The VITA Tax Site program is BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. To make an appointment or to volunteer, contact Julie at (641)672-1169.
In 2013, our volunteers helped return $252,344 to local taxpayers in Mahaska County through state and federal tax refunds and credits, including $141,703 in earned income tax credits (EITC). The EITC is a federal anti-poverty measure for lower-income working individuals that lower their taxes or grant refunds through a tax return.
The average taxpayers’ income was under $11,000 per year, and the average total refund received was $1,728
CITY COUNCIL SETS BUDGET HEARING DATE
It was a brief and routine city Council meeting Monday night as the Oskaloosa City Council held their first meeting of February 2014 in regular session. Mayor Dave Krutzfeldt presided over the 20 minute meeting.
The council first unanimously passed the first reading of an ordinance rezoning property at 1115 south seven street from R3, multiple family residential district to LI, limited industrial district.
Next the Council unanimously approved a resolution approving plans, specifications, form of contract, and notice to bidders for the 1st Ave., East sidewalk paving project.
The final action the city Council took Monday evening was that of the approval of a resolution establishing the March 3 city Council meeting as the date for a public hearing related to the 2014 2015 budget approval. City manager Michael Schrock indicated that at that meeting he will give a full presentation on the proposed budget. The Council unanimously approved the resolution establishing the public hearing.
In other action Monday evening, the council received a report from MCRF director Sherry Vavra who reported on the annual activities of Mahaska Community Recreation Foundation.
The next meeting of the Oskaloosa city Council will be held on February 17 at 6:00 PM in the city council chambers.
COUNTY CANDIDATE NOMINATION PETITIONS AVAILABLE
Papers for the June 3, 2014 Primary are available at the Mahaska County
Auditor’s Office and on line www.sos.state.ia.us/elections
for the following county
seats for Board of
filing period begins
OACDG SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATIONS NOW AVAILABLE
The Oskaloosa Area Chamber & Development Group is happy to announce that scholarships will again be available through its Chamber Scholars program, now in its 17th year.
High school seniors living in Mahaska County and attending any high school are eligible to apply. Pick up an application from your school counselor, from the Oskaloosa Area Chamber office or at www.oacdg.org. Scholarships will be offered in the amounts of $500 and up, and are sponsored by area businesses and industries. Last year $7,000 was distributed to 14 students from North Mahaska, Eddyville/Blakesburg, Oskaloosa, and Pella Christian.
The application requests such information as participation in school and community activities, as well as short essays on "What do you value most about Mahaska County and calling it your Hometown" and "What do you see yourself doing in 6 to 8 years?" Typed Chamber Scholars applications and transcripts are due at the Chamber no later than Wednesday, April 16, 2014.
“Businesses and individuals are encouraged to contribute to the scholarship fund as well. Every little bit that we can do to make it easier for our youth to attend college is very important,” stated Deb Bruxvoort of the OACDG. “Perhaps you can contribute financially to the fund, or perhaps participate in the annual OACDG Golf outing set for Friday, May 9.”
For further information, to request an application form, or to contribute to the fund contact the Oskaloosa Chamber at 641.672.2591 or email email@example.com.
UNITED WAY LAUNCHES VOLUNTEER WEBSITE
wishing to donate their time and skills in Mahaska County will have a lot
easier time finding out about volunteering opportunities.
The United Way of Mahaska County has launched volunteermahaska.org,
available to all those wanting to get involved in our community. This
website is a user-friendly way for volunteers to access opportunities to
give, advocate and volunteer at local nonprofits.
volunteer opportunities should be easy,” says Amy Langdon, Executive
Director of the United Way of Mahaska County.
“The opportunities are out there, nonprofits are needing help,
but we didn’t have a unified way to find out about those needs.
We do now.”
organizations now have a place to give the details of the work they do as
well as the volunteer roles that they need filled.
These profiles can help raise awareness regarding an agency, what
they do, where they are located and any needs they have at the time. They
can also include in-kind needs
be able to see if a nonprofit is looking for a new desk or if they have a
client who needs an air conditioner. So
many of us have things that we would like to donate, but we don’t know
where they’re needed,” says Langdon.
of this information can be shared on social media sites and can be
responded to directly from the agency’s profile on volunteermahaska.org.
looking to get involved in the community can browse volunteer
opportunities, set up a profile, or “Become a fan” of different
nonprofits so they’ll be notified when new opportunities are available.
want everyone to have the chance to volunteer in Mahaska County,” says
Langdon. “Studies show
volunteers lead fuller and healthier lives.”
more information please visit volunteermahaska.org or contact Volunteer
Coordinator, Lindsey Sheets at 641.673.6043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.