Area News Stories


LOCAL NEWS

CITY TO HOLD SPECIAL ELECTION

The wheels for a special election were put into place Monday evening as the Oskaloosa City Council voted to ask for voter approval for a new fire station addition. The special election will be held in conjunction with the November general elections meaning that Oskaloosa residents will see a special ballot measure on their general election ballots. Voters will be asked to approve issuing nearly $3.2 million in general obligation bonds for the purpose of building an addition to the Oskaloosa Fire Station. According to Mayor Dave Krutzfeldt, the decision to ask for voter approval was the culmination of talks about different funding sources, including the use of LOST funds, TIF funds, or grants among other possibilities. The vote to send the issue to the voters in November was 7-0. 

The council also again debated the issue of sidewalks located at the Tuscany Village development located on Edmundson Drive. Developer Brian Booy was required to resubmit a site plan for the project because according to City Manager Michael Schrock, major changes had been made to the original site plan. The Planning and Zoning Commission at their meeting last week recommended that the Council approve the new site plan, however they voted to waive a stipulation that Booy place sidewalks along the front of the development. At the onset of the meeting, Gary Green, the Chairman of the Tuscany Village homeowners association, spoke to the issue and said the residents at Tuscany Village did not support the sidewalks as currently proposed because he said it creates a dangerous situation. Andrew Jensen, MCDG executive director who also lives in the area of Tuscany Village, spoke regarding the sidewalks and said he supports the city’s requirement for sidewalks, saying it is more difficult to put sidewalks in after development of an area.
During discussion on the issue, Council member Aaron VerSteeg expressed disapproval with the city’s sidewalk requirement saying that other developments had not been required to put sidewalks in. VerSteeg said the city was “picking on” Mr. Booy. VerSteeg also said that the city would be requiring Booy to create a sidewalk to nowhere. Councilor Scottie Moore also spoke saying she supported sidewalks but did not believe the city had been consistent in their policy on sidewalks. Moore noted several cases where some developments had put in sidewalks after a city policy regarding sidewalks was adopted, while other developments had not put in sidewalks after the policy. Moore also reminded councilors that they had voted to allow resident Tom Gillespie to remove his sidewalk after he requested it from the council. Among other issues, Gillespie noted at that time that the sidewalk was a sidewalk to nowhere.

After additional discussion, a motion made by Versteeg and seconded by Councilor Jason Van Zetten to require Booy to place sidewalks in AFTER the city has placed a sidewalk that connects to Tuscany Village failed with VerSteeg, Van Zetten, and councilor Tom Walling voting yes. A new motion made by councilor Doug Yates to give Booy a 60 day extension on the sidewalk requirement deadline so that come to a fair settlement between the city, developer, and Tuscany village residents, regarding the sidewalk passed unanimously. The council also passed Booy’s updated site plan unanimously.

The council also discussed the raising the city’s franchise fee by 2%. Resident Waye Hook spoke during a public hearing on this matter saying he opposed the increase because “it’s a tax on the poor.” During discussion, Councilor Jason Van Zetten expressed disapproval with the move noting that the original franchise fee issue which came up in 2011 resulted in him running for city council. Councilor Tom Jimenez stated that if the council does not raise the franchise fee, they will likely have to make cuts to city services elsewhere. The request to raise the franchise fee came as a result of the city losing revenue, which according to city council documents, is due to property tax reform enacted by the state legislature. The council ultimately voted 4-3 to raise the gas and electric franchise fees by 2%. An updated revenue purpose statement for the franchise fee revenue raised also passed 4-3. Councilors Jason Van Zetten, Aaron VerSteeg, and Tom Wallling opposed the franchise fees being raised, and the updated revenue purpose statement. 

The City Council also voted against calling a special election to dissolve the water board. The item was brought forward by City Councilors Jason Van Zetten and Tom Jimenez. Van Zetten said that he believed since the Water Department had in his opinion misused nearly $1 Million in tax payer monies, he believed it was time to call for a special election to ask the voters whether or not to disband the Water Board. City Councilors Doug Yates and Tom Walling both expressed concerns that proceeding towards a vote would send the wrong message. Yates and Walling also said that they believed with a recent court ruling and a new water board member, they said it was time to try to work with the board. Ultimately, the vote on sending a measure to the public on abolishing the Water Board failed 3-4, with councilors Aaron Ver Steeg, Jason Van Zetten, and Tom Jimenez voting Yes.

The next meeting of the Oskaloosa City Council wil be on September 2nd at 6 pm in the City Council Chambers.


OSKALOOSA WOMAN DIES IN CAR VS SEMI ACCIDENT

An Oskaloosa woman has died in a car vs semi accident. 

The accident happened around 7:15 pm Wednesday evening one mile Northwest of Oskaloosa on Highway 163. According to a state patrol crash report, a 2005 Chevy impala driven by 51 year old Robin Vos of Oskaloosa failed to yield at Highway 163 while coming off a private drive. Vos was struck by a 2003 peterbuilt Semi driven by 27 year old Bradley Nelson of Allison Iowa. Vos was transported to Mahaska Health Partnership and pronounced dead.

The crash report indicates that Vos was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident.

The Iowa State Patrol and Mahaska County Sheriff’s Office continue to investigate the accident.


SUPERVISORS TO HIRE COMMUNITY SERVICES DIRECTOR

The Mahaska County Board of Supervisors met in regular session August 4th with Supervisor Chairman Mike Vander Molen presiding. The supervisors first briefly discussed the issue of a corrective quit claim deed with County Attorney Charles Stream. No action was taken on this item as the Supervisors voted to table the item.

The board next considered approval of the Mahaska County Employee Handbook. Supervisor Mike Vander Molen noted that after some work, the handbook was now in order and ready for approval. The supervisors approved the handbook on a 3-0 vote. It will now be sent to department heads and appropriate committees for their signatures.

Next up was the consideration of a Community Services Director recommendation. Supervisor Mike Vander Molen took the floor and stated that interviews for the position were conducted last week. He said there was a unanimous consensus of the committee for the position, however a name was not revealed. On his recommendation, the board voted 3-0 to allow Julie Bak, the current services director, to negotiate a contract with the candidate, with a cap on wages of $16 an hour.

The board also held a bid opening for a new motor grader for the secondary roads department. Three bids were received. After the opening of the bids, County Engineer Dave Shannahan discussed the bid with the Supervisors and gave them his recommendation for award of bid. The board agreed with Shannahan’s recommendation and voted 3-0 to award the bid for a new motor grader to Caterpiller Company in an amount of around $200,000.

The board also voted 3-0 to approve the board chairman’s signature on a document for final payment of the G29 paving project. It was noted during discussion that all terms of contract had been agreed to on the project.

The board next voted 3-0 to award a bid to Cedar Valley Company in an amount of roughly $647,000 for the Peoria road paving project. The bid amount was over $100,000 in excess of the original project estimate of roughly $541,000. County Engineer Dave Shannahan said this is common on smaller projects such as the one being voted on. 

The next meeting of the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors will be on August 18th at 9:00 am in the 3rd Floor Conference Room at the Mahaska County Courthouse.


YMCA POOL TO REOPEN

In early July, the Mahaska County YMCA was forced to close its indoor pool due to equipment problems which surfaced in May of this year. Since its closure, the Y has identified the necessary repairs and has created an action plan to re-open its indoor pool.

Jason Shafer, YMCA Facility Director, said the steam boilers and heat exchanger unit for the pool need replaced. He and Y volunteers have been working since the closure to find the best repair solution. The pool problems came at a time when the Y is also researching long-term possibilities for either a new facility or a significant rehab of the existing building in an effort to meet all the YMCA program needs.

Facility repairs will need to be addressed before the pool can reopen. Shafer said, “We have decided to transition off the steam boilers, which means converting to hot water heat. This requires replacing the air handlers for the gymnasium and a conversion from the steam sauna to dry heat.” 

The pool is expected to reopen August 18 after converting the heat source. The facilities team will also be working on the water heater that services the kitchen, restrooms and locker rooms during this time. The remaining items of focus will be the heat for the gym, and conversion of the spa and steam room. The goal is to be fully operational by the end of October. Please check the YMCA’s Facebook page and website (www.MahaskaYMCA.org) for updates on the progress. 

The total project cost will be $50,000, significantly less than the original estimates of $120,000. “We are fortunate to have Jason and some wonderful volunteers who put their heads together and found a feasible solution to these problems,” said Dawn Collins, Executive Director. “Maintaining our operations is critical to thousands of community members who use our facilities every day for health and recreation programming as well as child care.” 

For more information, please contact the YMCA at 641.673.8411 or stop by at 414 N Third Street. 


FORMER OSKY RESIDENT CHARGED WITH SEX ABUSE

Charges of Sexual Abuse in the 2nd Degree have been filed against an Iowa City man. According to a complaint and affidavit filed in Mahaska County District Court, 23 year old Brandon Myers is accused of unlawfully engaging in a sex act with a child under the age of 12. It is alleged that between 2008 and 2011 he abused a child aged four to seven at the time of the offense while he lived in Oskaloosa. 

Myers is currently being held on a $15,000 cash only bond. He is required to reported to court services within 48 hours of posting bond. 

Sexual Abuse in the 2nd Degree is a Class B Felony and punishable by up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

A criminal charge is an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.


FIRE DEPARTMENT REMINDS RESIDENTS OF STORM SIREN PROCEDURES

The Oskaloosa Fire Department wants remind everyone that we are entering warm weather months and severe weather season. 

Weather permitting, the storm sirens in Oskaloosa are tested at 2pm on the first Monday of each month from April through September. 

The outdoor storm warning sirens will be activated if the national weather service has issued a tornado warning for Mahaska County and the tornado is headed in a direction that would likely affect the city of Oskaloosa. Also, if a trained storm spotter indicates to the 911 center that a severe thunderstorm contains damaging winds and or hail, the sirens can be activated. 
If the storm sirens are sounded for a severe weather event, you need to take shelter right away. Get to the lowest level of your home and move to an interior room or hallway. If you are outside and cannot find indoor shelter, you need to get to the lowest place you can find such as a ditch or culvert and cover your head.
 


STATE NEWS

ABORTION PILL DISPUTE-IOWA

Judge backs ban of Iowa abortion pill system

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Polk County district judge says Iowa regulators had the authority to ban video conferencing to distribute abortion-inducing pills.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland had sued the Iowa Board of Medicine, saying the ban reflected board members' opposition to abortion. The Des Moines Register says Judge Jeffrey Farrell ruled in favor of the board on Tuesday, saying the board had authority to regulate such issues and had met legal requirements for making new rules.

The new rules require a doctor to be physically present with a woman when an abortion-inducing drug is provided. The change targeted Planned Parenthood's practice of enabling doctors to prescribe the drugs while meeting with patients in rural areas through an Internet video connection.

A Planned Parenthood spokeswoman said her agency would file an appeal.


DOG SHOT

Iowan gets jail time for shooting neighbor's dog

BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) — A 22-year-old southeast Iowa man who shot a dog that was within a few yards of its 10-year-old owner has been sent to jail.

The Hawk Eye says Cody Warth, of Sperry, was sentenced on Monday. He was given a year in jail for criminal mischief, but all but 45 days was suspended. Warth was given two years for animal abuse, but that sentence was completely suspended. He also was fined $1,250 and told to make restitution to his neighbors to cover their veterinary bills.

Prosecutors say Warth shot the dog while it played on the neighboring family's property in rural Des Moines County. The boy's mother, Janice Hine, has said her son was traumatized by the shooting of the dog, Marlow. The dog was wounded in a leg.


TRAFFIC CAMERAS-IOWA

Traffic cameras observe, speed up Iowa traffic

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — New traffic cameras are helping move Iowa commuters through the Des Moines area.

The Des Moines Register reports that nearly 50 state-of-the-art cameras along West Des Moines roads have reduced traffic. The city plans to add more 18 more cameras on a heavily traveled corridor next year.

A West Des Moines traffic engineer says travel speeds have increased, while delays and stops have decreased. He also says it seems there have been less crashes.

Studies showed travel time has been reduced by 24 percent.

The cameras are located at major intersections throughout the city. They observe the flow of vehicle and change traffic lights when backups are detected.

Des Moines and other cities in Iowa also plan to add their own cameras soon.


FRAUD SENTENCE

Woman gets Iowa prison time for defrauding VA

FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) — A 33-year-old Fort Dodge woman has been sentenced to an Iowa prison for defrauding the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Online court records say Lynette Ladd was sentenced on Monday in Webster County District Court. The Messenger says she was given five years. Ladd had pleaded guilty to fraudulent practices.

Prosecutors say Ladd misrepresented herself as a veteran so she could gain VA health care worth more than $9,400 from April 2012 through April 2013. Prosecutors say she never served in the U.S. military.


CORPS-INLAND WATERWAYS

Corps: Waterway infrastructure improvements needed

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — An Army Corps of Engineers official says infrastructure improvements are needed in the Mississippi River watershed to allow inland waterways to better handle increased agriculture, oil and natural gas production and the effects of climate change.

Brig. Gen. Peter A. DeLuca, commander of the corps' Mississippi Valley Division, spoke Tuesday at a public meeting on the Motor Vessel Mississippi in Memphis. The meeting was part of a low-water inspection trip that included a stop in Caruthersville, Missouri, on Monday.

DeLuca says more farming and manufacturing in the Mississippi Valley, plus a national rise in natural gas and oil production, are creating a higher demand for freight and materials shipping along the nation's inland waterways.

The Mississippi Watershed covers 41 percent of the country, including 31 states and 250 tributaries.


SCHULTZ RESIGNS

Nation's winningest prep baseball coach steps down

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The nation's winningest prep baseball coach is calling it a career.

The Iowa High School Athletic Association says coach Gene Schultz has resigned after 45 years and 1,754 wins at Kee High School in Lansing, Iowa.

Schultz took over at Kee in 1969 and led them to nine state titles, tied for the most in school history. Schultz helped put the Hawks in the state championship game 16 times, and his 32 state tournament wins is also an Iowa record.

Schultz also coached boys basketball at Kee, racking up 398 wins.