Area News Stories



(Feb. 27, 2015)  The Mahaska County Sheriff's office is searching for an Oskaloosa woman who was last seen Monday in Oskaloosa... She is 45 year old Sally West, who is described as a white female with dirty blonde or light brown hair... Her vehicle is a 2002 white Pontiac Grand Am with license plate number A-Z-Z-0-9-2... Sheriff's officers will be talking to family members later today in hopes of gathering more information to locate her... If you have information on her whereabouts, you are asked to call the Mahaska County Sheriff's office at 673-4322.


(Feb. 27, 2015)  At the end of the school day on Thursday, February 26, a report was made to the Knoxville Middle School Administration of a bomb threat written on the wall in a girl’s restroom. A dozen officers representing the Knoxville Police Department, Marion County Sheriff’s Department, Knoxville Fire Department, and Knoxville Rescue Team along with School District Administration completed a thorough search of the entire building, which took several hours. Every locker, classroom, closet, hallway and locker room was included as well as the gym, cafeteria, library, auditorium and offices. No bombs, materials for bombs, or written references to bombs were found. The site was considered clear and secured. As an additional precaution, the school’s computer network was searched for any laptop or desktop that has recently been on an Internet site relating to bombs, weapons, or threats. Nothing was discovered during this search. Knoxville Schools takes these threats seriously and appreciate the assistance of our local law enforcement and emergency management teams. Contact Superintendent Cassi Murra at 641-751-5891 if you have any information.


(Feb. 27, 2015)  There is a new childcare director at the Mahaska County YMCA and she is looking to ensure the childcare program remains viable for the foreseeable future. Kathy Chamra recently stepped on board in early January and she has had some time to adjust to her new position. During her career, Chamra has worked with people of all ages — from children to adults and the elderly — which gives her perspective at her new job at the YMCA. In her spare time, Chamra says she enjoys reading and spending time outdoors. She also has a love for books dealing with the latest trends in childcare.

For more on this story, check out to today's Oskaloosa Herald.


(Feb. 27, 2015)  Need a break from the cold and the snow? The Oskaloosa After Prom Committee is holding a beach party fundraiser. Committee members are converting the Old Nazarene Youth Center, 202 S. 11th St., into a beach. The party starts at 6:30 p.m. and lasts until 11 p.m. Proceeds from the beach party will be used for the Oskaloosa High School Junior / Senior After Prom Party. Tickets are $50 per person. People can buy tickets at the Book Vault or Signatures Salon. They also can buy tickets at the door... The Oskaloosa High School Prom will be held on Saturday, April 18. The After Prom party is held at a designated location and attendees are locked in from midnight to 5 a.m. There are plenty of games and food for people to enjoy.

For more on this story, check out to today's Oskaloosa Herald.


(Feb. 26, 2015)  Oskaloosa Elementary School announced today that the school will be hosting a Family Health Night on Thursday, February 26 from 6:00-7:30 p.m. in the OES gymnasium. The Oskaloosa Community School District and School Board promote healthy students by supporting wellness, good nutrition, and regular physical activity as part of the aggregate learning environment. OCSD supports a healthy environment where students have the opportunity to learn and participate in positive dietary and lifestyle practices. By facilitating learning through the support and promotion of good nutrition and physical activity, schools contribute to the basic health status of students, and research has shown that improved health optimizes student performance and potential. OES has worked very hard to provide a comprehensive learning environment for the development and practice of lifelong wellness behaviors. A school wellness committee comprised of a physical education teacher, classroom teacher, nutrition service staff member, students, parents, school nurse and administrator serve as a planning, advisory, and decision-making group for school health policies and programs.

As families enter they’ll be taken on a family scavenger hunt which will eventually take them through each of the interactive booths. Go fishing with Mahaska County Conservation, plant garden seeds and learn about Oskaloosa Community Gardens, learn how to check your blood pressure with the William Penn University Nursing students, learn how to change your bicycle tire and properly fit your bike helmet with local business Bobzilla’s Bikes... You can take a family photo with the famous Walking School Bus, sample and vote on your favorite snack option which will be offered at the public pool this summer, join the Oskaloosa Police and Fire Department in a training drill, and so much more. They will also have a drawing for $25.00 in Chamber Bucks as well as goodie bags for each family. Oskaloosa Elementary School looks forward to you joining in on the family fun Thursday, February 26 from 6:00-7:30 p.m.


(Feb. 25, 2015)  The city of Oskaloosa has declared a snow emergency Wednesday, February 25, 2015 effective a 12 pm until further notice...


The City of Ottumwa's Snow Emergency Ordinance is in effect as of 7 AM today... (Wednesday, February 25, 2015.) Residents are reminded that while the Snow Emergency is declared, no parking is allowed on streets designated as “Snow Routes” until the emergency is lifted. Snow Routes are marked with square blue signs showing a white snowflake. Parking on non-snow emergency route streets rotates sides on a daily basis. On the even numbered days, parking is allowed on the even numbered side of the street. On the odd numbered days, parking is allowed on the odd numbered side of the street. The Snow Emergency will remain in effect until further notice.

New Sharon's snow ordinance will go into effect at 10 pm this evening (Wednesday, 2-25) until the streets are cleared.


(Feb. 24, 2015)  The U.S. Army Field Band is marching into town Sunday, March 8, for a free concert at the George Daily Auditorium. The U.S. Army Field Band will bring a 65-member Concert Band and a 29 member Soldiers’ Chorus to perform a wide variety of music ranging from Sousa marches to Broadway musicals. This is the first concert in Oskaloosa for the U.S. Army Field Band. Free tickets are available from The Oskaloosa Herald, KBOE radio or the George Daily Auditorium box office. People can contact George Daily Auditorium by phone at (641) 672-0799 or email at

For more on this story, check out to today's Oskaloosa Herald.


(Feb. 24, 2015)  The William Penn University Fellowship of Christian Athletes will be sponsoring a Fields of Faith event on campus at the PAC in the indoor football practice facility starting at 6:00 PM on Saturday February 28th. The evening will feature contemporary Christian music as well as the speaker Linda Hoskins, a 1977 graduate of WPU. In 2010 Hoskins was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease and was later diagnosed in remission. In 2011 she, her oncologist and other cancer survivors took on the challenge of climbing Mt. Everest. Hoskins will speak on how her faith helped her survive cancer and eventually climb Mt. Everest. The event opens at 6 pm and is free to the public.


(Feb. 23, 2015)  The Oskaloosa School Board will hold a work session this evening at 5:30 pm in the George Daily Auditorium Board Room. Items on the agenda include a presentation by Professional Learning Community, presentation on Attendance Center rankings, discussion of use of timber on district property, and discussion of the 2015-2016 certified budget.


(Feb. 23, 2015)  Oskaloosa Public Library Board of Trustees Meeting will be held this afternoon at 4:00 PM... Items on the agenda include programs and events update, Reading Garden fence repair, library book sale, committee reports, service to non-open access residents, summer lunch program at the library, Heritage Quest and Ancestry Library Edition renewal.


(Feb. 23, 2015)   The East Central Iowa Transportation Coalition held a roundtable this past week to learn the latest about transportation projects that will impact area businesses. The coalition formed in 2009 to talk about needed improvements to U.S. 63 that serves business and industry from Ottumwa to Interstate 80. Iowa Department of Transportation officials updated coalition members about the U.S. 63 Northwest Bypass of Oskaloosa. DOT District 5 Planner Jason Huddle said that all of the information has been gathered by HR Green for the habitat study. The archaeological report is due in April. The DOT will then move forward with a study of a two-lane bypass of Oskaloosa. The officials transitioned to speaking about improvements to U.S. 63 throughout the region. Roundtable members also learned more about the five-county freight study proposal. The study would encompass Mahaska, Marion, Poweshiek, Monroe and Wapello counties. The study would look at the engineering aspects of the infrastructure, the industrial nature of the corridor, manufacturing and exports, said Rich Voelker of Snyder & Associates. Mike Lipsman of Strategic Economics Group said the study would go to the micro level to use local economic development officials to collect data. Local businesses would be surveyed about any deficiencies in the transportation system. ECITC Chairwoman Beth Danowsky said the coalition needs to set up a committee to look at the scope of the study and funding sources and begin to talk about the data.

For more on this story, check out to today's Oskaloosa Herald.


(Feb. 21, 2015) On Friday, February 20, 2015, officers from the Ottumwa Police Department, Wapello County Sheriff’s Office, Iowa Department of Public Safety Division of Narcotics Enforcement, United States Postal Inspection Service, and the Southeast Iowa Inter-Agency Drug Task Force, executed a search warrant at 201 Albany, Ottumwa, IA. 
As a result of the search, officers seized items consistent with the distribution of methamphetamine. The following people have been arrested as a result of the search: Shane William Capps, age 34, of 201 Albany, Ottumwa, was arrested and charged with Possession with the Intent to Deliver more than 5 Grams of Methamphetamine, a Class “B” Felony.
Ryan Whitley Yancey, age 28, of 1624 Albia Road, Ottumwa, was arrested and charged with Possession with the Intent to Deliver more than 5 Grams of Methamphetamine, a Class “B” Felony. Both men are being held in the Wapello County Jail with a scheduled bond of $100,000. 
A criminal charge is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.


(Feb. 20, 2015) Mahaska County Supervisor Mike Vander Molen withdrew his proposal for a land exchange for farmers affected by the proposed regional airport during the supervisors’ meeting Tuesday. During the Feb. 2 supervisors meeting, Vander Molen proposed a 1031 exchange for farmers whose land would be purchased for the regional airport for land at the county farm. The 1031 exchange would allow farmers to avoid the capital gains tax. He cited the “strong emotions” people displayed while discussing the matter with him. At the meeting, Vander Molen also challenged the validity of a Taxpayers Against Regional Airport political action committee ad placed in the Friday edition of the Oskaloosa Herald. In other action, the supervisors approved the application for RPA 15 Surface Transportation Program funds for the repair of the intersection of county roads G5T and T-33 near Peoria. Mahaska County Engineer Mike Shanahan said that G5T is “the only good East-West road in the northern part of the county.” However, the pavement has been in place since the 1960s. Supervisor Willie VanWeelden said that the project would cost $2.3 million, of which $1.5 million would come from federal STP funds. Shanahan said that since the project would address driver safety, county officials are looking at requesting safety funds. The supervisors also approved the bid bonds and insurance for the courthouse roof repair project. They also approved replacing Advance Concrete with G&S Construction for concrete repair at the Mahaska Building. G&S Construction submitted a bid of $1,500. They also approved using Earth Services & Abatement to do asbestos mitigation at the Juvenile Probation Office.

For more on this story, check out to today's Oskaloosa Herald.


(Feb. 19, 2015) Oskaloosa firefighters were called to an early morning house fire shortly before 5 am in Beacon yesterday morning... The fire started in the attic of the home of Daniel Nicholson at 400 Leighton Street... Damage was estimated at $100,000, and the house is considered a total loss. There were no injuries... Firefighters battled the blaze for 3 and a half hours,returning to the station around 8:30 am.


(Feb. 19, 2015)  People indulged their sweet tooth at the Love INC Dinner and Dessert Gala Saturday night and supported the charity with $30,000 in donations. Love INC is a non-profit organization that represents the caring arm of many local churches and works with community agencies to help people in need. Love INC held its dinner and dessert auction fundraiser in the Oskaloosa Christian School gym.


(Feb. 18, 2015)  The Mahaska County Sheriff's office ended a 6 week long investigation which involved approximately 22 burglaries and thefts from hog confinements in the rural Barnes City area and southern Poweshiek county... $25,000 in hogs and cattle were stolen with total value of all thefts exceeding $30,000...Officers seized tools and hog related equipment during the investigation... The stolen livestock was sold in sale barns in two counties... Arrested were 19 year old Bret Allen Doty of rural Malcom, and one male juvenile... Both were charged with theft in the first degree and 3rd degree burglary... A criminal charge is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.


(Feb. 18, 2015)  Last Sunday afternoon at 4:25 pm, members of the Mid-Iowa Narcotics enforcement task force, and Pella police executed a drug search warrant at 404 East 3rd Street in Pella, where multiple marijuana plants and manufacturing materials were seized, along with drug paraphernalia... 38 year old Jason McDaniel of Pella was charged with manufacturing marijuana, failure to affix a drug tax stamp, and possession of drug paraphernalia... A criminal charge is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.


(Feb. 18, 2015)  The Oskaloosa City Council approved awarding the contract for the Third Avenue East reconstruction project to Cornerstone Excavating Inc. during its meeting Tuesday night. City officials received three bids for the project, and Cornerstone's was the low bid at $1,656,741.80. The bid came in under the revised budget estimates, according to city documents. Construction will begin in April and is anticipated to take 150 working days to complete. City staff recommends authorizing an additional 5 percent of the contract — $83,000 as a construction contingency, according to city documents.

The City Council unanimously approved the contract, with Council member Jason Van Zetten absent. In other action, the City Council also approved a resolution authorizing a professional services agreement with HR Green Inc. for $374,600 for the City of Oskaloosa EPA Brownfields Area-wide Hazardous Substances and Petroleum Assessment.

The City Council authorized staff to apply for a $400,000 EPA Brownfields Assessment Grant at the Jan. 4, 2014, meeting. The application called for $200,000 for petroleum and $200,000 for hazardous substance site assessments. In November 2014, city staff advertised for professional services qualifications. The city received four proposals from engineering firms. HR Green Inc. was the most qualified, according to city documents.

Council member Tom Walling asked about a $25,000 expense.

Public Works Director Akhilesh Pal said that amount would cover expenses such as staff time or conference attendance, and it would be covered by the EPA grant.

City Manager Michael Schrock Jr. said there would be a lot of incentive for property owners to participate in the assessment since it would open property up for further assistance that could be considered a redevelopment.


(Feb. 17, 2015)  Two-person teams teed-off noon Friday to start the 2015 Osky Winter Open at Penn Central Mall. The Osky Winter Open was a two-day fundraiser for the Mahaska County YMCA. The event featured 18 holes of mini-putt golf with the holes located at various spots around the mall. A local business sponsored each hole that everyone plays through. The event opened Friday with a Two-Person Golf Tournament from noon to 1:30 p.m. At least 24 people participated in the opening event. A trophy went to the winners at an awards ceremony held Saturday night.


(Feb. 17, 2015)  Oskaloosa High School students raised $5,100 Saturday during the Dance Marathon to benefit sick children. Members of Vocational Agriculture teacher Bret Spurgin’s Leadership Class organized the third annual Dance Marathon to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network and the Iowa Children’s Hospital in Iowa City. The five-hour Dance Marathon began at 1 p.m. Saturday.


(Feb. 17, 2015)  Fine Arts and Cultural Events of Mahaska County has officially attained non-profit status. Now that the government has granted the tax-exempt status to FACE, the organization can now seek grants and other opportunities in the future. Briana Bartlett, who is president of FACE and an art teacher at Oskaloosa Elementary School, outlined the process for getting that status. “We have been looking into this process for a few years. It used to be a much more in-depth process with more steps and paperwork that you had to go through,” Bartlett said. “Now you can fill them out online,” she said. Now the non-profit status has been confirmed, there are many things that FACE can do as an organization. "This allows us to do more things in the community. We can now apply for grants that help to better our community and be more visible,” Bartlett said. “It also allows people to donate to us.” Bartlett said FACE officials are now in the search for grants.


(Feb. 12, 2015)  The city council recently passed the first reading of an ordinance that stated there will be rate increases pertaining to wastewater in the near future. According to a document issued by the City Manager’s Office, the 2016 recommended budget includes a financing and operating plan for the sanitary sewer system that requires an increase to base and usage rates that impacts the ratepayer by an additional $3.14 per month, or $37.68 annually. The average residential customer uses 3.7 units of water per month and is charged the sewer base rate regardless of usage. Here is the breakdown of what one should expect with the average monthly sewer bill today versus the proposed bill for the future. Today, the current number stands at $21.03 per month. With the new numbers, the residential sewer bill will increase to $24.17 per month. Therefore, the increase stands at $3.14 per month. The increase stems from the city being placed on notice by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for water bypassing of the treatment system must be halted. This resulted in the city of Oskaloosa hiring Garden & Associates to develop a response plan that would address the DNR mandate, which will be submitted to the agency by April 1. For fiscal year 2016, the utility budget will have to be averted and the money used for that category will shift from the utility budget to infrastructure. That means the five-year capital plan suggests increasing expenditures on the system from an average of $400,000 (or less) to $1,150,000 per year. It was indicated at the meeting that these increases are necessary in order to remain viable. Schrock also made it clear at the meeting that the current plan will not involve any bonding.


(Feb. 12, 2015)  ISU Extension and the Keokuk Farm Service Agency (FSA) will hold another area farm bill meeting on March 4, at 1:00 pm at the Extension Office on the Expo grounds in Sigourney. This meeting will focus on the program options available under the new farm bill and should run approximately 1 hour. Producers can elect to enroll in Price Loss Coverage (PLC), Agricultural Risk Coverage-County Level (ARC-CO) or Agricultural Risk Coverage-Individual Farm Level (ARC-OC) options. Presenters will show specific examples of each of the program options and will explain the difference between each of the options. The deadline to elect one of these program options is March 31, 2015. All producers with a share and a risk in crops on the farm will need to sign the election form and submit the election form to the FSA Office by the deadline. If no election is made, the farm will default to the PLC program, however, the producer will forfeit any opportunity for payment in 2014 if a signed election form is not submitted by March 31, 2015.To pre-register for the meeting, contact the Keokuk County Extension Office at (641)-622-2680. If you have any questions about the farm program, contact the FSA Office at (641) 622-2800. 


(Feb. 11, 2015)  The Educational Opportunity Center (EOC) at Indian Hills Community College is offering a series of free financial aid workshops in February. These workshops will be held throughout the college’s 10-county region to provide help in completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, as well as assistance in learning about the financial aid process and One of these workshops will be held on Monday, Feb. 16, from 6 – 8 p.m. at the IHCC William Penn Service Center in Oskaloosa. For more information call the EOC at 641-683-5315 or email


(Feb. 10, 2015)  Three presentations highlighted Monday’s Oskaloosa School Board meeting. Oskaloosa Middle School staff presented the board with ideas on the one to one project with Chromebooks. District leadership team gave a short presentation, as did the Professional Learning Community.

The middle school one to one planning began in spring 2014 with the formation of a committee, attending conferences and looking at infrastructure. In fall of 2014 the team visited Mid-Prairie and Gilbert to see how the middle schools were using Chromebooks. This winter the Chromebook was determined to be the most cost effective. Tablets and laptops were also considered. 

The Chromebooks will have touchscreen technology. The Chromebooks, manufactured by Acer, will be in a case for the students to carry and will remain in the cases.
In spring of 2015 the Chromebooks will be on display during parent-teacher conferences. Additional access points and bandwidth has been added at the middle school. Rollout to students will be in the fall of 2015.
Superintendent Russ Reiter stated that the funds for the Chromebooks should the district move forward would come from the one-cent sales tax not the general fund. Estimated cost for the project is $213,000.

The district leadership team with instructional coaches, Stephanie Edgren and Jennifer Groenenboom, from the elementary school, stated their focus has been on formative assessment during their last meeting. Discussion began and ended following the viewing of two videos. Discussion about comments on report cards ensued. The canned comments are not as personal as those where a teacher can make those comments directly about the student. The pros and cons were discussed, but for the near future the canned comments will be utilized.

The technology/family consumer science/project lead the way gave the Learning Community presentation. While diverse, the group has focused on technology. The three-year progression of the PLC has gone from creating an idea for a project to creating the project. This year the goal has increased to 90 percent proficiency of students reaching a grade level benchmark of 3 or better. Technology projects are added as needed and rubrics used to assess.

District business manager Chad Vink highlighted the recently released audit report. The report gave the district an unmodified opinion, which indicates the district is using acceptable reporting practices. Only minor notes on business practices were made. Vink stated the district has taken steps to correct them.

Board members accepted an offer to purchase the student-built home at 501 S. M Street. Joshua Twente offered the district the minimum required amount of $172,500. The sale is expected to be completed next month and the board will formally transfer ownership.

Board members approved breakfast and lunch prices for the 2015-16 school year. The only change was a five-cent increase for elementary lunches to $2.25. This is to align with Federal required minimal amount. All other prices will remain the same.
The board met in closed session to evaluate the superintendent. The board will hold a work session on Monday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m.

In other business:

Approved specifications to seek bids for replacement of high school physical education floor

Approved specifications to seek bids for two 77-passenger busses
Approved students and chaperones to drive to Chicago to catch a flight to China March 12-20.

Approved first reading of board policy regarding a smoke-free school to include all nicotine and look-alike products


(Feb. 10, 2015)  Oskaloosa High School Student Council members have raised about $3,500 to update the information sign next to The Oskaloosa Herald and they have more fundraising events in the works. The students have a goal of raising $30,000 to replace the lighting system on the marquee sign. The lighting system has been problematic and its control system is antiquated. The new lighting system will employ LED lights and new electronics. High school business education teacher Kim Gile said the fundraising effort has been going well. The Student Council has sponsored a series of spaghetti dinners, yard signs and the 5K run and have raised about $3,500. Gile said that students are organizing a Mystery Dinner at the end of March or the first part of April. Also, they are planning a Pancake Breakfast. 


(Feb. 10, 2015)  The 2015 Mahaska County Relay For Life will be held March 21, at Penn Central Mall. The theme for the event is “Rockin’ For A Cure.” The event is a fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society and it will start at 2 p.m. and end at 10 p.m. Teams will set up camps around the mall and the walking path will take participants through the team camp sites. This gives people the opportunity to participate in activities the teams have set up in their areas.

People can register for Relay For Life by going to People can create an account using email or Facebook. If you have questions or would like to 
volunteer, you can e-mail


(Feb. 10, 2015)  Two motorists were injured in a two vehicle accident on Highway 63 at the intersection with 150th Street around 1:10 p.m. Monday. The New Sharon Police Department, New Sharon Fire Department, New Sharon Ambulance, the Mahaska County Sheriff’s Office and the Iowa State Patrol responded to the accident scene. No further information was available.


(Feb. 9, 2015)  At about 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 7, Knoxville Police were requested at a residence on E. South Street in Knoxville. Officers arrived and learned that a male had entered the residence and assaulted the 65-year old female resident. While at the residence officers were provided information which led officers to begin looking for 54-year old Knoxville resident, Fred Allan Smith. Mr. Smith was quickly located and arrested. Mr. Smith is charged with Robbery 1st Degree, a Class B Felony and Assault with the Intent to Commit Sexual Abuse, an aggravated misdemeanor. The investigation into this incident is on-going. 
A criminal charge is merely an accusation and a person charged with a criminal offense is innocent until proven guilty by a court.


(Feb. 9, 2015)  The Oskaloosa Middle School Mathcounts Team won second place at a chapter competition held at Indian Hills Community College Friday and earned a trip to state competition. Eleven OMS students competed against seven area math teams at the 2015 Mathcounts Chapter Competition to win a second-place trophy. Besides the team trophy, team member Connor Wilford also won second place in the individual competition. The Mathcounts chapter competition is held annually. Now that the OMS team has qualified for state competition members have little over a month to prepare for the contest. The state competition will be held on March 20 in Des Moines



Presentation by District Leadership Team 
Presentation by Professional Learning Community 
Presentation by Middle School 1:1 Team 
Presentation of 2014 Audit Report 
Consideration of Offer for Real Estate and Sale of Student Constructed House 
Consideration of Approval of Out-of-State Trip for Students 
Consideration of Approval of Hot Lunch and Breakfast Prices 
Consideration of Specifications for Gymnasium Floors and to Solicit Bids 
Consideration of Specifications for School Buses and to Solicit Bids 
Consideration of Resolution Naming District Depositories 
Consideration of Resolution Regarding Funding for Iowa Schools 
Consideration of TruBank Internet Banking Services Agreement 
Consideration of Approval of Revised Board Policy 905.2 – First Reading 


(Feb. 7, 2015)  With 900 communities in the state, what makes Oskaloosa special? Why should someone move to Oskaloosa? Play in Oskaloosa? Start or relocate a business in Oskaloosa? These important questions will be discussed on Friday, Feb. 27 by Roger Brooks, one of the world’s most sought after experts in place branding, marketing, tourism and economic development. His presentation will be held from 9:00 to 10:30 am in the Chief Mahaska Room at the William Penn University Atkins Memorial/Student Union Building on the second floor. It is free and open to the public. According to Oskaloosa Main Street President Josh Buckingham, Brooks and his team continue working with the Oskaloosa Brand Development Committee. “This committee has been working with Roger and his team since their initial presentation in Oskaloosa last September,” Buckingham explained. “We are now in the process of fine-tuning our focus for Oskaloosa going forward.” The Oskaloosa Brand Development Committee is made up of a wide cross section of individuals who have a vested interest in marketing Oskaloosa to bolster economic development and tourism. Buckingham said the committee consists of members of city and county government, business leaders, retailers, young professionals and interested citizens. Buckingham said the survey responses defined over 20 brand ideas and the Brand Committee reduced those ideas to five common themes. Ideas were then put through a 10-point brand feasibility test which allowed the committee to move closer to the ultimate goal of developing and implementing an active marketing plan anchored by a brand identity.
Buckingham said. “We encourage anyone interested to join us as we unveil the process, why it is important, and the ‘look and feel’ of the marketing we’ll use to promote Oskaloosa. “Hearing and seeing this presentation first hand will give interested citizens an opportunity to be part of this new identity for our community,” Buckingham stressed. “The ideas and concepts presented Feb. 27 will have long reaching and long lasting effects, we hope the community will want to take part.”


(Feb. 6, 2015)  According to the Centers for Disease Control, the United States is currently experiencing a large outbreak of measles, linked to an amusement park in California, that has spread across multiple states. While there have not been any reported cases of measles in Iowa since 2009, the disease is highly contagious. Mahaska Health Partnership wants you to know the signs and symptoms of measles and how to protect your family “Measles is one of the most contagious diseases in existence,” explained Gloria Reed, MHP Nursing Director over Infection Control. “The droplets can be transmitted when someone breathes, coughs or sneezes. The virus can live on surfaces and in the air for up to two hours, so it’s possible to be exposed without ever being around an infected individual.” According to the CDC, measles is a virus characterized by a high fever, cough, runny nose, red, watery eyes and a red, bumpy skin rash. Symptoms generally appear within seven to 14 days after exposure. The virus can be serious for any age group, but children under 5, adults over 20, and those with compromised immune systems, including pregnant women, are more likely to suffer complications. Two doses of the vaccine given at least 28 days apart are necessary to develop lifetime protection. If you have specific questions regarding measles, visit the CDC website at or the Iowa Department of Public Health’s website at



Iowa exports record $15 billion worth of goods in 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The U.S. Department of Commerce says Iowa companies exported a record $15.1 billion worth of merchandise last year which contributed to the nation's record export level exceeding $2.3 trillion.

In the report released Thursday the government says machinery led Iowa exports totaling about $3.6 billion in value. That was followed by food and related products and agricultural products.

Canada was the leading destination for Iowa products followed by Mexico, Japan and China.

More than 3,300 companies — by far most of them with fewer than 500 employees — exported goods in the most recent report.

Coinciding with the release of the data, the White House issued a statement citing it as a reason Congress should act on new trade agreements now in negotiations to expand trade with additional countries.


Lawmakers try to find compromise on education funding

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — At odds over education funding, Iowa lawmakers have established a negotiating committee to attempt to reach compromise.

A joint conference committee with lawmakers from both chambers met Thursday. The Republican-majority House and Democratic-controlled Senate must determine a funding level for K through 12 education for the upcoming academic year.

House Republicans have advanced a plan that would provide about $100 million in additional funding, while Senate Democrats want to give schools over $200 million in additional funding. Both proposals include money dedicated to teacher leadership training.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, a Council Bluffs Democrat, calls education a priority because it's a "ticket to a better life."

But Representative Chuck Soderberg, a Republican from Le Mars who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, says the House proposal is what the state can afford.


Iowa Senate panel OKs bill on hunting apprenticeship

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Senate panel has approved a bill that would make it easier for adults in Iowa to try out hunting before getting a hunting license.

A three-member subcommittee for natural resources and the environment unanimously approved the bill Thursday. It now heads to a full committee for consideration.

Current law requires an adult to complete a hunter education course before obtaining a hunting license. This bill would allow adults to skip the course and work with a licensed adult under an apprentice permit program.

Evan Heusinkveld with the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance says the bill is similar to legislation in more than 30 other states. Senator Dick Dearden, a Des Moines Democrat and committee vice chairman, says the bill can open up hunting to more people.


Former board member seeks to block closure of Iowa school

(Information in the following story is from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier,

GLADBROOK, Iowa (AP) — A former board member for an Iowa school district seeks to block the closure of one of its three schools.

The Board of Education at Gladbrook-Reinbeck Community School District voted 5-2 Wednesday to close the district's elementary and middle school building located in Gladbrook and move students to two schools in Reinbeck in an effort to cut costs. But Charles Bearden, who previously served on the board, has filed a legal petition to prevent the closure.

Bearden told the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier on Thursday that the building in Gladbrook is newer than those in Reinbeck, and that it would be a "disgrace" to shut it down.

Josh Hemann, a current board member who voted in favor of the proposal, says maintaining an elementary school in every town isn't realistic.


Liquidation looms for insurance cooperative

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An insurance cooperative created to provide health care in Iowa and Nebraska will be formally liquidated this weekend.

Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart said Thursday that a Polk County judge has agreed to approve the liquidation plan, which will be finalized on Saturday night.

CoOportunity is a federally funded nonprofit established to provide health care in Iowa and Nebraska. Gerhart took the cooperative over after he determined the nonprofit's claims would exceed its available cash.

About 24,000 people still have CoOportunity plans in Iowa and Nebraska, with about 5,500 who bought coverage on the insurance exchange created as part of the Affordable Care Act.

Gerhart said that people who received plans through the exchange must enroll in new coverage by midnight Saturday to maintain any federal tax subsidies.


Officials: Nearly 173K Iowans possibly hit by data breach

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A state insurance official says nearly 173,000 Iowans may have been affected by the recent data breach at health insurer Anthem Incorporated.

Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart said Thursday that 172,727 policyholders in Iowa may have had their personal information compromised. The cyberattack into a database of more than 80 million people was discovered earlier this month. The health insurance provider says hackers gained access to names, birthdates, email addresses, Social Security numbers and other information of people who are currently covered or previously had coverage.

Gerhart says Anthem will contact each person affected by the breach and inform them of available identity theft services and other protections. He says the Iowa Insurance Division continues to work with Anthem to monitor the situation.


3 people injured in Fort Dodge house fire remain at hospital

(Information in the following story is from: The Messenger,

FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) — Three people remain in the hospital following a house fire in Fort Dodge that killed a woman and two young children.

The Fort Dodge Messenger reports that Ashley Ulrich, her infant son Matthew Osborne and his father Lucas Osborne were undergoing treatment for burns Wednesday at University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics in Iowa City. Three people died when flames engulfed their home Sunday afternoon, and others in the house escaped uninjured.

Fire officials identified the three killed in the fire as 25-year-old Amy Devlin, her 6-month-old son Bryce Devlin and 5-year-old Joseph Kennedy. An autopsy revealed all three died of smoke inhalation.

Family members say Ulrich sustained severe burns on her arms, and that Lucas Osborne's wounds caused an infection.

The source of the fire remains under investigation.