Area News Stories


LOCAL NEWS

SUPERVISORS CONSIDER COMMUNITY SERVICES DIRECTOR APPLICANTS

It was a routine meeting for the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors Monday morning. The supervisors quickly dispensed with their agenda in less than 40 minutes. The first item up for approval was a public hearing on a setback ordinance. County Sanitarian Eric Dursky briefly spoke during the public hearing asking for clarification on the ordinance.

The Supervisors next heard the sanitarian report from Dursky.

The next item was the MCARD report. MCARD director Deann DeGroot briefly touched on some of the activities of MCARD, including a booth at the Southern Iowa Fair and the upcoming Mahaska Young Professionals BBQ.

The supervisors next approved the quarterly reports for the Sheriff, Veterans Affairs, Recorder, and Treasurer departments.

The board also voted unanimously to approve an amendment to the CCMS 28E agreement.
Supervisor Chairman Mike Vander Molen gave a brief update towards the end of the meeting on the status of the courthouse roof evaluation. Vander Molen stated during his update that he had been in contact with the firm handling the evaluation and that they were waiting on the receipt of several “necessary documents” related to the evaluation.

Supervisor Mark Doland also gave an update at the end of the meeting on the hiring of a community services director. Doland said that applications had been received from 14 persons and that the applications would be whittled down to three or four by the end of today. A subcommittee was formed to review the applications. An interview committee was also formed to conduct interviews with the final handful of candidates for the job.

The next regular meeting of the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors will be on August 4th at 9:00 am in the 3rd floor conference room of the Mahaska County Courthouse.


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.


CITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES EMERALD ASH BORER

The Oskaloosa City Council heard a report on the projected effects of the Emerald Ash Borer as well as approved a variety of pay requests at their regular meeting Monday evening.

Dylan Mulfsinger, city management analyst, gave a detailed report on what the anticipated effect the City of Oskaloosa will experience relating to Emerald Ash Borer. Mulfsinger started off by noting that nine counties in Iowa have confirmed cases of EAB. As a result, Mulfsinger said that an Ash tree quarantine has been in effect since February. According to Mulfsinger, there's at least 135 ash trees in the City of Oskaloosa.

To deal with EAB, the city will take a three step approach; removal of ash trees, replanting of trees, and updating the city code.

Mulfsinger said that the city will begin to evaluate all the Ash trees that are in the city right of way, ranking them from best to worst. From there, the city will begin to remove the worst ash trees from the right of way. The city hopes to remove 15 trees this year, and then gradually increase that number dependent on if and when EAB arrives in Oskaloosa and Mahaska County. The cost for removal of one tree is estimated to be between $800 and $1200.

After removal of trees, the city will work with the landowner to replace the tree that has been removed. Mulfsinger said that homeowners who have a tree removed can request a new one and city staff will work with them to find the best tree species to replace the removed ash tree.

The city will also begin to update the city's tree code to avoid situations the city has been in with outbreaks of tree diseases such as EAB and Dutch Elm Disease.

Mulfsinger said that the total projected costs of removing ash trees in Oskaloosa will be $175,000, however that will be spread out over several years.

In other action, the city council:

Unanimously approved a variety of pay requests relating to four different construction projects in Oskaloosa.

Unanimously approved a resolution to authorize the execution of an agreement for building inspection services with Safe Building. The agreement is due to a current vacancy in the building inspector position.

The next meeting of the Oskaloosa City Council will be on July 21st at 6:00 pm in the City Council Chambers.


SUPERVISORS DISCUSS NEW ASSISTANT COUNTY ATTORNEY

The Mahaska County Board of Supervisors met Monday morning and quickly moved through a laundry list of items on a packed agenda. The first item for the Supervisors consideration was a public hearing related to an assessment of Wind Energy Conversion property. Comments were received by two people, including Andrew Jansen, the Executive Director of the Mahaska Economic Development Group. After the brief public hearing, Supervisor Chairman Mike Vander Molen announced that an ordinance relating to the matter will be brought up for Supervisor approval in August.

The board next discussed the hiring of a new assistant county attorney. Current Assistant County Attorney Amy Zenor took the floor during this time and asked the board for their formal approval to move forward with hiring a new assistant county attorney. Zenor noted that she is running unopposed for Mahaska County Attorney. The new assistant county attorney would begin around September 1st and would be trained by current county Attorney Charles Stream until after the November election. Stream indicated that his office budget would be able to handle the added salary for the couple of months it is necessary. The Supervisors ultimately gave approval for the hiring process to being for a new assistant county attorney.

In other action, the board unanimously:
Approved a county engineer authorization. The resolution that was approved gives new County Engineer Dave Shannhan authorization to assume his duties. Shannhan began working as County Enginner last week.
Approved the Fiscal Year 2014-2015 salaries
Approved the job description for the community services director position
Approved the Auditor's Office Quarterly and Annual reports

The next meeting of the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors will be on July 21st at 9:00 am in the 3rd floor conference room of the Mahaska County Courthouse.


YMCA ANNOUNCES CLOSURE OF POOL

The Mahaska County YMCA has announced the closing of their pool and a temporary partnership with the City of Oskaloosa to use the Edmundson pool until further notice.

“The decision to close was not an easy one,” said Dawn Collins, Executive Director for the Mahaska County YMCA. “We have many members who rely on the pool for their health as well as for recreation. Unfortunately, significant repairs are necessary and we don’t want to jeopardize our members’ safety or the capital investment which is necessary. We have tried for five weeks to stay open as best we can, and it is no longer feasible.”

The YMCA is in the process of obtaining estimates for needed repairs. Once those estimates are received, a repair plan and timeline can be determined as well as a date for pool reopening and normal operation.
YMCA and City of Oskaloosa staff members are finding bright spots in a less than ideal situation realizing the best time of year to have an indoor pool close is when outdoor programming is possible and there’s a community available and willing to help.

The YMCA and the City of Oskaloosa have collaborated to identify alternate options for YMCA aquatics users. Until the Y’s pool is once again operational, Y members will use the Edmundson Pool for swim lessons, water aerobics and lap swim, primarily in the mornings when the city’s pool is traditionally closed, but also with limited evening options. A new YMCA aquatics schedule has been released and is available on the YMCA web site or at the YMCA.

“We are very grateful to have the support of the City of Oskaloosa in accommodating this situation for our community,” said Collins. “It takes partnerships to ensure a good quality-of-life for our community, and we are blessed to have a strong collaborative community.”
For more information, go online to www.mahaskaYMCA.org,


NOMINATION PAPERS FOR COUNTY OFFICES AVAILABLE

Candidate Nomination Papers for the November 4, 2014 General election are available at the Mahaska County Auditor’s Office for the following offices:

Hospital Trustee – Elect 3
Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioner – Elect 2
Agricultural Extension Council – Elect 5
Lynndana Sanitary Sewer District Trustee – Elect 3

Candidates for Township Trustee (Elect 2) and Clerk are required to file only an Affidavit of Candidacy with the Auditor’s Office. 

The filing period begins Monday, August 4, 2014. The last day to file nomination papers is Wednesday, August 27, 2014, at 5:00 p.m. in the Mahaska County Auditor’s Office.

 


APPLICATIONS BEING ACCEPTED FOR OPERATION BACKPACK

United Way of Mahaska County is partnering again with SIEDA and the Salvation Army to make sure students have the tools they need to succeed. Operation Backpack provides backpacks and school supplies to students in need in Mahaska County.

“We want to give students their best chance for success,” says Amy Langdon, executive director of the United Way of Mahaska County. “When they have all the supplies they need, they’re able to focus on learning.”

Applications for a backpack are due by August 1st to SIEDA (114 North Market, Oskaloosa), but we may be able to accommodate late applications if supplies last. Applications are available at the Salvation Army, SIEDA, United Way of Mahaska County, End of the Month Meals locations, Summer Lunch Program locations, Crisis Intervention Services, Love INC and are now available in the Shopper.

United Way of Mahaska County will also be hosting a supply drive, Stuff the Bus, to support the demand. Keep an eye out for bright, yellow boxes that look like buses at local retail spots and drop off a school supply or two. All of the boxes will be collected on July 29th and put into a school bus at our Stuff the Bus event in Hy-Vee’s North parking lot. These supplies will then be used to fill the backpacks given away for Operation Backpack with the remainder of the supplies going to help supply needs throughout the year at Oskaloosa Elementary School and Webster School. 
 
Please join us by making a gift of school supplies and donate them in a collection box, at your business' supply drive, or at our Stuff the Bus event.

If you would like to help students be prepared for the first day of school, contact the United Way of Mahaska County at (641).673.6043 to more information on volunteering or donating.


EXPANDED CHILD CARE OPPORTUNITIES AT THE YMCA

Oskaloosa, Iowa – The Mahaska County YMCA is expanding its opportunities for Child Watch and drop-in child care programs over the summer. Access to child care is important for parents looking to increase their physical activity levels. If successful, these programs may continue into next school year.

Active Y members may use the Child Watch program for working out while at the Y during the hours of 9-11 am and 4-7 pm. “The Child Watch program is not a licensed child care program and members must remain on-site to exercise while children are in the program. The new cost is $2 per visit,” said Dawn Collins, Executive Director. “Drop-in child care rates for our licensed program are $5 per hour for infants to two-year-olds and $4 per hour for children ages three and up.” Drop-in child care is in the licensed child care program and there are no restrictions requiring the parent or guardian to remain in the facility.

These changes are designed to help our community members have access to healthy living programs. The goal of the Blue Zones Project is to make healthy choices easier to make. Ensuring child care is not a barrier to healthy living is one of the Y’s many efforts to support the Blue Zones Project in Oskaloosa. For more information about these programs, contact the YMCA at 641.673.8411.


WATER BOARD APPROVES CONTRACT WITH GENERAL MANAGER

The Oskaloosa Water Board formally approved the adoption of a contract for General Manager Chad Coon, in a special meeting Friday evening. The board voted 3-0 to adopt a five year contract with Coon with a salary of $81,000. There was no adjustment to Coon's salary. Coon previously did not have a contract as General Manager. 

During the meeting, portions of the contract related to termination were discussed. Water Trustee Joe Ryan had previously expressed concerns during the drafting of the contract that it did not include provisions for termination relating to performance or other matters. During the meeting, legal counsel for the water board went over definitions for termination and what would warrant termination for just cause. Pursuant to the contract, termination by just cause is defined as the general manager: 
1. Being convicted of or pleading guilty or no contest to a felony or aggravated misdemeanor,
2. neglecting duties as general manager, 
3. material breach of the contract or violation of Water Department policies, rules, and regulations which would subject other water department employees to termination.

In other action, the board voted 2-1 with Trustee Joe Ryan voting No to support trustee Errin Keltner during legal proceedings related to his removal from the Water Board. Board Chairman Pete Settimi stated that the board will now cover legal costs related to Keltner's removal. Keltner was previously covering his own legal fees. Settimi also stated that the vote to support Keltner and assume legal costs was a ratification of an April 25th vote to contest the removal of Keltner. Keltner's status as a member of the water board was not fully known at the time of the April 25th vote. In mid May, Judge Dan Wilson granted a stay of Keltner's removal, pending outcome of a trial, which will begin on July 15th.


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

VETERANS-IOWA

Gov. Branstad praises veteran support program

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad says military veterans are finding jobs in Iowa.

Branstad said Monday that 23 veterans have gotten jobs through the Home Base Iowa program, which he signed into law this year. The program is designed to make it easier for veterans to transition into civilian jobs in the state.

Under Home Base Iowa, federal retirement pay is exempted from state income taxes and it makes it easier to obtain licenses for civilian jobs based on military training. In addition, businesses may grant a preference in hiring and promotion of veterans and some spouses.

There will be a job fair for veterans on Thursday in Davenport. At least 35 employers are expected to attend.


TREE ACCIDENT

Iowa man recovering from 40-foot fall from tree

ROCHESTER, Minn. (AP) — An Iowa tree service owner is recovering after falling about 40 feet from a tree.

Kevin Hardy was harnessed and wearing a helmet when he fell out of a tree in Charles City, Iowa, on Friday. He was air-lifted to the St. Marys Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota, for treatment for multiple injuries. Hardy owns Cutting Edge Tree Services in Mason City, Iowa.

Hardy's wife tells KIMT-TV he will be in the hospital until at least Friday. He broke his pelvis, right clavicle, left scapula and 11 ribs.

She tells the Mason City Globe Gazette his doctors say the injuries are fixable and they're "amazed" he didn't break more bones. She says he has no internal bleeding or brain trauma and is in relatively good spirits.


CEDAR RAPIDS SHOOTINGS

Police: 4 in custody, 1 injured in Iowa shootings

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — Police say one person is hospitalized and four are in custody following two separate shootings in Cedar Rapids.

The first shooting was reported just before 5 p.m. Sunday and led to Cedar Rapids police taking four people into custody. Police have not charged the people taken in or released their names.

The second shooting happened around 7:30 p.m. Police found one man shot in the leg. The man was taken to a hospital and police have not released his name. His condition is unknown.

Police say both shootings are under investigation and they don't believe they're related.


POLICE CHASE

Iowa police: Car chase ends with no major injuries

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A police chase through oncoming traffic in central Iowa has ended with no major injuries.

A Polk County Sheriff's office spokeswoman says the driver was apprehended in the northwest part of the county Sunday evening.

She says a motorist called 911 to report a Pontiac Grand Prix speeding and swerving from shoulder to shoulder on the highway. She says the driver reached speeds up to 80 mph and weaved into oncoming traffic in a construction zone.

The chase ended when police sandwiched the vehicle between their cars. The spokeswoman says the driver refused to exit the vehicle and was uncooperative.

Medics were called to the scene and the driver was taken to an area hospital with minor injuries. She says no charges have been filed.


DAVENPORT-HISTORIC HOUSE

Bank donates 19th-century home to nonprofit

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — A bank has donated a 19th-century brick home in Iowa to a nonprofit in hopes they can find someone to buy and fix it up.

The Quad-City Times reports the vacant home has been donated by Wells Fargo bank to nonprofit organization Hilltop Campus Village. It's located near Davenport Central High School.

The nonprofit's director Scott Tunnicliff says the building could be used for residential or commercial purposes, or even both. He says the first floor could be used for a business and the second for residential living.

The newspaper reports the foreclosed home was boarded up by the city in 2011 after it was vandalized.