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Four Oskaloosa Employees Recognized At City Council

A special acknowledgement presentation occurred during the Monday, December 4th, City Council meeting. Spearheaded by Mayor David Krutzfeldt, four Oskaloosa employees were recognized for their dedication to the city and community.

“We talk about longevity and the importance of it,” said Mayor Krutzfeldt.  “The institutional memory of the people that have been our employees for five years 10, 15, 20 plus years, how that affects the culture and how the city works.” Krutzfeldt continued to say that it goes just beyond the years, it also deals with the way to train younger employees and changing with technology. Stating that there are continuous changes and thus continuous improvements.

First to be recognized was Susan Hasso, the Administrative Assistant of the Oskaloosa Public Library for 20 years.

Amy Miller, the City Clerk and part of the Finance Department, was awarded for 25 years of service.

Police Chief John ‘Jake’ McGee was recognized for 30 years of service to the city of Oskaloosa and the Oskaloosa Police Department.

Finally, David Christensen Fire Captain with the Oskaloosa Fire Department, was recognized for 35 years of service.

Mayor Krutzfeldt continued to make comments regarding the instrumental individuals in this community. “These are the people that become the backbone of the culture of Oskaloosa.” Krutzfeldt continued, “So, over the years, they’ve had to take the values, what we are trying to do as a city – especially in administration – but also in the services that people see. ‘This is what we want to do, we want to give the very best service we can.’ So the people of Oskaloosa can be proud and appreciative of the efforts thats coming from the city.”

Facade Improvements May See Second Phase

Construction on the Downtown Facade Improvement Project began in May of this year, while the discussion on the project is dated back to September of 2015. This project has made leaps and bounds to improve the presentation of the downtown square.

At the October 16 City Council meeting, Development Services Director Andrew Jensen, presented an update to the council about the facade improvements. Noting the direction of improvements being made as Christner Contracting Inc. moves east across North Market Street.

Soon the contractors will be rounding the corner of N. Market and High Avenue East, starting at the ReMax Office.

The contractors will continue down High Avenue East and turn north on South 1st Street to finish up the 16 building facade project.

With the current project set to wrap up by June of 2018, so far the contractors have spent $434,351.33 of the over $1.13 million that was awarded to the project, according to Jensen.

The source of funds for this project are allocated from a variety of different areas including a Block Grant through the IEDA; Tax Increment through the City of Oskaloosa; a percentage from the property owners involved with the project; and the George Daily Family Trust.

In the council meeting, the idea of pursuing a second phase was also discussed. This second phase would begin on North Market street along the corridor including Brown’s Shoe Fit, Smokey Row and Bridal Dreams. From there, this anticipated project will diverge onto First Avenue East and touch Big Ed’s BBQ and Tropical Rayz Salon.

The funds for the second phase will also come from similar sources. During the second phase, Jensen noted that approximately 10 to 14 buildings will be included on the next installment. That number, however, will be dependent on how many businesses wish to be involved and the amount of funds that can be accumulated.


Parking Regulations in Downtown are Slated to Change

A topic at many city council meetings within the past two months has been the issue centered around parking in the city, specifically in the downtown square. On Monday, September 5th, the Oskaloosa City Council opened the floor for public comments where five residents stepped forward. 

Each of those that made comments owned businesses around the square and were in attendance at the meeting to share their thoughts about the changes that council intends to make regarding the regulations that are currently in place.

Julie Wells, owner of Julie’s Cafe on S. Market, stepped forward first and addressed her concern with the council.

“We’re concerned with the two-hour parking. The concern that 72-hours, that it would go to if you got rid of the 2-hours, would be too long,” Wells stated while in attendance with her husband Terry.

This is not Wells’ first time addressing the council about their plans to alter the parking regulations. As she has was before the mayor and council members a month ago on August 7.

Other business owners also approached the council: Debbie Sedrel from Merle Norman Cosmetics; Glenda Booy from True Value; Brian Meyers from Brown Shoe Fit; and Jerry Slobe with Timeless Treasures.

“I talked to five business owners today,” Slobe said as he addressed the city council, “and they were all opposed to taking the signs down.”

The aforementioned businesses were Brown Shoe Fit, Taso’s Steakhouse, Big Ed’s BBQ, True Value and MidWestOneThree.

After hearing from the public, the council began the regular agenda. One of the last items in the agenda was the consideration of parking regulations and two-hour central business district parking. The council quickly came to an agreement on the third and fourth piece, but had questions themselves regarding the first and second piece.

Councilman Doug Yates, noted that the decision to enforce or not was a split decision after the community had been surveyed.

Tom Walling had mentioned that the city, “only got five complaints in a year. Yet we heard five complaints tonight, easy.”

The initial idea was to take all of the parking signs down to reduce the number in downtown, however, realized it was too costly and unnecessary. Other questions arose about enforcing the limits and regulations.

City Manager, Michael Schrock, suggested that they do sporadic enforcement. Once or twice a month sometimes more or less to transition to consistently enforcing the limits.

After nearly a half hour discussion on the item, the council came to an agreement after some advice from Police Chief Jake McGee.

“I think two hours is too short, that’s based off my experience from the people that get tickets. ”

With Chief McGee’s experience over the years, he knows that visitors – or the average shoppers – are the ones that normally get ticketed. Because the normal offenders know when enforcement goes out to chalk and the call goes around, most vehicles get moved.

When asked by Mayor David Krutzfeldt, Chief McGee said that most cities around Oskaloosa have three-hour parking rules.

In conclusion, the city council agreed to move the two-hour parking limit to a three-hour limit starting at 9 AM until 5 PM. 

This is, however, only the first reading of the regulation changes. Yates would like the public to voice their thoughts about this change as the next month progresses and the city council finishes the reading of the changes to parking.

Local Community Groups Looking to Work Together

An item on the agenda at both Mahaska County Board of Supervisors and City Council meeting yesterday included the discussion of the business plan for the Mahaska Development Partnership. The Chamber of Commerce, the Mahaska County Agricultural and Rural Development (MCARD), the Mahaska Community Development Group (MCDG) and Main Street Oskaloosa are four separate entities that have a desire to begin an appropriate partnership.

As the Board of Supervisors discussed this intended economic partnership for Oskaloosa and Mahaska County, it was a swift approval and acceptance of the memorandum.

Beth Danowsky, MCDG, approached the podium to speak about the organizations.

“The way we work right now, as economic development groups each group sets its own strategic plan, its own vision. And the idea behind this is, if we don’t take this first step to begin to work together then we’re going to continue to work in silos,” stated Danowsky. “And we don’t want to do that anymore, we want to begin to plan together; begin work together; begin to allocate our resources.”

A chair of each organization and a designee of the respective organization board would meet quarterly. There would be 8 members total on the board. After very little discussion, it was approved by the Board of Supervisors. The City Council, later in the day, discussed the business plan and the desire to work together

At-Large City Council member, Tom Walling, sat through the presentation of this plan.

“I strongly support the [plan] but there were several of us there that felt they still got a long way to go. I mean there’s some things to be worked out in our community about this and how we share and don’t duplicate, but grow it together,” Walling said. “They seem willing to work on that.”

With approval from both the City Council and Board of Supervisors, the partnership can now begin to move forward.


Unconventional Invocation Evokes Comments at City Council

There was a large voice from the public, and even a few council members last night at the city council meeting.

“Tonight, as many of you have figured out,” Scott began. “I will not be invoking a higher power. Instead I will be pointing out some powers all of us have thanks to the wonder of human evolution. To do the most good, for the most number of people right here in beautiful Oskaloosa. I encourage everyone to harness these powers in every discussion invoked tonight.”

Justin Scott laid out the power to empathize with those different than you, taken a different path than you or experienced different struggles; power to embrace diversity in the community and seeing it as an opportunity to grow; to strive for inclusion in city government who works for all citizens; human power to demand justice within your city because we are all in one way minorities.

Scott noted that the chamber should not operate as merely a group of individuals looking out for themselves, but rather relying on one another while celebrating all that makes us different, yet all the same.

In Scott’s words, “Human power of attempting to do the most good, for the most number people is the best power any of us have.”

Scott’s invocation received many opinions from the public who address the council. Jim North stood at the podium and supported Scott, “it takes a brave and courageous person to speak in a hostile environment, and shed light on the hatred and fear that others experience when confronted with something they were taught to fear or hate.”

Another  public member, Jimmy Carter wanted to give the council and attendees a simple reminder of the Pledge of Allegiance noting that in the reciting it states we are “One Nation under God.” Carter also displayed a twenty-dollar bill and referenced that on the back of the bill was written, “In God We Trust”.

Council member Tom Walling also made his comment heard at the conclusion of the meeting: “I’ve already talked to Michael, [Schrock, City Manager] but I think he should have come to us and talked to us about who did our opening today.

Many public members had left the city council meeting as the agenda got underway. Scott also left before a comment could be made.


Groundbreaking Ceremony Symbolizes New Era in Oskaloosa

The Oskaloosa Fire Station was the site for a special groundbreaking ceremony Friday morning as crews begin work on the updated facility passed a couple months ago by the City Council.

Fire Chief Mark Neff, along with Mayor David Krutzfeldt, City Manager Michael Schrock, and City Council members Joe Caligiuri, Scottie Moore, and Aaron Ver Steeg, were on hand to symbolically dig the first holes for the new addition to the fire station.

Chief Neff is excited for the new facility to begin construction.

“Everyone here at the station is really excited,” Neff said. “The staff here has been great. It’s been a little trying at times, but the construction crews have worked hard and they’ve been working almost every day. They haven’t let the rain slow them down. Now we can actually see that something is being done. It’s just been four years that we’ve been working on the project, it’s nice to finally see stuff coming around.”

Last fall, there were some complications with the initial project’s design and the money that it would take to complete, which far exceeded the 3.195 million dollars citizens voted to allocate to the project.

Neff said that the redesign process was done carefully.

“We sat back down with the architects,” Neff explained. “I didn’t want to underbuild the building because I knew that was going to be an issue. You never want to move into something and be full right away. You need to have a little bit of room for arranging stuff.”

The project was redesigned with alternate plans in place in several locations of the model for additional items to be added if the budget allowed.

According to Neff, this worked much better and stayed within the budget.

“It actually went pretty smooth,” said Neff. “We were able to break everything down and put the bid alternates in place. We got everything that we really requested through the bid alternate plan and it worked well. They backed out some of the remodel upstairs, but we’re perfectly happy with that. It’s going to be a nice addition.”

There are plenty of key features with the new addition to the station, and there will be plenty of functions when the project is completed, but none bigger than space.

“The biggest thing is just flat square footage,” Neff explained. “It’s going to give us a lot more room getting vehicles in and out. These vehicles are not getting any smaller. In fact, we brought in a new apparatus just last week and that apparatus will not fit into the existing station. It’s about 2 inches too tall. So this new facility is going to accept that new sized apparatus and we won’t have those things to worry about.”

People in Oskaloosa can now see 2nd Avenue closed on the block housing the fire station and a former parking lot torn up for the project, but those are not the only changes the public will be able to notice on the site in the next couple of months.

“In the next two or three months, you’ll see the footings come in,” said Neff. “You’re going to start seeing some flatwork for concrete done. Obviously the overhead lines are going to be gone. And you might even see within two months some of the steel structure and masonry start.”

The timeline for the project is about 15 months, which means completion should occur around late summer of 2017, barring any setbacks.

You can view photos of the groundbreaking ceremony on our Facebook page, “KBOE 104.9 FM.”

City Council 3-7-16

The Oskaloosa City Council met for their regularly scheduled meeting Monday night at 6 pm in the Council Chambers of City Hall.

Multiple topics were discussed, but the main topic of the night was the Brownfields Assessment Grant Project.

Scott Mattes of H.R. Green Company presented on the Brownfields Assessment Grant Project to kick off the regular agenda. Mattes gave an overview of the EPA Brownfields Program, and stated what a “Brownfield” is. He said that according to the EPA, a Brownfield is a property that might be hindered in redevelopment or reuse due to a potential presence of an environmental contaminate or hazard. Some examples Mattes gave of Brownfields are abandoned warehouses, old mining entrances, and incompatible land use, as in a residential structure next to a warehouse or a grain elevator.

Mattes went on to say that the City of Oskaloosa earned two assessment grants totaling $400,000. He said the city can use that money to improve or redevelop sites that might have environmental risks. Mattes said after an assessment of Oskaloosa, around 3,500 parcels had a potential environmental risk. He then said that the group of properties was narrowed down to 121, and then it was again narrowed down to around 30 properties by an advisory committee.

In other business, the Consent Agenda was unanimously approved, and a new 28E agreement for fire protection services was passed unanimously for Adams, Garfield, Harrison, Jefferson, Lincoln, Madison, Scott, and Spring Creek Townships.

Budgets were also discussed and approved unanimously. It was noted that the average resident will see an additional $6.48 per month, or $77.76 annually for sewer rates, which will be effective April 1st, 2016.

Vacancies were also announced for the Airport Commission, Civil Service Commission, Historic Preservation Commission and Municipal Housing Agency.

The next meeting of the Oskaloosa City Council will be held on March 21st, 2016 at 6 pm in the Council Chambers of City Hall.


Story by George Henry

City Council Meeting 1-19-16

The Oskaloosa City Council met at 6 pm on Tuesday, January 19, 2016 instead of Monday, due to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

The big topics of the night were the Mahaska Community Recreation Foundation (MCRF), and signage for the new business on the corner of A Avenue West and South D Street.

MCRF Executive Director Sherry Vavra presented what has been happening with the organization over the past year. Vavra explained to those in attendance that the Drost Soccer Stadium had opened last spring for play, as well as the new maintenance shop.

A concern Vavra and MCRF has is roads entering the Lacey Complex. She said that this past year, over 70,000 people came through the complex, and during peak season, which is around May, 3,500-4,000 vehicles travel the roads in and out.

Vavra ended her presentation thanking the council for support, as well as everyone that donated to MCRF. She also mentioned that there were nearly 9,000 volunteer hours over the past year, which is twice as many when compared to the year before.

There was then conversation over signage for the new pharmacy on the corner of A Avenue West and South D Street. At-Large Council Member Tom Walling was concerned with the pharmacy putting up a new sign, concerning Chapter 17.30 Sign Regulations.

At-Large Council Member Joe Caligiuri considered the wording to be a bit vague. Caligiuri said what he considers a new sign is “tearing down the old and putting up new.” He said that to him, the business is just putting up a logo on the existing pole.

Walling said that when the corridor plans start to happen, the existing sign at the location will get taken out. Walling also stated that all he was trying to do is help out a new business in town.

The meeting kicked off with the Consent Agenda, but the council returned to it towards the end of the meeting. There was a resolution to schedule a public hearing to amend the zoning ordinance of the City of Oskaloosa, by rezoning properties located at 416 North 11th Street, 1201 C Avenue East, and 1265 C Avenue East for the next meeting during the Consent Agenda. The next meeting is on the night of the Iowa Caucuses, and in order to ensure the council meeting gets over in time for the caucuses, the council voted to move the public hearing to February 16th, 2016.

The next scheduled meeting for the Oskaloosa City Council is set for Monday, February 1st, at 6 pm in the Council Chambers in City Hall.

Story provided by George Henry

Local Option Sales Tax Informational Meeting Explains Process

The Mahaska County Farm Bureau sponsored an informational meeting on the process of the Local Option Sales Tax Thursday night at the ISU Extension office in Oskaloosa.

Tim Johnson from the state Farm Bureau office in Des Moines was the speaker who went through the entirety of the process. The Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) has been in the headlines recently in Mahaska County, as it has been 15 years since the last election.

There are 11 jurisdictions that will have separate votes on the LOST that can be used. The current estimate of funds from the tax should all 11 jurisdictions pass it will be around $2.17 million. Oskaloosa creates 90{99cd714f394079a7f0ed2eb1518dd31342ff3ceb5b6c267c3ad8acd5b5a7d66b} of the county’s revenue, so should Oskaloosa not pass the tax, there would only be around $220,000 for the rest of the county to share for various purposes.

The distribution shares are decided by population. The current distribution shares see Oskaloosa receiving 47.2 percent of the tax. The Mahaska County Board of Supervisors oversee the rural area of the county, which has 39 percent of the shares. New Sharon gets 4.7 percent, and the rest of the county’s small towns receive 9.1 percent.

By the estimates, Oskaloosa will get about $1.2 million dollars in the tax this year, and the Board of Supervisors will control about $800,000, should all jurisdictions pass the tax.

The tax must come to a vote if a petition is passed with five percent of the county’s voters signing it. Such a petition was brought to the Mahaska County Auditor’s Office a few weeks ago.

The ballot language must be set for each jurisdiction by the end of February to give a full 60 days for voters to know the language ahead of the May 3rd special election.

The new tax will begin on January 1, 2017, should it pass at each jurisdiction. The current tax will expire on December 31, 2016. If the vote fails, there is still time for each jurisdiction to change the ballot language and have a new vote, as long as there is 60 days in between the language announcement and the special election.

When the tax appears on the ballot, the precise percentages for each project or fund will be listed along with the term of the tax, and the public will vote “yes” or “no” to the tax. The tax will be one penny per dollar.

There are ways that each jurisdiction can repeal their tax, but any change in the tax can go in effect on the January 1 or July 1 following the change.

The LOST has come into the public’s eye in Mahaska County due to a disagreement on where the funds should go, specifically the portion that is controlled by the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors.

There was no discussion of the potential uses for the tax at this meeting.

The City of Oskaloosa has jumped on board with a proposed Recreation and Early Childhood Education Facility that will upgrade the YMCA. Supporters state that this new facility will be a major recruiting tool in the efforts to grow Oskaloosa and the rest of Mahaska County.

For the project to be completed, however, the committee overseeing the project has stated that there needs to be financial support coming from the Board of Supervisors. The Supervisors, specifically Mark Doland and Mike VanderMolen, have stated that they are not sure that the facility will ever be self-sustaining, and that this was a prime opportunity to fund the Environmental Learning Center by Caldwell Park and continued work on the county roads around the county.

The debate will continue until the ballot language must be completed in February. The special election is set for May 3rd. We will have continuing coverage on the topic on KBOE Radio and on kboeradio.com.


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