Healthy Kids Day 2018

According to the Oskaloosa Area Chamber & Development Group, Healthy Kids Day will be held at the YMCA in Oskaloosa on Saturday, April 28. This event will be from 8:00 – 11:00 AM, according to the YMCA Facebook Event and is free and open to the public. Activities include athletic gams, a bounce house, and community booths.

‘Soups On Us’ Part IV of IV

Mahaska Health Partnership has sponsored a four-part learning series called “Soups On Us,” which offers enlightening facts and motivational tips to encourage a healthier lifestyle. These events are scheduled from noon until 1 PM at the Mahaska County YMCA Conference Room. They are free and open to the public, however registration is required by calling 641-672-3303. Stop Diabetes in it’s Tracks is the final session in this series and it will be held on Thursday, April 26.

‘Soups On Us’ Part III of IV

Mahaska Health Partnership has sponsored a four-part learning series called “Soups On Us,” which offers enlightening facts and motivational tips to encourage a healthier lifestyle. These events are scheduled from noon until 1 PM at the Mahaska County YMCA Conference Room. They are free and open to the public, however registration is required by calling 641-672-3303. “Healthy Sleep” is the session that’ll be held on Thursday, April 12.

‘Soups On Us’ Part I of IV

Mahaska Health Partnership has sponsored a four-part learning series called “Soups On Us,” which offers enlightening facts and motivational tips to encourage a healthier lifestyle. These events are scheduled from noon until 1 PM at the Mahaska County YMCA Conference Room. They are free and open to the public, however registration is required by calling 641-672-3303. The first in the series will be held on Thursday, March 15 and is entitled “Portion Distortion”.

Duchow Hired as BBBS Program Manager

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mahaska County is pleased to announce that Robbyn Duchow has been hired as Program Manager.  She will start Monday, October 30th, at her office in the Mahaska YMCA.

Duchow lives in Oskaloosa and comes from the Iowa Department of Public Health, where she ran a statewide tobacco use prevention program.  She had been involved with youth prevention programs since high school, so she has a lot of experience working with diverse groups in community outreach.

The advisory board is excited to hand over the reins to Duchow and is confident she will do an amazing job helping launch BBBS Mahaska.
Duchow will receive a lot of training and support from BBBS Johnson County over the coming months, as well as continued oversight from the local advisory board. Although BBBS has received some requests to apply to be a mentor or mentee, and the best estimate for when they will begin accepting those applications is February. It is the intent of the organization to give Duchow enough time to learn about the BBBS model and build a solid foundation.
“Remember, we don’t just want to make matches.  We want to make effective, long-term matches that will do real good for the kids involved.”

Mahaska County YMCA Receives Higher Rating

The Mahaska County YMCA Kids Corner Child Care Center, 2303 East 8 th Avenue, University Park, IA has achieved a Level 4 Iowa Quality Rating System (QRS) rating from the Iowa Department of Human Services. This level 4 rating is based on a five level scale of quality measures. Previously the facility had garnered a level 3 rating.

Iowa’s QRS is a voluntary child care rating system for child development homes, licensed child care centers and preschools, and child care programs that are operated by school districts. Ratings reflect information provided by the program at their time of rating. In choosing a child care program, parents should discuss the current licensing status with the program and be aware that child care centers are required to prominently post licenses.

The QRS was developed:

  • To raise the quality of child care in Iowa
  • To increase the number of children in high-quality child care settings
  • To educate parents about quality in child care

There are five levels in the QRS. For a program to be rated at:

  • Level 1: all Level 1 criteria must be met – The YMCA met licensing standards.
  • Level 2: all Level 1 and Level 2 criteria must be met – The YMCA had additional training and made steps to improve quality.
  • Levels 3-5 all Level 1 and Level 2 criteria must be met, and then the program must earn a minimum of one point in each of the Level 3-5 categories. For levels 3-5, the level is determined by the total number of points earned.

Those levels include the areas of professional development, health and safety, environment, family and community partnership, and leadership and administration.

As a child care provider, the Mahaska County YMCA puts into practice what research has shown for some time. The quality of care that young children receive in out-of- home settings provides a foundation upon which their future learning is built. Children who attend higher quality child care settings display better cognitive, language and social competencies. The Y plays an invaluable role in the growth and development of each and every child in our care. Our participation in QRS demonstrates our commitment to provide ongoing quality care for children.

Kathy Chamra, Child Care Director and her staff at Kids Corner headed by Meagan McCartie, Site Supervisor should be commended for this achievement. For any questions regarding Mahaska County YMCA Child Care or Preschool, contact 641.673.8411 or www.mahaskaymca.org.

YMCA Will See A Modern Upgrade in Facilities

The Mahaska County YMCA has been serving the Oskaloosa and the Mahaska County area since 1896. It’s been housed at the current location for the last 50 years at 414 N Third Street. Recently, the YMCA along with the City of Oskaloosa and the Oskaloosa Community School Board have sought out to improve facilities by relocating and building.

The current building has 42,000 square feet and is equipped with a weight room, cardio studio, gymnasiums, exercise rooms, racquetball courts and a 4-lane 25-yard pool. Plenty of activities that are held at the Mahaska County YMCA include after school programs, various weight, dance or aerobic classes and youth sports.

In addition to the occupied building on Third Street, they provide early childhood services in the former Webster School building and the Kids Corner Child Care building. The YMCA operates the largest early child care program in the community and is the administrative leader in the 4-year old preschool partnership program.

All three of the buildings combined, the facility maxes out at around 74,000 square footage. With the capacity that the YMCA’s after-school program is at they are overflowing with families and children on a waiting list to get on.

“With this project wrapping up the conceptual design,” Michael Schrock, City Manager, said. “The next phase of the project is schematic design.” To move into this phase fully, money needs to be spent.

Within the schematic design includes meeting with financial advisories and attorneys to lock in the 28E agreement, said Schrock.

The new host site of the YMCA will be located on Green Street near the Lacey Recreation Complex. The projected cost of the new facility is set currently at $19.65 million, and square footage is set around 60,000.

Tom Richardson, School Board President, questioned how they would manage to operate efficiently using 15,000 less square feet.

The lack of adequate space, aging facilities and increasing maintenance have all proven to be difficult to keep up with. With the restraint on expanding and adding membership, the YMCA has not been able to generate enough revenue to sustain the facility, repairs and operational development.

“We don’t know if we can afford a two floor facility,” continued Schrock. “We are more interested in providing the right amount of square footage and amenities.” As the list of the desired amenities were read off to the board members , Schrock added, “There’s a whole laundry list, actually.” The essential amenities, however, include the gymnasiums, aquatics and child care.

The amenities that are noted in the conceptual massing plans include a gymnasium, youth gym, locker rooms, aquatics, community or multi-purpose room, kids zone, playground, and a child care center. Future expansion on intended areas will be possible with the conceptual design of the building.

The big question with this project is the price tag, but the bigger question is how will this almost 20 million dollar project be funded. The revenue generated from a 20-year local sales tax referendum, portions of a one-cent infrastructure tax from the Oskaloosa Community Schools, grants, and various donations will pay for the construction of the YMCA.  The need to fundraise and secure two to three million dollars in grants or other sources is imminent.

As Schrock thumbed through possible slides of what different components of the YMCA facility will look like, all board members in attendance seemed to be in agreeance that they would like to see a conservative yet modern approach to the appearance of the new building.

By building a new facility, the YMCA has the opportunity to grow and expand internally. Membership units is an important part to their livelihood. A membership unit could be an adult, couple, family, senior, college, or youth members.

YMCA Board Member, Debbie Guild, shared the prospective growth that the Mahaska County YMCA is hoping to see. Having new facilities built with amenities the YMCA would expect to see 1,025 new memberships. “In the first year, we could see a member growth of 500 units…,” Guild said. “That’s 50 percent in the first year, 30 percent in the second and 20 percent in the third.”

“I think there’s a sense in the community that this, at least to my friends, that this project has died. so i just ask us all to try to spread this to your peer groups and help reignite enthusiasm for it again,” said Guild.

The City of Oskaloosa, the Oskaloosa Community School District and the YMCA Board will all look towards Gro Development to revise the conceptual plan and establish the schematic design documents, as well as bid letting and general contractor selection.

Eggs and Issues 2-27-16

The fourth session of Eggs and Issues was held in a packed Smokey Row Coffee Shop in Oskaloosa Saturday morning at 8:30. This session highlighted local initiatives to discuss the Recreation and Early Childhood Development Center with Mark Willett, the community branding project with Aaron Riggs and Andrew Jensen, and the Caldwell Learning Center with Linda Fox and Dave Sedivec.

This session was handled differently, as the first half hour of discussion was dedicated to the three initiatives letting the community know what is happening with their respective projects.

Riggs and Jensen presented first, with Riggs stating one of the reasons as to why the Brand Leadership Team, or BLT, believes new branding would help Oskaloosa.

“Rather than people living here, earning a wage here, and then taking that money and spending it in a community outside of Oskaloosa, wouldn’t it be great if there were enough reasons and things to do in and around our town, that people could spend that money here locally and keep it here and grow our local economy as a result,” Riggs said.

Willett then spoke on the Recreation and Early Childhood Development Center. He said that losing the YMCA in the community would be devastating. He stated there are around 320 children in childcare between the YMCA, Webster, and Kids’ Corner in University Park.

Willett also described part of the plans for the new Recreation and Early Childhood Development Center. He said that it’s a nightmare to hold a swimming meet at the current YMCA because there are only four lanes. He said the new facility will have eight lanes in the competition pool, as well as areas to sit down and watch the meet. Willett went on to say that there will be a recreational pool in addition to the competition pool, so the competition pool can have cooler water and people can swim laps, and the recreation pool can have warmer water for those doing water workouts.

Fox and Sedivec spoke next on the Caldwell Learning Center. Fox said that kids learn the best by being able to experience, feel, and touch what’s around them. She then told the crowd what an Environmental Learning Center, or ELC, is.

“It’s a place where you can take nature, and you can make it work. You can show kids how to do things, and what things are in nature. They can have hands-on experience. They can go out in the field and come back into a mudroom, and experience what is going on,” said Fox.

Sedivec said that Mahaska County is a victim of its own success.

“We average over 12,000 program participants a year here in Mahaska County with one Naturalist and other staff helping out. To put that in perspective, that’s the same number of program participants that Linn County has with five Naturalists in the Cedar Rapids area,” said Sedivec.

Fox and Sedivec also said that the ELC is going to be larger than was first planned due to the mammoth bones that will be on display.

When it came time for the public to ask questions, there were some in the audience that were against the new branding of Oskaloosa.

Members of the community said that music has stood the test of time, and that Oskaloosa already has a brand and slogan. Jensen responded by saying that he believes Oskaloosa is more than just music.

“We absolutely celebrate our musical history, but Oskaloosa is much more than just music. In the time that I’ve been here, there are so many awesome things going on in Oskaloosa, and the question is how do we tie those things together,” stated Jensen.

Another member of the community broke the tension in the room.

“Granted I may have lived under a rock for the 27 years I’ve lived here, but I did not know this was known as the City of Music. Just saying,” said the community member.

One community member asked about the location of the ELC. Sedivec answered by saying it will be just to the east of Oskaloosa. He also said the ELC is in a great location, and he believes the location will help the local economy.

“You have the Lacey Sports Complex with all the kids and tournaments out there. In between games if people want to see the nature center and the mammoth bones, they have to go through town and they have to go past every restaurant, they have to go by gas stations and everything, so I think that’ll also help with the economic impact for the community,” Sedivec said.

There was also a question asked about whether or not the pool at Edmundson Park will be closed when the new Recreation and Early Childhood Development Center opened. Willett replied by saying it is all speculation, and also that there are no plans for an outdoor pool at the new facility.

The next session of Eggs and Issues will be with state officials, and it will be held on March 12th at 8:30 am at Smokey Row Coffee Shop in Oskaloosa.


Story by George Henry


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