Area News Stories


LOCAL NEWS

OTTUMWA MAN ARRESTED IN STABBING

On Tuesday September 16th, 2014 at approximately 4:35 p.m., the Wapello County Sheriff’s Office responded to 201 E. Main St., Apt. 7, Agency Iowa reference a 911 call of a female subject that had been stabbed. As a result of the investigation deputies arrested Patrick Murray, age 59 of 201 E. Main St., Apt. 7, Agency Iowa for Domestic Abuse with Intent to Inflict Serious Injury and/or Uses or Displays a Dangerous Weapon in Connection with the Assault. The female victim was transported to Ottumwa Regional Health Center where she was treated for her injuries and released. Patrick is currently being held at the Wapello Co. Jail on a $2000.00 cash only bond.


CITY COUNCIL VOTES DOWN FRANCHISE FEES

In a surprising move Monday evening, the Oskaloosa City Council voted AGAINST the 3rd and final reading of a measure which would raise the city’s gas and electric franchise fees by 2% each. The vote ended a nearly two month long debate over city revenue, which included charges drawn towards the state legislature, among other parties. City Councilor Jason Van Zetten, who has historically opposed an increase in the fees, again expressed his belief that this only was being considered because of a funding request from the YMCA. Van Zetten and other city councilors expressed their continued belief that now is not the time to raise taxes. At the public hearing on the matter held back in August, numerous members of the public rose to speak against the franchise fee increase, with one member of the public going so far as to call it a tax on the poor. The final vote last night was 4-3 against raising the franchise fee.

In other action, the council:

·         Unanimously approved the second reading of an alley vacate request at 701 High Ave West

·         Approved a site plan located at 1302 and 1320 High Ave West for a housing development referred to as The Reserves at Ironwood. The site plan shows development for a new 48 unit apartment complex.

·         Approved, on a 6-1 vote, the appointments of Mike Vore to the Oskaloosa Water Board and Sara Tarbell and Dawn Collings to the Planning and Zoning Commission.

The next meeting of the Oskaloosa City Council will be October 6th at 6 pm in the City Council Chambers.


CITY TO HOLD SPECIAL ELECTION

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

JAILER FIRED

Northwest Iowa jailer fired, accused of harassment

LE MARS, Iowa (AP) — Plymouth County has fired a jailer accused of sexually harassing a co-worker and eavesdropping on other staff members.

Court records say Daniel Kersbergen, 27, of Le Mars, is charged with misdemeanor assault and electronic eavesdropping. A court hearing on his case is scheduled for Sept. 29. A public phone listing for Kersbergen couldn't be found. Online court records don't list the name of his attorney.

According to a Plymouth County news release, a co-worker said Kersbergen had made sexually suggestive remarks to her and used his stun gun to intimidate her. During an internal investigation of the allegations, officers found a recording device in the jail that they suspect Kersbergen had placed to record other staffers without their consent.



CEMETERY VANDALISM-OELWEIN

7 juveniles charged for vandalism at Iowa cemetery

OELWEIN, Iowa (AP) — Police have charged seven juveniles with damaging more than 70 gravestones at a cemetery in northeast Iowa.

Police in Oelwein (OHL'-weyen) said the children ranged from 12 to 16 years of age. Each of the minors is charged with criminal mischief in juvenile court.

Nearly 40 gravestones were cracked or broken at the Oakdale Cemetery, which sits on the southwest side of the Fayette County community. The damage was first noticed on Sept. 9 and has since been estimated at $4,200.

The bodies of many of the people who helped found the town are buried there. Among the damaged gravestones are ones placed on graves of Oelwein family members.



PRINCIPAL-UI ARREST

Principal arrested at Iowa game to return to work

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A high school principal who was arrested on suspicion of drunkenness at a University of Iowa football game will return to work on Monday.

The district school board voted Monday to let Adel DeSoto Minburn High School principal Lee Griebel resume his duties next week. Griebel was suspended after his arrest Sept. 6 in Iowa City.

Griebel was found at the stadium sitting near a garbage can with vomit on his shorts and a pile of vomit near him, according to a University of Iowa news release. Police said he had an unsteady balance and failed a breath test for intoxication.

Court records do not list an attorney for Griebel.

District Superintendent Greg Dufoe said in a news release that, "Mr. Griebel made a serious mistake, and he accepts full responsibility for his actions."



OFFICERS SHOOT MAN

Des Moines officers shoot man with knife

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Officers have shot a man who menaced them with a knife and wouldn't put it down, Des Moines police said.

Two officers who were sent to investigate a report of a domestic dispute around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday met a woman and her 41-year-old nephew. The officers said the man had two knives in his waistband and wouldn't obey their orders.

He grabbed one knife and moved toward the officers, they said. One of the officers fired a stun gun at the man but missed. The man continued moving toward the officers, they said, so they fired their handguns.

The man was taken to Iowa Methodist Medical Center. Police haven't released his name or those of the officers.



BUFFALO MUSEUM

Buffalo museum considered for post office

BUFFALO, Iowa (AP) — Buffalo Historical Museum volunteers in eastern Iowa are alarmed at the possibility they'll be evicted from their building so it can become home to a post office.

The U.S. Postal Service in Buffalo was forced to temporarily relocate to Blue Grass earlier this year when flooding reached its basement, the Quad-City Times reported.

Buffalo's mayor Doug Anderson said Wednesday the Postal Service's lease expires in two years. He said he showed postal officials several city-owned properties to consider that included the Buffalo Historical Museum, a 105-year-old building that was Buffalo's former city hall.

Anderson said the museum could relocate into several rooms in the Buffalo Community Center, if the City Council approves a lease agreement with the Postal Service.

But officers in the Historical Society said moving out of the building it's in now would end the museum.

The museum had been in the community center before for a few years, but officials found it an unappealing space to display history.

"The community center has no historical significance, not to mention the work our volunteers have done on the building we're in," Historical Society President Christine Thornton said.

Thorton said she was a part of the push nearly a decade ago to move the museum into its current location.

Anderson said they're only discussing the possibility of moving into the museum right now.

"We're just talking," he said. "That's all it is. We're just waiting to hear.

"We don't want the museum to close. I'm just trying to keep the post office. You can't make everybody happy."