Area News Stories


LOCAL NEWS

OSKALOOSA JAZZ BAND WINS DISTRICTS

(March 26, 2015) — The Oskaloosa Middle School Jazz Band received first place in the Middle School Band Small Class at the Southeast Iowa Bandmasters Association District Jazz Festival on Saturday, March 7, in Iowa City. The Oskaloosa Middle School Jazz Band was followed by Solon I/II, Fort Madison, Mount Pleasant, Davis County, Washington I/II, and Grinnell.

Outstanding Soloist Awards went to: John Edgren, trumpet; Joshua Hartl, trombone; Brandon Salevsky, tenor saxophone; Ethan Herr, trombone; Aaron Vos, trumpet; and Colin Fiechtner, trombone. The band is under the direction of Michelle Dickinson.

The overall Outstanding Soloist in the Junior High Small Class was awarded to Brandon Salevsky on tenor sax.The Oskaloosa Middle School Jazz band will perform in concert with the Oskaloosa High School, North Mahaska, Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont and William Penn Jazz Bands on Friday, March 27, at the George Daily Auditorium at 7 p.m.

For more stories, check out the Oskaloosa Herald.


7th Annual Live United 5K & YMCA Healthy Kids Day to be held April 25th

(March 26, 2015) - The United Way of Mahaska County is very excited for its 7th Annual Live United 5K & YMCA Healthy Kids Day on Saturday, April 25th at the Penn Activity Center on the William Penn University campus.

This year’s event will have one major change- all races are free!

The morning will kick off with the standard 5K at 8:30, but that won’t be the only chance runners and walkers will have at a race. At 9:30, the Fun Run Obstacle Course will begin.

The Fun Run will take participants down one of three routes, each with a series of “checkpoints”. All checkpoints are suitable for all ages, skill levels and may include things like hula hooping or jumping jacks.

“There will also be a shortened version of the Fun Run Obstacle Course for kids under second grade called the Kids’ Blue Zones Route” said Sheets. “We’ll have lots of giveaways for kids throughout the day as well.”

To pre-register for the 5K race, go to active.com and search LIVE UNITED.

The United Way is partnering with the YMCA again this year to give adults and children a fun, exciting and active day, all while promoting our healthy living initiatives. Family day events will be held from 9:00 a.m. to noon, and include numerous free family-friendly activities such as balloon animals, games, bounce houses, community booths, raffle prizes, face painting and more. Also at this year’s event, MCRF has a “Play it Forward” site where you can drop off, swap or take used sporting equipment.

The United Way of Mahaska County is looking for volunteers for this event. Contact Lindsey Sheets at 641.673.6043 for more information about sponsorship or to sign up to volunteer.

As always, the United Way is truly grateful for the support from our local business leaders, their employees and families.


Mahaska Community Indoor Recreation/Early Childhood Education Needs Assessment

(March 26) - What’s the future of recreation and child care in the Oskaloosa and Mahaska community?

The Mahaska Community Development Group (MCDG) and YMCA will host a public input meeting at 9 am, 11:30 am and 6 pm, Monday, March 30, in Penn Central Mall in the suite across from Label Shopper.

The two-hour session will be aimed at defining what key indoor recreation and child care facilities and programs need to be maintained, revamped and/or developed to serve the community.

Additional focus groups will be held:

Wednesday, April 1, 7 am, Eddyville City Hall

Wednesday, April 1, 7 pm, New Sharon Fire Station

Thursday April 2, 8 am, 11:30 am, and 7 pm, Penn Central Mall – focus child care only

Friday, April 3, 7 am and 11:30 am, Penn Central Mall – focus recreation only

In addition to the public meetings, interested individuals may complete an online survey to provide feedback about existing services, and ideas for improved and expanded recreation and child care facilities and programs. A link to the survey will be released next week.


FSA REMINDS PRODUCERS OF NEW AG RISK COVERAGE AND PRICE LOSS COVERAGE

(March 25, 2015)  The Mahaska County Farm Service Agency (FSA) office reminds producers to take action on the new Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs as the March 31, 2015 deadline quickly approaches.  Producers are strongly  encouraged to schedule an appointment with the Mahaska County FSA office as soon as possible to meet this deadline by calling (641) 673-3476, Extension 2. “Producers are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to elect ARC or PLC and qualify for 2014 payments. Call our office today to avoid missing out on this opportunity,” stated Wendi Denham, Mahaska County FSA Executive Director. The following actions must be taken by the March 31, 2015 deadline: Updating yields, Reallocating base acres and Electing ARC or PLC. Landowners need to update farm yield history and/or reallocate crop base acres, while producers need to make a one-time election of ARC and PLC for 2014-2018 crop years. If the March 31, 2015 deadline is missed, farms will not be eligible for 2014 crop year ARC or PLC payments. The only option remaining at that point is to enroll the applicable farms in PLC for the 2015-2018 crop years. Furthermore, current counter-cyclical yield and base acres associated with the farms will be used for PLC. To learn more information about the programs and services FSA has to offer, please contact the Mahaska County office at (641) 673-3476, Extension 2, or visit FSA online at www.fsa.usda.gov/ia.


OSKALOOSA SCHOOL BOARD MEETING MONDAY, MARCH 24th

(March 24, 2015)  Budget and cost containment topped a work session by the Oskaloosa School Board Monday night. Earlier in the day superintendent Russ Reiter and business manager Chad Vink met with the district’s negotiations team to look at the initial proposals by each.

Monday night’s meeting looked at options for the district to contain costs in light of inaction from the state legislature. The Iowa Democratically controlled Senate has offered up a 4 percent supplemental funding but the Republican-controlled House is saying 1.25 percent and there appears to be no resolution in sight. If no decision it will revert to 0 percent.

Reiter answered board questions on how much supplemental would be included in a 1.25 percent scenario. He said it is estimated to be $435,573. However, depending how the negotiations with certified staff ends up the district could still face a $150,000 shortfall. If the settlement is at 3 percent, means a cost to the district of $582,000. The district has qualified and accepted a TLC grant to pay for instructional coaches. With that taken out there would still be a difference of about $285,000.

School districts are limited in the amount of revenue it can generate, but Reiter cited current and potential sharing opportunities including transportation director, superintendent, human resources, information technology, librarians and others. There have been some rule changes that would allow sharing districts to recover some of those costs.

Reiter and the board said they are reluctant to reduce class sections at the elementary as the district have made strides to reduce class sizes. Staff attrition, replacing retirees with a lower cost teacher, possibly offering early retirements and other options are on the table. The board will continue to look at options and will have recommendations brought forth in April.


OSKALOOSA SCHOOL BOARD DISCUSSES SUMMER PROJECTS

(March 24, 2015)  Board members discussed possible work projects for the summer during their work session Monday. Some of the projects have been on the priority list for some time.

Tops on the list is the renovation of the small gym at the high school. Superintendent Russ Reiter said the floor would be replaced at a cost of $50,000. He said there is discussion to convert it to a spectator gym by adding a three-row bleacher seating similar to the system utilized at the elementary. School staff would reposition the baskets and pads would be added to each end to provide cushion with the short distance between the wall and end lines.

Reiter mentioned that the tennis courts, three north of the high school and four by the baseball field are in need of replacement.

“They are in bad shape. We have considered not hosting home meets because of the condition,” said Reiter. “If there is any moisture at all the ones by the high school become very slick.”

Cost estimates are in the $125,000 range. Board member Shawn Moyer asked about doing part of the courts this year and the other next year. Reiter said the project would need to be done on all seven at the same time.

Elementary carpeting replacement is needed due to carpet “bubbling.” The bubbling is a possible tripping hazard. Elementary principal Mike Dursky said that there is some opportunity to do some work in the library to update it. He said there are sets of 1985 version encyclopedias and empty bookcases. Removing and renovating could be done at the same as replacement of the 10-year old carpet.

A wash bay at the bus barn is the last item on the list for that facility. The cost of that project is $45,000. It would eliminate the amount of moisture that is collecting in the building due to the current washing in the main facility.

The board will continue to look at the needs and available funds available to complete them.


OSKALOOSA SCHOOL BOARD NEGOTIATION MEETING

(March 24, 2015)  Oskaloosa school board and Oskaloosa Education Association met to respond to initial proposals for the 2015-16 contract. The informational meeting was the first meeting between the two groups. They will meet in a closed session proposed on Monday April 13.

The association proposed changes to family illness clause to allow for utilization of accumulated sick leave. It would also allow for an employee to appeal to the Sick Leave Bank Committee if they have need for additional days.

The association is asking for a one-day bereavement leave to support a friend of family member in attendance of a funeral.

Transfers in assignments would occur based on seniority by grade level at the elementary and subject area at the middle school and high school. An employee with the least seniority would be transferred first.

Insurance premiums would be altered based on the increase.

The association proposes a 5 percent salary combined base from $34,165. The nursing base would also be increased from $31,015 by 5 percent. Step movement would be by contract. They also request adding a nursing lane of MSN/CSN between BSN and BSN/CSN. They would also add a BSN+30 to the nurse’s salary schedule by an increment of .003.

Another language change would be: Teachers will be paid a per diem hourly wage for loss of preparation time when covering for another teacher when a sub cannot be found or when leaving school for school-related responsibilities.

The Association is asking for a one-year contract.

The school board is offering a change to sick leave policy to include a clause that sick leave cannot be used for elective medical procedures that can be performed during periods of the year when school is not in session.

Due to changes in the health care law, Superintendent Russ Reiter said legal authorities are looking into necessary changes

The board is asking to revise the supplemental pay schedule and classification for cheerleaders into four different contracts (football, wrestling, boys basketball and girls basketball).

The Board is offering no increases to base or supplemental pay. They are asking for a two-year contract covering 2015-2017.

The board wishing to adopt a memorandum of understanding to cover those employees under the Teacher Leadership System grant.


FREMONT SCHOOL'S FUTURE DISCUSSED

(March 21, 2015)  Parents gathered at the Fremont Elementary School cafeteria Thursday night to talk to two Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont School Board members about the future of the school. EBF School Board members Dan Hulbert and Mike Mayberry were on hand to answer questions from parents about the future of the school. Some rumors have circulated that the school may be closed. “We’re not here talking about shutting this building down,” Hulbert said. “You guys have the best building in the district.” Some parents were concerned about the possibility of preschool and kindergarten teachers being let go. Hulbert said that sending kindergarten students to Eddyville was considered, but “nothing is carved in stone.” A parent asked if more students would be bussed to Fremont. An Oskaloosa resident said her children go to Fremont school because there is more one-on-one teaching in Fremont. She said that free, all-day preschool is another selling point for the Fremont Elementary School. Fremont Elementary School has a 12 to 1 student to teacher ratio. Another parent asked if students could open enroll to Fremont instead of Eddyville. “We’re leaning toward that,” Mayberry said. “We need time to get answers,” Hulbert said. Several audience members also said they were interested in joining a PTO. Some audience members raised the issue of access to the school building. During events such as parent-teacher conferences, the doors were locked. Hulbert said he will talk to the superintendent about parental access to the school. Parents also asked about the principal and associate principal being accessible. Mayberry said that he had heard that the administrators were often away from the building, but after speaking to the superintendent about it, that has changed. Parents also asked if grades were going to be combined. Hulbert said that second- and third-grade, and fourth- and fifth-grades were being considered. Mayberry said that the state provides $6,300 per students. A teacher, on average, costs about $40,000. There needs to be enough students in each classroom to pay for the costs of the educators, he said.

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


MAHASKA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MARCH 20 MEETING

(March 21, 2015)  The Mahaska County Board of Supervisors met for a special meeting at the Mahaska County Courthouse Friday afternoon to discuss additional proposals from Renaissance 
Roofing, who has been contracted to repair the courthouse’s roof. The original contract 
was for over $60,000, and these changeovers would be extra onto that contract.
The first proposal involved installing shields for water and ice in a practice that is known 
as flashing. The proposal would cost an additional $4,850 to do. After hearing some 
descriptions of the issue, the Board unanimously approved the proposal.
The second proposal was for some broken tiles on the East side of the courthouse roof, 
which was not on the first contract. All three members of the Board questioned the 
roofing company, and believed the original contract was to fix the entire roof, and not 
just certain highlighted portions. The company quoted this proposal at $28,000. 
Supervisor Mike VanderMolen immediately declared he would not approve that 
proposal. He was supported by both Chair Mark Doland and Vice-Chair Henry 
VanWeelden. The proposal was never brought to a vote.

The third proposal involved the gutters along the edges of the roof. According to the 
roofing company, the gutters were installed incorrectly long ago, and they have created 
some additional issues with the roof. The company proposed they fix the issue while 
they are there, because it would be much more expensive to address the gutters after 
the roof is finished. VanWeelden was the only member of the Board to support that 
proposal, with Doland and VanderMolen preferring to address that later after seeking 
additional information elsewhere.

The fourth proposal was for the roofers to get an extra few hundred tiles of roofing to be 
able to complete the originally proposed project. This proposal was unanimously 
approved.

Chair Mark Doland said that the Board could call another special meeting within the 
next week to address any other roof related issues while the company works on the 
roof. Their work is scheduled to start on Monday.

In the only other item on the agenda Friday, the Board unanimously approved an 
agreement for Mahaska County to provide hours of watch in support of the town of 
Fremont’s Sheriff’s department.

The Mahaska County Board of Supervisor’s next regularly scheduled meeting is set for 
April 6th at 9 AM in the Mahaska County Courthouse on the square in Oskaloosa.
(Oskaloosa, Iowa) Campaign Headquarters will celebrate the opening of their newest 
location at 212 North I Street in Oskaloosa with a ribbon cutting and open house 
on Thursday, March 26, 2015, from 4:30 p.m. 


OSKALOOSA CALL CENTER NOW HIRING

(March 21, 2015)
  Campaign Headquarters is a conservative call center that was founded by Nicole Schlinger in 1999. Based in Brooklyn, Iowa, Campaign Headquarters calls for various 
candidates and issues, including pro-life, upholding the constitution, and cutting 
government spending. 

The company is still hiring call center representatives at the Oskaloosa location. Anyone 
interested may apply online at www.campaign-headquarters.com or by stopping by the 
office during business hours, Monday through Thursday 12:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. and 
Fridays 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.


OSKALOOSA CITY COUNCIL PASSES SURFACE TRANSPORTATION RESOLUTION

(March 20, 2015)  The city council passed a resolution this week authorizing an application to the Area 15 Regional Planning Commission for Surface Transportation Program funds to reconstruct D Street from A Avenue West to Sixth Avenue West. The proposed reconstruction of these streets includes new concrete pavement, ADA sidewalks, ramps, storm and sanitary sewer improvements. Joe Caliguri, city council member, addressed a question regarding D Street looking north and south. “Is there a way that we can include a right turn lane at the light and maybe a center turn lane for the traffic going left? I think it is wide enough to do that,” he said. City Manager Michael Schrock Jr. said that it is in the plan to assess whether that is a possibility. He added that part of the problem would be that it will slow all the traffic down through A Avenue West if you had to put the arrow in,” he said at the meeting. He also said that on the northwest side of the street would not be a good place to have ADA accessibility. Mayor David Krutzfeldt had a question regarding some of the funding and that some of the numbers did not quite add up. Public Works Department Director Akhilish Pal said that we expect to get this. “Historically, we can apply for grants ahead of time, but its dependent on the policy vote,” Pal said. Some of the funds will be used from the Complete Streets Policy. According to a city document, the section of D Street carries up 5,400 vehicles per day. The increase in traffic has caused the roads to deteriorate over a period of time. City officials have been exploring their options in terms of trying to seek the lowest bid for the projects and also determining where the funds will come from for the reconstruction project. One estimate came in at $1.9 million. There were some things that had to be considered. The initial estimate of $1.9 million for the project came with some stipulations. It stated that up to 80 percent of the STP funding from the RPA 15 had a 20 percent local match, which equates to $380,000 in Fiscal Year 2017 and 2018. There will be some money available to fund roads projects during Fiscal Year 2018 through the STP. However, the document stated that if funds are allowed to accumulate, in Fiscal Year 2019, the funding amount will increase to over $1.4 million. The STP funds have been requested ahead of time, and historically the RPA has allowed for this type of transaction to take place in the past. The Public Works Department is recommending that there also be a resolution authorizing the city of Oskaloosa to apply to the Area 15 Regional Planning Commission for over $1.5 million of the STP funding in Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018.

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


4th ANNUAL 4-H / FFA GALA FUNDRAISER

(March 20, 2015)  The fourth annual 4-H & FFA Gala event was held at the Mahaska County Extension office March 13 to raise funds for Southern Iowa Fair events. Each year, Mahaska County 4-H & FFA holds a Gala event and fundraising campaign. This year’s fundraising goal is $10,000 and the campaign will run until mid-June. Nearly 200 people attended the event where a meal was available for free-will donations. The Mahaska County Cattlemen grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, while 4-H volunteers provided sides, dessert, and drinks. A silent auction was also held. This event was the kick-off for the annual 4-H & FFA Youth Shows Fundraiser. Funds raised will be used to cover the cost of 4-H & FFA expenses at the Southern Iowa Fair. This includes judges’ fees, member premiums, ribbons, trophies, and awards for 4-H & FFA members. Each show at the Southern Iowa Fair has at least one judge and 4-H & FFA are responsible for covering the cost of time and travel for those judges. As members exhibit at the fair, they earn ribbons for their hard work, those ribbons equal premiums. Each 4-H & FFA member who exhibits will receive monetary premiums for each ribbon they earn. As members exhibit at the fair, they may earn trophies, banners, or plaques. The cost of those awards is covered by the 4-H & FFA Youth Shows Fair Fund. To learn more about the 4-H & FFA Youth Shows Fundraiser, call (641) 673-5841.

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


OSKALOOSA DOWNTOWN MARKET STUDY

(March 19, 2015)  What does the future hold for downtown Oskaloosa? Community residents and business persons will have a chance to chime in as part of the Oskaloosa Downtown Market Study project being orchestrated by Oskaloosa Main Street. Oskaloosa Main Street Board President Josh Buckingham said a special project team assembled by Oskaloosa Main Street initiated work on the project last week. Oskaloosa Main Street, the local non-profit group spearheading downtown Oskaloosa revitalization efforts, is performing the study to fine-tune and enhance downtown business development and marketing strategies. The study will include an in-depth analysis of input collected from local business and consumer surveys to be conducted in March and April. Project team members are in the midst of the project’s initial discovery phase that includes the collection and review of background information and an assessment of the downtown business climate. The team is also reviewing current demographic and economic data to assess conditions and to identify possible opportunities for business retention, expansion and recruitment. Special components of the study, scheduled for completion this spring, include business and consumer surveys designed to identify and assess opportunities for business expansion and recruitment in the downtown business district, and recommendations for the implementation of related projects and activities. Oskaloosa Main Street is receiving technical assistance and support from Main Street Iowa in 2015 to complete a local market study. United States Department of Agriculture Rural Community Development Initiative funding and Community Development Block Grant funding were procured by Iowa Economic Development Authority to underwrite market analysis training and technical assistance furnished to select Main Street Iowa communities in 2015. For more information about study and opportunities to participate, contact Oskaloosa Main Street at 672-2591.

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


WILLIAM PENN HOSTS EASTER EGG HUNT APRIL 1st

(March 19, 2015)  The annual William Penn University Easter Egg Hunt, sponsored by the student group P.A.S.S. will be held on Wednesday, April 1, at 4 p.m. on the front lawn of Penn Hall. Children of the community are invited and should bring their own Easter basket or bag. In the event of inclement weather, the hunt will be held on the PAC turf. Children will be divided into the following age groups: 2 and under, 3–5, 6–8, and 9–10. Children age 5 and under will have the opportunity to find a golden egg containing a special prize. Special guests will include the Easter Bunny and the William Penn University mascot, Willy P. For more information, contact PAC director Levi Tarbell at (641) 673-1024 or at tarbelll@wmpenn.edu.

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


MCRF "DARE YA" EVENT AT PENN CENTRAL MALL MARCH 29th

(March 11, 2015)  Mahaska Community Recreation Foundation will host a Dare Ya' "expo event in the Mall designed to be an interactive introduction of all of the incredible clubs, activities, events and organizations available right here in our own community. The event is open to the public and will be held at Penn Central Mall on Sunday, March 29th. Near thirty entities that offer "things to do" for all ages in the community will host stations from noon to 4 PM. We invite the community to come out and experience activities that are available right here in their community with hands-on, interactive stations that are creative, fun and unique!
Come walk the MCRF trail, throw a disc for Edmundson Disc Golf, ride a bike with Bobzilla's bike station, win a tree from Tree's Forever and much more! "I am excited about this community partnership coming together as all of Mahaska recreation and community activities," stated Sherry Vavra, MCRF Executive Director. "It has been easy to connect with organization's hosting stations because as soon as they hear the expo's purpose, to showcase all of our community activities, the clubs and organizations are excited as well! It will be fun to see the many things to do in our own backyard!"
We will provide a map with descriptions and introductions of the stations at the event.

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


MHP COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION DEADLINE IS APRIL 17

(March 11, 2015)  Applications for college scholarships from Mahaska Health Partnership are available to high school seniors pursuing a career in a health-related field. The deadline for submitting applications is April 17.

Three students chosen by the MHP Board of Trustees will be awarded $500 scholarships. Applicants must be graduating seniors from North Mahaska, Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont or Oskaloosa schools. Individuals must be accepted to an accredited college and be pursuing a career in a health-related field.

While the final decision of scholarship winners is not based solely on financial need, it may be a determining factor if candidates are equal in other qualifications. Letters of recommendation must accompany the application and personal interviews may be requested for further clarification.

Applications are available through local schools or can be picked up on the MHP campus at entrance #1. Applicants may also email kcarter@mahaskahealth.org for an application. For more information on the MHP Scholarship program, please contact your high school guidance counselor.


STATE NEWS

SCHOOL START DATE

School start date debate remains unresolved

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Debate over when school districts may start their calendar year continues, with a bill that gives the state control over start dates stalled in the Iowa Senate.

The Senate on Wednesday approved legislation that would require Iowa school districts to start classes no earlier than August 23rd. But Democratic Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs filed a motion to reconsider the bill, meaning it is stalled until he calls it up for another vote.

Gronstal said he was concerned that the bill excludes high schools from setting year-round calendars.

Republican Senate minority leader Bill Dix called the bill a compromise.

This issue came up after the state announced plans late last year to stop issuing automatic waivers to allow districts to bypass current start date rules.

MEDICAID-OVERSIGHT

Groups express support for Iowa bill on Medicaid oversight

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Representatives for several medical groups have expressed support for a bill making its way through the Iowa House that would give lawmakers more oversight as the Medicaid program transitions into private managed care.

Lobbyists spoke to a House Human Resources subcommittee Wednesday. The panel plans to discuss the bill further before it can advance to a full committee. The Senate passed the bill unanimously this month.

The legislation would create a commission that provides transition guidelines and offers rules for private managed care contracts.

The switch to private managed care was announced this year by the state Department of Human Services. Some lawmakers have criticized the timeline for the rollout.

A DHS lobbyist says officials are studying the bill, though agency Director Charles Palmer has expressed general support for it.

CONTACT INFORMATION-ELECTED OFFICIALS

Iowa House OKs bill on contact information for officials

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The House has passed legislation that would require some elected public officials in Iowa to have more contact information published online in a timely manner.

The House voted unanimously for the bill, which would require an entity with a website to post a telephone number and an email for an elected public official. Public officials are defined in the bill as lawmakers, county board supervisors, city council members and board members of a school district.

Representative Mike Sexton, a Rockwell City Republican who led the bill, says the legislation offers transparency. The Senate is considering a similar bill, and Sexton expects it to pass.

The bill is not expected to change the current system in the Iowa Legislature, where lawmakers vary greatly in how much information they provide online.

UI PRESIDENT-SEARCH

U. Iowa health care executive may serve as interim president

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The University of Iowa's top health care official is expected to briefly serve as the school's interim president later this year.

Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter said Wednesday that he would recommend that UI vice president for medical affairs Jean Robillard fill in when President Sally Mason retires July 31st.

Robillard's leading the search committee tasked with helping find a replacement for Mason, who announced in January her plan to step down. The search panel met Wednesday, and said it might not have finalists for the job until the beginning of the fall semester.

Robillard oversees University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, the medical school, and the university's doctor's group practice. He has served in that role since 2007 after serving four years as dean of the medical college.

SIOUX CITY APARTMENT

Sioux City tells tenants to vacate unsafe apartment building

(Information in the following story is from: Sioux City Journal, http://www.siouxcityjournal.com)

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — Residents of Jackson Manor Apartments have been told to vacate their homes after Sioux City officials deemed the building to be unsafe.

The Sioux City Journal reports that the city posted notices Tuesday that gave all tenants until midnight to gather their belongings and vacate the 37-unit building. According to one such notice, the building was deemed unsafe due to fire safety, electrical, plumbing and sanitation issues.

Sioux City Code Enforcement Manager Darrel Bullock said that 12 units were occupied by about 20 people. Bullock said that it's uncommon for occupied buildings to be vacated, but that the apartments had become too dangerous for people to live in.

The building's owner, Rod Fife of Spanish Fork, Utah, told city officials Tuesday he wants to repair the apartments.

The Salvation Army and the city are helping tenants find new places to stay.

ASH BORER-CLINTON COUNTY

Officials confirm emerald ash borer in 20th Iowa county

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Officials have recently discovered the emerald ash borer in eastern Iowa's Clinton, making it the 20th county in the state where infestations have been confirmed.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday that the bug has been detected in Clinton, a city located along the Mississippi River. A state official had noticed an ash tree displaying evidence of woodpecker activity, and upon removal of a branch and collection of larva beneath the bark, federal experts confirmed the borer's presence.

The larvae of the emerald ash borer cut off an ash tree's flow of nutrients when deposited below the bark. Once infected, trees typically die within five years.

State entomologist Robin Pruisner says complying with the statewide quarantine issued on February 4th, 2014 is critical to prevent further spread of infestations.

BURLINGTON-SHOOTING

Officer to return to work after fatal Burlington shooting

BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa police officer who fatally shot a woman when firing at a growling family dog is scheduled to return to work.

The Burlington Police Department announced Wednesday that officer Jesse Hill will be released from administrative leave and resume duty Friday. The 31-year-old Hill has been on leave since the January 6th shooting of Autumn Steele.

The announcement comes after the Department of Criminal Investigation released a 12-second body camera video Monday that shows Hill responding to a domestic disturbance. Hill fired two bullets to thwart an attack by an oncoming dog, one of which hit Steele in the chest. Des Moines County Attorney Amy Beavers decided last month not to file criminal charges against Hill.

Burlington Police Chief Dough Beaird says Hill won't face discipline for the shooting.

BODY FOUND-GRIMES

Officials: Death of Iowa woman found near creek an accident

GRIMES, Iowa (AP) — The death of an Oskaloosa woman who was found in a creek near a wrecked car last month has been ruled an accident.

The Polk County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday that the cause of 45-year-old Sallie West's death was determined to be fresh water drowning, with hypothermia and acute ethanol intoxication as contributing factors.

Police found a car submerged in a creek on February 27th near Grimes with no one inside. West's body was later discovered nearby, but not immediately identified. West had been reported missing Feb. 23.

Authorities say evidence and witness statements gathered throughout the investigation led them to believe that West had been driving erratically when her vehicle rolled in reverse down a steep hill into the creek. Authorities say they're unsure how West exited the vehicle.

FIRE FATALITY-AMES

Authorities ID man killed in fire that destroyed Ames home

AMES, Iowa (AP) — Authorities have released the name of the man who was killed in a fire that ravaged an Ames home.

The man was identified Wednesday as 25-year-old Xiangyi Wang. Authorities say he died from smoke inhalation in a second-story bedroom when flames engulfed his home late Sunday night. His death has been ruled accidental.

Two others injured in the fire, 27-year-old Carl Boese and 26-year-old Yin Lang, escaped by jumping from second-floor windows. They were transported to Mary Greeley Medical Center for treatment. Boese was in stable condition as of Monday, and Yang had been released.

Fire officials say the fire initiated in a screened-in porch area at the back of the house. The cause of the fire has been deemed undetermined at this time. Damages are estimated at $160,000.

DES MOINES RIVER-BODY

Investigators identify woman found dead in river

(Information in the following story is from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Investigators have identified a woman who was found dead in the Des Moines River last week.

Authorities said Wednesday that dental records confirmed the woman as 19-year-old Ayawk Williams. Her body was discovered floating in the river March 17th.

KCCI-TV reports that Williams was reported missing Jan. 10 after she jumped from the Center Street pedestrian bridge, went through the ice and disappeared. Subsequent searches of the river didn't turn up her body.

CAT RESCUED FROM RIVER

Curiosity saved a cat in Mason City, authorities say

(Information in the following story is from: Globe Gazette, http://www.globegazette.com/)

MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) — A northern Iowa couple who grew suspicious upon seeing a man toss a duffel bag into a river have rescued the cat they found inside the bag.

The Mason City Globe Gazette reports the adult calico remained in quarantine Tuesday at Mason City Animal Control. She's been named Winnie — short for the Winnebago River from which she was rescued.

Police say the couple had seen 69-year-old William Hill throw the bag near the bridge at South Kentucky Avenue about 6 p.m. Saturday. Mason City Police Sergeant Greg Scott says the couple "checked on the bag, and there was a cat inside it — a live cat."

Hill was charged Wednesday with misdemeanor animal torture.

Humane Society of North Iowa executive director Sybil Soukup says Winnie's "in good shape."


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