Saturday marked the first session of the Eggs and Issues series of 2017, a tradition in Mahaska County for the last few years which allows community members to engage with local and state officials to discover what is going on within the community.
Local residents came together early Saturday morning to Smokey Row to hear from local officials; Oskaloosa Mayor David Krutzfeldt, Chair of the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors Mark Doland, and Oskaloosa Community School District Superintendent Russ Reiter. In a time that is considered to be full of change, all three officials reflected on the political changes which will be occurring within the nation as a whole over the next few months due to the change of political power.
Oskaloosa Mayor David Krutzfeldt discussed the city’s plans for the upcoming months including road repairs and improvement projects. Krutzfeldt noted the plans for the installation project, which includes chip sealed roads in northeast quadrant and the reconstruction of the S D St. and N 17th St. bridge.
In the city’s 2017 plans, it is noted that they intend to build up the rental community with the Rental Inspection Program. The program, which is currently awaiting approval from the city council, intends to allow the city to have more involvement in the regulations of rental properties to improve the conditions. It has been presented as an idea to help clean up the community and provide a safer environment.
A local resident asked about the increase of water and sewer bills within the community of the past few months. Krutzfeldt explained that the city is in the process of having to do improvements in the quality of service because the improvements needed to be done rather quickly and the cost jumped about twenty-five percent which is roughly equivalent to six dollars more a month for the average user. Based off of current projections of costs, it is expected that there will be more costs in the future.
Mahaska County Board of Supervisors Chair Mark Doland may have had some of the most controversial topics brought up during the session. In his opening statements, Doland discussed the mental health programs in which the community has been working on improving. With these improvements the amount of assistance for mental issues have increased through the community. The improvements have been made with an employee assistance program, which is designed to help people who are on duty when a crisis occurs. The intent of the program is to provide help with any mental issues that may have occurred, including sessions at the hospital.
The city also intends to increase the amount help with mental health issues in jails by having a full time therapist available. It has been shown through different communities with an increase of assistance within the criminal justice system the amount of suicide watches went down to nearly zero.
Moving forward, Doland stated his intent to drop out of the 28E agreement involving the airport facility with Oskaloosa and Pella. Doland said that he does not agree with the agreement and intends to discuss the drop out on Tuesday at the next meeting. Members of the community had an alarming amount of questions concerning the intent to drop out, and the aftereffects if the county did drop out. It was shortly discovered the other parties in the agreement do not need the approval from the community and can continue the project without it. The contradicting opinions of the community and Doland was assessed through questions and comments from various members of the community. Regarding the results, it will be determined on Tuesday after more information has been released during the meeting.
Oskaloosa Community School District Superintendent, Russ Reiter, discussed the school’s current positon. Financially according to Reiter, the district is in pretty good shape after the reductions that have been made over the last few years. One of the programs Reiter discussed was the Homeschool Assistance Program. The goal of the program is to have a teacher help the students through their work load. With this program, students that wish to be homeschooled, have the option of having dual enrollment. With the dual enrollment, students are able to participate in school district events and have testing to ensure they are staying on track with their studies. The school district is also working towards building relationships with other nearby districts to give students the opportunity to attend classes that their school does not have.
The next Eggs and Issues will be on Saturday, January 28th at 8:30 a.m. at Smokey Row in Oskaloosa.
Story provided by Alyssa Kerry, News Correspondent