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The Mahaska County School Candidates Have Been Released

Running for Board Director in District #2 is Shelly Herr, who is currently incumbent and District #4 is Arvin DeBeof, also incumbent. For District #5, the candidate is Margaret A. Ratcliff.

Two candidates for School Board Director District #5 is  Tom Richardson, incumbent, and Lynette Stream.

At-Large candidates include Carl Drost, incumbent, and Kym Life.

The Indian Hills Community College Director District #1 is Beth A Danowsky, incumbent.

All positions will be filled after the School Election scheduled for September 12, 2017 and each will have a term ending in the year 2021.

 

 

Oskaloosa Fire Department Holds Dedication Ceremony

The header photo displays the generations at the Oskaloosa Fire Station where the youngest and oldest firefighter ‘cut the ribbon’ at the conclusion of the ceremony.

The last dedication of the Oskaloosa Fire Station occurred in 1909, Mayor Lewis Bacon led the ceremony over a hundred years ago.

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Historical pieces can be found throughout the new fire house. 

Our hometown fire station holds the title of second oldest standing fire station west of the Mississippi; the first going to a fire house in Davenport that was commissioned around the year 1904. The Okaloosa Fire station is unique in another way as well, it is the only one in Mahaska County that is staffed 24/7.

In November 2014, it was voted and approved to reconstruct and renovate the existing fire station. Upon completion, there are four bays to house trucks and emergency vehicles.

“North bay is longer than the others […] it’s longer to accommodate an aerial truck, with the aging buildings downtown, I believe it’s only a matter of time before we may see the need to use it,“ said Mayor David Krutzfeldt.

By maintaining the integrity of the original and historic buildings within Oskaloosa while upgrading them to modern standards, it allows for the longevity of the structure.

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Lockers of the currently employed firefighters at the station. 

Mayor Krutzfeldt said, “It [the fire station] along with the others [recently renovated buildings] stands as a testimony of how people working together for a common purpose can create the great things that will last far longer than we will. “

Fire Chief Mark Neff was full of emotion during his ceremony speech. After sixteen months of construction, it was only three weeks ago that all the firehouse equipment was all under one roof. Two-thirds of the equipment was located inside the old water department building.

Chief Neff graciously thanked: citizens of Oskaloosa; the mayor and council; Will Downing, Architect; DDVI, Inc; Oskaloosa Herald; Jennifer Main, Edward Jones; Musco Lighting; Oskaloosa Glass and Millwork; New Sharon Fire Department; and finally the staff at the Oskaloosa Fire Department.

“Fire house is a symbol of our community. This is your firehouse, we are just the key holders,” stated Fire Chief Mark Neff.

 

Burn Ban now in Effect for Mahaska County

All of Mahaska County has been placed under an open burning ban effective Tuesday, August 1, 2017 beginning at 3:00 PM. The burn ban will remain in place until further notice.

Recreational fires within a burn ring will still be permitted within campgrounds and in areas meeting minimum requirements.

Mahaska County joins Wapello, Crawford, Buena Vista, and Plymouth counties. Wapello and Mahaska are the only two counties in southeast Iowa included on the burn ban within the state.

If you have questions, please contact the Oskaloosa Fire Department at 641-673-3541.

New Fire House Missing a Couple Key Components

The Oskaloosa Fire Department finally got the new fire house they deserve. In the latest City Council meeting, Fire Chief Mark Neff expressed to the council that all of the staff was very pleased with the housing accommodations and the new truck bays in the Fire Department.

There was a slight hiccup in the renovation plans, however. When the construction was all said and done, something was missing from the living quarters for the firefighters: bathroom sinks and showers.

Many of the council members, and public in attendance, were scratching their heads as to how this could have been overlooked. Chief Neff noted that it was an architect mistake. The plumbing plans on the blueprint for the bathroom had allegedly been left out during the renovations.

“Once the exterior goes up, its the small ticket items that take a little more time,” said Chief Neff regarding how quickly the exterior was completed. The firefighters are all settled in now and the omissions in the bathrooms have since been corrected.

The third floor of the updated Fire Department houses a conference room open to the public. There are now four truck bays for all the fire trucks and other response vehicles.

The Oskaloosa Fire Department is holding an dedication ceremony on August 3rd at 2 PM. There will be refreshments and an open house to follow the ceremony.

Community Impact Grant set to bring in Full Exhibit to Environmental Learning Center

Growing pains that once plagued the local conservation center will see a new resurrection. The Mahaska County Conservation Center recently quadrupled its program participation, in attempt to match that of Linn County. There soon came a need for a larger space to house these programs. With a concept that began in August of 2008, the Mahaska County Conservation Board will soon break ground on the new Environmental Learning Center at Caldwell Park, just east of Oskaloosa.

Dave Sedivec, Mahaska County Conservation Board Director, addressed the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors on Monday, July 17. Sedivec thanked them again for approving the new building and that things with contractors have begun. He mentioned that contractors have begun to flood into the Oskaloosa area to reside as the building process begins.

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With groundbreaking for this building set to occur next Thursday at 6:30 PM at Caldwell Park, and what better way to start off the celebration events than receiving a grant. The awarded grant is coming from the MidWestOne Foundation, which is awarding MidWestOne the Community Impact Grant. This specific grant will be utilized by the Mahaska County Conservation Center to put toward a specific exhibit in the new Environmental Learning Center east of Oskaloosa.

In 2010, Woolly Mammoth bones were discovered on a farm in rural Mahaska County. This $50,000 grant, from the MidWestOne Foundation, will cover the cost of an articulated life-sized mammoth skeleton, which is all man-made. A St. Louis based company, Taylor Made Fossils, has been chosen for the recreation of the mammoth. Taylor Made Fossils will construct the pieces, deliver them to the center and then assemble the skeleton on-site.

“This will be a display in their exhibit hall so that people can see the actual overwhelming size of the mammoth bones that were discovered here locally in Mahaska County,” said Jane Krutzfeldt, Administrative Associate at MidWestOne Bank.

Though the grant had been awarded to MidWestOne, donating it to the Environmental Learning Center will have such a profound impact on not only Oskaloosa, but many surrounding communities as well. Three different school districts and William Penn University will be impacted by the project, as well as countless conservation groups from the area. But being awarded the Community Impact Grant would not have been possible without the work of the staff at the Oskaloosa branch.

“The staff is very much behind this grant,” said Krutzfeldt. The grant was awarded to the local Oskaloosa MidWestOne branch due to staff involvement. Over 86% of the staff have pledged to volunteer their time at the Environmental Learning Center.

The community supports this project, and has taken steps to add other attractions to promote more traffic to the area.It is our hope that it can be enhanced through MidWestOne’s generosity in bestowing the MidWestOne Community Impact Grant, and allowing the featured attraction, our Woolly Mammoths, to reign once again.

The presentation of the check is slated for Monday, July 31st, at 9 AM at the MidWestOne Bank.

Again, groundbreaking on the Environmental Learning Center is set for Thursday, August 3rd at 6:30 PM at Caldwell Park.

For more information visit: www.mahaskaconservation.com

 

 

 

Home Base Iowa Builds Roots in Mahaska County

It was made official yesterday, Oskaloosa and Mahaska County have become a Home Base Iowa Community. This initiative was put forward by Governor Terry Branstad and Major General Tim Orr. “As a veteran, I think it’s a great opportunity,” said Henry Van Weelden, Mahaska County Board of Supervisors, Vice Chair.

Weelden began the ceremony with his remarks about Oskaloosa and Mahaska County being the perfect fit for a program like this. Last week at the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors meeting, Dave Swenson an Economic Representative from ISU. Weelden stated Oskaloosa is a micropolitan, a city between being big and little. Noting that, “we stand out on top. Retail sales are up, population is up.”

At last week’s board meeting, Swenson provided the board, and public, statistics about the economy within the city of Oskaloosa.

One interesting topic that Swenson touched on was the inflow and outflow of workers in Oskaloosa. There is an estimated 6,877 payroll jobs in Oskaloosa since 2014. Only twenty-nine (29) percent of the workers were residents of Oskaloosa, forty-seven (47) percent were from Mahaska County. More people that reside within the city limits actually work outside of the city, roughly 3,800. Only 2,015 residents that live in Oskaloosa stay in Oskaloosa to work.

 

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By bringing veterans and transitioning service members into the Oskaloosa communities, not only able to create jobs in the city but retain employment of these service men and women through this program.

Oskaloosa Mayor Krutzfeldt spoke yesterday of this newly instated program. “But know this, Oskaloosa wants and needs veterans. Not only because we want to grow our population, but because we know veterans are the right kind of people to have as citizens in Oskaloosa.”

Mayor Krutzfeldt continued to say that veterans are the right kinds of people to have in Oskaloosa. Today’s veterans have history of great work ethic, look for better ways to get job done, they’ve been asked to do more and do it faster, and work with others as a team. They show loyalty, determination, passion and patriotism.They take care of their neighbors, as well as their properties.

Some of the appeals Oskaloosa has for veterans are:

  • Low interest loan from the Mahaska County Revolving Loan Fund.
  • City of Oskaloosa – 0% first time homebuyer loan for anyone who hasn’t lived in Mahaska County in the last three (3) years.
  • The three hotels in town have deep discounts for those looking to visit or here for a short extended stay.
  • Bank Iowa discounting closing costs on residential loans by $500, free year of lockbox and discounting commercial loans.
  • The Chamber is offering a free one year of membership.
  • The Mahaska County YMCA is offering a one year free family membership.
  • Mahaska Young Professionals (MYP) is offering a one year free membership.
  • Mahaska County Recreation Fund is offering a free 15-mile trail ride to view Oskaloosa form the outside.
  • Free transportation around Oskaloosa when riding the Oskaloosa Rides bus.

“These are the folks that can develop our community.” Mayor Krutzfeldt said, “So while Oskaloosa is thankful to be designated as a Home Base Iowa community, please understand we do so understanding the community is the great beneficiary here.”

For  more information about the Home Base Iowa program visit www.homebaseiowa.gov.

For any questions about the Home Base Iowa program within Oskaloosa or Mahaska County, contact Deann DeGroot with the Mahaska County Agricultural and Rural Development (MCARD)

Phone: (641) 672-2591

E-mail: mcard@mahaskacounty.org

Regional Airport Discussions are Subsiding After Withdrawal

The Mahaska County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Monday morning. As always, the meeting opens with public comments. John Bandstra addressed the board with his concerns about the proposed regional airport and the 28E Agreement.

Bandstra is a rural resident in Mahaska County who read excerpts from the 28E Agreement. The documentation of the 28E Agreement has been dated back to 2012 and involves the cities of Pella and Oskaloosa, while affecting a majority of Mahaska County. The initial document regarding the proposed airport has enough gray area to continue this debate for a half of a decade later.

The South Central Regional Airport Agency headed up the project and the airport was intended to be built on almost 600 acres of farmland. This proposed location would greatly impact farmers and rural resdients, something that Bandstra felt deeply concerned about.

“The disconnecting of 220th Street would require farm vehicles to travel 210th Street and then Highway 163 in an east west direction to 220th Street.” Bandstra stated, “Using 210th alternative Street to travel in an east-west direction was not considered a reasonable travel option.The alternative is for farm equipment to use Highland Avenue.”

Bandstra noted that slow moving farm equipment have to travel approximately 1180-feet along Highway 163 to move at an east-west direction. Bandstra wrapped up his comments, thanked the board for their time and handed out a printed copy of the 28E Agreement for reference.

The board meeting ensued and at the conclusion of the meeting Mark Doland made an observation of the chosen vocabulary in the agreement — another gray area. The discussion of ‘each’ being written in the agreement as Doland termed as individuality. Instead of having the word ‘all’ written — where all parties would then have to agree — ‘each’ is used and each entity has the decision to vote for one part of the whole.

“We believe we’re acting in good faith. We believe we have sought out a reasonable resolution,” Doland said. “We’ve asked for permission. This time we were not asking for permission, we were making a declaration. We are no longer a part of the airport.”

Subject Arrested in Sexual Assault Case in Fremont

On Sunday, February 12th, 2017, at approximately 3 PM, deputies from the Mahaska County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to 218 North Kennedy Street, Fremont, Iowa, regarding the complaint of a Sexual Assault with had allegedly occurred earlier in the day at this location.

The victim (an adult female) was taken to the Mahaska Health Partnership Hospital where she was treated for an undisclosed injury and then released.

During the investigation into this report, deputies located and arrested 41-year-old Chad Michael Crosby (of 218 North Kennedy Street) within the Fremont City Limits. Crosby was charged with one count of Domestic Abuse Causing Injury (a serious misdemeanor) and one count of Sexual Abuse in the 3rd Degree (a class “C” felony). Crosby was incarcerated in the Mahaska County Jail.

Crosby made his initial appearance in the Mahaska County Magistrate’s Court on Monday, February 13, 2017. Crosby’s bond was set in the amount of $15,000 for the above two charges. After posting bond, Crosby was released from custody.

As a reminder, a criminal charge is merely an accusation and all defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Mahaska County Primaries

The Iowa Primaries were held June 7th, and here’s a quick breakdown of the unofficial results for the open Mahaska County positions:

Mahaska County Supervisor:

  • Mark Groenendyk (R) – 1,763 votes (56.04%)
  • Valinn McReynolds (R) – 591 votes (18.79%)
  • Crystal Jimenez-Boender (R) – 440 votes (13.99%)
  • Randy Binns (R) – 349 votes (11.09%)
  • Write-in (R) – 3 votes (.10%)
  • Write-in (D) – 25 votes

Mahaska County Auditor:

  • Susan Brown (R) – 2,432 votes (99.75%)
  • Write-in (R) – 6 votes (.25%)
  • Write-in (D) – 12 votes

Mahaska County Sheriff:

  • Russell Van Renterghem (R) – 1,601 votes (49.51%)
  • Randy Poe (R) – 993 votes (30.71%)
  • Trevor Wells (R) – 345 votes (10.67%)
  • Doug McMillan (R) – 295 votes (9.12%)
  • Write-in (R) – 0 votes (0%)
  • Write-in (D) – 43 votes

Plots Still Available at Community Garden Sites in Oskaloosa

Community gardening is on the rise in Oskaloosa!  In 2016 there is an additional garden as well as additional plots at the community gardens in Oskaloosa.  One place interested gardeners can find information about the community gardens of Oskaloosa is the new website  bzposky.wix.com/communitygardens.  This website was developed by Emily Brown, United Way Community Impact Coordinator.  The site will be updated during the growing season!

Community Garden sites and the facilitators at the sites in Oskaloosa include OCSD Glendale Garden, Ron VanHeuvelen (641-660-4329. rvheuvelen@gmail.com); Hope Gardens, Blaine Vos (641-676-1601, oskyhope@gmail.com); Lifeforge Church Garden, David Steinbron (641-638-1657, daalstein@gmail.com); and William Penn Garden, Marsha Riordan (641-673-1044, riordanm@wmpenn.edu).

The OCSD FFA learning garden will again plant, tend, and harvest their garden and establish raised beds for vegetable production.  The produce will be provided to the local food pantries.  OCSD FFA Learning Garden facilitator is AG/FFA Instructor Bret Spurgin (641-895-2291, spurgeinb@oskyccsd.org).

For more information about community gardening in Oskaloosa, specific gardening topics or Mahaska County Extension horticulture programming, please contact Mahaska County Extension by email striegel@iastate.edu or phone at 641-673-5841 or visit our website www.extension.iastate.edu/mahaska.

 

Information from news release from ISU Extension, Mahaska County.

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