State Representative Greg Heartsill has announced that he will not run for re-election to a fourth term. Heartsill said after experiencing many changes within his family in recent years and consulting with them, he has decided to shift his focus to his family. Heartsill went on to say that he has enjoyed building relationships on both sides of the aisle, and it was truly an honor to serve as representative. State Trooper Jon Thorup has declared his intentions to run for the open seat. Thorup says he is running because there are several things that he thinks need to be improved urgently including safety preparedness, the Knoxville VA Campus, and mental health care. Thorup will be at the Marion County Republican Convention tomorrow at the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum should anybody wish to meet and discuss issues.
National Geographic’s Iowa State Bee champion is returning to participate in his final bee this year. Grant Pedersen, from Cardinal Middle School in Eldon, brought home a victory last spring. George Kuhter, Iowa State Bee’s director, said he definitely remembers Pedersen from last year, saying it was great to see such a confident young man. National Geographic’s bee is designed to encourage teachers to include geography in their classrooms, spark student interest in the subject and increase public awareness about geography.
Pella Community High School’s student council fundraised $3,000 for Kaelie De Heer, a PHS student who needed a service dog. De Heer has cerebral palsy, a diagnosis that limits her mobility. She and her mother, Tina Uitermarkt, had been raising money to buy a service dog since November 2017. Prior to Tuesday’s presentation, De Heer’s family had raised roughly $12,000 toward the $14,000 dog. The amount fundraised by student council had been kept a secret from De Heer and her mother prior to the presentation. Afterward, De Heer could not stop smiling and expressed excitement to her mother. Uitermarkt conveyed gratitude toward the students. This $3,000 will go over the family’s goal to purchase the dog. The extra funds will be used toward a fence for the dog at the family’s home.
A Pella Christian High School is one of 50 students nationwide piloting a new course called Google Course Share Collaboration at Calvin College. Taylor Hartson, class of 2015 and junior at Calvin College, said she was approached by her faculty advisor and course teacher, Roman Williams, and encouraged to participate. The class, which fulfills one of her sociology major elective requirements, will provide an opportunity for her to practice different methods of collecting sociological data. The Google Course Share Collaboration comprises of three courses during this semester. Hartson said the content of her course focuses on how sociologists can best use visual methods in the study of sociology.
A number of seventh graders from Pella Christian High School accepted the challenge of one of their teachers to make a difference in the world and are working to help children in Haiti. Science teacher Courtney Van Wyk said the goal for the student’s project was to think of a way to help the community or people outside of the community.Cara Veenstra, Karlie Anderson, Elaina Vos and Betsy McClellan decided to make soakers for reusable cloth diapers for children in Haiti; Soakers are the inserts that go inside the reusable diaper. The reusable diapers won’t just save Haitian women money – it will also allow Haitian women to earn money from the project as they assemble a part of the diaper when it arrives in Haiti. Students at PCGS donated 217 towels for the project, which made 3,414 soakers for the diapers. About half of the soakers were finished in January and were sent with Karlie Anderson’s parents.;The rest of the soakers were finished last week and will be sent with Many Hands for Haiti.
The Iowa House of Representatives passed a bipartisan measure last week aimed at improving mental health access in the state. Representative Guy Vander Linden said legislators realize the need to increase access to care for individuals dealing with mental illness. According to Vander Linden, the bill increases access to mental health services and creates new services for urban and rural communities in Iowa by removing the statewide bed cap and adding new services to the core list required by Iowa’s 14 Mental Health and Disability Service Regions. The non-partisan Legislative Services Agency estimates that Medicaid members will make up 80% of the clients using the preventative services, and the bill ensures funding for mental health and substance abuse services as Medicaid-covered services.
The Mayor of New Sharon is making a bid for the Iowa House – Attorney Dustin Hite announced last month he will be seeking election to the Iowa House in District 79 which includes the western half of Mahaska County and portions of Marion County. He is seeking the seat currently held by Guy Vander Linden, who announced recently he was not seeking re-election. Hite grew up in rural Mahaska County outside of New Sharon and graduated from North Mahaska High School. He went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in history, economics and social science from Central College in Pella and then graduated from law school at the University of Iowa. Hite is a partner at the Heslinga, Dixon & Hite Law Firm where he has a general practice. He has served as mayor of New Sharon since 2012 and is the city attorney for several local small towns.
Central college athletes are filling a need here in South Central Iowa by helping people move their belongings – the company is called Unite Moving Company, a two-year-old company founded by Nathan Clayberg and Jacob DeWaard. The business utilizes athletes from Central College and Drake University to help those needing to move in area communities. Clayberg, a 2014 graduate of Pella Community High School, and DeWaard, a 2012 PHS graduate, founded the company in April 2016. Clayberg received a tip from a local realtor, who recommended they start a moving company, since none existed locally in south central Iowa. About 70 percent of the company’s net income is donated to Unite Midwest. The remaining 30 percent pays the workers and is reinvested into the company.
Big changes are coming to the Newton Public Library – extensive renovations will affect hours of operations and services between now and May. The current facility will be closed from March 26 through late May; during that time the library office will offer limited services beginning April 2 with hours changing to 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Story times will be held at the Pregnancy Center of Central Iowa, 709 First Ave. W. Suite 1 and the Newton YMCA at regularly scheduled times. All other programs will be paused until the building reopens and ongoing updates will be announced on the library’s website and Facebook page.