Tulip City residents are sure to be pleased with a number of changes coming to their community – that’s the message from the Pella Area Community and Economic Alliance, or PACE, who recently gave a presentation of a number of projects that should be finished by years’ end. The new reverse osmosis water plant is nearing completion – once online, the city will receive its water from the new and more secure Jordan Aquifer well, instead of the Des Moines River. Also on tap – major improvements to Caldwell Park, which include significant upgrades to the shelter house, a six-court pickle ball course, a new skateboard park, and an ice skating rink inside the shelter house for use in the winter months. The downtown area is a focus as well – it will gain a more historic look as the Brick to Brick program works to add more bricks to downtown.
Oskaloosa residents helped “Stuff the Bus” in an effort to provide backpacks filled with school supplies for students in Mahaska County. This past Friday area residents dropped off their donations at the Oskaloosa Hy-vee – Amy Meyer, Mahaska County United Way Director, says the “Stuff the Bus” program has been a big hit, providing over 2,500 backpacks with school supplies to area students since its inception.
One of the busiest intersections in Pella may see changes this fall, depending on a review by the Iowa Department of Transportation. At their meeting this Tuesday at 7pm, the City Council will review a resolution approving an agreement with the DOT to add new dedicated left and right turn lanes on West Washington Street at the Highway 163 interchange and post traffic signals. The DOT is expected to pay for $200,000 of the estimated $540,000 project, pending their review. Depending on the schedule of the DOT, city staff remains hopeful they can complete the upgrades this fall.
Last summer, Grinnell College swimmer Joshua Tibatemwa, class of 2019, had the thrilling experience of competing in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Later this month, Tibatemwa makes another splash on the international stage when he represents his native Uganda at the 17th FINA World Championships swimming and diving competition in Budapest, Hungary. Tibatemwa says he will compete in the 50-meter breaststroke and 100 freestyle. The breaststroke preliminaries are slated for Tuesday, July 25, and the freestyle the following day. Tibatemwa said he learned plenty from his Olympic experience, as well as his past season competing for the Pioneers.
A resident in South Central Iowa officially threw his hat into the ring earlier this week in an attempt to challenge congressman Dave Loebsack for his seat in the U.S. House. This past Monday Dr. Christopher Peters made an announcement to the residents of Marion County that he will run for the 2nd U.S. House District Seat in the 2018 mid-term elections. Dr. Peters, a veteran, physician and small business owner, feels he could bring a common sense problem solving attitude to Washington D.C., which he sees as lacking right now, especially as it applies to health care. Peters says he believes the underlying reason is political dysfunction and speaks about the need to reform our political system.
Victory Ranch is partnering with the Ottumwa YMCA to help kids with disabilities learn new skills and gain confidence – the Empowered Adaptive Youth Sports program at Ottumwa Family YMCA provides opportunities for children with disabilities to do normal activities at their own levels, said Kayla Eckerman, program supervisor. She and several volunteers took a group of children to Victory Ranch Tuesday for activities and horseback riding. Vicki Baum and her husband Denny founded Victory Ranch in 2009; they say children who visit the ranch learn to trust the horses, along with responsibility, boundaries, how to keep themselves safe, and how to communicate with the horses.
The Scholte House in Pella is open once again after the ceiling in the upstairs drawing room came crashing down late last week. The ceiling had apparently been bulging for quite some time; Historical Society director Val Van Kooten said they were hoping they could wait to do repairs until the building was closed for the winter. Thankfully no one was hurt in the incident and most of the mess has been cleaned up in preparation for the reopening today.
Two women have admitted to acts of vandalism along the Dakota Access Pipeline, including attacks in Mahaska and Wapello counties. Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya held a press conference Monday outside the Iowa Utility Board offices and claimed to have repeatedly vandalized the pipeline. They apparently started their vandalism spree in Mahaska County, and were behind the attempt in May to cut into the pipe in Wapello County. The pipeline, which can carry up to 520,000 barrels of oil per day, began operating June 1.
The clock is ticking for shoppers looking for a bargain in the Oskaloosa area – In just five days, the JcPenney’s located at the Penn Central Mall will lock its doors for the final time. Initially, the store planned to close in the middle of June, but later extended the going-out-of-business sale to July 30th. The Oskaloosa location is one of almost 140 stores closing country-wide; the company hopes to boost profitability for the over 100-year-old retailer in the booming era of online shopping. The Ottumwa JC Penny will also be closing its doors; other major retailers in Ottumwa that already left town include Target, Kmart and M.C. Sports; thankfully Hobby Lobby has taken over the old K-Mart and opened 2 weeks ago.
The Scholte House in Pella is closed after the interior was damaged late last week. Executive Director of Pella Historical Society Valerie Van Kooten says a big chunk of the ceiling at Scholte House in the upstairs drawing room caved in. The ceiling had been bulging for some time, but the Historical Society had been hoping they could hold off on repairs until they closed for the winter. One of Maria Scholte’s paintings was damaged and has been sent to Chicago for restoration; the rest of the building has largely been cleaned up. Van Kooten says everything can be repaired, but the incident underscores the need for a full structural evaluation at the historic location.