For the past 20 years Habitat for Humanity in Marion County has been helping needy families in South Central Iowa achieve the goal of building and owning their own home, and they’ll be celebrating that milestone this weekend at Central College in Pella. 50 new homes have been built by Habitat over the past 20 years – former congressman Leonard Boswell helped build the very first home, and he’ll be in attendance at the celebration this Saturday. Darrell Sarmento with Habitat for Humanity of Marion County says the evening not only serves as a celebration of what the organization has accomplished, but as a way for the community show support and get involved. The event runs from 5:30 – 8:30 this Saturday, and will include highlights of Habitat’s history and milestones in Marion County along with a catered dinner, silent auction, and volunteer awards.
Some students from China are experiencing life in South Central Iowa first-hand as part of an educational exchange between Oskaloosa and the Shijiazhuang (shu-juh-wang) Foreign Language School in Hebei Province, China. Carl Drost with Van Wall Equipment hosted the students recently – he and another employee took each student out in a tractor, where not only did they get a chance to see and ride in some big green machines, the students got an opportunity to take the wheel for themselves.
If you love spending time outdoors enjoying God’s creation, you’ll want to say thanks to the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation – this group is hard at work here in South Central Iowa, cleaning up waterways and keeping that walk through the woods as beautiful as possible. Oskaloosa High School and Iowa State University graduate Brooks Vander Beek is one of the group’s founders – he’s a big supporter of the Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy, or IWILL – it’s a Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, a permanent and protected funding source dedicated to clean water, productive agricultural soils and thriving wildlife habitats.
The Mahaska County Board of Supervisors has said “No Way” to the proposed South Central Regional Airport, and now the Pella and Oskaloosa city councils need to decide if they’ll let them walk away. Last month on a 2-1 vote, the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors voted to remove themselves from the pact, agreed upon in 2012, feeling they were not well represented and that many in the county opposed the airport. The Pella and Oskaloosa City Councils have to agree to let the county out of the agreement in order for it to be official, an amendment both will consider at their regular meetings Tuesday.
If your kids have been home sick this winter season, you’re not alone – the flu has hit hard this year in South Central Iowa, resulting in lots of empty seats at schools in Pella, Knoxville, and Pleasantville. According to Pella Schools Superintendent Greg Ebeling, absences were nearing 100 students this week, or just under five percent. Over in the Knoxville and Pleasantville school system administrators are reporting just under 10% of the student body is currently out sick. School officials countywide remind parents to keep kids at school when sick, especially with the flu, norovirus, and other contagious diseases spreading around.
Speaking of illness, officials at the Mahaska Health Partnership want to make sure you’re educated about pertussis, or whooping cough, an illness that is especially dangerous for very young children. Symptoms usually develop within 5 to 10 days after exposure, but can take as long as 3 weeks. Early symptoms include a runny nose, low-grade fever, mild cough and trouble breathing in infants. As it progresses, the symptoms get worse, with fits of rapid coughs paired with a ‘whoop’ noise, and vomiting and exhaustion during or after coughing episodes. If diagnosed early, antibiotics can help reduce coughing symptoms and prevent spreading infection to others.
One of mid-day host Ryan’s high school classmates is heading back to Washington, D.C. – 1991 Pella Christian High graduate Rachel Brand has been selected by Donald Trump to serve as Associate Attorney General of the United States. Brand is a board member of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, and is an Associate Professor at George Mason University. She has also served as the Assistant Attorney General for Legal Policy at the U.S. Department of Justice during the George W. Bush administration. Senator Chuck Grassley congratulated her on the nomination, saying she’s well-suited to serve in this role and that he looks forward to working with her again.
Veterans are helping serve other veterans in Knoxville, where HCI Hospice Care Services is pairing local veteran hospice volunteers with patients who’ve also served our country. Some former soldiers have been isolated since their time of serving overseas, and the program helps break that isolation through fellowship with other veterans. The program can be therapeutic as well, helping veterans process past experiences and find some peace by sharing their stories with fellows men and women who have served.
If you’d like a chance to chat with State Senator Ken Rozenboom and Representative Guy Vander Linden, you’ll have a chance to do so this Friday – Rozenboom and Vander Linden will be at Happy Joe’s in Pella starting at 9am to discuss the latest in the Iowa Senate and House. Rozenboom says now that the 2016-17 fiscal year shortfall has been addressed, there’s a wide range of legislative priorities Republicans will bring to the forefront with majorities in both chambers. Debate started this week on K-12 education funding – the Iowa House proposed a 1.1% increase in state supplemental aid.
Oskaloosa High School seniors who are college bound take note – the Oskaloosa Area Chamber & Development Group is happy to announce that scholarships will again be available through its Chamber Scholars program, now in its 21st year. High school seniors living in Mahaska County and attending any high school are eligible to apply. Awards start at $500 and are sponsored by area businesses and industries. Last year $9,000 was distributed to 18 students – you can find an application at your high school counselor’s office, www.oacdg.org or the Oskaloosa Area Chamber office.