The warmest February ever recorded in South Central Iowa ended with a bang yesterday as a severe thunderstorm warning for part of the area was declared around 4pm. The warning affected east central Marion County and western Mahaska County as a storm fired up ahead of a cold front. Small hail was reported east of Melcher-Dallas as a thunderstorm passed through the affected area just before 4 p.m.. February ended as the warmest in Marion County on record, with an average of 49.9 degrees, according to climate data provided by the National Weather Service.
It was a heartbreaking night for the Oskaloosa boys basketball team yesterday, who were one win away from their first trip to the state basketball tournament since 1996. The Indians faced off against #4 Mount Pleasant in the class 3A substate final in Fairfield – the Indians led their opponents for most of the 1st quarter before Mt. Pleasant pulled even. Unfortunately after that it was all Panthers, who held the Indians to just 26 second half points, eventually winning 70-40. Mt. Pleasant finishes the season with a 22-2 record; the loss broke a 5-game winning streak for the Indians, who finish the season with a very respectable 15-9 record.
A group of Iowans is hoping to save the monarch butterfly – Nearly 40 agriculture, conservation, business, utility and government groups, calling themselves the Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium, have created a 135-page plan providing farmers, backyard gardeners and others with a road map for boosting monarch butterfly habitat in Iowa. About $4 million has been invested in building research, adding demonstration habitat plots and other initiatives since 2014. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering protecting monarch butterflies under the Endangered Species Act. Supporters of the protection say farming in the Midwest is among the reasons for monarch’s decline.
Joan Kuyper Farver, who served as Chair of the Board at the Pella Corporation from 1981 to 1995, passed away yesterday in her home at the age of 97. Joan was well known for her philanthropy work in the community, including the Pella Community Center auditorium that bears her name and her numerous contributions to Central College and other organizations throughout the community. She and other descendants from the Kuyper and Farver families have maintained private ownership of the Pella Corporation since its inception.
A bedrock member of the Knoxville community was lost yesterday as well as Sprint Car racing Legend Ralph Capitani passed away. A long-time promoter of the race track, Capitani was born in 1932 in the coal mining town of Oralabor, south of Ankeny. He was an all-conference halfback for UNI in 1953 and held school records for the number of passes attempted, and the number of passes completed for many years. A beloved teacher of social studies at the Knoxville High School, Capitani took over as the track’s race director and promoter in 1978. He retired from the track after the 2011 season.
It was a nail-biter, but after trailing by 4 points coming into the 4th quarter the Pella boys basketball team kept their composure and emerged victorious over Grinnell 55-53, earning them a spot once again in the state tournament. Ryan Van Wyk led Pella with 14 points, Drew Pringle added 13 and Donovan Holterhaus scored 11 to go along with his game high 9 rebounds. Pella improves to 22-2 and advances to next week’s state tournament. The brackets will be announced tomorrow afternoon.
The Pella Fire Department created a poignant memorial for a fellow firefighter from West Burlington who lost his life in an automobile accident near the Tulip City on Friday night. James Franciskovich, 52, died as a result of injuries suffered in a rollover at mile marker 46 east of Pella Friday night. Pella Fire Captain Randy Bogaard says the Pella Fire Department set up trucks on the Clark Street overpass Sunday morning and stood to salute their fallen brother just miles away from where his life ended. Two other firefighters – Carrie Ellen Falcon and Shane McCampbell – were also involved in the crash but thankfully received only minor injuries.
All the babies are red heads this month in Oskaloosa – in conjunction with the American Heart Association Mahaksa Health Partnership gave each baby born in the month of February a bright red knitted hat. As part of the Little Hats, Big Hearts campaign, the AHA donated knitted red hats to hospitals throughout the country for babies born during the month of February. According to the organization, approximately 40,000 babies are born each year with a congenital heart defect, but better diagnosis and treatment has allowed more children to reach adulthood.
High school seniors in Pella who are college bound this fall – tomorrow is the last day to get some extra money for your education from the Pella Dollars for Scholars program. President Dale Deur says every soon-to-be graduate that completes the application successfully will receive some aid towards postsecondary education. He also said there’s almost always money left over every year, so don’t lose out on this easy opportunity to help fund your college education.
If you’re planning to burn anything outdoors in the near future, officials are saying to wait – the dry, warm weather has created unusually dry conditions for this time of year, which has resulted in a number of grass fires this past week. On Wednesday, crews were dispatched to fires near Monroe, Tracy, and Harvey. Knoxville Township Rural Fire Department Chief Kenny Thompson says ight now is not a good time to have a fire or try to burn. Ideally everyone should wait until things green up, but if you have to burn something right now, Thompson says you should have a water suppression system near by and not burn when it’s windy.
The Mahaska County Sheriff’s office is catching up with thieves active in the area, officially filing charges against a number of criminals in the county. 38-year-old Steven Joseph Johnson of Leighton was charged with Theft in the 1st degree, Possession of a Schedule II controlled substance (3rd or subsequent offense) and On-going criminal conduct. 43-year-old Sven Eric Dahlstrom of Martinsburg was charged with Theft in the 1st Degree, 2 counts of Burglary in the 3rd Degree and On-going Criminal Conduct, while 34-year-old Trisha Marie Dahlstrom Martinsburg was charged with 2 counts of Burglary in the 3rd Degree and On-going Criminal Conduct. A fourth individual has been charged with 2 counts of Burglary in the 3rd Dregree and On-going Criminal conduct.
The Oskaloosa City Council officially joined the Pella City Council in denying Mahaska County’s request to pull out of the South Central Regional Airport project. Now the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors is exploring legal options in regards to leaving the Regional Airport project. The agreement signed in 2012 required unanimous support for any changes, which includes financial penalites if any of the three entities attempt to delay or stop progress. A closed session will be held at the next Supervisors meeting on March 7th to determine the board’s next moves.
Another day, another temperature record falling in Marion County. According to the National Weather Service, Wednesday’s high of 75 shattered the record of 66 set on February 22nd, 1930. Three other records were broken over the past week on Friday, Sunday, and Tuesday. Despite the extended spring break, winter is expected to return for at least one night, with 1-3 inches of snow expected overnight Friday. Don’t worry though – highs should be back in the 50s by next week.