If you love the Knoxville Public Library, there’s a special way you can help it have a very merry Christmas as the Christmas Tree of Books donation program begins today. What’s the program all about? The library has a number of books they’d like to add to their collection in the new year, and they’re looking for patrons to donate them. Finding out what books they need is really easy – you just got to the Knoxville public library, and find the Christmas tree covered with empty book jackets and descriptions of needed books. Holly Shelford with the library says a donation can be a touching gift for that person on your Christmas List who is difficult to shop for; she says in years past patrons have used book donations to memorialize a loved one. The Christmas Tree of Books can be found on the second floor of the library; donations can be made through the end of December.
A Christmas classic is coming to live on stage this year in Oskaloosa, where area residents can catch a nostalgic performance of “It’s A Wonderful Life: Live From WVL Radio Theatre!” at the George Daily Auditorium on Wednesday, December 7th at 7:30pm. The clever stage production takes the audience back to the Golden Age of Radio on a cold, snowy winter night. It’s Christmas Eve in 1945, and only a handful of WVL Radio’s actors have braved the blizzard to perform that evening’s broadcast of It’s A Wonderful Life and keep the station afloat. A small but intrepid band of employees manage to create the dozens of movie characters and scenes using just their voices and a sound effects table, live in front of the audience. Tickets cost $22 for adults and $10 for students, or you can take advantage of the Osky Special and get a ticket and $25 of Osky Cash for just $35! Tickets are available by calling (641) 672-0799, online at www.georgedaily.org, or at the George Daily Auditorium box office.
In the book of Acts the apostle Paul quoted Jesus as saying “It is better to give than to receive,” and folks in Pella will be reminded of that starting today when they visit Hy-Vee or Wal-Mart and see a smiling face ringing a bell next to a bright red kettle. The Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign officially kicks off today here in Pella and across the nation. Sherill Graham with the Pella Red Kettle Committee says every donation during the holiday season, no matter how big or small, goes a long way in helping those in need here in Marion County. Graham says volunteer bell ringers are still needed, especially to cover 4-8pm Monday – Friday and 10am to 8pm on Saturdays. If you’d like to lend a hand and swing that bell, you can sign up via an online Google doc – a link to the signup sheet can be found on our website wherehopeshines.org.
Emotions are running high about the proposed South Central Regional Airport between Oskaloosa and Pella, and tonight citizens have a chance to make their voice be heard at a public hearing. The meeting is scheduled at 6 p.m. at Oskaloosa High School’s George Daily Auditorium; attendees can view documents prior to the hearing at an open house that starts at 4pm. The topic of the meeting will be the first draft of an environmental assessment for the FAA of the proposed airport – a copy of that report can be viewed online at www.scraaiowa.com. The South Central Regional Airport Authority – or SCRAA – is asking for public comments about the proposal – if you’d like your voice to be heard, you can send your thoughts to the agency in one of two ways – mail them in a letter postmarked no later than November 29th, or submit them online at www.scraaiowa.com – contact information for the agency can be found on their website.
An admired and beloved south central Iowa coach has called his last play after more than 50 years of service on the football field sidelines – Ottumwa native and National Coach of the Year Jerry Staton formerly announced his retirement in a statement he released last week. In a telephone interview, Staton said he didn’t really want to leave coaching, but felt like the time had finally come to step down. He mentioned that his wife Sharon has been a wonderful coaches wife over the past 53 years, missing only 2 games in that period – both times when she was in the hospital having a baby! He now wants to spend some time traveling with his wife, taking her places she’s always wanted to go. Staton will be missed by his players, both current and former, who learned not just football from their coach, but also about life. Staton, who coached at Oskaloosa from 1975 to 2002 as well as Pekin, Vinton, Clarinda, Pella Christian and Albia, recorded a career record of 278-181-1, placing him 17th on the all time win list of high school coaches. Ironically, Staton never planned to be a coach – he wanted to be a dentist! The coach says he has few regrets about the path he took and will always cherish his time in Oskaloosa.
If you’re looking for a special way this holiday season to remember the life of a loved one who has passed on, Hospice of Pella, along with Pella Regional Health Center, is hosting the annual Light up a Life ceremony next month. Karol Watson with Hospice of Pella says Light up a Life provides a special opportunity to remember loved ones throughout the holidays. She says the event includes a memorial service and tree lighting followed by refreshments and fellowship in the lower level of the Comfort House. The group will gather on Tuesday, Dec. 6 at 6:30 pm on the southeast side of the Comfort House on Union St. If you want the name of a loved one included in the program, the application deadline is this Friday, November 25th – you can contact the Comfort House at 620-5050.
A house fire in Knoxville threatened to get explosive last night, drawing in fire departments from around the area to help extinguish the potentially deadly blaze. The Knoxville Township Rural Fire Department, Knoxville Fire and Rescue, Clay Township Fire, the Pella Fire Department, and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office were called to a house fire at 1503 Jersey Drive in northeast Knoxville after 7 p.m. Why the big concern? A propane tank was sitting next to the home, where flames and smoke were observed pouring from the roof. Thankfully crews on the scene were able to quickly contain the fire; they then used hooks and chainsaws to break up the structure and search for any remaining hotspots. The homeowner called 911 to report the blaze; no one was hurt in the incident; the cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Christmas is just around the corner, and the holiday spirit hits downtown Pella this evening as the annual De Kerstdagen Tour of Stores kicks off this evening. Pella Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Karen Eischen says the event officially begins at 5pm – the evening will include carolers, horse-drawn carriage rides and a children’s choir, as well as the annual lighting of the tree on the Tulip Toren. Pella Bucks are available at Marion County Bank at a 10% discount, and a number of retailers on the square will have special sales as well. If you plan on being downtown and would like to donate food to the Marion County Food Drive, just look for the KNIA/KRLS Big Red Radio – you can drop off your non-perishable food items there.
Helping people get to where they need to be has been the mission of Oskaloosa Rides for the past two years. Local residents recognized the need in the community for transportation – three years ago they partnered with the Iowa DOT, receiving grant funds to operate a community bus service in the Oskaloosa area. That program has been a success, and now Oskaloosa Rides enters its third year of operation with a shiny new bus, fully funded by the city of Oskaloosa and generous local donors. The service runs every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9am to 5:30pm – The bus makes a complete loop around Oskaloosa, that includes stops at the library, Hy-Vee, Wal-Mart, William Penn, and select apartment complexes. The bus costs just a dollar to ride, and for just $10 you can board the bus for an entire month – passes are available at the Oskaloosa United Way on High Ave.
Three times is a charm – that’s the word for the Pella High boys football team, who emerged victorious in the class 3-A state championship last night at the UNI Dome in Cedar Falls. The Dutch defeated Webster City 28-18, becoming just the fourth team ever in state history to win back-to-back championship titles. The Dutch led 14-3 at halftime thanks to an Avery Van Zee 10-yard touchdown run and a Nick Finney 18-yard toss to Donovan Holterhaus with less than minute before intermission. The win didn’t come easy though – Finney threw an interception in the 3rd quarter that led to a Lynx touchdown. The Little Dutch answered with a two-yard Finney run after he threw a 26 yard pass to Julian Viersen on fourth-and-23. But the Lynx returned the ensuing kick deep into Pella territory, leading to another touchdown, and the score was 21-18. Pella had an answer again, a 29-yard post strike from Finney to Donovan Holterhaus to stretch the lead to the final 28-18 margin. The Little Dutch finish the season with a 13-0 record, and their third straight undefeated state championship. It’s also their 41st consecutive victory, the fourth longest streak in Iowa history.
Farmers Markets aren’t just for summer time – at least not in Oskaloosa, where the first of six Farmers Markets kicks off this Saturday at Penn Central Mall. The market will run from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. in the center of the mall where you can expect to find produce and other goods from local producers. Ann Smith, community wellness coordinator at Mahaska Health Partnership, said this year’s winter farmers market is the first time the market will be held this time of year. Winter market season will run through March – each event should feature 5 to 6 different vendors, selling a variety of goods including fresh produce, flowers, crafts, and nick-knacks. Attendees can also participate in healthy eating and cooking demonstrations, and the December 3rd event will feature live Christmas music. Vickie and Ronald Arkema, owners of Five Points Heritage Farms, are excited about the winter market – in addition to selling fresh, local produce, the Arkema’s will also have fresh eggs, pasture-raised chickens, homemade granola, honey, and jam for sale.
Bundle up Iowa – it’s about to get cold! Hopefully everyone enjoyed the unusually warm weather yesterday, with highs in Central Iowa reaching the mid-70’s and some areas experiencing temperatures not seen in decades. That all will change quickly today, with the thermometer dropping to the mid-30’s by the afternoon. The rest of the weekend should be chilly as well, with highs just in the mid-40’s on Saturday and Sunday. Despite the colder temperatures, so far there’s no snow in Iowa’s forecast. Overall, Iowa’s winter is expected to be milder and drier than normal, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, a reference book started in 1792 – it says this year the coldest periods will be in early to mid- and mid- to late January and early February; snowiest periods will be in mid to late November, mid-January and early February.
Helping Hands in Knoxville wants to thank you for helping them feed hungry families in South Central Iowa this Thanksgiving. Chuck Galeazzi, a volunteer with the organization, says radio station KNIA/KRLS really helped get the word out, and added that citizens in Knoxville and Marion County always come through when they hear about others in need. Forty turkeys were donated in one 24 hour period – Family Video also pitched in 20 birds prior to the start of the food donation drive. Galeazzi thanked everyone involved and encouraged them to look forward to Christmas, when he says the need for donations will be even greater.
Four suspects in Oskaloosa are in custody after an alleged armed robbery of a William Penn student that took place on November 14th. Oskaloosa Police Chief Jake McGee said no one was injured in the incident, although one victim was punched in the face. Three male students reported to police officials they were allegedly robbed at gunpoint. The call came into police around 11:30pm on Monday evening, reporting people with guns at Watson Hall, a men’s dormitory on campus. The suspects fled the scene of the crime; officers spotted the vehicle fleeing the city in the 1800 block of South Market Street and made an arrest – two semi-automatic guns and property from the dormitory was found in the car. McGee said the incident was very unusual – the four suspects were all from Kansas City, and none of them were actually students at the university – they are now in custody at the Mahaska County Jail pending first degree armed robbery charges.
The Pella Rotary Club is teaming up with the Pizza Ranch to raise funds for college-bound students. The organization will be at the Pella Pizza Ranch from 5-9pm on Monday, November 21st – all your tips that evening will help fund the Pella Dollars for Scholars program. Club president Bob Zylstra says the Pella Rotary Club has supported Dollars for Scholars for several years with both volunteer activity and sponsoring scholarships. In addition, the Pella Rotary Club will also be selling raffle ticket that night with the grand prize of two tickets the Super Bowl, a 4 nights lodging in Houston, TX and $1000 spending cash.