It was a picture-perfect weekend for the 7th Annual Lake Red Rock balloon fest, with success at all four balloon launches this year. More than 30 pilots went soaring over the lake from Friday through Sunday, delighting the men, women, and children who trekked out to North Overlook Beach to see the balloons.
It was also the 6th year for the annual Red Rock Balloonfest 5k/10k road race – Race Organizer Mike Buchheit said this year had the highest team participation since the event started and overall was a big success. Proceeds from the race benefit the Pella, Knoxville, and Pella Christian cross country programs, as well as the Eagles soccer team. Pella Cross Country Alumni Nick Bernhagen and Joshua Van Dusseldorp won the male division of the 5K, and say they enjoyed the opportunity to race among some of their former teammates one last time before heading to college.
You can smell the sawdust at 706 Wabash Ave. in Ottumwa as work continues on the site Habitat for Humanity officially broke ground on in late May. The project has progressed significantly from a hole in the ground to resembling the house it will eventually become. According to Larry Jarvis, volunteer coordinator for Habitat, about 350 hours have gone into building the new home – workers from the Ajinomoto plant and volunteers from Jobs Corps are just some of the many people who have swung a hammer at the site; Jarvis expects the home to be completed sometime in October.
If you’re driving around Pella you may notice several little houses on stands in the front yards, but these mini homes aren’t for birds – they’re for books! The program is called “Little Free Library” – Wendy Street, library director for the Pella Public Library, says the idea came from the littlefreelibrary.org website – people can borrow and return books at will, often bringing a different book than they borrowed. Street says the program doesn’t replace the library; it just creates another way for residents to share books.
Portions of downtown Melcher, including several buildings housing local businesses, were destroyed Tuesday night in a intense fire that was still smoldering Wednesday morning. Melcher-Dallas Fire Chief Zachary Kalvig was said he paged out for a possible structure fire at about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 4. Upon arrival at the scene, Kalvig said smoke was billowing from the roof top of one of the buildings. Kalvig said if it wasn’t for the help from other fire departments, such as from Pella, the damage would have been a lot worse – the cause of the fire is under investigation; it’s unknown at this time if fireworks played a role in the blaze.
Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett visited Mahaska County last week in his quest to spread the word on his candidacy for governor of Iowa. Corbett, who has been mayor of Cedar Rapids for nearly eight years, is a Republican challenging incumbent Gov. Kim Reynolds, who became governor after former governor Terry Branstad was named as the United States ambassador to China. If elected, Corbett says his top 4 priorities will be reforming the state’s income tax code, enhancing Iowa’s water quality, being a champion for public education, and showing concern for citizens of the Hawkeye state.
The Pella City Council kept busy this past Monday, with a number of big items on their agenda. At the top of the list was a unanimous vote denying the Mahaska County Board of Supervisor’s request to leave the 28E agreement for the proposed South Central Regional Airport. Pella’s City Attorney and independent counsel at the Bradshaw Law Firm reviewed the recent Mahaska County resolution and both agreed their attempts to leave the agreement are a breach of contract. Also on the docket – approval of a $188k bid from TK Concrete for rehabilitation of the runway and taxiway at the Pella Regional Airport, and approval of a proposed 7% increase in city water rates.
A homeowner in Otley believes sparks from fireworks were responsible for a fire in their home. Pella Rural Firefighters were called to 108 Old Highway 163 in Otley near the post office for smoke coming from near the basement in the home just before 8 p.m. Monday night. The homeowner told fire fighters he thought fireworks sent sparks behind the siding earlier in the day. Pella Assistant Fire Chief Joel Braafhart says the fire was mostly extinguished by they time they arrived.
Pastors, priests, ministers and leaders of a spectrum of denominations have lead the invocation at Oskaloosa City Council meetings over the years – now for the first time an atheist will be filling that role. At the Thursday, July 6, Oskaloosa City Council meeting, atheist activist Justin Scott, founder and director of the Eastern Iowa Atheist group, will perform an atheist invocation. Scott said the invocation is not a publicity stunt – he said his organization hopes to raise awareness that atheists are part of the Oskaloosa community, and to encourage atheists to participate in city government. Scott has spoken at city council meetings and government functions across the state, including a recent secular invocation at the Iowa House of Representatives chamber session on April 5, 2017. He said it usually catches a lot of people off guard when they hear an atheist give an invocation.
The Knoxville Chamber of Commerce is looking a bit empty these days – five member – Chad Smith, Mike Roberts, Wes King, Ben Larmen and Jacob Hughes – have all left the chamber since April. The board now has three vacant seats – one seat was recently filled by resident Jason Everly. Acting chamber President Rick Kingery says a board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday; he isn’t commenting on the current situation until he consults with the remaining board members.