The National Weather Service has confirmed 13 tornadoes hit central Iowa on July 19th. According to their storm survey, an EF-3 rated storm traveled approximately 10 miles from three miles north of Pella all the way to rural Mahaska County south of Highway 163. It was on the ground from 4:03 to 4:27 p.m. and had a maximum width of 400 yards. The tornado intensified as it crossed 228th Place near Thunder Ridge Road, where it caused crop, tree, and structural damage to numerous rural areas just northeast of Pella, including sliding a house off of its foundation. The storm had an estimated peak wind speed of 144 MPH when it tore through the Vermeer Mile. In total, 13 tornadoes were confirmed to be on the ground July 19th, with two rated EF-3 (including the storm in Marshalltown), two EF-2, one EF-1, and one EF-0. Touch downs were reported near Monroe and Prairie City as well.
Visitors to Nelson Pioneer Farm on Saturday and Sunday will experience a bit of time travel. The farm and museum are once again hosting the Dog Hollow Rendezvous this weekend. Nelson Curator/Administrator Margaret Spiegel said the Rendezvous are historically where fur traders came together to barter their pelts after the long winters season and get supplies for the rest of the year; The Timberwolves Rendezvousers are an independent non-profit group who specialize in re-enacting this fur trade era.
The Pella School District has a potentially bumpy road ahead as it tries to nail down the 2020 fiscal year budget. Superintendent Greg Ebeling said the school board heard a presentation about budget projections at their meeting this week – two options presented to the board showed the district’s spending authority if they keep operations as is, and if they were to implement an early retirement incentive similar to what was provided three years ago. Ebeling said they can either have older teachers retire early and replace them less-experienced, less-expensive teachers, or have fewer teachers overall – both options the district wishes it could avoid.
The Pella Youth Coalition is hosting a kick-off event for parents and concerned adults in the community this evening. Dave Beukelman, a member of the group, said the Pella Youth Coalition is a partnership consisting of parents, the Pella Police Department, students and staff from both Pella Community and Pella Christian Schools, and community resource groups, with the aim of providing resources and hope to those struggling with substance use. Buekelman said the group ultimately is about sending a message of hope – whether someone is a first responder dealing with overdoses, a parent with a child who is using, or an individual struggling with substance abuse, there is hope when it comes to the issue of substance abuse.
Portions of the City of Pleasantville are currently under a boil advisory. The city asks residents who live west of State Street and north of Pleasant to boil their water until further notice. Casey’s, the nursing home, other businesses, and the housing development known as North Corp are included in the boil advisory. The boil advisory includes areas west of State Street and north of Pleasant Street. Crews have isolated the water main break to that area, and the rest of town isn’t affected. The Painted rocks subdivision is also under a boil advisory.
A man accused of taking photos of Pella teenagers last week turned himself into the Pella Police Department after they sought him out for the alleged actions. Pella Police Chief Robert Bokinsky said surveillance video showed the man driving into the parking lot of West End Auto, and appearing to take photos of high school aged joggers running on the sidewalk. Bokinsky says they have not found any criminal offense at this time, but the department is still investigating out of caution. He thanks the community for sharing the information on social media, which Bokinsky believes led to the man turning himself in and potentially stopped him from causing further harm to others or committing criminal activity.
The Pella Historical Society received a $1,000 thanks to a U.S. Bank Community Possible Grant; Historical Society director Val Van Kooten accepted the grant the Pella U.S. Bank Market President, Jamie Wisse – the funds will be used to restore and digitize the past and present Tulip Queen photos.
Mahaska County Supervisor Mark Groenendyk said the board will appeal the verdict directing the county to comply with the 28E Agreement for the proposed regional airport. Groenendyk said the board plans to hire the Dickey and Campbell Law Firm in Des Moines for the appeal. Supervisor Steve Wanders agreed to proceed with the appeal. Supervisor Henry “Willie” Van Weelden dissented. The cities of Pella and Oskaloosa filed a petition in August requesting judgment on the validity of the 28E Agreement involving Mahaska County – The cities of Pella and Oskaloosa did not approve the county’s withdrawal, which the court ruled was required in order to terminate the 28E Agreement.
A 2010 Albia High School graduate is serving with a U.S. Navy strike fighter squadron with one of the world’s most advanced warplanes. A press release from the Navy states that Airman Jesse Bishop is serving with the Sidewinders of Naval Air Station Lemoore in California. A Navy airman is responsible for the safe launch and recovery of F/A 18 Super Hornet aircraft..
One week after a tornado hit Pella, The Well Resource Center has launched the Pella Community Tornado Relief Fund to help anyone affected by the storm. The fund was put together after several businesses and people began asking Vermeer and The Well what they could do to help people affected by the tornado. Efforts to help with Pella’s tornado relief are being directed to The Well, said Eden Youngberg, the agency’s director of advancement and marketing. Donations fit into three categories: cash, gift cards and car donations. Cash donations can be made online at http://thewelliowa.org/tornado-relief-fund/ or by sending a check to The Well indicating “Tornado Relief Fund” in the memo. Gift cards can also be donated from Hy-Vee, Fareway, Walmart and Casey’s General Store in increments of $50. Cars also can be donated to The Well for those affected. The Well will begin distributions from the Pella Community Tornado Relief Fund starting today. Help will be available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; a deadline to stop accepting donations has not yet been set.
RAGBRAI passed through southern Jasper County and northern Mahaska in between overnight stops Thursday. The largest touring bike ride in the world featured thousands of bikers traveling from Newton to Sigourney. Among the local communities that welcomed visitors were Reasnor, Sully, and Lynnville. Additionally, hundreds rode an optional Karra Loop to Peoria and New Sharon in Mahaska County. Live music, food, and activities were held throughout Sully as the most riders converged on the town in late morning and early afternoon.