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.
In less than a month the new VA Clinic in Knoxville will open its doors and begin serving our veterans here in South Central iowa. VA Coordinator Maureen Nichols says the new clinic will take its first patients on March 20th; the old clinic will close on March 17th to give time to move everything into the new location. The new VA clinic will have a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony at 1 p.m. on April 7th and will offer tours of the facility at that time.
Homeschoolers from Pella are showing off their skills with technology at the state robotics competition this weekend. For the first time, Pella’s First Tech Challenge (FTC) group Recharged Robotics is heading to state competition with two teams. Jacob Vos with Recharged Robotics says each group consists of different specialists that cover physical challenges with the robots designed and built by students. FTC aims to take many of the elements of physical sports and apply them to science, technology, engineering, and math. Team Captain Nick Dykema says a yearly challenge is presented to over three thousand teams around the world.
Seniors at Pella High and Pella Christian – a chance to grab some extra money for college is about to expire – there’s just a week left to submit an application with Pella Dollars for Scholars. The great news about this opportunity? President Dale Deur says every student who completes the application process will receive aid towards their post-secondary education. Nearly $1.1 million has been given to graduating seniors at Pella and Pella Christian since the organization was founded in 2001.
Runners in Knoxville – or those who’d like to become one – you can kick some asphalt this spring thanks to a new class at the Knoxville Recreation Center. Runners of all ages and skill levels will have the opportunity to improve their skills in the Kickin Asphalt class. Beginning runners will learn basic skills while experienced runners will focus on increasing speed and improving form. If you’d like to learn more, information about the new class is available at the Knoxville Rec Center.
Three individuals went for an unexpected swim in the Des Moines River after their van swerved to avoid a deer and ended up in the water. The incident occurred around 4:30 a.m. Sunday on Interstate 80 on the north side of Des Moines. Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Nathan Ludwig says the driver of the eastbound van swerved to miss the deer, and the van ran into a ditch and then into the river. One person escaped before rescuers arrived. Authorities say two other people in the van were rescued by boat and then taken to a hospital as a precaution.
It was a record-breaking weekend here in South Central Iowa as a heat wave hit the Hawkeye state, bringing with it a bunch of new high-temperature records. According to data provided by the National Weather Service, Sunday’s high of 73 broke the record for Marion County of 66 set in 1930. Friday’s high of 73 broke the previous high mark of 68. More record-breaking February weather is in the forecast through Thursday. Daytime highs are expected to stay in the upper 60s and low 70s. Today’s previous highest temperature was 67 in 1991 and Tuesday’s was 68 in 1983. The warmest February on record was 1954 with an average of 39.9 degrees.
Will charges be filed in the deadly crash that killed three individuals at the Pella Wal-Mart on December 1st? We’ll know on March 1st – that’s the day Marion County Attorney Ed Bull will make his decision known to the public. Bull has received final reports from both the DCI and the Iowa State Patrol concluding their investigations into the incident; both reports were over 150 pages long. Carrie Zugg, 31, of Leighton, Lindsey Rietveld, 29, of Bussey, and Ruth Jean DeJong, 76, of Pella, were killed when a Ford truck driven by Dennis Mockenhaupt, 66, of Pershing slammed through the front door of the Walmart store in Pella.