Seventh graders from the Pella Middle School joined the fight against hunger yesterday, teaming up for a service project with Meals from the Heartland. The 150 students, along with teachers and staff from the Middle School, were able to pack over 20,000 meals during the project. Student organizer Hannah Nedder said the project originated in service project in Kristin Schulz’s and Dana Sadler’s social studies classes; the students had to raise $4,000 – with the help of her mother Nedder was able to secure half of those funds from the Pella Community Foundation, which Meals from the Heartland generously matched. Students in the social studies classes have been working on various service projects throughout the year for a variety of non-profit organizations.
The 13th annual Diversity Conference is set to take place on March 10th at Indian Hills College in Ottumwa. This year’s keynote speakers will include former Los Angeles Times photojournalist Don Bartletti as well as author and advocate Joan Becker, who wrote “Sentenced to Life: The Mark Becker Story – Mental Illness, Tragedy & Transformation. Bartletti will share touching pictures and real-life stories of the Central American people; Joan Becker’s story deals with mental illness, her son’s paranoid schizophrenia and the death in 2009 of Aplington-Parkersburg football coach Ed Thomas.
The Fourth of July might be getting a bit more explosive this year thanks to the Iowa legislature – a fireworks legalization bill was submitted and approved by a Senate subcommittee on Monday, and is now on its way to the Senate State Government Committee. Study Bill 1051 could allow Iowa residents to legally purchase firecrackers, bottle rockets, Roman candles and other consumer fireworks. Not everyone is excited about the bill – Chief Dan Losada with the Knoxville Police Department feels more fires and personal injuries are sure to come if the legislation is enacted. If the bill were to be passed into law fireworks would be restricted to June 24th through July 6th and December 24th to January 3rd.
Piercing the Darkness, a Christian rock and worship band, will be celebrating their 10th year of making music this year. The band’s members all come from the communities around Oskaloosa – Steve Shettler, an employee of KBOE Radio, is the lead singer for Piercing the Darkness and the only original member still in the group, shares that it’s a thrill for the band to have been together for a decade, despite not having all of the original members. Piercing the Darkness will have its’ 10th anniversary concert Saturday, Feb. 11, at New Life Fellowship in Keswick, starting at 6 p.m.
There’s no more parking on Washington Street east of downtown Pella, but no more weight restrictions as well – City Administrator Mike Nardini says the changes adopted this week in an ordinance were a result of the recent reconstruction of the stretch from East 1st to Hazel. No parking signs will be placed where parking was allowed prior to the construction project. Nardini says Washington Street is a minor arterial corridor in the city’s street network, which means it can handle a higher flow of traffic and larger vehicles.
With control of both chambers of the state legislature, Iowa Republicans are trying to make good on their goal of removing all state funding from abortion provider Planned Parenthood. The Iowa Senate Judiciary Committee agreed on January 31st to advance legislation that blocks family planning funding to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. State senator Amy Sinclair says the move simply takes one segment of the state’s budget for family planning services and requires that any provider in the program not provide abortions. If passed the State will forfeit up to $2.5 million in federal funding.
The Pella City Council denied a measure allowing Mahaska County to leave a 28E agreement for a proposed regional airport at Tuesday’s meeting. A resolution to deny passed unanimously in response to an amendment approved by the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors to leave the agreement approved between the county and cities of Pella and Oskaloosa in 2012. From the city’s perspective, the original agreement was a long-term pact to make sure all the stakeholders in the new airport work together for the duration of the project, one that doesn’t function properly unless all parties participate.
A new warehouse that will provide storage for Red Rock Hydroelectric Project equipment was recently completed near Pella. Shortly after the start of RRHP construction, it became apparent that a warehouse would be needed to provide indoor storage for spare parts, fixtures, lifting devices and other maintenance supporting equipment. The new warehouse is located at the corner of 198 Place and 216t Place. The land beneath the warehouse was originally in the flood plain, so MRES took the opportunity to build up the site using waste fill from the RRHP powerhouse excavation. The land beneath the warehouse was originally in the flood plain, so MRES took the opportunity to build up the site using waste fill from the RRHP powerhouse excavation.
For the past 20 years Habitat for Humanity in Marion County has been helping needy families in South Central Iowa achieve the goal of building and owning their own home, and they’ll be celebrating that milestone this weekend at Central College in Pella. 50 new homes have been built by Habitat over the past 20 years – former congressman Leonard Boswell helped build the very first home, and he’ll be in attendance at the celebration this Saturday. Darrell Sarmento with Habitat for Humanity of Marion County says the evening not only serves as a celebration of what the organization has accomplished, but as a way for the community show support and get involved. The event runs from 5:30 – 8:30 this Saturday, and will include highlights of Habitat’s history and milestones in Marion County along with a catered dinner, silent auction, and volunteer awards.
Some students from China are experiencing life in South Central Iowa first-hand as part of an educational exchange between Oskaloosa and the Shijiazhuang (shu-juh-wang) Foreign Language School in Hebei Province, China. Carl Drost with Van Wall Equipment hosted the students recently – he and another employee took each student out in a tractor, where not only did they get a chance to see and ride in some big green machines, the students got an opportunity to take the wheel for themselves.
If you love spending time outdoors enjoying God’s creation, you’ll want to say thanks to the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation – this group is hard at work here in South Central Iowa, cleaning up waterways and keeping that walk through the woods as beautiful as possible. Oskaloosa High School and Iowa State University graduate Brooks Vander Beek is one of the group’s founders – he’s a big supporter of the Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy, or IWILL – it’s a Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, a permanent and protected funding source dedicated to clean water, productive agricultural soils and thriving wildlife habitats.
The Mahaska County Board of Supervisors has said “No Way” to the proposed South Central Regional Airport, and now the Pella and Oskaloosa city councils need to decide if they’ll let them walk away. Last month on a 2-1 vote, the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors voted to remove themselves from the pact, agreed upon in 2012, feeling they were not well represented and that many in the county opposed the airport. The Pella and Oskaloosa City Councils have to agree to let the county out of the agreement in order for it to be official, an amendment both will consider at their regular meetings Tuesday.