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Creston/Prescott School Consolidation Passes

The special election held April 7 on the proposed Creston and Prescott school consolidation passed, with an overall 73% approval from all three precincts.

In each of Creston's two precincts, it passed with 88% and 93% approval, while Prescott was more divided, with 51% YES and 49% NO.

There were a total of 344 votes cast for the election, with 252 in favor and 92 against.

April Update from Congressman David Young

In the latest update from U.S. Congressman David Young, several new issues have hit the beltway in Washington.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson spoke before a House Appropriations Subcommittee (which Young is a member of) recently about Deputy Sec. Mayorkas granting visas with political influence from Harry Reid and others.

Young was also recently appointed to several other Appropriation subcommittees. He also talked about the factories, manufacturers, kiwanis, and legislative coffees he has visited while in the April work session.

Listen to the full story HERE.

Full Letter from Creston and Prescott Schools Superintendent Steve McDermott on Upcoming Consolidation Vote April 7

Posted: Wed. 3/25, 1:19pm   

  "Tuesday, April 7th, members of the Prescott and Creston communities will have the opportunity to            vote on the future of their school districts. A special election will be held with two items on the                official ballot. The first item will be a “yes” or “no” vote on the consolidation and merger of the two        school districts. The second item will involve what is called a “Revenue Purpose Statement.”

    Every Iowa school district must have a voter-approved revenue purpose statement. Both Prescott and     Creston Schools currently have identical statements in place. If the voters approve the merger of the         districts, a new district will therefore be created, thus the need for a fresh revenue purpose statement.     The statement includes several items associated with the expenditure of school revenues generated by     the local option sales tax or penny sales tax for facilities and equipment. The list includes such things     as property tax relief, facility repairs or upgrades, energy conservation measures, technology,                     playgrounds, and emergency facility repairs.

    If the schools consolidate, the Creston School facilities will be utilized as they are today and with             space for students from Prescott. Students will no longer attend classes at the Prescott School site.             Alternatives for Prescott’s 1914 building, the newer west building, and the gym continue to be                 considered by the Prescott Board. There are currently no plans to construct a new school building in         Creston because there is no immediate need to do so.

    Of course our local students and their learning are the top priorities of our schools, but how will a             consolidation impact property tax rates? On the Creston side, projections indicate that the school’s         portion of the property tax levy may decrease by as much as 72 cents per $1,000 taxable valuation if         the vote should pass. 

    On the Prescott side, due to the agreement that the Prescott patrons will not be held responsible for         past Creston debt, the school portion of the levy would increase gradually over a four year period by         $2.42 per $1,000 taxable valuation. This increase begins at a rate of 25% in the first year                         (approximately 61 cents), 50% in year #2 (Approx. $1.21), 75% in year #3 (approx. $1.82), and 100 %     in year #4 ($2.42). Again, these are only projections. The total school portion of the property tax levy     for the Prescott property owners would then be a projected $11.99 or roughly $12.00. This represents a     total of the 2014-2015 levy rate of $9.57 plus the projected increase of $2.42 after the four-year                 transition.

    Had the boards agreed to have Prescott assume Creston debt, the Prescott levy rate would have                 increased $4.50 per $1,000 taxable valuation. This will not occur if the consolidation passes. If the         vote fails and the Prescott District dissolves, the property that is then assigned to the Creston District         will be accompanied by the projected $4.50 increase in the first year.

    What else will happen if the vote fails in either district?  If this should happen, the Creston Schools         move forward as usual. However, the superintendent/principal, business manager, and transportation         director currently being shared between the two districts will revert back to their Creston positions.         Therefore Prescott will need to locate and hire qualified people for those spots. 

    There is also a question about how long the Iowa Department of Education may allow Prescott to stay     open. Prescott is now the smallest school district in the state by student enrollment.  If the vote fails,         the Iowa Dept. of Education will assign representatives to complete a Phase 2 Site Visit and Report.         This site visit is similar to those all schools experience once every five years, but the investigations are     much more thorough and harsh. The resulting report will then be submitted to the State Board of             Education for consideration. At that time the State Board will determine the future of the district. 

    Prescott has explored arrangements with other neighboring districts over many years and not one             discussion has germinated and grown into an arrangement that would benefit both districts involved         until now.  In the past two years while serious talks at open, public meetings have proceeded between     Prescott and Creston school officials, no other neighboring district has contacted Prescott or shown         any interest in similar possible agreements.

    While tax levy rates, property, and politics all come into play, our local girls and boys and their                 learning are what should be our top priorities.  Our elected board members in Prescott and Creston         have remained focused on what will be best for kids now and in the future.  Please keep in mind that         families may open-enroll their children to any district they choose no matter what happens with this         decision.

    The Prescott Community School District was established in 1914, so the District and still-standing,         main school building are 100 years old.  It is sad to think about the potential loss of such a proud             school district, but we all understand how our local economy and population have changed.  Funding     is not the challenge at Prescott.  Our Prescott District has simply run out of enough students to operate     a school district.

    On the other hand, the Creston District is small enough to assure all students are well-known, yet large     enough to offer a broad range of fine learning opportunities.  The facilities are top-notch.  Staff                 members are caring, qualified, and skilled.  Instruction and learning are outstanding and improving         every day.

    This special election represents an opportunity, an alternative, and a public choice.  This election will     directly impact our children and our local communities.  Please exercise your right to vote on Tuesday,     April 7th."

Congressman David Young Visits Creston Again

U.S. Congressman David Young visited Creston again, guest speaking at Union County Farm Bureau's board meeting. He took the time to tell what committees he is on in the House, as well as his recent visit to the U.S./Mexico border, agriculture issues, and more.

Hear the story HERE.

Creston School Board Approves Two Versions of 2015-2016 School Calendar

The Creston school board held a special session March 9 to approve versions of the school calendar for 2015-2016. Creston Schools Superintendent Steve McDermott says there are two, because they are pending legislative action regarding when schools can start.

McDermott says one version depends on the legislature's compromise of an early start date, and the other follows Governor Branstad's mandate of only starting the week containing September 1. The latter version would have Creston Schools start Wednesday, September 2. The compromise version would have school start date of Wednesday, August 26.

Three Dead from Ice Fishing Drowning Last Weekend

Earl Burkhalter, Charles Critz and James Oshel are the victims of a drowning from thin ice this last weekend north of Creston. Creston police were tipped off after the men had not returned for a period of time. 

The incident comes as Iowa sees warming temperatures, which thins ice on lakes and ponds.

Statement from Scott and Melissa Pettit, parents of Creston/Orient-Macksburg wrestler, Tayler Pettit

Posted Sun. 2/22/15, 4:30pm

    "Our son Tayler and his teammates from Creston Orient Macksburg (COM) were focused on bringing home a state team wrestling championship when they took the mat in Des Moines on Wednesday. Shortly after completing his second match Tayler complained of shortness of breath to trainer Chris Leonard, assigned to the team by Greater Regional Medical Center, and COM head coach Darrell Frain. Tayler collapsed, experienced seizures and went into cardiac arrest. Within seconds an Iowa High School Athletic Association team of medical professionals staffing the tournament joined Chris and Darrell and began helping Tayler as he began fighting for his life. Paramedics, trainers and physicians started CPR and tried to revive him. An AED was available in the arena and was used to shock his heart back into rhythm. We believe this rapid care and always having someone with Tayler saved our son’s life.

     The biggest question for us was how did this happen? As a three sport athlete Tayler had never experienced seizures or heart problems. The physicians at Mercy Children’s Hospital Pediatric Emergency and the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit started care and used a respirator to help him breathe while a cardiologist monitored his heart. By Wednesday night they were able to remove his breathing tube and we discussed testing.

     The tests were performed Thursday by Iowa Heart Center cardiologists and they found the cause. Tayler’s heart did not fibrillate from a blow to the chest during his wrestling match and it had nothing to do with maintaining or losing weight. The test found an extra electrical pathway in his heart that caused a rapid heart rate. The cardiologist called it Wolf-Parkinson-White Syndrome. We never knew Tayler had a heart issue and the cardiologist said he could have had it since he was born. We were told the syndrome is the most common cause of rapid heart rate disorders, especially for infants, children and adolescents.

     Friday, Tayler had a surgical procedure called an ablation to correct the extra electrical pathway and reduce the potential of future problems. He has continued to gain strength and our cardiologist said Tayler should have a complete recovery and be able to return to sports and play soccer this spring.

     We are overjoyed by the outcome but it would not have been possible without all of the support, prayers and caring from our wrestling community and people we don’t even know. You have all given us strength.

    We’d like to thank our trainer Chris and our coach Darrel; for not leaving Tayler alone for a second. We thank the Iowa High School Athletic Association for its medical planning and assembling a great medical team to deal with injuries, or in this case a life or death emergency. The physicians and staff with Mercy Children’s Hospital Emergency and Intensive Care Units provided great care. Our cardiologists with Iowa Heart Center at Mercy helped us understand Tayler’s heart problem and fixed it. 

    As parents, our experiences made it very clear how important it is to have an AED available and know how to use it. AEDs can save lives and we can't imagine not having them readily available at athletic, school and community events. We hope everyone will learn more about these devices so you can help someone should they experience a medical emergency."

One Arrest on Creston Automotive Embezzlement

44-year-old Lyndsay Huntsman of Creston was arrested at the Union County Law Center. She was charged with on-going criminal conduct, and five counts of Theft in the 1st degree.

Four Arrested in Connection with Double Homicide

A double homicide has resulted in four arrests in Clarke County. At around 9:30 Saturday night, Osceola Police received a report of two people who went missing on Friday evening. Officials located the bodies of those two missing people in a vehicle in rural Clarke County. Police said it appears both victims died of gunshot wounds.

38-year-old Richard Carson of Osceola, has been arrested and is facing two charges of first-degree murder. He is currently in the Clarke County jail.

47-year-old Lynn Sutton, 43-year-old Tracy Johnson, and 42-year-old Christopher Elben, all of Osceola have also been arrested, and are facing charges of accessory after the fact in connection with this case. The victims names are not being released at this time.

School Bond Election To Be Held February 3

The Nodaway Valley School District will be holding a school bond special election on February 3 for a proposed new elementary building.

Nodaway Valley Superintendent Casey Berlau explained the origin of the discussion, as well as the process they have gone through to get to the point of special election.

On February 3, polls will be open from noon to 8 PM at the regular school election precinct sites: Bridgewater Fire Station, Fontanelle Community Building, and Adair County Health and Fitness Center.

Berlau also mentioned that this Thursday, the 29th, there will be an open house at the current elementary building in Greenfield; it will be from 5:30 to 7:00 PM. Tours will be given, as well as information about the proposal.

Possible Street Improvements Coming to Creston

Creston Public Works director Kevin Kruse gave a report to the city council at their meeting Tuesday regarding street improvements. He says there are no particular streets taking precedence over others, nor would everything happen at once.

Some of those areas included: E. Howard St. from the railroad tracks to Osage, S. Chestnut from the underpass to Taylor St., asphalt overlay from Cherry St. west to Sumner. There were nearly 15 areas listed in his report, and would take several million dollars for just the areas in his report.

Creston City Council Approves First Reading of Proposed Franchise Fees

At their Tuesday evening meeting, the Creston city council approved proposed gas and electric franchise fees, with a vote of 4-3. The new fee would be a gradual increase every year, ending up at 5 percent in 2020. The first part would be a two percent fee, beginning this October.

Council members Randy White, Marsha Wilson, Gary Lybarger, and Nancy Loudon voted in favor of the fees, and voting against were: Rich Madison, Ann Levine, and Dave Koets.

Before the vote, some of the public and business owners spoke on the issue, expressing negative thoughts toward the fees.

AEA Public Forum Set for February 10

The next step in the potential consolidation between Creston and Prescott Schools is the public hearing run by the AEA. This is set for February 10, 2015.

McDermott Explains Local Impact Regarding Iowa Dept. of Education's New Enforcement on School Dates

Creston School's Superintendent Steve McDermott gave his reaction and the local impact about the Iowa Department of Education's news on Friday about the new enforcement on school districts taking waivers to start school before the week of September 1.

He made it clear that this new enforcement will not affect the district in any large way. He says that it has always been a goal to start classes after the State Fair. For more information and to hear McDermott's full take, listen to Monday's news HERE.

All-New Website Look for Creston Schools

The Creston School District website has an all-new look, debuting on the web this week. Superintendent Steve McDermott said it was time for a change, and now it has more of a modern look.

If you want to check it out, the web address is: www.crestonschools.org.

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