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Creston Schools Settle Salaries
Creston School District is wrapping up its salary negotiations for the
year, with everyone seeing some sort of increase. But for some, that
increase is structured differently than in the past. Interim
Superintendent Chuck Scott says the district is trying to get away from
percentage increases. The problem is that the gap between the high and
low ends of the scale continues to widen. Every employee is valuable,
and a flat rate pay increase better reflects that.
For example, the secretarial group will receive increases ranging from
31 to 44 cents per hours. That equates to around 3.5 percent.
The approach also applies to classified staff covered by the AFSCME
union. Cooks, bus drivers and some of the custodians covered under that
contract will negotiated 31-cent per hour increase, around a 3.5
Teachers, however, remain on the percentage system, receiving a 3.83 percent package.
Administrators are slated to receive a straight dollar amount. Principals and Activities Director will get $2,500 each.
Farmers Market Starts June 3
Creston Farmers Market is the place to be on a warm summer Monday
evening. The markets are set to resume for the season, as organizer
Brian Zachary tells. Monday June 3 is the first day for the market,
held in the usual place, the southeast corner of McKinley Park.
Zachary says there will be crafts and baked goods as well as produce
vendors. Most weeks the market will offer entertainment and a meal.
Zachary says this year's markets will have an artistic touch, with several local artists expressing interest in participating.
There will be a special Farmers Market in Uptown Creston on July 4th,
as part of the annual celebration. A “Chalk the 4th” chalk drawing
event is also planned in conjunction with the market on July 4th.
There will be a pre-meeting next week for interested vendors. Thursday,
May 30, 6 p.m., at the Historic Restored Depot in Uptown Creston.
Zachary will have the necessary paperwork for vendors, and Barb Fuller,
Extension Nutrition Specialist, will be on hand to offer insight on
safe food handling practices.
The markets will run from June 3 through the last Monday in September at McKinley Park. Time is 4-6:30 every Monday.
You Can Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too
The Creston Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting recently for one more new business.
Kustom Kakery Event Center, located at 124 N. Maple in Creston, offers
a new option for weddings and other special events, starting with the
centerpiece for the occasion. Each cake is one-of-a-kind, custom made.
Owner Kylie Clayton says customers wanting a less expensive alternative
can rent a “faux” tiered cake for their centerpiece, then purchase
sheet cakes for serving. The cost can be reduced by as much as half
from the traditional approach.
They can provide special services for your wedding or other festive
occasion as well, with packages that provide DJ, cake, and photography,
as well as the rental hall. Sherri Cormeny Foster handles the
They will also begin serving daily breakfast at the Maple Street location.
Kustom Kakery is open Tuesday through Saturday, 8-5, but Clayton says that could change to accommodate events.
They also host teen dances twice a month.
Clayton can be reached at 641-202-9528.
Rental bookings are taken first come, first served. Cake orders should be placed at least one week in advance.
Building the Future
Investing in the future is always a good thing.
Three area youths received $2,000 scholarships courtesy of John Deere
and Barker Implement. Barker's CEO Todd Barker says they found out
about the program through John Deere and are thrilled to participate.
This is the first year Barker's has participated in the program, a special project of the National FFA Foundation.
This year's recipients are BreeAnn Fisher and Travis Herzberg of Villisca and Jessica Johnson of Bedford.
The scholarship program has been in existence for 29 years and this
year 1,645 scholarships were awarded to FFA members, from 6,116
applicants. Students are judged on leadership, academic record, FFA and
other school and community activities, supervised ag or work experience
and future goals.
Barker says it is worth the money and the effort to contribute to the future of the area and the future of agriculture.
John Deere is one of 127 sponsors that contribute more than $2.1 million to the project.
Beef and Blogging Make Good Mix
May is Beef Month.
Time and time again we hear it – ag producers need to tell their story.
Now a new effort led by the Soybean Association is helping spread the
word. Nancy Degner with the Iowa Beef Industry Council explains all
commodity groups face the challenge of telling the consumer how their
food gets from the farm to the plate. The Food and Family Project was
initiated by the Soybean Association, and involves several partners in
and out of the ag industry.
Reaching younger people, Millennials and Generation Xers, who are
connected to computers and mobile devices, is especially challenging,
hence the latest project. It’s called “Join My Journey” and features
food blogger Kristin Porter. Her blog “Iowa Girl Eats” has 2 million
blog followers and more than 40,000 Facebook fans and has been in
existence for about three years.
Porter is a West Des Moines native who has no ag background. She
intends to go to various Iowa farms – beef, pork, poultry, corn,
soybean – and learn what it takes to raise crops and livestock for our
Porter's first visit was to DuPont Pioneer - starting the journey with
seeds. Degner says a new set of eyes will help with the message of all
of agriculture, especially beef.
“It’s an opportunity to tell the story through the eyes of someone who
is a Millennial and has questions about how food is produced – and
hopefully can see the care and the effort that goes into today’s beef
Partners in “Join My Journey” and the Food and Family Project include
DuPont Pioneer, Farm Credit Services of America, Iowa Beef Industry
Council, Iowa Egg Council, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa
Soybean Association, Midwest Dairy Association and the United Soybean
Board. It is funded in part by the soybean checkoff.
The escapades of “Join My Journey” can be followed at www.iowafoodandfamily.com
Werners Named "Good Neighbor"
One of KSIB's neighbors has been named a Good Neighbor.
The latest winners of the Gary Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award are Jim
and Ann Werner of Diagonal. The Werners operate a 500-head purebred
Angus herd in rural Ringgold County, one of the ways they are leading
the way in today's ag world. Jim Werner says he is humbled and honored
to receive the award, created by WHO Radio and the Coalition to Support
Werner was also named Master Farmer by Wallaces Farmer this year, and
has received the 2001 Iowa Seedstock Producer of the Year and 2011 Iowa
Environmental Stewardship Award.
Werner says he is glad to accept the award to help spread the word and
educate the consumer about the environmental conservation efforts of ag
Werner Family Angus hosts numerous student tours each year and
participates in research projects, currently focusing on residual feed
efficiency. He says in a community like Diagonal, it's not hard to be a
good neighbor, it's just hard to stand out among so many who are always
willing to come to a neighbor’s aid and lend a hand.
The Werners are active community members and can often be found behind
the beef producer's grill. They were nominated for the award by
Ringgold County Cattlemen President Trent Johnston.
The Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award is named for long-time WHO farm
broadcaster Gary Wergin, and recognizes Iowa livestock farmers who take
pride in doing things right – caring for the environment and their
livestock and being good neighbors.
Jim and Ann Werner will receive their award Friday at 11:30 a.m. at the Diagonal Community Center.
Library Project Makes Progress
fundraising continues for Creston's renovation of the Lincoln School
into a library and community center. Library Board Chairman Ann Coulter
explains the latest effort. Lincoln hats are placed around town where
community members can deposit Hy-Vee cash register receipts. For every
$150,000 in receipts, Hy-Vee will donate $1,000.
To date, $400,000 of the $1.8 million needed has been raised. Plans are
in the works to create a donation progress sign to keep the community
informed. The group is always looking for grants to help fund the
project, and Coulter says grant opportunities create an opportunity to
make good use of donations as matching funds.
Coulter highlights the plans for the project, which include much more
than a library. There will be a community center, meeting rooms, and
eventually a teen program.
She says the time line hinges on the money, but they are anxious to keep moving.
Donations can be sent to the current library at 200 W. Howard Street in
Creston. Questions can be addressed to Coulter at 641-344-2019.
Safe Rooms Come Off the Drawing Table
money intended to provide disaster mitigation has enabled nearly every
school district in the region to construct a safe room. Creston is in
the process of adding two. Interim Superintendent Chuck Scott explains
the rooms have 14 inches of steel rod reinforced concrete on the
exterior walls and 8-10 inches of concrete on the roof. They are made
to withstand winds of up to 70-80 mph.
Creston will have two of the rooms, one at the Elementary and one at
the High School, both will serve a dual purpose. At the High School the
space will be finished for four classrooms. The Elementary safe room
will serve as a mid-sized gymnasium. Both spaces will be large enough
to hold all students and staff at that site. The Middle School is
included with the Elementary.
The projects are in progress. Construction on the safe room at the
Elementary has started and could be complete by the end of the year.
Bids for the High School room came in under estimate and the board is
set to approve the start of the project this week.
Do the Crime - Do the Time
Radio broadcasts frequently report recent arrests, but what happens after that?
For Union County Attorney Tim Kenyon, his work begins when an arrest is
made. Prosecuting the perpetrator can be time consuming, and at times,
produces mixed results. But recently, the successes outweigh the
defeats, as Kenyon reports to the Board of Supervisors. Several recent
arrests resulted in hefty sentences.
Those sentenced include:
Brian Whitfield, 7 years, two counts of Willful Injury, five years each
to run concurrently, and 2 years for theft in the 3rd degree.
Josselyn Wells, 10 years, 10 years for delivery and manufacture of
Meth, and a five-year concurrent term for Possession of a Precursor.
Lori Graham, 10 years, Delivery of Meth.
Hidie Lemon, 15 years, 10 years for Manufacture of Meth and five years for Possesesion of Precursors.
Brian Atteberry, five years for theft.
William Lemon, 20 years for Manufacture of Meth. He is a repeat offender.
Cassandra Larkin, seven years, five years for Delivery of Marijuana with an additional two years for doing so in a school zone.
Adam Roan, 10 years for Manufacture of Meth and a five-year concurrent sentence for Child Endangerment.
Kenyon says all will be eligible for parole, but not immediately. All
meth-related charges require one-third of the sentence be served before
the prisoner is eligible for parole.
The eight offenders were sentenced to a total combined 84 years in prison.
Farmer's Co-op Plans Expansion in Creston
are coming for the Farmer's Co-op in Creston. The Farmer's Cooperative
Company is making plans to expand its Creston grain-handling facility.
General Manager Jim Schendt says around 80 trucks enter or leave the
feed mill on a daily basis, and the Co-op has found a way to alleviate
It has purchased the Novak property on the north side of Howard Street
across from the Creston facility and intends to build a new scale,
office, and grain facility; with an overhead conveyor to transfer grain
to the feed mill on the south of the street.
That would keep most of the truck traffic on Osage and off of Howard.
The area near the intersection of Howard and Osage will remain a truck
The Creston City Council at Tuesday night's meeting approved a zoning
change for the 1405 E. Howard Street property from R-1 Single Family to
1-2 Heavy Industrial, the first step in the process of what will likely
be a two-year project.
In its recommendation to the council, the Planning and Zoning
Commission noted the Co-op's location on the east edge of town and its
efforts to control dust.
The Farmer's Coop is based in Afton, with facilities in Arispe,
Creston, Macksburg, Mt. Ayr and Osceola. The Creston site is its main
Slow Traffic on Elm Street
Tom Latham reported in from Washington this week for his monthly
interview with Terri Queck-Matzie. Here’s a few highlights:
Money. Money. Money. This week, as always, that’s the top topic in
Washington. Congressman Latham talks about the effects of the
sequester, national security in light of the recent bombing in Boston,
and gives an update on progress on the Farm Bill.
Latham also talks about the importance of this week’s Benghazi hearings
to prevent such an incident from happening again, and explains his
decision not to seek the soon-to-be-open Senate seat.
Click here to hear the entire interview.
Slow Traffic on Elm Street
Traffic anywhere near a school can be a challenge, but there are additional concerns on Elm Street in Creston.
Creston School District Interim Superintendent Chuck Scott says the
district is aware, and apologies, for traffic and parking issues on Elm
Street near the Burton R. Jones building, but it shouldn’t last much
He says the AEA project should be completed by early June, weather
permitting, and the school has asked staff to park on side streets to
help alleviate congestion on Elm Street, but they need the public’s
help as well. He asks motorists to slow down through the area, and be
aware of parents dropping off and picking up kids.
The AEA is remodeling 6,000 square feet on the south end of the
building, that also houses the Early Childhood Center and the
district’s central offices. An additional 80 parking spaces on the east
side of the building are included in the project, along with additional
angle parking on the south. The changes will help, but will not be a
When school starts next fall, parents and students will use the
existing entrance to the Early Childhood Center, a new entrance on the
west side of the building will access Head Start, the AEA will have a
door on the south side, and administrative personnel will enter from
the east. But busses will still create some congestion on Elm Street,
which is narrow and has two-way traffic.
Overall, he says people should see improvement. “Some people see congestion, others see progress,” says Scott.
Scott adds construction on the new bus garage near the Middle and
Elementary schools will begin this summer and last through fall, but
traffic flow will be only minimally affected.
Assessing Job Skills is Good Business
As our world becomes more technical, finding qualified workers becomes more of a challenge for business and industry.
An event today at Southwestern Community College is focused on
preparing today's workforce for today's jobs. Union County Development
Director Wayne Pantini explains the event is an opportunity to
recognize all the local partners that have enabled use of the National
Career Readiness Certificate program.
Pantini says employer response has been great, with 290 businesses in
the region adopting the certificate as a means of assessing potential
employees. The region consists of Adams, Clarke, Union, Decatur, Lucas,
Ringgold, Madison, Taylor and Wayne counties. The benefit to the job
seeker is obvious, one more credential to prove they have needed
skills. And it helps employers narrow the search. It also makes
Pantini's job of recruiting and retaining business easier.
Test results are grouped in four levels to indicate an employee's skill level.
Bronze level is typically entry level and Platinum level applies
primarily to engineers and other professionals. The NCRC test is
developed by ACT. The effort in Union County started as a pilot program
and the county and the region remain leaders in the initiative. The
cost of the program is covered by the state under Governor Branstad's
Skills Iowa initiative. The National Career Readiness Certificate is a
national program, and the certificate is transferable from state to
Today's event features Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds and recognizes
students who have completed the assessment as well as community
partners in the effort.
Teaching Math and Science for the New Age
of the challenges before schools today is educating students to match
the demands of the workforce. And time and time again, employers are
saying they need employees well versed in math and science. At the
elementary level, new math teaching strategies are being utilized.
backs up the success of the new approaches. Students in nearly every
grade showed progress from grade to grade. Fifth grade teacher Corina
Hoepker says she sees the improvement in the classroom, not just in the
test scores, as students are better able to explain why they are doing
what they are doing.
Pat Rabbitt, tells of K-5 science efforts require cooperation and collaboration between grades.
they are constantly pushing for improvement and keeping a high level of
rigor. And they are always looking for new assessment tools. Teachers
write many of their own subject-specific exams, but they also rely on
outside testing sources.
provides resources for teachers adopting new teaching strategies and
the Governor’s STEM initiative provides additional resources for
schools to improve math and science programs.
Curriculum reports on all subjects are regularly given to the school’s board of directors.
Making Union County SAFE for Teens
Union County Board of Supervisors approved a pass-through grant for
teen substance abuse prevention on Monday. Tackling the issue of
substance abuse among teens in an ongoing enterprise.
Victoria Brammer chairman of the SAFE, or Substance Abuse Free
Environment, coalition says the funds are used for mock parties, mock
accidents, and other experiences designed to teach kids about the
dangers of drug and alcohol use.
The SAFE coalition is active in the Creston schools, and has been
working with East Union schools the past few years to get a chapter
One activity is a Ghost Out Day, where one student is removed from the
classroom every 15 minutes to signify a teen killed in a drunk driving
accident. The event included a tour of the local emergency room and
She says the mock parties are effective, and educational for the public as well as teens.
The group would also like to do another mock drunk-driving accident.
Brammer says the SADD ranks are growing. In past years they've had
around 30 kids involved and this year 120 signed up. Participation
includes community service. The official name, and mission, of SADD has
changed. Once known as Students Against Drunk Driving, it is now called
Students Against Destructive Decisions. The agenda includes larger
topics of all types of drugs, even what constitutes a healthy
relationship. The pass-through grant is for $10,000 with $500 staying
with the county auditor's office to cover administrative costs.
The local SAFE coalition was started in 2008.
Committee Makes School Suggestions
Quality schools are the responsibility of the entire community.
At last week’s meeting the Creston Community School District Board of
Directors, the School Improvement Advisory Committee, or SIAC, outlined
its assessment and recommendations for the school. Robyn Ploeger is a
faculty member of the committee. She reports the district’s emphasis on
professional development is a positive.
The committee cites all working together toward common goals and
increased communication from the superintendent and website as
positives, as well as the implementation of new testing, and increased
technology at the middle school. The committee is comprised of faculty,
administration, parents, and community members. Amy Rieck, a parent
committee member, highlights suggested improvements.
The committee wants to see a minimum of one year’s growth for all
students in all academic areas, and would like a reporting of all
incidents of bullying.
High School Principal Bill Messerole says incidents of bullying are
currently reported according to standards. All reported incidents are
investigated and documented.
Among the information available to SIAC is the Iowa Youth Survey, which
says bullying may be more frequent than the official data shows.
Rieck also says the SIAC committee has discussed the possibility of a program to provide laptop computers to students.
More Weight Limits for County Bridges
Union County's most recent bridge inspection is complete, and the news is not good.
Six more Union County bridges will carry less weight following the most
recent bridge inspection, according to Union County Engineer Steve
Akes. The weight limit on all six structures was lowered. One bridge
went from legal to 19. Another went from 15 tons to eight tons.
Both are truss bridges. Truss bridges on the list are generally
fracture critical, meaning if any one element fails, the entire bridge
can fail. Four of the six bridges have bad pilings.
One bridge in particular is of concern since the only other access to
the area is a dirt road in very poor condition. Four households live in
the effected area, some with school age children, adding an additional
concern. The bridge is now posted 10 tons and a school bus weighs 10 to
The bridge is on the five-year construction program, but is not
scheduled until 2018. Akes would like to move it up on the list. Even
with moving the bridge up in the construction program, it would likely
be a couple years before it would be complete, but Akes says the county
may be able to make repairs and buy some time.
The bridge is a steel I-beam bridge. Akes says there may be repairs
that can be made to some of the other bridges as well, depending on
their type. Supervisor Dennis Brown says that could be money well spent.
The bridges in question were built in the 1940s and 1950s. The county
rarely builds wood bridges. Concrete and steel are today's preferred
The bridges were inspected by Calhoun-Burns and Associates last
October. Bridges are inspected every two years unless they are listed
as at risk.
Healthcare Reform Hits County Board Room
much is the National Affordable Healthcare Act going to cost Union
County? That's what the Board of Supervisors wanted to know. Skip Lowe,
with Bernie Lowe and Associates, the county's health insurance agent,
provided the board with figures yesterday, outlining a report put
together specifically for Union County. Lowe presented the report with
the help of agency associate Duane Litogot via speakerphone.
There are additional fees and taxes that will be charged. Other
increases, like women's preventive health provisions will show up in
increased claims. A tax on medical devices will affect claims as well.
Many questions remain surrounding the insurance exchanges, and Lowe
says many of the details are yet to be settled. Lowe points out a
common misconception about the Affordable Care Act is that there is a
Medicare, or Medicare-type government plan available. That is not so.
There will be insurance exchanges where individuals can purchase
coverage through various companies, with the government offering a
subsidy for those who meet income guidelines.
An employer can be assessed a fee if employees leave their plan for the
exchange because their plan does not meet minimum standards.
The annual fee on health insurers is an annual tax on the health
insurance industry that will be passed on to the customer in the form
of a premium to help offset cost of the subsidies on the exchanges, and
could cost the county up to$31,000 per year by 2018.
Lowe says the county's recent change from a self-funded program will
definitely work in their favor under the new system. The county could
have to pay an additional $500,000 over the next five years, with
around half of that attributed to the Affordable Care Act. Lowe says
figures used will enable the county to create conservative budgets.
He says new plan or not, health care costs are rising rapidly, almost doubling every decade for the past few decades.
One piece of the report, is a comparison of projected insurance costs
vs what it would cost the county to cease providing an employee health
plan. If the county were to offer a cash insurance reimbursement rather
than provide coverage, it would cost the county an average of $780 per
employee, with total county costs equaling the projected costs. The
Supervisors emphasize that is only an option, not a current plan in the
It's Soil & Water Conservation Week
feed the world, Iowa depends on the quality of its soil. Doug
Davenport, District Conservationist with the Natural Resources
Conservation Service, explains this one week a year is set aside to
highlight efforts to protect our soil and water.
Soil and Water Conservation week runs from the last Sunday in April
till the first Sunday in May. Iowa is divided into 100 conservation
districts, as Davenport explains – one for each county with
Pottawattamie County having two. District commissioners are elected by
the public in the General Election, and are charged with indentifying
the conservation needs of their district and utilizing available
The soil conservation movement grew from concerns during the Dust Bowl
of the 1930s and has since spawned government programs like the NRCS,
which provides technical assistance to district commissioners as well
as directly to producers.
Davenport says this area, where crop land is prevalent, soil erosion is
the primary focus. Other parts of the country may focus on grazing
The districts have the ability to hold field days and workshops and do
various types of outreach, all to provide technical assistance to
farmers on how to manage their resources.
In Union County, last year alone farmers installed more than 93,000
feet of terraces, 466 acres of cover crops, grassed waterways, and
implemented other practices to protect soil and water.
In celebration of Soil and Water Conservation week, the Adams
County Soil & Water Conservation District along with the Adams
County Rural Development Committee, Conservation Districts of Iowa,
& the Southern Iowa Forage & Livestock Committee. Will host a
showing of DIRT – The Movie, Friday, May 3, 7:30 p.m., at the Corning
Opera House Cultural Center.
The 21st Century Student
does the 21st Century student look like? That's the question that was
asked at a school board training session held by the Iowa Association
of School Boards in Villisca last week. Rick Fyock was one of three
Creston School Board members who attended. He says education in the
current age includes not only learning the basics, but the ability to
think, reason, create and innovate.
He says the ability to collaborate is gaining importance in today's
world, and students are preparing by learning through group activities.
It's a different world from what most of us were prepared for in our
school days where learning involved much rote memorization, according
to Fyock. Different tools will be needed in the future.
To prepare students, teachers are using new teaching methods that focus
on how an answer is achieved, so that students are aware of the
critical thinking involved.
Fyock says educators are adjusting and current testing is focusing on
this. But the challenge of meeting federal standards that can be tied
to funding remains. As does the challenge of preparing that student to
function in an increasingly complex and changing world.
The Iowa Association of School Boards provides training for school board members two or three times each year.
School Makes Plans for Next Year
may be only April, but the Creston School District is looking ahead to
next year. At its regular monthly meeting Monday night, the Board of
Directors took action to set fees and the calendar for 2013-2014.
According to the new, approved calendar, school will start August 20.
Interim Superintendent Chuck Scott says the Legislature has not made a
final decision concerning early starts, but it is likely this will be
The administrative team says there are both pros and cons to ending the
semester after Christmas break. The school year will end May 29,
The board also approved the district’s schedule of student fees for
next year, with an increase in lunch costs for both students and
adults, as mandated by the state, according to Scott. The cost of a
five-day student lunch ticket will be $9.50. A 20-day ticket will cost
The cost of providing driver’s education has increased due to a 5
percent pay increase requested by the instructor. Cost to students will
be $350 for Creston School District students and $400 for those from
out of the district. Activity tickets and book rental fees will remain
the same. Activities Director Jeff Bevins says activity ticket sales to
students and adults amount to around $25,000-26,000 per year.
Scott and Business Manager Roy Stroud would like to see the schedule of
fees for public use of the building better reflect overtime costs for
custodial staff, but no changes will be made at this time.
One-hundred and seven seniors were approved for graduation on May 19.
Student registration for the 2013-2014 school year is scheduled for August 1st, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Creston Schools Shuffles Administrators
are coming for Creston Schools administration. The retirement of
Creston Middle School Principal Larry Otten has led to a reassessment
and realignment of administrator duties across the district.
Under the current alignment, the principals all have a second role. In
addition to Middle School Principal duties, Otten handles Special
Education coordination. Callie Anderson is ELC Principal and School
Improvement Coordinator. Brad Baker is Elementary Principal and Title I
Coordinator. Scott Driskell is Elementary Dean of Students.
Under the new order, Anderson will serve as Pre-kindergarten through
Second Grade principal. Driskell will be principal for grades 3-5. And
Baker will be Middle School Principal, overseeing grades 6-8.
The groundwork for the change was laid in recent months, when, at
Interim Superintendetn Chuck Scott’s urging, the district board of
directors approved a new position to handle special populations duties.
That fourth administrator will now tackle special education, Title 1,
and school improvement.
The job of hiring the new person will fall to incoming Superintendent
Steve McDermott. Scott says McDermott has been consulted on the issue
and is supportive of the change, as are the current administrators,
according to Scott. Baker agrees the change should offer more
opportunities to focus on one aspect of the job at a time.
Anderson agrees the change will enable her, and the other principals,
to focus on students and staff, while turning over curriculum duties,
along with state and federal reporting, to a specialist. Baker says
current administrators are capable of performing those duties. It’s
merely a matter of preference – there are those who want to be
principals, dealing with students, staff and parents; and those who
want to focus on other aspects of education.
Ultimate accountability for each building will still fall to the
respective principal, and Board Chairman Sharon Snodgrass cites the
experience of the existing administrative team as key to the
workability of the new plan. Bill Messerole will remain in his position
as High School Principal.
The issue of compensation for administrators will be revisited at a later date.
County Amends This Year's Budget
County Board of Supervisors has scheduled a public hearing on an
amendment to the Fiscal Year 2013 budget, for Monday, May 6.
County Auditor Sandy Hysell highlights the budget changes.
The total of the budget amendment is $121,825. To break that down,
$6,500 is for public safety and legal services, an increase in
court-appointed guardian expense; $68,500 for public health and social
services fir increased expense in the juvenile detention center, a
local health pass-through grant and the CARE Hipsley Trust Fund.
Hysell explains the CARE trust fund was bequeathed to the county. The
funds are held in trust and can be spent only for the benefit of
residents in the county's residential facility.
Other changes: $275 for county environment and education for expenses
having to do with flood erosion, $11,000 for services to residents that
includes book renovation; $35,550 in administration for county vehicle
insurance, the recent audit, and dues.
Around $32,000 is in pass-through grants that show on both the expense
and revenue side. The budget amendment will also include around
$500,000 in mental health transition funds from the state. The moneys
are to be used for any unpaid non-Medicaid mental health bills, while
the state continues to debate changes in the mental health system.
The public hearing will be held Monday, May 6, 10 a.m., in the board room of the Union County Courthouse
New Hangar Planned for Creston Airport
of hangar space at the Creston Airport has been a problem for some
time. Now, two private citizens, Dennis Quam and Greg Wurster, are
making plans to do something about it – with the city's blessing. Quam
addressed the Creston City Council last week outlining the project.
The metal hangars on site were built in the 1970s and no one remembers
when the old wooden structure went up. The plans for the new hangar
call for a 264' x 60' x17' enclosed building with 2 60x60 hangars and 3
48x60 hangars. The hangars would be individually owned, under an
agreement similar to the existing hangars. That involves leasing ground
from the city. The building would be located just north of the current
hangars. The location has been approved by the FAA.
There are a few infrastructure improvements that will need to be made,
like widening the concrete approach. Funds for the concrete will come
from a state DOT grant included in the Airport Capital Improvement
Program for Fiscal Year 2014. The building will be built with private
Creston City Manager Mike Taylor says the city will lose some rent income from ag land for the structure.
The council gave consensus verbal approval to move ahead with the project, with exact wording of the lease yet to be finalized.
The Creston Airport Commission has been involved through the planning stage of the hangar project.
County Tackles Weed Control
showers bring may weeds? Yes, weeds. Union County Weed Commissioner
Gary Blazek updated the Board of Supervisors this week on this year's
plan, beginning with publication of notices.
Different weeds have different deadlines. After May 15, landowners can
be cited for Musk Thistles and Perennial Pepper Grass. If a landowner
fails to comply with the weed control, the county can spray at the
Blazek says Musk Thistles and Multi-flora Rose are two of the county's
worst problems. Teasel is becoming a problem, due to an unexpected
source. It has been brought in from counties to the east on DOT mowers,
and is a common ornamental plant used by florists in funeral
Poison Hemlock is also a problem. Blazek says timing is everything in
weed control. Weeds need to be killed in the early spring before they
go to seed.
He says there are new pests arriving all the time.
Landowners who don't want to chemically control their weeds, can make arrangements for other types of weed control.
Questions about noxious weed control and landowner rights and
responsibilities can be addressed to the Union County Weed Commissioner.
Law Enforcement Goes High-Tech
all forms of communications, law enforcement technology is entering a
new age. A new system, called TAC 10, will soon be installed at the
Union County Law Enforcement Center. Creston Chief of Police Paul Ver
Meer says it will provide improved records management, updated jail
software, and mobile capabilities for officers. From lap top computers
in their vehicles, they will be able to run driver’s license and
registration checks and complete written reports. Remote dispatch will
also be available from the communications center via text message.
The new system should make things run much more efficiently by freeing
up officers and deputies from the distractions of completing paperwork
in the office. They can now do that in their vehicles, while
maintaining a visible presence in the community.
Officers will now be able to print a ticket or copy of an accident
report on site. It will also prepare for the next step. The entire
court record system could be digital by 2015, and this system has the
capability of emailing an e-ticket directly to the Clerk of Court.
From their lap tops, officers will be able to access the server at the jail to check records or pull up jail photos.
The shift to TAC 10 has been in the making for about four years,
according to Ver Meer and Union County Chief Deputy Steve Maitlen, who
have spearheaded the effort. Both the Creston Police and Union County
Sheriff's office have been able to save money for part of the $160,000
project. A financing agreement for $119,000 will provide four years
interest free financing. The old jail software is around 20 years old,
and soon to be obsolete, according to Maitlen.
[lawcom4] :09 “...past history.”
They system can also provide information by address, so officers
responding to a complaint will know if other calls have been made to
the same location. And it has mapping capabilities that show the
location of Union County and Creston officers as well DOT and Iowa
State Highway Patrol in the area; a feature that will enable the
communications center to dispatch the closest officer.
The system is designed for top information security.
Warren County uses the system, as do counties in the Iowa City area.
Ringgold County uses part of the system for its jail operations.
Union County and the City of Creston split all Law Enforcement Center expenses.
Bike Trail Improvements
are underway for an improved bike trail around Green Valley Lake. DNR
Park Ranger Alan Carr says they are in the process of securing a
project that would expand and improve the existing trail, by making it
circle the entire lake and go into the campground.
The trail would be around three and one-half miles, and will connect to
the trail from Creston. But the finished product may come in stages. He
says the current plans to hard-surface part of the path are the first
Car says the project is in its early stages. The DNR is beginning the
bidding process, and contractors can find information on the DNR
website. He says plans are proceeding, but nothing is secure, there are
many hoops to jump through before it is a done deal.
Carr says ultimately they would like to see the trail paved completely
around the lake, making a 10-mile trail, but they're thankful for what
they're getting now.
The trail is one of several recent improvements at Green Valley. The park is set to open for the season next week.
Hotel and Motel Tax Promotes Tourism
Every guest in a Creston motel or Bed & Breakfast is helping to
bring the next guest to town. Creston has a Hotel and Motel tax.
Creston City Manager says all types of lodging are taxed.
The tax brings in around $100,000 to $120,000 to the city per year.
At least one-half of the money must go toward tourism-related
activities, and Taylor says generally more than that heads that
direction. Much or the advertising and promotion through the Chamber of
Commerce is funded by Hotel & Motel tax moneys. And the city
contributes to the expense of operating the visitor’s center. The money
also goes toward the fireworks display ($5,000), Balloon Days ($5,000),
banners, walking tour brochures, welcome signs, parks and the municipal
The council recently gave $5000 to Parks & Rec to promote the
summer concert at McKinley Park, and the park made use of the funds to
construct a new building by borrowing the money and paying it back with
Hotel & Motel Tax moneys.
Funds not used for tourism go into the general fund. The city supports
the Chamber Office with around $18,000 per year and Union County
Economic Development with around $20,000, both from the general fund.
The Hotel and Motel tax was approved by the voters and has been in place since 2003.