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News 02/24/2009

Posted: Tuesday, February 24th, 2009 at 8:13 am
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Board postpones budget decision
After lengthy discussion, presentations and public comments last night, the Knoxville School Board tabled a discussion on a proposed 6 to 6.5% general fund budget reduction to a special meeting March 25th. Among some of the budget issues which could be reexamined include maintaining the athletic director position for both the high school and middle school, modifying or retaining the contract for the districts energy manager, and to consider cutting the middle schools assistant principal position, among other issues.

Board receives at-risk presentation
Educators continue to examine ways to reach students who struggle academically. Some of those plans were laid out at the Pella School Board meeting Monday night. Director of Instruction Lowell Ernst unveiled a proposal that would expand programs in place to assist students who struggle in the areas of reading and math. The proposal is estimated to cost about $36,500 with continuing costs of around $13,000.

Pleasantville seeks new police chief
Pleasantville is looking for a new police chief. That's according to Pleasantville Mayor Aaron Hurt. He says former chief Dave Roberts submitted a letter of retirement to the Pleasantville City Council earlier this month. Hurt says the city hopes to have a candidate selected by the end of March.

Central adapts to current economy
Central College isn't immune to the current economy. The economic downturn led to an end-of-year staff reduction, according to spokeswoman Abby Gonzales. Eleven positions were affected. Gonzales says the college has undertaken significant measures to lesson the impact of the downturn on the campus community. She adds that Central hopes there is no need for additional staff reductions this year as they are considered a last resort.

Knoxville levy rate increases slightly
The proposed levy rate for the 2009-10 Knoxville city budget is slightly higher than last year at $15.04 per $1,000 of taxable valuation. Knoxville City Manager Dick Schrad says the proposed general fund budget is $3.17 million, up $40,000 from last year. He says the increase is due to built in costs, including a 3.25% wage increase from a union labor contract for some city employees and increased fuel costs, among others.

Firefighters respond to minor structure fire
Emergency crews responded to a minor structure fire near Pella Monday afternoon. The incident occurred at 132 Timber Ridge Drive. According to Pella Fire Chief Doug Van Gorkom, the homeowner was burning some leaves in front of the residence when a spark ignited the sill plate on the structure. Van Gorkom says there was minor damage done to the siding and sill plate.

Schools celebrate FFA week
This week is National FFA Week, and area schools have planed activities. Brent Hanna is FFA Advisor for Knoxville High School. He says Knoxville members plan to work on leadership contests and to treat the high school faculty to a light breakfast. Pella high school FFA advisor Mark Williams says students also plan to treat faculty to coffee and doughnuts, sport their FFA jackets at school and setup posters.

Get to know your heart
Keep your heart healthy. That's the message from health care professionals during National Heart Month. RN Sherrilyn Nikkel with Cardiac Services at Pella Regional Health Center encourages residents to receive annual physicals to check for signs of any cardiovascular health issues. She says people need to know their numbers – blood pressure and cholesterol – just like they know their birth date.

Legislature needs to review judiciary options
The legislature needs to review all its options before deciding how best to help the states ailing judiciary. That's according to State Representative Jim Van Engelenhoven. He says court employees need to bring several proposals to the judiciary and appropriations committees before any hasty decisions are made.

Tractor Ride heads south
The tractors are heading south this year. Gary Van Vark is with the Red Rock Threshers. He says this year the organization has decided to base their annual tractor ride out of Honey Creek Resort State Park at Lake Rathbun. The annual Red Rock Threshers Tractor Ride begins July 16. For more information, contact Gary Van Vark at 641-628-3575.