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News 4/16/09

Posted: Thursday, April 16th, 2009 at 5:58 am
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CDC approves Applebees design permit 
The Pella Community Development Committee approved a design permit for the new Applebees Restaurant at a special meeting Wednesday. Architect Rodger Brooks told the committee that the building should be able to seat 187 people. Brooks said work might be able to start within 60 days of site plan approval. The Planning and Zoning Commission will consider the site plan at a meeting April 27.

Rally shows support for keeping VA open
Approximately 100 veterans and supporters gathered at Youngs Park in Knoxville yesterday to hear speakers present arguments in support of keeping the Knoxville VA hospital open. The rally was organized by the Iowa Veterans Task Force. Among the speakers who addressed the audience was Ellen Omvig, mother of Josh Omvig, whose suicide resulted in the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act of 2007.

Economists see signs of improvement 
Economists are seeing some optimistic signs, according to a recent survey. Eighty-six percent of respondents to a recent Blue Chip Economic Indicators survey believed that the economic downturn will end in the second-half of the year. Central College Professor of Economics Brian Peterson says were starting to see some leveling out of recessionary activity. However, Peterson says unemployment is still likely to increase as it takes time for the economy to regain lost jobs. 

Mayor meets with residents 
Knoxville Mayor Harv Sprafka updated residents about happenings in the city, and answered questions and concerns at Coffee With the Mayor yesterday at the Knoxville Public Library. Among those topics discussed was the upcoming completion of the Robinson Street road work, the closing of the VA Hospital, and the new policy of waiving city fees for vendors that operate on the square during special events.

Weekend of Wheels set for next weekend 
Knoxville is revving up for the Weekend of Wheels being held April 25th and 26th at the Marion County Fairgrounds. That’s according to event coordinator Bob Colbert and volunteer Craig Kelley. They say the event starts Saturday at 10 a.m. with a car show on the fairgrounds expected to have around 200 participants. Sunday features a celebrity auto cross, with cars traversing a miniature road course. 

School Board awards bond bid to Marion County Bank 
Financing is now in place for some athletic facility improvements at Pella Community Schools. The Pella School Board awarded the purchase of approximately $2.1 million in tax revenue bonds to Marion County Bank at a special meeting Wednesday. Superintendent Mark Wittmer says the project includes upgrades to the track, bleachers and a new field turf, among other improvements.

Boswell staff member to meet with residents 
A representative for Congressman Leonard Boswell will be in Knoxville April 17th to answer questions from residents. Sources tell KNIA/KRLS News that Cathy Lewis will be at Knoxville City Hall from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. to work with individuals having difficulty with a government agency or who would like to share their concerns. 

City to continue with alternative fuel tests 
The second phase of alternative fuel tests at the city of Pella Power Plant is drawing near. Electric Utility Director Larry Peterson says emission tests of wood products will start sometime in the next thirty days. In related news, Congressman Leonard Boswell is set to visit the Pella Power Plant this afternoon and receive a tour of the facility. 

Stamp price to increase next month 
The stamp price for first class letters is increasing to 44 cents May 11th, but Marion County residents can still by the 42 cent Forever Stamps up until then. Knoxville Postmaster Jack Moorhead says the 42 cent Forever Stamp can be used anytime after the May 11th switchover date, even though the price increases. He says residents can purchase the Forever Stamps by stopping into the post office. 

High School addition takes shape 
The addition to the Pella Community High School is ahead of schedule. Superintendent Mark Wittmer says the contractor got an early start on the project and has benefited from good weather. At this point, he says the addition should be ready for the start of the next school year. The approximately $1 million project includes a technology area, two regular classrooms and two family consumer science rooms. In addition, one classroom is being converted into a science lab.