Fire consumes several acres west of Knoxville
Many area fire departments closed out their weekend by responding to the 28th county grassfire in seven days which required a fire department response Sunday at 999 McGregor drive west of Knoxville. Knoxville Township, Knoxville, Pleasantville and Columbia Fire Departments, Marion County Sheriff’s Deputies and Emergency Management Coordinator Jeff Anderson responded to the scene, which consumed approximately 20 acres of private property before spreading to federal property. Crews had the blaze under control within an hour of arriving on scene.

Author discusses her travels at reading Saturday
An Iowa author shared her travel experiences at a presentation Saturday at the Pella Public Library. Nancy Harless is the author of “Womankind,” a collection of 21 stories about women Harless has encountered in her visits to other countries, such as Guatemala and Belize. She was inspired to travel more frequently after participating in a Rotary Group Study Exchange program in 1999.

More state budget cuts expected
Greater state budget cuts are expected now that new revenue projections are available. Republican State Representative Jim Van Engelenhoven says at this point everything is probably on the table. He says savings can be found – such as extending the lifetime of state vehicles and reducing the size of the state workforce. The Revenue Estimating Conference released their updated projections this past Friday.

Communications Center receives honor
The Marion County Sheriff’s Office Communications Center was named Team Telecommunicators of the Year for 2008 by the Iowa chapter of the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials. Communications Director Martha Dykstra says the center is honored to receive the award.The dispatchers and county officials are attending the award presentation being made in Des Moines Tuesday.

Alternative fuel tests resume next month
The city of Pella Electric Department plans to resume alternative fuel tests at the power plant next month. Electric Director Larry Peterson says emission tests of wood products, such as storm debris, are scheduled to begin in early April. During the test, Peterson says theyll use about a 10 percent wood to coal ratio, which means about 25 tons of wood and 250 tons of coal. This is the second phase of a project that began last fall.

Dry conditions keep firefighters busy
Fire Departments across Marion County have responded to multiple grass fires the past few weeks, with a much higher number of grassfires than last year. Knoxville Fire Department Mike Chief Roberts says it’s because of the weather: 2009 has not been as moist as this time last year, making fields more susceptible to catch fire.

School Board to hold hearing on facility improvements
A public hearing on energy efficiency facility improvements is one item on the Pella School Board agenda today. The board is also scheduled to receive preliminary budget information and set a hearing date for next month. Other items on the agenda include technology expenses for 2009-2010 and a report on long-term facility needs. The Pella School Board meets at 4:30 p.m. at the Administration Office.

County Board to meet this morning
The Marion County Board of Supervisors will discuss and take action on a letter of support for a Connectivity Study from I-80 to the Red Rock Area during their meeting this morning at 9:30 in the Marion County Courthouse. The approval of two agreements for federal highway stimulus program projects is also set, among other issues.

Pella PD has new reserve officer
The Pella Police Department has a new reserve officer. Jonathon Bailey took the oath of office at the city council meeting last week. Bailey works at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office as a detention officer. Glen Matherly is the Chairman of the Pella Police Reserves. He says this volunteer group assists the police department with normal functions. This includes providing additional manpower during special events like Tulip Time.

Court offices to close early two days a week
The third and fourth floor offices of the Marion County Courthouse will be closed at 2:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday beginning this Tuesday, until further notice from the Iowa Supreme Court. The rest of the Marion County courthouse will be open with usual hours.