AEA staff help clean county parks
Staff from Heartland Area Education Agency in Area 11 spent time earlier this week picking up trash at Cordova Park and Marion County Park. That’s according to Marion County Naturalist Marla Mertz. She says the trash pick up was a great community stewardship project for the Heartland AEA.

Changes planned for ISU Extension programs
Major changes and director cuts for county ISU Extension programs are planned across the state as a way to deal with significant budget cuts for the university. That’s according to Marion County ISU Extension Education Director Dale Miller. He says it’s unknown as of yet how the changes will affect he and the states other 96 directors, although the cuts will not affect county employees at the ISU office in Marion County. Miller says the number of county extension directors across the state is expected to be reduced from 97 to 20 directors, with one director in charge of re-grouped extension regions, with Marion County to be grouped with Jasper, Mahaska, and Poweshiek counties. Miller says more details are expected to be hammered out, and its likely that county extension councils throughout the state will have to meet and discuss program changes and memorandum of understandings between the counties and the university.

Officials addressing swine flu concerns as festival approaches
Thousands of visitors are expected in Pella next week for the annual Tulip Festival and officials are hoping people take some simple precautions in light of the swine flu. The Pella Chamber of Commerce is encouraging businesses to have hand sanitizer available for guests and customers to use. Pella Mayor Darrell Dobernecker says city officials are monitoring the situation and closely working with the Iowa Department of Public Health. The Knoxville Raceway is also preparing for an influx of visitors this weekend with the World of Outlaws race. Marketing Director Brian Stickel says they’ll be following all recommendations made by local and national public health officials regarding transmission of swine flu.

Today is the anniversary of officer-involved shooting
Today is the one year anniversary of the officer-involved shooting in Knoxville. Knoxville Police Chief Dan Losada says that although the incident, which resulted in the death of Frederick Dean Wright, who was armed and had an explosive device in his car, was tragic, no officers were hurt when they risked their lives to protect the community, and the only person who was hurt was the perpetrator. Losada says he is reminded of the outpouring of support for police from the local community after the incident. He adds that although Knxoville is a very safe community, last years incident is a reminder for law enforcement to always be prepared to serve and protect residents.

Police continue to investigate bank robbery
Authorities continue to investigate a bank robbery that occurred in Pella earlier this year. The MidwestOne Bank Branch Office at 500 Oskaloosa Street was robbed at gunpoint on March 18. Pella Police Chief Michael Marcinkowski says they continue to explore leads. Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to contact the Pella Police Department at 628-4921.

McGinnis withdraws previous defenses in murder case
The lawyer for a 39-year-old Knoxville resident charged with murder in the first degree withdrew previously-submitted defenses of Insanity, Intoxication, and Diminished Responsibility, according to courthouse documents. The trial for Steven Dean McGinnis is set for August 25th, with a motion hearing set July 7th. McGinnis is charged in the September, 2008 shooting death of Knoxville resident Robert Ohl.

Farmers Market starts for the season
The Pella Farmer’s Market got an early start this year. The first market was held Thursday and featured about eight vendors selling primarily plants and baked goods at this point in the growing season. The Pella Farmers Market is held Thursdays from 3:00-6:00 p.m. at the First Reformed Church parking lot.

Tulip Time volunteers still needed
Tulip Time volunteers are still needed at the Pella Historical Village and the Vermeer Windmill Interpretive Center. Vermeer Windmill Director Bonnie Verburg says most of the open slots are during the afternoons of Tulip Time. She says they really need volunteers for Saturday shifts, especially at the Historical Village. For more information contact the Pella Historical Society Business Office at 628-2409.

County plans multiple road projects for this construction season
The Marion County Engineer’s Office has multiple road projects planned this spring and summer. County Engineer Roger Schletzbaum says crews continue to work on a major bridge replacement on highway T-17 south of the landfill, which should last until early June. He says crews also plan to continue shoulder work from last year’s flooding on S-71 to the lake, and S-45 north of Melcher, among other areas. Crews also will be replacing two bridges on Erbe north of Pleasantville with box culverts starting Mid May for about six weeks. A summer deck resurfacing project on a bridge on S-45 south of Melcher-Dallas is also planned, among others.

Carnaby Club begins tonight
The Pella High School small gym is transformed into a jazz nightclub for two nights. The annual Carnaby Club show is at 7:30 p.m. tonight and Saturday. Performing acts will include the Jazz I and Jazz II, percussion ensemble, string ensembles, musical theatre, vocal ensembles and others. Vocal Director Michelle Chaplin says the doors open at 7:00 p.m. and admission is $5.

Students participate in Ag Safety Day
Knoxville high school FFA Students made presentations to 4th grade students at East, West and NorthStar elementary schools Thursday during Ag Safety Day. That’s according to Knoxville FFA advisor Brent Hanna. He tells KNIA/KRLS News that FFA members presentations covered tractor, animal and ATV safety, among other topics. The Knoxville Fire & Rescue department was also at the event, helping students become more comfortable with emergency vehicles, and explaining ambulance safety.

New restaurant opens in Pella
A new Pella restaurant opened their doors yesterday. Kaldera’s now occupies the former Doctor Salami’s building at 1205 Washington Street. The restaurant features a full menu of various Greek and Italian dishes, among others.

HOF display opens tonight
The Grand Opening of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museums new Library & Research Center and Sprint Car Theatre is this evening from 7 to 9. In related news, the 2009 Sprint Car racing season officially kicks-off Saturday at the Knoxville Raceway with World of Outlaws. There were no races last weekend due to rain. KNIA/KRLS has pre-racing coverage beginning at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, with flag to flag racing coverage starting at 7:30 p.m.

KNIA/KRLS to be recognized by IBNA
KNIA/KRLS has been informed that it will be recognized for its news and feature story coverage during the 2009 Awards Ceremony from the Iowa Broadcast News Association on May 2nd. Last year KNIA/KRLS received First Place for Political Coverage during the presidential caucuses.