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News 2/18/09

Posted: Wednesday, February 18th, 2009 at 8:05 am

Committee recommends budget cuts 
The Knoxville school district budget review committee proposed a $1.13 million reduction for next year’s school budget. There are over 25 proposed job losses, including eight teaching positions, and 10 associate positions. The committee also proposed reconfiguring the districts structure for kindergarten through eighth grade students. The recommendation would put pre-kindergarten through third grade at West Elementary, kindergarten through third at East Elementary, fourth through sixth grade at Northstar Elementary and seventh through eighth grade at the Knoxville Middle School. The School Board will consider the budget proposal February 23. 

Firm to examine water utility needs 
The city of Pella has hired a firm to examine water and sewer rates and capital infrastructure needs for the water utility. The Pella City Council approved agreements with the Howard R. Green Company at their meeting Tuesday night. Council also approved an agreement that would allow federal funds to be used for new stoplights at the intersection of Washington and West Third. Public Works Director Denny Buyert said the new stoplights could be installed by this August or September.

Baccam trial postponed 
A trial for a Pella man facing a sexual abuse charge is postponed until May. According to Marion County court documents, a pre-trial conference for 42-year-old Richard Nathan Baccam was continued to April 10 with the trial now set for May 12. Baccam is charged with sexual abuse in the second-degree stemming from an alleged incident involving a child at a Pella residence in October 2008. 

Historic newspapers on display in Columbia 
Area residents can take a step back in time and view historic newspapers Wednesday and Thursday at the Columbia Community Center. That’s according to John Pierce, owner of Pierces Pumpkin Patch in Columbia. He says he’ll have over 150 historic newspapers on display from 4 to 8 p.m. 

Residents take advantage of healthy heart event 
Over 110 residents attended Knoxville Hospital & Clinics annual Love Your Heart: A Guide to a Healthy Heart event Tuesday. Hospital spokesperson Katrina Nelson says residents had their lipid profiles and blood sugar drawn and blood pressures checked, and should get their blood results mailed to them over the next week. 

Local professor optimistic about stimulus package 
President Barack Obama signed a $787 billion economic stimulus package into law Tuesday. The White House Press Office claims the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act could result in 37,000 jobs for the state of Iowa. Central College Professor of Economics Brian Peterson says while that figure is a projection, he’s optimistic about the stimulus plan. 

Public Health encourages radon testing 
Marion County residents should test their homes air-quality for radon and other potentially harmful substances this winter. That’s according to Cory Frank, with the Marion County Public Health Department. He says Marion County tested higher in the past for radon – a harmful radiological particle both odorless and tasteless. 

USP to hold auditions for Tulip Time production 
Auditions are next month for an upcoming community theatre production in Pella. The Union Street Players are seeking cast members for Letters from Pella, a play written by current USP President Tom Vander Well. Tryouts are March 7 from 10-11:30 a.m. and March 10 from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Pella Community Center.

Have coffee with the mayor 
Area residents can voice what’s on their minds at Coffee With The Mayor in Knoxville Thursday. Mayor Harv Sprafka says the program is held the third Thursday of each month at 4 p.m. at the Knoxville Public library. Sprafka encourages residents to bring their questions, comments and ideas for discussion.

Home Shopping Extravaganza continues 
The KNIA/KRLS Home Shopping Extravaganza continues today. Listeners can call in from 10 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m. A variety of merchandise is available for purchase ranging from hotel stays, to oil changes to gift certificates for local restaurants. An updated list of items is available online at