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News 3/15/09

Posted: Sunday, March 15th, 2009 at 6:03 am

Medical Records of Murder Victim Released
The medical records of the man 39-year-old Knoxville resident Steven Dean McGinnis is accused of killing were received and reviewed by the courts last week. In January Marion County district Judge Martha Mertz granted the request of McGinnis’s attorneys to access the medical records of Robert Ohl. Mertz ordered McGinnis pre-trial conference for April 14th at 9:30 a.m.

Howell Station Campground Hopes to Be Open by Memorial Day
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hopes to re-open a popular campground on Lake Red Rock by the end of May. Assistant Operations Manager John Holt says the goal is to have Howell Station Campground open on a first-come first-serve basis by Memorial Day. The campground suffered significant damage in the flood last year and has remained closed every since. Holt says repairs were needed to underground electric and sewer utilities, including the installation of a new lift station. He says many of the utilities already were in need of an upgrade.

Knoxville City Council to Meet on Monday
A public hearing on leasing city-owned farmland for hay ground use is set during the Knoxville City Councils bi-monthly meeting Monday evening at 6:15 in city hall. Considering the approval of an agreement between the city and the Iowa Department of Transportation for financing a street overlay project with federal funding, and considering support of a grant application by Hormel Foods is also set, among other issues.

Pella Historical Center Opens Monday
A sure sign that spring is near the Pella Historical Village and Interpretive Center open for the season Monday. This begins what is a very busy month for the Pella Historical Society. Historical Village Director Patsy Sadler says activities this month include a retirement party for six staff members, the Tulip Court Royalty Party on March 24 and the Dutch Costume Sale on March 28. All of this leads up to Tulip Time, which begins May 7.

Knoxville School District Budget Review Committee to Propose Cut
The Knoxville school district budget review committee is set to propose an around 6% cut for the 2009-10 general fund budget at a special meeting March 25th. The proposal includes cutting four teaching positions and having six sections for kindergarten through fifth grade, cutting and reassuming duties for one reading teacher, one custodial position, and the middle school drama and technology position, while combining the high school At-Risk position with a science teaching position, among others.

Marion County Unemployment Rises to 5.8 Percent
The county unemployment rate climbed to 5.8 percent in January, according to the latest figures released by Iowa Workforce Development. However, that still remains below the national average for January of 7.6 percent. Iowa Workforce Development spokeswoman Kerry Koonce says about 200 more people in Marion County began collecting unemployment in January compared to December. She says this is a combination of typical seasonal layoffs and the current economy.

Verista Imaging May Not be Coming to Knoxville
Medical company Verista Imaging, Inc., may not be coming to Knoxville, almost a year after announcing it would move into the Old Farm & Home building to produce nuclear imaging cameras. Marion County Court documents report a contractor with Verista Imaging is seeking payments for unpaid labor, material and equipment costs. A separate filing issued a notice of foreclosure on the property mortgaged to Verista.

Pella Community Schools Move Forward with Major Energy Efficiency Project
The Pella Community School District is moving forward with a major energy efficiency project. The school board is likely to award the bid for upgrades to some of the districts HVAC systems following a public hearing on March 23. This project stems from a study conducted by the firm Energy Services Group of Minnesota. Superintendent Mark Wittmer says much of the work will focus on computerizing the HVAC systems, which Wittmer says should allow staff to better manage them.