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News 4/5/09

Severe Weather Awareness Week
Next week is Severe Weather Awareness Week, and starting Monday KNIA/KRLS will be carrying a series of stories informing Marion County residents on what they should do when severe weather strikes. Also Wednesday, April 8th, is when Iowa is conducting a statewide tornado drill, and KNIA/KRLS will conduct a mock Severe Weather Action Team drill to better inform residents on KNIA/KRLS severe weather coverage process.

Legislative Coffee Draws Crowd
A large crowd gathered at the Public Safety Complex in Pella Saturday morning for a Legislative Coffee. State Representative Jim Van Engelenhoven and State Senator Paul McKinley spoke to a crowd of over 40 people at the Public Safety Complex. In the wake of the Iowa Supreme Court decision Friday, much of the discussion centered on the issue of same-sex marriage. Senator McKinley again called for a constitutional amendment to allow Iowans to decide the definition of marriage. He says Iowans need to stand up and be counted on this issue. Other topics discussed at the forum included a bill to eliminate federal deductibility on state taxes. Both Van Engelenhoven and McKinley warned about the negative impact this would have on small business.

Knoxville City Council Bi-Monthly Meeting
The Knoxville City Council will consider adopting a resolution regarding wastewater treatment plant improvements and electrical control modification at their bi-monthly City Council meeting Monday evening at 6:15 in city hall. The Council will also consider a resolution accepting engineering services for a sewer rehabilitation project from highway 14 to Grant Street and North of Pleasant St., among other issues.

Grassfires near Pella
Firefighters responded to two rural grassfires near Pella Saturday afternoon. Crews were dispatched to a grassfire that had gotten out of control at 598 Highway T-14. The fire burned a large area of land but firefighters were able to prevent any major damage to buildings. The property owner told KNIA/KRLS News that only minor damage was done to a barn. While at that scene, firefighters were dispatched to another grassfire at 2029 Carter Drive north of Pella.

Projected Increase in Agricultural Land Value
Overall agricultural land valuations in Marion County are projected to increase by 48%, although the estimated taxable value residents will have to pay could range from 3 to 6% due to the projected state rollback from the Department of Revenue. That’s according to Marion County Assessor Drew Sanders, who adds that overall urban residential property tax assessments will be down 1.5 to 2% compared to last year.

Community Development Committee to Discuss Applebee’s
Formal design plan for an Applebees Restaurant in Pella are up for approval later this month. City Planning and Zoning Director George Wesselhoft says a design permit for the building architecture will be considered at the Community Development Committee meeting April 8 while the site plan is on the agenda for the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting April 27. Dave Phillips with developer Apple Corp. says construction could start in early May.

Knoxville School Board Sets Budget Hearing Date
The Knoxville School Board set the district’s 2009-10 school budget hearing date for April 13th at 6:30 p.m. at their meeting earlier this week. The proposed levy rate is $16.45 per $1,000 taxable valuation, slightly down from last years rate of $16.47. The board also voted to levy over $89,000 in property taxes to receive one percent allowable growth for the district, among other issues.

Central College Honors Former Music Professor
Central College will honor a former music professor with a special concert today. According to Central, the music department will honor Edith LeCocq with a memorial concert entitled Mass of the Children. Several groups are scheduled to perform including the Central College Community Choir and Orchestra and the Pella Community Handbell Ensemble, among others. LeCocq taught music for 36 years at Central College. The performance is at 4 p.m. at Douwstra Auditorium.