A hazardous materials exercise was conducted in Marion County Tuesday. The exercise began when a hypothetical couple walking their dog saw an open door at a building on the VA campus about 4:30 am. The Knoxville Police Department responded to the scene, recognized a potential hazardous material threat, and continued the exercise by calling in Knoxville Fire and Rescue and Knoxville Township Rural Fire. Numerous county agencies were involved throughout the day, as well as the National Guard’s 71st Civil Support Group out of Des Moines. Additional agencies included the Pella Fire Department, Pella Ambulance, Melcher-Dallas Fire, Pleasantville Emergency Services, and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. Active simultaneous exercises were also conducted at Marion County Public Health, at the Knoxville Hospital and Clinics, and at Pella Regional Health Center. As part of the exercise, a note from “terrorists” was delivered to the KNIA/KRLS Studio in Knoxville, noting that the biological agent was ricin. The exercise marked the debut of the Marion County Hazmat team, and Marion County Emergency Management Coordinator Jeff Anderson estimated close to 100 individuals participated in the exercise.