2014 Year in Review Part 1: January-June

The items below summarize the top news stories that appeared in The Standard during the first six months of 2014.

January
Veterans Memorial Hospital physicians and staff announced that Kinsley Ann Bosley, daughter of Joyce and Reed Bosley of Waukon, was the winner of the First Baby of the Year Contest at Veterans Memorial Hospital for 2014. Kinsley Ann was born January 5 at 6:06 a.m. at Veterans Memorial Hospital.

In light of discussion and consideration of relocation and construction of a new fire station in Waukon, the Waukon Area Fire Protection District hosted a series of open house events for the general public to witness, first-hand, the issues that have made a new station a matter of consideration.
The Waukon Area Fire Protection District Board of Directors, Fire Officers and firefighters invited everyone to the open house events who is protected by the District, which serves the city of Waukon, rural townships of Hanover, Union Prairie, Makee and Jefferson, and parts of the rural townships of Waterloo, Ludlow, French Creek, Center, Franklin and Paint Creek.

The Allamakee County Sheriff's Department reported that strong winds and drifting snow forced a ban on towing beginning at 6 p.m. Sunday, January 26. Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick said that the Sheriff's Department received 14 reports of stranded vehicles Sunday night, but white-out conditions made it impossible to get tow service to the vehicles, some of which were stranded in drifts within the roadway.

February
Even though the 2013 Iowa High School football season is over, history continues to be made by members of this past season’s Waukon football team. Having already played to historical measures on the high school gridiron, not one but three of this year’s senior team members penned their names to letters of intent to continue their playing careers with NCAA Division I football programs - the most Division I commitments ever in the history of the program.
“It is really a tribute to their individual talents,” Waukon football varsity head coach Chad Beerman said of his former charges who will be taking their talents on to the highest level of NCAA football.
Glyeb Ewing, Parker Hesse and Marcus Weymiller each signed their names to National Letters of Intent on NCAA Signing Day Wednesday, February 5, making their commitments to their respective programs official. Ewing inked his commitment to Oregon State University as a defensive lineman prospect, Hesse finalized his commitment to the University of Iowa as a linebacker, and Weymiller signed his official declaration to play runningback at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI).

During its regular meeting Tuesday, February 11, the Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met with Sheriff Clark Mellick, who reported that the assessment of the County's current jail facility has been completed and that a "needs assessment" regarding the construction of a new facility is nearing completion.
Mellick said that the next step in the process is to form a committee to be tasked with evaluating those assessments, selecting a location for the new facility and making recommendations to the Board of Supervisors regarding the construction of the facility and possible financing options. In addition to making recommendations to the Board, members of the committee would also be expected to be available to explain the need for the new facility to the public.
Mellick said that, with the Board's approval, he would like to form a broad-based committee by April 1 comprised of 15 to 20 individuals. The Board approved the formation of the committee.

March
A Waukon area native was among those specially invited to attend the dedication and installation of a statue commemorating the man credited with saving "an estimated billion people around the world from hunger and starvation," Dr. Norman Borlaug.
Dr. Michael D. Bechtel, a 1989 graduate of Waukon High School, was requested by the Congress of the United States to attend the commemorating ceremony for the dedication of the bronze statue of the late Dr. Norman E. Borlaug scheduled for March 25 at the Statutory Hall on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Bechtel is currently the Assistant Professor of Science Education at Wartburg College in Waverly and was a long-time mentor, participant and coach for the World Food Prize Youth Institute, created by Dr. Borlaug, while teaching at secondary schools in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The coaching tenure of Waukon girls basketball coach Gene Klinge was officially brought to an end  Monday, March 17 when Klinge submitted his resignation as varsity girls basketball head coach at Waukon High School. The resignation came after Klinge reportedly had learned his contract for the position would not be renewed, a decision the school district has not commented further upon.
The Allamakee Community School District Board of Directors accepted Klinge's resignation at the school board meeting held Monday night, March 17. Dave Herold, Superintendent of Allamakee Community Schools, stated, “Coach Klinge has given our school district 11 great years and we are very appreciative of his leadership and service to our school district. During his tenure, we have been able to sit back and witness one of the greatest Iowa girls coaches at work. There is no doubt that Coach Klinge’s record epitomizes success. Again, we appreciate all of Coach Klinge’s services to the Waukon High School girls basketball program and we wish him all the best.”
Following submission of his resignation, Coach Klinge stated, "I want to thank the community for all of its support through the years, we had a great 11-year run and I am proud of what we accomplished here in that time."

The first meeting of the Allamakee County Jail Task Committee was held Thursday, March 20 in the courtroom at the Allamakee County Courthouse. All of the 29 people in attendance were treated as members of the newly-formed committee and were welcomed by Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick, who said that his purpose in forming the committee was not to "beat the drum" for the construction of a new jail, but to have a broad cross-section of county residents examine the facts objectively and eventually make a recommendation to the Allamakee County Board of Supervisors.

April
Live Healthy Iowa announced its 2014 Cup Challenge winners at a press conference held Wednesday, April 16 in the State Capitol Rotunda in Des Moines, and for the third consecutive year, Allamakee County was crowned the winner of the Community Cup Challenge and remained the only community entity to win the Cup Challenge since its inception three years ago. Dani Bucknell, co-leader of the Get Active Allamakee Wellness Coalition with Stefanie Perkins and Director of the Waukon Wellness Center, accepted the Community Cup Challenge trophy at Wednesday's presentation in Des Moines.
After 16 months of research, the Allamakee County Planning and Zoning Commission recommended a zoning amendment regarding extraction pits - some of which involve the frac sand mining process.
Following a public hearing Monday, April 21 which drew more than 30 area residents, the Commission unanimously approved an amendment to the Allamakee County Zoning Ordinance which was scheduled to be reviewed by the Allamakee County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, April 29. The amendment addresses applications for conditional use permits for new extraction pits for frac sand, and the new use requests for the washing, refining, processing, storing or stockpiling of frac sand.

May
Main Street Lansing was bestowed with the honor of conducting the Retail Event of the Year at the 27th annual Main Street Iowa Awards celebration held Friday, May 2 at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center in downtown Des Moines. Main Street Lansing's 2013 “Main Street Madness” promotion earned the honors by bringing in $157,500 in retail sales during the four weeks leading up to Christmas 2013, tripling the result of the promotion from the previous year.

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday, May 13 to change the percentages used to distribute local option sales and service tax (LOSST) funds, removing E911 funding from the equation and awarding a greater percentage of LOSST funds to the townships. Previously, 25% of LOSST revenues were distributed to E911, 22% to the Rural Services Fund, 23% to Secondary Roads and the remaining 33% to the townships.
Over the past several weeks, the Board discussed the distribution of LOSST funds in light of the discovery that the incorporated areas of the County have not been contributing to funding E911. The resolution passed by the Board sets the percentages at 40% to the townships, 30% to Secondary Roads and 30% to the Rural Services Fund. The Board also passed a resolution to hold a special election August 5 for the renewal of the one percent sales tax that comprises the LOSST revenues.
Chairman Larry Schellhammer said that the resolution passed by the Board also includes a ten-year sunset date because things change and the tax should be reexamined periodically. He emphasized that the County would continue to fund E911 but the funding will come from the General Basic Fund, to which all property tax payers, urban and rural, contribute.

The Allamakee County Public Safety Center Committee met Tuesday, May 13 with the State of Iowa's Chief Jail Inspector, Delbert Longley, who shared his concerns with the Committee about the County's current jail facility.
Longley expressed concern that the current jail does not have enough room to separate different classifications of prisoners - males/females, felons/misdemeanants, juveniles/adults, etc.
When asked how long the County has before its jail is forced to close, Longley said that in his eight years as Chief Jail Inspector, he has only shut down one jail. He said that there are some things that could be done to "buy some time," but there is no long-term solution for the currently facility. Longley said that it would not be possible to bring the current facility into full compliance with current regulations and that the County would lose its grandfathered immunity from those regulations if any significant renovations were made to the current facility.
He said that as long as there is movement to address his concerns about the jail, he would continue to work with the County to keep the current jail open for as long as possible, though he speculated that it would take at least three years to construct and move in to a new facility.

Waukon boys track and field senior Seth Snitker completed his high school track career by proving himself to be one of the best high school field events athletes in the entire state of Iowa at the 2014 Iowa High School State Track Meet held at Drake Stadium in Des Moines Thursday-Saturday, May 22-24. Snitker was crowned the Class 3A Discus Champion with a launch of 175'6" Thursday, May 22 and then followed up that championship performance with a runner-up finish in the Class 3A Shot Put competition Friday, May 23 with a heave of 55'11.25". Snitker's discus toss was the best recorded by an such competitor in all four classes of discus competition at this year's Iowa high school track and field season grand finale, and his one-two finish in his two field event specialties was one of the highest combination finishes of all field event athletes at this year's State Meet.

June
Allamakee County voters stayed the course in the Allamakee County Attorney's office, as current Allamakee County Attorney Jill Kistler won the Republican bid for that office in the Tuesday, June 3 Primary Election over challenger Julian West of Cedar Rapids. According to initial results not officially canvassed as of press time, Kistler received 485 (63.56%) of the votes cast, while West received 278 votes (36.44%).
That race was the lone contested race within Allamakee's county level of government, with the Democratic ballot not having any candidates listed in any county level office.
The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors passed an amendment to the County's zoning ordinance at the Board's regular meeting Tuesday, June 3 to regulate the mining of frac sand and other industrial minerals. Though the amendment represents months of work on the part of the Allamakee County Planning and Zoning Commission, numerous public meetings and extensive input from the public, the Board approved the third and final reading of the amendment and passed it with little fanfare or ceremony.
While the amendment does allow for the mining of frac sand and other industrial mining, the application process is extensive - Allamakee County Zoning Administrator Tom Blake has estimated that it could take a year or more for a mining company to complete an application for a conditional use permit, which would then require approval by the Board of Adjustment, adding that he would inform the Board of Supervisors when any application for a conditional use permit under the amendment ordinance is pending. Any mining operation granted a conditional use permit under the amendment will be limited to the hours of 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. central daylight time and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. central standard time Monday through Friday, and if any nuisance is alleged to be caused by the operation, the County has the right to shut the operation down and revoke the conditional use permit.

During the regular meeting of the Allamakee County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, June 17 John Ellingson, Chairman of the Allamakee Public Safety Center Committee, asked for the Board's permission to request proposals from architects for preliminary design plans for a new jail and public safety center to be constructed within Allamakee County. Ellingson said that the cost to develop the plans should be between $8,000 and $12,000 and that the cost to construct a new facility has been estimated at $4.5 million.
The Board authorized Midwest Construction Consultants to seek bids for the preliminary plans. Supervisor Sherry Strub thanked the Committee for all of its work through the initial stages of the planning process for the proposed new jail and safety center.

It was nearly a case of very unfortunate deja vu for Waukon and the surrounding Allamakee County area, as heavy rains Wednesday and Thursday, June 18 and 19 brought some of the same results as almost exactly one year ago - although not to the same overall degree.
National Weather Service data reported rain totals of between eight and nine inches in the few days prior to and including a Thursday, June 19 storm that topped off that total with a frequency of one to one-and-a-half inches of rain per hour during a two-hour period in the early afternoon hours. It was that same type of rain total frequency, both overall and per hour, that brought flash flooding destruction to the downtown Waukon community and the greater Allamakee County area during the June 22-23, 2013 time period.
Although the property damage and destruction did not reach overall levels experienced a year ago, some very troublesome similarities did result between the two storm periods. Among those similarities are the evacuation and closing of campground areas within Yellow River State Forest through Monday, June 23 due to the flooding of its namesake, and the closing of all horse trails within the facility through this Thursday, June 26.
The closing of nearly a dozen area roadways by flooding, mostly gravel roads in southeastern Allamakee County, also echoed similarities from last year to this year, although, again, not to the same degree as in 2013. Those road closures have been considerably more temporary this year, with that list dwindling to just four roadways by press time Tuesday, June 24, including Donahue Road from State Forest Rd to County Road X52 and the Cottage Road dead end from County Road X52 in the Yellow River Forest area; Imperial Avenue from Jefferson Davis Drive to the Clayton County border in southeast Allamakee County; and the Army Drive dead end from Fourth Street in New Albin.
Within the Waukon community itself, the wall of flash flooding that devastated numerous area businesses in 2013 was replaced this year by basement flooding in several downtown businesses, some businesses reporting five to six feet of water in their basements following Thursday's final dousing. Additionally, numerous Waukon homes experienced basement flooding once again this year, many of them experiencing new flooding by water infiltration through basement walls and floors, but a large handful of them in lower lying areas once again having sanitary sewer back-up for the second consecutive year.

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