Year in Review News 4th QuarterWritten by Theresa Rose on December 31, 2015
At the very beginning of the fourth quarter of 2015 the Henry County Sheriff began to seriously investigate and plan for an expansion to the Henry County Jail. Sheriff McNamee began by setting up a meeting with an architect. October 16 Goldberg Group Architects presented the county supervisors with a proposed agreement to provide planning, architectural and engineering services for the design of an expansion and renovation of the current sheriff’s office and jail building. With the board’s approval, Sheriff McNamee and the architect worked thru out the quarter on a preliminary design. This was presented to the supervisors on December 17. The architect’s plan includes utilizing the current jail and office space. The total estimated project cost is $3 million, 866 thousand, 860 dollars for a 11,300 square foot one story addition to the back of the existing building on Clay Street. The architect will return in January with suggested changes, a more detailed budget and more information on staffing and operations.
During the last quarter of the year Mt. Pleasant learned the state’s sex offender treatment program, currently housed in Mount Pleasant, will be moved to Newton. The director of the Iowa Department of Corrections Jerry Bartruff says the move will provide for better use of both staff and facilities.
A plan to transition the convicted sex offenders from Mount Pleasant to Newton is still being developed, according to Bartruff, so the move likely won’t happen until sometime next year. He doesn’t believe the change will alter staffing at either prison.
October 21 a large crane and flatbed trailer pulled into Mt. Pleasant’s Central Park. Crews dismantled the Ed King Memorial Fountain and carefully loaded it onto the trailer for its’ trip south for the winter. The fountain is being refurbished and will be returned in the spring.
At the beginning of November a Burlington Northern Sante Fe coal train derailed near Danville after hitting a construction grader. According to the Des Moines County Sheriff’s office the grader operator was working at the site of the Hwy 34 road repair project near the railroad crossing. He backed up the grader not realizing the grader was on the tracks. And he did not see the train headed east with a full load of coal. The operator was thrown off the grader. He received non-life threatening injuries. The collision caused 30 to 35 train cars to go off the tracks dumping the coal.
A fatal accident occurred 11/29 on Hwy 27 in Lee County. Clinton Meeker of Donnellson and Diana Delacruz of Houston, Texas were killed in the crash that involved four vehicles. Lynne Veldhuizen of Oskaloosa was injured. A fourth person, Douglas Harris also of Oskaloosa was not reported to have been injured.
Before the end of the year, the Mt. Pleasant School Board was well into the superintendent search process. The board had decided to proceed without the assistance of a search firm. Interim Supt Dr. John Roederer began the process by presenting the board with a possible timeline and format. The board also decided the community should be involved. At the end of November a public input meeting was held. Participants were asked to share thoughts on the desired qualities in a good superintendent. Stakeholder groups were identified and in December the individuals selected for participation in the groups were approved. By December 11 12 individuals had submitted applications for the supt position and vetting of the candidates began. At the last meeting of the year, the board set a special meeting for January 4 to go thru the applications and choose the finalist to be interviewed at the end of January.
In December the Mt. Pleasant Public Library, Iowa Wesleyan Chadwick Library and the public school elementary libraries all were beneficiaries of the Donald Young estate. The local educator and historian passed away in March. His love of books, education and history translated into very generous bequests for the libraries, over $300,000 each.
In December there were signs the area economy was improving…..Contitech, formerly Veyance Technologies in Mt. Pleasant announced plans for a 31,000 foot expansion and is expected to add 14 jobs. NCI parent company of CECO is expected to add 45 jobs in the coming year. And the Henry County Supervisors agreed to sell just over 11 acres to the owner of Pleasant Manor Care Center for $229,600. Capstone Management plans to construct a new long term care facility to replace Pleasant Manor. Construction should begin in the spring of 2016.