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Local News
Smoke call at the former Hilltop School building.
Posted: Jan 26 2015 by ppowers

 The Webster City Fire Department was called early Saturday evening to the old Hilltop Elementary School at 829 Bell Avenue where there was a report of smoke inside the building.Reportedly an area on the southeast side of the building was lit on fire but was already out when fire trucks arrived on the scene. Local firemen used pressure fans to clear the smoke from the area. Firemen remained on the scene for an hour to make sure the smoke was clear from the Hilltop School. Webster City Police plan to investigate the incident. The Hilltop school has been standing vacant for several years. The property is still for sale.

Hamilton County Conservation Board meeting set for Tuesday morning.
Posted: Jan 23 2015 by ppowers

 An update on the Briggs Woods Golf Course Club House will be presented at Tuesday morning's meeting of the Hamilton County Conservation Board at the Briggs Woods Park Conservation Building. The board will also watch a presentation by Scott Griffin of G6 Power Solutions in Jewell. A discussion of the 2016 fiscal year budget will also be on the agenda. There will be a look at strategic planning and infrastructure projects for the county parks and recreation areas. Director Brian Lammers will present his report to the board. Meeting time is 9:30 Tuesday.

Webster City School Board to meet Monday evening.
Posted: Jan 23 2015 by ppowers

 Another meeting of the Webster City Community School Board will be Monday evening at 6:00 p.m.at the administration building. The board will receive the initial proposal from the Webster City Educational Service Association for its new contract for the 2015-16 school year. The school board will come back with the counter proposal to the association. A vocation education presentation will be a part of this meeting. The board will discuss the 2015-16 school calendar. There will also be a look at taxable valuations for the 2016 fiscal year. In other matters, the Webster City school board will consider a fund raising request, review a service contract with Johnston Controls and a special education contract. A second reading of immunization polices will be read. The school board will review the informal board meeting with Northeast Hamilton and Stratford held last Wednesday. Donations to the Enhance Hamilton County Foundation will be discussed. A work session will be  held at the conclusion of Monday's meeting. The session will be an update on the district's grading and assessment policy.

Knierim woman killed in Thursday motor vehicle accident in Calhoun County
Posted: Jan 23 2015 by ppowers

 A 90 year old Knierim motorist was killed in a two vehicle accident in rural Calhoun County Thursday afternoon. The Iowa State Patrol identified the victim as Cleo Ballstadt. Reportedly a northbound 2007 Chevrolet Trailblazer driven by Ballstadt  was stopped at the stop sign at the junction of U.S Highway 20 and Calhoun County Road N-65 east of Rockwell City. The Ballstadt SUV entered the intersection into the path of an eastbound 2007 Peterbilt semi driven by William Cullen of Fonda. The semi struck the SUV in the driver's door. The impact sent the semi into the median and westbound lanes of traffic landing into the north ditch and ending up in a farm field. Ballstadt was pronounced dead at the accident scene. Cullen escaped injury. The accident remains under investigation.

Stratford School Board prepare for Iowa Assessments in February
Posted: Jan 22 2015 by ppowers

 The Stratford School Board Wednesday evening learned about the plans for the Iowa Assessments for Grades 3 through 6 beginning February 2. Stratford Superintendent and Principal Sarah Binder informed the board that the assessments will focus on reading, written expression, mathematics, computation, science, vocabulary and social studies. The makeup subtests will be held on Friday, February 6. Another test known as FAST or Formative Assessment System Tests were administered last week. Binder said the results looked good from the students participating.

Superintendent Binder informed the Stratford school board that the Iowa State University ERS (Environment Rating Scale) was conducted on January 15. In order to qualify for the highest level, a 5, Iowa State University must conduct the assessment. Stratford is the only preschool in the area that is eligible for the ERS and level 5 rating.The board commended the work of Linda White, Deb Risen and Kathy Ekstrom for their efforts.

The board learned about the work of Coleman Counseling of Eagle Grove to families in the Stratford school district. There are currently three families who are working with Coleman Counseling with more families expected to be in need of their services. The Webster City school district has also started working with Coleman Counseling. Karla Caquelin is at the Stratford school building one morning a week and meets with students weekly,bi-weekly and monthly as well.

In other matters, the Stratford school board learned that the district has applied for an Enhance Hamilton County Foundation grant that will be used for playground improvements and for indoor play equipment. The Stratford school district will find out this spring if they receive grant money. Plans for summer maintenance projects were discussed. The work will include replacing carpets in the restrooms and business office, replace the sinks and faucets in the adult restroom with no construction projects planned this year. 

First and second grade co-teacher Liz Smith reported to the Stratford school board on the activities in the classroom. Last month there was a family tradition course as students shared what families do during the Christmas holiday season with food,music and other customs.

Prior to the Stratford school board meeting, there was an informal board session with Northeast Hamilton and Webster City school board officials and superintendent Mike Sherwood. During the hour long meeting, there was a discussion on professional growth and development, sharing arrangements between the three school districts, the school calendar and other matters.

At the conclusion of the regular meeting,the Stratford school board entered into a closed strategy session.

Webster City City Council look at Capital Improvement plans.
Posted: Jan 22 2015 by ppowers

 This week the Webster City City Council sat down for a work session focusing on the city's Capital Improvement plans and budget. Next fiscal year, Webster City will experience a large impact from Electrolux by virtue of the factory being torn down. With the loss of assessed value, the city has lost between $170,000 to $200,000 a year in General Fund revenue. It appears that some of this loss will be mitigated by a general increase in the assessed value of other properties in Webster City. The remainder of the loss is proposed to be addressed by a slight increase in the amount of water, sewer and electric funds transferred to the General Fund each in what can be considered as either a payment in lieu of taxes or a franchise fee.It is anticipated that this will increase this year from 5 percent to 5.25 percent. Last year the Webster City City Council approved 6 percent of prevous revenues for this purpose but with the smaller overall loss than anticipated, not all of the additional 1% is needed. Through some very conservative management, personnel reductions and prudent management of expenses of staff, the General Fund has accumulated a decent fund balance that can help Webster City through some tough times.  On the other hand, the balance should not be looked upon as the answer for ongoing costs as it will eventually run out and all the city will have accomplished will be to have delayed the inevitable tough decisions. The General Fund budget request for the upcoming year, despite a 2% raise is actually more than $13,000 less than the previous year. The recent loss of Electrolux will also have a greater impact on Webster City's Wastewater and Water Funds as they lost about 10 percent of their revenue. In the case of all three city utilities, it is hoped that revenue from future growth will provide new revenues will be allowed for need expenditures while keeping rates at an acceptable level. The potential growth is expected to include the likes of new housing, Vero Blue Farms and recently expanded local businesses. City Manager Ed Sadler presented some high points in Webster City's Capital Improvement Plan. They include the continuation of the Natural Disaster Fund,repairs to the Outdoor Swimming Pool. The pool has been in usage for 25 years. Land acquisition for housing,street improvement, and sewer line slip lining. At its February 2 meeting,the Webster City City Council will set the date of February 16 for a public hearing on the Capital Improvement plan for the next five years. There will be more information presented at that tim.

Vero Blue Farms agree to purchase new aquaculture tank systems.
Posted: Jan 22 2015 by ppowers

 Officials with Vero Blue Farms announced Wednesday that they have agreed to purchase 2,000 aquaculture tank systems from Texas-base Opposing Flows Aquaculture for more than $100 million. The land based recirculating systems which use air blowers to create an opposing flow of water will be delivered to the Webster City operation in the former Beam Manufacturing building on West Second Street. Vero Blue Farms also will have an operation in the former Kenco warehouse on Des Moines Street. In addition, Vero Blue Farms will be the exclusive global distributor of the Opposing Flow Aquaculture tanks. It will produce 40 million pounds of fish per year once the new tanks are fully installed this year. The order will help Vero Blue Farms expand its Iowa's First barramundi fish operation with 7.2 million pounds of grow out production. The company is also boosting its fingerling operation to 300 tanks and additional processing and packaging capabilities. The firm is expected to employ up to 150 people for the new operation in Webster City.

Graesch murder trial delayed.
Posted: Jan 22 2015 by ppowers

 A judge Tuesday delayed the trial of a Webster City man accused of murdering his father last June. District Judge Kurt Wilke ordered the delay in the trial of 27 year old Corbin James Graesch. Graesch is accused of killing his father 61 year old Steven James Graesch last June. The incident happened at the Graesch residence,1932 Des Moines Street. Corbin Graesch remains in the Hamilton County Jail. The trial was to have started next Tuesday in Hamilton County District Court. No new date has been set at this time.

Webster City High School Winterfest Queen and King Candidates announced.
Posted: Jan 22 2015 by ppowers

 This year's Webster City High School Winterfest Court was announced on Wednesday. The queen candidates are Madalyn Anderson, Molly Gilbert, Mikaleh McCoy, Olinca Padierna,Ryann Powell and Shannon Swon. The contestants for king are John Ferrell, Joel Hanus, Dominic Khaleet, Connor O'Hearn and Demetry Thongsouk. The coronation ceremony for Winterfest will be held Monday afternoon at 2:30 at Prem Sahai Auditorium.

Algona man arrested after early morning high speed chase in Hamilton and Story Counties.
Posted: Jan 21 2015 by ppowers

 A 29 year old Algona motorist is facing charges after a high speed chase through Hamilton and Story counties early Wednesday morning.  The Story County Sheriff's Department received a report of a vehicle all over the roadway with varying speeds as it was traveling southbound on Interstate 35 in Hamilton County. Story County Deputies located the vehicle at mile marker 122. After observing the vehicle cross the fog line several times, the deputies attempted to initiate a traffic stop. The driver of the vehicle, Kurt Angier attempted to elude law enforcement by accelerating to over 135 miles per hour, increasing his distance from the pursuing deputies. Angier's vehicle struck the rear of another southbound vehicle at mile marker 115 near Ames. The two vehicles lost control and left the roadway. Angier attempted to escape the scene by foot but was apprehended in a short time by the Story County Sheriff's Department.  Angier was treated for minor injuries he received in the accident. He was then transported to the Story County Jail in Nevada. Angier has been charged with Operating While Intoxicated-Second Offense, Eluding, Improper Use of Lanes, Failure to Stop in an Safe and Assured Distance, Driving Under Suspension and No Vehicle Insurance. The driver of the other vehicle was indentified as 25 year old Sarah Hartman of Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was traveling with her family including Jeremy Kirschbaum, Ray Hartman and a 9 month old child. Both Sarah and Ray were treated for non life threating injuries at Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames. The child was properly secured in child restraints in the rear seat of the vehicle at the time of collision and was uninjured.

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