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2013: The year in review

What were the biggest stories in Clarke County in 2013?

OST file photo
Members of "Team Marilyn" dance during the "Team Lap" at Clarke County Relay for Life June 14 at the high-school track in Osceola. It was the first ever Relay for Life in Clarke County.
OST file photo Members of "Team Marilyn" dance during the "Team Lap" at Clarke County Relay for Life June 14 at the high-school track in Osceola. It was the first ever Relay for Life in Clarke County.

It’s 2014. Another year has come and gone.

However, 2013 was an eventful year in Clarke County. Osceola Sentinel-Tribune compiled a list of the biggest news stories of the year.

Editor’s note: The stories are listed in chronological order of when the events were reported in the news, not in order of importance.

Murray voters approve school addition, Feb. 14

Murray Community School District voted to take the next step forward in a Feb. 5 special election. A vote passed with 257 yes votes to 75 no votes to contract indebtedness and issue general-obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $2.085 million to provide funds to construct, build, improve, furnish and equip an addition to the existing facility and site.

The goal of the entire renovation project at Murray is to repurpose space.

The renovation project includes many new things for the school building. The educational wing will have two science classrooms with an expanded lab. The lab will be large enough to put in several lab tables.

There will also be two math classrooms.

Included in the design plan is a multipurpose gymnasium with a community room next to it.

The gym at Murray is wood, and is in need of constant maintenance. Every year, between $1,600 and $2,000 goes toward the gym floor’s upkeep.

The multipurpose gym with room for 150 spectators may be used for physical education, junior-varsity games, junior-high games, varsity and junior-high volleyball.

Varsity basketball will still have to be scheduled in the school’s current gym because it is the only area large enough. The current gym, which was built in 1957, will still be the school district’s main gym.

Murray to get a Casey’s General Store, March 21

In the early spring, it was announced Murray is getting a Casey’s General Store.

After the town’s convenience store left in February 2012, there was a need for another one.

The Casey’s General Store in Murray will be located directly south of the school.

Officials with Casey’s did six inspections of Murray and found the city would be a viable community for a Casey’s store.

Council doubles funding for Osceola Senior Center, March 28

In February, it came to the attention of Osceola City Council that Osceola Senior Center was struggling financially.

Councilman Glenn Schaff said the council never gets a report from the local animal shelter. So, he proposed taking $1,000 in monthly funding away from the shelter and giving that money to the senior center.

Schaff’s proposal was not approved because other council members — like Dr. George Fotiadis, David Walkup and Sarah Truitt — believed animal shelter staff should be contacted and allowed to make a presentation before a decision like that was made.

Joy Durham, animal shelter manager, made a presentation to the council in March. She provided the council a detailed expense report, and Durham also updated them on the shelter’s current services and upcoming events.

“This report looks very good,” Schaff said during the March meeting, “and I’d like to keep these reports coming. If you can do that, I have no objections to leave (your) money where it is at. Thank you for coming forward.”

Durham agreed to issue a monthly report to the city council in the future. The council then agreed to continue funding the shelter at $2,000 per month.

In February, the council approved waiving sewer charges at the senior center. Since then, water fees have also been waived. It’s estimated eliminating those two costs will save the senior center about $1,000 annually.

In March, the city budgeted $3,000 annually toward the senior center. During the March 28 council meeting, Schaff made a motion to increase that budget to $6,000 per fiscal year and issue two separate payments. That payment system would allow the council the chance to review the senior center’s financial situation every six months.

Gonzales named new superintendent at Clarke, April 18

In January, Clarke School Board hired Steve Seid as an interim superintendent to replace former Clarke Superintendent Ned Cox.

Next, the board began the process of finding a long-term superintendent.

There were 22 applicants for the superintendent position. The school board interviewed five finalists during the week of March 25.

The five finalists included:

• Seid

• Benita Gonzales, shared superintendent of Sigourney and Tri-County Community school districts.

• Brandon Eighmy, former principal of Clarke Community Elementary School

• Brett Gibbs, superintendent of Audubon Community School District

• Dr. Pamela Vogel, superintendent of East Union Community School District

In April, the school board announced a superintendent contract had been offered to Gonzales.

The board offered Gonzales a one-year contract that began July 1. It included a salary of $130,000.

Voters say ‘no’ to repealing LOST, May 9

“No” was a win for those in favor of Clarke County Reservoir Commission’s (CCRC) Squaw Creek watershed project.

The results in May 7 special election to repeal the local option sales tax (LOST) in Clarke County were No: 611 to Yes: 119.

The issue of repealing LOST was directly related to the funding for CCRC’s watershed project.

The ongoing CCRC Squaw Creek Watershed project could provide a water supply for Osceola and SIRWA (Southern Iowa Rural Water Association) with an 816-acre lake, which could provide 2.2 million gallons of water per day.

West Lake, the current water source, doesn’t meet the needs of Clarke County and SIRWA.

The total project cost for the reservoir in the CCRC Squaw Creek Watershed is estimated at $37.6 million. Funding for the project includes many sources, especially funding from LOST.

A special election was scheduled in May to determine whether to repeal LOST in the areas of Clarke County where it is imposed.

This included LOST 2008 with the city of Woodburn, LOST 2009 with the city of Osceola and LOST 2010 with the city of Murray.

Voters showed they were in favor of moving forward with CCRC’s watershed project.

Clarke County holds first-ever Relay for Life, June 20

Clarke County’s first-ever Relay for Life was held June 14 at the high-school track in Osceola. Kay Risser, a two-time cancer survivor, was the honorary chairwoman for the relay.

Relay For Life is the world’s largest movement to end cancer, where each year more than 4 million people in more than 20 countries raise much-needed funds and awareness to save lives from cancer.

Through the leadership of Karen Irwin, Clarke County successfully recruited committed volunteers to plan an event that most in the community had never experienced before.

These volunteers recruited 24 teams and more than 200 individuals to be a part of the event, raising nearly $22,000 as a first-year event.

In honor of outstanding contributions in the fight against cancer, American Cancer Society (ACS) recently presented the volunteers of Relay For Life of Clarke County a Midwest Division Community of Hope Award at the 2013 Southeast Iowa Leadership Conference held in Oskaloosa.

The date for this year’s event is 6 p.m. Friday, June 13, to 6 a.m. Saturday, June 14.

Council approves contract with Jim’s Sanitation, July 11

Osceola City Council denied renewing a five-year contract with Waste Management, which incorporates single-stream recycling.

The city had a contract with Waste Management until Sept. 30.

During many council meetings, Councilman Glenn Schaff said the council had asked about getting lighter trucks for the city’s streets, including seal-coated and asphalt roads.

Schaff said he didn’t like when a Waste Management representative came to the city with a new contract for waste collection and didn’t leave any room for change or compromise.

The contract for Osceola’s waste collection was put out for bid.

Jim’s Sanitation of Creston and Waste Management both had bids for the contract.

Jim’s Sanitation had higher collection rates, but smaller truck loads. Waste Management had cheaper collection rates, but heavier truck loads.

During a July 3 council meeting, the council awarded a five-year contract for the city’s solid-waste and recycling collection to Jim’s Sanitation. The contract started Oct. 1 and incorporated single-stream recycling.

Clarke softball runner-up at state competition, Aug. 1

Clarke softball team’s magical ride through the Class 3A postseason was finally grounded by Bondurant-Farrar.

Bondurant-Farrar posted a 6-3 victory over the Clarke Lady Indians in the Class 3A championship game in Fort Dodge in July.

After finishing runner-up at the state tournament, Clarke’s softball team returned to where it all started — the high school softball field.

The team was escorted into town by a row of Osceola police vehicles and fire trucks.

A crowd of well-wishers was at the high school to greet and congratulate the girls on their season.

If the team was feeling sad after losing the championship game, they didn’t show it.

Once the team vans were parked, the girls jumped out, screamed, hugged each other and started dancing to their rally song, which is Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop.”

This was Clarke’s second appearance in the state softball tournament. Their last appearance was in 1995 when the team won the state championship.

Two killed in BNSF accident, Aug. 8

Two men died in the early morning hours of Aug. 3 in Osceola after being struck by an eastbound Burlington Northern freight train.

Zackariah Alan Brown, 24, of Osceola and Justin Michael Schumacher, 22, of Indianola both died of their injuries. There was no vehicle involved.

Osceola Police Chief Marty Duffus said the two men were on the railroad tracks near the intersection of Delaware Street in Osceola around 5:11 a.m. They were not at a crossing.

The location where the two men were hit by the train is residential. However, there were no witnesses other than the engineer of the train.

Hooper, Diehl win in contested races, Nov. 7

Osceola City Council candidate Dan Hooper pulled off an upset over incumbent Councilwoman Sarah Truitt in the race for the seat of Osceola City Council, Ward 2.

In a Nov. 5 election, Hooper had 107 votes. Truitt had 76. The city-council position is a four-year term.

In Osceola, there were three candidates vying to be elected mayor. Incumbent Fred Diehl emerged as the victor in the election.

Diehl had 244 votes. The other two candidates were Steve Squier and Ron Eshelman. Squier had 181 votes and Eshelman had 38 votes. The office of mayor is a two-year term.

Incumbent Councilman Glenn Schaff was running for re-election for Osceola City Council’s at-large seat. He ran unopposed in the election.

Schaff had 394 votes. The seat is a four-year term.

In the election, there were 2,978 registered voters and 476 people voted in the election. This is approximately 16 percent of the voting population in Osceola.

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