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Old 12-15-2017, 11:26 PM
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Default Week in Review Dec. 15, 2017

EPA stands pat, abandons lower RFS numbers

Iowans may have won this round in the renewable fuels fight, but the they’ll have to continue to be vigilant to protect the state’s burgeoning biofuels industry.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced last month it would honor its commitment to maintain previously agreed on levels of biofuels for 2018, but lawmakers say Iowa’s facilities are still nowhere near capacity.

Jasper County drew national attention this fall as it became a battleground in the fight to preserve the Renewable Fuels Standard, or RFS at its current levels. EPA chief Scott Pruitt had proposed cuts to the program, which could have a negative effect on Jasper County’s economy.

Renewable Energy Group, REG, operates a biofuel plant in Jasper County, part of the county’s focus on renewable energy. Biofuels are big business in Iowa, and REG’s impact on Newton has been significant. Seventy million gallons of biodiesel produced in Iowa plants is delivered to 284 locations nationwide. In 2016 REG purchased 770 million pounds of feedstock from Iowa vendors, which they claim added $216 million to the state’s economy.

Split board approves lease for health department

In a 2-1 vote, the Jasper County Board of Supervisors approved a lease agreement on Tuesday to lease office space at 114 W. Fourth St. S. to house the Jasper County Health Department. Supervisor Joe Brock voted against the measure and continued to implore the board to work together.

The lease agreement was tabled at last Tuesday’s board meeting to give the Jasper County Board of Health and the supervisors additional time to tour the location. Prior to the meeting, no representative from the board of health, the governing body of the JCHD, had viewed the space.

Brock said he didn’t want to just do something “for the sake of getting it done” and have it be the wrong decision for the health department and the county. Supervisor Denny Carpenter said the board has been trying to figure a way forward with the annex building for almost 12 months and that, in his opinion, is too long.

The rental agreement with the owner of the building, VanDee, Inc., is for one year beginning on Dec. 1 and ending Nov. 30, 2018. Rent is set at $1,200 per month with VanDee paying for the electric, gas and water and sewage for the building. Since the board voted on the lease about halfway through the month, VanDee, Inc. is giving the county a pro-rated first month’s rent starting Dec. 12.

Old train depot proposed model for trail pavilion

Monroe’s now-gone, historic train depot is the inspiration behind the leading design for a proposed pavilion at the future trailhead of a recreational trail that will connect Prairie City and Monroe.

Volunteers with Monroe’s Hometown Pride Committee and Jasper County Hometown Pride Community Coach Jeff Davidson pitched the pavilion plans Monday night during the December city council meeting.

The proposed pavilion would be located in Monroe’s Red Rock Park, with a parking lot also in the works at the nearby water tower. It would be maintained by the city, but serve as a public trailhead with bathrooms and a shelter for visiting trail users as well as Monroe citizens.

Seth Shannon is a volunteer for Monroe’s Hometown Pride Committee and an architect at West Des Moines-based firm SVPA. Shannon’s firm designed a similar trailhead in Bondurant on the Chichaqua Valley Trail and Monday he outlined both the historic depot and a modern trail pavilion designs as options for the city’s consideration.

Colfax seeks school, city collaboration

The City of Colfax and the Colfax-Mingo School District held a joint meeting Dec. 6, with the complete city council in and nearly the entire school board in attendance to discussed how the two major area entities could work together to attract more people into town and better the overall community

According to the C-M Superintendent Jim Verlengia, conversations between he and Colfax Mayor David Mast began Aug. 23, the first day of school. Ever since, the school and the district have been looking to ways they can better the overall community and attract people to the area.

Goals for the joint-effort include possible operational sharing for facilities, growing the tax base and attracting young families to the city and school district.

PCM awards $5.99 million in bids for high school renovation

The PCM School Board has awarded nearly $6 million in bids to three Iowa contractors for renovations and an addition to PCM High School in Monroe. The board approved the bids in a special meeting Dec. 4.

The high school improvements will be the final phase of a three-year, $20 million district wide facilities renovation.

According to PCM district documents, Christner Contracting Inc. of Ottumwa, was awarded the big prize of general building construction and demolition. The company bid $2.8 million for the main building project plus $24,500, $72,500 and $48,900 for the first, second and third alternate projects, respectively.

Protector Mechanical of West Des Moines, was awarded a portion of the plumbing and HVAC project for $1.828 million. DeVries Electric, Inc. of Pella, was awarded its $992,000 base bid for the electrical system plus $61,300 and $3,000 for the second and third alternate projects, respectively.

The board approved all the bids unanimously in a 7-0 vote.

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