2022 4th Quarter Year in Review

October 15 the Mt. Pleasant High School Panther Marching Band received their 35th consecutive top Division I rating at the state Marching band festival  in Muscatine. Director Jim Depriest said the band has received a number one every year he has been at Mount Pleasat.  So it was fitting his last was a number one.  But as is typical with Mr. D He gave all the credit to the kids October 17 at the marching band’s final performance of the year during All Bands Night at Mapleleaf Athletic Complex.  It was also the final marching band performance under the direction of long-time director Jim DePriest.

October 18 two construction workers were struck and killed on the Great River Bridge at Burlington. The workers were walking behind their stationary pickup truck and trailer, setting construction barrels for a work zone on the Great River Bridge of U.S Route 34 westbound as it crosses the Mississippi River. A vehicle traveling westbound struck a barrel and continued on, striking the two construction workers causing fatal injuries. The workers are identified as Pearson J. Franklin, 20-year-old of New London, IA and Andrew Whitcomb, 35-year-old of Burnside, IL.

October 28 Iowa-based turkey processor West Liberty Foods announced it will close its Mount Pleasant facility affecting 350 employees.The location has produced millions of pounds of pre-sliced deli meats since its opening in 2003. The facility is not meeting the needs of the company, due to a reduction in demand for the product, according to a news release sent Friday. Layoffs will start Dec. 31, and the facility will close by May 7, 2023.

November 1 Mount Pleasant Area Chamber Alliance Executive Vice President Kristi Perry submitted a letter to the Chamber Board of Director’s as her official resignation from the position she held for the past 7 years. Her last day was November 30. The search for her replacement continued thru December.

The 2022 Midterm Elections were notably one of the biggest headlines of the quarter. Locally, Republicans Adrian Dickey and Jeff Shipley will return to Des Moines in January.  Dickey has previously served in the Senate.  He will return to represent Senate District 44.  He came out ahead of his challenger, Rich Taylor who also brought experience as an Iowa Senator to the race. Dickey received 66.49% of the vote. That’s 15,311 votes from a district that encompasses Van Buren, Jefferson, and Keokuk Counties and portions of Mahaska and Henry Counties. 7,695 voters cast their ballots for Rich Taylor. That’s 33.42% of the vote.

Democrat Mike Heaton ran in his first campaign but came up short against Republican Jeff Shipley.  Shipley previously served in the Iowa House of Representatives but not representing this exact district, now identified as House District 87. This district, as a result of re-districting covers Van Buren, Jefferson and a portion of Henry County. Shipley garnered 6,437 votes, that’s 55.46%. Heaton received 5,151 votes, 44.38%.

Incumbent Mindy Fitzgibbon lost her bid to keep her job as Henry County Recorder to newcomer Lynnae Buffington. Buffington received 4,183 votes and Fitzgibbon received 2,534 votes.

Henry County saw almost 50% voter turnout.  There are 14,113 register voters. 7, 025 cast votes in these midterm elections.  Of that number 2,845 people voted absentee or early.

By the fourth quarter a trial date had been set for one of the Iowa teens accused of killing a Fairfield teacher. A pretrial conference for Jeremy Goodale’s jury trial is scheduled for May 15th in Scott County. Goodale, and his co-defendant Willard Miller are charged with the murder of Nohema Graber. Miller’s trial will be held in March 2023 in Council Bluffs.

Thru out the 4th quarter the City of Mount Pleasant and the Mt. Pleasant Community School District discussed and then worked out the details for a school resource officer. Mount Pleasant officer Brad Gillis will begin his duties in the Mount Pleasant schools when second semester begins.

December 3 an officer involved shooting in Mount Pleasant not only made local headlines but also hit news reports across the state.  Local law enforcement responded to a domestic call  that ended with a Henry County Sheriff’s deputy shooting a woman in the arm.  Her injuries were non-life threatening but she now faces charges.  The deputy was found to be justified in his decision to fire his weapon.

December 7 on person was killed and another seriously injured in a two vehicle crash near New London.  Norman Hirschy of Mt. Pleasant died when the pickup he was driving hit a pickup driven by Sheila Wilkerson of New London head-on.  Wilkerson was airlifted to University Hospitals in Iowa City.  This was the second fatal crash in a week and a half near New London.  Two people were killed in that accident on November 26.

The end of the year brought the end of Ana Lair’s 20 years of service as Henry County Treasurer. Lair chose not to seek re-election after holding the position since she was first elected in 2003.  She began her career in the Treasurer’s office in 1974 as a clerk, taking time to stay at home with her children and returning in 1998.

Unfortunately, one of the top news stories in December was the high number of flu cases of several varieties that caused issues for employers and schools not to mention family holiday gatherings.  Add a winter snow storm right before Christmas with blizzard like conditions that also played havoc with holiday plans.

The day before the Christmas holiday weekend KILJ Radio announced the recipients of the first ever KILJ Humanitarian Award. That Friday during the weekly Generation Gap program station owner Paul Dennison and manager Kadie Johannson presented the inaugural award to Linda Enearl and Dan Spray of Mount Pleasant. Each receives a special engraved award and $1,000 they may donate to a favorite organization. From now on each year at this time KILJ will recognize the efforts of someone who quietly goes about making this community a better place to live