KILJ Year In Review 1st Quarter News

2020 1st Quarter YIR

Most of us might just want to forget the year 2020 ever happened.  We certainly are ready for 2021 to arrive.  But before it does we here at KILJ feel it’s important to take a look back before we move on.  Believe it or not there are actually some good memories from 2020.  Join us for this year’s Year in Review during our major news and sports casts quarter by quarter December 28, 29,30 and 31 courtesy of Two Rivers Bank.

At the very beginning of 2020 Iowa Wesleyan issued a statement announcing the local university will not be moving forward with a partnership opportunity with Saint Leo University in Saint Leo, Florida. There was extensive discussion and analysis by both parties over the course of nearly a year, and it was determined a partnership, at this time, would not serve the best interests of both institutions.

It seems like a winter storm makes the headlines as most years begin. An ice and snow mix coupled with high winds Friday night Jan 10 and Saturday January 11 caused problems for power suppliers and some customers spent a big part of that weekend trying to keep warm.  Access Energy Cooperative was busy responding to outages, some affecting individual members and some affecting Mt. Pleasant industries. Alliant Energy customers in the Wayland, Olds and Winfield area were also without power and thought it had been restored but the power went out again and there were reports that it wasn’t to be restored until midnight Saturday night.  In most cases, no power means no heat.  Friends and neighbors were opening their homes, the Winfield Fire Station was opened up for people to get warm and volunteers were going door to door in Winfield to check on residents.

A message of love…..towards the end of January Dr. Simon Estes brought his deep faith and commitment to bettering the world to Iowa Wesleyan University.  Estes spoke at the annual Iowa Wesleyan Martin Luther King Jr. service January 20. He shared how he and his family experienced discrimination living in Centerville Iowa. He shared his journey to becoming a renowned opera singer, acclaimed all over the world.

As the year began the committee formed to look at options for future ambulance service in Henry County still didn’t have a recommendation for the supervisors.  HCHC owns the Emergency Medical Service but had proposed the County take it over. The supervisors asked for a committee be put together to look into options.  But some members of the committee and the supervisors, said options such as hiring a private service, hadn’t really been explored. And there was still concerns that the entire cost of owning and operating EMS still hadn’t been made clear. But then at a meeting held 1/20, the committee voted overwhelmingly to recommend the ownership of emergency medical response services be transferred from Henry County Health Center to the county.

2020 marked the 100th anniversary of Southeastern Community College. To commemorate this momentous milestone, a year of events and activities were planned to celebrate the College’s rich history. Events would recognize the pivotal role the college has played as a catalyst for growth in the region. And later in the year there would be an announcement that will affect SCC’s role in the future of the region.

You’ve heard the saying, small town life isn’t a spectator sport.  Growing up in Mt. Pleasant Mary Elgar’s parents reminded her of this often and Mary has taken it to heart, making it a family tradition.  Mary was recognized January 30 at the annual Chamber Banquet as the Citizen of the Year, the same recognition her father Lanny received in 1984.  Mt. Pleasant School Supt John Henriksen nominated Mary for the honor citing her expertise in leadership on several recent community projects… the jail bond referendum passage, bringing ag classes and the FFA program back to Mt. Pleasant High School, the pickball court construction fundraising and tireless support of the continuing Union Block building renovation work. Iowa Wesleyan University joined in on the nomination lauding Mary for her work on the University Board of Trustees.

The morning following the Feb 3 Iowa caucuses the results were still unofficial. Unofficial because many precincts were expected to enter the results into a new mobile app, specifically designed for the caucuses but apparently there was something wrong with the code in the app that precincts used to report results. It was nearly two days before the results were made official. Henry County Democratic Party Chair Jeff Fager commented that there was a lot of data to be transmitted to the state party and admitted the technology was not helping matters…..NEWS20.???  Technology problems hindered the whole Iowa Caucus process and made national headlines creating concerns the issues will affect Iowa’s first in the nation caucus status.

The week of March 14 COVID 19 started to hit home as the first announcements were made regarding event changes due to the virus. At the end of that week Iowa Democratic Party Chair Mark Smith announced the postponement of County Conventions. After extensive consultation with County Chairs, the State Central Committee, party leaders, and public health officials, it was determined that the spreading coronavirus poses a risk that outweighed a temporary delay in moving the caucus-to-convention process forward. Reasoning that would be applied again and again in 2020.

The spreading virus caused the World Health Organization to make a Public Health Disaster Emergency Declaration March 11.  The President’s declaration was made March 13 followed by the State’s declaration on March 17.

That same week Southeastern Community College announced it continues to monitor the evolving coronavirus COVID-19 situation. While the Iowa Department of Public Health confirmed COVID-19 cases in other parts of Iowa, there were none in the SCC service area of southeast Iowa at that time.  It was the consensus of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and state and local public health officials that the next month would be critical to containing the spread of the virus. To protect students and communities and help contain the spread of the coronavirus, Southeastern Community College extended Spring Break by two days, March 23 and 24 and would then transition to online delivery of face-to-face classes.

Meanwhile, the number of postponements and cancellations continued to grow. For example the Southeast Iowa Symphony Orchestra postponed concerts due to COVID-19 concerns and it was mid-march when schools began to close. At the time Administrators across the state hoped students could return to the classroom in a short time, not fully realizing it would be fall before that could happen.

The Iowa Wesleyan University campus residence halls and the dining hall services closed Tuesday, March 24.  The Campus closed to the public beginning at 5pm on Tuesday, March 24 and many of the employees began working from home.

March 23 The Iowa Department of Public Health identified the first case of COVID 19 in Henry County.  March 26 the Henry County Board of Supervisors signed a Public Health Disaster Emergency Declaration. And so ended the first quarter of 2020.