KILJ Year in Review Look at 2nd Quarter Headlines

2020 2nd Quarter YIR

The Henry County Department of Public Health today announced the first death associated with novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the county. The 41-60 female had underlying conditions.

4-6-2020, as the second quarter of 2020 began the Tyson Foods company issued a statement  saying more than two dozen workers at the Tyson Foods pork plant in Columbus Junction had COVID-19 This prompted the facility to temporarily shut down operations. This story continued to make headlines, not only locally but statewide and nationally.

Mid April Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced she would not give permission for schools to re-open for the rest of the school year. The instructional time requirement was waived and the Governor told school districts they were required to submit a Return to Learn Plan to the Iowa Department of Education by July 1. School districts spent the spring working on the plans for the time when schools could reopen with the anticipation that would be at the traditional time towards the end of August. But changing pandemic rules and recommendations made that planning a challenge. At first there wasn’t a lot of specific guidance from the Depart of Ed other than local districts were to make their own decisions about how a return to classes in the fall would be handled…remote learning, onsite learning or a hybrid of both but there had to be a plan for each of those options.

Despite shutdowns due to COVID-19 Mount Pleasant city street projects geared up. The 2020 spring months saw preparations underway for the work on Warren Street between South Van Buren and South Jefferson Streets.

In April both the WMU and Columbus Community School Boards approved an agreement to share the services of WMU Supt Jeff Maeder. Beginning July 1 Mr. Maeder would be working for both school systems spending 60% of his time in the WMU district and 40% in the Columbus district. April 20 the Winfield Mt. Union School Board awarded the bids for the district’s construction project. The project was split into three different bid packages. The General Trades package bid was awarded to Point Builders in the amount of $167,169.  Odessa Mechanical received the bid for both the Mechanical and Electrical packages in the amounts of $87,850 and $65,600.


Saturday, May 2, 202 was supposed to be a day of joy and celebration for Iowa Wesleyan’s Class of 2020. Instead of gathering on campus with fellow graduates, the students completed their coursework and celebrated in their homes with their families. Although the commencement activities on campus did not take place in the spring the University did hope at the time to eventually hold a ceremony for the Class of 2020 in the fall of 2020 the same weekend as Homecoming.

High School Graduations looked different in the spring of 2020 different from each individual school’s traditions but celebrated, never the less. For example, Mt. Pleasant didn’t hold the traditional ceremony on the scheduled date in May but there was a drive by parade at the school with the teachers waving and signs for the students lining the drive and parking lots marking the day. A socially distanced ceremony outside was held for families in June.


In the June 2020 primary election two Republicans received the nomination to run in the November Election for the Board of Supervisors. Two seats on the board needed to be filled and Democrat Dave Beaber had also announced he would be running for one of those two seats. The two top vote getters for the Republicans were Chad White with 1,601 votes and Greg Moeller with 1,066 votes. Both won the nomination due to a specific calculation….total votes cast in the supervisor race which was 4,507 divided by the 2 open seats. That equals 2,254 multiplied by 35% making the magic number of votes that are required 789.  Therefore Chad White and Greg Moeller won the Nomination for the General Election.

The Henry County Board of Supervisors canvassed the June 2 primary vote.  There were no problems with the final numbers and no changes in the results.  Commissioner of Elections Shelly Barber said 940 people voted at the polls on June 2. And 2,750 voted absentee for a total of 3,690 of votes cast.  There are 8,052 registered voters in the county so that makes for a 45.83 percent voter turnout and the highest turnout for a Henry County primary election.  The large absentee numbers all across the state can be directly attributed to Secretary of State Paul Pate’s effort to send all registered voters early ballot request forms.


By June of 2020 there were final decisions being made about summer fairs and festivals after much consideration during the spring about the pandemic and the consequences of holding large group events. Some events were cancelled all together, others were modified. In the interest of the participating young performers and their families, the decision was made in June to postpone the Bill Riley Talent Search until 2021. The 2020 Iowa State Fair was cancelled but county fairs across the state worked on plans to, at least, hold, the 4H shows and judging in order to allow the kids to share their work on projects. The planning wasn’t easy, given that the state and medical agencies like the CDC kept changing the rules and recommendations on dealing with the pandemic.

June 24, 2020 the announcement was made that for the first time in 69 years there would not be a Midwest Old Threshers Reunion in Mount Pleasant.  The Midwest Old Settlers and Threshers Board of Directors has decided to cancel the event held for five days every year always ending on Labor Day. The Reunion draws thousands of people from all over the United States and around the world.  CEO & Administrator Terry McWilliams said the health implications of holding the Reunion could have a far reaching impact.