OSKALOOSA — The fall began to bring hope, despite election season rhetoric that’s has carried far beyond Election Day.

Two COVID-19 vaccines were approved and then in December, they began being administered, bringing hope to the area and the world that the pandemic will one day end.

The Herald takes a look back at 2020 in a four-part series. Today, we publish the final part, looking back at what made headlines in October, November and December:


Delayed by five months due to the pandemic, William Penn University finally was able to hold an in-person ceremony for the class of 2020 graduates.

Despite a national landscape of colleges in decline, William Penn University was able to grow student enrollment. Undergraduate enrollment for fall 2020 at William Penn University was up 4.4% from fall 2019, and graduate programs increased by 12.3%.

The city of Pella was designated as a Home Base Iowa community, meaning it qualified as a community of opportunity for military veterans and their families.

The U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was impressed by area work-based learning and apprenticeship programs during a visit to Vermeer Corporation on Friday to learn about Pella’s career academy.

Students from Central College came to Oskaloosa to work with New Hope Community, Inc. on sustainability projects at the old Jefferson School.

Pella resident Jeff Jorgensen formed Open Air, a youth organization that strives to make aviation affordable, accessible and achievable for those who want to learn.

Lely North America broke ground on their new corporate headquarters in Pella.


Republican Mark Groenendyk was re-elected to the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors, and Republican Chuck Webb was elected to the board to fill a vacancy, both winning over Democratic challengers. Republican Ken Rozenboom was re-elected to Iowa’s State Senate.

Iowa’s second congressional district seat showed Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks ahead on election night. But then a vote reporting error was found in Jasper County that put Democrat Rita Hart into the lead. Then another error was found in Clarke County that put Miller-Meeks back into the lead. The race was certified with a six-vote margin favoring Miller-Meeks. She has been provisionally seated in the U.S. House pending a challenge by Hart.

Gov. Kim Reynolds, responding to rising record numbers of hospitalizations and COVID-19 cases, implemented a mask mandate and stricter mitigation strategies in a rare prime-time address by a governor.

Sen. Chuck Grassley broke a 27-year voting streak after contracting COVID-19.

Alyssa Geetings was named the 2021 Tulip Time Queen. Hannah Tschetter, Ashley Hardman, Tessa Brouwer and Olivia De Haan-Burch will serve on the 2021 Royal Court for the 86th annual Tulip Time Festival in 2021.

The Knoxville Raceway announced it would host the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2021. The series will come to the dirt track on July 9.


The Oskaloosa School Board accepted the resignation of OHS Principal Stacy Bandy effective at the end of the 2020-21 school. Bandy said he was going to retire.

The city of Oskaloosa moved forward with the bidding process for a repaving project for Meadow Creek, an estimated $1.6 million project.

The Oskaloosa School Board approved the design of renovations at Oskaloosa’s elementary and high schools as part of a $9.5 million project.

Questions continued for a proposed rental inspection program in Knoxville.

The Marion County Board of Supervisors approved the demolition portion of the redevelopment of the former Knoxville VA hospital campus to head to the bidding process.

COVID-19 vaccinations began in the area. In Oskaloosa, Audrianna Wilke, an inpatient nurse and house supervisor at the Mahaska Health Partnership hospital, was the first to be vaccinated at 7:06 a.m. on Dec. 23.

In the last week of the year, a winter storm system brought snow and freezing rain that made travel difficult on Dec. 29, into Dec. 30. Another system would arrive on New Year’s Day.

Staff writers from the Oskaloosa Herald, Knoxville Journal-Express and Pella Chronicle contributed to this report.

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