MAHASKA COUNTY — In part two of the retrospective of 2018, we look back through the months of April through June.


Environmental learning center

Mahaska County Conservation Board Director shared some details about the new environmental learning center. The structure was coming together and he hoped at the time to have a grand opening in mid-August.

Sedivec described the facility to be over 11,000 square feet, with mammoth displays and other local history displays, Native American history and more. The nearby recreation trail and Freedom Rock were also mentioned as draws to the location.


Oskaloosa Middle School students put on the play, Rumpelstiltskin. Around 30 students participated, along with a handful of high school students assisting.

District 80

Richard Keilig announced he would be joining Holly Brink in seeking to represent District 80 in the House of Representatives. Brink ultimately wins the seat.

Facade project

A $500,000 grant was requested for continuation of facade work in downtown Oskaloosa. Phase two of the project was approved by the Oskaloosa City council and a study was done to determine eligible buildings. The area in question focused on the area west of the square along South Market Street and First Avenue West. The buildings were rated on Housing and Urban Development criteria.

Shaull shares success story

Osky native Dalton Shaull joined Forbes' "30 under 30" list in 2017. Shaull returned to William Penn to speak at one of the university's "Leaders Speak" series. Shaull, along with HealthTech Solutions co-founder, Eric Pahl, created a process and app to make organ donation and procurement more efficient.


EBF students brought the play, based on the popular movie, television series and books to life.

Matthew Rooda

Oskaloosa native Matthew Rooda, inventor of SwineTech and another member of Forbes' "30 under 30" list, presented at Leaders Speak. Rooda created a device to help keep piglets from being crushed by their mothers.

Pulse of the voters

Mahaska County voters are overwhelmingly right-leaning, according to statistics from the Iowa Secretary of State. One voter, Thomas Johnson, said he didn't want Hillary Clinton elected as he felt she and her family had been in politics "way too long."

"I didn't know quite what Donald Trump was really promising," he said, "but I thought he was promising a more interesting future than the other candidates."

Mary Rand, on the other hand, said she "wholeheartedly" voted for Clinton. Clinton was "informed and smart," she said. "She was a person who had plans on about every subject. She had some great ideas for jobs and for schools and for infrastructure. She was just better prepared than anybody else.

Talking politics was tricky in the 2018 political climate, Karen Messamer said.

"People may be reluctant to reveal who they voted for because it can unveil their core values and/or cost them clients/customers/friends," she said. The current political climate was quite hostile, she said.

Prom king and queen

Jarad Kruse and Josie Bunnell were crowned prom king and queen at the OHS prom, Saturday, April 14.

Mahaska County Board of Supervisors vs EMA/911

The supervisors reiterated their position that the 28E agreement between Emergency Management Agency Commission and the 911 Service Board was invalid.

Supervisor Mark Groenendyk said he was of the opinion EMA/911 was not definable as a "political subdivision." The supervisors' then-attorney, Dan Gonnerman, agreed.

Radio system

Reyman and Mazzitello, the supervisors' consultants for the radio system, reviewed the EMA Commission's request for proposal with only three minor changes.

Students protest gun violence

Following the tragic shooting in Parkland, Fla. in February, Oskaloosa High School students proceeded with a planned walkout to speak out against gun violence. With signs, papers bearing the names of the lives lost in the shooting, and with personal stories, the students were orderly and shared emotional and supportive moments.

A tree for Marquis

A tree was planted in honor of slain William Penn University student Marquis Todd on Campus Beautification Day. The Cleveland pear tree was donated by the Mahaska County Special Olympics. Todd's parents, Michelle and Malcolm Turner participated in the planting.

"[Todd] was just a beautiful kid, beautiful soul, and a special teammate that we'll all cherish that brought us together... We appreciate [Michelle and Malcolm] sharing him with us," said men's basketball head coach Blake Sandquist. "We'll always have a piece of Marquis here with us,"

EMA/911 sends request for proposal

The EMA/911 sent out their request for proposal, seeking bids for a radio system. The Mahaska County Board of Supervisors would later in the year take over the project and re-send the EMA/911 request for proposal.


Historical marker at courthouse

The second unveiling of a historical marker was done at the Mahaska County Courthouse. Oskaloosa City Attorney Dave Dixon researched the courthouse and gave the presentation. He described one incident in 1918 where one of the large weights for the courthouse's clock tower broke and plummet through the ceiling of the courthouse. The weight was around 1,200 pounds. A remembrance of the incident can still be seen. On the final flight of stairs to the third floor, there are two painted, wooden steps, marking where the weight fell.

New superintendent

The Oskaloosa Community School District Board of Directors selected Paula Wright to replace Russ Reiter as superintendent.

Leaders Speak

Jeremy Van Wyk, a WPU alumnus, returned for the Leaders Speak series. He described his work with the National Guard Child/Youth Services Program and serving military families.


William Penn University students class of 2018 had commencement on Saturday, May 5. Around 300 students graduated.

Supervisor resigns

Mahaska County Board of Supervisor Mark Doland resigned amongst allegations he no longer met residency requirements to hold office. He asserted he did meet eligibility requirements, but said he wanted to "resolve the controversy."

Council member resigns

Tom Jimenez retired from the Oskaloosa city council, as he was moving out of the district. Bob Drost was appointed in June to replace Jimenez.

Citizen of the year

Rep. Guy Vander Linden was named Citizen of the Year at the Oskaloosa Area Chamber and Development Group's annual awards banquet.

Little Monsters

Oskaloosa Elementary School's musical play, Little Monsters, was performed

D Street project

The D Street project started May 17. It was completed by the end of November.

Police chief sought

Candidates met members of the public and shared why they should be selected to replace retiring Chief Jake McGee. Candidates included Jonathon Butts from Illinois; Troy Boston and Gary McClun from Oskaloosa, and Ben Boeke, from Illinois. Boeke was later named police chief.

Welcome home, vets

Vietnam veterans were given the "welcome home" they didn't get when they returned home from the Vietnam conflict. Daughters of the American Revolution presented pins to the veterans.

Class of 2018

The OHS class of 2018 graduated Sunday, May 21.

Gold medal

Oskaloosa resident Alyssa Williams came home with a gold medal for throwing from the Special Olympics district meet in Ames.


Home Again

Loaded with stories, photos and remembrances from Mahaska County residents, an original musical, "Home Again," was staged at George Daily Auditorium.

Music festival

The Oskaloosa Music Festival returned for another fortnight of music and music education.


In the June 5 primary election, Republicans Steve Wanders and Steve Parker squeaked by with the most votes, overcoming Willie Van Weelden, and Paul DeGeest. DeGeest later ran in the November election as a Democrat.

Legal petition

The Mahaska County Board of Supervisors presented a legal petition to EMA/911. Their stance was the original merging of the EMA/911 board via 28E was not legal. EMA/911 were given two weeks to meet with the supervisors.

Supervisors breached airport agreement

In more legal wrangling, the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors were found to have breached a 28E agreement between the county and the cities of Pella and Oskaloosa, as determined by district court. The supervisors appealed the decision.

Historical plaque

The Iowa Building received a historical marker. Julie Hansen researched the building, which had been home to several banks over the years.


An attack on a local teen, Cobra Drulner, drew outrage from Oskaloosa residents. The attack had been recorded on cellphone and uploaded to Facebook. A rally was planned in support of Druliner.

Animal shelter

Stephen Memorial Animal Shelter's new home was nearly done with construction by the end of June. There was still a lot to do, however, before move-in.