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Allerton council discusses improving roads, safety
At the September meeting of the Allerton City Council, discussion immediately focused on the road conditions, matters of public safety, and a few houses that need to be demolished.

There was some concern about the budget, since $23,000 has already been spent this fiscal year. Mayor Doug Downs recommended council “keep an eye on the total.”

A John Deere mower was repaired and a $1,681 loan was approved for the purchase of a dump truck.

The city is considering the purchase of a 2003 Ford F-350 1-ton flatbed snowplow. Larry Jackson inspected the truck and determined it to be sound. The city received $2,500 for scrap metal and, combined with revenue from the sale of two other trucks, council believes the purchase of the new truck is possible. The sander (mentioned at the last meeting) will be fitted onto the new truck.

Preparations for the Allertonworld Fair are proceeding as planned. The ball field has been mowed, and the rock has been cleared from the sidewalks.
Because of theft, money has to be taken out of the pop machine daily. This machine is a good source of revenue for the City of Allerton.

“You’ll definitely make money on it, especially if you raise it to $2 a bottle,” said Heather Hackney.

DNR inspections reported rotten posts at both lagoons.

Bill Buss from Allerton Gas Company talked about complying with U.S. pipeline safety regulations. Buss said the first goal should be to educate public in how to recognize the odor of natural gas, as awareness of such will save lives. He also pointed out how the One Call system has brought attention to the need to check where existing pipelines are located before any kind of excavation work is begun. This also helps excavators and contractors avoid third-party damage lawsuits. He’d like to see first responders and fire department trained in gas recognition, and the public to be aware of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Buss said, “We have a very good safety record.”

There have been no pipeline emergencies in 20 years, and Allerton passes inspections by the Iowa Utilities Board that are run every other year.

“Alan’s probably the best gas man I’ve see in this town,” said Rob Davis.

Agenda for the next meeting will include resolution from the fire department.

“Let’s make sure it’s done right. Let’s make it an ordinance,” said Mayor Downs.

The next regular meeting of the Allerton City Council is scheduled for Oct. 8 at 6 p.m.

Sep 17, 2013, 09:57

Corydon City Council debates conversion of Highway 2 to three lanes
Mayor Rodney Parham called the regular meeting of the Corydon City Council to order. Present were Council Members Jaeckel, Nessen and Relph. Holmes and Carpenter were absent. James Wiltamuth, Deidre Buttz, Shawna Robinson, Lisa Skinner, Paul Overton, Roy Benda, R.J. Olmstead and Christian Miller, as well as Tim Ehrich and Tim Crouch of the Iowa Department of Transportation were also present.

The council made a call out to the citizens of Corydon, looking for two people to run for the two open seats. No one has taken out papers yet except for the incumbents.

The council gave audience to Nichole Moore from Chariton Valley Planning and Development in relation to a CDBG grant. Relph asked whether the city could be certain to receive it.

“It’s a competitive grant,” Moore said. “It depends on how much the federal government wants to put into it. Your Low to Moderate Income (LMI) is a hindrance but also a benefit. As soon as we can get a publication in the newspaper, applications will be available at city hall.”

The motion was approved for an agreement between CVP and the city for this housing grant.

Conversion of Highway 2

The council voted to move forward for signage and paint at the corner of Dekalb and Highway 2. Crosswalks are planned at this intersection.
In a related matter, a survey of businesses along Highway 2 indicated willingness to convert to three lanes, with a turning lane in the middle. A group opposed to this conversion was not present. Some council members called for input from the public (the move to three lanes would be independent of the approved crosswalk near the high school).

Buttz listed both the positives and negatives of this setup. Positive benefits include improved vehicle and pedestrian safety, the calming of traffic, improved emergency response time and personal bike accommodation. Negatives include increased delay at the signalized access points, increased traffic delays and loss of passing opportunities.

Jaeckel voiced his opinion: “If we’ve had one accident in 20 years—if there’s one in the next five years—by virtue of this fact alone, it will have been a mistake. There is very little reason to change based on pedestrian safety. Very little. Twenty years with one accident—that’s not bad.

“I think your intentions are good. And based on business reactions, the community would like this to happen.”

Relph noted that change was not a mandate. He wondered if the Department of Transportation was in favor.

“We’re here to listen,” Ehrich said noncommittally.

Parham steered discussion back to the original plan, children passing from Southern Iowa Oil to the high school and back.

“You’re still going to need stop signs.” Parham said. “I’m not against a three-lane. I’m against not having stop signs during school time.”

Jaeckel wondered how many changes were being proposed. Parham explained there would be a yellow flashing beacon at the intersection.

“Apart from the time school’s in, there’s a lot of traffic at [the Southern Iowa Oil intersection],” Parham said. “Right now, it’s a dead sprint across all four lanes. Crosswalks will slow people down.”

Ehrich referenced a grant to cover sidewalk and paint.

“I’m involved in construction for the district,” he said. “The DOT does not have the capability or the equipment to remove existing pavement markings. We’re looking at, at the earliest, a December wedding.”

He added painting could not proceed at temperatures below 32 degrees. Work would probably not begin until the spring of 2014. The DOT would need to be creative to get signs done this year, and prudent to assume the earliest date as spring. Parham wondered if the DOT was responsible for all costs. Ehrich said once they got the request letter for the grant, then it could be determined.

Ehrich added that signs for three lanes would work for four lanes.

“We have a lot more details to work out before we make a decision,” Parham said, of the proposed move to three lanes.

“We have to keep our minds open as far as what the community wants,” Relph added. “I’ve been known to say a new pair of shoes might be really nice, but we don’t necessarily need them.”

317 North Johnston residence

Paul Overton requested an audience with the council. On July 16, the court ordered him to finish cleaning up a property he owns in absentee by Sept. 16. He must cap the sewer, clean up rubbish, secure a cistern and fill in a low spot where the house once stood. Overton reported he did not have the funds, and asked the city for leniency. He paid $6000 to tear the house down on borrowed money, and has maintained property taxes, though he could have got rid of it in a tax sale. He is currently attempting to sell the land, with no offers.

“I understand where the city’s coming from,” Overton said, “I just don’t know what to do.”

“When it becomes a judicial order,” Parham responded, “they’re in charge of it, we’re not. You have to talk to the judge. If it’s not done in that time frame, it’s contempt of court.

“We have taken possession of properties. Do we want them? No. Just trying to clean it up and move on. We aren’t out to keep them.”

The council advised Overton to speak with a lawyer. He asked what is the precedent for his sort of situation.

“We send a letter,” Jaeckel said. “When none of that is effective, we turn it over to a higher authority.”

Disagreement concerning alley closure

After learning of a proposal to close an alley near or upon his property, resident R.J. Olmstead met with the council. He was concerned this motion would affect his business.

“I thought this [discussion] was over,” he said.

Olmstead’s land and Roy Benda’s land run along an alleyway that—because of outdated surveying—even the city is uncertain of exact ownership. Olmstead said that he maintained and plowed the alley of snow in the winter, saving the city the expense of upkeep. Benda felt rubbish was accumulating on his property because of the alley, and would like to see it closed. Olmstead disagreed with Benda on the amount of traffic, saying Benda had inflated the actual volume to sound worse than it actually was. Olmstead also had an issue with the trim of the trees, which he says prevents proper sightlines for oncoming cars.

Earlier, in order to prevent traffic from passing through the alley, Olmstead had parked a flatbed trailer across the path. However, he received complaints, and therefore removed the blockade. The council asked if this was by request of the city. Olmstead said it was not.

“If our officer hasn’t told you to move the trailer,” Parham said, “then don’t listen to Joe Blow.”

In order to reach a solution, the council chose to table the resolution to set a public hearing for closing the alley, until more investigation can be undertaken and property rights delineated.

Hail damages bids and other business

The council opened bids, which were in fact sealed, nearing the second hour of the meeting. Harlan Construction, Iowa Roofing Company, Cromer Contracting and Pershy Roofing submitted bids. Pershy Roofing offered the lowest price on all four proposed repair projects.

“I’m for Pershy across the board,” Jaeckel said, inquiring upon the company’s reputation from the rest of council.

Needing a quorum, Parham phoned Carpenter, who came into the meeting. With the necessary votes, the council approved contracting the repairs to Pershy Roofing.

The council voted to place—on the election ballot—a resolution imposing a tax for support of the public library, and a separate resolution imposing a tax to maintain Walden Park. They also approved the annual street report, and renewed The Flower Hutch’s liquor license.

City Supervisor Cusic asked permission to purchase a used sickle-bar mower. Permission was granted.

The city reported 14.5 hours of overtime at $350.74. Most of the overtime came as a result of the Old Settlers celebration.

The next regular meeting of the Corydon City Council will be Wed., Sept. 25 at 7:00 p.m.

Sep 17, 2013, 09:53

Daren Relph recognized as Indian Hills Community College alumnus
Wayne County Hospital and Clinic System CEO Daren Relph was honored at the Indian Hills Community College annual staff day recognition ceremony held Aug. 29. During the ceremony, the Indian Hills Community College Foundation presented awards to five people. Each year, members of the Indian Hills staff nominate and select an outstanding IHCC alumnus, IHCC retiree, lay citizen and two current employees.

Relph was recognized as the outstanding alumnus. In the early 90s, he worked as an EMT and housekeeper for Wayne County Hospital and began taking arts and sciences courses and continuing education credit for paramedic certification at Indian Hills. From 1996 to 2000, he worked for investment firms then returned to the health care field, becoming a staff paramedic. In 2005, as the associate administrator of Wayne County Hospital he provided senior-level leadership and strategic vision to the 25 bed critical access hospital and was involved in all facets of a $7.3 million hospital renovation project. In 2010, he was named the hospital's CEO. During his tenure, the organization has grown to include the countywide clinic system, has expanded from 169 to 251 employees and has increased from $25 million to $40 million in projected revenues for 2013-14.

“This is quite an honor and I am truly humbled,” Relph says. “It goes to show that even if pursuing your education takes a while it is worth it. IHCC provided me with the foundation to get where I am today and I am sincerely grateful.”

Relph and his wife Dusti live in Corydon. They have a son Winston and a daughter Raquel, who attends Grand View University. Relph also has two stepchildren, Trevor DeVore and Teela Becker.

Sep 11, 2013, 10:11

Young author Lane Kunzie keeps busy over summer break
Most junior high students spend summer staying up late and sleeping in. Their goals are more like idol dreams that do not coalesce into reality until they have finished high school or college. But most eighth graders do not aspire to pursue psychiatry. Not at that age. But Lane Kunzie is dedicated. If he sets a goal, then he will work until it is fulfilled.

“All of my kids have bucket lists,” Lane’s mother Sheila Davis-Kunzie says. Her children write out mission statements for the future. “[Writing a novel] was one of Lane’s goals.”

Kunzie was already in the middle of composing another book on the subject of mental health, ‘Frayed,’ about a high school student that becomes involved with drugs until his dying mom helps him get back to himself—240 pages of unfinished material—when the idea for ‘Broken’ came to him. After completing seventh grade and starting his vacation, he began work finishing his book, which he started at the end of Christmas break.

Kunzie, who will be 14 on Sept. 21, received a computer for his birthday last fall. It helped inspire him to begin writing and work on another passion, photography, which helped with the design of his front cover. He also got a camera, and the more he practiced, the better he became.

“Lane loves photography and has a vivid imagination,” his mother says. “He wrote all summer long. Four hours a night typing on his computer. He even took his laptop and wrote in the car on the way to baseball games and to see his sister in Ames. Any travel time in a vehicle, you didn’t hear anything out of him.

“He worked hard. That was a given. He dedicated his summer to it.”

By the end of vacation, ‘Broken’ was finished. Lane edited the manuscript and designed the cover himself. His mother sacrificed one of her vases to the cause. Lane took it upon himself to procure the urn and smash it into shards. Then he took the remnants to his tree house for a photo shoot. The cover shows the boards and broken glass at an angle on the horizon of his yard. It is has the feel of professional graphic design.

“That’s his characteristic,” his mother says. “He pays such close attention to detail.”

Lane, now an eighth grader at Wayne, aspires to become a psychiatrist. The subject matter of his novel reflects his interest in the human psyche. ‘Broken’ is about an unfortunate child—a girl named Alex Barrymore—that withstands abuse at the hands of her alcoholic father.

“I wanted to have a strong association with mental and physical health,” Kunzie says, “and how the girl works her way back.”

He split the 500-page novel into five parts. As he wrote, he would send snippets of ‘Broken’ to his friends Megan Birkland, Jordyn Wilson, Macey Goretska and Caitlyn Pruiett. They workshopped the material, gave him ideas when he got stuck and encouraged him to keep writing.

As an avid reader, Kunzie credits the many nonfiction books he reads as influences on his work. Ancient civilizations fascinate him. He also keeps two psychiatry books by his bedside. On the fiction side, he is a fan of the Harry Potter series.

Now, Kunzie is set to influence others. After seeing information about ‘Broken’ on Facebook, a teacher from Central Decatur, Annie Nickell—whose children attend school at Wayne—has asked him to speak to her students. She sent an email requesting he give details about the writing process, his inspirations and how he designed the manuscript and cover. Nickell wants him to give his speech this fall.

“I’m happy to do it,” Kunzie says. “I feel like I could inspire other kids to write.”

Kunzie’s book can be purchased at by doing a search for Lane Kunzie. His mother was surprised how fast the publishing company got back to them after submitting the manuscript. She says Lane took pride when his book was published, and credits his success to his tremendous dedication.
Sheila Davis-Kunzie works for Wayne County Hospital. Lane’s grandparents, Garth and Ronda Davis, live right next to the family on old Highway 2. His father, Randy Kunzie, lives in Allerton. He has a sister, Branygon, and a brother, C.D.

Sep 11, 2013, 10:08

Garden Road
First, I’d like to thank Tork Hook for taking the time for an interview with the Times-Republican. He was on his way to the airport and I got the story just before they made him turn off his phone for the flight.
I got a lot more than I bargained for researching this story. I knew I would have plenty to write about from his Iowa Hawkeye days. But Tork, looking back, is a great example of a student-athlete and a complete person. I studied my brother’s freshman yearbook, when Tork was a senior, and the success the school experienced at the time both athletically and academically—not only going to state and only losing one game in both basketball and football, but finishing first in the Brain Bowl (Tork and Corydon’s esteemed attorney Dusti Relph were teammates)—is unprecedented. I would love to see Wayne reach that level again.
Being on a championship Brain Bowl team is one of the few high school accomplishments I share with Tork Hook. My athletic career was somewhat less stellar.
The accomplishment I’m most proud of, in that area, is earning my Black Belt in Taekwondo during grad school. I fought a few times at the Iowa Games, and used my power to win both years. On good days, I felt like I could break cement.
My Black Belt is only ‘recommended,’ however, which means I could get busted down in rank. I’ve been away from the sport for two years. My plan is to start back again when my son is old enough. It’ll be rough. I’m out of shape and my flexibility is way down after the time away. It’ll take time, but I plan to earn my full Black Belt. I’d also like to experiment with some other martial arts.
I’ve heard good things about the ATA center in Humeston. They accept children at age four, I believe. My wife isn’t sure about my eagerness to get my son in martial arts. Time and money.
So it might be a little longer before he’s allowed to channel his violent tendencies into a constructive form.
And a while before I earn my full Black Belt.
If I do enroll at ATA, it will be the third different TKD organization I’ve been associated with. I started with the ITF when I went to UNI. After a year off, I was in the text-lingo inappropriate WTF (World Taekwondo Federation) at ISU, where I studied under Grandmaster Pak.
While I’m on the subject, I had to write an essay to earn my Black Belt at ISU. A younger instructor took offense to my work after misreading it. I was essentially forced to change a few lines to make the work non-offensive. I won’t go into details—I’ll just say it was ridiculous and petty. I seriously considered walking away, only a few days from accomplishing a goal I’d worked for years to achieve. In the end, I changed my essay. It didn’t make me less bitter.
As a writer, I’ve had other experiences with censorship of my work, so I deplore the practice. But I think the problem, if there is one, is resolved regarding the Times-Republican. The ‘You Said What?’ section bothered some people because of its occasional trips away from accuracy and reality, and the fact the people writing these ‘facts’ could do so anonymously.
Rhonda intended, in the beginning, for the aforementioned section to be a positive vehicle. People are still welcome to send letters to the editor, and as long as they’re not libelous, and are signed, we will print them. I do appreciate, however, people’s thoughts and concerns about censorship. I encouraged Rhonda to print what we did last week, because it offered a different perspective.
I think it’s fine to ask for positive-only comments in the public, anonymous forum. People are still welcome to voice their opinions in letters to the editor. As a previously-censored writer, I feel this a democratic resolution.

Sep 3, 2013, 09:27

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