• Ernst criticizes veto closing Red Oak’s workforce office

    DES MOINES — In 2010, Council Bluffs’ Iowa Workforce Development Office staff served 6,312 resource room clients, posted 2,700 jobs, and registered 3,802 job seekers. With an office budget of $1,971,899, those 12,814 services cost $153.89 each.

    In Red Oak’s comparatively Spartan-like office with a $68,138 budget, 2,219 similar services occurred.

    That’s a cost of $30.70 each, or more than five times less than 60 miles away in Council Bluffs.

  • Iowa’s lower limit BWI Law takes effect July 1

    DES MOINES — Iowa will have a new, lower limit for boating while intoxicated beginning July 1.  

    The new .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC), signed into law this spring, is intended to reduce vessel accidents, injuries and fatalities caused by alcohol impaired boat operators. The previous blood alcohol limit was .10.

  • Committee presents dog park plans

    RED OAK — A new Red Oak park will soon be going to the dogs … literally.

    At their April meeting last week, members of the Park and Tree board reviewed a committee’s report regarding an off-leash dog park, to be located near the south city well.

    Committee chair Dr. Catherine Wolff said with 40 percent of Red Oak residents owning a total of about 1,700 dogs, the park would be a valuable community resource.

  • Schoonover elected in one-candidate race

    RED OAK — Ted Schoonover was elected County Auditor in a special election April 4.

    As the only candidate Schoonover received 569 of 591 votes, with 22 write-ins.

    Schoonover was previously appointed auditor by the Board of Supervisors following Joni Ernst’s election to the Iowa Senate. But a petition drive forced a special election.

    Schoonover was nominated by the Republican Party over party chair Margaret Stoldorf by a 10-5 vote. The Democrats did not nominate a candidate, and no one filed as an independent.

  • Sign ordinance changes passed despite protests

    RED OAK — Despite a petition containing hundreds of names and the protests of several citizens at its last meeting, Red Oak’s City Council voted 3-2 to approve changes to its existing sign ordinance.

    After first approving the ordinance in 2010, the City Council first began looking at amendments to it earlier this year, which would grandfather in several non-conforming signs.

    However, those amendments didn’t include any sign taller than eight feet, prompting an initial petition of 94 names, and postponing any changes to it.

  • Council splits on direction of sign ordinance

    RED OAK — A petition containing the names of 97 citizens sparked a contentious discussion of Red Oak’s sign ordinance at the March 21 City Council meeting.

    The Council was expected to approve a second reading of several amendments to the existing ordinance, first passed in 2009. Many of the amendments would grandfather in several non-complying signs, while extending the ordinance’s reach beyond commercial properties to the entire city.

  • Special election not so special with just one candidate

    RED OAK — The election for Montgomery County Auditor isn’t turning out to be much of an election, with only one candidate appearing on the ballot.

    Following his selection by the Montgomery County Republican party, Ted Schoonover will be the only name on the ballot April 5.

    Schoonover, deputy auditor for the past six years, was appointed by the Board of Supervisors to fill the remaining two years on Joni Ernst’s term following her election to the Iowa Senate.

  • Ernst discusses job bill, stolen valor at legislative briefing

    RED OAK — A $10 million jobs bill has passed through the Iowa Senate and is headed to the House of Representatives, somewhat to the dismay of local Republican legislators.

    During a legislative briefing Saturday morning at the Farm and Home Show, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Red Oak) said the bill will provide $5 million to community colleges for job training, while the remaining $5 million will spent to development administration of the new program.

  • Sign ordinance change gets early approval by 4-1 vote

    RED OAK — A split Red Oak City Council gave initial approval to sweeping changes to the City’s sign ordinance at its March 7 meeting.

    Changes to the ordinance, which was first approved in October 2009, were passed by a 4-1 vote. Under the changes, numerous signs violating the current ordinance would be grandfathered. However, any signs taller than eight feet, regardless of how they are mounted, would be banned.

  • Good news: Unemployment drops in Montgomery Co.

    RED OAK — For the first time in too long of at time, Montgomery County has some good news regarding unemployment.

    In a month where unemployment rates jumped throughout Iowa, Montgomery County stood out as one of only two with a lower rate, dropping nearly a full percentage point.

    After ranking third in Iowa in December with an 8.7 percent unemployment rate, Montgomery County dropped to 7.9 percent in January, as 50 fewer people received jobless benefits.

    The 7.9 percent rate was the 33rd highest in the state.