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NEW PURPOSE: Pella’s ‘Strawtown’ Revitalized

In Pella, Strawtown was once an area of homes the first settlers built. More recently, it was an inn and restaurant, both of which closed.

Now the historic part of Pella is getting some new life.

“What we’re hoping to do — sell art, make art, teach art, become a community,” says gift shop owner Lisa Davis-Kovarik.

She has opened Strawtown Gallery and Gifts. Davis-Kovarik plans to use the 1850s building for a consignment art gallery with a pottery cellar. She’ll also host various art classes.

The other portion of Strawtown has also been re-fitted

The Relationship Enrichment Center hosts couples for the weekend in the former Strawtown Inn.

The center puts on seminars to find ways to better marriages.

CENTRAL SOFTBALL: Coach Wins 1,000th Game

Central softball coach George Wares has just won his 1,000th game.

How rare is one thousand wins in division three? Wares is the first to do it. But it wasn’t easy.

“It wears on you because everybody is thinking about it and it’s special but I’m just glad it’s over,” Wares said.

“I think I probably haven’t coached quite as well in the last couple of games before today because you want to get it done and there’s that little bit of extra stress because of it. I’m glad it’s done.”

Wares isn’t just about regular season wins, he has coached Central to four national championships.

LOOKING OUT: Identifying Drug Endangered Children

A parent’s bad habits can ruin the lives of their children.

“It can be the use of drugs in a household, the manufacturing of drugs, or the cultivation of drugs,” said Dale Woolery, the associate director for the Governor’s Office for Drug Control Policy.

Last year, drug task forces reported 450 cases of drug endangered children to the Iowa Department of Human Services.

“We know there is a lot of children who haven’t been counted who might be in harm’s way,” said Woolery.

Children living in these homes are often victims of physical abuse, psychological abuse, and are often too afraid to come forward.

It’s up to the other adults in a child’s life to do it for them.

At the 7th annual Drug Endangered Children Conference, professionals from teachers to social workers learned what to look for.

FIVE YEARS: Legalized Gay Marriage Milestone

Five years ago today, Iowa became the first state in the Midwest and third state in the nation to legalize gay marriage.

On April 3, 2009 the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously ruled the ban on same sex marriage was unconstitutional.

The advocacy group, One Iowa says more people are embracing the change.

“I think people are moving forward in their thoughts about same gender marriage and how they think about LGTB people,” say One Iowa, executive director, Donna Red Wing.

However critics – like The Family Leader – continue to fight for traditional marriage.

“God created marriage, man didn`t. so we are arrogant to try and change what God created,” says vice president, Chuck Hurley.

Same sex couple, John Sellers and Tom Helten, says they hope one day the topic of gay marriage is not a focal point of criticism.

HEATING HELP: Behind On Your Bills?

Iowans owe a record breaking $46-million in utility bills.

Nearly 250,000 households owe money. That`s up four-percent from a year ago, but the amount of money owed increased by almost 40 percent compared to February of last year.

The Des Moines Community Action Agency helps administer Iowa’s Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for low income Iowans.

Administrator Marci Rafdal says she`s not surprised by the amount of money Iowans owe. “It just happens when it gets colder; we use more natural gas, more electricity to keep our selves warm. So yes, very understandable that the bills would be higher.”

If you need financial help paying your utility bills officials recommend applying for LIHEAP. You have until April 30th to do so.

FIELDS OF HOPE: Farmers Look Ahead To Spring Planting

Spring time sets the tone for farmers’ entire farming season. Dave Struthers has his planting machines washed and ready for duty, hoping to start this year’s planting season off right.

“We never know what each year is going to bring each year is a little bit different.”

Last year, Struthers had a low yield of corn; Mother Nature forced him to plant his crop in June. This year, he’s hoping for a different outcome.

“If you can plant in that mid-April time frame if conditions are right generally you`ll have better yields.”

However, everything must be just right in order to get a good yield especially, soil conditions. Struthers says so far his fields are in good condition.

“We marginally better than we were a year ago at this time which we were very dry.”

Mark Licht is an expert on fields and soil at Iowa State University. He says although the fields are looking better than last year, they’re still dry.

AIRBORNE TRUCK: Driver Recalls Near Miss

The driver of the truck which was sent airborne into a crash scene has spoken out.

Last Friday several deputies and a state trooper were talking to a driver involved in a crash on Interstate 80 near Oxford.

Officials say most drivers were obeying the law by slowing down but a semi did not. It reportedly hit the back of 45-year-old Dana Miller’s work vehicle and sent it across two lanes and airborne toward the ditch barely missing a state trooper.driver