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News

A Very Merry Christmas in Swisher

Santa Claus and The Grinch team up for Christmas joy

SWISHER– The sights and sounds of the season were on full display Saturday, Dec. 14, in a small, northwestern Johnson County community as “A Very Merry Christmas in Swisher” was held for an evening of holiday festivities.

Saving Santa

Helen Proffitt restores Golden Age department store Santa Santa’s Kitchen display featured at tree walk

SOLON– It was the year Helen Proffitt saved Santa.
Proffitt, of rural Solon, spent several months restoring a 5-foot 1961 Harold Gale Santa Company Santa for display at Solon’s annual tree walk Dec. 7.
The Santa figure, along with two elves, were featured in a three-walled Santa’s Kitchen in a corner of the Solon United Methodist Church Family Life Center, along with hundreds of other donated items.
Many of those, including Santa and the elves, came from the collection of Toni Russo of Solon.

New recreation director hired

Tom Harder started Dec. 16

SOLON– Solon has a new recreation director.
Tom Harder, a native of Iowa City, started the new post Dec. 16.
Harder replaces Ben Flaherty, who served in the position from September of 2018 to Nov. 7. Flaherty accepted a new job with the City of Ames.
Recreation Administrative Assistant McKenzie McIlrath served as an interim coordinator while the candidate search was underway.
According to City Administrator Cami Rasmussen, interviews were conducted in November and the position was offered and accepted by Harder.

County’s Unified Development Ordinance passes second vote

Third and final vote set for 9 a.m. Dec. 19

IOWA CITY– Johnson County’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) moved one vote closer to adoption on Thursday, Dec. 12, as the board of supervisors held the second of three considerations (votes) on the controversial measure during a regular meeting.
As with the first vote on Dec. 5, supervisors Rod Sullivan, Royce Ann Porter and Pat Heiden voted in the affirmative with supervisors Janelle Rettig and Lisa Green-Douglass in the negative for a 3-2 final tally.

Wastewater escapes to Mill Creek

Faulty pump contacts cause release: DNR investigates spillage

SOLON– A pump malfunction at the Solon wastewater treatment plant apparently caused thousands of gallons of partially-treated sludge water to be released into Mill Creek.
Public Works Director Scott Kleppe told city council members at a Dec. 4 meeting bad contacts in a pump had caused it to turn itself on Monday evening, Dec. 2.
“There’s nothing on that tank that alerts us of a high level or an overflow situation,” Kleppe reported.
The pump continued to run until it was discovered Tuesday morning by public works staff, he said.

Community Center condensed

City signs 6-month lease, cuts back on space

SOLON– The city will be downsizing its community center starting Jan. 1.
In an attempt to control costs, city representatives negotiated a new six-month lease with the Solon Community School District for the former middle school at 313 S. Iowa St.
The new lease was approved by council members at a Dec. 4 meeting, and awaits consideration by the school board later this month.

UDO passes first reading on split vote

Johnson County Supervisors approve controversial plan, 3-2

IOWA CITY– The Johnson County Board of Supervisors are on track to achieving a major goal for 2019: passing the updated Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), and having it in place to go into effect on January 1, 2020.
The 299-page document, which codifies the county’s comprehensive plan, was approved on a 3-2 vote in the first of three required readings Thursday, Dec. 5, during a regular meeting of the supervisors.

Matt Lesan returns to Spartan sideline

Solon, Upper Iowa standout to lead varsity basketball team

SOLON– When the current Solon High School opened, Matt Lesan was an eighth grader.
He was there the day crews put up the basketball hoops in the new gymnasium and he snuck in to sink the first shot in the west side basket.
Former coach Ed Hansen had beat him to the east side.
Lesan went on to become Solon’s most prolific scorer, and now he’s back on the sidelines as the head coach for the varsity Spartan basketball team.

Council approves two tax relief requests

$60,000 total for two businesses

SOLON– They were similar requests.
At a Nov. 20 meeting, Solon City Council members approved two Tax Increment Finance (TIF) applications for two separate buildings on the city’s south side.
Both requests sought an amount equal to three years of property taxes. Both failed to qualify for the city’s existing tax abatement program.
Both were approved by council members.
But there were some significant differences.

Six lanes for I-380? Yes, they will IDOT lays out plans for increasing traffic with additional lanes

NORTH LIBERTY– If you’ve grown sick of seeing the orange cones, “Jersey barriers,” and tall cranes at the Interstates 80 and 380 interchange, once that massive project is done, construction will move roughly four miles to the north.
And start a new multi-year project.

It’s wait and see for farmers on the UDO’s final wording

P&Z makes 16 recommendations, supervisors set Dec. 5 for public hearing

IOWA CITY– The Johnson County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on Thursday, Dec. 5, regarding the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), a document which codifies the Comprehensive Land Use Plan the Supervisors approved in 2018. Work began on the UDO soon after with over 1,000 man-hours spent by the county’s Planning, Development, and Sustainability department (PDS) crafting it.

Sold!

Council approves deal with Pattison for 120 W. Main St. City approves first of competing offers

SOLON– City council members selected the proposal that was ready to roll.
Citing financial and legal readiness, the city approved selling an empty lot next door to City Hall to developer Mark Pattison during a Nov. 20 council meeting.
North Corridor Properites Investments will take possession of 120 W. Main St. in December and begin construction on a two-story mixed-use building with two commercial units on the ground level and a single, upper-level residence.
The city considered a competing offer from Uptown Main LLC, represented by developer Al Wells.