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News

June drowning ruled accidental

SOLON– The death of an Iowa City woman on Lake Macbride June 7 has been ruled accidental by the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.
According to a release from the sheriff’s office, Makeda Scott and a co-worker spent the afternoon kayaking on Lake Macbride June 7.

Online challenges

Some SCSD families flee virtual learning after rocky start District preventing spread onsite

SOLON– It’s been a bumpy ride for kindergarten-through-fifth grade families opting for the Solon Community School District’s (SCSD) virtual learning option.
But SCSD Director of Teaching and Learning Josh Lyons reported things improved after lengthy and serious conversations with the third-party provider Edmentum, Inc.
Lyons and Superintendent Davis Eidahl updated Solon school board members on the district’s Return to Learn plan during a Sept. 17 meeting.
Eidahl opened the meeting by noting the district’s success with onsite learning.

Sex, drugs and fishing licenses

Billerbeck shares the darker side of patrolling for the DNR in new book

SOLON– A lot of people think of a game warden as the friendly officer checking fishing licenses.
And while partially true, there’s another side to the job that’s not as family-friendly, according to Erika Billerbeck.
Billerbeck, of Solon, recounted some of the grittier true-life tales from her career as an Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) law enforcement officer in her newly-published memoir, “Wildland Sentinel: Field Notes from an Iowa Conservation Officer.”

Three positive cases

SCSD adds COVID dashboard to website

SOLON– So far, so good for the young but already tumultuous school year.
Solon Community School District (SCSD) classes began Monday, Aug. 31, and as of Friday, Sept. 11, three positive cases among students were reported.
The district placed a COVID-19 dashboard on its website under the “District Return to Learn” menu, tracking positive tests for students and staff, as well as absenteeism and quarantine numbers.

Football players used intolerable language at LaPorte City

District letters posted to SCSD website

SOLON– Solon football players used inappropriate language during a Sept. 11 game against Union High School in LaPorte City.
According to a post on the school’s website, Union football coaches and administrators were made aware of “inappropriate statements” directed toward Union football players.
The post included two letters– one penned by Solon High School Principal Zach Wigle and Activities Director Casey Hack– and the other signed by Union High School’s principal and assistant principal.

Fireworks up for debate

Council members split on possible ban

SOLON– Should Solon continue to allow fireworks?
The question will be put to a vote after council members informally split on the issue at a Sept. 2 meeting.
Council members Lynn Morris and Lauren Whitehead spoke in support of banning the private displays, allowed July 1-4 since late 2017.
“We had some complaints about the size of shows going on,” noted Mayor Steve Stange. He said Morris and members of the public asked for the topic to be revisited.

Dawn of a new day

Methodist Church readies remodel for Sunday School From flip phones to smart phones

SOLON– It’s time to adapt for the Solon United Methodist Church (SUMC).
The COVID-19 pandemic shook up an already changing cultural landscape for many churches, but provided a silver lining for the local Methodists.
The global shutdown early in 2020 allowed the SUMC to tackle a messy basement remodel and pave the way for a new Director of Christian Education.
The renewed focus on families and youth will be front and center as the church re-launches live Sunday School classes Sept. 13.

Firehouse campaign trying to push past COVID

$500k contribution moves project closer 2021 construction possible

SOLON– When things were looking bleak for fundraising, a Solon family came through.
The Dennis and Jana Munson family of rural Solon donated $500,000 to the Solon Firehouse campaign.
“Obviously, our hats are off to the Munson family,” said firefighter and Firehouse organizer and Greg Morris. “Dennis and his family are just committed to what we provide and do for our community. They all view it as an important entity of our community.”
Morris was on the treadmill when his phone rang with a number he didn’t recognize.

High positivity rates, 100% return concern parents

Third-party option not really equitable education Solon parent and epidemiologist would have preferred a hybrid school model

SOLON– As a parent, teacher and public health epidemiologist, Kelly Baker is concerned about the Solon Community School District (SCSD) Return to Learn plan.
Solon schools opened for the year Aug. 31, with an estimated 95 percent of students attending in person.
It’s been difficult for numerous parents to decide whether to send students to school or to utilize a third-party, online-only option, she said.
The district’s plan has lacked a lot of detail, and while it’s still evolving, it’s not the hybrid model Baker would prefer.

Stange asks for special September session to discuss community center

6-month lease expires at the end of 2020

SOLON– It’s time to talk about the future of the Solon Community Center.
At the end of an Aug. 19 Solon City Council meeting, Mayor Steve Stange asked for a September work session to discuss the converted school building.
Stange said he had individual conversations with council committee members, as well as City Administrator Cami Rasmussen and Recreation Director Tom Harder, regarding the facility the city has operated since June of 2018.

Picking up the pieces

Neighbors unite to clear storm damage Most power restored before weekend Take debris to SRNA

SOLON– Public Works Director Scott Kleppe had about a half hour warning.
But even then, the alert was for a line of severe thunderstorms producing winds up to 70 miles per hour (mph).
It was about noon and his staff just went home for lunch.
Kleppe contacted Central Cable, the contractor for South Slope Communication Cooperative’s fiber overbuild, and provided a warning for high winds.
By the time he finished a quick lunch, the storm arrived.
The city has no instruments to measure wind speed.

Lake Macbride State Park closed after derecho damage

DNR continues to assess damage

DES MOINES– Lake Macbride and several other nearby state parks have been closed indefinitely as the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) continues to assess damage caused by a widespread derecho Monday, Aug. 10.
The inland hurricane, sporting winds in excess of 100 miles per hour, struck a large portion of Iowa and left several state parks with significant damage.
Lake Macbride State Park in Johnson County and Palisades-Kepler State Park and Pleasant Creek State Recreation Area in Linn County are completely closed until further notice due to unsafe conditions.