One highlight during the second three months of 2020 in Lucas County was the decision by different boards to hold different events people enjoy despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Mandatory rules and protocols were followed during the events due to COVID-19.

One such event was the Chariton High School graduation, which was moved from May to mid-June and was held at the Lucas County Fairgrounds instead of the CHS gym with proper social distancing and more limited attendance.

In late May, the Chariton School Board voted unanimously to have a high school summer baseball and softball season in Chariton in 2020, which was outstanding news to players, coaches and fans.

In June, the Lucas County Fair Board announced to the public that there would be a Lucas County Fair in 2020. The Fair was held July 24-30 and went very similarly to the way it has in the past with only a few small changes made due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another highlight was the mothers of 2020 CHS seniors undertaking a senior picture poster project in which posters containing the senior picture of each 2020 senior were put up in windows of businesses around the Chariton square due to their senior year being cut short due to COVID-19 and to show the seniors weren’t forgotten.

Another highlight was in April where Hy-Vee Inc. announced their first ever three-million mile safe driver. Harold Major, a driver from the Chariton Distribution Center, reached three million consecutive miles driven without a preventable accident.

April 2020

On Thursday, April 2, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a new proclamation continuing the State Public Health Emergency Declaration, which ordered the closure of schools in Iowa through April 30 due to COVID-19.

A story published on the front of the April 2 Herald-Patriot announced that the Chariton Newspaper would temporarily reduce its publication from twice each week on Tuesday and Thursday to once a week on Tuesday beginning the week of April 6 due to the devastating effects of the coronavirus on retail businesses and community newspapers and the need for newspapers to cut costs. However, the decision to publish the Chariton Newspaper once a week changed from a temporary to a permanent one where the newspaper would from now on only be published once a week. The last Thursday paper put out in Chariton was the issue of the April 2, 2020, Herald-Patriot.

Community 1st Credit Union announced a $15,000 pledge to be made to the Iowa Credit Union Foundation’s newly formed Emergency Relief Fund. Donations would be used to assist Iowans in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Lucas County Health Center Hospital Board of Trustees approved eight medical staff appointments at their monthly meeting.

Photos of people doing enjoyable activities with safety and care such as walking and fishing during COVID-19 appeared in the April 7 Leader.

Rick Phillips of Pella announced that he was running for the U.S. House District 2 seat as a Republican in the June 2 primary.

The Lucas County Board of Supervisors approved a two percent salary increase for county officials effective July 1, 2020, at their April 6 meeting.

The Lucas County Board of Supervisors held the public hearing for and approved the 2020-21 fiscal year county budget.

An article appeared in the April 14 Leader that said absentee voting by mail was being encouraged in the 2020 Primary election due to the coronavirus.

Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Education announced April 17 that all school districts and nonpublic schools would be closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. The schools would continue to offer continuous learning to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. All school spring sports activities were cancelled as well.

At their monthly meeting April 13, the Chariton Community School Board approved a resolution to participate in the Budget Guarantee for 2020-21. Since the Chariton school district had a decline in enrollment the year before, it was eligible for the budget guarantee. The board also approved the Chariton district school calendar for the 2020-21 school year.

Photos of Chariton High School students Jessica Metzger and Peyton Ruble drawing with colored chalk by themselves on the sidewalk in front of Chariton City Hall ran on the front of the April 14 and 21 Chariton Leader. Drawing with colored chalk on the sidewalk by oneself is an example of a safe outside activity with social distancing.

A group of mothers of 2020 Chariton High School seniors undertook a project to put posters of senior pictures up of each of the 2020 seniors in the windows of businesses around the Chariton square due to their senior year being cut short by the coronavirus pandemic. They also did it to recognize the 2020 senior class and to make sure they weren’t forgotten.

Hy-Vee Inc. announced that Harold Major, a driver from the Chariton Distribution Center, was the first driver in Hy-Vee history to reach the three million mile mark for miles driven without a preventable accident. Major reached the historic milestone on Thursday afternoon, April 23, during his drive to Iowa City from Chariton.

At their April 20 meeting, the Chariton City Council approved a professional service proposal agreement from Genus Landscape Architects in Des Moines to prepare a Master Plan for Yocom Park in Chariton.

It was announced on the front of the April 28 Leader that the 2020 Chariton High School graduation ceremony would be held on June 14. More details would be provided later.

On Saturday, April 25, a long line of vehicles caravanned down Smith Street in Russell to wish Sullivan “Sully” Carroll a “Happy Birthday!” on his third birthday. Golf carts, cars, bikes and even a fire engine were all a part of the celebration. According to the story’s author Sharon Wilhite, “The occasion gave the town of Russell something to celebrate and smile about in the midst of Covid’s daily depressing news.”

May 2020

A front-page story and photos appeared of the Anne Swartz family practicing social distancing while having fun riding horses at the home of Anne’s parents, Jim and Patti Webster in Chariton.

Chariton Library patrons left chalk messages on the steps of the library sharing their feeling about the library being closed due to COVID-19.

It was announced in the May 12 Leader that the Chariton Newspaper was offering a dollar for dollar stimulus match in advertising space for small businesses buying at least $200 a month in newspaper advertising and up to $5,000 a month. The stimulus match program would total up to $50,000.

The Chariton City Council approved a grant application for up to $300,000 to be submitted for the Chariton Splash Pad project. The grant application was submitted to Variety, which is the name of the children’s charity in Des Moines for the Chariton Splash Pad.

It was announced in the May 12 Leader that the Chariton Area Chamber/Main Street’s Annual celebration would be held on Aug. 21.

At their monthly meeting May 11, the Chariton Community School Board approved the graduates for the Chariton High School Class of 2020 who met all the graduation requirements as set forth by the Board of Education.

It was announced that the Chariton Library had reopened with regular hours the week of May 18.

The Chariton City Council approved the engineering services agreement with Garden & Associates of Oskaloosa for the Chariton Downtown Square Sidewalk Improvement Project at the May 18 city council meeting.

Bios of candidates running for county offices in the June 2 primary election were published in the May 19 Leader.

The Chariton Water Board had a discussion about rules and regulations at Lake Ellis and Lake Morris at their May 11 meeting.

An article on the front page of the May 26 Chariton Leader announced that the 2020 Chariton Farmer’s Market would start on Thursday, June 4, from 5-7 p.m. on the east side of the Chariton square. The market would be open every Thursday from 5-7 p.m. on the east side of the square until Oct. 1, 2020.

At their May 18 meeting, the Chariton City Council approved by a 3-2 vote to reopen the green space at Northwest Park and the Chariton Dog Park. The playground equipment and restrooms at both parks would still remain closed at that time.

Bios of the remaining candidates running for State and U.S. House offices in the June 2 primary election were published in the May 26 Leader.

At a special meeting held May 26, the Chariton City Council decided not to open the Vredenburg-Chariton Family Aquatic Center for the 2020 season due to the issues at hand with COVID-19.

At a special Chariton School Board meeting held May 28, the school board unanimously voted for there to be a high school baseball and softball season in Chariton in 2020.

June 2020

It was announced in a story on the front of the June 2 Leader that Circle of Life Hospice and Legacy Lodge would be closing for good in Chariton on June 30, 2020, because it was no longer financially viable for them to remain open.

The winners of the annual Cute Baby Contest appeared on the front of the June 2 Leader. They were as follows: Lucy Folkerts-First place, Ruby Downey-Second place, Everleigh Fenley-Third place, and Ike Vredenburg-Fourth place.

The schedule for the 2020 Chariton High School graduation ceremony appeared on the front of the June 9 Leader. The 2020 graduation ceremony was held on Sunday, June 14, at the Lucas County Fairgrounds in Chariton.

It was announced at the June 8 Chariton School Board meeting that Schools Superintendent Larry Achenbach would receive a two percent salary increase. Achenbach was in the second year of a three-year contract and his salary increased from $140,000 a year to $142,800 starting July 1, 2020.

The results of the June 2 primary election were published in the June 9 Leader.

A story and photos about the 2020 CHS graduation ceremony at the Lucas County Fairgrounds was published in the June 16 Leader. Jackson Curnutte was named the class valedictorian and Trae Hall was named the class salutatorian.

It was announced in the June 16 Leader that Becky Maxwell, longtime publisher and ad director for the Centerville Daily Iowegian, was named publisher of the Albia, Chariton and Moravia Newspapers, replacing the retiring Dave Paxton.

The members of the top five percent of the 2020 Chariton High School Senior Class were honored. They were: Jackson Curnutte, Chantel Hixson, Logan Caudill, Ty Luedtke and Trae Hall. Due to COVID-19, the top five percent at CHS were honored along with the top five percent of students at every other conference school on a video that was put out on social media.

On Thursday, June 18, the Lucas County Fair Board announced to the public that the 2020 Lucas County Fair would go on as planned. It would be held July 24-30, 2020, with a few minor changes in order to properly mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

The Chariton City Council approved a bid from Hills Contracting of Leon to do Phase III of the Ilion Trail project. The bid approved was for $64,527.50.

The National Quilt of Valor Organization presented Chariton native Gary Goering with a National Quilt of Valor for his military service in the U.S. Army from 1970-72.

The Chariton Water Board and the Chariton City Council held their first discussion about the future of Lake Ellis and Lake Morris at the monthly water board meeting.

Susan Baer’s Fourth of July mural painted on the front of Dr. Richard Rips’ Dentist office at 117 N. Main in Chariton appeared on the front of the June 30 Leader.

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