Shelby County Emergency Management officials say as of today (Monday), natural fuels (Low humidity, strong winds and extremely dry grass/timber) have reached a point where they will readily ignite, and spread. With predicted winds increasing, and Relative Humidity expected to drop into the Mid 20’s authorities recommend that Fire Danger Boards in Shelby County be placed in the HIGH category.
The County is also included in a Fire Weather Watch, so expectations of rapid fire growth should be anticipated. The situation will be assessed and the Fire Danger Boards updated, on Thursday. In the mean time, outdoor burning of timber, grasses and other materials should not be conducted.
If you must burn, call your local fire chief to obtain authorization. If you are cleared to begin a controlled burn, contact Shelby County Dispatch at 712-755-2124 and let them know it is an authorized burn to avoid any confusion.
Atlantic Parks and Recreation Department Director Roger Herring reports the gates to Sunnyside Park will open today at 4-p.m. Herring advises park visitors to use “Great caution” as they drive through the park due to gravel and debris on the street.
Herring says the new tennis courts are open and ready to be used by the public FOR TENNIS ONLY. He asks park users to be on the alert for walkers, joggers, disc golf players and children at play. Herring says you are welcome to enjoy City’s parks but asks that you respect the parks and related property, as they are meant for everyone to enjoy.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources reports precipitation for Iowa is below normal so far in 2014, receiving an average of 2.2 inches instead of the normal 2.6 inches by this time. The wettest area of the state is extreme southeast Iowa with 5 inches of moisture, and the driest areas are portions of the I-29 corridor which have received only about an inch.
Stream flows are normal across the state for this time of year, except in the Iowa River watersheds, which are above normal.The area of extreme drought in Iowa has reduced in size from 20 percent of the state to 7 percent since the beginning of the year.
For a more thorough review of Iowa’s water resource trends January 1 through March 12, go to http://www.iowadnr.gov/watersummaryupdate. The report is prepared by the technical staff from the Iowa DNR, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and the U.S. Geological Survey, in collaboration with The Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department.
The Iowa Senate’s Agriculture Committee this week approved a bill that would allow the so-called “corn check-off” go as high as three-cents per bushel. Iowa Corn Growers Association lobbyist Mindy Larsen Poldberg, says current state law limits the check-off to one-cent per bushel. “Farmers, they know that they’re currently paying one cent per bushel after the last refendum in 2012,” Larsen Poldberg says. “There could never be another referendum again, even if farmers wanted it, unless this bill passes.”
A bill creating the corn check-off — requiring farmers to pay a small portion of what they earn on each bushel of corn sold if farmers approve the move in a referendum — passed the Iowa legislature in 1976. In 1977, Iowa farmers voted to send one-tenth of a cent from each bushel sold to the Iowa Corn Promotion Board. Since then farmers have voted four times to raise the check-off, but it now sits at the maximum allowed by law.
“And what this bill is trying to do by raising that cap to three cents is plan for the next 40 years,” Larsen Poldberg says, “or at least a few decades out.” The bill has already cleared the Iowa House and now is eligible for debate in the Iowa Senate. The bill’s managers say about 51 million dollars would have been raised in 2013 if Iowa farmers were paying that top three-cent-per-bushel check-off rate. For farmers who might have sticker shock at that number, Larsen Poldberg says that upper threshold won’t be reached anytime soon.
“The goal is not to pass this bill and then immediately raise the check-off to three cents,” Larsen Poldberg says. “That is not going to happen.” Check-off funds are managed by a group of farmers who’ve been elected to the Iowa Corn Promotion Board. Over the past four decades the board has used the check-off money to encourage use of high-fructose corn syrup and corn-based ethanol. The money also is used for research to find new uses for corn.
Think Spring! The Cass County Master Gardeners and Cass County Extension are helping local gardeners gear up for warmer weather this month, with the 16th Annual Atlantic Spring Garden Seminar on Saturday March 22nd. This full day event, held at the Atlantic High School, features garden experts from across the Midwest sharing the latest information on gardening methods and plant varieties. The seminar is open to all interested gardeners no matter the level of experience. Participants are not required to have completed Master Gardener training to attend, but Master Gardeners who attend the full day will be given 5 credit hours toward their continuing education requirements.
The day starts with registration and refreshments at 8:30 AM. The program begins at 9 AM, when freelance garden writer Susan Appleget-Hurst will discuss “Dream Garden Design”, sharing practical tips for bringing inspiration to your home garden. The first of two breakout sessions for the day is next, and attendees will have 10 different topics to choose from, covering everything from starting seeds to native plants, and creating garden totems to focusing on care for specific plants. Before lunch, attendees will gather back in the auditorium to hear about tree selection for Iowa from ISU Extension Forestry Specialist Jesse Randall.
Over the lunch break, participants can browse the vendor/exhibitor booths in the high school gym, visit a Q & A booth to chat with some of our expert presenters, and enjoy lunch while chatting with friends or making new acquaintances.
The final group session for the day features Deb Groth of Groth Gardens in Winterset discussing tips and trick for growing “wow-worthy” containers. Before attendees head home, they will attend one more breakout session where they can pick from a list of 9 different topics to round out their day. The final session will wrap up by 3:20 PM.
The cost for this day of fun and learning is $35, including all meals and session materials. A full list of all breakout sessions, a schedule for the day and printable registration form are all available online at www.extension.iastate.edu/cass or can be picked up at the Cass County Extension Office. Brochures are also available at many local businesses with the schedule and registration form.
Registrations are welcome up to the day of the Garden Seminar, including walk-in registrations at the door. For more information on the Spring Garden Seminar or the Cass County Master Gardener Program, call the Cass County Extension Office at 712-243-1132, email email@example.com, or stop by the Extension Office at 805 W. 10th St in Atlantic.
DENISON, Iowa (AP) – Tyson Foods has changed its plans and has decided to keep open its beef plant in Denison. Officials say the decision will save nearly 400 jobs in the western Iowa city of about 8,400 people. Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson said Thursday that employees were given the good news last week.
Two years ago Tyson said the aging slaughterhouse could close after completion of a $90 million expansion and modernization project at Tyson’s beef plant in Dakota City. The Dakota City project originally was expected to be completed in mid-2013, but it’s taken longer than anticipated. Completion now is expected this summer.
Tyson says reasons to keep open the Denison plant include the closing of some competitors’ beef plants and the lower feed prices for cattle.
The Fire Weather Danger Index for much of far west and southwest Iowa and eastern Nebraska will be in the VERY HIGH category today! Emergency Management officials say you should be extremely cautious if you plan to burn outdoors today. There are currently no Burn Bans in effect, but officials say if the dry weather continues throughout the next few weeks that could change.
In anticipation of the rapid drying conditions forecast for this weekend, Shelby County Emergency Management officials say they will begin bi-weekly local fire danger assessments, next week.
Spring cleanup time is traditionally when a lot of people burn their brush piles.Officials say being aware of the potential for that small fire to spread due to wind and other meteorological conditions, conducive to rapid fire spread, is what the Fire Danger Assessment Program is all about. Monitoring the burning conditions will allow authorities to advise residents as to whether a controlled, open burn should be put off to a more favorable day, and save area volunteer firefighters from leaving their jobs for a burn which becomes uncontrollable.
Shelby County Emergency Management asks you to please call your controlled burns in to the Emergency Management Agency at 712-755-2124. Officials will take your information and put you in touch with the Fire Chief in your community.
By Haley Carlson
The Atlantic FFA took eight members to District Convention in Denison on Saturday, March 8, 2014. The members participated in a variety of events from quizzes to competitions to chapter delegates. Juniors, Adam Freund and Clint Hansen took the Farm Business Management Quiz, Freund placing 3rd and Hansen placing 4th. Freund also participated in Ag Broadcasting, earning a Bronze. Freund said, “Broadcasting was difficult but I thought I did well”. Hansen took part in the Extempt Speaking contest, earning a Bronze. Four of Atlantic’s freshman FFA members took the Greenhand quiz, Nate Moen placing 25th, Morgan Barkley placed 27th, Haylee Valekia placed 28th, and Colby Sorenson placed 30th. Moen said, “This was my first official FFA event and I had a lot of fun. I hope to be able to compete in more events in the coming years”. Sophomores, Clayton Saeugling and Haley Carlson were the chapter delegates for Atlantic FFA at convention. A delegate is someone who sits in on the speeches of new district officer candidates and also votes on these candidates. Delegates also approve the secretary and treasurer’s report. Saeugling thought “it was a fun and memorable experience”. The Atlantic FFA chapter will be traveling to Iowa FFA State Convention from April 27-29.