Spring is in the air, and plans are under way for gardening projects in Cass County. Local groups planning beautification, community gardening or education programs will again be eligible for assistance from the Cass County Master Gardeners. The group is offering grant money to be used in the 2017 growing season, to encourage gardening to grow food and/or improve local communities. The money may also be used for gardening education purposes. The David Williams Memorial Master Gardener Grants are offered to honor the many years of service Master Gardener David Williams provided as a long-time volunteer, with the Master Gardener program and other community organizations, including a term as Cass County Master Gardener president in 2012.
Any Cass County not-for-profit group or organization may apply. Schools, churches, libraries, 4-H clubs, Scouts, and organizations working to better their communities can use the money to begin or improve gardens or landscaping, or to provide gardening/food related education for their members or the public. To ensure the money is helping a wide variety of community organizations, groups who were funded by 2016 grants will not be eligible to apply in 2017. Each grant has a maximum value of $300. The application must also include plans for teamwork and sustainability. Consideration for the environment is also an important selection factor.
Applications must be received by Monday, April 24 for consideration. They may be submitted by mail or email. Grant recipients will be informed of their selection by May 1. For more information, or with questions, call the Cass County Extension office at 712-243-1132, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop by the Extension Office at 805 W. 10th St in Atlantic. You may also contact Master Gardener Donna Reimers. Application forms can be picked up at the Extension Office, or printed from the Cass County Extension website- www.extension.iastate.edu/cass.
The Master Gardener program trains volunteers to develop their knowledge and skills in horticulture. These volunteers then give back to their communities through gardening service and education. The program is available in all 50 states and Canada through land grant university Extension programs such as Iowa State University. Education courses are available throughout Iowa on a regular basis. For more information on the program, or to sign up for the next class starting in August, contact Cass County Extension Program Coordinator Kate Olson, at 712-243-1132 or email@example.com.
Officials say a “super weed” is invading the state and the Iowa House has voted to classify the invasive plant as a “noxious” weed. Representative Mike Sexton, a farmer from Rockwell City, say “We’re talking about a weed that can devastate Iowa agriculture.” Sexton says Palmer amaranth (AM-are-anth) has spread to as many as 82 of the state’s 99 counties. The weed can reach seven feet in height and it chokes out other vegetation. It has spread through southern states and seems to have a resistance to common farm chemicals.
Representative Dean Fisher, a farmer from Montour, says by classifying Palmer amaranth as a noxious weed, it would be illegal to bring the plant’s seeds into the state. County weed commissioners may be more aggressive in trying to combat the invasive plant, too. “Palmer amaranth is a very noxious weed. It’s very difficult to kill and can have very severe impacts on the production rates on crops, on the yields and so it’s imperative that we get started on trying to eradicate this weed that’s been encroaching here in Iowa,” Fisher says.
Iowa State University experts say if Palmer amaranth gets established in a corn field, it can stifle yields by 90 percent. In a soybean field, studies show yields invaded by Palmer amaranth were cut by 80 percent. Seeds for Palmer amaranth were mixed in with other seeds that were planted on conservation areas.
Minnesota classified Palmer amaranth as a noxious weed in 2014 after it was found in two counties there. This past fall, a crew with blowtorches went through a few fields in Minnesota to burn the plants, to try to prevent the seeds from spreading. Experts say mowing conservation ground that was accidentally seeded with Palmer amaranth can contain its spread, but if the plants have seeds, tractor tires can carry the seeds out of the prairie grass areas and into farm fields.
DES MOINES – The Iowa DNR will hold the 2017 spring auction on April 22, at Pioneer Livestock Pavilion on the Iowa State Fairgrounds, in Des Moines. Doors will open at 7 a.m., and the auction will begin at 8:30 a.m. The public may view the items for sale and pre-register for the auction from 4 to 6 p.m., on April 21. There will not be any buyer’s premium fee added to the sale.
Items up for auction include more than 500 firearms, bows, gun barrels, scopes, tree stands and other assorted equipment. The items are sold “as is” with no guarantee or warranty.
Any person interested in purchasing a firearm at the auction must have either a valid Iowa permit to acquire pistols or revolvers, a federal firearms license, or a professional or non-professional permit to carry concealed weapons. The Iowa permit to acquire can be obtained from a sheriff’s office. Allow two to three weeks to receive the permit.
Payment must be made on auction day. All sales are final. All items must be removed from the site within one half hour after the sale completion. The Iowa DNR reserves the right to reject any bids and withdraw any item from the sale at any time. A sale bill is available online at http://www.iowadnr.gov/Hunting and will be updated if inventory is added. The DNR will not be mailing any sale bills.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A new survey suggests that farmland values in Iowa have inched upward in the past six months. A report from the Iowa Realtors Land Institute Chapter No. 2 says the farmland values climbed nearly 1 percent from September to March, hitting $6,545 an acre. The Des Moines Register reports that the increase was the first since September 2013.
The report says, however, that farmland values are still 2.8 percent lower for the past 12 months. The institute’s surveys suggest that the average value of Iowa’s farmland has dropped about 25 percent since March 2013. Iowa farmland values peaked in 2013 but have since fallen along with commodity prices.
The institute surveys about 135 agricultural real estate brokers, appraisers and other professionals.
The Shelby County Emergency Management Agency reports the County FIRE DANGER index will be in the “Moderate” category this week. The danger index had been set as “High” over the past week. The next Local update will be Thursday, March 30th.
During “Moderate” Fire Danger, the public should continue to call-in and report their planned burns. Doing so reduces unneeded emergency responses, and allows local chiefs to be more aware of activities in their area.
Key legislators say there is NOT consensus on a bill that would reorganize the drinking water system in metro Des Moines, but it appears a statewide water quality initiative may get bipartisan support. Representative Chip Baltimore, a Republican Boone, has been working on that second bill, to set up a financing structure for water improvement projects. “I think that one’s got more momentum behind it at this point in time and is a much more positive for the overall state of Iowa,” Baltimore says.
Representative Chris Hall, a Democrat from Sioux City, says Baltimore’s bill is “very creative,” but Hall would like to see the state dedicate more dollars to water quality — by raising the state sales tax by three-eighths of a percent. “Water quality is something that you see legislators on both sides of the aisle agreement: we need to discuss this,” Hall says. “It’s a serious issue for the state.”
Hall and Baltimore made their comments during a weekend appearance on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program. House Republican Leader Chris Hagenow is from Windsor Heights, one of the suburbs that gets its drinking water from the Des Moines Water Works. Hagenow says a “regionalization” plan for drinking water systems in the Des Moines metro has run into problems. “Obviously you get something like that, there’s a lot different ideas and people want to go different directions and we’ve been trying to reach consensus on that and haven’t gotten there yet,” Hagenow says.
On March 17th, a federal judge tossed out the Des Moines Waterworks lawsuit that had challenged three northwest Iowa counties. The bill to dismantle the independent utility and turn over management to city councils in the Des Moines metro has cleared committees in both the House and Senate, but must pass either the full House or 50-member Senate by this Friday to remain eligible for consideration this year.
An Iowa City based research organization has released a report that’s critical of a bill approved at the statehouse dealing with nuisance claims against large livestock operations. David Osterberg is co-author of the report, titled “CAFO’s” and the diminished defense of public health,” released by the Iowa Policy Project. At issue is a bill that’s cleared both the Iowa House and Senate and awaits the governor’s signature. “It is going to be harder for you to win a lawsuit against a large confinement that you believe is affecting your health, affecting the property value of your residence, and just making your life generally unpleasant,” Osterberg says.
The legislation would limit damages that a neighbor may recover if harmed by a nearby operation. In addition to health consequences, Osterberg says the report focuses on how large animal feeding operations impact property values. “There is more to say about things like water pollution that comes out of these confined animal feeding operations, but we pretty much limited ourselves to health effects from air emissions and property loss,” Osterberg said.
Supporters of the legislation claim it’s designed to protect both large and SMALL farmers from nuisance lawsuits.
DES MOINES, IOWA – Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 3.2 percent in February. The state’s jobless rate was 3.8 percent one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate decreased to 4.7 percent in February. “Iowa took another step towards full employment with the unemployment rate dropping to its lowest level since 2001,” said Beth Townsend, Director of Iowa Workforce Development. “A large number of Iowans found work in February. This was evident in the establishment survey which showed Iowa businesses added 3,000 jobs this past month.”
The number of unemployed Iowans decreased to 53,600 in February from 56,900 in January. The current estimate is 10,600 lower than the year ago level of 64,200. The total number of working Iowans increased to 1,639,700 in February. This figure was 2,700 higher than January and 1,900 higher than one year ago.
Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment
Iowa businesses again expanded in February, adding 3,000 jobs and lifting total nonfarm employment to 1,580,400 jobs. Last month’s employment experienced a moderate revision downward and this month’s gain helps recover much of the drop. Private sectors were responsible for all of the growth this month as government shed jobs (-500) primarily at the local level. Despite this loss, government remains up 800 jobs annually and the state combined is up 10,900 jobs.
Among private sectors, education and health services added 1,800 jobs in February to lead all sectors. Education added the majority of the jobs (+1,300), although healthcare also expanded their payrolls (+500). Construction added jobs this month (+1,600) and this month’s gain could signify an earlier than usual start to the building season. Other gains this month included professional and business services which added jobs for the fourth-consecutive month, and finance which has steadily trended up since August. Losses this month were limited to just three sectors and led by leisure and hospitality (-900). This sector pared jobs evenly in both recreational activities and hospitality and eating and drinking places. Despite the monthly loss, this sector has fared well and added jobs annually (+2,000). Alternatively, information services again trended down this month (-400), as did manufacturing (-200) due to cutbacks in durable goods.
Annually, total nonfarm employment continues to slowly add employment and has been fueled by hiring in professional and business services (+4,200). This sector alone has been responsible for 39 percent of all annual job gains in the state. Finance continues to grow its footprint in Iowa and is up 3,000 jobs versus last year. Other sectors experiencing growth annually include trade and transportation (+2,400), education and health services (+2,000), and leisure and hospitality (+2,000). Annual losses have been largest in manufacturing (-4,000) and wholly limited to durable goods factories. Information is the only other sector to pare jobs versus last year (-1,400).
Visit www.iowalmi.gov for more information about current and historical data, labor force data, nonfarm employment, hours and earnings, and jobless benefits by county.