Iowa’s third largest recreational area has a host of family-friendly events planned for this Memorial Day weekend. Conrad Kramer, executive director of the Whiterock Conservancy in Coon Rapids, says a Slow Sunday Drive is planned for tomorrow. Folks can bring an A-T-V or utility vehicle for a 13-mile guided tour through the forest, pastures and prairieland.
“We thought it would be great if people could just bring their vehicles and drive our new main loop trail,” Kramer says. “It circles our entire 5,000 acre landscape. It’s a double track and we lead you through with a pilot Gator. It’s a nice, slow 3-hour roll through some absolutely beautiful landscape, through the prairies, through the savannah, with some great scenic overlooks.”
It’s a particular treat as Whiterock is usually closed to private motorized vehicles. On Monday, events will include a fishing derby at the Garst Home Farm. The derby will be held at the old Garst family pond which has some seven decades of history. A few years back, the pond was cleaned completely out and restocked.
“It’s got all kinds of great fish in it, some great panfish, bass, catfish, and this particular pond even has some nice little surprises,” Kramer says. “It has walleye and even some northern pike in it.” Each participant will receive a dozen worms and there will be prizes with experts on-hand to guide angling novices. For more information on the weekend’s events, visit: www.whiterockconservancy.org
Many Iowa boat owners will be hitting a lake or river for the first time this year over the Memorial Day weekend. Susan Stocker, a boating law administrator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, is hoping it’ll be a safe season on the state’s waterways. “Our boat accident rate has been going down,” Stocker says. “It all has to do with education and making sure everybody is safe out there.” Iowa’s late spring has probably kept many boats in storage later than normal, increasing the likelihood that Memorial Day weekend will be a busy one on the water.
Stocker is reminding boaters that a life jacket may be the key to survival in the event of an accident. “Make sure that when you are out there boating that you have a wearable life jacket for every person on board and make sure they fit the intended user,” Stocker says. The boat should also be equipped with fire extinguisher and a horn or whistle. Stocker says getting used to the water each spring is much like re-learning winter driving skills after the first snow fall.
She says with a little practice the good habits often return quickly. Stocker adds, if there’s alcohol on the boat, there should also be a designated driver. In 2014, more than 70-percent of the boating fatalities in Iowa involved alcohol, according to Stocker.
Whether they’re baked into pies, sprinkled over ice cream, blended into margaritas or eaten fresh right off the plant, strawberries are ripening in Iowa and in most regions, they’re ready for picking. Tami Stotts, with the Iowa Department of Agriculture, says the weather is finally cooperating for strawberry growers statewide.
“I’ve heard that the crop looks really good,” Stotts says. “They were in need of a little rain in some areas and a little heat and this week we’ve had both. I’ve had a few reports that they’re ripening just a little behind schedule but many of them are opening this weekend.” Fresh-picked strawberries are a tasty, fat-free treat and they kick off the growing season in Iowa. She says visiting a local farmers market or going to a you-pick farm is a great way to find fresh berries.
“I would suggest that before you head out to a strawberry patch you contact them because it can vary so much around the state,” Stotts says. “Before you pack up the family and head out, make sure the place you want to go is open.” Once picked, strawberries don’t continue to ripen like some fruits and vegetables, so select vibrant red berries. Also, strawberries have a short shelf life and should be eaten within a few days of being picked. You can find strawberry growers by visiting the Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association’s “Farm Search” website: www.ifvga.org/en/about_us/farm_search
Iowa artists who want to work on a grand scale are urged to apply for the opportunity to paint a large mural highlighting conservation and water quality efforts in Iowa. The mural will be created during the Iowa State Fair in August. Dustin Vande Hoef, a spokesman for the state Department of Agriculture, explains the goal of the project:
“We really want to showcase all of the aspects of Iowa agriculture,” Vande Hoef says. “Certainly, the livestock production, the beef and pork and dairy, the turkey production, the eggs as well, but also, the corn and soybeans as well as the specialty crops like grapes.”
The mural should serve as a visual representation of the commitment by Iowa farmers to protecting the land and improving water quality. It will be created on a six-panel, eight-by-24-foot wall in the Agricultural Building during the state fair.
Vande Hoef says, “We see it as an opportunity to highlight Iowa agriculture and the conservation and water quality efforts that are underway on our farms, in our rural small towns and in our cities.” At least a portion of the mural must be painted during the state fair, which runs August 11th through the 21st, including at least two hours each day between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Artists need to apply by July 1st. In addition to being seen by perhaps hundreds of thousands of fairgoers, there’s cash compensation, too.
“The ag groups have provided $1,500 to support the artist and an additional $500 to purchase supplies, so we want to encourage artists to apply,” Vande Hoef says. “We have all of the information on our website at IowaAgriculture.gov under ‘Hot Topics.'” Besides the state ag department, the project is being sponsored by: the Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Turkey Federation, Iowa Egg Council, Iowa Beef Industry Council, Midwest Dairy Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association and the Iowa Soybean Association.
Forbes magazine is out with its list of the richest residents in each state and an agri-businessman from Adel is listed as Iowa’s richest person. Seventy-four-year-old Harry Stine is the founder of Stine Seed. He started experimenting with corn and soybean genetics in the 1960s and got patents on key soybean genetics in the 1990s. Forbes pegs Stine’s net worth at three-point-six billion dollars. The magazine’s website says Stine drives a Ford F-150 pick-up and lives in a small home near the Stine Seed headquarters.
Investment guru Warren Buffet is the richest person in Nebraska. South Dakota’s richest resident is a banker. The part-owner of Cargill is the richest person in Minnesota. Wisconsin’s richest person founded the Menard’s chain of home improvement stores. The richest person in Illinois is a hedge fund manager and Missouri’s richest person owns the St. Louis Rams, but recently struck a deal to move the team to Los Angeles.
The Cass County Board of Supervisors, Wednesday, agreed to waive their right to appeal the issuance of a construction permit for Southwest Iowa Egg, near Massena. On May 11th, the Supervisors approved a Master Matrix scoring application for a construction permit. Southwest Iowa Egg plans to remove of two, older buildings and replace them with a larger, modern facilities that gives the chickens more room and is designed to considerably reduce out-gassing of odors from the manure.
The Board forwarded its recommendation of approval to the Iowa DNR, which, in-turn also approved the application. The DNR then created a draft permit for the Supervisors to either deny or approve. Cass County Auditor Dale Sunderman read a letter received from the DNR’s Senior Environmental Engineer, with regard to the application. The letter said Southwest Iowa Egg Cooperative has met the legal criteria to issue a construction permit for seven new poultry confinement buildings and one new dry manure storage building.
The Board of Supervisors, according to Sunderman, had the right to appeal the DNR’s statement of recommendation to issue the permit, or they could waive their right to appeal the permit, to expedite the permit process. They chose the latter.
In other business, the Board approved a Sheriff’s Deputies,’ Jailors’ and Sheriff’s Office Assistant bargaining unit agreement for Fiscal Year 2017.
A bridge that was closed in northern Cass County early last month, is once again open to traffic. On April 6th, Cass County Engineer Charles Marker told the Board of Supervisors high truss bridge #440, located a couple of miles south of Interstate 80 in Pymosa Township near the Buck Creek Church was closed, after an inspection revealed a wooden “pile cap” on the northeast corner of the bridge had shattered, making it unsafe. The repairs to that bridge have since been completed.
Marker told the Board of Supervisors during their meeting this (Wednesday) morning, inspections have revealed two other bridges, however, must be closed. One of those is Bridge #17, which is located about 5-miles south of Massena on Highway 148 and three-quarters of a mile west, on Yankton Road. Marker said the wood bridge pilings are continuing to decay. The bridge is posted for vehicles with a maximum gross weight of three-tons, but Marker says he’s heard from residents in the area, semis are crossing the bridge. He said they’re concerned if it continues to be used in that manner, a vehicle may end-up in the creek.
Bridge 17 is one of two bridges in the County scheduled to be repaired, with the bid-letting to take place in August. The other is Bridge #42 near the Cass/Adams/Montgomery County corner. Marker says the pile cap has begun to rotate, or twisted to the point where it is in danger of collapsing. The bridge is located along a Level B road.
He said also, Gus Construction has completed the concrete pour on a culvert for Bridge #20, located about two-miles south of Highway 92 on County Road N-28, south of Cumberland. Weather permitting, the project, including paving, should be completed by mid-July.