The Atlantic Parks and Recreation Department has completed the Vision Iowa CAT grant application and turned it in by last Friday’s deadline. The application seeks $360,000 for improvements to the Schildberg Recreation Area campsite and related matters. Assistant Parks and Rec Director Seth Staashelm said during Monday’s meeting of the Parks and Recreation Dept. Board, that Director Roger Herring burned the midnight oil last week putting together a thick binder full of information. He says they hope to hear something back in the next month or two.
A 5-minute dvd virtual tour of the Schildberg Rec Area was included in the application. The video was shot by a drone under the guidance of Wastewater Treatment Plant Manager Tim Snyder. Staashelm added the c-g graphics and special effects. Herring said he hopes the Vision Iowa judges take a moment to view the dvd and note that the intent is to make Atlantic a “Destination Point,” which will in-turn benefit the County in the form of tourism. Parks and Rec Board member Charlene Beane suggested the video be included on the Chamber’s website.
In other business, the Parks and Rec Board Monday evening gave the go-ahead for the purchase of an interlocking basketball court surface at the Harl-Holt park. The low bid was from Versa Court, at $13,806. Seth Staashelm said a grant will help to pay for new court surface, which will come with pre-printed, versatile lines for different sporting activities. It’s much safer to use than hard surfaces, and only requires assembly, a job which the parks and rec crew will be able to handle, thereby saving on costs.
The surface has a 10-year warranty. And, costs for the summer recreation programs in Atlantic, including youth tennis, swim team and men’s slow pitch softball, are unchanged. New this year, is Adult Tennis, Pickleball and Sunnyside Activity Hour.
Updated information about those programs will be on the Parks and Rec Department website, later this week. http://www.atlanticiowa.com/atlantic/city-departments/parks-recreation/
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A stretch of sunny and dry weather has given Midwest farmers a good start on planting corn. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s weekly crop progress report was released Monday. It shows 13 percent of Iowa’s corn crop is planted, significantly ahead of the five-year average of 3 percent planted by mid-April.
Missouri farmers have 58 percent planted, ahead of their average of 21 percent. Kansas has more than a third of the corn crop planted, compared to the average 16 percent. Other states ahead of average are Kentucky and Minnesota. Nebraska is at 7 percent, ahead of its five-year average of 3 percent.
Planting corn early can result in an improved harvest because plants can mature to the pollination stage before summer heat stresses them.
WILLIAMSBURG, Iowa (AP) — Iowa farm equipment maker Kinze Manufacturing says it must lay off 121 workers as low grain prices have slowed farmer purchases. The Des Moines Register reports the Williamsburg-based company announced Monday that office and factory worker cuts will be effective June 18. The eastern Iowa company makes planters and grain carts.
The company released a statement Monday that says it implemented a 30-hour work last year and started “aggressive marketing campaigns” to address market conditions, but the current demand for farming equipment doesn’t support the company’s staff size. Kinze also cut 215 workers last June also citing slowed business and the farm downturn.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – One of the nation’s largest egg producers says it plans to build a new cage-free egg-laying farm in eastern South Dakota that will house 3 million hens. Rembrandt Foods will build the facility in Lake Preston, South Dakota. Construction is expected to begin this year and it will be ready for hens next year.
Spirit Lake, Iowa-based Rembrandt Foods supplies egg products to food manufacturers, food service providers, restaurant chains and retail grocers. It announced plans to increase the number of its hens housed in cage-free barns last year. Rembrandt president Dave Rettig says growing consumer demand for cage-free eggs has pushed more than 100 food companies including Walmart and McDonalds to switch to cage-free eggs in the next decade.
Rembrandt has facilities in Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota and Alabama.
MISSOURI VALLEY, Iowa (AP) — All of the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge is opening for the summer season this weekend. The refuge’s auto tour road, nature trails, bird watching and mushroom hunting areas are now open for the season. Fishing and boating will also be permitted as long as anglers have a valid license from either Iowa or Nebraska. Spring archery turkey hunting begins on Monday.
The refuge is located north of Omaha, Nebraska, along on U.S. Highway 30 near Missouri Valley, Iowa. An entrance permit is required to enter the refuge. For more information, call 712-388-4800.
Two students from the Atlantic High School will be honored Monday afternoon, in Ames. Seniors Haley Carlson and Aubrey Schwarte will be part of an historic event where Iowa will be the first state in the nation to conduct a Letter of Intent to Teach Agricultural Education. The goal is to recognize young people who are committed to pursuing teaching as a career. The ceremony honoring Carlson and Schwarte will take place on the ISU Campus at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, beginning at 3:10-p.m.
Dale Gruis, Ag Ed Consultant for the Iowa Department of Education, and State FFA Advisor, says nationally, the number of college students pursuing degrees to teach K-12 is down 30-percent. In Iowa, there are currently about 20 teaching positions that remain unfilled in Agricultural Education (grades 5-12). While southern states have had Ag Ed instructor shortages for many years, the 2015-year was the first such shortage, in Iowa. Gruis says in addition, 25-percent of high school Ag Ed instructors are eligible to retire by 2018.
Agricultural Education is linked with the FFA, the largest student-led organization in the world. Gruis says students can only become members of the National FFA if they are first enrolled in Ag Ed courses.
The population of monarch butterflies that overwintered in Mexico is said to be more than three times larger than what was seen last year. It’s exceptional news for conservationists in Iowa and elsewhere who are trying to restore the monarch population which has dropped 80-percent in the past 20 years. Sue Blodgett, who chairs the Department of Entomology at Iowa State University, gives some of the credit to Iowans who are planting milkweeds by the thousands.
“I think that’s probably helping,” Blodgett says. “Of course, there’s other factors, too, the lack of any drought where the monarch have to migrate through, there’s several factors that contribute, but certainly, the efforts we are making here in Iowa are part of that picture.” The orange-and-black insects are a key factor in providing pollination services to agriculture that are estimated to be worth three-billion dollars a year. Blodgett says they’re an important insect.
“It’s iconic and it also is a really good indicator of habitat,” Blodgett says, “and not just habitat for the monarch but habitat for other pollinators, birds and other wildlife that we value.” The World Wildlife Fund reports that this winter’s survey found adult butterflies covered about ten acres of forest in Mexico. During the last three winters, overwintering butterflies occupied three or fewer acres. Blodgett says the goal is to see a sustained monarch population of about 15 acres, or 225-million butterflies through domestic and international efforts.
“In the past, there’s been some big storms or frosts or freezes that have gone through Mexico that have devastated the population,” Blodgett says. “Because of that migration, there’s a lot of weather factors involved that can influence that population.” One way Iowans can help in their back yards or on larger pieces of property is by planting milkweed, which monarch caterpillars love.
“Right now, we have nine different species of milkweeds planted at all of our Iowa State University research and demonstration farms around the state,” Blodgett says, “to show people what they look like and to also see how they persist, how they grow and to look at how the larvae develop on those.” The Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium was established last year to enhance monarch reproduction and survival in Iowa through collaborative and coordinated efforts of farmers, private citizens and their organizations.
Learn more at: http://monarch.ent.iastate.edu
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Des Moines-based MidAmerican Energy Company says it plans to spend $3.6 billion on a wind turbine operation that will generate up to 2,000 megawatts of electricity. Bill Fehrman, the utility’s CEO and president, announced the project Thursday at an event in Des Moines attended by Gov. Terry Branstad and other state officials. Officials say the wind farm will be the largest economic development project in the state’s history.
Fehrman says when the project is completed, the utility will generate wind energy that equals 85 percent of its annual customer sales in Iowa. MidAmerican is the state’s largest utility. MidAmerican didn’t release where the new turbines would be erected but says the utility will finalize locations while the Iowa Utilities Board considers the project.
A grant from the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) is providing the eight fire and rescue departments in Cass County with supplemental grain bin rescue tools. Stacie Euken, President of the Cass County Farm Bureau, says the County Farm Bureau Board applied for the grant from the IFBF to purchase grain bin augers and drills to run the augers, to aid in the rescue of persons trapped in grain bins.
All of the fire departments in Cass County are already equipped with lightweight grain bin rescue tubes, constructed to fit around the victim trapped in grain. The tubes are designed to stop the flow of the grain toward the victim, while at the same time relieving the pressure grain may place on the victim by rescuers attempting to save them. The rescue auger is designed to quickly remove grain from around the victim while they are in the rescue tube. It’s powered by a one-half inch cordless drill.
A normal grain bin rescue takes about three and one-half hours. In December, 2015, a 39-year old Creston man died in a grain bin, west of Murray. Iowa is one of two states with the highest number of documented grain entrapment incidents, according to a 2013 report by Purdue University in Indiana, which is the other state with the highest number of incidents.
There were four grain entrapment incidents in Iowa last year. Nationwide, there were 38 documented grain entrapments resulting in 17 deaths in 2014, up from 33 entrapments and 13 deaths in 2013. From 2000 to 2010, 17 Iowans died after being trapped in grain, according to the University of Iowa College of Public Health.
The nearly $9,000 IFBF grant will pay for the augers and drills, which are being provided by Cappel’s Ace Hardware in Atlantic, and the Anita Supply Company. Fire department representatives will receive their Rescue Auger and drills during a ceremony Monday evening at the Iowa Farm Bureau Office, in Atlantic.