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Ag Sec. Vilsack announces planned CRP expansion to preserve wildlife

Ag/Outdoor, News

October 8th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

U-S Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stood on a portion of a roughly 200-acre plot of land located near the Cass/Pottawattamie County line Monday afternoon, to announce a plan to extend the Conservation Reserve Program, in an effort to continue to conserve and restore wildlife and their habitats, especially the pheasant population.

US Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack speaks with property manager Gary Matters, Monday afternoon, near the Cass/Pottawattamie County line. (Ric Hanson photo)

The move comes in cooperation with Pheasants Forever, the Nature Conservancy, and other, similar groups and is being developed under the SAFE, or State Acres for wildlife Enhancement, Program. In March, Vilsack announced the USDA’s goal of enrolling One-million acres in a new CRP grasslands and wetlands initiative, through continuous signups.

Vilsack said Monday, the USDA is committed to adding 400,000 CRP state acres across the country, with a number of states having additional acres allocated under SAFE. About 20 states he says, will be able to add up to 280-thousand acres for all projects. In Iowa, 50,000 additional acres will be added to SAFE, that are directly related to pheasants’ habitat initiative, to try and increase significantly, the pheasant population.  He says in Nebraska, they’ll be adding acres to existing programs, instead of new acres, under SAFE.

That includes 74-hundred acres to the Prairie Chicken effort, which will add to the 21-thousand acres currently enrolled in the program in eastern Nebraska, and another 22-thousand acres will be added to the 31-thousand allocated acres for the Upland Bird Habitat Initiative. SAFE is currently capped at 1.25-million acres, nationally. Acres are allocated across 97 SAFE projects in 36 states and Puerto Rico. The Ag Secretary said sign-up for the additional CRP acreages won’t be possible, however, until after Congress, and more specifically, House of Representatives, has finished its work on the Farm Bill.

He says by connecting and educating people about the “economic driver” that conservation and outdoor recreation is, officials hope once Congress returns after the election, that they finish the work they started. Vilsack was asked if it was “Fair,” to hold a press conference in a swing state like Iowa, less than a month before the election, in a contested location for the Iowa House of Representatives. Vilsack was also asked if this was a role for the USDA, or an attempt to sway voters. He said Iowa is number one in the country in filter strips, number one in grassland reserve areas, and one of the leading conservation and CRP states, as well as wetland reserve states. Therefore, he said, it is “Appropriate and necessary, at the beginning of hunting season, to talk about habitat, to educate people about the link between habitat and conservation, and economic development and jobs.

Vilsack his stop was all about the SAFE Program, something he’s been working on all year long, and for the past four-years. He said in Iowa, about $3-billion dollars worth of sales and economic activity is associated with conservation and outdoor recreation. He says that generates $700-million for state and local governments, and helps to employ nearly 31-thousand people. The land Vilsack spoke on Monday, is managed by Gary Matters, of Council Bluffs. It’s owned by his father, Fred Matters, who is retired, and lives in Urbandale.

Atlantic Traffic Accident Saturday


October 8th, 2012 by admin

A traffic accident in Atlantic Saturday caused over $5,000 damage.

At about 1 PM, the Atlantic Police Department reports a vesicle driven by Joshua Tye of Creston was coming northbound out of the Atlantic Walmart entrance onto 7th street.  A vehicle driven by Gregory Riggleman of Wooster, OH was eastbound and stopped at the traffic light of the Walmart/7th Street intersection.  Tye lost control of his vehicle and struck Riggleman’s vehicle.  Damage to Tye’s vehicle was about $5,000.  Damage to Riggleman’s vehicle was about $200.  No citations or injuries were reported.

Cass County Youth Celebrate National 4-H Week October 7-13

Ag/Outdoor, News

October 8th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

October 7th through the 13th is National 4-H Week. Cass County is celebrating the 4-H youth who have made an impact on the community, and are stepping up to the challenges of a complex and changing world. On Wednesday, October 10th, from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m., 4-H youth along with their family, friends and extension staff will host a 4-H Open House for anyone in the community, at the Cass County Community Center.

The planned activities will allow 4-H members and staff to showcase some of their project areas with hands-on activities designed to encourage new membership.  County Youth Coordinator (CYC) Susan Oliver says the events will include participation areas where anyone interested in 4-H can experience firsthand what it might be like to become a 4-H member.  Cookie decorating, hands-on science projects, craft areas as well as the “Clover Corner” for younger siblings are just a few of the events planned for the afternoon.  If you have ever considered joining 4-H, if you are a 4-H member, or you would just like to know more about the program we encourage you to stop by the open house.

Also during National 4-H Week, hundreds of thousands of youth from all around the nation will complete a single, innovative experiment on 4-H National Youth Science Day, which is on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012. Here in Cass County you can come work first hand on science with our Regional Youth Specialist Jane Hayes-Johnk.

In Cass County, approximately 250 4-H members and 115 volunteers are involved in 4‑H. To learn more about how you can be a part of 4-H as a member or a volunteer, please contact Susan Oliver, CYC, at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Cass County, at 712-243-1132 or smmck@iastate.edu .

Push to expand science, math, engineering courses


October 8th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A state task force trying to boost teaching of science, technology, engineering and math — the so-called STEM disciplines — has identified more than 800 programs around the state that could be expanded or copied elsewhere. Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds is leading the initiative and she says these 800-plus programs are not only in schools, but led by community organizations and businesses as well.  “That’s where we start to inspire them to take science and math, and so they can start to see the relevance of taking those courses and the impact that that that has on their life, on their quality of life, and really on the great jobs that they can have in the future,” Reynolds says. “So this is going to help us inspire them, get them engage and it’s also going to help us make sure that when they graduate from high school that they are career- or college-ready.”

Reynolds says Iowa students will be tested, to see if the programs work.  “The Iowa Assessment, which used to be the Iowa Test of Basic Skills I believe, has allowed us this year to add questions…of all students taking the test so we can start to get a baseline of where they’re at,” Reynolds says. “It monitors interest in science and math, if they have any intention of going into that discipline, so that will be a baseline and that was not on the test before.” The task force will measure student competence and interest in science, technology, engineering and math by monitoring the National Assessment of Education Skills, too.

(Radio Iowa)

Cass County 4-H and YMCA Partner on Youth Science


October 8th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Cass County Extension 4-H and Nishna Valley YMCA are partnering to create learning opportunities for young people in grades 4-8 to gain knowledge and skills in the science, technology, engineering and math fields with a new program.  The group “whY Science” begins October 15 from 3:45-4:45 PM in the Nishna Valley YMCA.

Young people in grades 4-8 are invited to be a part of “whY Science” that will begin meeting after school on Monday, October 15 in the youth room of the Nishna Valley YMCA.  Science sessions will be from 3:45-4:45.   Youth need to pre-register so resources, materials and staff are available for all youth. Adult partners include Lynn Barnes, Denny Stuetelberg, Tamara Gibson, Nishna Valley YMCA-Kids Fun Fitness Program coordinator, and Lee Havemeier plus other adult volunteers from the YMCA and Susan Oliver, Extension Youth Coordinator and Kate Olson, Extension Program Coordinator.  The first of a series of science sessions will be Funtivities, a hands-on exploration of electricity, magnetism, and air pressure.

Pre-registration for the collaborative program is due by October 11th.  You can register at the Y or enroll online at ia.4honline.com.  Create a new account and add “whY Science” as your club.  There is no fee for registration and the group is open to all youth in Cass County in grades 4-8.

Officials say in school, science classes need to cover a broad range of topics in a limited amount of time. “whY Science” will allow more time for youth to explore science.  The goal of the Cass County 4-H and YMCA partnership, according to the extension, is to offer additional science, technology, engineering and math opportunities on a regular basis.  In addition, science find-out days, workshops and guest speakers and tours may be incorporated into the program from now until May 2013.

RED FLAG WARNING issued for sw IA counties

Ag/Outdoor, News, Weather

October 8th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The National Weather Service in Omaha has extended the Red Flag Warning to cover Harrison, Shelby and Pottawattamie Counties in southwest Iowa. The warning is in effect until 6-p.m.  Previously, the warning covered those counties along and north of Highway 30. In addition, the Grassland Fire Danger Index will be in the EXTREME category today for the counties mentioned.

Officials say low humidity, winds gusting out of the southwest from 15-to 30-miles per hour will combine to create explosive fire growth if a fire should develop. Fires are especially possible in extremely dry fields and grassy areas. Outdoor burning is not recommended, and most counties in the area have a burn ban in place.

A Red Flag Warning mean that critical fire weather conditions are occurring or will shortly.

This is Fire Prevention Week


October 8th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

This week (October 7th through the 13th), is National Fire Prevention Week. Locally, activities began Sunday, in Atlantic, with the Fireman’s Breakfast at the fire station. Atlantic volunteer Fire Fighter, Capt. Tom Cappel, says the goal is to promote fire safety and prevention, in the schools, and at home. The campaign designed for everyone, but especially young people.  Cappel says the kids they speak with are encouraged to go home, and talk with adults about checking smoke detectors.

Another part of fire safety week, is a reminder to farmers about safety while they’re out in the fields, and the importance of checking their equipment for faulty parts that might start a fire (such as bearings), and keeping combines and other implements free of debris. Those issues have caused some field fires recently, but they were brought under control quickly, due to the preventative action by farmers, and quick response by fire fighters.

A big part of Fire Prevention Week though, is the annual Atlantic Fireman’s Parade, which takes place this Saturday, October 13th. Cappel says two Drill and Drum Corps teams will be featured in the parade, including the Isiserettes, from Des Moines, and the Salem Stepping Saints, from Omaha. The performances begin in front of the Rock Island Depot at 5-p.m. The Parade lineup starts at 4-pm on Third and Olive St. Parade lineup is first come first serve. Parade starts at 6 pm.

For more information about all of this weekend’s activities in Atlantic, including the Rib Fest on Friday, and Harvest Fest on Saturday, along with the Fireman’s Parade and related activities, go to www.atlanticiowa.com.

9AM Newscast 10-08-2012

News, Podcasts

October 8th, 2012 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

Assisted living residents rights highlighted by Department on Aging


October 8th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department on Aging is highlighting the rights of those in nursing, assisted living and other long-term care facilities this month. Iowa’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman, Deanna Clingan-Fischer, says they are calling it “Resident’s Rights Month.”  “Trying to make sure that we remember and reflect on the contributions of those individuals throughout their years of service,” Clingan-Fischer says. “I think the main part about Resident’s Rights Months is just allowing us to focus on the rights of those individuals in long-term facilities and to increase the knowledge base amongst the general population that these individuals do have rights, and they haven’t lost those rights just because they’ve gone into a long-term care facility.”

The rights are guaranteed by the federal Nursing Home Reform Law and Iowa law, but people sometimes forget about those in the facilities because they don’t have as much interaction with the general public. “Many people think that if they are in a care facility they can’t know what they are talking about, or they’ve lost their ability to contribute to society. And we’d really like to dispel that myth,” Clingan-Fisher explains. “Older individuals can participate and be involved in activities and do the things that all the rest of us can do, sometimes with limitations as they get older. But our job is to help them be able to participate in those activities despite those limitations.”

This is an election year and voter participation is one of the key issues for residents of the facilities. “Voting always comes up — can a resident exercise their right to vote or not — the answer is ‘yes’ they can. Just because I am in a long-term care facility or setting, doesn’t mean that I’ve lost my ability to vote,” according to Clingan-Fischer. She says family members can have a helpful role in ensuring that residents are being treated fairly. “They need to be able to participate in their own treatment plans and care. They have the right to be fully informed to make decisions that impact them. They have the right to complain if something isn’t going right and not fear retaliation for the complaint,” Clingan-Fischer says. “So many times what happens is the family member might discover that some of these rights might be violated.”

She encourages you or a family member to call her office if you think such rights are being violated.  “Because we are an advocated for those residents, and we ensure that the residents and the tenants rights are met and protected so that they can (enjoy) a quality of life,” Clingan-Fischer. You can call the Long-Term Care Ombudsman at 1-866-236-1430. Clingan-Fischer says there are over 800 such facilities across the state that are home to thousands of Iowans.

(Radio Iowa)

Former House Speaker — opponent of gay marriage — to vote yes on Justice Wiggins


October 8th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A Republican from Sioux City says the “outrage” he’s hearing about the Iowa Supreme Court’s 2009 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa rings “hollow” to him. Christopher Rants says some of those who’re now campaigning to oust an Iowa Supreme Court justice who joined that 2009 ruling are the same people who came to him eight years ago, when Rants was speaker of the Iowa House, warning Iowa’s Supreme Court was likely to overturn the state’s Defense of Marriage Act.  “You don’t just start tossing out the judges because you don’t like their rulings,” Rants says, “particularly when a lot of people knew that this was going to happen down the road anyway.”

Rants says he was convinced by a representative of The Iowa Family Policy Center — now known as The Family Leader — that the House should start the process of getting an amendment to the state’s constitution to protect one-man-and-one-woman marriage. The Family Leader is now a key group involved in the campaign to vote Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins off the bench. Rants suggests it’s misplaced energy. “If people are upset, and I understand why people are upset, and you want to overturn it, you hold the legislature accountable,” Rants says.

Only the legislature — not even the governor — has the authority to begin the process of amending the state’s constitution, by placing a proposed amendment on the ballot for a vote of the people. Rants recently wrote a guest editorial in the Sioux City Journal, suggesting those who are campaigning against Justice Wiggins “would have us believe that our Supreme Court hijacked the Constition” and usurped the roles of the governor and the legislature. Rants disagrees. “I understand that this is an easy rallying cry for those people who are upset with the ruling or who want to continue to have the political issue to fight on,” Rants says. “Let’s face it — they raised a lot of money two years ago to finance their operation. They’ve got a lot of outside money coming in again and there’s nothing wrong with that, but my larger concern is that we politicize the courts to the point that we don’t have an independent judiciary.”

Two years ago the campaign to oust three Iowa Supreme Court Justices who were on the ballot in the 2010 retention election was successful and the groups involved have reunited this year to target a fourth justice who’s up for retention. Rants says he will vote yes to retain Justice Wiggins  “I wasn’t surprised when the court ruling came out. I don’t know many people who were surprised. Every lawyer I had talked to in advance of the court ruling said this was what was going to happen,” Rants says. “I don’t think this is a case of rampant judicial activism, not when you have a unanimous Supreme Court decision like that.” And Rants point out most of the justices that participated in the ruling had been appointed to the court by Republican Governor Terry Branstad. Rants, in his editorial for The Sioux City Journal, made clear that he doesn’t support same-sex marriage, but Rants wrote that he doesn’t blame Justice Wiggins — and he said neither should Iowa voters.

(Radio Iowa)