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Shelby County Fair Board elects new officers

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 12th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Shelby County Fair Board selected a new president and vice president Monday evening. The Fair Corporation met at their annual meeting in Kimballton and selected Kent Ganzer of Harlan as the new president. Kent was serving as the vice president the past two years while Mark Peterson was president. The board elected Justin Ahrenholtz as the new Vice-President.

During the meeting, Peterson gave a report on the number of exhibitors and exhibits that were submitted to the 2013 Shelby County Fair. The fair saw 742 livestock exhibits from 4-H and FFA members while the open class had 258. Meanwhile the non-livestock exhibits totaled 525 from 4-H and FFA and another 761 in the open class.

The Shelby County Fair Board also discussed next season’s project as they are working towards a brand new show ring and are taking donations. The board has recognized a need for air conditioning in the 4-H building and has applied for grants. The current show ring at the Shelby County Fairgrounds is nearly 50 years old and in addition there are safety and ventilation concerns. The new replacement arena will be an open walled, steel building with ample room for animal preparation, new safer gates and more seating including handicap accessibility. The estimated cost of the show ring is $150,000 while the air conditioning project is another $25,000. A third project has been established to add cement alleys near the horse barn.

The Shelby County Fair Board reported over $100,000 has been raised thus far for the ring. If you would like more information or donate to any of the three projects, log on to www.shelbycountyfair.org to download the donation form or talk with any fair board member. Two businesses were given awards also during the Shelby County Fair Board meeting. The Harlan News Advertiser and Tribune and the Harlan Pizza Ranch received the business appreciation awards.

(Joel McCall/KNOD)

Sen. Grassley joins chorus of ethanol backers in bashing AP story

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 12th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is joining other ethanol supporters in criticizing an Associated Press story that focuses on the negative side of growing an increasing amount of corn for fuel in Iowa and across the Midwest. The report accuses farmers of polluting water supplies with fertilizers and rolling over millions of acres of conservation land, while destroying wildlife habitats. Grassley, who has farmed for decades in northeast Iowa, defends the profession and the corn-based fuel.

“Ethanol has been a bright spot in our American energy policy,” Grassley says. “For instance, I filled up my flex-fuel car yesterday for $2.39 with 85% ethanol.” The national average for regular unleaded gas is three-17 a gallon, and it’s three-oh-three in Iowa. Officials at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association call the A-P report inaccurate and misleading. Grassley agrees, particularly with the claim about so much fertilizer that’s allowed to runoff into our waterways.

“You don’t put all those ingredients into the soil with the idea you want it to end up down in the Gulf of Mexico,” Grassley says. “You can’t afford that.” He takes exception to the allegations farmers are poor stewards of the environment or are wasteful or negligent with chemicals and their conservation practices. Grassley says, “Farmers take all kinds of precautions to keep the investment they have in producing a crop or raising livestock to make sure it’s done in an economical way because they’re not going to be in farming if they don’t do that.” The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association called the A-P story a “smear of ethanol” which “misrepresents” Iowa farmers “with a hidden anti-ethanol agenda.” Grassley agrees.

“You’ve got to remember that farmers drink the water, eat the same food as the city people do,” Grassley says. “They’re going to want to make sure that it’s safe for themselves as well as for everybody else.” The Renewable Fuel Standard is a federal mandate that more and more ethanol is blended into our gasoline as the years pass. Grassley, a Republican, says, “Big oil is using its power and money to try to get rid of this Renewable Fuel Standard because it likes crushing its competition.” He adds, “Affordable and abundant energy is fundamental to America’s economic strength, economic security, and even our national security.”

Other critics of the A-P story include U-S Ag Secretary and former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, who says some elements of the report are simply “not true” and are “inaccurate.”

(Radio Iowa)

Branstad administration launches “Home Base Iowa” effort for Veterans

News

November 12th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Governor Terry Branstad today (Tuesday) launched an new public-private partnership called Home Base Iowa, an effort that will match military veterans with jobs available across Iowa. Home Base Iowa will raise private funds to support national targeted marketing efforts to veterans, including in-person outreach, a social media campaign and outreach through military publications. Former Congressman Leonard Boswell and Casey’s General Stores CEO Bob Myers will co-chair the effort.

Branstad says “Through their service, veterans have already proven they share the values we hold dear as Iowans – hard work, leadership, and patriotism, among others. We’ll be calling upon the business community to partner with Home Base Iowa to help us meet our goals of increasing employment in this state, decreasing veterans’ unemployment, and recruiting high quality individuals to Iowa.”

Several hundred thousand veterans will leave the service over the next few years, while having a higher unemployment rate nationally.  Branstad notes that in his travel to Iowa’s 99 counties, he’s heard from companies that are ready to hire, but struggle to find workers with the right skills.

According to the Governor “We’ve made significant investments in developing the skills of Iowa’s workforce – through education reform, increased support for community colleges, the STEM initiative, and Skilled Iowa. However, this skills gap still exists. Home Base Iowa is a public-private partnership which will recruit veterans to come to Iowa to work, to become part of our communities – to be Iowans.”

Branstad made the announcement during his weekly news conference, held at the Iowa Gold Star Museum at Camp Dodge in Johnston.

8AM Newscast 11-12-2013

News, Podcasts

November 12th, 2013 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

Play

Iowa native discusses her role in movie “Nebraska”

News

November 12th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

A southwest Iowa native has what she calls a “small but pivotal” role in a Hollywood movie that will premiere nationwide later this month. Melinda Simonsen is a Hamburg native and a 1979 Farragut High School graduate. Simonsen now lives in Norfolk, Nebraska, where parts of the movie, called “Nebraska,” were shot. Simonsen, who is a registered nurse — not an actress, says it all started when she answered a newspaper ad seeking locals to work as extras. “The emphasis was actually on farmer types — and I’m not a farmer — and people from the local area,” Simonsen says. “It was an email address. They just wanted a snapshot and to know how to contact you.”

About three weeks later, the film’s casting director, John Jackson, asked Simonsen to audition at the Norfolk Theater. The first audition consisted of her doing a read-through of the script with Jackson.  “He was reading the lines and I was saying the other lines, didn’t have it memorized, had a camera in the room so he was taping me,” she says. “He kept saying, ‘Melinda, don’t look at the camera,’ and I’m like, ‘Oh, heck,’ and left thinking I didn’t do very well.”

A few weeks after that, Simonsen was asked to audition for the director, Alexander Payne, whose earlier movies include “About Schmidt,” “Sideways,” and “The Descendants.” She says her audition apparently impressed the director as she got the part. “He did say, ‘Melinda, you’re my favorite one for the receptionist,’ and he filled me in on when the filming would be done. My part was filmed in Lincoln.”

Well-known actors Bruce Dern and Stacy Keach star in the film. A movie website says it follows an aging, booze-addled man who makes the trip from Montana to Nebraska with his estranged son to claim a million-dollar lottery prize. “Nebraska” opens nationwide November 22nd but a special screening will be held this Friday (November 15th) at the Film Streams Theater in Omaha.

(Radio Iowa)

WIC shifting to electronic program for benefits

News

November 12th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Public Health is using a five-point-three-million dollar grant from the U-S-D-A to upgrade the system that provides benefits for the Women, Infants and Children or WIC food and nutrition program. Program manager, Brandy Benedict, says they will move away from sending out paper checks to giving participants plastic cards. She says the participants will then use those cards at the grocery store to purchase their benefits.

The transition is similar to the changeover in the Food Stamp Program, which went from the paper food stamps to electronic benefit cards. Benedict says the federal grant will be used to hire a company to develop the electronic system. “We’ve partnered with Colorado WIC so the R-F-P (request for proposals) is actually posted on the Colorado bid system and the Iowa bid system,” Benedict says. She says they will begin evaluating the bids around January.

While the changeover is similar to what the food stamp program went through, Benedict says there are enough differences that they can’t share the same electronic system. “Their cards actually are very similar to a prepaid credit type card or debit card type card that you can purchase as a gift card. WIC is based on specific products,” Benedict explains.

The WIC system will be designed specifically them. Benedict says, “Our cards have to be set up to house products and U-P-C’s rather than dollars.” So for example, the WIC cards could be loaded to allow the recipient to receive five gallons of milk, and after they purchased one gallon, the card balance would drop to four gallons. Retailers are then reimbursed for the cost of the milk. Benedict says the program operates very efficiently right now and they don’t expect to see much in savings from switching to an electronic system versus paper.

“The benefits that we’ll see are related to better prevention of fraud since there will be different types of authentication on the cards — which we can’t protect the paper checks in the same way,” Benedict says. The Iowa WIC Program served approximately 69-thousand-159 participants each month last year. The federal government has required all states to shift to the electronic system for WIC by 2020.

(Radio Iowa)

7AM Newscast 11-12-2013

News, Podcasts

November 12th, 2013 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

Play

Concepts for improving Atlantic School District facilities could cost upwards of $20.1-million

News

November 12th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The public and patrons of the Atlantic Community School District will get a close-up look this Thursday night at five concepts the District is considering, to address its need for more instructional space. During Thursday night’s meeting, Jerry Purdy with the Design Alliance architectural firm and a facilitator will spend time going over the five concepts, which range in price from $8.7- to nearly $20.1-million. The District has been exploring the possibility of expanding its facilities for some time, to handle increased in enrollment in the lower grades and as those students move through the ranks in the District.

Concept 1

Concept 1

Superintendent Mike Amstein said among the factors the Board must consider when it comes to approving one of the five concepts, is the number of current classes that are not being held in one of the District’s four buildings. There are currently two preschool classrooms at the old Lincoln Building, five Washington classes being held in two mobile classrooms (or trailers), and three classrooms currently at the Clarinda Building, which the District is leasing. According to Amstein, next year, the school district will need to add an additional 4th grade teacher at Schuler when the six sections of Third Grade moves into the Schuler Building.

There will be three sets of drawings showing the five concepts to made available to the public during Thursday night’s meeting.

Concept 2

Concept 2

The options were put together following a number of focus groups meetings that included staff, faculty, members of the community and others, a fact Board member Rod Hartwig pointed out during Monday night’s meeting. Hartwig said it was not the Board that came up with the options being considered, as some in the public seem to think.

The least expensive Concept (Concept 1) would have Pre-K through 2nd grade students at Washington Elementary, third through 5th grade students at Schuler Elementary, sixth through eighth grade at the Middle School, and the ninth through 12th grades at the high school. Among the other changes, would be the addition of classrooms at Washington, Schuler Elementary and at the High School, along with a new media center at Schuler, and new dining facilities at both Washington and Schuler. The cost is about $8.71-million.

Concept 2, which the first choice among faculty and staff, is also the most expensive, at $20.08-million. Among the differences from Concept 1, is that Schuler Elementary would house the 3rd & 4th grade students only, while the current Middle School would handle 5th & 6th grades. A NEW, 80-thousand square foot middle school would house the 7th and 8th grades and would be attached to the High School. It would also feature a competition gymnasium, but no auditorium. The high school would house 9th through 12th grade students, see additional classrooms constructed and an expansion of the Art room.

Concept 3

Concept 3

Concept 4

Concept 4

Concept 5

Concept 5

Possible site plan for the area south of the Washington School & new facilities.

Possible site plan for the area south of the Washington School & new facilities.

The community meeting will begin at 7-p.m. Thursday, in the Commons Area at the Atlantic High School. Participants will be encouraged to provide feedback and input to the School Board during and after the session, with regard to the concepts to be presented.

ISU research tracks economic impact of local food sales

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 12th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Sales of locally-grown food accounted for at least nine-million dollars in economic activity in Iowa last year according to a new report. Researchers at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University tracked “institutional purchases” of locally-grown food by grocery stores, restaurants, hospitals, nursing homes and schools. The researchers say this is the first attempt to try to measure the economic impact of regional food systems in Iowa.

Their work went beyond the traditional concept of a grower selling to a consumer at a farmers’ market to track sales between growers and businesses. Restaurants, grocery stores and other bulk purchasers reported buying nearly nine million dollars worth of locally-raised food products. On average, local food purchases accounted for a little less than nine percent of an institution’s overall food budget.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa early News Headlines: Tue., Nov. 12th 2013

News

November 12th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press…

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — More than 800 Iowa county officials are gathering in Des Moines for an educational conference. The Iowa State Association of Counties will meet Wednesday to begin discussing legislative priorities they want to lobby in the future. The group’s board of directors has recommended issues like road funding, mental health and disability services and user fees. The legislative priorities are debated and approved at the conference.

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — Former First Lady Christie Vilsack is returning to Iowa as part of her new federal job promoting international education. Vilsack has worked since March as a senior adviser at the U.S. Agency for International Development in Washington. Kirkwood Community College says Vilsack will visit its main campus in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday to meet with students from Central America who are studying agricultural business under a USAID scholarship program.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa Farm Bureau program designed to teach children about agriculture is opening the process for teachers to apply for grant money. The Teacher Supplement Grant program was established in 2003 and this year will award $200 to teachers in language arts and science who develop classroom programs that help students learn about agriculture. Farm Bureau has awarded nearly $100,000 to teachers in the last three years of the grant program.

BONDURANT, Iowa (AP) — Authorities are investigating a rollover crash in central Iowa that injured two of 10 van passengers. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office says the single-vehicle crash happened Monday afternoon on a roadway near Bondurant. Emergency personnel found the full-size van in the center median off of the roadway. Two of the 10 passengers onboard were taken to hospitals in Des Moines for minor injuries. Authorities say the weather may have contributed to the accident.