LE MARS HAZMAT DRILL
There will be an emergency drill in Le Mars this evening, involving Le Mars Fire-Rescue and Wells Enterprises. They will hold a joint response to a simulated ammonia leak at Wells South Ice Cream Plant. The drill will take place Wednesday evening from 6-30 to 8-30 pm. This is a hazmat training exercise. Fire trucks and rescue vehicles will respond to the site, and they will use a smoke machine to simulate the ammonia leak. The public, and employees at the plant will not be in danger. There will be NO evacuation of the area during the drill.
ICE CREAM DAYS PRE EVENTS
Ice Cream Days officially start Thursday, but there’s already activity planned for tonight. The Tri-State Cruisers car show takes place at the Olson Cultural Events Center. It begins at 5 p.m. The Kiwanis and Akton Club are holding an ice cream social at Foster Park, from 7:30 to 9. There’s also a municipal band concert at the same time and place.
The Western Iowa Dairy Alliance is celebrating June Dairy Month tonight with an open house at a Sioux County Dairy.
This is WIDA Executive Director Megan Hettinga.
The farm tour is one of many activities to mark the open house this evening.
The event is from 5 to pm today. Western Iowa Dairy Alliance is based in Orange City, and works as an advocate for dairy producers, and industry supporters.
DOT FIVE YEAR PLAN
The Iowa Transportation Commission has approved the draft of the next 5-year 2023-2027 Iowa Transportation Improvement Program.
This new five year plan includes several projects in Plymouth County in fiscal 2023. They were identified as a repaving of US 75 from Merrill to Hinton, three bridge deck overlay projects on Iowa 140 between Remsen and Kingsley, paving the shoulders on Iowa Highway 3 from Remsen to the Cherokee County Line, and work on Iowa Highway 12 in Akron and near the Woodbury County Line.
In Sioux Center, a long-delayed project to rebuild and repave US Highway 75 begins. This involves rebuilding the four lane highway three miles through the middle of Sioux Center. The City is spending 10 to 12 million dollars to create a streetscape through the corridor. This is a 34 to 36 million dollars project, to be done over two years.
The statewide Program covers aviation, public transit, railroads, trails, and highways projects. The program is posted on the Iowa DOT’s website https://iowadot.gov/program_management/Five-Year-Program.
AIRCRAFT TAX BREAK
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has approved a tax break for the aircraft industry. The state sales tax on parts for planes and on the labor to maintain and repair aircraft will no longer be charged after July 1st. During House debate in April, Representative Lee Hein of Monticello said none of the states that surround Iowa charge the sales tax on parts and labor for planes.
Bill backers said those job opportunities will spur enrollment at community colleges in Council Bluffs, Ottumwa and Waterloo that offer aircraft maintenance courses, so students can get F-A-A certification. Community colleges in Sioux City and Cedar Rapids plan to start aircraft maintenance programs. Representative Chris Hall of Sioux City says it will spur more activity at Iowa’s community airports.
One lawmaker who runs a global charity says he flew the non-profit’s plane out of state for maintenance, to save money on taxes. According to the Iowa Public Airports Association, at least 34 states do not charge sales taxes on airplane parts and labor. The Legislative Services Agency estimates Iowans who own planes will save 10 million dollars a year from this tax break, which the governor signed into law Tuesday.
IOWA FARMERS REPLANT
A severe storm that swept through the state last week is forcing some Iowa farmers to replant their crops. A U-S-D-A report shows corn planting had been completed and only three-percent of the beans weren’t in the ground. However, some pockets of heavy rain and isolated severe hail damaged the crops. The U-S-D-A says 95-percent of the state’s corn has emerged and 86-percent is rated in good to excellent condition. Eighty-four-percent of soybeans have emerged and 82-percent of the beans are rated good to excellent.
Dozens of Farm Service Agency offices across Iowa are seeking new employees. Matt Russell, the Iowa F-S-A director, says they’re hiring for a host of positions in dozens of Iowa communities. There are 97 F-S-A offices statewide, nearly one in every county, and Russell says the need is great for new workers. There was a big hiring push in 1985 after the new farm and conservation bills, and many of those people are now retiring. You can learn more about the job opportunities at your county’s nearest Farm Service Agency office or visit U-S-A-Jobs-dot-gov.
MENTAL HEALTH WORKFORCE
Governor Kim Reynolds has signed two bills into law that are designed to address a lack of treatment options for Iowans seeking mental health care services. One bill sets up a loan repayment program for students who agree to work in an underserved area of Iowa after they get a degree in the mental health field. Representative Timi (like “Timmy”) Brown-Powers of Waterloo says it will hopefully boost the number of mental health professionals working in rural Iowa. The other new law will let a state board issue provisional licenses to doctoral students in psychology — so they can practice during their internship with a licensed psychologist. Senator Jeff Edler of State Center says it’s another in a long line of bills that have addressed the workforce shortage in the mental health field.
GAS PRICE IMPACT
The report on vehicle travel from the D-O-T is showing some impact on the state’s roadways. Stuart Anderson told the Transportation Commission Monday that municipal traffic in recent months has lagged behind pre-pandemic levels — reflecting long-term trends now of more teleworking. He says there was “an across the board” drop of “about two percent in traffic counts statewide. Anderson says the higher cost of driving is likely behind the drop.
IOWA SCHOOL SAFETY FUNDS
Governor Kim Reynolds is redirecting 100-million dollars in federal pandemic relief to the funding of school safety measures. Reynolds says there is a sense of urgency across the country to make schools safer. The state of Iowa is buying software to monitor school threats online and it will provide an app, a website, and a phone number that lets people report concerns anonymously. Another 50-thousand dollars will be dedicated to security measures at every school building in Iowa. Nine people are being hired for a School Safety Bureau that is being established in the Iowa Department of Public Safety.
SENATE GUN SAFETY BILL
U-S Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst say they are waiting before deciding to add their support to a gun safety measure that is being proposed. Ten Democrats and 10 Republicans agreed on the framework for the bill last weekend. Ernst says “the devil is in the details” and both Iowa Republicans want to see what is included in the legislation aimed at making schools safer. Grassley says he is “encouraged” by the progress on the subject so far. He says it is important to protect the constitutional rights that come from the Second Amendment if he is to add his support.
MINNESOTA HEAT BURSTS
Two relatively rare “heat bursts” started a sweltering late spring day in southwest Minnesota. Around 5 a-m Tuesday in Tracy, the air temperature shot up from 81 to 91 degrees in the space of 20 minutes, the dew point plummeted and there was a wind gust of 52 miles an hour. An hour later and about 40 miles northeast in Redwood Falls, the mercury jumped to 95 degrees on a 47-mile-an-hour wind gust. A heat burst is associated with a dying thunderstorm or shower.