Home News Friday News, August 12

Friday News, August 12

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LEWIS AND CLARK
A regional rural water system celebrated a construction and funding milestone this week. Troy Larson of the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System says a storage facility in South Dakota was dedicated, which signal service into northwest Iowa.

It also signals that completion of the system is in sight.

The event also marked 75 million dollars in federal funding, which will get closed to completing construction of the system.

Executive Director Troy Larson says there was a stretch of seven years where federal funds wouldn’t sustain expansion of the system.

But Larson says more federal funding is needed.

The ribbon cutting was for an elevated water storage facility at Beresford, South Dakota. From there, water will be piped into northwest Iowa. Sioux Center and Hull will have service by the end of the year. There are also contracts out for construction of water storage and pipeline to service Sheldon by late 2023. That would leave Sibley, Iowa and Madison, South Dakota as the remaining Lewis and Clark members to be connected to the system.

 

VOTER ACCESS

IOWA SECRETARY OF STATE PAUL PATE IS PROVIDING A $1,000 GRANT TO EVERY COUNTY IN THE STATE TO IMPROVE VOTER ACCESS AHEAD OF THE 2022 GENERAL ELECTION.

PATE SAYS HE WANTS ALL VOTERS TO HAVE A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE WHEN THEY CAST THEIR BALLOT:

THE GRANT IS INTENDED FOR COUNTIES TO PARTNER WITH LOCAL ADVOCACY ORGANIZATIONS AND SELF-ADVOCATES TO RECEIVE FEEDBACK ON HOW POLLING PLACES CAN BE MORE ACCESSIBLE FOR IOWANS WITH DISABILITIES.

THE DEADLINE FOR COUNTIES TO REQUEST THE GRANT FUNDS IS AUGUST 31ST AND THE SCOPE OF WORK MUST BE COMPLETED BY THE NOVEMBER 2022 GENERAL ELECTION.

 

EURASIAN WATERMILFOIL
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has found an invasive plant called Eurasian watermilfoil in five northwest Iowa lakes. Eurasian watermilfoil can grow up to 20 feet tall, spreads rapidly and crowds out native plants that grow underwater. Mike Hawkins of the Iowa D-N-R says the plant was first found in Lost Island Lake on August 1st.

Teams have already treated the four areas of Lost Island Lake where the invasive plant was spotted.

The D-N-R now confirms the plant is growing in four of the seven Iowa Great Lakes. Hawkins says the natural lakes are in good shape to resist the spread of this plant.

The initial treatment plan for both Lower and Upper Gar, East Okoboji and Minnewashta Lakes will focus on the areas around boat ramps, to make sure the plant is killed in an area where it could be taken to another location.

Washing boats and trailers after leaving a lake and letting them dry for five days helps keep invasive species from spreading. Hawkins says frequent surveys have been done on other nearby lakes, but so far the plant hasn’t been found elsewhere.

IOWA RETIREMENT PROGRAM

State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald is again calling for the creation of a state-managed investment program for Iowans who don’t have a pension or retirement plan through their employer. Fitzgerald first proposed a “Retirement Savings Iowa” program in 2016, to be managed by the State Treasurer’s office, which has also managed the College Savings Iowa program since in 1998. Fitzgerald says it makes sense to set up a similar program, so Iowans can set aside money for retirement without paying taxes on it. Fitzgerald made his comments Thursday afternoon at the Iowa State Fair as part of his re-election campaign. Roby (ROB-ee, like “Robbie”) Smith, a state senator from Davenport, is the Republican challenging Fitzgerald’s bid for an eleventh term.

 

PIPELINE HEARINGS

The Iowa Utilities Board has selected the Webster County Fairgrounds to host a public hearing on the Summit Carbon Solutions request for a permit to build a carbon pipeline. The order sets the place for the hearing — but the date has not been set as I-U-B staff are continuing to review the information submitted with the permit request. Webster County was chosen as the site for the hearing because it is at the middle of the proposed 681-mile pipeline. There was some discussion about using the Webster County Fairgrounds because the site is four-thousand yards outside the corporate limits of the county seat, which is Fort Dodge. But the I-U-B determined the site substantially complies with Iowa code hearing requirements.

 

COMMUNITY CELEBRATIONS

Two Plymouth County Communities have celebrations this weekend.  Kingsley’s Augustfest began last night with a smile contest and the Little Miss Kingsley contest.  Today there’s an ice cream social at Midstates Bank from late this morning through mid afternoon.  Tonight there’s a car show, BBQ cookoff, pie contest, and an outdoor movie to top off the day.  A full slate of events and activities are planned for Saturday. Funds raised from the events at Augustfest will benefit the Kingsley Spooks, an anonymous charity that operates in the community. Augustfest is put on by the Kingsley Chamber of Commerce.

In Hinton, their annual Summerfest kicks off today with a golf tournament and a movie in the park.  More events are slated for Saturday, including a 5k walk or run, a kickball tournament, an adult bags tournament, topped off with a street dance and fireworks.

 

DROUGHT PERSISTS

Last weekend’s showers dumped up to seven inches of rain on parts of Iowa, while many areas stayed dry, but even with the scattered downpours, drought conditions persist over wide sections of the state. Angie Rieck Hinz, an Iowa State University field agronomist, says that’s typical and it’s bringing a drastic variation in crop conditions statewide.

Rieck Hinz toured parts of northern Iowa to inspect crops and says the drought isn’t keeping insects away from the fields.

More than 60 of the state’s 99 counties in some form of drought, with 13 northwest Iowa counties in either severe or extreme drought conditions.

 

STATE FAIR OPENS

The Iowa State Fair has opened for its 11-day run today (Thursday) in Des Moines.  This year’s theme is “Find Your Fun.”  Fair C-E-O Gary Slater says there are more than 60-thousand entries and activities for everyone.  Backers are anticipating a large turnout with the majority of the pandemic threat in the rear-view mirror.  The all-time record attendance was set in 2019 when more than one-million, 170-thousand people walked onto the fairgrounds.  Last year’s attendance was just over one-point-one-million.

 

SUPREME COURT REQUEST

Attorneys representing Governor Kim Reynolds have taken the formal step of asking a district court to let a state law take effect that would ban most abortions in Iowa.  The court has been asked to lift its injunction against the law that bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected.  That is generally around the sixth week of pregnancy.  A statement from the governor’s office indicates recent rulings from the U-S and Iowa Supreme Courts provide a pathway to challenge the injunction and have the law go into effect.  When Reynolds signed the so-called “fetal heartbeat” law four years ago it was the toughest abortion law in the country.