PORK IN THE PANTRY
Plymouth County pork producers joined those in 39 other Iowa counties to provide over 50-thousand meals to underprivileged Iowans. These producers donated pork to local food banks as part of the Pork in the Pantry program through the Iowa Pork Producers Association. The Association provided one-thousand dollars to each of the participating counties for their food donations. This is the first year of the program.
FENTANYL FOUND IN SIOUX CITY
Sioux City police found several hundred fentanyl-laced pills on a man who was stopped following a chase. Sergeant Tom Gill says the chase started in Nebraska and ended in Iowa when they used “stop sticks” to disable the car.
Gill says the number of pills seized is a concern.
The driver, 23-year-old Benito Curiel was already wanted on fentanyl charges. He was charged with possession of a controlled substance, failure to affix drug stamp, felony eluding, no drivers license or registration, interference with official acts and several traffic related counts. He is being held in the Woodbury County jail on 55-thousand dollar bond. A passenger in the car, 19-year-old Carson Klassen, is charged with interference with official acts and is free on bond.
US 75 DETOUR STRATEGY
The Sioux Center city council took the advice of their project consultant, and changed their detour strategy for the US 75 upgrade project. Phase one of the three-phase project is underway between 12th Street and 20th Street south. Construction will alternate from the west lanes to the east lanes, with traffic going head to head. For Phases 2 and 3, there will be no head to head traffic, but rather, what are termed rolling closures and a detour route. Consultant Trent Bruce says there are safety issues with the Phase 1 arrangement, and a detour route will save time and cost. Phase 2 and 3 construction will proceed with Highway 75 closed in sections of four to six blocks at a time, starting from 12th Street south, and working north. This will make property access difficult for some homes and businesses. These phases will take place in fiscal year 2024 and 2025. Phase 1 construction will be completed next year.
Researchers at Iowa State University are developing an advanced type of sensor which farmers can place in their fields to keep constant tabs on nutrient levels and soil moisture. Jonathan Claussen, a mechanical engineering professor at I-S-U, says the sensors are about the size of a tent stake and they’re designed to stay in the ground all growing season, about four months, through any temperature swings or rain events.
The device needs to be both rugged and easy to use, Claussen says, as he notes farmers don’t want to read a 20-page instruction manual. It also needs to be inexpensive, so farmers can place a wide network of sensors.
Ideally, farmers could purchase dozens of the sensors to monitor the soil’s nutrient levels in real time, as they’ve worked to keep the price at less than one-dollar per sensor.
The I-S-U team has worked to develop an array of sensors for other purposes, for things like food safety and even testing for COVID-19.
IOWANS TO LOSE MEDICAID COVERAGE
State officials say more than three-thousand Iowans are on track to lose their Medicaid coverage by June 1st. During the pandemic, the state was forbidden from dis-enrolling anyone from Medicaid except in limited circumstances. That rule ended last month, which is when Iowa Health and Human Services officials started mailing out Medicaid eligibility re-determination forms. State Medicaid Director Elizabeth Matney says the state is trying multiple approaches to reach people, including phone calls, text messages and even going door to door. About half of the forms have not yet been returned. Matney says that may be because the state is first targeting members who are most likely to no longer qualify. Of the roughly 150-thousand Iowans who were flagged for maintaining eligibility due to the public health emergency, she says over 100-thousand have other health insurance. Officials expect this Medicaid unwinding process to take about a year.