SCHOOL MAKE-UP HOURS
The Le Mars Community School Board took up the sticky issue of when to make up missed days on the school calendar due to weather cancelations. The board passed a protocol, on a 5-2 vote. Superintendent Dr. Steven Webner outlined a protocol, which was developed after a survey of 17 other Iowa school districts. Dr. Webner recommended making up missed whole days of school, but not late starts or early dismissals, as those classes are held, but in a shorter lengths on those days. The other part of the recommendation was to make up whole days lost due to bad weather in the week before Memorial Day. This plan recognizes disruptions to family plans if school is held after Memorial Day. Starting school earlier in August would disrupt late summer activities. The Le Mars school calendar would have makeup days built into the week before Memorial Day. This year’s school calendar includes potential makeup days on May 23 and 24. The Le Mars Community School District builds 11-hundred hours of instruction into their school calendar. The state required minimum is 1080 hours.
The Le Mars Community School District approved four new hires at their board meeting this week. Included in the list is the Kluckhohn Elementary Head Custodian, Bill Miller. He’s now moving over to be the head building custodian at Clark Elementary, to fill a retirement there. Two teachers associates were hired – Walter Black at Le Mars Community High School, and Renee Minar at the Le Mars Middle School. Kayla Koopman was hired at ninth grade girls basketball coach.
HALEY OPPOSES EMINENT DOMAIN FOR PIPELINES
Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley says she favors development of pipelines that could make the ethanol industry carbon neutral, but Haley says landowners who don’t want the pipelines on their property should not be forced to sign easements.
Pipeline backers say ethanol sales will expand if the fuel is carbon neutral and that will benefit corn farmers. Haley says ethanol production is part of a strategy to ensure the U-S never has to buy oil from places like Iran or Venezuela.
Haley visited a farm near Grand Mound in Clinton County. Clinton is one of the five Iowa counties where the proposed Wolf Carbon Solutions pipeline would run through. Unlike two other pipeline developers, the company is not seeking eminent domain authority from Iowa regulators and has indicated it will acquire property along its route voluntarily.
DIAMOND VOGEL INNOVATION CENTER
Diamond Vogel of Orange City officially opened a 36-thousand square foot Innovation Center Wednesday. The building includes laboratory and office space. 60 research and development scientists will work there, to improve and advance product lines. CMBA Architects of Sioux City designed the building. Hoogendoorn Construction of Canton, South Dakota, managed construction. The Iowa Economic Development Authority helped finance the project through their High-Quality Jobs Program. Union Bank of Lincoln Nebraska provided financing. The Innovation Center is part of Diamond Vogel’s Building on Success Initiative that began in 2018.
USDA LOWERS CORN YIELD PREDICTION
Weather conditions have prompted the U-S-D-A to lower its prediction of corn yields in Iowa by one-and-a-half percent. The estimate released Thursday is based on crop conditions through September 1st. The U-S-D-A predicts the average corn yield in Iowa will be 200 bushels per acre, down slightly from last month. However, at least 200-thousand more acres of corn were planted in Iowa this year compared to last and the U-S-D-A predicts Iowa’s overall corn harvest will be two percent larger than last year’s. The U-S-D-A’s analysis of Iowa soybean yields per acre is the same as it was in August. With more corn going in the ground, fewer acres of soybeans were planted in Iowa this year and the U-S-D-A expects the total soybean harvest in Iowa to be down two percent from last year.
DROUGHT CONDITIONS WORSEN
The new drought monitor shows the same old story for Iowa, the drought conditions are not getting better. Northwest Iowa’s drought index is unchanged, with most of the area in moderate drought conditions. Tim Hall of the Iowa D-N-R says the areas that didn’t get some of last week’s rain show up in the drought map.
Northeast Iowa has the most counties in extreme or severe drought conditions. Both of those designations increased statewide last week with nearly 26 percent of the state in extreme drought and almost 73 percent in severe drought. Hall says the water levels in some rivers and streams are much lower than normal for this time of year.
He says flows tend to be low this time of year anyway, and being 10 percent below normal really indicates how little rainfall we’ve had. Hall says there is a lot of concern about when we might get some rain to replenish the dry areas. He says the short term forecast doesn’t call for much precipitation to help with the problem.
DOT DIRECTOR RESPONDS TO BRIDGE REPORT
The director of the Iowa D-O-T says the report by American Road and Transportation Builders Association ranking Iowa number one in poor bridges doesn’t tell the whole story. Director Scott Marler says there are four-thousand-558 structurally deficient bridges or poor bridges in the state — but that doesn’t mean they are unsafe.
Marler says Iowa ranks at the top in part because of the number of bridges here.
He says a majority of the poor bridges are on the rural road system.
Plymouth County has the state’s fourth highest number of bridges, around 400. Each year, about a dozen bridges are targeted for replacement with a new structure, or a culvert.
Marler says counties are faced with significant and difficult decisions about which bridges to replace. He says only 26 bridges on the primary road system that the D-O-T oversees are in poor condition. Marler says they’ve reduced the number of poor bridges from 256 in 2006. And 21 of the 26 poor bridges on the primary system are slated for repair in the next five year road improvement program.