As legislators return to work in a special session on Monday, one legislator is returning to one of the loves of his life. State Senator John Jensen, a 76-year-old married ex-Marine, says he’s had a “love affair” with the Iowa statehouse since he became a legislator 24 years ago. Jensen has repeatedly pressed for money for the capitol’s restoration, and is famous for his tours of the building, which take folks up to the golden dome that crowns the capitol.Jensen goes on the catwalk outside that dome, too. He says you can see ten miles in every direction. Jensen says he’s “more than infatuated” with the building. He says he constantly learns something new about the building, like a recent laser survey which showed it hadn’t settled an inch. Jensen says that’s because of all the fill and the effort used to build the structure.Jensen, who’s retiring from the legislature in December, says the thank you notes he gets from the kids he takes to the tip top are prized possessions. He says, “Them darn near bring tears to my eyes, I, I shouldn’t be that emotional.” Jensen’s more afraid of coming down from the dome than going up. He had his picture taken on top of the dome with his hand on the lightening road. He says the more he sees, the more he wants to know. Jensen says he’s no artist, but he understands the art in the building.Jensen says we modern-day folks wouldn’t build a building like it. There’s decorative paint laced with gold, 23 different kinds of marble and all sorts of statutes, etched glass and chandeliers throughout…………………………………………………………………With spring planting in full swing, the attorney general’s office is cautioning farmers to be skeptical of pitches for soil improvement products they don’t need. ISU extension agronomy professor John Sawyer says micronutrients are marketed as a kind of fertilizer.Sawyer says of 16 elements deemed essential for growing crops, many are micronutrients, called that because either there isn’t much in the plant or they’re not very important. Iowa has very fertile soil, and can supply adequate amounts of most of those micronutrients. Sawyer says there are a few exceptions in which a minor nutrient could have a bigger factor in a good crop.ISU does recommend one test, for zinc, in soil that’ll be used to grow corn and sorghum. Sawyer also says soybean farmers sometimes find they need to apply some iron to their soil.He says farmers should think about needs like that, and targeted situations where they might need micronutrients, rather than assume there’s a “blanket need.” ………………………………………………………………..The tree-huggers are out — with their axes. An environmental preservation event being held today in 30 nature areas across the state focuses on cutting down trees. It’s an effort to reclaim native prairie lands as invading shrubs and trees crowd out prairie grasses and flowers. Mark Edwards of the Iowa D-N-R is director of the AmeriCorps program and is helping organize today’s “Cut a Tree for Earth Day” event.He says about three-quarters of Iowa used to be prairieland, or between 25 and 30-million acres. Today, there are about 30-thousand acres of prairie left in Iowa.Information on specific locations can be found at: “www.state.ia.us/dnr/volunteer/prairie.html” or by calling (515) 281-8959. With the loss of the prairie, Edwards says Iowa is the most biologically altered state in North America.
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