A once-common sight on the Iowa landscape is disappearing with the rise of corporate farming. Historic barns are the subject of a tour today in southeastern Iowa’s Van Buren County. Stacey Glandon is organizing the tour which involves 14 of the area’s aging agricultural buildings.Glandon is executive director of the Villages of Van Buren County. She says some very old and very well kept barns are on the tour.Glandon says she was a little stunned by how many people signed up for this first-ever barn tour. Almost a-hundred registered, filling the mini-buses that were hired for the daylong trek. She says people who didn’t make the list can still take the tour on their own and they have reference guides available with all the barns marked. For more information, call 800-TOUR-VBC or surf to “www.800-tourvbc.com”.
Archives for June 2002
A groundbreaking ceremony was held Thursday for a new administration building for ISU Extension’s 4-H youth program. 4-H Youth Programs director Joe Kurth says the new facility on Iowa State’s campus will allow the state 4-H staff to move out of Curtis Hall.The group has shared space with Iowa State in Curtis Hall since the 1960s, and has outgrown that space. Kurth says the new Extension and 4-H Youth Development Building will be home for state 4-H and foundation staff members, ISU Extension’s communications staff, and an exhibit hall.Kurth says the move to a new building comes at a key time for 4-H as they’re celebrating their centennial this year. One in four Iowa youth are involved in the 4-H youth program.
Over 500 Republicans will gather in Denison today at 10 o’clock to pick the man who’ll likely be western Iowa’s next Congressman. Four candidates competed in the June 4th primary, but none got the 35 percent necessary to win the G-O-P nomination. That meant a district convention had to be organized to pick a candidate. Steve King, a state Senator from Kiron, won the most votes in the primary, but only got 30 percent; Brent Siegrist of Council Bluffs wasn’t far behind in second; John Redwine of Sioux City was close by in third and Jeff Ballenger of Council Bluffs finished fourth. While the delegates aren’t required to select one of those four, it’s almost certain one of them will get the nomination. Today’s winner must get majority support from the delegates — that means 50 percent plus one. It’s likely more than one vote will be cast. The candidate with the least votes will be forced to drop out of each round of voting until a legitimate winner is declared.
One of top ten fine-arts festivals in America is underway this weekend in central Iowa. Mo Dana is executive director of the Des Moines Arts Festival which is expected to have huge financial reach in Iowa’s largest city.180-thousand people attended the three-day festival last year and Dana hopes for a larger crowd this year. Economic impact is 14-million dollars, along with another million dollars in art sales. Dana says 150 artists will be at the street festival in downtown Des Moines from 33 states, offering up a wide variety of visual treats for sale.There are 14 categories of art, including jewelry, pottery, paintings and sculpture. Prices range from 25-dollars to 25-thousand dollars for a metal sculpture. Dana says there’ll be live music on two stages and kids can help paint a city bus.Admission is free. Hours are 10 AM to 9 PM today and 10 AM to 4 PM on Sunday.
Iowans who sort and carry the mail are speaking out against the idea of “privatizing” the U-S Postal Service. Lance Coles of the American Postal Workers Union’s local in Des Moines says they’re concerned about their jobs, and warns rural routes and small town post offices would be the first casualties. He says the cream of the crop mail would be delivered in the big cities where profit can be made, while it would be cost-prohibitive to deliver in small towns and rural areas.Coles predicts consolidation, with closures or reduced “window hours” in each small town post office.Coles says that’d make it more inconvenient to mail things in rural Iowa. He says people want to be able to go to the post office when they want during different hours.Postal workers plan to picket in Des Moines Sunday afternoon on the issue.About three thousand Iowa postal workers belong to the union.
Five Iowans are on a “Green Bike Tour” of northern Europe, checking out European energy projects. David Osterberg of Mt. Vernon is leading the group, which is in Denmark. Osterberg says Europeans recognize that global warming is real, and they’re making electricity in a different way. For example, Osterberg toured a plant that provides power to two small towns in Denmark. The plant burns straw from farms in the region, producing electricity. He says it’s part of their overall policy.Osterberg believes straw-powered electric plants could work in Iowa, too.Osterberg says Denmark burns straw, has wind turbines and converts waste into energy. The country will not build another coal-fired plant, according to Osterberg, because coal-fired plants waste two-thirds of the energy that goes into them. It’s day sixteen of the biking group’s 34-day European trip.
The Iowa Department of Economic Development approved financial incentives for a half-dozen Iowa businesses Friday. Department director C.J. Niles says they’ve approved what are called “Enterprise Zone” tax benefits for two companies.That gives the companies tax credits with the promise of new jobs. One zone was created for Natural Nutrients for a new ten-million-dollar glycerin refinery in Corning. The new plant will create 24 jobs at an average starting wage of 16-dollars-an-hour. They’ll us the waste from ethanol plants to refine natural glycerin for use by cosmetic, pharmaceutical, food, chemical and tobacco companies. The I-D-E-D also approved the Mastercraft Furniture Company’s move to Council Bluffs for Enterprise Zone tax benefits. The company’s new plant will employ 43 people at an average starting wage of 11-dollars-65-cents-an-hour. Niles says they also approved 60-thousand dollar investments from the Entrepreneurial Venture Assistance (EVA) fund for four businesses to help them grow. One of the businesses, AudioNet International of Iowa City, is working with the world’s top experts to develop a training network for healthcare and emergency management staff involved in homeland security.Another company, ProPlanner.Net of Ames was awarded the money to repackage process-design software for manufacturing to offer it to smaller companies as a web-based computer application. A Fairfield company is getting help in sprucing up doctors’ and dentists’ offices.Sky Factory of Fairfield makes ceiling tiles printed with colorful images of beautiful skies, clouds, flowers and prairie grasses to put patients more at ease than staring up at a blank ceiling. The other company, Viable Technologies of Des Moines, was awarded 60-thousand dollars to seek commercial uses for a new material developed at Iowa State University which is the second hardest substance next to diamonds. The material is an ultra-hard boride composed of boron, aluminum and magnesium and known as BAM.
The Iowa Utilities Board took up a proposed rate increase by Alliant energy at its meeting this week. One who came to object was Bob Bowers, president of the Wellman Dynamics Corporation in Creston, who said it’s hard to take a big increase that comes all at once. He says two or three percent a year is easier to take than a big jump. Wellman supplies parts to the military, for Black Hawk helicopters and Tomahawk missiles. Bowers says the increase can’t be passed on, so the company has to absorb it somewhere. He says the place they can cut fixed costs is payroll, so he thinks local businesses will have to cut workers. Bowers says it’ll drive businesses away if fast-rising utility costs force him to raise the cost of his products. Bowers says in the case of a military supplier, that could mean the government will buy its parts from another supplier with lower fixed costs, or from producers overseas. The next hearing on the rate increase will be in Des Moines, on October 22nd.
The annual “Field to Food” run is tonight in Johnston. Spokesman Bill Brewer says the run was created by the Iowa chapter of the National Agri-Marketing Association.The run was created to draw the connection between the fields where food is grown and the stores where it is sold. The run is a fundraiser — with this year’s recipients including the F-F-A Enrichment Center.He says the enrichment center will help educate the next generation of farmers. Brewer says the Iowa Fireman’s Association is another beneficiary, as many of the volunteer firefighters in Iowa are farmers. He says they get a wide range of runners, including a core group that run in all sorts of events.Brewer says the run has been successful in helping several organizations through the years.They’ve raised around 40-thousand dollars in the sixth years of the run. The sign up for the 5K run begins at 5:30 and the run takes off at seven pm.
The mayor of Davenport will not be charged in a city-hall scuffle after all. No assault charges will be filed against Davenport’s mayor, Charlie Brook. That follows a review of the findings of a Scott County sheriff’s investigation by County Attorney Bill Davis. 36-year-old David Jensen had field a complaint with Davenport police. He says he’d been attending a June 19th council meeting when Brook shoved him and called him an obscene name. Police asked the county to handle the investigation so they wouldn’t have a conflict of interest. Davis says investigators interviewed all key players and some witnesses, but there was no evidence of assault and he won’t file charges.