Spencer, Iowa — Two individuals from our area were among the finalists for the Spencer City Manager position — but neither of them got the job.

Among the candidates for the position were Hartley City Administrator/Clerk Kay Cmelik, and Sibley City Administrator/Economic Development Director/Utility Superintendent Glenn Anderson.

We are told that after a closed session on Saturday, the Spencer City Council decided to hire Dan Gifford. Spencer Human Resources Director Jessica Wright says Gifford is personable and Gifford was a great fit and exactly what they were looking for.

According to Gifford, his previous experience includes serving as the City of Fairfield’s Planning Director and as the City Administrator in both Holstein and most recently, West Burlington.

Spencer has been without a City Manager since Amanda Mack departed earlier this summer. Robinson says Spencer’s Budget Director is running things on an interim basis.

October 2, 2021 - 6:37 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — The average Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefit – excluding additional funds provided as part of pandemic relief – will increase for Fiscal Year 2022 beginning this month.

The increase was directed by the 2018 Farm Bill, with the support of one of President Biden’s Executive orders after the USDA conducted a data-driven review of the Thrifty Food Plan. The resulting cost adjustment is the first time the purchasing power of the plan has changed since it was first introduced in 1975, reflecting notable shifts in the food marketplace and consumers’ circumstances over the past 45 years.

The projected SNAP benefits for most Iowa households qualifying for the program, will get an average increase of about 12 to 16 dollars per month for each family member, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Statewide Iowa — An Ohio-based company called CareSource plans to submit a bid to be among the private companies managing Iowa’s Medicaid program.

In 2016, the State of Iowa switched to privately managed care of Medicaid, which currently covers health care costs for 750-thousand poor, elderly and disabled Iowans. Two companies — Amerigroup and Iowa Total Care — have existing contracts to manage care for those Iowans. CareSource, based in Dayton, Ohio, has rented office space in Des Moines and hiring Iowa staff, preparing to submit the paperwork for an Iowa Medicaid managed care contract.

State officials likely will decide next fall if another company will be added to Iowa Medicaid’s program. CareSource already oversees Medicaid coverage for residents in five other states.

Statewide Iowa — The top Democrat in the Iowa House says the State of Iowa wouldn’t have had a more than one BILLION dollar surplus at the end of the last fiscal year in June, if it weren’t for federal pandemic relief.House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst is among the Democrats citing Biden’s signature on bills that did things like increase the federal child tax credit and extend Medicaid coverage to at least 75-thousand more low-income Iowans.

Republican Governor Kim Reynolds has said with a budget surplus of more than one-point-24 BILLION, lawmakers should cut income taxes — with the long term goal of completely eliminating the state income tax. Konfrst says Democrats will lobby for targeted tax relief.

And Konfrst says some state agency budgets have been trimmed too far.

As an example, she cites the Department of Human Services which does things like manage food stamps and Medicaid and investigate allegations of child abuse.

Konfrst made her comments during taping of the “Iowa Press” program which aired Friday on Iowa PBS.

Melvin, Iowa — As fundraisers go, it’s not completely unique, but it is somewhat unusual. The Melvin Fire Department would like to build an addition to their fire station, and they have come up with a fundraiser to help the effort.

Brennan Raveling is the Melvin Fire Chief. He tells us about the fundraiser, aimed at the agriculture community in and around Melvin.

He says it’s just as simple as taking your load of grain to the elevator as usual, and asking that a portion be donated to the Melvin Fire Department. He says he doesn’t have a running total, but after only a week, quite a few people have donated here and there, and every little bit counts.

He gives us an idea as to the timeline for the addition to their fire station.

Raveling says they’re going through bids for contractors at this time.

October 1, 2021 - 3:32 pm - Posted in News

Madison, Wisconsin — An Ashton youth has received a national honor in dairy showmanship.

Youth from across North America participated in the 2021 World Dairy Expo® Youth Showmanship Contest on Monday, September 27. 280 exhibitors competed in this year’s contest.

Jonathan Krogman of Ashton won the Intermediate Division and the Howard Voegeli First Place Award, a custom embroidered jacket presented by Images Custom Embroidery. The Iowa native also received clippers from Andis Company. In the Senior Division, Cole Kruse of Dyersville, Iowa placed first and won the Keith King First Place Award, which was also a custom embroidered jacket from Images Custom Embroidery. Kruse additionally received a semen tank courtesy of MVE Biological Solutions.

Serving as the meeting place of the global dairy industry, World Dairy Expo officials say the expo brings together the latest in dairy innovation and the best cattle in North America. For more information, visit worlddairyexpo.com.

October 1, 2021 - 3:17 pm - Posted in News

Northern Iowa — Duck hunting season opens Saturday in the northern most zone of the state.

State waterfowl biologist Orrin Jones, says conditions are setting up for a good opener.

The dry conditions have dropped water levels in many areas of the state and Jones says that can be good or bad for hunters.

Jones says the first days of duck hunting can often be the best time to get your limit.

Jones says veteran hunters will be watching the weather reports throughout the season to see if another wave of birds might be coming into the state.

Jones says hunters take an average of 12 birds through the season.

Jones says there were some significant changes to the hunting zones so you will want to familiarize yourself with the new boundaries and then confirm the season dates for their hunting location. All the information is online at: www.iowadnr.gov/waterfowl.

October 1, 2021 - 10:04 am - Posted in News

Cedar Falls, Iowa — University of Northern Iowa administrators have told a 64-year-old biology professor who’s had a mask mandate for his students that he may no longer teach classes in-person this semester.

Professor Steve O’Kane told students he’d lower their grades if they failed to wear masks in class. The Cedar Rapids Gazette is reporting UNI administrators told O’Kane he will not be eligible for a merit pay increase this semester. While O’Kane may teach his courses online, he’s been warned he may be fired if he fails to follow the Board of Regents rule prohibiting professors at the three state universities from having classroom mask mandates.

After administrators took disciplinary action against him, O’Kane told The Gazette he’s nearing retirement and requiring face masks in class is a hill he’s willing to die on.

September 30, 2021 - 4:01 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — The latest drought monitor reflects the lack of rain we’ve seen in the state in September. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Tim Hall some areas that were in D-1 moderate drought have now moved to the D-2 severe drought category.

Only about 24 percent of the state is reporting NO drought conditions — down from about 25 percent last week. Hall says we shift at the end of September from the growing season — or “water year” concerns to the subsoil moisture concerns.

He says the need to bank moisture for next year varies across the state.

Hall says one positive is the plants are not pulling water from the ground and the cooler weather leads to less moisture lost from evaporation.

He says there can be replenishing rains in October and November.

Halls says 2020 was also a dry year — so the state started out behind and hasn’t been able to fully replenish the groundwater through this year.

September 30, 2021 - 3:46 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa —  The Iowa State Patrol is leading Iowa’s statewide Traffic Fatality Reduction Task Force in an effort to reduce deaths on Iowa roadways. As part of that effort the Patrol will be conducting a special enforcement initiative geared toward reduction of distracted driving.

Iowa State Patrol Trooper Kevin Krull tells us more.

Any activity that takes your hands off the wheel, your eyes off the road or your mind off the task of driving can be dangerous. Combining these behaviors doing things like texting while driving compounds the risk.

He says one of the additional factors leading to crashes this time of year is the presence of slow moving vehicles on the roadway during the harvest.

Trooper Krull tells us that this year’s Iowa highway traffic death toll is above average.

Krull reminds us that the fatality numbers are more than just numbers…each represents one person…one empty chair at the dinner table.

Trooper Krull reminds us to stay alert, avoid distractions, slow down and don’t drive impaired. He says the power to arrive alive is in your hands…your steering wheel.