Bird Flu Recovery Continues

It has now been four weeks since any new cases of bird flu have been detected in Iowa. Agriculture Secretary, Bill Northey, gave an update this week, and says there are some positives to talk about in the recovery.
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(as he says)”We’re going to have a site here that is very soon going to be able to fully passed its tests all through its cleaning and disinfection and then its 21-day waiting period after that, and then be able to repopulate with birds,” Northey says.

The facility is a turkey farm in Calhoun County. Northey says a few other facilities will soon be through their 21-day waiting period after disinfection, while others are still preparing for disinfection.


(as he says)”The disinfection in most cases will be done by heat. This virus doesn’t like heat,” Northey explains. “It starts to die at maybe 80 degrees, if we can get that up to 100 degrees and keep it there for several days, it is a very thorough disinfection process.”

Northey says the progress of each facility depends on its size and the resources they have to do the clean-up and disinfection. The majority of the 71 facilities hit by the avian flu were egg-laying operations or raised pullets that are grown into egg-laying hens. U-S-D-A veterinarian Jack Shere says the next big step facing Iowa producers is getting the birds to put back in the facilities.


(as he says)”Those hens can’t be replaced overnight,” Shere says, “those pullets have to be raised 22 weeks on the ground before they are ready to lay. And they have to be put in process. In those facilities — when there’s that many birds in one area — they can’t put all those birds in at the same time.”

Some 34 million birds had to be destroyed, and Doctor Shere says the lag time in getting replacements stretches out the re-population.


(as he says)”Some of these facilities won’t be able to completely re-stock for a year-and-a-half to two years, depending on the size that they have. And I am talking about the laying facilities,” Shere says. “The turkey flocks, we are hoping to get them back into business and restocking by mid-August.”

He says if they meet the mid-August stocking timeline for turkeys, the facilities could be able to produce birds for Thanksgiving. Northey says it is still a long and expensive road ahead, but he expects a majority of producers to keep going.


(as he says)”You know, I think there’s a handful likely that would not go back into business. Maybe have some older facilities that when they look at those facilities it’s going to be so expensive to clean them up — and then they still end up a short-life facility that they won’t go and bring that facility back,” Northey says. “But the vast majority of the cases, folks are still optimistic. They’ve had the worst financial loss that they’ve had as a business. Emotionally, this is very, very draining.”

Shere says they will work with the facilities to bring them back as fast as possible.


(as he says)”But we do have to be careful that we do it correctly and we don’t move too quickly and spread the virus and have a re-occursion,” Shere says.

The time it takes for a facility to re-populate also depends on its location, as all nearby facilities have to be disinfected first to ensure the disease is gone. The dead birds have been hauled away at 59 of the 71 commercial facilities.

Story from Radio Iowa

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Sioux Center Police Stopping, Citing Good Drivers

Sioux Center, Iowa — A northwest Iowa city’s police department has decided to switch things up and pull over good drivers, as well as the bad.
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Sioux Center Police Chief Paul Adkins says instead of a ticket, the good drivers get free ice cream.


Adkins says they had done a similar program years ago and at the suggestion of another officer, Adkins thought it might be a good time to bring it back.


Adkins says he’s only heard one second hand complaint about the program, and that person was concerned about probable cause.


So if you’re in Sioux Center and you see those familiar red and blue lights in your rear view mirror, it may mean some free ice cream instead of a traffic ticket.

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Sioux Sheriff: Paving Scams May Be Occurring Again

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Orange City, Iowa — The Sioux County Sheriff’s Office says there may be asphalt paving scams occurring again in the area.

The Sheriff’s Office advises that these traveling asphalt paving crews usually offer a low-priced opportunity to repair or pave your residential or business driveway. They say they’ll normally tell you that they just finished another job and have leftover asphalt and they’ll offer to apply it to your driveway for a low price. In some recent cases, sealant for driveways is applied without asking for permission. Sometimes only patchy, small amounts were applied and caused the overall finish to look mismatched and discolored, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

They say the quality of the material used and the manner it is applied is also often of poor quality. These companies sometimes say that they will apply the asphalt three to four inches thick, when in actuality the finished application is just two inches or less. By the time you notice the problems the company that completed the work is long gone.

The Sioux County Sheriff’s Office says there are three things to look for if you deal with these companies:

  • No contract offered: Always make certain there is a written contract. Without a written contract, the original low estimate you were given may grow into hundreds of dollars or even thousands after the work is finished.
  • They will push you to make a quick decision: Reputable contractors will provide a written estimate that will be valid for weeks or even months. Good contractors leave the decision to you without pressure.
  • Unmarked trucks: Suspicious trucks usually will not have business markings or names on them or will have an out of town address and phone number displayed.

The Sheriff’s Office says you should ask for references and do a check on them before agreeing to have any work started. Get a written estimate and tell them you will get back to them. Making sure that you first get bids from other local paving companies before granting them permission to start is also a good way to compare prices.

They say the best advice is to know who you are doing business with. In many cases, you are safer dealing with a contractor who has local ties to the community.

The Sheriff’s Office also advises that if you are in doubt, don’t agree to any services. If these companies pressure you or begin work without your permission, don’t wait; contact your law enforcement agency immediately.


Flags At Half Staff To Honor Five Soldiers

Des Moines, Iowa — Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has ordered flags in Iowa to be lowered to half-staff until Monday, July 27, 2015, at 8 AM, to honor the five soldiers killed in the terrorist attack at military facilities last week in Chattanooga, Tennessee. President Barack Obama has also issued a proclamation calling for flags to be lowered on federal buildings.
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The governor’s directive applies to all U.S. and state flags under control of the State of Iowa.

Flags will be at half-staff on the state Capitol building and on flag displays in the Capitol complex, and upon all public buildings, grounds, and facilities throughout the state. Individuals, businesses, schools, municipalities, counties and other government subdivisions are encouraged to fly the flag at half-staff for the same length of time as a sign of respect.


Fifty Projects Receive Casino Mini Grants

Larchwood, Iowa — Fifty projects in and around northwest Iowa have received a shot in the arm, thanks to mini grants from the Lyon County Riverboat Foundation.
Grand Falls Casino sign

The foundation is the non-profit license holder for the Grand Falls Casino near Larchwood. State law mandates a certain percentage of the casino’s gaming take has to go back to the community. The agreement between the casino and the non-profit stipulates that for the first $20 million the casino collects in gambling winnings in a year, they will give the foundation 4.5 percent. When they get up to $20 million, the percentage goes up to 4.75 percent; and when they get up to $30 million, it goes to 5 percent.

The Lyon County Riverboat foundation is set up to give half of the money in grants to county government subdivisions and schools, and half to non-profit projects. In the past, that second half has been given away in a competitive grant process. This year, the foundation decided to also give away up to a total of $100,000 in grants of up to $2000.

Foundation president Jeff Gallagher explains:

He says unlike with the competitive grant process, essentially, there were no criteria for the mini grant applications, and no vetting process by the foundation.

Of the fifty randomly-selected winners, the foundation gave out two grants to South Dakota entities, one to a Minnesota entity, and the remaining forty-seven to Iowa entities.

Just to give you an idea of some of the projects, some went towards park equipment like benches and bleachers, some toward emergency equipment, and some toward safety and security equipment.

Northwest Iowa Community College was lucky enough to receive five grants — for a trailer, a TV, software, and more. The City of Sibley got over $1000 to repair their clock, as well as money toward a pool vacuum and seating replacement. The Rapids Theatre Preservation Society in Rock Rapids got $2000 toward media materials. The Rock Valley Chamber got $2000 toward a daycare expansion project. Sanford Medical Center in Rock Rapids got $2000 toward ALICE active shooter training.

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RTF Escapee Remains At Large

Sheldon, Iowa — The Sioux County Sheriff’s Office sent out a Nixle message on Friday evening, July 17th, that an inmate at the Iowa Department of Corrections Residential Treatment Facility — or RTF — had escaped. According to RTF Director Maureen Hansen, 21-year-old Tray Scott Ehlers remains at large.
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She says Ehlers was serving a sentence for Third Degree Burglary and Third Degree Theft, both out of Plymouth County.

Ehlers is described as a six-foot tall white male with brown hair and blue eyes. He weighs about 197 pounds and has multiple tattoos. His date of birth is September 3rd, 1993. At the time of his escape, the Sioux County Communications center noted that he may be driving a tan 1999 Chevrolet Malibu with Iowa plate number  DEB670.

Hansen says Ehlers is an inmate of the Iowa Department of Corrections, who had been in prison, but was granted parole. She says he violated his parole, so parole was revoked to work release. That means Ehlers worked during the day and stayed at the RTF at night.

She says, however that Ehlers did not escape while he was supposed to be at work. She says he was in the building and allegedly tore a screen in his room and left via the window. His absence was discovered during a routine hourly check on Friday night.

Hansen says an alert has been filed with the National Crime Information Center. She says that means that if a law enforcement officer finds him they can take him into custody and hold him without bond. She says if he’s found, there would probably be a request for transfer review, which means he may be sent to a more secure institution, such as back to prison.