below zero cold thermometer_sxcNorthwest Iowa — A warm March has allowed the growing season to begin slightly earlier than normal in portions of the Tri-State area.

Overnight low temperatures Friday night into Saturday morning are expected to fall into the lower to middle 20’s, according to the National Weather Service.  These cold temperatures may lead to minor damage of sensitive vegetation that has sprouted earlier than normal this spring.

The Weather Service says that, in order to avoid plant damage due to these cold temperatures, protective actions may need to be taken.

Governor Signs Biochemical Tax Credit Into Law

cleaner air for iowa with ethanolNorthwest Iowa — Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has signed into law a measure that would provide tax credits to northwest Iowa companies that make new products from what’s left over after ethanol and biodiesel are made from “biomass” like corn and soybeans.

The legislation was outlined in the Governor’s State of the State Address, and will represent the next generation in production of renewable biochemicals.

Branstad says the legislation, which is the first of it’s kind in the nation, will help Iowa’s renewable chemicals industry by using biomass as feedstocks for the production of building block chemicals.  He says Iowa is the nation’s premier leader in the renewable fuels industry, and will now be able to build on the legacy of leveraging homegrown renewable resources to produce the next generation of building block chemicals.

During a visit to Sheldon last week, Iowa Economic Development Director Debi Durham call the legislation good news, since, as she says, northwest Iowa is the center of ethanol and biodiesel production in the state.

Law Allows First Responders To Administer Anti-OD Med

immunize syringe shot drug_sxcNorthwest Iowa — First responders and others will be allowed to administer a drug that counteracts an opioid overdose, thanks to a bill signed into law by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad.

Branstad described the law as a step forward in avoiding tragedies.

Kim Brown is a registered nurse from Davenport, whose son died of a heroin overdose in 2011.  He wasn’t alone at the time and she thinks if a friend or family member had been able to give him Naloxone, he might be alive today.

Iowa now joins 45 other states which let anyone administer Naloxone to revive someone who’s overdosed and stopped breathing.

Bill To Make CO Detectors Mandatory Goes To Governor

smoke alarmNorthwest Iowa — If you’re planning to build a new home or apartment building after July 1st, 2018, you’ll be required to include carbon monoxide alarms if Governor Branstad signs a bill sent to him by the Iowa Legislature.

That’s Senator Jeff Danielson, a Democrat from Cedar Falls.  Danielson says he’s been “pleasantly surprised” the idea has now earned bipartisan support after unsuccessful tries in previous years.

Existing RENTAL units in Iowa would be required to have carbon monoxide detectors if the bill becomes law, but installing a carbon monoxide detector would be VOLUNTARY in existing, single-family homes.

About 300 Iowans wind up in an emergency room each year to be treated for carbon monoxide poisoning and officials say about 20 Iowans die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Council Approves Events Center Financing

Events Center 8Sheldon, Iowa — The Sheldon City Council heard a number of comments from the public at their Wednesday meeting, during a public hearing on issuance of general obligation capital loan notes in an amount not to exceed $3.4-million to be used for a new events center. The first speaker was Rick Nordahl, who spoke in favor of the proposal telling the council that, “you truly believe in this community showing that families truly come first”.  Nordahl was followed by Denny Klatt who complained that the voters had nothing to say about the project.

Later in the hearing City Manager Scott Wynja explained that moving the project back now to plan for a vote could result in losing the $840-thousand Vision Iowa Grant.  Wynja said that the grant committee expects funding to be in place within a certain deadline to assure them that the funds are being put to use.

Marv Van Riesen said that he hasn’t seen the plans and specifications for the events center and wanted to know why the public has not been informed.   City Manager Scott Wynja answered that there are two sets of the plans available at the city office, and people have stopped in to look them over.  Mayor Meendering explained that one hundred percent of the specifications are done and there will be another public hearing at the next council meeting to approve those specifications.  Van Riesen then questioned the contingency fund which had been included in the projected cost of the project.  He said that this should be deducted from the $3.4-million bond issue. Wynja explained that the bond issue is ‘not to exceed’ $3.4-million and the city will not lock in the total they will borrow until the bids are known.

At that point the mayor said, “This has not happened overnight, all council meetings are open to the public and the City Office is open every day for people who have questions”.

When it came time for the council to vote on the bond issue, Council Member Randy Fonkert said he had been struggling with this issue for some time.  He said the proposed events center is a beautiful building, but the City should first take care of other needs such as the new water tower, affordable housing and improved streets.   Council Member Zach Sawyer said that housing is a major concern, but he didn’t see how that correlates with the events center.  Councilman Pete Hamill commented that affordable housing has always been a concern, but if the City only does one thing at time, in his words, “We’ll never get anywhere”.

Fonkert also commented that there is legislation being proposed which would prevent the use of Tax Increment Financing for projects such as the Events Center.  Hamill reminded the council that this idea has been proposed for many years, but never passes because it would hamper growth and development in small cities.  Wynja pointed out that Sheldon is seeing a nice increase in development which is making it possible to get more things done.

Council member Greg Geels said that he was, “proud as can be”, of the projects that have made Sheldon a better place to live.  He also felt that housing is a “good problem to have”, and that another housing unit was on the Council agenda.  The four-unit residential structure in the Trilogy Addition is to be built by Van Roekel Rentals.  It was reported that the previous units built by this company were already fully-occupied.

After the discussion the Council voted to approve the bond issue, with Fonkert casting the lone ‘no’ vote.

The Council also voted in favor of taking additional action on the matter and approved the bond counsel engagement agreement.  Fonkert also voted against these proposals.  After the votes Councilman Hamill explained that all this could be re-addressed at a later date, but as he said, “we can’t get there until more information is available.”

Hog Confinement Damaged In Fire

Alvord, Iowa — A hog confinement building was damaged in a fire on Tuesday, April 5, 2016 near Alvord.
According to Alvord Fire Chief Glen Meyer, about 11:05 AM, the Alvord Fire Department was called to the report of small building fire, with fire in the attic near Alvord on 220th Street.

The chief says the fire department saw flames in the rafters as they approached the scene. He says they used water to fight the fire.

Meyer says no injuries were reported. He says The Alvord Fire Department was assisted by the Doon Fire Department and Doon Rescue Crew. He says the cause of the fire is undetermined.

Chief Meyer reports that there was moderate damage to the hog confinement building.

Lyon County dispatch reports that crews were on scene until about 12:50 PM.