Over 200 Applications Received For Casino Grants

Rock Rapids, Iowa — The response to the newest type of grant offered by the Lyon County Riverboat Foundation has been greater than anyone expected.
Grand Falls Roulette
The foundation is the nonprofit license-holder for the Grand Falls Casino, and gets a certain percentage of the gaming take to give back to the community.

David Childress, the foundation’s executive assistant says that what’s billed as “a new and easy way to secure a $2000 grant for a special project” was very well received by the surrounding communities of Grand Falls Casino and Golf Resort. He says 209 applications were received, requesting funds for everything from computers to concrete steps. He says applications were received from South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota, including towns and cities of Luverne, Sibley, Harrisburg and Sioux Falls just to name a few.

On Tuesday evening, July 21st at 7:00 PM, he says the foundation will give $100,000 in mini grants to over fifty of the organizations that applied. The award ceremony will be held at the Events Center at Grand Falls Casino and Golf Resort.

One stipulation of the new mini grants is that Organizations must be present in order to be awarded funds.

President of the Riverboat Foundation Jeff Gallagher says that they are truly excited about this new way of making funds available to the area. He says it’s a simple and easy way. He says they hope many people will come to Grand Falls Casino that night to see which groups will be receiving money toward their projects.

Gallagher says they were really surprised by the volume of grant requests. He says they hoped to get a hundred applications. He says, QUOTE “To get over 200 is amazing. There should be plenty of smiles and a few disappointments as we draw out the grant winners.”

Iowa Farmers Critical Of Bird Flu Response

Washington, DC — Two Iowans who participated in a US Senate hearing on the bird flu outbreak were critical of the government’s response, but say they believe things are improving. Brad Moline of Moline Farms in Manson raises turkeys and spoke after the hearing about the problems he saw with the response of the U-S Department of Agriculture and the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

(as he says)”One of the biggest problems we faced in the industry, was not only the devastating loss, economic loss, the emotional toll and loss that we had just dealing with these birds that we worked so hard to raise. But, it was complicated by unclear communication from APHIS and the U-S-D-A. And also complicated by some of their contractors, as well as the cumbersome paperwork,” Moline says.

United Egg Producers chairman, James Dean of Sioux Center, agreed that there were problems with communicating with the government.

(as he says)”I think that this was such a devastating disease for everybody that a lot of people were caught off guard and the systems weren’t in place to deal with the extreme volume of cases that were happening so quickly,” Dean says.

Dean says the issues went beyond the facilities.

(as he says)”It’s dramatically impacted not on the egg producers, the turkey growers, but the people of small town Iowa, the communities where it’s impacted all of the ancillary businesses that are involved,” Dean says. “In Sioux Center the community came together and had prayer services for our management team, our company, our employees, our staff and everybody involved. So, we’ve had tremendous support from the community.”

Dean says the hearing was a good way to discuss the issues surrounding the bird flu response.

(as he says)”I hope that we learn from the mistakes that maybe have been made in the past, and we can move forward to help that this disease never develops in this type of magnitude again,” Dean says.

Moline says the lack of communication made the situation worse.

(as he says)”The number one problem was there were contractors hired the government in the area to assist with the de-population, the composting, the removal of litter and the cleaning and disinfecting areas of this. Many of them weren’t adequately trained by the U-S-D-A and APHIS to properly communicate what steps needed to be done,” Moline explains.

Moline says the contractors were the weak link in the communication chain.

(as he says)”Some of them were pushing their own initiative to increase their company’s value and revenue off this outbreak,” Moline says. “And others who were very, very good contractors just simply weren’t informed properly of the exact steps that needed to be done. So, a lot of the communication came through some of the contractors.” He believes the lack of communication allowed the disease to spread.

(as he says)”Because of the lack of communication and the paperwork that was involved, that delay a lot of the de-population. And one of the points that we were driving home today and in previous meetings — was we need a rapid de-population to help slow this virus,” Moline says.

Moline believes things have gotten better as they’ve talked with federal officials.

(as he says)”We’ve had some new veterinarians and new people from the U-S-D-A in that have greatly improved the communication levels and helped us streamline some of the paperwork,” according to Moline. “So, I feel very confident moving forward that we can learn and improve from this very bad outbreak.”

Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst called for the hearing of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

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Sioux Center Egg Executive Testifies In DC

Washington, DC — Avian influenza was the topic of Tuesday afternoon’s hearing of a U-S Senate panel and two Iowans were on the witness list — both men who run poultry operations that saw heavy losses. Senator Chuck Grassley says one of the men is in the egg-laying industry, the other raises turkeys, and both testified about how Iowa’s been very hard-hit by bird flu.
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(As above) “Two-hundred and twenty-three detections have occurred affecting 41-million birds in the United States and almost two-thirds of them were from Iowa,” Grassley says.

Both of Iowa’s U-S senators are serving on the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee. Grassley and Senator Joni Ernst were among the senators hearing testimony about the devastating impact of the virus.

(As above) “We start the hearing with two gentlemen who are administrators within the Department of Agriculture giving us their perspective of it,” Grassley says. “That’s very important from the standpoint of any policy changes that need to be made or any more money available.”

The Iowans who will testify are: Jim Dean, chairman of United Egg Producers in Sioux Center, and Brad Moline, manager and owner of Moline Farms, a turkey production facility in Manson. Grassley says biosecurity was already tight on the Iowa poultry operations, so they’ll look for other potential solutions to future bird flu outbreaks.

(As above) “There is the possibility of a vaccine, but also, that brings about a political and scientific problem, whether or not we want to use vaccine that might eliminate some export of chicken meat to other countries where they haven’t approved of the drug,” Grassley says.

The U-S-D-A has already spent a majority of the money allotted for the bird flu epidemic, much of that on destroying and disposing of the infected birds and the comprehensive clean-up.

(As above) “About 400-million (dollars) was available and approximately 400-million will probably be spent in this short period of time,” Grassley says. “Is more money needed? That’s one issue for Congress. The other would be the exploration of an insurance program that would be new.”

In recent months, Iowa’s had at least 77 poultry operations hit by bird flu in 18 counties, resulting in the death or euthanizing of more than 31-million birds.

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Smoke Causing Minor Temperature Depression

Northwest Iowa — You’ve probably heard about all the wildfire smoke coming down from Canada, causing air quality issues and a smokey smell in the air.
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Meteorologist Matthew Dux from the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls gives us the situation.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources officials say that since the wind changes continually, it can mean differing levels of fine particulate matter in the air, and that can affect air quality.

On days when the air quality is low due to this smoke or for other reasons, the DNR recommends individuals with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children limit prolonged outdoor exertion until the smoke plume passes and air quality conditions improve.

Dux says some people assumed the smoke would last for a few days, but he says it’s been several weeks now already, and no one knows how long we’ll have to deal with its effects. He says Canadian weather conditions this past spring created a high fire risk.

He says the smoke on Monday was more intense than it had been for the last few days, and it may have caused a slight reduction in daytime temperatures.

He says it may even affect temps even more than a degree or two. But, says Dux, you can’t blame the smoke for causing all of the recent cool temperatures.

Back to the air quality issue for a moment. If you’d like to keep track of evolving air quality conditions, you can do so at: www.shl.uiowa.edu/env/ambient/hourlyaqi.xml.

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Council Seeks Volunteer Painters For Schoolhouse

Sheldon, Iowa — The Prairie Arts Council is asking people to join them in painting the historic Baker Township Schoolhouse, which was recently moved to Sheldon.
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The Arts Council’s Hal Tuttle says they hope to do the “Tom Sawyer Day” at 8 AM on Saturday, July 18th.

Tuttle says you can leave your marbles and broken knives home, but they do hope you’ll join them to paint the old schoolhouse.

He says it will take two coats, so it may take two days. Tuttle says some of the painting supplies have been donated. For instance, the brushes have come from Menard’s.

He says the Prairie Arts Council learned something interesting after the recent publicity about the Baker Township Schoolhouse coming to their grounds.

Tuttle says if you have a group that wants to see the schoolhouses or if you need more information, he’d be happy to help. You can call him at 712-324-4190. He says he’ll make sure the facility is open and provide a guide.

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Park Donations Amount To Over $5000 For Family

Spirit Lake, Iowa — The Arnolds Park Amusement Park has raised over $5000 for the family of a 20-year-old from Ukraine who was killed in an accident in Spirit Lake.
Iryna Shevchuk
The money comes from the park’s recent Casey Muessigmann concert; a donation from Muessigmann and his Dad and a match from Jake Jostad and Tim Sather, owners of Oak Hill Marina; and $1 of each Park Day Pass purchased last week.

Over $3,200 has been raised through a Go Fund Me account as well.

Iryna Shevchuk was killed June 23rd in Spirit Lake. She was riding a bike and was hit by a car.