Full Moon For Christmas

full moon 1Northwest Iowa — For the first time since 1977 there will be a full moon visible on Christmas.  But as an added gift this year, a bright full moon will be added for the holidays.

December’s full moon, the last of the year, is called the Full Cold Moon because it occurs during the beginning of winter. The moon’s peak this year will occur at 5:11 a.m. our time Christmas morning.

This rare event won’t happen again until 2034. That’s a long time to wait, so make sure to look up to the skies on Christmas Day.

As you gaze up at the Christmas moon, take note that NASA has a spacecraft currently orbiting Earth’s moon. NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission has been investigating the lunar surface since 2009.

Time Is Short To Make Donations For 2015 Tax Year

1040 income tax formNorthwest Iowa — It may be the “season of giving,” but the days left in December are dwindling and northwest Iowans who need to make charitable contributions before the new year arrives to help their tax picture need to get moving.

I-R-S spokesman Christopher Miller says if you plan to make a year-end gift to charity, several important tax laws have changed in recent years. First, you need proof you made the donation.

Many northwest Iowans will make an effort during December to sort through some of the things that have collected in their houses and closets during the past year, from linens to electronics to furniture.

Donors need written acknowledgement from the charity for all gifts worth $250 or more. It must include, among other things, a description of the items contributed. Some northwest Iowans will decide they have an extra vehicle in the garage or perhaps a watercraft in storage that they just don’t use or need anymore. Special rules apply to these kinds of donations, however.

For payroll deductions, the taxpayer needs to keep a pay stub, a Form W-2 wage statement or other proof from the employer showing the total amount withheld for charity, along with the pledge card showing the charity’s name. Contributions are deductible in the year they’re made, so, donations charged to a credit card before the end of 2015 count for 2015, even if the credit card bill isn’t paid until 2016. Also, checks count for 2015 as long as they are mailed in 2015. Only taxpayers who itemize their deductions on Form 1040 Schedule A can claim deductions for charitable contributions. That deduction is not available to Iowans who choose the standard deduction, including anyone who uses the short form, like Form 1040-A or 1040-E-Z. Find more tips at www.irs.gov.

Track Santa’s Progress Online

santa 2Northwest Iowa — Area children who want to keep tabs on Santa, and the progress he’s making on his gift delivery rounds, can now keep up to date online.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, has been tracking the progress of the jolly old elf every Christmas Eve since 1955.  NORAD keeps track of Santa through a group of volunteers who answer phone calls and emails from around the world, informing them of Santa’s current location.  Each volunteer handles about forty telephone calls per hour, and the team typically handles more than 12,000 emails and more than 70,000 telephone calls from more than two hundred countries and territories.

So, if you want to keep up to date with Santa as he makes his way to all the children around the world visit the NORAD Santa Tracker at noradsanta.org.

Firefighters Respond To Two Calls

Sheldon, Iowa — Sheldon firefighters were kept busy on Wednesday morning, but the calls were fairly minor.
Sheldon Fire FD Ladder Truck 2
Sheldon Fire Company Lieutenant Brad Hindt says the first call was to Casey’s west at the corner of Highway 18 and Old 60. That page went out at 8:25 AM. The call was for a gas spill. Hindt says the spill was five gallons or less of fuel and they were able to absorb the spill with floor dri, which is a clay-based granulated absorbent similar to kitty litter.

A few minutes later, while they were still on that call, a call came into the emergency center in Primghar of a fire alarm just a little north of Casey’s, at K-T Industries on Northwest Boulevard, or Old 60. Hindt says that one of their engines responded to that call and while they were still en route, they were advised it was a false alarm. He says K-T Industries was installing a new fire alarm system and the technicians were unaware that it was live and would call in alarms.

Blood Donations More Urgently Needed During Holiday Season

Comm blood bankNorthwest Iowa — There are all sort of reasons people skip giving blood during the holidays, but the need for blood remains constant and urgent.  Ken Versteeg is Executive Director of Community Blood Bank, the blood supplier for Sanford Sheldon Medical Center.

Versteeg says that, in addition to blood donations falling during the holiday season, the need for blood products normally grows this time of year.

With the combination of dwindling supply and increased demand this time of year, Versteeg urges you to donate, especially around the holidays.

He says there’s a very simple way to find out when and where Community Blood Bank is accepting blood donations.

He says that each pint of blood donated can save up to three lives, since they separate the plasma, the platelets, and the red blood cells.

If you missed that web address, it’s http://cbblifeblood.org/

In addition to Sanford Sheldon, other area hospitals for whom Community Blood Bank is the primary supplier include Sanford Rock Rapids and Hegg Memorial Hospital in Rock Valley.

Beef Feedlot Forum To Feature Steak, Information

Sioux Center, Iowa — Beef producers — your chance to find out what’s going on in the beef industry and have a great steak at the same time is coming up in Sioux Center in January.

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Iowa State University Extension Beef Specialist Beth Doran says the Feedlot Forum will focus on some pressing issues that are facing the beef industry.

She says they will also talk about the environmental sustainability of the beef industry.

After that, about 12:30, it will be time for your steak. She says the afternoon will kick off talking about the veterinary feed directive.

And of course they’ll talk about beef prices and the price of inputs including corn and soybeans. The name of that presentation is “Feeding Cattle in a Global Market. They’ll also talk about the beef checkoff.

The Feedlot Forum is at the Terrace View Event Center in Sioux Center from 8:30 AM to 3:45 PM on Tuesday, January 19th.

Registration is $25 per person with student registration $10 per person. Registrations are due January 12th to the ISU Extension and Outreach office in Sioux County. For more information, contact Beth Doran at 712-737-4230 or email doranb@iastate.edu. The program flier is available on the Iowa Beef Center website http://www.iowabeefcenter.org/events/FeedlotForum2016.pdf.