Supes agree to $1M+ HVAC project at the courthouse

Greene County boards of supervisors have talked about updating the heating system at the courthouse several times in the last two decades but never saw a clear path to completing such a project until Monday.

The supervisors agreed by consensus to move forward with replacing the 100-year-old steam boiler and radiators, installing central air conditioning, and replacing all the windows at the courthouse. The estimated cost of the entire project in early 2015 was $1.4 million. The supervisors were told they can expect the cost now to be 6-8 percent more. Continue reading Supes agree to $1M+ HVAC project at the courthouse

Warmer weather helps soil temps, but rain last week slowed planting

Widespread storms delivering heavy rainfall interrupted planting activities and held Iowa farmers to 2.9 days suitable for fieldwork for the week ending May 6, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Topsoil moisture levels state wide rated 3 percent very short, 7 percent short, 71 percent adequate and 19 percent surplus. Levels in west central Iowa were slightly better, with 1 percent very short, 1 percent short, 81 percent adequate and 17 percent surplus.

Subsoil moisture levels across the state rated 5 percent very short, 11 percent short, 70 percent adequate and 14 percent surplus. Levels in west central Iowa rated 1 percent very short, 10 percent short, 83 percent adequate and 11 percent surplus.

Saturated soil conditions have caused delays in fieldwork and planting activities in the northern two-thirds of the state, while recent rains have failed to eliminate the dry soil conditions in the southern one-third of the state.

Iowa growers have planted 40 percent of the expected corn crop, three days behind the 5-year average. Two percent of the crop has emerged, five days behind both last year and the average.

Soybean growers have 11 percent of the expected crop in the ground, two days ahead of last year but equal to the average. West central growers are behind the state average, with only 5 percent of te expected bean crop planted.

Recent rain and warmer temperatures have revitalized pasture conditions statewide. Pasture condition rated 40 percent good to excellent, an increase of 12 percentage points from the previous week. Cattle have been turned out for grazing in many areas.

Iowa preliminary weather summary by Michael Timlin, Regional Climatologist, Midwestern Regional Climate Center – It was a warm and wet week across Iowa. All but the southeastern corner of the state had above normal rainfall, more than half the state had more than twice the normal amount, and parts of northeastern Iowa had more than four times normal totals.

The statewide rainfall total of 1.85 inches was more than 200 percent of normal. Much of the rain fell from May 1-3 when thunderstorms were abundant. Severe weather reports on those three days included a handful of high wind reports each day, a dozen or so large hail (1.00 to 1.75 inches in diameter) reports on May 1-2, and five tornadoes on May 3.

The highest rainfall totals for the state were 6.46 inches for the week, and a daily total of 4.42 inches reported on the morning of May 4, both at Waukon. Across the state, measurable rainfall during the week was reported on two days in the southeast to five days in the west.

Temperatures averaged 5 to 10 degrees above normal, a welcome change on the heels of the coldest April on record. Freezing temperatures were reported on April 30, but temperatures remained above 40 degrees for the rest of the week.

The coldest temperature of the week was 25 degrees reported at Elkader on April 30 and the warmest was 87 degrees at Little Sioux on the afternoon of April 30. Most stations across the state reached the 80s both early in the week (April 30) and again late in the week (May 5). The warmth during the week allowed soil temperatures to climb to the upper 50s to mid-60s by May 6.

Students plant trees funded by Alliant Energy

Planting Friday afternoon

Greene County eighth graders, Alliant Energy,  and Trees Forever representatives  joined together last Wednesday for a hands-on lesson about trees and the environment. The school received a grant from Alliant Energy and Trees Forever to fund the $2,500 project and plant 34 trees in Jefferson.

“This is a great example of how Branching Out is helping communities in our service area,” said Doug Kopp, president of Alliant Energy’s Iowa energy company. “We’re proud that over the last 30 years this program has planted more than a million trees and reduced more than 59 million tons of carbon dioxide. The whole community benefits from these plantings.”

Representatives of Alliant Energy and Trees Forever were there when students planted four trees on the middle school grounds Wednesday. The new trees replace several trees that were lost due to old age. Students finished the job Friday, planting another 30 additional trees  on Madison St in the city-owned space between the sidewalk and curb. Property owners are encouraged to keep the new trees watered in the coming months.

“Tree plantings are great opportunities to teach the community and the next generation about the environment,” said Trees Forever field coordinator Brad Riphagen. “Students will learn about how trees provide us with so many benefits – from cleaning our air, water and soil to helping homeowners save energy and money.”

Since the program began in 1990, Alliant Energy and Trees Forever’s Branching Out partnership has planted more than 1,176,000 trees statewide.

Pillar Technology celebrates its first rural forge

Gov Kim Reynolds and Lt Gov Adam Gregg, Congressman David Young, Sen Chuck Grassley, Iowa Economic Development Authority director Debi Durham, and more than 30 Jefferson leaders, community volunteers and elected officials were among those gathered Wednesday at The Forge, the Des Moines “office” of Pillar Technology, to celebrate the launch of Pillar’s first rural forge, opening in Jefferson some time in 2019. Continue reading Pillar Technology celebrates its first rural forge

Mahanay Tower opens 2018 season this weekend

The Mahanay Memorial Carillon Tower in Jefferson will open officially for the 2018 season on Saturday, May 5. Hours will be 10 am to 4 pm Saturdays and Sundays in May and then daily beginning Memorial Day weekend. With the increased visitors in 2017 during the month of September, the Bell Tower Community Foundation board decided to remain open daily for the month of September and weekends in October. Continue reading Mahanay Tower opens 2018 season this weekend

Iowa’s ‘Monument Man’ topic of library program May 8

An Iowan, George Stout of Winterset, was one of the World War Two ‘Monuments Men,’ made famous by the 2009 book by Robert M. Edsel, “The Monuments Men,” and the 2014 movie of the same title.

“George Stout: Iowa’s Own Monuments Man” is the title of a program about Stout Tuesday, May 8, at 2 pm at the First United Methodist Church in Jefferson. The program will be presented by Nancy Trask, MLS, and hosted by the Jefferson public library. Continue reading Iowa’s ‘Monument Man’ topic of library program May 8

Jefferson Matters awards mini grants, has more funds available

Jefferson Matters: Main Street is wasting no time utilizing a $2,000 grant from the Jefferson Rotary Club to assist downtown building owners with exterior improvements.
Jefferson Matters is offering two different mini-grant programs and had budgeted $2,000 for them. A $2,000 Rotary grant has doubled the total available. The mini-grants are for $500 each. Continue reading Jefferson Matters awards mini grants, has more funds available

Planting has started; soybeans are on schedule

Iowa farmers made the most of the 4.7 days suitable for fieldwork for the week ending April 29, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Corn and soybeans were planted in addition to soil preparation and fertilizer application.

Topsoil moisture levels statewide rated 4 percent very short, 15 percent short, 73 percent adequate and 8 percent surplus. Levels in west central Iowa rated 4 percent very short, 8 percent short 84 percent adequate and 4 percent surplus. Continue reading Planting has started; soybeans are on schedule

More hogs, actually, and a new bridge

There are no new songs about hog CAFOs – just slightly different words to the verses each time a new one is proposed.

The Greene County supervisors held a public hearing Monday on a confined animal feeding operation proposed by John and Libby Towers for Highland Township, Section 30. The opposition choir was smaller than those who sang out in March against a proposed Greenbrier Township CAFO. On Monday, only two neighbors spoke against the 4,492-head facility. Continue reading More hogs, actually, and a new bridge

Timeline for school project given

Move-in for high school and middle school would start June 2020

The real work has begun for Greene County school administrators and the board of education on the design and construction of the new high school/regional career academy and repurposing of the current high school as a middle school.

Vicki Hyland of OPN Architects’ Cedar Rapids office and Ken Hagen of the firm’s Des Moines office met with the school board in a work session April 18. Continue reading Timeline for school project given

Jeff council hears about Phase 2 of facade project

Saving historic home from demolition also discussed

Jefferson’s historic downtown buildings and the future of a historic home near downtown were topics of discussion at the April 24 Jefferson city council meeting. Building official Nick Sorensen made presentations and led the discussion on both topics.

Sorensen first briefed the council on the particulars of Phase 2 of a downtown façade project. Phase 1 was a $1 million project that renovated the facades of 13 historic buildings. A community development block grant (CDBG) covered half the cost, with the city of Jefferson paying $250,000 and building owners paying the remaining $250,000, depending on what work was done to their building. Continue reading Jeff council hears about Phase 2 of facade project