Category: News

Black Hills Energy provides winter safety hints

Snow and ice buildup on your natural gas meter can create a safety hazard and even cut off the flow of natural gas to your heating equipment and other appliances. To avoid trouble, gently remove snow and ice from on and around the meter with your hands or a broom.
Gas meters and regulators are durable and designed with the weather in mind, but a coating of ice or snow could cause a loss of service and become a critical safety issue. If at all possible, remove the snow before it has a chance to freeze.
Gently clear snow away by hand or with a broom. Do not use a shovel, ice pick or other sharp tools, damage could result and make the situation worse. Keep snow blowers and shovels away from gas meters and other above-ground equipment.
Keep snow blowers and shovels away from gas meters and other above-ground equipment.
Carefully clear snow away from the outdoor vent on high-efficiency furnaces. The furnace won’t run safely and efficiently if the vent is blocked.
Safely remove ice buildup from overhead eaves that could fall and damage gas meters below.
Point out the meter and any other above-ground utility structures to anyone you hire for snow removal.
“It is easy to overlook the gas meter when you are removing snow around your home,” said Summer Wade, operations supervisor for Newton and the surrounding area. “Taking an extra few minutes to check the meter and outdoor vent are well worth your time.”
Ways to stay safe
Natural gas smells like rotten eggs for a reason. If your nose picks up this scent, immediately leave the area, and call 911 once you’re away from the site.
Wait for Black Hills Energy or emergency personnel to arrive before re-entering the building. Emergency personnel will let you know when it’s safe to return.
Never use a mobile phone, touch a light switch or start an engine while near a suspected gas leak.
Ensure your home is equipped with carbon monoxide detectors, and never use gas ranges, ovens or clothes dryers to heat your home.

Producers urged to enroll soon, beat the rush

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) encourages agricultural producers to enroll now in the Agriculture Risk Loss (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs. March 15, 2020 is the enrollment deadline for the 2019 crop year.
Although more than 200,000 producers have enrolled to date, FSA anticipates 1.5 million producers will enroll for ARC and PLC. By enrolling soon, producers can beat the rush as the deadline nears.
“FSA offices have multiple programs competing for the time and attention of our staff. Because of the importance and complexities of the ARC and PLC programs; and to ensure we meet your program delivery expectations, please do not wait to start the enrollment process,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “I cannot emphasize enough the need to begin the program election and enrollment process now. Please call your FSA county office and make an appointment soon to ensure your elections are made and contracts signed well ahead of the deadlines.”
ARC and PLC provide financial protections to farmers from substantial drops in crop prices or revenues and are vital economic safety nets for most American farms.
The programs cover the following commodities: barley, canola, large and small chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, long grain rice, medium and short grain rice, safflower seed, seed cotton, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and wheat.
Until March 15, producers who have not yet enrolled in ARC or PLC for 2019 can enroll for both 2019 and 2020 during the same visit to an FSA county office unless yield updates are requested. Additionally, farm owners have a one-time opportunity to update PLC payment yields that take effect beginning with crop year 2020. If the owner accompanies the producer to the office, the yield update and enrollments may be completed during the same office visit.

Volunteer respite providers needed for foster families

A program that provides Iowa foster parents with time off from the day-to-day challenges of foster parenting is looking for new volunteers.
Respite Options of Northeast Iowa will offer a free training course on two Saturdays, Feb. 1 and 15, from 9:15 AM to 4:45 PM, at the Cedar Falls Public Library, 524 Main St. Attendance at both sessions is required. Potential respite providers also must complete CPR/First Aid and Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse trainings.
“We need a wider circle of providers, and we’re hoping to attract even more college students and other interested adults,” said Kate Haberman, project coordinator.
Respite Options provides foster parents with an in-home certified care provider enabling them to get away for a day, weekend or longer vacation. The program allows children to stay in their own home and sleep in their own beds while their foster parents are away, rather than the children having to relocate to another foster home.
Providers must be at least 19 years old at the time of application and 20 years old to provide respite, complete an application and certification process, and be able to make a one-year commitment to the program. While this is an unpaid position, respite providers do receive a small stipend and help with mileage costs when they travel to do respite.
“What we liked was it was less stressful for the kids because they could stay in the home. It wasn’t so traumatic for them [to have us leave for the weekend],” said one foster parent when asked about the Respite Options program.
Respite Options, funded through the Iowa Department of Human Services, seeks community members to support foster families. Family and friends of licensed foster families are especially encouraged to apply.
Those interested in becoming certified respite providers should contact Haberman at (319) 596-5781 or

Jazz Band places third at Triton Jazz Festival

Union Jazz received third place overall in Class 3A at the 2020 Triton Jazz Festival hat was held on January 9-10, 2020 in Decker Auditorium on the Iowa Central Fort Dodge campus. Class 3A honors were awarded to Gilbert (1st place), ADM (2nd place) and Union (3rd place).
Soloist honors were also awarded in each division with Union instrumentalists Sarah Roberts, Tyson Fleshner, and Rhett Peters earning individual recognition.

Out with the old, in with the new (in 2020)

Work is expected to begin on the Wolf Creek Bridge Replacement project on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail in La Porte City later this month. Contractors will be mobilizing to the site to begin demolition preparations and demolition of the existing bridge as weather permits.
For the safety of the public and the contractors, the section of trail from, Brett Klima Wildlife Area to Wolf Creek Bridge in La Porte City, will remain closed to the public through completion of the bridge construction. Please avoid this area during construction and obey all closure signage. Ranger Al Finke of Black Hawk County Conservation noted the demolition work is expected to begin this week, depending on weather conditions. Because the bridge has become increasingly unstable in the past few months, it is imperative that persons stay off the bridge and away from the work zone as crews work to safely bring the bridge down.
During construction, trail users will still be able to enjoy the Cedar Valley Nature Trail from the McFarlane Park trailhead south towards Linn County or from Brett Klima Wildlife Area north to Evansdale and the Cedar Falls/Waterloo metropolitan areas.
Black Hawk County Conservation thanks the public for their cooperation and patience as they work to repair and improve the Cedar Valley Nature Trail. Work to remove the defective bridge is the first step to restoring complete access to the trail and must be completed before the new replacement bridge can be installed later this year.


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