Category: View Point

ViewPoint: Cost of wind projects continues steady decline

By Cody Smith, Center for Rural Affairs
The U.S. wind industry is booming—expanding from 1.5 gigawatts of cumulative installed capacity in 1998 to 96.4 gigawatts of installed capacity in 2018.
At the same time, the cost of these projects continues to go down. According to the newly-released 2018 Wind Market Technologies Report from the U.S. Department of Energy, the average cost of constructing a wind energy project in 1983 was $4,478 per kilowatt hour. In 2018, the cost dropped to just $1,468 per kilowatt hour.
This stunning $3,010 decrease per kilowatt hour is indicative of the growth of the industry as the U.S. transitions to a clean energy economy.
Looking ahead, the country is poised to add more than 68 additional gigawatts of wind power capacity. This growth is necessary as the U.S. looks to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, the U.S. ranks 16th for installed wind power capacity, with 6.5 percent of U.S. power coming from renewable wind energy.
As this growth continues to compound and prices of production keep falling, our communities have an opportunity to continue realizing the benefits of wind energy. Tax revenue generation and job creation bring new opportunities to rural America. Last year, wind projects generated approximately $761 million in total tax payments to state and local governments. Meanwhile, the industry supports 140 turbine and component manufacturing facilities nationwide.
As market forces continue to favor renewable energy over fossil fuels, rural America has an opportunity to stake its claim in a clean energy economy.

ViewPoint: BHC Health Dept. observes National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, Oct. 23-26

The Black Hawk County Health Department is pleased to recognize National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, October 20-26, 2019. The Health Department will host and participate in outreach and educational activities designed to raise local awareness about the danger of lead exposure and poisoning and educate parents on how to reduce exposure to lead in their environment, prevent its serious health effects, and learn about the importance of testing children for lead.
National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The goal is to encourage organized, local community events, and to empower families and other stakeholders to take action. Black Hawk County Health Department Healthy Homes Coordinator, Andrea Magee says, “Lead prevention and abatement are so important to our county because of the number of homes built prior to 1978. We intend to increase awareness this week which we hope will carry through the rest of the year so residents know the importance of testing for and repairing the hazards of lead based paint.”
About 3.6 million American households have children under 6 years of age who live in homes with lead exposure hazards. According to the CDC, about 500,000 American children between ages of 1 and 5 years have blood lead levels greater than or equal to the level of blood reference value, the level at which CDC recommends public health actions.
Lead can be found inside and outside the home, including in the water that travels through lead pipes or in the soil around the house. However, the most common source of exposure is from lead-based paint, which was used in many homes built before 1978. Adults and children can get lead into their bodies by breathing in the lead dust (especially during activities such as renovations, repairs or painting) or by swallowing lead dust that settles in food, food preparation surfaces, floors, window sills, and other places, or eating paint chips or soil that contain lead.
Children can also become exposed to lead dust from adults’ jobs or hobbies, and from some metal toys or toys painted with lead-based paint. Children are not exposed equally to lead, nor suffer its consequences in the same way. These disparities unduly burden minority families and low-income families and their communities.
The problem is largely preventable with increased testing and education. Follow the Black Hawk County Health Department’s Facebook and Twitter pages for informational links, videos and printable posters you can use to help spread the word and encourage more testing and education.
For more information on National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week 2019, please visit http://www.co.black-hawk.ia.us/264/Childhood-Lead-Poisoning-Prevention-Prog

ViewPoint: Central Rivers AEA plays active role in state’s mental health plan

By Dr. Dana Miller, Central Rivers AEA
Following an announcement by Gov. Kim Reynolds that Iowa will invest $2.1 million to address the mental health needs of the state’s school-aged children, Iowa’s nine Area Education Agencies (AEAs) have shifted into high gear to provide support.
Central Rivers Area Education Agency (AEA) has already trained over 400 teachers in youth mental health first aid, a nationally recognized curriculum that teaches about risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, and promotes early intervention to support students who need assistance. In addition, the agency is working with over 20 school districts in the area to form consortiums to employ additional school social workers who can work directly with students with mental health concerns. The agency will lead the project by providing training and ongoing support. In 2020-21, “therapeutic classrooms” or safe spaces for students with mental health challenges to learn will be rolled out.
Consider these important statistics:
One in five children and adolescents have or will have signs of a mental health disorder during the duration of a year
Half of all lifetime cases of mental health disorders begin by 14 years of age
Only 20% of children with mental health disorders receive treatment
Of students who receive services 70-80% of students obtain them through the school
In a classroom of 25 students, 15 were exposed to violence in the past year, six were victims of crime.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth nationally. In Iowa, 21% of youth surveyed reported that they have seriously comptemplated suicide.
Central Rivers AEA has prioritized meeting the well-being needs of students and provides supports and services to schools, students and families. Services are based on a comprehensive, whole child approach that includes proactive/prevention supports, intervention supports and crisis response to truly meet the needs.
The recent funding appropriation is not the first time the AEAs have been tapped to help with the challenge of supporting mental wellness for students. During the 2018 legislative session, a new requirement was put in place to require a one-hour, annual training for all educators in suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention. The AEA system developed AEA Learning Online Suicide Prevention, Intervention and Postvention Training in response to that requirement.
Dr. Dana Miller is a School Psychologist with Central Rivers Area Education Agency (CRAEA) based in Cedar Falls. She can be reached at dmiller@centralriversaea.org. Central Rivers AEA serves over 65,000 students in 18 counties of Iowa.

ViewPoint: Let’s work together to support our state’s students

By Sam Miller, Chief Administrator, Central Rivers Area Education Agency
With the school year back in full swing, this is a great time to talk about the importance of parent and community involvement in our local schools. Researchers, educators and policymakers alike have all noted the importance of parent involvement as a key factor in helping students learn at their highest levels.
But what does involvement and support look like? How can you give your child, and your child’s school, the best chance of success? Here are three ways to help:
Open up the lines of communication with your child’s teachers. Make contact early and let them know that you are their partner this year. Be sure to indicate your preferences regarding how you wish to be contacted and explain that you want to hear not just concerns, but also good news, about how your child is performing. If your child is struggling, reach out early and be honest about your concerns. If you are having difficulty helping your child at home with homework or behavior expectations, let that be known as well. Your perspective is critical and sharing information back and forth between home and school can be extremely valuable in problem solving.
Back away from social media and talk directly with teachers and school administrators when you have concerns or something positive to share. Ask any teacher, principal or superintendent today and they will tell you how weary they are from social media posts. In many school districts, well-intentioned parent groups have turned into the first place some parents turn when they have a complaint. Others join in and the story spirals downward due to a lack of factual information and interest in common ground. Sometimes school officials don’t even know what has been written and later get blindsided by a disgruntled group who seem to “know” everything about a situation. Ask yourself whether you would want to be treated the same way and also whether this behavior does anything to really help the situation. I’ve heard countless stories regarding the distraction this has become to the hard work of educating students today.
Recognize the challenges local school districts are facing–especially in our rural areas. I recently saw a map that showed the shifts in population in our state and the projections for the coming decade. Generally, the trend shows Iowans moving closer to four main urban centers and away from our rural areas which means fewer “per pupil” dollars for school districts with declining student enrollment. This creates a secondary problem for many rural school districts which is the difficulty of recruiting and retaining teachers. It’s not uncommon to hear school administrators talk about having only one or two applicants for hard to fill positions or seeing teachers stay for a short time and move on. Combine these two factors with the increasing behavior and mental health needs of many students and you quickly realize why many school districts are feeling stretched. As parents and community members, consider acknowledging these very real challenges and advocating for your school district with legislators and others who can make a difference. Without quality teachers in the classroom and adequate funding, student learning can indeed suffer.
A friend with school-age children recently commented to me that, “raising kids today isn’t easy work given everything happening in society.” Neither is educating them. We’ll all be of greater service to the children of our state when we are on the same team and communicating in healthy ways. Parents and community–we need you!

ViewPoint: ‘Get Your Walk On’ with the Healthiest State Initiative on October 2

By Jami Haberl, Executive Director, Iowa Healthiest State Initiative
We’ve got a big goal this year, Iowans, and we need your help to achieve it. The Healthiest State Annual Walk is celebrating its ninth year. To celebrate, our goal is to have walks registered in all 99 counties across the state with a total of (at least) 900 walks.
Help us reach our goal and take a step in the right direction for your health by walking for 30 minutes on October 2. The Annual Walk is an opportunity for your school, workplace or community group to join thousands of other Iowans in a collective effort to improve the wellness of our state.
The Annual Walk is a great reminder for Iowans to incorporate physical activity, like walking, into their daily routines. Walking is the easiest, most affordable and accessible form of physical activity to improve our health. It increases our cardiovascular health and leads to stronger bones and improved balance.
Walking is also great for our mental health. Exercise releases endorphins which have a positive effect on our mood. Walking can also help reduce stress and anxiety. The next time you are feeling overwhelmed or unfocused – try taking a short walk to clear your mind.
Lastly, we walk together on October 2 to connect with other members of our communities and improve our social health. The Annual Walk is a great way connect with others. Invite a friend, family member or neighbor to walk with you – by walking with them, you will both reap the physical, mental and social benefits.
Want to join us? There may already be a walk planned in your community or you can register your own walk on behalf of a school, workplace, organization or group of individuals. View a map of planned walks or register your own at www.IowaHealthiestState.com/Walk.
Registering a walk is as easy as 1-2-3:
Register! Registration is free and easy. Register early to increase your chances to win prizes and build excitement.
Organize! Your walk can be as simple or spectacular as you’d like it to be! Walk over your lunch break or in the evening time — whenever is most convenient for your group.
Get the word out! The Healthiest State Initiative has free online resources to help make your walk a success, including social media posts and graphics, communication templates, posters and print-your-own stickers!
Join us on October 2 to improve your own physical, mental and social health along with being part of a greater effort to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation. If you do walk with us, please share on social media using #GetYourWalkOn2019. We appreciate your support in helping us reach our goal, one walk at a time.

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