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Today the Iowa Department of Revenue issued an Assessment Limitations Order, or "rollback," on property values in Iowa. The Order adjusts the property values used by local governments to compute property taxes for agricultural, residential, commercial, and industrial property used by local governments to compute property taxes. State law allows no more than a four percent (4%) increase in taxable values for these property classes from year to year in order to cushion the impact of inflation. The Order sets forth the following taxable values:

* The taxable value for residential property is 50.7518% of the assessed value. This is an increase from the 2010 level of 48.5299 %. (Residential assessed value in Iowa is $135.8 billion; the taxable value is $68.9 billion, which is 50.7518% of the assessed value.) Residential property includes farm dwellings.

* The taxable value for agricultural property is 57.5411% of the assessed value. This is a decrease from the 2010 level of 69.0152%. Agricultural property is assessed at its productivity value. (The 2011 assessed value is $47.6 billion; the taxable value is $27.4 billion, which is 57.5411% of the assessed value.)

* No adjustments were ordered for the commercial, industrial, railroad, and utility classes, because their assessed values did not increase enough to qualify for reductions. Utility property is limited to an 8% annual growth. Railroad property is adjusted by the lowest percentage applied to commercial, industrial, and utility property.

County auditors will apply the adjustments to each property class to compute the taxable values used for property taxes. Tax liabilities based on the 2011 taxable values and payable in fiscal year 2012-13 will not be determined until local taxing bodies establish their property tax needs early next year.

Additional information about the rollback can be found at: http://www.state.ia.us/tax/locgov/propequalroll.html Read more »

 

Apply now for entrepreneur scholarships. An application for scholarships from the National Federation of Independent Business' Young Entrepreneur Foundation is available online until Dec. 15. Since 2003, the organization has awarded 2,095 scholarships totaling $2,382,000 to graduating high school seniors. Last year, more than 4,500 students nationwide applied, and 131 scholarships were awarded. Iowa high school seniors wishing to apply for a 2012 scholarship can go online at http://www.nfib.com/yef.
An application for scholarships from the National Federation of Independent Business' Young Entrepreneur Foundation is available online until Dec. 15. Since 2003, the organization has awarded 2,095 scholarships totaling $2,382,000 to graduating high school seniors.

Last year, more than 4,500 students nationwide applied, and 131 scholarships were awarded. Iowa high school seniors wishing to apply for a 2012 scholarship can go online at http://www.nfib.com/yef. -The Business Record Read more »

 

The U.S. Department of Energy said that ethanol production rose to 916,000 barrels for the week ended Oct. 28, up from 909,000 barrels the previous week and the highest production week since the 922,000 gallons reported in mid-January.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s weekly supply report showed increases in U.S. petroleum supplies and what Chicago Board of Trade commentary said was an “unexpected build in gasoline supplies, up 1.4 million barrels to 206.3 million.”

The larger supplies of gasoline have helped pushed down the wholesale price of gasoline from $2.80 per gallon in mild-October to $2.62 per gallon Wednesday.

The lower wholesale gasoline price poses a potential problem for ethanol, which traded at $2.66 per gallon on the Chicago Board of Trade Wednesday. Blenders want less expensive ethanol to blend with regular unleaded gasoline.

Des Moines area gas station have lowered their prices by about a dime a gallon in the last two weeks to an average of $3.17 per gallon. -Des Moines Register, NOvember 3, 2011 Read more »

 

Some 40 members of Greene County Development Corporation (GCDC) and their guests heard presentations on development activities in the county at the organization's annual membership dinner meeting last Wednesday evening, October 26, at the Jefferson Elks Lodge.

GCDC vice president David Hoyt presided over the meeting. Making presentations were John Brunow about his All Ability Cycles business, Travis Warnke on the expansion of B&D Manufacturing into the former Chicago Rivet building, and Nancy Teusch on the Jefferson Matters Main Street community effort.

GCDC executive director Ken Paxton discussed activities of the organization over recent months.

"The members re-elected to additional three-year terms board members Norm Fandel, Mark Bauer, Hollie Roberts, Sid Jones, Doug McDermott and Travis Warnke. - Jefferson Herald Read more »

 

A major pledge of financial support to fund "Jefferson Matters," the community's program to spur economic development through historic preservation as part of Iowa's "Main Street" program, was made Wednesday, only a week after the fund's drive was initiated.

Jefferson's Home State Bank announced a three-year $30,000 commitment, to be paid in $10,000 annual increments on November 2.

"This place matters to Home State Bank," said Ben Yoder, the bank's executive vice president.

"From its inception 77 years ago," Yoder said, "Home State Bank has been actively involved in helping make community decisions locally. As a community bank we support the goals of Main Street in improving the economic development of our community through historic preservation. The long-term benefits of becoming a Main Street community will assist not only Jefferson, but all of Greene County as we work to improve out local economy."

"This generous pledge from a major business and longtime community supporter, coming at the beginning of our pledge drive is so important to the application process," said Jefferson Matters co-chair Chris Henning. "We appreciate the bank's leadership in fostering a successful effort to become a Main Street city."

Pledges will come due only if Jefferson's application to the Main Street program is approved, she said. "Pledges made now will support our application to the program, which is due in early December."

The application includes a projected three-year budget. Henning estimates that the annual budget will be $42,000, all of which must be raised locally. About half the yearly budget will be used to pay a part-time administrator who will facilitate planning and grant writing.

Announcement of cities chosen for the Main Street Program will come in February, 2012.

The state program assists communities with economic development by offering access to funding opportunities, mostly grants; custom advice; and opportunities to mirror communities that have reinvigorated their historic business districts through the Main Street program. - The Jefferson Herald Read more »

 

The city of Jefferson has just received word on "release of funds" for the successful $352,490 grant application from the Iowa Department of Economic Development (IDED). The grant awarded to the city will be used to rehabilitate the homes of low to moderate income families. The funds will enable the rehabilitation of a minimum of ten (10) owner occupied homes.

The Jefferson housing rehabilitation program goals are to eliminate health and safety hazards in the home, increase energy efficiency, minimize homeowner maintenance and expand the life of the home by 10 years. The assistance for the home repairs will be a grant provided as a 5 year forgivable lien to the homeowner.

All projects will be completed within a targeted area within city limits that covers most of the area east of Highway 4. The targeted area was determined based on the location of the respondents to a pre-application survey conducted last September. Those who responded will be sent a formal application in the mail. All homeowners who live east of Highway 4 may request an application by calling Cindy Rae McIntosh at 712-775-7822 or email cmcintosh@region12cog.org.

The successful applicant will meet an income eligibility test and are current on their property taxes and utilities. Eligible applicants will then be ranked according to need. If funds are available after the first round, assistance will be provided on a first-come first-served basis.

Eligible applicants who do not receive assistance through the city's grant program will be offered assistance through the Region XII Council of Governments low interest loan and grant programs.

The 2011 income limits for the rehabilitation program are as follows: One person $33,500; two persons $38,000; three persons $43,100; four persons $47,850; five persons $51,700; six persons $55,550; seven persons $59,350.

All applications must be returned to Region XII Council of Governments by November 30, 2011 to be considered for the program. -Jefferson Herald
Read more »

 

JOHNSTON, Iowa (Nov. 1, 2011) - The American Bankers Association (ABA) has elected Spirit Lake, Iowa banker Jeff Plagge to become its vice chairman for the 2011-2012 association year. Plagge is president of Northwest Financial Corp. in Arnolds Park.

Northwest Financial Corp. is a three bank holding company, owned by Neal and Dwight Conover and their families. The organization includes Northwest Bank of Spencer, IA, First National Bank of Sioux Center, IA. and First National Bank of Creston, IA. The three banks collectively hold $1.3 billion in assets and have 25 offices in Western Iowa and Omaha, NE. Other entities within Northwest Financial Corp. include Northwest Wealth Management, LLC and Northwest Credit Corporation.

The American Bankers Association represents banks of all sizes and charters and is a respected voice for the nation's $13 trillion banking industry and its two million employees. ABA's extensive legislative, legal, regulatory, conference and educational resources enhance the success of the nation's banks that strengthen America's economy and communities.

"Banks come in all types and sizes and ABA is the forum where the entire industry comes together to create solutions that will benefit everyone," said Plagge. "I look forward to representing the entire banking industry in this national leadership position. All of us in the banking industry understand our unique position to assist and guide consumers, small business owners, farmers and ranchers and commercial businesses to a more vibrant and successful economy."

Plagge has been active in volunteer activities at the community, state and national levels. He currently serves on the board of directors for Delta Dental of Iowa and Shazam, Inc. He is also a member of the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank Community Deposit Institution Advisory Council, the Wartburg College President's Advisory Board and the Okoboji Community Foundation. Plagge previously served on a number of ABA committees and task forces, including the ABA Board of Directors and as Chairman of the ABA Government Relations Council and the ABA Agricultural Committee. He is a former board member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and the former chairman of the Iowa Bankers Association.

About the Iowa Bankers Association

The Iowa Bankers Association (IBA) serves Iowa banks and savings institutions by providing legislative advocacy, training, regulatory compliance and services designed to enhance the ability of banks and savings institutions to serve their communities. Learn more at www.iowabankers.com.
Read more »

 

Appointments were made to the Library Board and the Zoning Board of Adjustment at the Scranton City Council meeting on October 11.
Mayor Rod Walker recommended appointing Craig and Stacy MacDonald, Sam Fengel and Marilyn Jacobsen to the Zoning Board of Adjustment. There is one vacancy on the five member Board that will be filled in the future.
Joining the Library Board of Trustees are Jan Morlan, John Abernathy and Linda Hoyt.
The nominations for both Boards were made by Mayor Walker and approved by the City Council.
Leesa Squibb presented the training report from AAI/ Spaulding prepared from the training inspection that took place at the Scranton gym recently.
DJ Byerly gave the monthly maintenance report. He discussed hauling out the debris piles, water leaks, closing the city park for the season, preparing equipment for winter, snow fence, community center maintenance and manhole covers. Jerry Boyd gave the monthly library report.
A special Class C Liquor License for Jerry B’s was approved pending dram shop approval. The business plans to open in early November at 1113 Main Street.
Two resolutions were tabled on the disposal of property due to an unexpected delay in the school board approving a property transfer resolution. A special meeting may be held in late October to consider the resolutions.
Attorney David Morain indicated he has received abstracts that were ordered for some properties in the abatement process. Legal work can now begin on the abandoned property located at 403 Lincoln Street.
The next regular meeting of the Council is scheduled for Tuesday, November 8. - Bayard News Gazette/Scranton Journal
Read more »

 

Earl Hafner, and his son, Jeff, will talk about their experiences adding an aquaponics facility to their farm, and demonstrate how to raise vegetables and fish together at the Practical Farmers of Iowa Field Day, on Friday, November 11, 1-5 pm.

Earlier this years, Earl and Jeff added a new farm enterprise, Early Morning Harvest, to their diversified cow-calf, hog, and certified organic corn and soybean operation. Early Morning Harvest produces vegetables in an aquaponics greenhouse, a diverse variety of garden-fresh vegetables, pastured poultry for egg production and flours made from certified-organic grains, including wheat, rye, buckwheat and cornmeal, which they also raise.

Aquaponics combines traditional aquaculture (raising fish in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water). Participants will learn about the advantages of aquaponics and how it can be used as a sustainable technique for growing food on any scale as Jeff shares on-farm research about the economic feasibility of this system.

"Aquaponics has only been in practice since the 90s, but it's catching on," says Jeff. "I'm going to lay it all out there. I'm going to talk openly about my successes and my failures and about the many different ways there are to do aquaponics. It really is a great way to grow food and income all year long, and this field is a good opportunity if someone wants to know more."

The field day will be held at Early Morning Harvest, 2425 Willow Avenue, Panora, IA 50216. To get there from the west: pass through Panora on Hwy 44. About 2 miles east of Panora turn right (south) onto Willow Avenue. Continue for 2.2 miles and the farm will be on the right. From the east: if heading south on 169 toward Adel, make a right at the 4 way stop sign onto Hwy 44. Travel approximately 15-17 miles to Willow Avenue. Make a left on Willow and head south for 2.2 miles. The farm will be on the right.

This event is free and open to the public. Please call the PFI office at 515-232-5661 for more information.

Jeff asks participants to please help him protect the plants and fish by wearing reasonably clean footwear and clothing (no caked on mud, manure, pollen or seeds). - Stuart Herald Read more »

 

Alliant Energy will lose its physical presence in Guthrie Center and the sooner the better, say Guthrie Center city officials.

Due to impending retirements, Alliant did not plan to close its facility on North First Street for two to three years. However, the process has been hastened by a request from the city to make the Alliant building, constructed in 1994, available as soon as possible.

After hearing a rumor Alliant may be abandoning the building in several years, mayor Dennis Kunkle contacted Alliant area operations manager Mark Colton of Perry. Upon learning there was substance to the rumor, Kunkle asked if Alliant would consider vacating the building, adjacent to the current fire hall, sooner rather than later.

The reason for the unusual request is the building could be the answer to the community's need for an expanded fire hall to house new, larger fire fighting equipment. A new fire hall had been talked about for several years and in the past year the city had acquired property west of the current fire hall for anticipated expansion. A structural engineer was hired this summer to map out a building design.

Now, however, things have changed with the confirmation of Alliant's departure from the community. Fire chief Doug Kent has inspected the facility and believes it would meet the department's needs.

While the likelihood may be remote, Kunkle asked Alliant officials to consider donating the building for use as a fire hall.

Colton said real estate personnel from Alliant were in Guthrie Center Monday with a commercial broker to try to place a value on the building. He also indicated a third party opinion will be obtained.

"We would like to know Alliant's intentions as son as possible," Kunkle told Colton. "We'll soon start our budgeting and planning process for 2012 and we want to know the status of the building."

Kunkle said he hoped Alliant moves faster on this request than it did for donation of a small triangular piece of property west of the present fire hall. "That's taken two years," he stated. When in Guthrie Center Monday, Alliant officials finally delivered the paperwork for the land transfer.

Alliant and its predecessors have a lengthy history in Guthrie Center. The Guthrie Center Electric Light Company was organized in 1903 and was purchased by Iowa Electric Light and Power Co. in 1916. Iowa Electric maintained a downtown office until August 1986.

Colton said four employees are assigned to the Guthrie Center service facility. They are senior projects engineer Bob Van Roekel, journeyman lineman Duane Norgart, combination journeyman (gas and electric) Dan Nickell, all Guthrie Center, and meter technician Chris Hastings of Panora.

Colton said Nickell is the 24/7 responder for Guthrie Center and the surrounding area and will continue to be when the Alliant facility is eventually closed.

Alliant sold all its transmission lines several years ago and the company has undergone significant restructuring since that time. Colton indicated closing the Guthrie Center facility is something that probably wouldn't have been considered if Alliant still owned transmission lines.

"Eventually we won't have a building here, but we'll still have a presence here," stated Colton. - Guthrie Center Times. Read more »

 

Iowa banks continued to outperform the rest of the nation in 2010, according to the recent data released bu the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). The 2010 year-end earnings for institutions with a banking charter in Iowa climbed to $487 million, a 23 percent increase over the prior year, moving the industry closer to a more normal earnings level and a 0.75 percent return on assets. The FDIC also showed that 93 percent of Iowa's 360 bank charters were profitable in the fourth quarter of 2010, compared to 79 percent nationally.

"The continued strong performance reflects sound loan underwriting and a commitment to providing products that best serve the interests of Iowa borrowers," said John Sorensen, president and CEO of the Iowa Bankers Association. "Improving asset quality and increasing capital levels have helped solidify the base for making new loans to bolster Iowa's economy going forward."

Sorensen said Iowa banks have continued their commitment to support consumer, agricultural and commercial business credit needs by funding $42.8 billion in loans. This is off just 4 percent from the high set at the end of 2008, despite caution on the part of consumers and business during this time.

The FDIC report shows that loan quality continues to improve for Iowa banks, as non-current loans fell to 1.79 percent of total loans- less than half of the national average. Iowa bank equity capital grew to 6.5 billion during the period.

In addition, the report shows that deposits in Iowa banks have continued to grow. "Bank deposits grew by 3 percent during 2010 as consumers continued to appreciate the value of federal deposit insurance and the benefits of doing business with their local bank," Sorensen said., noting that banks with charters in Iowa currently manage $53.5 billion of Iowans' deposits.

Sorensen also noted that Iowa banks added 46 new employees in the fourth quarter of 2010, which can be attributed to efforts to keep up with the increasing regulatory burden banks are facing as a result of the Dodd-Frank Act that became law in July. -Guthrie County Times

Read more »

 

Rardin Family Chiropractic PC is now open for business, replacing the Jensens at Jensen Family Chiropractic, in Greenfield.

Dr. Josh Rardin practices ABC Techniques along with Gonstead and Diversified. He attended Northwest Missouri State University along with Iowa State University for his undergraduate education. He graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 2006. After being injured while working construction, he began treatment under chiropractic care. His improvement lead to his decision to become a Doctor of Chiropractic.

Dr. Lisa Rardin practices Activator Method with her goal being able to serve the community and help families lead brighter, happier and healthy lives. She was born and raised on a farm in Iowa. She completed her undergraduate work at University of Northern Iowa and her chiropractic education at Palmer College of Chiropractic in 2007.

Drs. Josh and Lisa have three children, who they enjoy spending time with, along with friends, when they are not in the office. - Adair County Free Press

Read more »

 

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University recently recognized its scholarship recipients for this academic year.

The college and its departments award more than 1,000 scholarships totaling more than $1.5 million in scholarships. Students interested in enrolling in the college and applying for scholarships should go to www.ag.iastate.edu/scholarships/.

Along with scholarship support for the students, the college continued its record enrollment numbers and placement rate. The latest survey of graduates from the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences found that 98.2 percent were employed, furthering their education or serving in the military. In October the college hosted the largest agricultural career fair in the nation with more than 1,600 students and 175 members attending.

Award winners include: Bayard- Brady Eischeid, sophomore, Ward E. Salisbury Agricultural Scholarship; Casey- Shane Murphy, freshman, Future of Agriculture Scholarship Program; Guthrie Center- Dustin Clark, freshman, Farm and Home Supply Inc. Scholarships; William Frels, freshman, Future of Agriculture Scholarship Program; Jamaica- Meaghan Bryan, senior, Kiley and Marie Powers Scholarship Program in the Plant Sciences; Stuart- Gregory Dudley, freshman, Younkers Farm-Aid Scholarships. - Guthrie Center Times Read more »

 

Hoping to harness Iowa’s business know-how, Gov. Terry Branstad on Monday appointed 18 executives to two new economic development groups that will help develop the state’s strategic approach for job creation.

Leaders from Principal Financial Group, Rockwell Collins and Pioneer Hi-Bred were among members Branstad named to the Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress and the Iowa Innovation Corp., the last two pieces of the governor’s public-private approach to economic development.

The partnership will provide broad strategic guidance on key industries, including advanced manufacturing, financial services and technology, while the innovation group will focus on sparking startups and developing innovative products. About 100 Iowans applied to serve on the boards.

Branstad said he wanted to leverage private business savvy to find new business opportunities, create more jobs and increase incomes for Iowa families. Branstad has set the goals of creating 200,000 new jobs and increasing family incomes 25 percent, both over the next five years.

“It’s a very competitive worldwide situation, and we’re trying to position ourselves as beneficially as possible. It’s the private sector that will grow the Iowa economy. We need to make sure that state government is not in the way” with unwieldy tax or regulatory barriers, Branstad said.

Some of the partnership appointees also were large donors to Branstad’s election campaign. Among them: Toby Shine, president of Shine Brothers, who gave $60,000; CRST International chairman John Smith donated $55,147; Mary Andringa, CEO of Vermeer Corp., $40,407; and Roger Underwood, co-founder of Becker-Underwood, $25,220.

The executive-led groups will help state leaders identify “emerging markets and competitive forces in a global economy so we can get ahead of them,” said Debi Durham, the state’s economic development leader, at a news conference Monday.

For example, new partnership board member Larry Zimpleman, Principal’s CEO, said the financial services company has been working for a decade to develop its business in growing markets like China, India and Brazil. With the world population hitting 7 billion, “we have an exploding middle-income class that are going to want the same consumer financial services products that we in the United States have grown up with,” he said.

“We need very smart people” to develop the markets and products, Zimpleman said. “It does bring good jobs to Iowa.”

Robert Riley, chief executive of Feed Energy Co. in Des Moines who is a new member of the Iowa Innovation Corp., said the business leaders should provide the state with “high-level intelligence.”

“These larger companies give us the ability to see further out. It will help us identify new things coming down the pipeline,” he said.

Shine, the leader of a Spencer-based metal recycler, agreed. The new partnership board member said the state can benefit from Iowa businesses’ worldwide connections and information — from determining how best to market Iowa in different countries to developing suppliers here. Read more »

 

Corn ethanol producers are joining with firms developing the next generation of biofuels to lobby lawmakers to include a variety of financial incentives in the new farm bill.

But the biofuels industry is finding that the tight budget and the failure of solar-panel maker Solyndra aren’t making it easy to make the case for additional government aid.

The 2008 farm bill created a web of new programs for biofuels, including loan guarantees for processing plants and subsidies that have been used to upgrade service station pumps and to encourage farms to grow grasses and other feedstocks that can be used instead of grain to make fuel.

All of the programs will expire next year unless Congress renews them, so the biofuels industry wants to get money for them inserted into a farm bill that is hurriedly being drafted by leaders of the Senate and House agriculture committees.

The farm bill is being designed to be included in a deficit-reduction plan that a congressional supercommittee is charged with writing. Spending on programs in the farm bill would be cut by a total of $23 billion over 10 years under the agriculture committees’ plans.

“It’s not a pretty picture for anybody in the farm bill, including us,” said Lloyd Ritter, a former aide to Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Ia., who is co-director of the Agriculture Energy Coalition.

The 2008 farm bill authorized an estimated $1.1 billion in spending for energy programs through next year.

The agriculture committees have released no details about their bill, but Ritter said he was fairly confident it would have an energy section.

“What it looks like will be the big question. Nothing in this policy and budgetary environment is a sure thing right now,” he said.

Different segments of the industry have different priorities. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, which represents corn ethanol makers in the No. 1 ethanol state, wants Congress to extend an Agriculture Department program that has provided subsidies for service stations to install pumps that can dispense gasoline with higher ethanol content than conventional equipment can.

The group also wants to loosen up rules for the subsidies so that pumps can be funded in urban as well as rural areas, where the money is now earmarked. The goal is to get motorists to put more ethanol in their cars.

“We need to create market access,” said Monte Shaw, the Iowa group’s executive director.

Companies that want to make biofuels from non-grain feedstocks such as grasses, wood or municipal waste are more interested in extending a USDA loan guarantee program.

But an early beneficiary of the program, Range Fuels, has already shut down its Georgia project. The failure of Solyndra, which had a $535 million loan guarantee from the Energy Department, hasn’t helped the biofuel industry’s cause.

“The politics around loan guarantees have obviously become trickier in the last couple of months,” said Brooke Coleman, executive director of the Advanced Ethanol Council.

Loan guarantees are critical to companies that continue to struggle to attract private capital, Coleman said.

In a speech in Iowa last Monday laying out the Obama administration’s farm bill priorities, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made a pitch for two of the expiring energy programs: the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, which subsidizes the production of next-generation feedstocks such as switchgrass, and the Rural Energy for America Program that Vilsack has been using to subsidize new service station pumps. He didn’t mention the loan guarantee program.

“I recognize that the assistance we provide to this industry will likely be more targeted and more limited in the future, but we have momentum in many areas of the country to focus on nonfood feedstocks that will allow us to expand the production of advanced biofuels,” Vilsack said. “I’m committed to working with Congress to build on that momentum.” Read more »

 

The Better Business Bureau serving greater Iowa, Quad Cities and Siouxland Region is pleased to announce that JJS Service and Repair, LLC, in Audubon is approved and accepted for BBB Accreditation. BBB Accreditation is voluntary and businesses must meet and maintain BBB standards. The business review for JJS Service and Repair can be found at www.iowa.bbb.org.

Jim and Joyce Nichol are owners of the company. The business offers electrical, plumbing, heating, cooling, refrigeration and appliance service and repairs. The business is located at 407 S. Park Place in Audubon. - Audubon County Advocate Journal Read more »

 

Iowa's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dipped slightly to 6.0 percent in September from 6.1 percent in August. The current rate is also lower than one year ago when the state's unemployment rate was reported at 6.2 percent. Meanwhile, Iowa's jobless rate is more than three percentage points lower than the U.S. unemployment rate, which remained at 9.1 percent in September.

"Iowa has consistently been better on economic footing than most states with an unemployment rate holding in the low six percent," said Teresa Wahlert, director of Iowa Workforce Development. "However, we recognize that 100,000 Iowans are still unemployed and the department continually works to connect unemployed workers with our current opportunities throughout the state. Most notably, we have ramped up efforts with direct outreach to Iowans when area employers are looking to hire a significant quantity of individuals into jobs with high wages and excellent benefits."

The statewide estimate of unemployed workers dropped to 100,400 in September from 101,500 in August, and was 3,000 lower than the year ago level of 103,400.

The total number of working Iowans fell to a new current year low of 1,560,900 in September from 1,563,200 in August. Total employment stood at 1,567,700 in September 2010. Employment conditions have weakened in all regions across the country since mid-year due to uncertainty regarding government policy and global economic trends.

Total nonfarm employment dropped 5,700 jobs in September, lowering employment to 1,482,200. A sizable portion of the monthly loss (2,100) was in the government sectors due to downsizing that is occurring nationwide, not just in Iowa. Compared to last year, six of nine private super sectors remain positive.

Trade and transportation represented the largest gain in September, up 1,400 jobs. Retail trade added 1,200 jobs, fueling most of the hiring in the sector. Leisure and hospitality posted the largest drop in September, down 2,300 jobs. This was the result of summer recreational activities ending early this season. Despite this month's drop, leisure and hospitality advanced by 6,400 jobs since September 2010. Government reflected the second-largest monthly drop at 2,100; most of the decrease was concentrated in local government. Manufacturing decreased by 1,000 jobs due to a drop in nondurable goods factories. Other drops occurred in professional and business services (-800), other services (-700), information (-400), and construction (-300).

Total nonfarm employment remains up 18,000 jobs compared to September 2010, an increase of 1.2 percent. Trade and transportation and leisure and hospitality led the year-over-year job gains, adding 6,500 and 6,400, respectively. Manufacturing was also a main driver, up 4,800 jobs from one year ago. Health services fueled all of the gains in education and health services, which grew by 4,300 jobs. Construction, a sector that experienced deep job cuts due to the housing downturn, posted an annual gain of 2,400. Financial services reported the largest loss (-2,200), followed by other services (-2,000) and government (-2,000). - Adair News, October 27, 2011 Read more »

 

On Tuesday, October 18, faculty, staff, and students of West Central Valley High School put on orange safety vests, slipped on work gloves, and grabbed trash bags to take part in their first cleaning of the White Pole Road in front of the new school. Pictured are, front row seated, from left, John Stiles, Marcus Claire, Jackson Doud, Jeff Pease, Rafael Bejar, standing, Lucas Love, Reyna Godfroy, Ben College, Morgan Moore, McKayla Moore, Justine Dowden-Parrott, Jenna Carmicheal, back, Jared Trent, Ranissa Draper, Leighton Coppick and Emmy Godfroy.

Ad part of WCV's Adopt a Highway program, these young men and women took time out of their afternoon to help clean a mile stretch of the highway. A total of eight large bags and seven medium bags were collected from the ditches that run along the highway. One student commented, "Man, I'm going to think twice about throwing junk out of my window."

The students worked hard, and the staff was pleased, After the clean-up, a grill-out featuring cheeseburgers and sodas was interspersed with discussion regarding the importance of community and giving back to it. WCV High School plans to conduct this project twice each year with the next time scheduled for the spring. -Stuart Herald Read more »

 

Black Hills Energy Weatherization Teams are in the community creating potential energy savings and increased comfort by weatherizing houses at no charge for homeowners selected because they can't perform the task themselves due to age, health or physical limitations. The effort also promotes awareness that almost anyone can apply simple, low-cost weatherization measures in a weekend afternoon and gain energy savings all year.

"Helping our customers use energy wisely is an important component of our overall service," said Nick Gardner, Black Hills Energy Operations manager. "You can reduce drafts and cut energy loss by having the furnace cleaned and inspected, replacing filters on schedule, and using weather-stripping, caulk, expanding foam, window plastic, outlet gaskets, hot water pipe insulation and other do-it-yourself measures."

By collaborating with local organizations and businesses, Black Hills Energy is able to weatherize more homes. This year the company has partnered with local groups to weatherize approximately 110 homes in communities across Iowa where Black Hills Energy provides natural gas service.

The Black Hill Energy weatherization effort is part of a company-wide undertaking- employees across the organization's multi-state electric and natural gas service territory are weatherizing homes in other communities Black Hills Energy serves. In Iowa, the company partners with the Iowa Community Action Association to identify candidates for the weatherization assistance. Selected homes are then inspected by Black Hills Energy professionals to determine each home's requirements.

Black Hills Energy also helps customers manage their natural gas bill with its Budget Billing option, which reduces the amount due during the cold peak usage months by distributing the total out over the year and providing a level monthly bill. Through its Black Hills Cares energy assistance program, the company matched customer and employee donations and forwards the total to local agencies to help qualifying customers. Bill stubs feature a pledge box for designating a monthly or one-time donation. In Iowa, the Iowa Community Action Association disburses Black Hills Cares fund.

And in Iowa, energy efficiency incentives are available, beginning with a free home energy evaluation. Rebates can help pay for insulation and energy efficient doors, appliances and furnaces. More information is available at www.BHEHowTo.com or by calling 888-567-0799. - Scranton Journal, October 26, 2011. Read more »

 

Ground was broken for the Coon Rapids-Bayard school district's new Early-childhood and Primary Grade Center just a day after school official relished some good news in regards to financing the new 14,115 sq. ft. facility. Four bids were received with interest rates ranging from 3.2% to 3.67%. The district sold the revenue bonds in the amount of $3,105,000 to Northland Securities which is charging the district an average of 3.202660% over 18.5 years. The low interest rate, when compared to the projected rate, is expected to save the district $250,000 over the payback period. That also helped lessen the sting of higher payback than expected construction costs. -Guthrie Center Times, October 26, 2011 Read more »

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