Thursday, June 18, 2009

City Takes Out $37,880 Loan for Pool

The Grant City Council, after some number crunching, voted to take out a $37,880 loan to pay off the bill from the pool renovation project. The loan will be from the Great Western Bank at an annual interest rate of 6% and will cost the city up to around $2,000 per year annually until it is paid off. The Pool Renovation Committee can commit funds raised from donations to pay off part of the loan, which would lower the interest that the city would be required to pay; the committee is still doing fundraisers and seeking donations for the pool. In addition, the city voted to commit $15,000 from the Street Light Fund, leaving them with around $41,000 left; council members wanted to keep it for other possible emergencies. Charity Austin of the Downtown Development Association agreed to chip in $5,000 and Cathy James, who serves on the Pool Renovation Committee, agreed to chip in $5,000 out of an estimated $8,000 left in the Pool Committee's funds. That will pay off all of the estimated $62,880 from the Pool Renovation Committee.
The pool reopened this week with hours from 11-7 and is planning a grand opening later this month. There was a leak reported, but it was from a pipe and not from the newly-restored pool. The council voted to move the hours to 12-8, saying that it would allow people who worked during the day to have more time at the pool with their families. The advantage of closing at seven was that it would allow for more private parties. The city will send information about the new pool hours and rates along with the monthly billing statement along with a note of thanks for the community support.
The next pool project for the city will be the repair of the baby pool. The council voted to commit up to $1,000 to put Rhino lining in the pool and the city will call around and check to see who would be willing to put the lining in. Economic Developer Charity Austin said that she would see if the Boy Scouts would be interested in providing volunteer work for the project. A new diving board has been put into the pool.
The council will meet with Craig McNeese, who reported that the water from recent rainstorms was running into his building instead of out into the street and into the drain. The sidewalk in front of each business is the business person's responsibility; however, the city has helped owners in the past with these projects. One possibility was to put in a ditch or trench; another was to raise the sidewalk. Another was to include the project with the Downtown Renovation Project, which is still tied up in Washington.
The city received a letter from State Senator Brad Lager asking what projects that they wished to pursue. Calculations done for Grant City showed that the water rate for that city for 5,000 gallons would need to be $49 as opposed to the current $34.60 per month that customers are paying if the city were to apply for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for any water projects. The median income for Grant City is currently $29,443. That was something Councilwoman Cathy James said she would be reluctant to support, citing what she called poor water quality. In addition, if Grant City were to join the Northwest Missouri Wholesale Water Commission, they would have to impose a $3 annual surcharge to each customer to cover dues; currently, there are between 429 and 437 customers. The cost of repairing the Middlefork connection to the city would be an estimated $850,000. The maximum that the city could get from a CDBG would be $375,000, which means that the city would have to find other sources of funding to match a CDBG.

Currently, the USDA is offering a low-interest loan program, while the city agreed to commit $100,000 in water reserves out of $166,000 total for any possible match.
Specifically, Lager expressed interest in infrastructure need needs and facilities. The city would need to come up with estimates and timelines; Austin said that she would handle the paperwork. The three priorities for the city as listed by council members were water line replacement, an emergency water source, and street paving and wastewater. The council also voted to go ahead and pursue a possible combined CDBG/USDA funding plan for the five-mile water line.

Bill Dierenfeldt came to the council and reported that the current health insurance policy that the city uses would be terminated on August 31 because it was bought up by another insurance company. That means that the city would have to transfer over to a new plan. He reported that he had found a similar plan to the current one that cost slightly less than the current plan and offered two alternatives to the current plan. Dierenfeldt will meet with city employees to discuss the options and the council will decide on a plan at next month's board meeting.

Code Enforcement Officer Patsy Worthington reported that she sent out six initial letters of violation, of which four were dealt with. She reported that she had sent out ten second notices, of which five were dealt with. She reported that she had talked to nine other people, of which four issues were resolved. She reported that three property owners had been referred to David B. Parman for prosecution.

Worthington reported that Randy Perdew of Bedford was willing to take junk cars off of peoples' property for free and then sell them for scrap metal and pay a commission. She reported that Carolyn Harke of Gentry would demolish peoples' abandoned homes for free and take salvage lumber out of the houses for use in other projects. She reported that one resident had bought up their neighbor's abandoned home and was planning to tear the house down.

Councilman Bruce Downing then asked Worthington why she was targeting businesses with ordinance violations. Worthington responded that it was not fair to the residents to target only them and not the businesses. Regarding the letters, she said that her practice was to talk to people informally about their problems and that if she could not get a hold of them, she would follow up with letters of violation. Bridget Gibson asked her why she had not targeted Supinger's shop; Worthington responded that her job was part-time involving 10 hours a week and that she had to prioritize. "But that creates the illusion or appearance of selective enforcement," responded Gibson. "He's going to get a letter," responded Mayor Debbie Roach.

"I see Dobbs doing actual business," said Gibson. Downing said that he didn't see how Dobbs could be considered an eyesore. Worthington responded that she had found two people willing to haul off Dobbs' tires and Roach said that there were two unlicensed pickups sitting on his property that didn't run. Worthington said that Dobbs could stack the tires in the back of his shop where they would not be seen, and they would be fine.

Charity Austin then said that, "We need to think about our stance on this, because if we target the businesses, they could move elsewhere." Mayor Roach responded that, "We can enforce the ordinances on all of the people here, or none of them." City Attorney David B. Parman said that it was a matter of the council letting him and Worthington do their jobs. "I don't think that Patsy should have to come and make a report and generate debate," said Parman. "I'm the one who decides whether or not to file charges, and you have to let me and her do our jobs. And it was not appropriate for Charity to criticize Patsy for doing her job when she was not present to defend herself." Austin responded, "That’s my job as Economic Developer."

Mayor Roach said that the way the city was handing things was the same way that Albany, Stanberry, and most other communities in the region were handling ordinance violations. "The guidelines for handling violations are right in the ordinance. We can't pick and choose between people and businesses. I owned a business myself, and I took pride in the way that it looked. Any business should be concerned with how they present themselves." Austin responded that "I completely understand that, but people have trouble paying the bills. When we tried to set up a recycling program, we found that nobody would come and pick it up; we had to haul it ourselves." Mayor Roach said that was not the case in this instance and that there were people who would come and pick up junk cars. "It's not like we don't have that option," she said. "I’ll grant she has not gotten to everyone yet. But she will."

Councilman Dennis Downing said that under the Sunshine Law, people had a right to know what Worthington was doing and whom she was targeting for ordinance violations. But Parman said that would be like Sheriff Sheddrick having to get approval from the County Commission before writing a speeding ticket. "You will know who the people we are targeting are when charges are filed," he said.

Gibson said that, "people expect information" and that a letter merely stating that someone had a nuisance was too vague. Parman responded that, "If I get a letter, I can call Patsy any time and she can tell me what the problem is. I don't think that you need to know every step of the process." Mayor Roach said that, for instance, Cameron's Code Enforcement Officer reports the number of violations that he logs. "For instance, they report 45 vehicle violations and 155 nuisance ordinance violations. That's all they report. They don't name names."

The city awarded the contract to demolish the house just north of City Hall to Roy Claypool. The city will replace it with a building for storage. Porter will provide a dumpster for the city to put debris in for $250 per month.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Assessing Hail Injury to Crops

Several fields across the area experienced hail damage from the past couple of storms. This has led to concerns about the survival of plants and impact on yield.
The growing point on corn is below ground until five leaf collars are visible. Corn will generally re-grow from hail damage before this growth stage.
Later the plant elongates nodes and the growing point moves above the soil surface. For the next weeks, the corn plant becomes more vulnerable to injury from hail with the maximum injury occurring at tassel and then lessens as the plant moves towards maturity.
Data indicates that even with 100 percent defoliation, there will be less than an 11 percent yield loss up through the eight leaf stage. At the 12th leaf stage, 100 percent defoliation will result in 28 percent yield loss. At tassel, 100 percent defoliation will result in 100 percent yield loss.
To evaluate the location and health of the growing point, make a horizontal cut through the corn plant and look for the "small triangle" near the base of the plant or with taller corn, it will be elevated above the soil surface. The tissue should be white in the center.
Sometimes even though the growing point was not cut off, diseases set in after the hail and causes rot to occur. Also, stripped leaves can cause the plant to have a mangled twisted mess of leaves. Often, the plant will push through this. Most of the time, it will take 3-4 days with sunshine to see regrowth and if cloudy, often longer.
Lodged plants with stalks cut will continue to lodge. The depth of the cuts along with bruising makes the impact of this injury difficult to predict its impact on yield.
Soybeans have their growing points above the soil when they emerge. Plants cut off below the cotyledons will not regrow. If plants are broken off above the cotyledons, there is a bud in the axil between the cotyledon and stem and between the unifoliate and trifoliate leaves. Most of the time, the stem will produce new growth. Often it takes about 4-7 days to see regrowth.
If soybeans have been cut off, one should examine the stand for loss and uniformity. Make stand counts to determine the population that will regrow and determine if you have enough existing plants for yield. Be careful as you may want to fill in the stand rather than eliminate an existing stand with the growing season already well into June.
A small amount of leaf area loss, especially at early stages of growth does not usually result in much yield loss. Hail loss estimates on beans are complicated by bruising and the effect of lower stem bruises is hard to evaluate. Deep bruises can result in lodging of the soybeans later in the season.
For more information, contact Wayne Flanary at 660-446-3724 or Heather Benedict at 660-425-6434, Regional Agronomists with University of Missouri Extension.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Be careful when buying hay from Southern States

Be Careful When Buying Hay from Southern States
Livestock producers should take precautions when purchasing baled hay from southern United States as Imported Fire Ants could be transported within the bales. United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recently sent information regarding this pest to your local University of Missouri Extension offices.
Imported fire ants pose a serious threat to people, young and newborn animals and crops. These non-native pests often make their way into hay bales, which are transported to other areas where other colonies can be established.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service works to further prevent the spread by enforcing a Federal quarantine and cooperating with Imported fire ant infested states to regulate the movement of certain articles. Regulated articles include baled hay and baled straw that are stored in direct contact with the ground; soil; plants and sod with roots and soil attached that are stored outdoors and intended for commercial sale; used soil-moving equipment; and any other article or means of conveyance determined to pose a risk of spreading imported fire ants.
Hay from inside the quarantined area can be shipped anywhere else inside the quarantined area. However, hay from inside the quarantined area is not permitted to move outside the quarantined area.
APHIS has approved treatments for most regulated articles that kill fire ants and prevent new ant infestations. Once businesses have successfully treated their regulated items, APHIS will issue certificates/permits that allow the movement of those items to locations outside of quarantined areas.
Quarantined maps can be found online at Imported fire ants are in 13 states (Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas). These ants were unintentionally introduced into the United States from South America and now infest more than 320 million acres.
Imported fire ants may look like ordinary ants, but they are far from ordinary. They are best distinguished by their aggressive behavior and mound-shaped nests. They respond rapidly and aggressively when disturbed, clamping onto their victims and stinging repeatedly. Each insect injects a dose of venom that causes a burning sensation, earning these pests the name of fire ants.
Currently, we do not have this pest in Missouri and this is a pest that we do not want. There are many examples where pests are introduced causing harm to crops and agriculture. Let’s be informed and be careful.
For more information, contact Wayne Flanary at 660-446-3724 or Heather Benedict at 660-425-6434, Regional Agronomists or any other University of Missouri Agriculture Extension Specialists.