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Police chief to stay in Mason City

MASON CITY | Mason City Police Chief Jeff Brinkley will stay in Mason City, as West Des Moines has selected a different candidate for police chief. 

The West Des Moines Police Department on Wednesday announced it selected Des Moines Police Lt. Chris Scott for the position. 

“I have known Chris Scott for over 20 years,” Brinkley said. “I know that he will do an excellent job as the next West Des Moines police chief.” 

Brinkley was one of five finalists for the position. 

Brinkley said he has appreciated the support from the Mason City community as he pursued the professional opportunity.  

“It is apparent to me that we are doing some good things in Mason City — as a department and as a community stakeholder,” Brinkley said.

Brinkley said he has been happy in Mason City and commended the department's work in the community. 

He has been chief in Mason City since January 2016, replacing Mike Lashbrook, who retired.

“I look forward to continuing that work with the dedicated men and women of the Mason City Police Department," Brinkley said. 

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Oh snow! Wintry dusting predicted for North Iowa

North Iowa might get its first taste of winter just before Halloween.

National Weather Service forecasters say the chance of snow — mixed with rain — begins Thursday night. Temperatures Thursday are expected to reach a high of 60 degrees before dipping down to the low 30s overnight.

“The National Weather Service at the moment is indicating just a dusting of snow for the Mason City area,” State Climatologist Harry Hillaker said. “There is a small chance of rain mixing with or changing to snow early Friday morning but temperatures at that time should be just high enough to prevent any accumulation.”    

Little to no now accumulation is expected Thursday, but Friday into Saturday could bring up to an inch of snow in some areas.

This National Weather Service graphic shows how much snow North Iowa can expect later this week. 

Friday is expected to be windy, around 20 mph, with gusts up to 32 mph. Rain is likely for most of the day, with a 50 to 70 percent chance of snow later in the day. Temperatures are predicted to continue dropping, with a high of 37 and a low of 28.

“Any snow that does accumulate should not stick around for very long with daytime highs expected to climb into the upper 30s on Saturday,” Hillaker said. Wind chills Saturday morning are predicted to be in the teens. 

Saturday brings a chance of snow before 11 a.m. and rain after 1 p.m.

Hillaker said the next two weeks may fall on the colder side of normal, with no quick return to warmer weather.

This is a fairly typical time of year for the first snow of the season, Hillaker said.

Average soil temperatures as of Oct. 23. 

“The earliest accumulating snow at Mason City came on September 25, 1942, when 4 inches fell at Mason City and snow accumulated over nearly all of Iowa,” Hillaker said.

Since the snow won’t stick around long, it shouldn’t impact harvest, Hillaker said. The storm system won’t produce much moisture, about two-tenths of an inch rain equivalent.  

“However, the moisture will probably keep farmers out of the field for at least for at least an extra day or two as temperatures will remain fairly low for the next week, thus slowing the rate that things will dry out,” Hillaker said.    

Just in time for Thanksgiving dinner: traceable turkeys

WICHITA, Kan. — Turkey farmer Darrell Glaser buys his Thanksgiving bird at the local grocery store, just like most folks.

But this Thanksgiving season, the Texas producer will be able to find out where the Honeysuckle White turkey he puts into his shopping cart was raised — and even know if it is one of the birds from his own Milam County farm.

Turkey buyers in select Texas markets will be able to either text or enter on the Honeysuckle White website the code found on the tag on the packaged bird to find out where it was raised and get information about the farm's location, view farm photos and read the farmer's message.

"What traceability does is just allow us to connect with the consumer," Glaser said. "And I think over time there has been a disconnect. People have kind of lost where their food comes from and this is a way to re-establish that line of communication."

Glaser is an independent farmer who raises about 600,000 birds a year for Cargill's Honeysuckle White brand, and is among four Texas farmers participating in the market test. The traceable turkeys in the pilot project won't cost more than untagged birds, and after the test the Minneapolis-based Cargill Inc. and its Honeysuckle White brand says it will assess its effectiveness and value to determine further implementation of the digital technology and any price adjustments.

The pilot project marks the agribusiness giant's entry into a burgeoning farm-to-table movement driven by people who want to know where their food comes from and how it was produced. It is also a sign of the success driven by sustainable food advocates who have been promoting such connections as a way for farmers to market locally grown and raised foods.

"When the big companies see that success, they are going to jump in and try to make money off it," said Mary Fund, executive director of the Kansas Rural Center, an advocacy organization that promotes ecologically and socially responsible food systems.

Big agribusiness companies like Cargill and Tyson were instrumental in concentrating poultry production on farms and processing entities — eliminating the infrastructure that used to be there to support smaller local producers, Fund said. Now Cargill is in a sense "turning back to that model" by trying to tap into the desire that consumers have for an identifiable product.

"It is a tough thing because the local and regional food production and marketing system is not really able to satisfy the demand that is out there," Fund said. "So we are not naive in thinking that you are going to be able to grow enough turkeys or poultry at a real local level and feed everybody."

Cargill is the nation's third largest turkey producer, and is among the top five companies that collectively raise 65 percent of U.S. turkey production, said Simon Shane, an industry consultant and adjunct professor at North Carolina State University.

"Will it influence the rest of the industry? Only in respect to branded items, there is no point in doing it for generics," Shane said. "But the industry is moving over to brands."

The pilot project will inform the company as to the value of supply chain transparency to consumers and its impact on sales, said Deborah Socha, Honeysuckle Brand manager. Based on those findings, Cargill will develop its digital supply chain in the United States and globally.

Cargill's turkey brand is its first within the company to experiment with blockchain technology, a transparent cloud-based system that allows multiple people to contribute, but not otherwise change, the supply chain record, said Deb Bauler, Cargill's chief information officer. It is the same secure technology created for the digital currency bitcoin.

Honeysuckle White touts an internal 2014 study of turkey consumers which found 44 percent thought it was important for companies to be transparent, and a 2016 study from Nielsen Global Ingredients that found 73 percent of consumers feel positively about companies that are transparent about how its food products are made.

"Honeysuckle White has been listening to what the consumers have said and found that when it came to feeding their family, they really want to feel confident in knowing where and how the food is raised," Socha said.

CHRIS ZOELLER, The Globe Gazette 



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Former Cerro Gordo County assistant attorney returning to North Iowa

GARNER | A former Cerro Gordo County assistant attorney is returning to North Iowa.

Blake Norman, who has been the assistant attorney in Scott County since leaving Mason City in 2016, accepted the Hancock County attorney position Tuesday morning.

Norman begins Dec. 4. His salary will be $98,127. 

“I’m excited to get back,” he said. “It really was a great opportunity.”

Norman served as the assistant attorney in Cerro Gordo County from October 2012 to May 2016.

During his time in Mason City, Norman said he established professional relationships and made friends in the area who he is looking forward to reconnecting with.

“I’ve always had a great desire to be a county attorney, so this is perfect,” he said.

On Monday, the Hancock County Board of Supervisors — and several members of county staff — selected Norman as the county’s “top choice” for county attorney after interviewing four finalists for the position earlier this month. 

The other finalists were Todd Chelf, Burlington; Scott Miller, Cape Coral, Florida; Jonathan Miller, Belmond and Norman, Davenport.

Hancock County Sheriff Scott Dodd told the supervisors law enforcement and judges in Cerro Gordo County had "very good things" to say about Norman. 

When Norman lived in Mason City, he was a member of Jaycees and a volunteer soccer coach.

Norman said he has “big shoes to fill” with the departure of Hancock County Attorney David Solheim, whose last day is Nov. 1. He and his wife and returning to Nebraska to be closer to family, according to his resignation letter. 

Solheim was appointed as Hancock County attorney in 2013 after working as deputy county attorney in Washington County, Nebraska.

In September, the supervisors unanimously voted to appoint the county’s next attorney instead of holding a special election. The next general election is November 2018. 

Solheim and the Winnebago County attorney have offered to assist the county during its transition, board Chair Sis Greiman said.