There are never enough days in September for farmers, ranchers, and pennant-chasing baseball teams. Every day, whether spent in a combine, pasture or batter’s box, brings change to what’s real today and what’s possible tomorrow.
And it happens fast; September days don’t pass, they evaporate.
Congress, however, seems not to notice days, months or even possibilities. It continues its slow, circular march to some legislative nowhere. That’s worrisome for two reasons.
First, Congress needs to pass a federal budget by Oct. 1 to avoid a federal government shutdown. Republican Congressional leaders believe a budget deal with Democrats is possible if President Donald J. Trump allows them negotiating leeway on his much-demanded U.S.-Mexico border wall.
But that leeway was not forthcoming by mid-month and only seven legislative working days remain until the Sept. 30 deadline.
Leeway or not, the border wall is just one of the budget’s problems. Another enormous problem is its projected deficit, a whopping $985 billion, or $90 billion over the current budget’s red ink which itself is a staggering 32 percent over the 2017 budget deficit.
How can Republican leaders who thunder on the need for fiscal conservatism continue this debt-laden binge spending?
They simply believe you hate Democrats more than deficits. Do you?
You better, because GOP leaders hope to push another costly tax cut through Congress before November’s mid-term election, or less than a year after approving their completely debt-financed, $1.5 trillion tax cut.
All this deficit spending, history shows, will end very badly. In June, the International Monetary Fund reminded us just how badly.
Last year’s tax cut, it reported, coupled with our increased federal spending, will cause the U.S. deficit to balloon to “4.5 percent of GDP [gross domestic product] by next year—nearly double what it was just three years ago.” That’s the largest percentage, the IMF noted, “since President Lyndon Johnson… boosted spending on the Vietnam War…”
Recall how that era of debt-financed spending ended? Here are two small hints: Paul and Volker.
The easiest ways to avoid such an inflationary — and, later, choking interest rate — future is to either raise taxes (not happening) or reduce spending. Congressional Republicans claim to be focusing on the latter.
Enter the 2018 Farm Bill.
Like the federal budget, Congress must act by Oct. 1 to either pass the 2018 Farm Bill or extend the 2014 Farm Bill. Current negotiations on the new bill remain stuck in “conference” over two major differences: stiff, House-inspired work requirements to receive federal food assistance and deep House cuts to conservation programs that include elimination of the popular, effective Conservation Stewardship Program.
Farm Bill negotiators have circled both issues and each other for more than six weeks with no discernible movement toward compromise. House leaders continue to growl about growing federal deficits — that they helped fuel — as cause for ag spending cuts. Senate leaders, however, have no taste to cut either food assistance or conservation.
So the standoff continues and September leaks away.
The delay has supplied oxygen to revive other ag-related issues. A big one is the long-simmering need for immigration reform to, hopefully, address U.S. agriculture’s pressing labor shortage. This fight, like the food assistance and conservation fights, is mostly between GOP factions who can’t agree on how tough to make new rules on immigrant labor.
Tough is fine, but punishing leads to indignity, inequality, and — at least on the immigration issue on Capitol Hill — inaction.
But that’s where we are in Congress and as a nation. We’re now more focused on punishment rather than participation, on tariffs not trade, and on more debt and delays instead of simple fairness and straightforward solutions.
The problems aren’t going away; September, however, is.
Names & News for North Iowa business for Sept. 2
RSM promotes three at Mason City office
The Mason City office of RSM US LLP recently announced the promotion of three employees: Laura Enderson, tax services supervisor; Nathan Burchett, consulting services senior associate; and Erin Schieffer, technology solutions senior associate.
Collins joins ATURA Architecture
David Collins has joined Clear Lake-based ATURA Architecture as a senior designer. Collins began his career in Seattle where he led as a BIM Specialist and has most recently been practicing in Raleigh, NC. At ATURA, he will be responsible for 3D modeling, renderings, documentation, and virtual reality experiences. He lives in Clear Lake with his wife and two sons.
FCIS promotes Peterson
Mary Peterson has been promoted to the position of commercial lines manager at FCIS Insurance in Forest City. Peterson has been employed with FCIS since July of 2007, and has an insurance designation of Certified Insurance Service Representative.
Drury joins Cerro Gordo County Foundation committee
Swaledale Mayor John Drury was elected as a member of the governing committee of the Cerro Gordo County Community Foundation during its July meeting. Drury will serve a three-year term and joins other committee members Shaun Arneson, Dalena Barz, Angela Determan, Mary Ingham, Paula Petersburg, Marty Ramaekers, Adam Wedmore and Sterling Young.
Klapperich, Starkey promoted at First Citizens Bank
Mason City's First Citizens Bank announced the promotion of Mindy Klapperich to universal banker and Theresa Starkey to personal banker. Both will be based out of the West Mason City location.
Klapperich, with First Citizens since 2005, most recently she has served as a private banker at the downtown Mason City location. Klapperich holds degrees from NIACC and Kaplan, and also graduated from the Iowa School of Banking. Klapperich and her husband live in Mason City with their daughter.
Starkey has been a receptionist with at the West Mason City location since 2016. She has a degree from Kaplan, has two children and lives in Mason City.
Lichstinn RV promotes Gilbertson
Jeremy Gilbertson, previously finishing and quality control team lead, will be taking on the role of guest service specialist at Forest City-based Lichstinn RV. He will focus on educational orientations, the rentals department and inventory management support.
Iowa State Bar recognizes Berry
Clear Lake attorney Matt Berry was named the August recipient of the Spotlight on Service award from the Iowa State Bar Association. The award recognizes "work in the community." Berry, married to Jean and practicing law since 1981, has served as an ordained deacon to Catholic parishes in Mason City and Manly. He has also volunteered and served on boards with the Clear Lake Economic Development Corporation, Community Kitchen and One Vision.
Lichtsinn RV promotes Stone
Chris Stone has been promoted to finishing manager at Forest City-based Lichtsinn RV and will lead the Finishing Department. Stone recently joined Lichtsinn RV in April from Fabulous Freddy’s in Las Vegas, where he held the position of car wash manager.
Lake Time Brewery wins SBDC award
America’s SBDC Iowa announced that Lake Time Brewery in Clear Lake, is the winner of the group's August Business of the Month award. Lake Time Brewery was founded by Bob and Suzy Rolling in 2012. In addition to a downtown Clear Lake location, Lake Time is available in 23 North Iowa counties and eight more in the Des Moines/Ames area.
Reynolds names Schmitt to taskforce
Emily Schmitt, general counsel of Sheffield-based Sukup Manufacturing Co., was named to the Growing Rural Iowa Taskforce, as well as the Initiative’s Executive Committee, by Gov. Kim Reynolds. The group will hold its first meeting Sept. 7.
Nichols announces resignation from One Vision
Jeff Nichols, One Vision's chief executive officer since 2014, announced his resignation from the position, effective Sept. 30. He oversaw the transition of more than 120 supported individuals from a large group-home setting to smaller, community-based homes and the redevelopment to One Vision’s Clear Lake campus directed toward senior living. Nichols has accepted a position as CEO of Minnesota Autism Center. Mark Dodd, One Vision chief operating officer, will serve as interim CEO.
Free Start Smart Workshop in Mason City
The NIACC Pappajohn Center and the Small Business Development Center is offering a free two-hour workshop designed for anyone who is considering starting a business. At Start Smart, participants will learn how to create a business plan, do market research, consider different types of business ownership and learn how to register a business. The workshop is 10 a.m. to noon Wednesday, Aug. 29, at IowaWORKS, 600 S. Pierce Ave., in Mason City. To register, call Mary Spitz at 641-422-4342 or email email@example.com.
Carney: Brief history of U.S. conservation
Our current system of soil and water conservation district offices in every county in Iowa came as a direct result of the passion and drive of the first administrator of what is now the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Hugh Hammond Bennett.
Bennett, a farmer from North Carolina where the construction of terraces was the primary erosion reduction practice in the 1920s, became convinced that vegetation and improvements in soil tilth were a more economical way to reduce soil erosion. Bennett established demonstration projects across the country to illustrate and test farming methods that improved soil quality and reduced erosion.
The economic depression and the drought of the 1930s that resulted in the Dust Bowl, prompted the United States government to invest more money and manpower into this effort which was led by Bennett. In 1935, he became the administrator of the Soil Conservation Service, which was charged with the protection of the land. The concept of the farmer and the soil conservation technician working together to write a conservation plan for each farm was developed and the current system of voluntary, incentive based conservation began.
During the 1940s, conservation districts were established across the United States. The districts were approved by ballot and run by local farmers, elected soil and water district commissioners. There was a lot of momentum for conservation at the time with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt stating, “The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.”
Nearly 75 years later, the districts are still carrying out their mission to protect the water, land, and air for all of our citizens. The name of the federal agency overseeing districts was changed to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, or NRCS, in 1994 to better reflect this mission.
As economic pressures to produce increasing quantities of food, feed, and fuel grow, producers sometimes forget the lessons of the 1930s. Modern farming technologies have reduced the need for tillage, which is the single largest cause of soil erosion. Incentive payments are available to help producers try new practices, such as no-till and cover crops, and there are a wide variety of programs to protect vulnerable lands.
As Hugh Hammond Bennett stated, “Out of the long list of nature’s gifts to man, none is perhaps so utterly essential to human life as soil.”
RSM donates time to Habitat for Humanity
Employees from the Mason City accounting and consulting office of RSM US LLP recently held its annual Volunteer Day to benefit local and national nonprofits across the country. The local employees volunteered with the Habitat for Humanity North Central Iowa chapter, assisting with landscaping at a new home.
Francis Lauer celebrates 50 years in North Iowa
Francis Lauer will celebrate 50 years of serving North Iowa on Thursday, Sept. 20. The celebration runs 4 to 6 p.m. at 50 N. Eisenhower Ave., with a program at 5 p.m. There will be a bouncy house, activity stations and cake.
Ewing earns funeral service certification
Michael Ewing, with the Clarion home of Ewing Funeral Home and Monument Company, received the Certified Funeral Services Practitioner designation from the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice at a gathering in Springfield, Missouri. The certification, held by 18 directors in Iowa, includes training, education, professional, and community requirements.
WHKS & Co. celebrates 70 years
Mason City-based WHKS & Co., a consulting civil engineering firm, is celebrating 70 years of continuous service in 2018. Founded in 1948, the firm employs more than 110 people.
Pro Ag Solutions receives award from Wyffels Hybrids
Jay Mathahs, of Pro Ag Solutions LLC in Ventura, was recently recognized as a Master Seed Representative for Wyffels Hybrids at the company’s regional sales meeting. The gathering also includes training and discussions on corn seed sales.
Ondoma joins Mercy Neurosurgery Clinic
Dr. Solomon M. Ondoma joined Mercy Neurosurgery Clinic. He completed his internship and his medical training at Mbarara University of Science and Technology in Mbarara, Uganda and later worked as a surgical officer in the country. He was a research association at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and recently completed his residency at University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison. He and his wife have three children.
First Citizens Trust & Investment Services promotes Meyer
First Citizens Trust & Investment Services announced the promotion of Carol Meyer to trust operations officer. She previously served as trust compliance officer, and has been with First Citizens for 18 years. Meyer, who is married with two daughters and six grandchildren, earned a degree from Minnesota State.
Harrison forms new accounting firm
Chad Harrison recently opened his own accounting firm in Mason City: Chad Harrison CPA, PC. Harrison has 12 years in the accounting industry and specializes in serving small businesses tax needs. His staff includes Michele Harrison and Miranda Kruse. The firm is located at 4700 Fourth St. SW, Suite F.
Petersen joins Hancock County Health System
Dr. Joseph Petersen joined Britt-based Hancock County Health System in early August. He will work at the inpatient unit as well as provide family practice services. Petersen, a native of Cushing, earned degrees from Des Moines University and completed his residency at Trinity Family. He lives in Britt.
Luis Garcia, Mr. Taco recognized as Entrepreneur of the Month
The NIACC John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center and the North Iowa Area SBDC named Luis Garcia of Mr. Taco as the Entrepreneur of the Month for August 2018. He founded Mr. Taco in 2011 and expanded into Southbridge Mall in February 2016. He's added Mr. Churro and Sub Marine Soups & Sandwich Shop, also at Southbridge.
Mason City nonprofits to merge
The Boards of Directors of NIVC Services, Inc. and North Iowa Transition Center (NITC) have chosen to merge their organizations. An executive director management agreement was approved through Dec. 30. Current programs and services will continue now and in the future. The merger will "enhance the stability and missions of both organizations, Executive Director Sherry O. Becker said in a statement. NIVC Services has been serving North Iowans for nearly 50 years, and NITC for nearly 40 years. Becker said the merger will strength the services both entities provide: residential services, community living, job placement and employment retention supports. Both are private, nonprofit United Way organizations.
Association for the Preservation of Clear Lake hosting annual picnic Aug. 19
The Association for the Preservation of Clear Lake’s Annual Picnic is 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 19, at PM Park. Following dinner, Rick Cruse, director of the Iowa Water Center in Ames, will present keynote remarks and Scott Grummer, IDNR Fisheries Biologist and Jim Sholly, CLEAR Project Coordinator, will provide information about recent and future projects to improve and enhance Clear Lake’s water quality and its fishery. The public is invited to attend. Tickets for the picnic dinner are $12.50 per person and may be purchased in advance by sending your check made payable to APCL, Box 54, Clear Lake, IA 50428. Visit www.clearproject.net/apcl for more information. The Association for the Preservation of Clear Lake has been dedicated solely to the protection and enhancement of Clear Lake for over 70 years.
Mason City chiropractor accepting school supply donations
Haas Chiropractic Clinic, Corporate Farmer, Mason City Noon Rotary, Hy-Vee East, Edwards-Brandt and Associates Inc., Farmers State Bank and Mason City Chamber of Commerce members are sponsoring the 13th annual Support Our Students School Supplies Drive in August. Basic school supplies can be dropped off at Haas Chiropractic Clinic, 1403 S. Federal Ave. Checks can be mailed to Mason City Noon Rotary-SOS, Box 1802, Mason City, IA 50402.
Henrich completes recertification
Dr. Edward S. Henrich, a podiatrist with Mason City Clinic, recently become board recertified by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery after passing the examination. Henrich has been practicing for 28 years and is a fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. He received his medical degree from Des Moines University.
Clear Lake architectural firm hosting open house
ATURA Architects, formerly WWA Architects, will host an open house Wednesday, Aug. 15, at their office, 912 N. 13th St., Clear Lake. The firm, which is celebrating its 95th year in North Iowa, became a subsidiary of Dean Snyder Construction in 2012. The company also operates a secondary office in Ankeny.
Appelgate appointed to Iowa State board
Michele Appelgate, formerly with NIACC, Cerro Gordo County Public Health and the Globe Gazette, was appointed as the Alumni Relations Council representative to the Board of Directors of the Iowa State University Alumni Association. She has been the director of marketing and alumni relations for ISU's College of Business since 2015. Appelgate's term will expire in 2022.
Clear Lake Arts Center nears campaign completion
The Clear Lake Arts Center is nearing its fundraising goal of $350,000 to complete several projects at the facility and start a capital reserve fund, according to a release. The to-do list includes: replacing the roof; repairing interior and electrical damage due to leaks from the roof; relocating a handicap entrance; updating other electrical needs; painting; repairing restrooms; adding storage space; and begin work on a sculpture garden. The facility drew more than 20,000 visitors and hosted more than 500 events in 2017, according to the release.
Alliant Energy Foundation opens grant window
The Alliant Energy Foundation is accepting grant applications through Sept. 1. Grants average about $2,000 and winners will be notified by Nov. 1. Projects must focus on families, education or environment. For more details about how to apply, visit alliantenergy.com/foundation.
Three join Clear Lake Bank & Trust
Clear Lake Bank & Trust announced the addition of three employees.
Lora Jans, a native of Reinbeck, is a loan assistant in the Clear Lake commercial banking department. She has 27 years of business banking experience.
Angela Hauda, from Madison, Wisconsin, is a receptionist in the Clear Lake office. She lives in Mason City and has 26 years of customer service experience and 21 years of administrative experience.
Jennifer Burke, from Oelwein and a graduate of DMACC, is a mortgage loan servicing specialist in the Clear Lake office. She lives in Meservey and has 15 years of retail, real estate, and consumer loan experience.
TechTalk hosts cyber security seminar
Three cyber security experts from Iowa will share their experience and tips at the Cyber Security TechTalk, scheduled for 8:30 to 11 a.m. on Aug. 9 at the Historic Park Inn in Mason City. The event will feature 15-minute presentations by the speakers – Ryan Schaap, CIO at Wells Enterprises; Doug Jacobson, director of the Information Assurance Center at Iowa State; and Adam Brown, CTO at DealerBuilt – and then a question-and-answer panel discussion. RSVP at goo.gl/b5fT84.
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