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Danbury Catholic Gymnasium Turns into Giant Greenhouse

Sixth grader Nina McMillen places a flat of flowers in their
designated area during the set up on Thuesday.
    Each week the gymnasium at Danbury Catholic School fills with kids. All kinds of kids. Kids looking to get exercise during PE, kids getting rid of energy on a rainy-day recess. Sometimes kids getting ready for a program.
    Last week the kids were joined by plants. All kinds of plants. Flowers, vegetables, grasses, even bushes.
    The fourth annual plant sales came to its finale last week. For a couple months the students at Danbury Catholic were encouraged to sell plants as a fundraiser. The plants were delivered last Thursday, and a flurry of volunteers turned tables lined with colorful tablecloths into tables completely covered with plants.
    "It is amazing once all the plants are in the gym to see what all the work was for and how beautiful everything looks," commented Julie Hamann, one of the plant sales committee members. "The bleachers are wall-to-wall hanging baskets and planters. They always look gorgeous, but I believe this year was the best the baskets and patio planters have ever looked.
    "Every year the plant sales have grown and we are thrilled this year was no exception," added Hamann.
    So, how does a school of just over 50 students sell over 4,000 plants, 161 hanging baskets, 115 patio planters, and 160 large planters? Incentives may be part of the motivation.
    "The first goal was to sell $20,000 in plants and seeds," said Hamann. "If the kids reached that goal, they would earn a trip to the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha. After three weeks, they had reached that goal and we announced they were going to the zoo. But we also had a new goal -$30,000 in retail sales. If they reached that goal, we would get a charter bus to take them to the zoo. They far exceeded that goal, and we have a bus coming to take them to the zoo on May 19th."
    This trip to the zoo could have a large price tag included, but the school will not be seeing the cost of the zoo admission or the charter bus. Thanks to generous donors, the cost of the bus and the zoo admission is being generously covered by supporters of the school.
    While getting to skip an entire day of school and riding in a fancy bus is a nice incentive, the students were offered weekly incentives to keep selling plants.
    "Every week during sales the students earn prizes, either a candy bar or a pop, for selling plants," added Hamann. "It was so much fun to go into school and see how excited they were to tell me how many orders they got or how many plants they sold."
    Let's go back to the gym full of thousands of greenery. From the start of the plant pick up event when students set up multiple tables on Wednesday to the end of the plant pick up when the final tables are put away on Friday, over 45 volunteers helped at the event. Danbury Catholic students, parents and grandparents of the students, and adults who did not have kids, grandkids, or even nieces or nephews spent time at the event.
    "There were so many volunteers that took the time out of their busy schedules to help with this Spring fundraiser," commented Janelle Clausen, committee member. "The volunteers started with Danbury Catholic students setting up tables on Wednesday, and volunteers coming in and placing table coverings on tables and posting signs on tables where plants and flowers were to be set. Trucks of plants arrived the next day and phone calls and text messages were made to the volunteers asked to help unload on a moment's notice. These volunteers worked together as a team. We couldn't do it without all the help. More volunteers came in to place popsicle sticks in each plant so when people pick up their orders the check out would go smoother."
    "The kids were such a big help during plant sale days. What troopers they were," added Clausen.
    One of the families collecting their orders for delivery on Thursday was the Nicole and Sean Shea family of Danbury. The family, including fifth grader Mandy and second grader Trenten sold over $5,000 in plants and seeds, the most in the school.
    "I liked unloading and setting up all the flowers for the plant sales," said Mandy. She and her fellow fifth and sixth graders spent Thursday morning helping set up the gym. "I am excited to see the new parts of the zoo. My favorite part of the zoo is the Kingdom of the Night."
    "It took half a day to deliver the plants," said Trenten who is also excited about the trip to the zoo.
    Also collecting many, many plants on Thursday was the Tracy and Brandon Johnson family of Ida Grove. They also were mega-sellers, collecting over $4,000 in sales. Their kids, Haley who is in third grade and Oscar who is in kindergarten had differing time frames to deliver their sales.
    "Selling plants was fun," said Haley. "It took us two days to deliver all the plants we sold. I liked delivering cause we got to see all our friends. But at one house I got stung by a wasp and that wasn't fun."
    Oscar marked the delivery time in minutes, many minutes.
    "I liked delivering plants with my grandma and my mom," said Oscar. "It took us 800 and a 1,000 minutes to deliver plants."
    "God blessed us with the perfect day for plant sales, full of sunshine and no wind," added DC kindergarten teacher and committee member Michelle Drees. Prior to Thursday afternoon, the week had been filled with rain and excess wind.
    Friday morning and mid-afternoon were dedicated to all customers who were personally picking up their own plants and to the families who were picking up the remainder of their deliveries. Along with the pre-paid plants were tables filled with extra plants for purchasing that day. While not all plants were offered in this section, there was a large variety from which to choose. There were also 29 hanging baskets and 44 planters of differing sizes, ready for Mother's Day. Always a hit, the baskets proved they were still in demand.
    "The hanging baskets were a popular hit again, selling out amazingly fast Friday morning," exclaimed Drees. The doors Friday opened at 7:00, and people were waiting for that magical time. By 7:20, the hanging baskets were all claimed. The rest of the planters were also purchased by mid-afternoon.
    "The last day of plant sales is a biggy," added Clausen. "As well as the prepaid orders, the Cash and Carry table is open. There is such an assortment of plants and flowers along with hanging baskets and planters. It's amazing how people come out and support this Spring Fundraiser for Danbury Catholic School."
    This school project included an idea with turned into a community service project.
    "This year, Fr. Bill McCarthy had an idea to order extra hanging baskets and deliver them to some of our community shut-ins as a gift from the school kids," said Hamann. "The Danbury St. Mary's Youth Group and another generous donor offered to cover the cost of the hanging baskets. Eleven floral baskets were delivered with cards from the students and youth group, including one each to Maple Heights Nursing Home in Mapleton and Willow Dale Nursing Home in Battle Creek. Danbury Catholic students have not been able to visit the nursing home residents since Covid started."
    Friday afternoon, during the plant pick up break, some of these baskets were delivered by Danbury Catholic students. Others were delivered by people who were picking up other plants purchased by the person also on the hanging basket gift list or by people who loved the idea and wanted to help out.
    "People thank us for all the work we put into this unique fun fundraiser, but the real thanks goes to the customers who graciously order plants or make a donation when our students knock on their door. We hope they think of our students when they look at their blooming plants," concluded Hamann.

City of Danbury Wastewater Treatment Facility Improvements

Project Update and Next Steps

By Mayor Brock Boyle
    May 5, 2022 (Danbury, Iowa) - The City of Danbury currently owns and operates a two-cell controlled discharge lagoon system. Included in the City's most recent National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit was an E. coli compliance schedule with a date of September 1, 2022, to achieve compliance with new E. coli effluent limits. The City has a wastewater operator and works with ISG, an architecture, engineering, planning, and environmental firm, that has provided Danbury operator services at the treatment plant the past several years.
    ISG was recently enlisted to investigate the condition of the lagoons and complete a Facility Plan for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) detailing facility upgrades to bring the plant into compliance. Upon review of flows, it was discovered that the flow volume coming into the plant did not match the volume being discharged. Typically, controlled discharge lagoons have flow that comes in, is held, then discharged twice a year. However, the City's lagoons had three consecutive discharge seasons with water levels that did not require a discharge. This data, in addition to conversations with the City's wastewater operator, led ISG to speculate that when the original design was created it was to anticipate future growth of Danbury's population to be closer to 1,000 people. With our current population hovering around 350 citizens the footprint of the lagoons is too large for inflows which leads to higher evaporation, especially in the summer. The pure water then evaporates leaving the chlorides and contaminants. This creates a struggle for treatment and to maintain DNR appropriated levels. The original report was to address this problem and to add a system for UV disinfection.
    During this process it was also discovered that the top of the lagoon berms is under the 100-year flood elevation. In the spring of 2019 the lagoons of Danbury were within inches of being breached in the flood. Per IDNR wastewater design standards, lagoon berms need to be protected from 100-year floods and therefore must be at an elevation 1 foot higher than the 100-year flood elevation. After discussions with the City and an evaluation of costs, the City opted to invest in a major improvement to the lagoon system, converting it to a three-cell continuous aerated lagoon system with an ammonia removal tank at the end and ultraviolet (UV) disinfection. The anticipated footprint of the new system plans to be about half of the current system. The new system allows the city to properly facilitate our current population's waste water needs, with the flexibility to handle growth of the city, and ever changing DNR treatment options and protocols. The City does not currently have a compliance schedule for ammonia but will receive one in the future. Rather than complete two construction projects it was decided the more cost-effective option would be to perform one major improvement project now.
    The Facility Plan was revised and approved by the IDNR, detailing options for a major wastewater treatment facility improvement project. An application for Disadvantaged Community Status (DCA) was submitted and approved for a reduced 2% interest rate on a 30-year loan as opposed to a 3% interest rate. The City was also approved for a $257,000 Planning and Design (P&D) loan with funds available to pull from anytime. An NPDES permit amendment with a final compliance date of November 2023 was requested and approved.
    The next steps for the wastewater treatment facility improvements are as follows:
    1. ISG completed survey services at the end of February 2022 the geotechnical report was completed shortly thereafter. Costs for these services will be pulled from the City's P&D loan.
    2. ISG is in the finishing stages of vertical design. This includes structural, architectural, mechanical and electrical. Funds will be pulled from the City's P&D loan as billings are sent.
    3. End of June or early July the plans and specifications will be submitted to IDNR.
    4. In August we will receive IDNR construction permit approval.
    5. Bidding is tentatively scheduled for November. An application for an Intended Use Plan (IUP) loan at the reduced interest rate was submitted to the State Revolving Fund (SRF) program and was placed on the approved project list. The loan request was for $2,606,000. This amount is anticipated to cover the project construction costs as well as engineering and legal fees. The City's P&D loan will be rolled into the IUP loan and termed out.
    This project will have an impact on all of Danbury's citizens and businesses. Our current base fee is $15 a month, per connection. Since institution, the base fees have been saved and will be used as a down payment on the project. With the current anticipated costs of the project, the base fee will be going up to between $50 to $60 per connection, a month. Our current structure on usage is $7 per 1000 gallons, and sewer rate being $3.50 per thousand which is exactly half of water usage. That rate has potential to also be reevaluated to help ensure the city's viability and make sure that we are cash flow positive to handle any future repairs to our aging water infrastructure. Both increases will be handled by resolution and replace current rate structures in the future.
    It is typical the life of a lagoon system is 40 years. Our current lagoon system is almost 60 years old which has far exceeded its anticipated life. This isn't a project that we are wanting to do; it's a project we are being forced to pursue and complete per IDNR. Ignoring the IDNR's request would result a $10,000 fine per day until the project is complete. From starting the planning and discussion to completion it's roughly a four year process. This project has been a two year process to this point. The council has been thoughtful and diligent in trying to get the best and most viable long term option for the city.

Open Cupboard May 18

    The Open Cupboard and Food Bank of Siouxland, Inc. Mobile Food Pantry distribution will be in Mapleton on Wednesday, May 18th at 1:00 p.m. at the Mapleton Community Center, 513 Main Street.
    The Open Cupboard distributes

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2022 Monona County Fair Queen Contest

    Fair time is approaching and it is time to enter the 2022 Monona County Fair Queen and Little Princess contests! If you are interested in representing Monona County then come and join the fun. Both contests will be held

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Weather Summary

Provided by Justin Glisan, Ph.D., State Climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship
    The stretch of unseasonably cold reporting periods continued through the first week of May with temperature departures

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Mowing Notice:

    "Weeds" means all noxious weeds as defined by Chapter 317 of the Code of Iowa, as may be amended from time to time, and all other weeds, grasses, plants or other growth which have grown to a height exceeding 12 inches, except for trees, ornamental

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Iowa Crop Progress and Condition Report

May 2 - 8, 2022

    DES MOINES, Iowa (May 9, 2022) – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig commented on the Iowa Crop Progress and Condition Report released by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. The

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Wednesday, May 4, 2022
6:00 PM
Zoom Meeting that will originate at Central Office Board Room, Mapleton
PRESENT: Streck and Kennedy in person and Hamann, Schram, and Wimmer via ZOOM

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Friday, May 6, 2022
12:00 PM
Central Office Board Room, Mapleton
PRESENT: Streck and Hamann; Schram via phone
ABSENT: Kennedy and Wimmer
I. Opening of Meeting
VP Streck

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Nominate an Outstanding Individual for Iowan of the Day at the Iowa State Fair

    The Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation and Cookies Food Products are currently seeking the next group of outstanding Iowans for the 2022 Iowan of the Day award. We look for

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TAG Students Learn About Healthcare

    The OABCIG Middle School TAG instructor, Rachel Masters, arranged for a tour of Horn Memorial Hospital to provide a learning opportunity for students who are interested in learning more about healthcare professions. Emergency,

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Knights Get Down in the Ditches

    The Knights of Columbus and friends spent 2 1/2 hours in the ditches finding "treasures" along Highway 175 east of Danbury on April 27th. This tossed litter was placed in garbage bags for disposal. Their commitment to the care

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DC Preschool Visits the Post Office

    The preschool class at Danbury Catholic School had a very special Cinco de Mayo celebration. The kids celebrated the Mexican holiday with a special party. Before their party, though, they took a field trip to the post office

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