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Mahaska Health Invites Community to Free Men’s Health Event and Tractor Ride

OSKALOOSA — In recognition of June being Men’s Health Month, Mahaska Health is hosting an event at the Mahaska County Fairgrounds on Saturday, June 22nd, 2024. Members from the community are invited to receive free services, learn about their health, and bring their tractors for an optional tractor ride around Okaloosa.

This year is the 5th annual Men’s Health Event and Tractor Ride. Guests can receive free cholesterol tests, blood pressure checks, sleep assessments, PSA testing, and other vital screenings from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm. The tractor ride, an optional addition for participants, starts at 10:00 am heading south out of the fairgrounds.

“We’re excited to connect with our community and promote health and well-being at this event,” shared Dr. Eric Miller, Family Medicine Physician and Accountable Care Medical Director.  “It is not only a celebration of our local heritage it is also a way people can get convenient access to helpful health services. Come out, enjoy the day, and keep your health on track!”

Mahaska Health welcomes current patients and the public to attend, inviting the community to connect with friends and neighbors, showcase their tractors, and receive insights into their health. For more information and to register for the event, visit mahaskahealth.org/2024-mens-health-event or call 641-676-7420.

EBF Announces Approval of Summer Feeding Program

EDDYVILLE — The Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont Community School District announced the approval of their Summer Feeding Program application through the state of Iowa.

The program allows parents or guardians to register to pick-up seven breakfasts and lunches for children in their household who are 18 years of age or younger.

EBF will send out a form each week for parents or guardians to fill out through our EBF communication software and post the form on the EBF District Facebook. The form asks for parent / guardian name, phone number, and names of the children in the household. There are no income questions or requirements.

The first pick-up is to occur on Tuesday, June 18 from 4:30-6:15 at the Eddyville Elementary parking lot that is next to the junior high baseball diamond. Please fill out the linked form by Wednesday, June 12th if you plan to pick up meals for your children on Tuesday, June 18th

Form Registration for Wednesday, June 18th pick up: June 18th Form

Link to the Iowa Department of Education Summer Feeding Program Flyer

Please email your questions to Ashleigh Sammons at asammons@opaafood.com

An investment firm has taken a $1.9 billion stake in Southwest Airlines and wants to oust the CEO

DALLAS (AP) — Activist shareholder Elliott Investment Management has bought a $1.9 billion stake in Southwest Airlines and is seeking to force out the CEO of the airline, which has struggled with operational and financial problems.

Shares in the airline rose 7% Monday, their second-best day since 2020.

In a letter to Southwest’s board, the investment firm complained that Southwest’s stock price has dropped more than 50% in the last three years.

Elliott said Southwest has failed to evolve, hurting its ability to compete with other carriers. The firm blamed the Dallas-based carrier’s massive flight cancellations in December 2022 on what it described as the airline’s outdated software and operational processes.

“Poor execution and leadership’s stubborn unwillingness to evolve the Company’s strategy have led to deeply disappointing results for shareholders, employees and customers alike,” the investment firm said in the letter, dated Monday.

Southwest CEO Robert Jordan “has delivered unacceptable financial and operational performance quarter after quarter,” the letter read. It said Jordan and former CEO Gary Kelly, now the airline’s executive chairman, “are not up to the task of modernizing Southwest.”

Elliott is calling for executives from outside the company to replace Jordan and Kelly, and for “significant” changes on the board, including new independent directors with experience at other airlines.

Southwest said it was contacted by Elliott on Sunday and looked forward “to better understanding their views on our company.”

“The Southwest Board of Directors is confident in our CEO and management’s ability to execute against the company’s strategic plan to drive long-term value for all shareholders, safely and reliably serve our customers and deliver on our commitments to all of our stakeholders,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

For years, Southwest appealed to cost-conscious flyers by not charging fees for a checked bag or changing a reservation. Its planes don’t have a premium cabin. Its closest rivals dropped change fees during the pandemic, however, and they are winning over upscale travelers with better seats and amenities.

In April, when Southwest reported a $231 million first-quarter loss, Jordan seemed to bend to those market pressures by announcing that Southwest was considering changes to its boarding and seating policies. The airline even took the rare step of dropping four cities from its map.

Savanthi Syth, an airline analyst for Raymond James Financial, said Elliott was likely attracted by Southwest’s well-known brand, leading position at many airports and strong balance sheet, among other attributes. She suggested that necessary changes shouldn’t be that hard to achieve.

Southwest grew rapidly coming out of the pandemic, adding service to 18 more cities. Syth said Southwest has recognized the need to scale back growth, although six or eight months too late, resulting in higher costs.

The airline had little choice in trimming its growth: It can’t get all the jets it ordered because of production cutbacks at Boeing since a door plug blew out of a 737 Max during an Alaska Airlines flight in January.

Southwest carries the most passengers within the United States, but Delta, United and American — all of which have more extensive international routes — are much larger by revenue. Southwest earned a profit for 47 straight years — an unmatched record in the airline business — until the coronavirus pandemic hit in 2020.

Southwest reported record revenue of $26.1 billion last year, but its $465 million profit was down from the previous two years and about one-tenth of Delta’s profit.

Delta and United have emerged from the pandemic as by far the most profitable U.S. airlines, and that shows up in their relative stock performance. At the close of trading Friday, Southwest shares were down 52% from three years earlier – about the same as American. But Delta shares gained more than 9% in that span, while United shares dipped but only around 7%.

The Wall Street Journal first reported Elliott’s stake in Southwest.

Iowa Crop Progress and Condition Report

DES MOINES — Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig commented on the Iowa Crop Progress and Condition Report released by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. The report is released weekly April through November. Additionally, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship provides a weather summary each week during this time.

“Summer heat is arriving just in time to give crops a good boost,” said Secretary Naig. “Weather outlooks into the second half of June, when farmers are completing important field applications and baling hay, indicate warmer temperatures and better chances of showers and thunderstorms.”

The weekly report is also available on the USDA’s website at nass.usda.gov.

Crop Report
Warm and drier weather throughout the State allowed Iowa farmers 4.8 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending June 9, 2024, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Planting and replanting of corn and soybeans and spraying were limited due to wet field conditions.

Topsoil moisture condition rated 0 percent very short, 5 percent short, 78 percent adequate and 17 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture condition rated 1 percent very short, 9 percent short, 77 percent adequate and 13 percent surplus.

Corn planting is nearly complete with 89 percent emerged, 9 days behind last year and 2 days behind the 5-year average. Corn condition rated at 73 percent good to excellent. Ninety-two percent of the expected soybean crop has been planted, equal to the 5-year average. Seventy-five percent of the soybean crop has emerged, 9 days behind last year and 1 day behind the average. Soybean condition rated 73 percent good to excellent. Emergence of the oat crop is nearly complete with 59 percent headed, 8 days ahead of the average. Oat condition rated to 81 percent good to excellent.

Seventy percent of the State’s first cutting of alfalfa hay has been completed, 1 week behind last year. Hay condition rated 81 percent good to excellent. Pasture condition rated 76 percent good to excellent.

Cut Flower Production on an Amish Farm Near Sigourney on June 20

SIGOURNEY — The Iowa Specialty Crop Growers Association is hosting a field day at Moonlit Waters Country Garden, near Sigourney, Iowa on June 20th!

The field day will begin with showcasing the farm’s flower delivery truck at 9:00, with the official program beginning at 9:30. The grower will then take the group on a tour of the farm, highlight flowers grown in high tunnels and caterpillar tunnels as well as in the field., and walk us through demonstrations, with time at the end for discussion & questions! Registration is free for Iowa Specialty Crop Growers Association members, and $10 for non-members! We will have subject matter experts from ISU (Cindy Haynes & Dan Fillius), as well as Ball Seed joining us.

More information & registration: https://www.iowaspecialtycrop.org/events-2/#!event/2024/6/20/iscga-field-day-cut-flower-production-on-an-amish-farm

Ottumwa Man Arrested on Outstanding Warrants, Now Faces Additional Charges

OTTUMWA — On June 10th, 2024, at approximately 1:46 p.m., Nolan Ryan Rork, age 18, was arrested on outstanding arrest warrants at 712 Overman in Ottumwa.

On or about April 11th, 2024, Nolan Rork signed himself out of the halfway house where he was court ordered to reside after pleading guilty to several violent felonies in 2023.  After leaving the halfway house, Rork cut off his GPS ankle monitor and did not return to the halfway house.  

Yesterday, law enforcement personnel arrested Rork after he was observed at 712 Overman.  Rork was arrested on 4 arrest warrants for Probation Violation for various felonies and Voluntary Absence from Custody, a Serious Misdemeanor.  

When Rork was arrested yesterday he was additionally found to be in possession of 2 handguns and prescription medications that he does not have a valid prescription for.  Rork was additionally charged with the following new crimes: 

  • Felon in Possession of a Firearm (2 Counts), bloth Class “D” Felonies
  • Failure to Affix a Drug Tax Stamp, a Class “D” Felony
  • Unlawful Possession of Prescription Medication, a Serious Misdemeanor

Rork is currently being held in the Wapello County Jail with a $21,000 cash only bond.  The Wapello County Sheriff’s Department, the Southeast Iowa Inter-Agency Drug Task Force, and the Iowa Department of Public Safety Division of Narcotics Enforcement assisted in Rork’s arrest on this day.  

Apple expected to enter AI race with ambitions to overtake the early leaders

CUPERTINO (AP) — Apple’s annual World Wide Developers Conference on Monday is expected to herald the company’s move into generative artificial intelligence, marking its late arrival to a technological frontier that’s expected to be as revolutionary as the invention of the iPhone.

The widely anticipated display of AI to be embedded in the iPhone and other Apple products will be the marquee moment at an event that traditionally previews the next version of software that powers the company’s hardware lineup.

And Apple’s next generation of software is expected to be packed with an array of AI features likely to make its often-bumbling virtual assistant Siri smarter, and make photos, music, texting — and possibly even creating emojis on the fly — a more productive and entertaining experience.

True to its secretive nature, Apple hasn’t provided any advance details about Monday’s event being held at the company’s Cupertino, California, headquarters.

But CEO Tim Cook has dropped strong hints during the first few months of this that Apple is poised to reveal its grand plans to enter a space that has been fueling an industry boom during the past 18 months.

AI mania is the main reason that Nvidia, the dominant maker of the chips underlying the technology, has seen its market value rocket from about $300 billion at the end of 2022 to about $3 trillion. The meteoric ride allowed Nvidia to briefly surpass Apple last week as the second most valuable company in the U.S. Microsoft earlier this year also eclipsed the iPhone maker on the strength of its so-far successful push into AI.

But analysts have been have been getting increasingly worried that Apple may be falling too far behind in the rapidly changing AI space, a concern that has been compounded by an uncharacteristically extended slump in the company’s sales. Both Google and Samsung already have released smartphone models touting AI features as their main attractions.

That’s why analysts such as Dan Ives of Wedbush Securities view Monday’s conference as a potential springboard that catapults Apple into another robust phase of growth. Ives believes infusing more AI into the iPhone, iPad and Mac computer will translate into an additional $450 billon to $600 billion in market value for Apple.

Monday’s conference “represents the most important event for Apple in over a decade as the pressure to bring a generative AI stack of technology for developers and consumers is front and center,” Ives wrote in a research note.

Apple definitely could use the boost that AI may be able to provide, particularly for its 13-year-old assistant Siri, which Forrester Research Dipanjan Chatterjee now calls an “oddly unhelpful helper.”

Meanwhile, OpenAI’s ChatGPT is getting increasingly conversational — so much so that it recently sparked accusations of intentionally copying a piece of AI software voiced by Scarlett Johansson — and Google last month previewed an AI “agent” dubbed Astra that can seemingly see and remember things.

Besides using AI to spruce up Siri, Apple may also team up with OpenAI to bring some elements of ChatGPT to the iPhone, according to a wide range of unconfirmed reports leading up to Monday’s conference.

This will be the second straight year that Apple has created a stir at its developers conference by using it to usher in its entrance into a trendy form of technology that other companies already had been making inroads.

Last year, Apple provided an early look at its mixed-reality headset, the Vision Pro, which wasn’t released until early this year carrying a $3,500 price tag that has been a major impediment to gaining much traction. Nevertheless, Apple’s push into mixed reality, tweaked with a twist that it bills as “spatial computing,” has raised hopes that what is currently a niche technology will turn into a huge market.

Part of the optimism stems from Apple’s history of releasing technology later than others and then using sleek designs and services combined with slick marketing campaigns to overcome its tardy start to unleash new trends.

“Apple’s early reticence toward AI was entirely on brand,” Forrester’s Chatterjee wrote in a preview of the developers conference. “The company has always been famously obsessed with what its offerings did for its customers rather than how it did it.”

Bringing more AI into the iPhone, in particular, will likely raise privacy issues — a topic where Apple has gone to great lengths to assure its loyal customer base that it can be trusted not to peer too deeply into their personal lives.

One way Apple could reassure consumers that the iPhone won’t be used to spy on them is to leverage its own chip technology so most AI-powered features are handled on the device itself instead of remote data centers, often called “the cloud.” Going that route also would help protect Apple’s profit margins because AI technology through the cloud is far more expensive than when it is run solely on a device.

ISU Extension expert stresses biosecurity as bird flu confirmed in Iowa dairy cattle

By George Bower (Radio Iowa)

The same strain of bird flu has recently hit a flock of laying hens in Sioux County and dairy cattle in O’Brien County. Iowa is the 11th state where bird flu has been reported among dairy cattle.

“There’s still a lot we don’t know, but we know it’s spread through wild birds to the poultry industry for years now,” says Iowa State University Extension dairy specialist Dr. Phillip Jardon. “From the dairy side, though, there does seem to be a very direct correlation between live animals, especially lactating dairy animals, moving from the Texas area up to the herds in Michigan and Ohio.”

Bird flu has been reported in 24 herds of dairy cattle in Michigan and one in Ohio. Jardon says biosecurity issues are key, as investigators believe a poultry flock in Michigan struck by bird flu may have been infected by an employee who also worked at a dairy operation.

“The dairy industry needs to realize that this is probably a bigger problem in the poultry industry than it is in the dairy industry,” Jardon says, “so I think we need to be cognizant of that and keep the spread down from our farms to poultry farms.”

So far, bird flu has been confirmed in over 80 U.S. dairy cattle herds. Jardon says the impact may reach dairy cattle shows at county and state fairs. “A lot of discussions going on about whether that should happen or, if it does happen, how it should happen — you know, what animals should come and so on, so stay tuned on that,” Jardon says. “There’ll be some decisions made and I’m sure there’ll be people unhappy either way no matter how it comes down.”

Jardon grew up on a small dairy farm in southwest Iowa. He got his medical degree from the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1986. Last July, Jardon joined Iowa State University Extension as a dairy specialist after working 11 years as a technical consultant to a company that produces vaccines and medicines for pets and livestock.

Body of Missing Person Found in Des Moines River

OTTUMWA — On Sunday, June 2nd, 2024 at approximately 4:21 p.m.; The Ottumwa Police Department received a report of an adult male subject who was last seen swimming in the Des Moines River. It was reported that the subject went swimming earlier in the day with a group of individuals in the Des Moines River near the Hwy 34 overpass bridge next to the JBS plant in Ottumwa, Iowa.

On Thursday, June 6th, 2024 at approximately 12:45 p.m. Wapello County Sheriff’s Office and Ottumwa Fire Department recovered (Deceased) the body of Skiller Amo, Age 36 of Ottumwa on the Des Moines River.  Mr. Amo was located just south of the Ottumwa Water Pollution Facility southeast of Ottumwa.   

Oskaloosa’s 7th Annual BBQ for Badges is This Weekend

OSKALOOSA — The 7th annual Oskaloosa “BBQ4Badges” is happening on Friday and Saturday.

Similar to previous years, the event will feature two divisions for teams to compete in: the “Pros” and “Joes” divisions. Money raised from the event will go to benefit various emergency services in Mahaska County, including Mahaska County EMA, the Oskaloosa Police Department, the New Sharon Police Department, the Oskaloosa Fire Department, and the Mahaska County Sheriff’s Office.

This year, the event boasts the largest purse in its history, with $10,000 available for teams to take home.

More information is available here.

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