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COL Wind farm construction starts in Garner

GARNER, Iowa -- The delivery of turbines and other equipment has started toward building a wind farm in areas near here in Hancock County, a utility spokeswoman said.

Blades and turbine towers are being shipped to the site, and construction should begin this fall for the Hancock County Wind Energy Center, said Mary Wells, of FPL Energy LLC of Juno Beach Fla. The company will own and operate the center.

Between 138 and 148 turbines will be built on about 80 square miles of farmland around Duncan and Klemme, she said.

FPL Energy also owns the nearby Cerro Gordo Wind Energy Center, near Ventura in Cerro Gordo County.

The Hancock County site will have the capacity to generate 91 megawatts, Wells said. The company is negotiating with area businesses to buy its electricity, she said.

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The turbines, made by Vestas Wind Systems of Denmark, can produce 660 kilowatts each.

Fight over feedlot erupts in Westgate

WESTGATE, Iowa -- A fight over a proposed hog operation has erupted in this northeast Iowa town.

Nearly 100 showed up for a meeting Sept. 24 about a proposed 7,200-head operation to be built just northwest of Westgate, a Fayette County town of under 300 people.

Residents voiced concerns about the environment, including manure management, the threat of an accidental spill, odor and the use of the local water supply.

The proposed confinement building would be located on Doug Pagel's farm. Pagel would manage the operation, which would be owned by Nick Anderson of Cedar Falls.

According to the Department of Natural Resources, unless there is proof that the operation would harm the environment, it can go forward.

Federal money awarded to projects

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DES MOINES -- More than $1 million in federal money has been awarded to three Iowa projects that include a new fire station and small business development.

The money, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Fund, will be shared by the Treynor Fire Agency, the City of Stanley, and the Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission based in Burlington.

The Treynor Fire Agency will receive $400,00 to build a new fire station and a new community center.

Stanley will receive $20,000 to buy a new pumper truck for its fire department, and the Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission will receive $600,000 to provide low-interest loans to organizations to lend to business and community development.

The planning commission serves Des Moines, Henry, Lee and Louisa counties in southeast Iowa.

Property taxes can be paid on Internet

DES MOINES -- A new Web site will allow Iowans in 70 of the state's 99 counties to pay their property taxes on the Internet.

At the site, taxpayers can select their county and follow instructions that allow them to pay with credit cards or electronic checks. The Iowa State County Treasurer's Association created the Web site -- www.iowatreasurers.org.

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The service was launched Sept. 1. First-half property taxes are due Sept. 30.

Customers will be charged a 2 percent handling fee if they pay by credit card. Those who pay by electronic check will pay a smaller processing fee.

The Web site was developed by Iowa Interactive Inc., a subsidiary of NIC Inc., a publicly traded company based in Overland Oark, Kan.

Meeting will discuss failed elevators

DES MOINES -- Federal agriculture officials are scheduled to meet this week with state secretaries of agriculture to discuss a new USDA rule that could end protection for grain producers when elevators fail.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge is one of several state secretaries to ask the federal government to rescind the final regulations that were implemented in August as part of the U.S. Warehouse Act of 2000.

The new regulations could leave Iowa grain producers without protection from the Grain Indemnity Fund, which has paid farmers with grain stored in elevators when the elevators went bankrupt or were closed.

"I have grave concern over what seems to be a USDA move to stop the protections Iowa gives producers who sell their grain to federally licensed grain elevators," Judge wrote in a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman.

She urged the USDA to "back away from this position and rescind this new rule."

USDA spokesman Matt Lloyd said the implementation of the Congressional action "represents no change in USDA policy."

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