Category Archives: News

Talking Turkey at Thanksgiving

ThanksgivingMealSketch

Few foods receive the fanfare of turkey come the holiday season. The National Turkey Federation says Americans eat 46 million turkeys each Thanksgiving and another 22 million on Christmas. An additional 19 million enjoy turkey as part of their Easter celebrations.
Though turkey is enjoyed throughout the year, it is most popular during the holiday season. Some celebrants may want to know more about this beloved bird before sinking their teeth into their next holiday meal. The following turkey tidbits may surprise you:

Turkeys are large game birds that are closely related to chickens, pheasants and quail.

The turkey’s scientific name is “meleagris gallopavo,” which is the wild turkey from which the domesticated turkey many people eat descends. There is another species of turkey known as the ocellated turkey, which is native to the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico.

By the early 1900s, the wild turkey neared extinction. Restoration projects have increased the number of turkeys from approximately 30,000 birds back then to nearly seven million now.

Despite their size, turkeys can fly in the wild. They often perch in trees to sleep to protect themselves from predators. Some domesticated turkeys may not fly because they have been bred to be overly large to produce more breast meat.

The heaviest turkey ever raised was 86 pounds.

A male turkey is called a “tom” or a “gobbler,” while female turkeys are referred to as “hens.” Only the male will make the familiar gobbling sound, which is used to attract mates.

A hen is smaller than a gobbler and does not have the distinctive beard of modified feathers that gobblers have on their breasts. Males also have sharp spurs on their legs for fighting.

Both genders of turkey have snoods (the dangling appendage on the face) as well as red wattles under their chins.

A hen can lay about 10 to 12 eggs over a period of two weeks. The eggs will incubate for 28 days before hatching. Baby turkeys are called “poults.”

Turkeys and peacocks may look similar, but they are not closely related.

Turkeys have excellent vision due to their eyes being located on the sides of their head. This gives the birds periscopic vision.

The gizzard is a part of the turkey’s stomach that contains tiny stones that the bird has swallowed. The stones facilitate the digestion process.

Benjamin Franklin did not support the bald eagle as the nation’s symbol, feeling the turkey would be a better choice. In a letter to his daughter, he wrote, “He [bald eagle] is a rank coward; the little king-bird, not bigger than a sparrow, attacks him boldly and drives him out of the district. For in truth, the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America. Eagles have been found in all countries, but the turkey was peculiar to ours .”

Turkeys will have 3,500 feathers at maturity. Rumor has it the costume worn by the “Sesame Street” character “Big Bird” is made of turkey feathers.

The turkey shares its name with a country. But why? A turkey bears some resemblance to the guinea fowl. Though it is native to eastern Africa, the guinea fowl was imported to Europe through the Ottoman Empire and came to be called the “turkey-cock” or “turkey-hen.” When settlers in the New World began to send similar-looking fowl back to Europe, they were mistakenly called “turkeys.”

Despite an abundance of turkeys being eaten between November and January, June is National Turkey Month.

2014 Holiday Home Lighting Contest

The sudden shift to unseasonably cold temperatures may have area residents rethinking their holiday decorating plans. Regardless, area residents are still encouraged to light up their homes and share some holiday spirit with their neighbors and friends, as once again, The Progress Review is partnering with La Porte City Utilities to sponsor the city’s annual Home Lighting Contest.
Homes placing in the top ten in the contest will receive a $20 credit on their utility bill, courtesy of La Porte City Utilities. To receive the utility credit, winning homes must receive utility service from La Porte City Utilities. Additionally, the top three homes will be awarded La Porte City Chamber Checks in the amounts of $75, $50 and $25, respectively.
In addition to the Home Lighting Contest, three La Porte City businesses will be recognized for their lighting displays, along with the winners of the 2014 Holiday Home Lighting Contest, which will be announced in the December 24, 2014 edition of The Progress Review.
The judging of the lighting contest will take place December 12-14 between 5 PM and 7 PM. Area residents who wish to participate in the contest are encouraged to leave their holiday lights on during that time.

Five Easy Fixes

Conserve Energy and Save Big with these Home Maintenance Tips

The winter heating season is pounding on the door, and Black Hills Energy has quick, inexpensive fixes – many less than $20 – to fix five common sources of home energy loss.
“We’re no strangers to freezing temperatures in Iowa, and nearly half the energy you use each winter goes to heating,” said Tracy Peterson, Operating Vice President for Iowa Gas. “We help customers by offering a free in-home energy evaluation, rebates for insulation and new, high-efficiency appliances and more.”
Air leaks: Warm indoor air escapes and cold air sneaks in through cracks around doors, windows and entry points for natural gas, cable and telephone lines. Carefully seal around those areas with an inexpensive caulking gun and a $3 tube of caulk. Add weather stripping around doors and windows for another low-cost way to improve indoor comfort and cut heating bills.
Dirty air filters: A dirty air filter increases the resistance to air flow. Your furnace has to work harder and consumes a lot more energy. It can even cause indoor temperatures to plummet, leading to an unnecessary service call. Clean your air filters per the manufacturer’s instructions – usually monthly – and replace them as directed to keep warm, clean air flowing throughout your home.
Kitchen culprits: It’s hard to resist opening the oven door to check on baking cookies or a Thanksgiving turkey, but the temperature inside your oven drops 25 degrees every time you open the door. Doing so increases cook time and wastes energy. Instead, turn on the oven light and take a peek. On the stovetop, use the right-sized pot or pan for each burner. For example, a six-inch pan on an eight-inch burner wastes 40 percent of the burner’s energy!
Leaky air ducts: When conditioned air escapes from your heating and cooling ducts, it can add hundreds of dollars a year to your energy bills. Seal seams with duct mastic or foiled duct tape so your furnace doesn’t have to work overtime to keep your family cozy. Duct mastic is usually less than $15 a gallon and can be applied with a cheap paint brush.
Programmable thermostats: Where health concerns aren’t an issue, a good winter rule of thumb is to keep the thermostat at 68 degrees and to lower it 5 to 8 degrees while you’re asleep or away from home. The energy savings really add up. A programmable thermostat is a great set-it-and-forget-it assistant and well worth the investment.
“Taking proactive steps to improve your home’s energy efficiency is a quick, inexpensive ways to conserve energy and reduce heating costs,” Peterson said “Our residential energy efficiency programs are another great opportunity.”
Online Energy Evaluation: Answer a few short questions at www.bheSaveMoney.com to receive an energy efficiency ranking for your home, improvement suggestions and a three-year savings estimate.
FREE In-Home Energy Evaluation: A professional evaluator visits your home and measures insulation levels, air infiltration levels, equipment and operating conditions and home habits that influence energy usage. If you follow a recommendation to add insulation, our rebates cover 70 percent of the cost, up to $750.
Rebates: Black Hills Energy customers who buy a high-efficiency appliance, natural gas furnace or water heater with the ENERGY STAR rating and can apply for rebates. You’ll find a list of qualifying appliances, additional energy efficiency programs and energy-saving tips at www.bheSaveMoney.com

Rewards for Healthy Choices

Collaboration between Wellmark, Hy-Vee and UnityPoint Health Results in New Health Insurance Plan

Earlier this year, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Hy-Vee and UnityPoint Health jointly announced Blue RewardsSM, a unique new option in health insurance designed to reward customers for healthy behaviors. Today the companies are sharing more about the plan and its unique rewards.
A new, healthier insurance option
Designed with the busy, health-conscious consumer in mind, Blue Rewards health insurance provides the highest benefits and lowest costs when members use the coordinated care of UnityPoint Health doctors and a network of select providers, and when they fill their prescriptions and receive dietitian services at Hy-Vee.
Members have access to Wellmark’s extensive physician and hospital network through the product’s tiered network. Similar to other ACA plans, members can choose from Bronze, Silver and Gold metallic level options to ensure they have the level of coverage that’s right for them.
Rewards for healthy behavior
Blue Rewards is a one-of-a-kind health insurance plan that pays members points for the healthy choices they make. Healthy choices include things like selecting a primary care provider, getting an annual physical, dietitian counseling, and signing up to receive Explanation of Benefits (EOBs) electronically. Members can track their progress online and can redeem their points for Hy-Vee gift cards, or rewards that will help them live even healthier lives, like a FitBitTM.
Coordinated care, better results
Blue Rewards members will select a physician when they enroll. Evidence has proven that patients who have a personal physician have better health outcomes and experience overall lower costs for health care.
Who is the ideal Blue Rewards member?
Blue Rewards is available in 31 select Iowa counties and is available for individuals and families for the 2015 plan year. Small businesses (up to 50 employees) are also eligible to enroll in coverage. Blue Rewards is best for consumers who:
Live in a Wellmark Blue Rewards county
Like earning rewards for healthy behaviors
Prefer coordinated care with a UnityPoint Health doctor
Shop and fill their prescriptions at a convenient Hy-Vee pharmacy
Like to choose where they get their care and to decide how much they’ll pay for it, depending on which provider they see.

To learn more about Blue Rewards, contact your trusted Wellmark agent or visit http://WellmarkBlueRewards.com.

Utilities Audit Report Released

Ridihalgh, Fuelling, Snitker, Weber, & Co. CPA’s recently released an audit on the La Porte City Utilities for the year ended June 30, 2014.
Ridihalgh, Fuelling, Snitker, Weber, & Co., CPA’s reported that the Utilities’ receipts totaled $3,885,095 for the year ended June 30, 2014. The receipts included $2,579,526 in charges for services, $75,419 in grant and miscellaneous proceeds, $1,226,816 for bond proceeds, and $3,334 for interest on investments. Disbursements totaled $3,617,321 for the year ended June 30,2014, of which $405,161 debt service.
A copy of the audit report is available for review in the office of the Auditor of the State and the Utility office.