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FFA plant sale starts April 23
Muscatine FFA Greenhouse plant sale starts April 23, online options available
  • Updated

MUSCATINE — In the back of Muscatine High School is the school greenhouse filled with the culmination of all the hard work from this year’s horticulture and agriculture classes.

With dozens of different plants, flowers and even vegetables to sell, the preparations for this year’s FFA Plant Sale are well under way.

“We host a plant sale every year at the end of April going into early May, and we grow a lot of our plants from seeds,” said junior horticulture student Grace Williams, who is preparing for her third FFA Plant Sale.

This year, the FFA Plant Sale will take place on April 23 and 30 as well as May 7 and 14, with the greenhouse open to the public from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Additionally, the option to order online and schedule a pick-up for an order has also returned for 2021.

More exciting than the actual sale, however, has been the hard work it has taken to get to this point. Williams and her class learned how to grow and care for certain plants correctly, learning what each plant needs as well as how to identify them.

“Our classroom work from the beginning of the year has helped us a ton, because now we can just walk through the greenhouse and know exactly what each plant is and what they need,” Williams said. “We know what we’re talking about and we know how to care for them, which is super cool. This class has just taught me so much.”

What has made the experience all the more personal for Williams was getting the chance to choose which plants she wanted to work with, like when she and a friend chose a specific black flower as one of their plants because they found its color interesting. But while they were able to choose what plants they wanted, the students don’t just work one or two plants the entire semester.

In order for the greenhouse to be successful, all students who work in it must work together. According to Williams, all of the students are in charge of all of the plants in a sense, and whenever there’s a big job to do or a big problem to solve, all the students step up and work together.

“We just do a lot out here, a lot of planting and transplanting, and we’ve been working hard all semester,” Williams said. “We care for the plants and then we’re able to sell our plants, which is cool because people in the community get to come and see our hard work and take those plants home.”

As someone who doesn’t enjoy the traditional classroom structure as much, Williams said she is grateful for the opportunity to have more of a hands-on class each day and gain that experience through in-person experience.

“If there’s something we need to go over or learn, we’ll go into the classroom and learn that, and then we’ll come back out here and get back to work,” she said.

As Muscatine's horticulture teacher, what Dave Tometich says he loves about the annual plant sale is that it’s 100% the work of the students.

“They have really labored and learned as a result of doing it,” he said. “Every class has done something out here, and it’s a great way to learn versus us just talking about it like we did last semester.”

Tometich added that he appreciated how it was also a business experience for students, and shows students not only how to plant and grow, but also sell and market.

“It’s a skill for life,” he said. “That’s the beauty of the agriculture program that we have, that the kids have to do it and put forth an effort. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun to do it properly – and I learn something every year with the kids too.”

Although both Tometich and Williams are expecting this sale to be successful, especially after last year’s online sales proved to be very helpful in still allowing the sale to happen despite the pandemic, Tometich still wanted to view the sale as a dual opportunity for his students no matter how much money the FFA greenhouse may or may not make from it.

“Our main goal is to make out money back, and hopefully we make some profit, but this project here is certainly education-based first,” Tometich said.

Residents can place their online plant sale orders at https://tinyurl.com/MuscatineFFAGreenhouse, and can pay for their order at https://tinyurl.com/MuscatineFFAPayment. Additional information as well as prices can be found at the Muscatine FFA Greenhouse Facebook page.


COVID-19 UPDATE
Half of US adults have received at least one COVID-19 shot
  • Updated

WASHINGTON — Half of all adults in the U.S. have received at least one COVID-19 shot, the government announced Sunday, marking another milestone in the nation’s largest-ever vaccination campaign but leaving more work to do to convince skeptical Americans to roll up their sleeves.

Almost 130 million people 18 or older have received at least one dose of a vaccine, or 50.4% of the total adult population, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. Almost 84 million adults, or about 32.5% of the population, have been fully vaccinated.

The U.S. cleared the 50% mark just a day after the reported global death toll from the coronavirus topped a staggering 3 million, according to totals compiled by Johns Hopkins University, though the actual number is believed to be significantly higher.

The country’s vaccination rate, at 61.6 doses administered per 100 people, currently falls behind Israel, which leads among countries with at least 5 million people with a rate of 119.2. The U.S. also trails the United Arab Emirates, Chile and the United Kingdom, which is vaccinating at a rate of 62 doses per 100 people, according to Our World in Data, an online research site.

The vaccine campaign offered hope in places like Nashville, Tennessee, where the Music City Center bustled Sunday with vaccine seekers. High demand for appointment-only shots at the convention center has leveled off enough that walk-ins will be welcome starting this week.

Amanda Grimsley, who received her second shot, said she’s ready to see her 96-year-old grandmother, who lives in Alabama and has been nervous about getting the vaccine after having a bad reaction to a flu shot.

“It’s a little emotional. I haven’t been able to see my grandmother in a year and a half almost,” said Grimsley, 35. “And that’s the longest my entire family has ever gone without seeing her. And we’ll be seeing her in mid-May now.”

The states with the highest vaccination rates have a history of voting Democratic and supporting President Joe Biden in the 2020 election: New Hampshire at the top, with 71.1%, followed by New Mexico, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine, CDC data show.

The demand has not been the same in many areas of Tennessee — particularly, rural ones.

Tennessee sits in the bottom four states for rates of adults getting at least one shot, at 40.8%. It’s trailed only by Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi — three other Southern states that lean Republican and voted for Donald Trump last fall.

Vaccination rates do not always align with how states vote. But polling from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research has shown trends that link political leanings and attitudes about the vaccines and other pandemic-related issues.

A poll conducted in late March found that 36% of Republicans said they will probably or definitely not get vaccinated, compared with 12% of Democrats. Similarly, a third of rural Americans said they were leaning against getting shots, while fewer than a fourth of people living in cities and suburbs shared that hesitancy.

Overall, though, willingness to get vaccinated has risen, polling shows.

In January, 67% of adult Americans were willing to get vaccinated or had already received at least one shot. The figure has climbed to 75%, according to the latest AP-NORC poll.

Nationwide, 24% of Black Americans and 22% of Hispanic Americans say they will probably or definitely not get vaccinated, down from 41% and 34% in January, respectively. Among white Americans, 26% now say they will not get vaccinated. In January, that number was 31%.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said the goal is to get community figures, from athletes to clergy, to encourage vaccinations, particularly as the seven-day national average of cases remains over 60,000 new infections per day.

“What we are doing is we’re trying to get, by a community core, trusted messages that anyone would feel comfortable with listening to, whether you’re a Republican, a Democrat, an independent or whomever you are, that you’re comfortable,” Fauci said Sunday on ABC's “This Week.”

Fauci also indicated Sunday that the government will likely move to resume use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine this week, possibly with restrictions or broader warnings after reports of some very rare blood clot cases.

In a series of news show interviews, Fauci said he expects a decision when advisers to the CDC meet Friday to discuss the pause in J&J’s single-dose vaccine.

“I would be very surprised if we don’t have a resumption in some form by Friday,” he said. "I don’t really anticipate that they’re going to want it stretch it out a bit longer.”

Fauci, who is President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, said he believed that federal regulators could bring the shots back with limits based on age or gender or with a blanket warning, so that it is administered in a way “a little bit different than we were before the pause.”

The J&J vaccine was thrown in limbo after the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration said last week they needed more evidence to decide if a handful of unusual blood clots were linked to the shot — and if so, how big the risk is.

The reports are rare — six cases out of more than 7 million U.S. inoculations with J&J vaccine. The clots were found in women between the ages of 18 and 48. One person died.

Authorities stressed they have found no sign of clot problems with the most widely used COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. — from Moderna and Pfizer.

———

Mattise reported from Nashville, Tennessee.


Local
MUSCATINE COUNCIL
Muscatine City Council approves pay increase for seasonal workers
  • Updated

Carol Webb

MUSCATINE – Seasonal employees of the city will be getting a pay increase after a resolution to raise standard pay from $10 to $13 per hour was approved during Thursday’s regular Muscatine City Council meeting.

Additionally, the resolution allows the city to hire a compost site attendant at a pay rate of $9.50 per hour. The position was added last year, but was not included in the seasonal pay plan. The resolution will place the position into the pay plan.

“It’s not enough,” council member John Jindrich, who made the motion to adopt the resolution, said. "All of it. Just my opinion.”

The motion was unanimously approved after discussion was held about possibly increasing the pay rate even more.

In the past, the city has used a combination to employees hired directly through a temp agency for the position of substitute refuse collection. The report in the agenda said it is becoming increasingly difficult to find qualified candidates for temp positions for $10 per hour. The goal of the increase is to attract more employees and to have more reliable labor. The rate of $13 per hour is more in line with other similar types of work. It is believed that while the hourly rate is higher, the ability to hire more local qualified candidates will offset the additional expense.

‘We looked at moving it to $15, but we wanted to see if we could establish more interest at $13,” City Administrator Carol Webb said. “I think if we have a problem recruiting seasonal workers we may be back asking for some additional funds.”

She said many temp employees are used because many of the city’s full-time refuse collectors are tenured and have a lot of vacation and sick time built up.

Mayor Diana Broderson commented people make more working at McDonald's that the amount the city is offering for the compost site attendant.

Council member Peggy Gordon said the council needs to continue exploring pay rates and making sure they stay competitive.


News
Muscatine Community College will hold vaccine clinic
  • Updated

MUSCATINE – Muscatine Community College will hold a CVOVID-19 vaccine clinic from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday for anyone over 18 years interested in the injection.

According to a press release, COVID-19 vaccines will be available at the student center at to college. It will be the Moderna vaccine and the second dose will be scheduled at the same place and time on May 17.

Appointments are preferred, but walk-ins are welcome. People are asked to bring an ID and insurance card. The college stresses that no one will be turned away for lack of an ID or insurance.

People with questions can contact Lisa Wiegel at lwiegel@eicc.edu or (563) 288-6005.


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