April 4, 2013

MDC, Federal Agents Snag Major Paddlefish Poaching Operation



Local conservation agents were among the officers involved in a huge operation that resulted in more than 100 citations and arrests following a two-year investigation into illegal taking and selling of paddlefish and paddlefish eggs. Photo courtesy of MDC

Known as the "Paddlefish Capital of the World," Warsaw, Missouri, is a favorite area for many of Missouri's approximately 16,000 sport paddlefish snaggers because of its location along the Osage River.

Agents with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), including Scotland County agent Gary Miller, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) discovered that the Warsaw area is also a favorite location for paddlefish poachers.

A cooperative undercover investigation by the two agencies recently resulted in more than 100 suspects from Missouri and eight other states being issued citations and/or arrest warrants for state and federal crimes related to paddlefish poaching.

Missouri's official state aquatic animal, paddlefish are an ancient species. Also called spoonbills, they can grow up to seven-feet long and weigh 160 pounds or more. Paddlefish are valued as a sport fish for both their size, and for eating. Paddlefish are also valued for their eggs, or roe, which are eaten as caviar.

The section of the Osage River running along Warsaw in Benton County is a paddlefish hot spot because it is blocked upstream by Truman Dam. When spawning paddlefish reach the dam, their route is blocked and their numbers increase dramatically. This dramatically increases sport anglers' chances of snagging the big fish with a random jerk on a fishing line equipped with large hooks.

This concentration of female paddlefish laden with eggs also makes Warsaw a prime location for paddlefish poachers to get the fish eggs for national and international illegal caviar markets.

"The national and international popularity of Missouri paddlefish eggs as a source of caviar has grown dramatically in recent years," said MDC Protection Chief Larry Yamnitz. "This is a result of European sources of caviar having declined from overfishing of the Caspian Sea's once plentiful and lucrative beluga sturgeon, another species of fish known for its caviar."

Caviar is a delicacy created by preserving fish roe in special salts. According to MDC, about 20 pounds of eggs or more can be harvested from a large, pregnant female paddlefish. Retail prices for paddlefish caviar vary. A current common retail price is about $35 per ounce.

"Caviar prices in illegal or black markets also vary," Yamnitz said. "A common black-market price is about $13 an ounce. Therefore, a single large female paddlefish with about 20 pounds of eggs is carrying about $4,000 worth of potential caviar for black market sales."

Over the course of March 13 and 14, approximately 85 conservation agents of the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), 40 special agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USWFS), and wildlife officers from other states contacted more than 100 suspects in Missouri and eight other states to issue citations, execute arrest warrants, conduct interviews and gather additional information regarding a paddlefish-poaching investigation.

The effort included eight individuals indicted for federal crimes involving the illegal trafficking of paddlefish and their eggs for use as caviar. Other states involved were Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.

The arrests and citations were the result of a multi-year joint undercover investigation by MDC conservation agents and special agents of the USFWS involving the illegal commercialization of Missouri paddlefish and their eggs for national and international caviar markets. The undercover investigation ran during the spring 2011 and spring 2012 paddlefish seasons, March 15 through April 30. It was based out of Warsaw, Missouri. Additional MDC conservation agents and federal agents supported the undercover operation.

"Sport anglers may only catch two paddlefish daily and the eggs may not be bought, sold or offered for sale," Yamnitz explained. "Extracted paddlefish eggs may not be possessed on waters of the state or adjacent banks and may not be transported. Paddlefish and their eggs may be commercially harvested only from the Mississippi River."

He added that through the undercover operation, agents were able to identify suspects engaged in wildlife violations involving the illegal purchase, resale and transport of paddlefish and their eggs, document other violations of the Missouri Wildlife Code in addition to the core investigation, and determine that paddlefish eggs harvested in Missouri were being illegally transported out of the state for redistribution.

Federal crimes tied to the poaching involve violations of the Lacey Act. The Act makes it a federal crime to poach game in one state with the purpose of selling the bounty in another state and prohibits the transportation of illegally captured or prohibited wildlife across state lines.

MDC and the USFWS worked with the Benton County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, the Benton County Sheriff's Department and the U.S. Department of Justice on the investigation.

Identification of suspects in violation of state wildlife charges is pending legal filings. Copies of the federal indictments may be obtained from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Kansas City.

The investigation began with tips from the public about illegal activities.

"Individuals from the Warsaw area first alerted us to potential paddlefish poaching in the area," said Yamnitz. "We are grateful to them, and encourage anyone spotting suspected illegal fishing or hunting activity to contact their local conservation agent, or call Operation Game Thief at 1-800-392-1111, 24 hours a day. Callers may remain anonymous and rewards are available for information leading to arrests."

Paddlefish are highly valued by both sport anglers and commercial fishermen. Through Missouri Department of Conservation stocking efforts at three large reservoirs, Missouri offers some of the best paddlefish snagging fisheries in the U.S. The reservoirs are at Lake of the Ozarks and its tributaries, Harry S. Truman Reservoir and its tributaries, and Table Rock Lake and its tributaries, primarily the James River arm.

Without MDC's stocking of these fisheries, and other paddlefish management practices, paddlefish numbers would sharply decline in Missouri's reservoirs, reducing opportunities for sport snaggers.

In the past, paddlefish were naturally abundant in Missouri, but their numbers declined because of channelization, damming, impoundments and other river modifications. These modifications have greatly diminished the natural habitat paddlefish need to reproduce in the wild.

Today, paddlefish in Missouri must be stocked. The Missouri Department of Conservation stocks about 45,000 hatchery-produced 10-12-inch-long paddlefish fingerlings each year in Missouri's three main paddlefish locations: Table Rock Lake, Truman Lake and Lake of the Ozarks.

Paddlefish can grow to a length of about seven feet, weigh up to 160 pounds or more, and live 30 years or more. Females grow larger and heavier than males. It takes about 6-8 years for a paddlefish to reach legal harvest size (34-inches) in Missouri's large reservoirs. Female paddlefish reach sexual maturity at 8-10 years and spawn every 2-3 years. Male paddlefish reach sexual maturity at 4-5 years and spawn annually. The egg masses of female paddlefish can be up to 25 percent of their body weight, with a large female paddlefish carrying about 20 pounds of eggs, or roe.

Paddlefish live mostly in open waters of big rivers and were historically found in the Mississippi, Missouri and Osage rivers, along with other streams. Paddlefish spend most of the year dispersed throughout large reservoirs and rivers until warm spring rains increase flows and raise water temperatures, which prompts the big fish to swim upstream on their spawning run. Spawning runs occur in late spring at times of increased water flow. It is triggered by a combination of daylight, water temperature, and water flow.

For more information about paddlefish, visit www.mdc.mo.gov.

Eight Indicted for Trafficking of Paddlefish 'Caviar'



WASHINGTON -Eight individuals face federal charges stemming from a joint U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Missouri Department of Conservation investigation of interstate and international trafficking in paddlefish "caviar," the Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division and the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri announced. Arkadiy Lvovskiy, Dmitri Elitchev, Artour Magdessian, Felix Baravik, Petr Babenko , Bogdan Nahapetyan, Fedor Pakhnyuk, and Andrew Praskovsky have been charged in four, separate indictments in the Western District of Missouri for acts that occurred in 2011 and 2012.

The American paddlefish (Polydon spathula), also called the Mississippi paddlefish or the "spoonbill," is a freshwater fish that is primarily found in the Mississippi River drainage system. Paddlefish eggs are marketed as caviar. Paddlefish were once common in waters throughout the Midwest. However, the global decline in other caviar sources, such as sturgeon, has led to an increased demand for paddlefish caviar. This increased demand has led to over-fishing of paddlefish, and consequent decline of the paddlefish population.

Missouri law prohibits the transportation of paddlefish eggs which have been removed or extracted from a paddlefish carcass. Missouri law also prohibits the sale or purchase, or offer of sale or purchase, of paddlefish eggs. There are also several restrictions on the purchase and possession of whole paddlefish in Missouri.

Among other things, the Lacey Act makes it unlawful for any person to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire or purchase fish that were taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of any law or regulation of any State, or to attempt to do so. Such conduct constitutes a felony crime if the defendant knowingly engaged in conduct involving the purchase or sale, offer to purchase or sell, or intent to purchase or sell, fish with a market value in excess of $350, knowing that the fish were taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of, or in a manner unlawful under, a law or regulation of any State.

Arkadiy Lvovskiy, 51, of Aurora, Colorado, Dmitri Elitchev, 46, of Centennial, Colorado, Artour Magdessian, 46, of Lone Tree, Colorado, and Felix Baravik, 48, of Aurora, Colorado, were charged with conspiring with each other, and others, to violate the Lacey Act, and with trafficking in paddlefish and paddlefish eggs in violation of the Lacey Act. The indictment alleges that in the spring of 2011 and 2012, the defendants traveled to Warsaw,

Missouri, where they engaged in multiple, illegal purchases of paddlefish and processed the eggs from those paddlefish into caviar. After processing the paddlefish eggs into caviar, the defendants transported the caviar from Missouri to Colorado. The indictment further alleges that, during the interstate transportation, the defendants engaged in counter-surveillance efforts in order to avoid being detected.

Petr Babenko, 42, of Vineland, New Jersey, and Bogdan Nahapetyan, 33, of Lake Ozark, Missouri, were charged with conspiring with each other and other individuals to violate the Lacey Act, and with trafficking in paddlefish and paddlefish eggs in violation of the Lacey Act. The indictment alleges that between March and April 2012, the defendants traveled to Warsaw, Missouri, where they engaged in multiple, illegal purchases of paddlefish and processed the eggs from those paddlefish into caviar. After processing the paddlefish eggs into caviar, they transported the caviar from Missouri to New Jersey.

Fedor Pakhnyuk, 39, of Hinsdale, Illinois, is charged with two counts of trafficking in paddlefish and paddlefish eggs in violation of the Lacey Act. According to the indictment, in the spring of 2011 and 2012 Pakhnyuk traveled from Illinois to Missouri for the purpose of obtaining paddlefish eggs. The indictment alleges that Pakhnyuk procured paddlefish eggs by purchasing them, and by performing processing services for other persons in exchange for a share of the processed eggs. After processing the paddlefish eggs into caviar, Pakhnyuk transported the caviar from Missouri to Illinois. The indictment alleges that Pakhnyuk also attempted to form an enterprise with other individuals that would market processed paddlefish caviar at markets in Chicago, Illinois.

Andrew Praskovsky, 40, of Erie, Colorado, is charged with two counts of trafficking in paddlefish and paddlefish eggs in violation of the Lacey Act. According to the indictment, in March and April 2012, Praskovsky twice traveled to Warsaw, Missouri, for the purpose of purchasing paddlefish. After processing the paddlefish eggs into caviar, Pakhnyuk transported the caviar from Missouri to Kansas. The indictment alleges that, in April 2012, Praskovsky attempted to export some of the paddlefish eggs in checked luggage on an international flight departing from Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC. The paddlefish eggs were seized at Dulles, as paddlefish eggs may only be exported if they are accompanied by a valid permit issued by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service under the Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

If convicted, the individual defendants face a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and a $250,000 fine per count, as well as forfeiture of any vehicles that were used during the commission of the crimes.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Missouri Department of Conservation, with assistance by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys James B. Nelson and Adam C. Cullman of the Department of Justice's Environmental Crimes Section and Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence E. Miller of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Missouri.

An indictment is a formal accusation and is not proof of guilt. Defendants are presumed innocent until and unless they are found guilty.

Area Students Named to Buena Vista University Graduate & Professional Studies Dean’s List

STORM LAKE, IA – The following area students have been named to the Dean’s List at Buena Vista University Graduate & Professional Studies for terms one and two:

Hilary Harris of Memphis, Mo., who attends Buena Vista University Graduate & Professional Studies Ottumwa location.

Shelbie Jones of Greentop, Mo., who attends Buena Vista University Graduate & Professional Studies Ottumwa location.

Derrick Muntz of Memphis, Mo., who attends Buena Vista University Graduate & Professional Studies Ottumwa location.

Students named to the Dean’s List must have a minimum grade point average of 3.5 for the two terms, based on a 4.0 grade point system, and must have taken at least 12 hours of coursework.

Buena Vista University’s main campus in Storm Lake, Iowa, was founded in 1891, and its Graduate & Professional Studies (GPS) degree-completion program began 40 years ago. Today, the GPS program’s 16 learning locations and online courses have given more than 15,500 graduates the opportunity to expand their potential with a pace, academic rigor, and class sizes that appeal to a wide variety of students. A diverse menu of over 50 different programs and courses designed for working adults delivers options that meet many educational needs, and a variety of class formats make scheduling even more convenient. Visit www.bvu.edu/gps.

Buena Vista University blends liberal arts with real-world experiences, preparing students for lifelong success, especially in the areas of elementary, secondary, and special education; business and accounting; and biological and chemical sciences. BVU is an affordable option for all students and, combined with its academic programs, has led U.S. News & World Report to rank BVU as the third best value school among Midwest Regional Colleges.

Rotary Collecting Shoes for Orphan Soles

shoes feature web

Rotary President, Bill Kiddoo has announced the local Rotary Club will take part in the District 6040 annual shoe drive.  To date, over fourteen years, Missouri Rotarians have contributed 270,528 pairs of shoes and $8,513 in cash.

Shoes and socks collected go to the most vulnerable children around the world.  This includes orphans, children who have lost one or both parents, those who live in institutionalized care, or poverty.

Donated shoes must be new, uppers with shoe strings or Velcro and hard soles and heels.  No open-toed or flip flops are allowed.  Donated cash helps to pay for shipping cost to Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America.  Shoes sizes should be for children ages one to teens.

You may bring shoes or cash to the Rotary Building at noon on any Tuesday, contact any Rotarian, or leave your donation at Cook’s Mens Store. This year’s shoe drive will end on April 16, 2016.

Gundy Named to Culver-Stockton College’s President’s List

CANTON – Delaney Gundy, a junior Art Education major from Gorin, was named to Culver-Stockton’s President’s List for work done during the fall 2015 semester.

To be named to the President’s List, Culver-Stockton College requires students to meet high academic standards. President’s List students have earned a 4.0 GPA and were enrolled in a minimum of 12 hours.

C-SC also announced its Honor Roll for the fall 2015 semester. To be named to the Honor Roll, students must meet high academic standards established by Culver-Stockton.

Local students honored included Ashley Watson of Brashear and Wyatt Kice of Memphis.

Culver-Stockton College, located in Canton, Mo., is a four-year residential institution in affiliation with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). C-SC specializes in experiential education and is one of only two colleges in the nation to offer the 12/3 semester calendar, where the typical 15 week semester is divided into two terms, a 12-week term and a 3-week term.

The C-SC Wildcats are members of the Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

Azen Jolly Timers Host February Club Meeting

The Azen Jolly Timers met at the Scotland County Hospital on February 3rd at 6 p.m. Alisa Kigar, Communication Specialist from SCH, led the group on a hospital tour.  Following the tour President Brock Aylward called the meeting to order. Pledges were led by Penelope Cline and Kendal Anderson. Roll call was your Super Bowl prediction.

The minutes were read by Bryn Aylward.  Kendal Anderson moved to approve and Abby Doster seconded the motion, motion passed. The treasurer’s report was read by Bailegh Phillips. Penelope Cline moved to pay bills and Brenna Phillips seconded the motion, motion passed.

In the report of project groups the Clover Kids met January 6th at the United Methodist Church and completed terrariums. In new business the achievement event will be March 6th  at the SCR-1 Elementary School. Registration begins at 1:30. Enrollment forms were passed out and are due back to Kristy by February 26th.  Dog school will begin on Feb.22nd and continue every Monday.

Demonstrations next month will be Avery Cowell and Jacob Stott.

Next month refreshments will be provided by Mohrs (snacks) and Justin Cowell (drinks).

Penelope Cline moved to adjourn the meeting and Kendal Anderson seconded the motion, the meeting was adjourned.

Submitted by Bryn Aylward. Reporter

Columbaria, Mapping Among Upgrades Being Considered at Memphis Cemetery

columbaria web

Improvements and upgrades for the municipal cemetery were a focus point of the February 4th meeting of the Memphis City Council. The board of aldermen reviewed a preliminary proposal for the addition of a columbaria, a structure or building that includes niches to house funeral urns for cremation remains.

A proposal is being considered to ad such a structure in the recently completed scattering garden at the Memphis Cemetery. Initial estimates have established costs ranging from $25,000 – $40,000 for stand-alone walls or structures with outside access of 70-90 niches.

Ron Henkenius of Memphis Funeral Home has been working with City Superintendent Roy Monroe to gather information for the proposal.

“Predictions at present, estimate that in 15 years cremation will be selected by 85 to 90 percent of the public,” said Henkenius.

The cost of the columbaria would be recovered over time in the purchase price of niche space, which was estimated between $650 – $800.

The city has been requested to provide digital photography of the proposed site to allow professional rendering of an official proposal, free of charge.

The council also considered a proposal from Midland GIS Solutions for digital GPS mapping of the cemetery.

The Maryville-based company currently is performing GPS mapping of the city’s utility systems.

The proposal calls for digital aerial photography integration into the cemetery mapping GIS program to be used for visual ground reference. The mapping would establish cemetery lot boundaries as accurately as possible using coordinate geometry.

While the proposal would only identify plots by section, block, lot and space numbers, the data base would be available for the city to add additional information, such as the name, plot classification (open, sold, closed, etc.), date of birth, date of death and additional comments.

As part of the proposal, the company would also create an online cemetery mapping program, which if the city chose, could be made available to the public for research purposes.

The bid included a 47,000 price tag for the mapping, $2,500 for the online mapping program, and $1,200 for a one year data hosting agreement for a total cost of $10,700.

The council tabled the bid until further details are received regarding the actual mapping process, and if GPS coordinates will be used to accurately establish all plot sizes and locations, or if the mapping is simply based on descriptions and existing mapping.

Continuing on the cemetery topic, Monroe presented a preliminary estimate for resurfacing the driving surface at the site. Monroe stated preliminary figures were approximately $150,000 for a hot-mix resurfacing of the 1.7 miles of road in the cemetery.

Due to the cost, Monroe suggested considering using city crews to make asphalt upgrades where feasible and added he was working on some preliminary plans to install additional parking areas.

Monroe also reported initial groundwork with the USDA office regarding mapping of possible terrace installation or other upgrades to remedy an expanding ditch issue on the new cemetery ground.

“The experts told us that cemeteries are notorious for runoff issues,” said Monroe. “Because they are mowed and manicured so well, they produce as much as 90% runoff of storm water, which can lead to ditch issues.”

Duley, Hunolt Named to Northwest’s Honor Roll

The Office of the Registrar at Northwest Missouri State University announced the names of students named to the Academic or President’s Honor Roll at the end of the 2015 fall trimester.

To be included on the Academic Honor Roll a student must carry a minimum of 12 credit hours and attain a grade point average of 3.50 or above on a 4.00 scale. Students named to the President’s Honor Roll have attained a perfect 4.00 GPA for the trimester.

Anna A. Duley of Memphis and Andrew M. Hunolt of Baring were named to the Academic Honor Roll.

Bruner Earns MBA Degree at Northwest

The Office of the Registrar and the Graduate School at Northwest Missouri State University have released the names of students who completed requirements for degrees at the conclusion of the 2015 fall trimester.

Degree recipients include: bachelor of science (B.S.), bachelor of science in education (B.S. Ed.), bachelor of technology (B.T.), bachelor of arts (B.A.), bachelor of fine arts (B.F.A.), master of science (M.S.), bachelor of science in clinical laboratory sciences (B.S. CLS), bachelor of science in medical technology (B.S. MT), master of arts (M.A.), master of business administration (M.B.A.), master of science in education  (M.S. Ed.), and education specialist (Ed. Spec.)

Alex Newly Bruner of Downing received his Master’s of Business Administration degree.

Behind the Lens – How To Take A Picture Perfect Self Portrait

by Taylor Lloyd

Let’s face it. Pictures are the best… and the worst. A picture is so unique in that it has the power to transport you back in time to a place filled with fond memories or more often (for me anyway) it can evoke embarrassment (did I really wear that? What on earth was I thinking!?). For better or worse though, pictures are often treasured keepsakes and while I’m strictly more of a nature/ landscape photographer, even I understand the importance of a good portrait. For this reason, I’ll share with you a few tips on how to look your best when it comes to taking your own portrait.

(1) Remember what your trying to capture. While I believe that the difference between a Selfie and a self portrait is that the latter is more thoughtful and time consuming, Self portraits can be anything you want them to be (I mean come on. You’re in charge). They can be a means to capture a flattering authentic image of yourself or an artistic impression of who you aspire to be. They can be goofy or business oriented. Whatever the case may be, being focused on what you are trying to convey in the first place will most certainly improve your portrait.

(2) To achieve flattering portraits (either on you or someone else) is to know what is your best side or angle or features you possess. One thing I strongly believe in is when a face is turned slightly, it will be more flattering than looking squarely straight at the face. The reason being is that an angle gives the appearance of depth and causes the viewer to be more engaged and intrigued in your photo.

(3) Having good lighting is key to creating good portraits. Though take this tip with a grain of salt, though, because everyone has their own opinions on what looks good, for some like to play with other lighting elements to create different feelings. But good lighting will enhance details. With good lighting it is also important to let the light brighten your face. You will want to be having the light source facing you, otherwise you’ll end up with shadows or patchy splotches of sunlight covering your face. Inversely, don’t overexpose your face in the light or else you’ll be squinting and look washed out in the harsh light. Photographing on a cloudy day usually produces great lighting because the clouds act like a giant diffuser, making the sun’s light less intense and more evenly dispersed.

(4) For beginners, starting to shoot yourself at eye level, if not slightly above, is a good angle to start with and having your eyes on the top third of your photo is generally more visually pleasing. More times than not, the eyes are the first thing you notice on a person and with that being said, always make sure the eyes are in focus when taking pictures. Catchlights (the light source you see reflected in the eyes of your subject) are also something that is pleasing to capture in the eyes because it captures the life or spark in a person.

(5) Just like in horror movies, always be aware of what’s behind you. Instead of monsters, it’s the background that should concern you. Background as much as lighting plays an important role in your self portraits. A background that’s not out of focus enough or is too bright distracts the viewer from the main subject and thus loses the point of taking the photograph in the first place. Also be conscious of what you are wearing. Wrinkles or an upturned collar on a shirt can make a photo look sloppy. Unless this is your goal, give yourself a once over before snapping the picture.

(6) Where you position yourself will direct the rest of your photo. It is wise to never crop your pictures right on the joints of your subjects. Your goal should be to elongate and flatter the body and when you crop at the knees, ankles, toes, fingers, elbows, waist, neck, and wrists can make a person look rather stumpy. A good question to ask yourself when you crop (whether in camera or in photo editing) is, “does this look deliberate or does it look like a mistake?”

(7) Don’t be afraid to use props in your photos. Mirrors especially can make an image even more interesting. Holding a mug full of steaming coffee, or a full wine glass for example, will help give the picture a certain mood. Using a prop to stand in your place while you prefocus for your shot is also very useful if you have no other means by which to prefocus.

(8) My final tip is a bit more on the technical side but it might be the most handy. Use a tripod and also put your camera on timer mode. It is also wise to use Continuous Mode (or Burst Mode as some call it). Continuous shooting Mode isn’t just something that DSLRs have – most point and shoot cameras have it as an option also. This mode allows you to take multiple pictures as the shutter button is pressed down instead of the usual single shot you would otherwise get. There are a few variations to this mode, one of them being that your camera has a set amount of pictures it will take in an allotted time. This allotted amount of time is determined by how long of a shutter speed you have. For example, if you have the camera set on Continuous Mode and your shutter is set for a one second exposure, your camera will take the picture for that length of time and then take another photo for the same length of time. Continuous Mode is a great tool when combined with the timer mode. It gives you enough time to get into place and it will take multiple pictures, leaving you with several photos to choose from. Another great tool to throw into this combination is a remote. I have a cheap ($10 off Amazon) remote that has been an excellent device to own and I use it more often than I imagined I would. The reason I love my remote so much is it reduces camera shake when you are taking long exposures and it is also helpful for when you are in position for your portrait and you can’t move from your predetermined spot to press the shutter button down. Another excellent function of the remote is that if your camera is on Auto Focus, using the remote will focus the camera for you, which is crucial when you lack props to take your place where you will stand.

Self portraits can be quite addicting and each one can be vastly different from the last with just a few alterations. Armed with these simple tips, I hope you can better hone your skills at taking self portraits and have fun doing so. Until next time, happy shooting!

Construction Projects Lead Agenda at February City Council Meeting

construction

While the current cold spell may not make it seem like it, the Memphis City Council worked the through its February 4th meeting agenda under the premise that spring is just around the corner. And with the improving weather comes the start of construction season.

The board of aldermen discussed a number of proposed projects being considered for the 2016 construction season.

City Superintendent Roy Monroe reported ongoing legal work surrounding possible ramifications of a joint effort between the city and private property owners adjacent to the municipal light end power plants for the proposed construction of a flood levee.

The partnership idea was born out of shared interests in protecting property that currently is threatened by canal flooding at the west city limits of Memphis, on the north side of Highway 136.

Initially the city was considering construction of a concrete berm surrounding the power plant’s new substation. After learning that adjacent landowners were considering building an earthen levy on the west side of their properties and along the north/south boundary between these properties and the city’s water and power plants,  the parties met to discuss a possible partnership.

Initial discussions were had between the city and the property owners about the possibility of completing an earthen levy along the western borders of the private property and continuing the length of the city property.

Such a proposal would eliminate the need of the private property owners building the levy on the north border of their properties, and would also eliminate the need for the city to build the concrete retaining wall around the substation, which would represent significant savings for the city.

Preliminary discussions between the city and the landowners have centered around initial costs as well as maintenance responsibilities moving forward.

Monroe reported additional concerns have risen regarding potential liability generated by such a levee if flooding occurs on non-protected land on the other side of the canal.

The council asked Monroe to continue to seek legal advice regarding such liability issues, working with the Corp of Engineers and other resources to establish options for moving forward with the project.

PARK BUILDINGS

Monroe reported progress working with the local Boy Scouts as well as the American Legion regarding the possibility of restoring a community building at Legion Park. Such a structure had existed for many years before its deteriorating condition had forced its removal more than a decade ago.

The project is still in the planning stages and will be dependent upon available funding from all three partners.

A proposed shelter and new restrooms at Johnson Park has hit a snag, as grant funding for the project was denied by the Department of Natural Resources.

Monroe reported the City of Memphis was one of 16 applicants for grant funding, and one of just four that did not receive funding.

Last season, the city had placed portable restrooms at the site, but the city will now look into constructing some form of temporary restrooms, with the possibility of later moving the building and using it for storage if and when funding is secured for the larger shelter/restroom project.

MOWER BIDS

The council opened bids for the purchase of two new commercial zero-turn mowers and three commercial-grade trimmers. The low bid of $4,500 was accepted from The Farm Shop, Inc. of Edina for two 2016 EXMARK mowers with 60″ deck and 27HP Kohler engines, and three RedMax Trimmers. The bid price included trade in of two 61″ SCAG mowers.

Bids were also received from Wiss & Wiss Equipment of  Kahoka, Armstrong Tractor, LLC of Donnellson, IA and Garden Spot in Edina.

AIRPORT

Continued maintanence issues with the airport beacon have led to preliminary discussions regarding replacing the lighting system that identifies the airstrip to planes in the air. Preliminary cost estimates ranged from $4,000 to $10,000 to replace the beacon, which is believed to be the original installed in the 1970s.

The airport committee will work on a proposal to be presented to the council at a later date.

Scotland County Hospital Admissions & Dismissals

Scotland County recorded 26 admissions and 26 dismissals from January 29 through February 8, 2016.

ADMISSIONS: 1/31/2016 – Joseph L. Young, Kahoka 2/01/16 – Angela Wiley, Bloomfield, IA; Chyanne Popp, Lancaster; Gracelynn Popp, Lancaster; Jase James Wiley, Bloomfield, IA 2/02/16 – Ashton Pruett, Wayland; Tara Pruett, Wayland 2/05/16 – Roxie B. Miller, Memphis

DISMISSALS: 1/29/16 -Shelby Garrett, Lancaster; Aidyn Lynnae Jackson, Lancaster 2/3/16 – Chyanne Popp, Lancaster; Gracelynn Popp, Lancaster; Angela Wiley, Bloomfield, IA; Jase J. Wiley, Bloomfield, IA 2/4/16 – Tara Pruett, Wayland; Ashton Pruett, Wayland 2/5/16 – Joseph L Young, Kahoka 2/6/16 – Roxie B. Martin, Memphis

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