03 November 2004

Two major things in the office lately. The first is reconciling every single contract in EQIP (one of our federal cost share programs). This means going through every contract line item by line item to make sure that it migrated over correctly into our program. Our contracts have an average of 17 line items plus we have to check their direct deposit information, etc. Its time consuming. Add to that, the system is web based so with everyone in the nation working on this, it can slow down the system considerably. We have over 100 contracts total and I have 15 left. One keeps giving me an error and the other 14 I can’t touch until they create a program to fix them because they doubled up.
The other bit of frustration on computers is printing maps. I’m trying to print a whole watershed which is about 3’x5’ in a much smaller capacity. Eric asked me to help on this since I’m pretty comfortable with computers. A simple process became quite difficult. After printing off six 8”x11” pages and Eric pasting them together, I realized that it was way too much work. So, I decided to run to our area office on my way home (only 6 miles out of the way) and print it out on their plotter. My login wouldn’t access the plotter and Neil’s login wouldn’t access the photos from the server. Jerry’s also wouldn’t access the plotter, it has to be on the engineering computers. Of course all this is after hours and there’s noone around. Jerry (the boss in the field office which shares a building with the area office) had no clue where the disk was that has the photos saved. Go figure, he’s counted on his soil con to do all that stuff – same for my office. So, I was going to burn a cd with the info on it and take it back to the right computer. But, Jerry’s computer that can burn cd’s was down and our computer guy, Brian wasn’t around. Without sharing all the crazy details of my little adventure, I left the area office 1.5 hours later with a plotted document that didn’t have the aerial photos in the background as needed but did have the field boundaries. This morning started the craziness all over. Brian, our computer guy, came back and eventually set me up to print on the plotter in the area office from my desk. That was great but I couldn’t print preview it so I really didn’t know what the end result was. Rhonda, one of the office managers was trying to help but she’s not at all familiar with reading maps; bless her heart. Dave Brommel (the head guy for our area) came to her rescue. He jumped on the phone and said “looks like Bloody Run Watershed…” He was familiar with it because he worked in our county about 20 years ago. We got the scale right to fit but the darn thing wouldn’t change from portrait to landscape even when I told it too. Way too much drama for the day. Now that I waisted some big paper and lots of time, I told Eric to call the guy who originally created and sent him the document to have him print it out in Des Moines and mail it up to him. Ah, done with that one.

My county is never slow but things sure have picked up. We’re gearing up for Conservation Security Program (CSP) expecting to hear soon if we have it. It’s a new program in Iowa and requires lots of bodies and mucho mucho hours to sign people up. When that officially happens, we’ll likely have a Jan-Feb signup. We also just got our EQIP money for this year – about 5-6 months earlier than usual. That will be a mid December signup so we’re gearing up for that now. Setting appointments to meet with interested landowners. Plus, its fall work time here and that means that we should all be out in the field laying out practices before the ground freezes. Unfortunately there’s too much on our plate right now to focus on one thing. Then, Troy, my coworker who does a ton and has been the one focusing on the EQIP appointments, got called for jury duty today. So I filled in with an appointment this morning but now he’ll be out at least a couple of days. As if we can afford to get any farther behind. Two days after we got our EQIP money, we also heard that our CRP offers got accepted. That means that we have 62 landowners to sit down with and plan out their next 10-15 years of grasses and each step of that program from getting it established and what kinds of grasses to seed through maintenance, etc. Its quite the project when we get these. The same day, they informed us that our ECP money came through finally. This money goes to repair all the damage the May floods created around here. That adds gobs of work for the technicians to do. So, to put it simply, we are BUSY around here. Some say job security and I kinda hope so – I’d prefer to stick around here as long as I can; I know they’ll keep me busy!

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