Central Iowans can take an active role today in restoring the disappearing prairieland that once covered the state. Polk County is hosting an event for groups, families and individuals to gather seeds from native prairie grasses and wildflowers.Kami Rankin is spokeswoman for the Polk County Conservation Board. She says it’s a great educational tool for people to learn about the prairie.Rankin says 200 years ago, Iowa was about 99-percent prairie. Now, native prairies comprise less than one-percent of Iowa.Interested seed harvesters are to gather at the Chichaqua Sand Hill prairie, about a half-hour northeast of Des Moines. For directions, call (515) 323-5363.
Archives for September 2001
The University of Northern Iowa celebrates the 25th anniversary of the UNI-Dome today. Spokesperson Heather Johnson says the facility on the west side of the Cedar Falls campus has become a landmark after a questionable beginning. She says there were some people who didn’t want the dome built back in 1976. The UNI-Dome has been host to countless football games, concerts, trade shows and graduations since it opened. Johnson says the building has grown through the years.The inflatable fabric roof was replaced in 1998 with a metal and fabric roof. Johnson says they’ll hold a ceremony in the south parking lot of the dome.The events will lead up to the U-N-I football game at four o’clock. The first 10-thousand fans who go to the game will get some gifts, such as commemorative tickets.It’s estimated that 400-thousand people attend some type of event at the UNI-Dome each year.
Former Vice President Al Gore is in Iowa, preparing to deliver a speech tonight in Des Moines. Gore flew into Burlington Friday morning, called a local supporter and went out for breakfast. With a cell phone and a rental car, Gore then made his way to Davenport, where he’d called Jerry Messer to round up some friends for lunch. Messer says they talked about all sorts of things: the war, whether Gore will run again, and, of course, Gore’s beard. He says the beard looks a little better in person than it does on TV.A group of eight, including Gore, sat down for lunch at the “Family Restaurant” in Davenport. Gore ordered a Greek salad, and Messer says it was a relaxed atmosphere and they had a lot of laughs.Messer is director of political affairs for the local United Food and Commercial Workers Union. He is also president of the Quad Cities Federation of Labor. Gore is to speak tonight, at about 8:30, at the Iowa Democratic Party’s annual Jefferson/Jackson Day fundraising banquet.
The Forest City Police Department is operating on a bare minimum staff after the National Guard called up two full-time and two reserve officers and the problem could get worse.Three more officers could be called up to duty, leaving only three officers on duty. Chief Doug Book will try to fill the gaps with reserve officers and officers from other towns. Book says he’s proud of his department’s guard participation, which also included “Desert Storm” in 1991.Book and another officer are part of a “Critical Incident Stress Management Team” that’s been put on stand-by to relieve other teams in New York City and Washington, D.C. Book says they’ve decided to go if called.He says they both feel it’s no time to turn their backs on fellow law officers. Book will consult with the Mayor to ensure the city is fully covered before he’d leave for duty in New York or D.C.
What do you get if you have an Oktoberfest event during the last weekend of September? Oktemberfest, of course. Marshalltown is hosting the family fun and food festival today and tomorrow with a Grand Parade kicking off at 10 o’clock this morning.Carolyn Anderson is an organizer of the Oktemberfest. She says all of those high school marching bands will be squaring off in a competition later today. Anderson says the annual Oktemberfest celebration features a variety of entertainment and events.Other events include a car show, a bike ride and a 5-K and 10-K walk/run that was held earlier this morning. There are also go-kart races at the Iowa International Raceway in Marshalltown. Anderson says another popular event is the chili cookoff. Chefs gather to start their bubbling brews at 9 o’clock this morning.For more details, call 800 697-3155 or surf to “www.marshalltown.org”.
The Mahaska County Sheriff’s office has arrested a suspect in the rape of a local real estate agent. Thirty-seven-year-old Anthony Schmidt was arrested Friday in his car and charged with second-degree sexual abuse. Police say Schmidt gave a fake address to a realtor Thursday when he asked her to show him a house in New Sharon. Schmidt is on the Iowa Sex Offender Registry list, considered a “high risk” to re-offend. He was convicted of sex crimes against women in May 1985 in Polk County and in 1988 in Pottawattamie County. He’s now jailed in Mahaska County.
The official “Hawk Watch” may have been last weekend at Effigy Mounds State Park, but naturalist Joe Boyles says this weekend will be even better. Boyles leaves today with a busload of hawk watchers, but says anyone is welcome to visit the park, where it’s about the peak for the annual migration of hawks…and many others. It’s not only a peak time for raptor migration but also for fall foliage turning colors. Boyles says most of the raptors you’ll see near Harper’s Ferry on the Mississippi River are partway along their biannual migration, but not all.Red-tailed hawks will stay year-round, and some birds, like bald eagles that nest further north, will stop here for the winter if there’s open water where they can feed on fish. Effigy Mounds State Park is three miles north of Marquette on Highway 76, or 17 miles south of Waukon.
The Mahaska County Sheriff’s office has arrested a suspect in the rape of a local real estate agent.37-year-old Anthony Schmidt was arrested Friday in his car and charged with second-degree sexual abuse. Police say Schmidt gave a fake address to a realtor Thursday when he asked her to show him a house in New Sharon. Schmidt is listed on the Iowa Sex Offender Registry list, at high risk to re-offend. He was convicted of sex crimes against women in May 1985 in Polk County and 1988 in Pottawattamie County. He’s jailed in Mahaska County.
The Iowa Hawkeyes open Big Ten play at home against Penn State. The Nittany Lions are 0-2 but Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz says that record is deceiving.Iowa won last year’s game in Happy Valley in overtime and Ferentz expects another close, hard fought game.Iowa’s offensive line has shown improvement this season but Ferentz says that group faces a difficult task.The Iowa State Cyclones open the Big-12 season at home against Baylor in a battle of unbeatens. The Cyclone defense will take on a Baylor no-huddle offense that coach Dan McCarney says can cause confusion.McCarney says the Cyclones fans could be a factor in this game, as he hopes a big crowd will make a lot of noise to foil the Bear’s attempts to call plays at the line of scrimmage.McCarney says the Cyclones must play better up front, defensively.The Northern Iowa Panthers open Gateway Conference action at home against Youngstown State. The Panthers are coming off an impressive victory at Ball State but coach Mark Farley says the biggest challenge begins tomorrow with conference play.Farley says the Panthers have to take advantage of the dome. He says the tradition of the dome should give them a 7-point advantage at the start.Farley says that advantage will be needed against an unbeaten Youngstown squad.
A survey of thousands of students in Iowa’s private colleges finds a change in their most common major. Business is now the number-one choice, according to the poll by the Iowa Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. John Hartung, the group’s president,says business was first, education second, and other top finishers include: the biological sciences like social work and psychology. Hartung says education was the most popular major for many years, but business has won out more frequently in recent surveys. He speculates one reason may be the low pay scale for most teachers.Hartung says the survey found there’s a big difference between the initial interest in a major a student shows as an incoming freshmen versus what they actually end up getting a degree in.The association covers 30 private institutions in Iowa and 50-thousand students.