The republican conservative who’s chairman of the Iowa House Ways and Means tax-writing committee has some money problems of his own. Representative Jamie Van Fossen of Davenport is facing foreclosure on his house. Problems for the four-term legislator apparently started when his wife lost her job and the couple has missed several mortgage payments. Van Fossen says the sale of the mortgage company complicated matters, but he says the loan’s being restructured and he won’t lose his house. A spokesman for the mortgage company says the foreclosure is on hold, but not yet dismissed.
Archives for November 2001
It’s what the classroom of the future -should- look like and it opened this week at the University of Northern Iowa. The room is called Studio I-T, which stands for Innovative Teaching, and it’s bristling with the latest in computer gadgetry. Jason Vetter is an education technology specialist at U-N-I. The room contains things like 20 wireless laptop computers, a video conferencing unit and CD-ROM burners at every workstation. There’s also a “smart board,” an interactive touch screen that puts a computer desktop on a big screen. Vetter says it can replace chalkboards and marker boards, as it’s like an electronic marker board that saves what you write down on it.Vetter says Studio I-T can be seen as a model for what all classrooms should aspire to be, but he says it’s more than a model: it’ll be used for real U-N-I classes very soon.Vetter says the technology in the room is nothing revolutionary — it’s just that no one’s put it all together in a classroom setting before.
One man’s under arrest in Lee County in the hit-and-run death of a Keokuk man whose body was found along Highway 218. Investigators say the 22-year-old man had been walking north along the road early yesterday morning when he was hit from behind. Later in the day authorities arrested 18-year-old Ian Arne at his Montrose home, and charged him with leaving the scene of a fatal accident, an aggravated misdemeanor. The Keokuk police and Lee County sheriff’s investigators had been searching for a green car with damage to the right front, and they impounded Arne’s car as part of the investigation. The dead man’s been identified as James Clemens of Keokuk.
A state legislative committee is recommending that Iowa create a centralized child abuse hotline. Republican State Representative Dan Boddicker of Tipton envisions a hotline that runs like the poison control center hotline.Boddicker says anyone who suspected abuse could dial 2-1-1 to file a report with the hotline 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. He says suspected cases of abuse would then be turned over to local social workers. Representative Maggie Tinsman, a republican from Bettendorf, says local workers would decide which cases to follow up on because they would know more about individual cases. Boddicker says the hotline won’t end child abuse as he says even with a very well run poison control center, there are still kids who die of poisoning. He says the goal is to eliminate more abuse. Boddicker says the hotline now needs to be approved by the full legislature. The funding will probably be on hold until 2003 or 2004. In the meantime, the lawmakers want to set aside 250-thousand dollars to allow the Department of Human Services to study the hotline idea.
About 100 Iowa farmers sat through a session on agri-terrorism yesterday. Charlie Norris, who farms near Mason City, says the forum at the Iowa Farm Bureau’s annual convention is proof times have really changed.Norris says farmers used to worry about kids mowing down corn with a four-wheel drive or a drunken driver mowing down a fence. Now, Norris says farmers are a bit shell-shocked about the idea terrorists might strike at farms or the food supply. Iowa Homeland Security Director Ellen Gordon says her staff is developing plans to prevent an attack, and respond if one happens. She says it’s not realistic in all cases that everything can be protected. Gordon says with that being the case, the state needs to know how to respond. But Iowa Farm Bureau commodity services director Dave Miller says there’s no need to get too worried the nation’s food supply can easily be compromised. Miller says if terrorists attacked Iowa’s largest grain elevator, that’d destroy less than one-hundredth of one percent of the nation’s grain supply.
Defending national champion Duke took command early in the second half as the top-ranked Blue Devils cruised past 13th ranked Iowa 80-62 in the Big Ten/A-C-C Challenge in Chicago. Duke’s big guns came through. Jason Williams had 26 points, Carlos Boozer had 22 and Mike Dunleavy added 17.Iowa coach Steve Alford says they got beat by and outstanding team, but thinks they’re better than what they showed in the game. The Hawkeye duo of Luke Recker and Reggie Evans combined for just 23-points. He says Recker and Evans tried forcing things too much and didn’t depend enough on their teammates. He says they’ll have to continue working on that.Alford says while the outcome was disappointing, the experience will be a benefit, he says they want to continue improve to be ready by to play their best come tournament time.
A University of Iowa professor says how much you learn in four years of college depends very little on how hard it was to get into the school. Professor Ernie Pascarella explains they were helping create a new achievement test, and measuring the improvement in a student from freshman to senior year. He found the freshman-senior differences at “selective” schools are no greater than at other colleges, showing a good education doesn’t depend on how hard it was to get admitted. While Ivy-League schools may not like that, Pascarella says their selective admissions policies ensure good students but not a superior education.He says people assume senior scores reflect how good a school is, but it may only mean they only let the best students attend. Pascarella says he attended big-name schools, yet agrees with the findings of the study.He says the world won’t end if you don’t get into an Ivy League school, and places like ISU and Iowa are good even if laws don’t let them exclude lots of applicants. Pascarella says the study of 20-thousand college kids also seems to show that for some reason men learn more than women do in their undergrad years.Might be explained by coursework, though in addition to math and science they also found the gap in social sciences and English, a surprising finding he gives little weight until it’s repeated. Pascarella’s team analyzed achievement-test scores from 57 four-year institutions to find the learning patterns.
Iowa will soon have a statewide network in place that will make it easier for emergency responders to help cellular phone users in emergencies. State emergency management director Ellen Gordon says the current wireless 9-1-1 system is not “enhanced” 9-1-1 statewide, but it will be within a few weeks. The new system will enable cell phone users who call 9-1-1 to automatically transmit their call-back number and the tower location they’re using to make the call. That will help responders locate the person who makes the call. Through the system, a wireless user who dials 9-1-1 will be connected to the nearest of 128 public safety communications centers, which could save valuable time in emergency situations.Gordon says 20 counties are now fully operational with the enhanced wireless 9-1-1 system and all 99 counties should be online by the end of December. It cost 12-and-a-half million dollars to build this network and will cost about six million a year to maintain it. Gordon says it’s money that comes directly from cellular phone users, as the service is being paid for with a 50-cent monthly surcharge on the bills of all wireless customers and is the sole source of funding for the project. Iowa will be among the first states in the U-S to provide statewide wireless E-9-1-1 service.
The former Chief of Staff for Governor Tom Vilsack today officially announced his campaign for the new Fourth District Congressional seat. John Norris, a democrat from Ames, says he would rely on his experience in several areas if elected. He says he has experience growing up on a family farm, experience owning a business and experience in public service.Current Fifth District Congressman Tom Latham is also running on the republican ticket in the Fourth District. The forty-three-year-old Norris says he’s closer to the people he’d represent than Latham because he’s a family farmer. Norris says he’ll fight for family farmers if elected, and says the farm bill being considered in Congress doesn’t do enough. He says he’s not pleased with the bill and thinks it goes the wrong direction. He says it needs more emphasis on conservation and more to protect against competition from large scale industry.He says there needs to be a change in the way farmers are subsidized. He says a majority of the farm payments are going to the wealthiest, which he says doesn’t help family farmers.Norris says he has no problem with the war on terrorism, but he wants to be sure it doesn’t overshadow things on the homefront. He says he supports President Bush, but wants to be sure that things can be done to help the economy of Iowa.Norris has served as chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party and a campaign manager and chief of staff for Congressman Leonard Boswell. When Norris lived in Greenfield, he was involved in Jesse Jackson’s Iowa campaigns.
The state budget’s in worse shape. Despite the state budget cuts enacted earlier this month, officials say more cuts may be needed as tax revenue is dropping due to the recession. Things seem even bleaker for the next state budgeting year, which begins July 1st. For example, public schools have been promised a 150-million dollar increase in state aid, but that could be in jeopardy. Legislative Fiscal Bureau director Dennis Prouty says it’ll be a shock to some as a lot of legislators have never dealt with a downturn. Prouty says the legislators will have to make some “real cuts” to deal with the downturn.House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Millage, a republican from Bettendorf, says some state programs will be eliminated. He says it’s not pleasant, but they’ll have to deal with it like everyone else deals with budget problems.The three-member panel that estimates state tax revenues meets next week and will likely reduce its prediction of tax receipts for the present budgeting year. That will force lawmakers and the Governor to make additional cuts in this year’s state budget.