A ceremony today in Boone welcomes back Company “D” of the 109th Aviation wing of the Iowa National Guard, called up last year after the attacks of September eleventh. National Guard spokesman Colonel Robert King will be there. King says this unit’s 170 soldiers strong, based in Boone with a detachment from Lincoln, Nebraska, on federal active duty to repair helicopters of the army’s 160th Special Aviation Regiment at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. They’ve done outstanding work, he says, and put their lives and jobs on hold to fulfill the oath they took when they joined the Iowa National Guard. Colonel King says some units mobilized even earlier than Company D have finished their service and come back home already.He says the Port Security company of the Army Reserve from Pocahontas has been released from active duty, though some members did go back to serve more time, and the 133rd Test Squadron of the Air national Guard from Fort Dodge has finished their year and been released. Security Force Squadrons from Des Moines and Sioux City Air Guard bases finished their year, he says and then were extended for another year so it’ll be a while before a homecoming ceremony can be held for them. Today’s welcome-home event is being held at the Iowa National Guard Aviation Support Facility, next to the city airport in Boone.
Archives for September 2002
Democrat Senator Tom Harkin says “one young staffer” was the only person on his campaign who directed and was responsible for the flap over the secret taping of a fundraiser held by rival Greg Ganske. Harkin says the young man got “carried away” by “youthful exuberance” and “went over the line of acceptable campaign practice.” Harkin says the young man was hired to monitor Ganske’s public meetings and asked a Des Moines businessman who had worked for Harkin in the mid-70s to tape the fundraising meeting, as he’d been issued an invitation to it by the Ganske campaign. Harkin says, “It appears these shenanigans were the work of one young staffer who did not have adequate supervision or control.” Harkin has accepted the resignation of his campaign manager, Jeff Link, and installed a new leadership team.A criminal investigation has been launched. Harkin calls the matter a “Dennis the Menace caper” that doesn’t rise to the level of a crime. After avoiding the media for nearly a week and an early denial from Link that the campaign was responsible for handing the tape and transcript to a newspaper reporter, Harkin held a news conference in a Des Moines hotel Friday night, and was surrounded by local Democrats. Harkin told the crowd Ganske wants to focus on the episode because he doesn’t want to focus on the real issues.Harkin says Republicans are engaging in “political antics” by calling for a criminal investigation. Harkin has hired David Wiggins, a Des Moines lawyer, to investigate the matter. Wiggins told reporters he’s convinced the only people who knew anything about the arrangements were Brian Conley and the young staffer, who he identified as a “Mr. Ruthchild.” Harkin said Conley worked for his Congressional staff in 1975 and part of ’76. Harkin says “hundreds” of people have worked for him and he lost track of Conley, and can’t remember the last time he saw Conley. The young staffer Harkin identified as the scapegoat resigned from the campaign earlier this week. Republicans say they don’t buy the Senator’s explanation that a single staff member thought up and carried out the scheme on his own.
Northwestern College takes on Nebraska Wesleyan tomorrow in a Great Plains conference clash between a pair of unbeatens.Northwestern coach Orv Otten says his schedule from now on is a tough one with lots of ranked teams. Nebraska Wesleyan averages nearly 280-yards per game on the ground while Northwestern yields less than 90-yards per game against the run. He says Wesleyan has a lot of different looks and can put in a lot of different runners. Grinnell College bids for its first victory of the season against Illinois College. The Blue Boys are 3-0. Grinnell coach Greg Wallace says they run a Northwestern-style offense. Wallace says at 0-3 this is a big game for the Pioneers. He says they’re on a mission to win this weekend.
Five more people have been added to Iowa’s total of those diagnosed with the West Nile virus. Assistant state epidemiologist Dr. Cort Lohff says only one of the five was admitted to a hospital, which could mean more people are being tested in clinics and doctor’s offices because awareness is growing of the typical West Nile symptoms. He says symptoms can be a headache, occasional nausea and vomiting, swollen glands, and usually severe fatigue and weakness. Dr Lohff says it’s also wise for potential patients to know what kind of symptom does not signal West Nile.He says people don’t get sore throats, runny nose, cough, or other symptoms of the common cold. Dr Loaf says West Nile is just the newest virus being added in a list of mosquito-borne germs with many of the same symptoms. He says we know of a handful of others like La Crosse encephalitis, which affects mainly young children during seasons when mosquitoes are active. He says St. Louis encephalitis, while also similar, seems to strike older people more often, though that means only one or two Iowa cases in the average year. He says for the most part, people haven’t been unreasonably worried about the disease, and seem to recognize its signs and take appropriate action. The five new cases bring Iowa’s total to 24 human cases of West Nile, and the state has still not had a fatality blamed on the virus.
The state may add some checks of retailers for underage liquor sales to go along with checks for underage tobacco sales. Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division Administrator, Lynn Walding, says the tobacco checks have been successful.Walding says they achieved 88-percent compliance last year, and hope to get the number of stores that make underage sales down to single digits. Walding says he’d like to get some federal funds to conduct the underage alcohol checks.He says the state patrol recently conducted a check and found one-third of the retailers selling alcohol to minors. He says retailers may’ve become lax in selling alcohol to minors.He says lack of checks on retailers may’ve contributed to the sale to minors increasing higher than it should be. As for the state tobacco checks, they’ll go on for the third year.Walding says their budget has been cut, so instead of checking every retailer twice, they’ll check them just once. Those who’re caught will be checked a second time. Walding says the checks are just one of the things that helps prevent sales to minors. He says education is also a key.He says they still find that 50-percent of the sales to minors are still made after an employee has checked an I-D. Walding says they’d rather have retailers train employees to self-police themselves instead of having to crack down with legal action.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Gross says if elected, he’ll seek “regulatory reform” that’d streamline the process for businesses seeking state permits.Gross proposes a deadline for state review of permit applications, and unless there are extenuating circumstances, the permit would be granted by the deadline. Gross says such a move would allow businesses to act more quickly on expansion plans.Gross says Iowa has lost economic development opportunities because permits weren’t approved quickly enough. Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack undertook a top-to-bottom review of state administrative rules three years ago, but Gross says there was a flaw in that process and he’d also launch another examination of every state rule and regulation.Gross says every rule should be evaluated to judge how it impacts economic development and growth in the state. Gross today got the endorsement of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, an association for small business owners that Gross’ father was a member of when he ran a mechanics shop in Defiance, Iowa.
Republicans say it’s time for Democrat Senator Tom Harkin himself to answer the questions surrounding the secret taping of a fundraising pitch made by Harkin’s Republican rival, Greg Ganske. Bill Armistead is Ganske’s campaign manager. Armistead says only Harkin knows what’s going on within his campaign, and only Harkin knows what he has directed his staff to do.Armistead says Harkin has engaged in campaign activities that are “not becoming a Senator.”Iowa Republican Party chairman Chuck Larson says Harkin campaign manager Jeff Link has “relentlessly lied” at several stages of the episode, and both Harkin and Link need to come clean. He asks, “What do they know, how high does it go?” Link says it can be easily resolved if Harkin would step forward.Larson says the man who secretly taped the Ganske meeting was not a “rogue” operating on his own.Larson says one of his own sources has told him the man, who Larson himself now identifies as Brian Conley of Des Moines, was directed to infiltrate the Ganske campaign. Larson says Conley was led to believe his work would be for internal campaign use only and wouldn’t be released to the media, which is indeed what happened.
Several critics and at least one defender of livestock farms came to a meeting on the DNR’s proposed standards, this week in Atlantic. Adair County resident Barb Kalbach is a member of Citizens for Community Improvement, a group that’s fought a local hog-lot proposal. Calbach says she’d like to see some kind of odor standard, since it’s the kind of nuisance that makes people live with their homes completely closed up. DNR Environmental Specialist Brian Bunton told people at the meeting the agency’s started monitoring emissions at two sites in the state.He says if there’s “an excedence” while they’re monitoring, right now all they can do is make note of it, while after 2004 when the rules are in force, they can do something to enforce it. Some environmental groups think the enforcement should start sooner than that. Taylor County supervisor Lee Little can’t see why the state should wait two and-a-half years. He says the program exists and test equipment’s available, so waiting longer makes a “sham” of the whole issue. But farmer Dale Larsen raises hogs at his family farm near Marne in Cass County, and says rules that hit farmers with as few as 500 hogs will drive small producers out of business. He says a family farmer can’t survive on 500 “animal units” anymore and he blames confused people who don’t know what the livestock industry’s all about.
Authorities have released the name of an eastern Iowa man was killed in an early-morning wreck. The Blue Grass man who died in a single-vehicle accident has been identified as 25-year-old Nathan Sierra. He died a little after 3 a.m. Thursday on Highway 22 near Buffalo. Deputies say Sierra was alone when he lost control, hit a curb, rolled several times and was thrown out.
A service that’s allowed thousands of Iowans to reach out and talk to someone celebrates its tenth birthday today. The “Iowa Relay” system began operating in 1992 under a mandate from the Americans with Disabilities Act. Joni Nicoll oversees the program for the Iowa Utilities Board. She says the relay allows people who’re hearing or speech impaired to make phone calls through a special operator.That operator reads a text message from the caller over the phone to the person they are calling. Nicoll says the service lets the callers make the normal phone calls the rest of us take for granted.She says it started with about five thousand calls per month, and now has grown to over 40-thousand calls per month. Nicoll says the service has expanded and now includes video exchange for people who sign.The Iowa Relay service is free to users and is paid for by the telephone companies serving the state. The Utilities Board and service supporters are holding a tenth anniversary celebration today in Des Moines.