Members and boosters of the state’s university communities are engaging in a lobbying campaign to encourage state policymakers to send more state taxpayer support to the campuses. Dr. Deborah Turner of Des Moines, a member of the Board of Regents — the board that governs Iowa, Iowa State and U-N-I, says what makes the country great is not athletic or military prowess, but its education prowess, and especially a strong public education system. Turner says Iowa’s education system has always been unique because it’s been the number one priority of Iowa citizens and their government, but she says she’s concerned that education isn’t the number one priority anymore. Turner says there’s not a single county or community in Iowa that doesn’t benefit from the work of the state universities. Critics say the Regent institutions in Ames, Cedar Falls and Iowa City should streamline more services and can rely on private fundraising to provide more money for scholarships and general operations.
Archives for November 2002
Two Iowa Conference teams prepare for tomorrow’s second round of the division-three football playoffs. Wartburg is on the road to play Linfield of Oregon. Wartburg coach Rick Willis says while Linfield looks outstanding on tape it can be misleading when looking at a team from a different region. He says playing unfamiliar teams is what makes the playoffs so exciting. Willis says getting a good start will be important, since it’s a road game. Coe visits St. Johns of Minnesota and coach Eric Raeburn says St. John’s diversified offense is a concern.Raeburn says the Johnnies also have an outstanding defense.
Governor Tom Vilsack has fired a third of his state agency directors, including two women whose leadership of the departments of human services and economic development has sparked criticism. Vilsack says he’s getting rid of six department directors to send the message that he’s refocusing state government. Vilsack said the day after his re-election to a second term that changes would be made, and he announced the departures yesterday afternoon, on the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday. Vilsack asked for and received resignations from Department of Human Services director Jesse Rasmussen who was repeatedly criticized by Republican legislators. Vilsack’s Republican opponent also promised to install a new leader at the Department of Economic Development, where Vilsack has now jettisoned director C.J. Niles. Vilsack refuses to talk about why certain directors were let go. Vilsack says the “individuals have worked hard, but now, rather than looking back” he wants to “look forward..with energy.” Vilsack, a democrat, is keeping a dozen state agency directors, three of whom were agency leaders under Vilsack’s Republican predecessor, Terry Branstad. Vilsack also got rid of two key law enforcement leaders: Department of Corrections director W.J. Kautzky and State Drug Czar Bruce Upchurch. The directors of the Department of General Services and Information Technology are also out.
Grandma’s pie probably isn’t made with lard crust any more, and we’ve added broccoli to a lot of American tables. But what will vegetarians eat for Thanksgiving? Andy Nelson runs a healthfood store in Ames and carries meatless substitutes for the big bird. She says they have one called the Great Un-Turkey Feast, or tofurkey, a tofu turkey substitite she says is good. Nelson’s a vegetarian herself, Nelson made one last year for her parents who are not vegetarians, and she says they were impressed. Nelson says most people, even many vegetarians, get twice as much protein as they need to stay healthy, so that’s not a concern in planning her holiday dinners. She thinks of what harvest foods are local and in-season, and plans meals to include “yummy things” like squash, apples and onions, and focuses on the color, texture and taste of the meal.
A group of Drake University students conducted some scary research — literally. Professor Lee Jolliffee teaches survey techniques and got a haunted house in Kansas City to “hire” the class to conduct research at Iowa haunted houses. Jolliffee says their surveys found some things that were a favorite scary thing to some haunted house goers was the least scary to others. Jolliffee says things one group of people liked most were hated most by another group. The students went to area haunted houses in pairs because some of the college kids were too scared to go alone. Jolliffee says the kids determined the “target audience” for haunted houses. Seventeen of the 23 students in the class went to Kansas City with Jollifee in October to tour “The Beast” and “The Edge of Hell” — two, long-time haunted houses run by Full Moon productions — the client. The students recommended to their client that there be strict rules that all actors in the haunted house be carefully made up and stay in character at all times, and that there be special events so younger children could go through the haunted house with a flash light. Jolliffee, who led the Kansas City field trip, says the completely dark rooms with a maze were the scariest to her, and some of her students have joked that she owes them an “A” for the class because she was gripping their hands so hard.
Dozens of artificial Christmas trees are being used by Iowa State University researchers in their quest to study how shelter belts can improve yields and prevent problems like soil erosion and pesticide drift. ISU agronomy professor Gene Takle is using about 70 fake fir and spruce trees in the field. Professor Takle says the artificial trees are durable in the weather and they’re easier to work with than real trees since they can be individually maneuvered and, obviously, don’t take root. Takle says the artificial trees are only part of an experiment. He doesn’t recommend Iowa farmers go out and start lining their plots with fake pines. Takle says they’ll be planting real trees soon to judge the effectiveness of wind breaks in a “real world” situation. ISU is working with the University of Nebraska/Lincoln on the project. The research is being supported by a $553,000 grant from the USDA’s National Research Initiative.
With Thanksgiving winding down, some among us are hoping for a “White Christmas” as the capstone for the 2002 holiday season. But State Climatologist Harry Hilacker says the odds aren’t very good for the pro-snow crowd. Hilacker says it’s usually a 50/50 proposition that we have snow for Christmas, but those odds are reduced this year because an El Nino weather pattern is dominant, which means the winter will be warmer than normal. The odds are we’ll get more rain than snow in an El Nino year, and when it’s warmer, the snow we do get won’t stay around long. Hilacker says Iowa rarely gets snow on Christmas Day. A “White Iowa Christmas” usually occurs because there’s been a big snow earlier and the snow cover stayed around, according to Hilacker.
Nearly 200 young women from all across the Hawkeye State are gathered in Cedar Rapids this holiday weekend hoping to be named the new Miss Iowa U-S-A or the Miss Teen Iowa U-S-A. Jim Clingman, of Ottumwa, is organizing the pair of pageants, and he says there are a record number of contestants in each contest, more than 85 in the Miss Iowa U-S-A pageant and more than 100 in the teen version. The interviews began on Thanksgiving Day and the finalists will be named Sunday, with the winners being crowned Sunday night. The winner of the 52nd annual Miss Iowa U-S-A pageant will go on to the national competition in Gary, Indiana, in March which will be carried on N-B-C for the first time. The Miss Teen U-S-A pageant will be held in South Padre Island, Texas, in August. (As above) Each contestant, win or lose, is eligible for several scholarships at: William Penn, Grandview, Coe, Waldorf and Capri College of Cosmetology. While some critics say pageants tend to objectify women, Clingman says the young Iowa ladies who take part in these contests have much to gain. Clingman says “we’re really proud of the fact our pageant is not exploitive. It really does create a number of opportunities for women..it does open doors, it does provide networking opportunities and it does provide scholarships.” This year, Radio Iowa’s Matt Kelley is among the panel of judges for the Miss Iowa U-S-A pageant. For more information, surf to “www.missiowausa.com”.
Leaders of the “Keep Iowa Beautiful” coalition say the state’s 35-dollar-fine for littering should be raised. But “Keep Iowa Beautiful” executive director Gerald Schnepf says it’s even more important to get law enforcement to start issuing the fines.Schnept says he recently met with a group of 20 county sheriffs, and not one knew what the fine for littering was. While Schnept believes the fine should be raised, he says if it goes too high, it won’t be levied because judges will determine it’s too tough a penalty for the crime.Schnept says the penalties for littering probably need to be set based on the severity of the crime, so tossing a pop can wouldn’t get you in as much trouble as tossing a frige in a ditch. Schnepf says while his group believes the fine for littering should go up, it isn’t advocating a new rate.Governor Tom Vilsack said a couple of years ago that Iowans should have “zero tolerance” for littering, and Schnept hopes the Governor takes up the beautification issue, which Schnept says relates to economic development because no company wants to locate in a trashy town.
Some Iowa hunters who’d hoped to have a nice duck for their holiday dinner may be disappointed. Lowell Washburn of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says the pickings have been slim for late season duck hunters. He says they knew going in that migration numbers were going to be down, but didn’t expect them to be so low. Washburn says there are a couple of reasons for the duck decline.He says a three-year drought in Canada has hurt duck populations, and he says the weather patterns didn’t work to send the ducks this way. The duck drought didn’t spread to all hunters. Washburn says those who hunted in the early season had good success.He says early September and mid October saw some good migration of ducks. Washburn says the overall season will likely be considered a success. He says when the final numbers are in, they should show the season was very good.The duck hunting season runs through December 5 in the state’s North Zone and concludes December 14 in the South Zone.