Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz wants his team to avoid being satisfied as they open spring drills. The Hawks are coming off their second straight double digit win season after an impressive victory over Florida in the Outback Bowl. Ferentz says the players need to remember the hard work that got the program turned around. He says the new guys don’t have a full appreciation for what it took to move forward. Ferentz says in athletics things are really fragile and you have to work hard.He says the success of the past two season does not guarantee success in the 2004 campaign. He says he’s been out enough in public since the Outback Bowl and says the enthusiasm is great, but he says they didn’t win the national championship. He says they need to get back to work, as the “high five’n time is over.”
Archives for March 2004
Drake hosts Iowa State this afternoon in an in-state softball matchup. The Bulldogs are 14-13 overall and second year coach Rich Calvert says the Bulldogs have had opportunities in several of their losses. He says right now they’re putting themselves in position to win, but need to come through and get the win. He says that’s better than last year when they didn’t even put themselves into position.Drake will play Iowa on Wednesday and Calvert says how important the in-state games are is up for debate. He says he could says yes or no when asked if it’s important. He says it’s great for the state to have four institutions that can get together throughout the year and he says there’s always some bragging rights.Calvert says regardless of the level of importance the in-state matchups add interest to the mid-week games. He says every teammember would rather practice than play. Iowa State is 8-17 overall.
There are two days of scientific workshops going on at the University of Iowa on Confined Animal Feeding Operations or CAFO. They were kicked off by a public conference Monday that included farmers and rural residents as well as researchers from around the world. One of them was Peter Thorne, head of the U-of-I Environmental Sciences Center, who says the conference was designed to include a wide array of topics. Water and air quality, community and occupational health, and important emerging areas like antimicrobial resistance from the increasing use of antibiotics as a growth promotant in animal feed, as well as the prospects for influenza pandemics arising from inter-species transmission of viruses between poultry, swine and humans. Dr. Thorne says the scientists aren’t for or against farming, rural development of feedlots. In the scientific endeavor, he says they work to gather data that’ll help others make good public policy, so using their information can lead to discussion that leads to good policy and reconciliation. Thorne says some of the researchers challenge the assumption that big animal-confinement operations are “economically sound,” and a good way to maximize profits. He says this kind of agriculture treats effluent, or animal waste, as an “externality” and doesn’t really cover the cost of the pollution that extends a burden to all citizens. Some of the worst health threats are pandemics…waves of disease like influenza that sweep around the world, beginning with germs that jump from animals to people. Thorne says one way to limit that would be to prevent the raising of poultry close to pig farms, as those CAFOs — Confined Animal Feeding Operations — are the two most common source of new flu infections that affect the human population. In Iowa, he says there’s no restriction on having a big swine CAFO right next to a poultry one, and the scientists saw aerial photos of just that kind of operation, so he thinks the possibility is there. Today the tomorrow the scientists are now in four groups discussing air quality issues, water, community health, and new infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance. The scientific conference runs through Wednesday in Iowa City.
Two judges have slapped fines on construction companies for violating Iowa’s “One-Call” law that requires anyone doing digging work to phone ahead for the location of buried utility lines. Attorney General’s spokesman Bob Brammer says in one in Butler County he says a trenching machine hit a four-inch natural-gas pipeline though fortunately it didn’t break it or cause an explosion, and in another, a trencher severed a fiber-optic phone line that included 9-1-1 service and knocked out thousands of calls. Brammer says before any commercial underground digging, law requires a call to the One-Call Center so the underground path off all utilities can be marked right away. They have to call 48 hours before digging so a gas, electric or even sewer crews can go out and mark with the familiar paint or little flags we’ve all seen that show where utility lines are. Brammer says the 35-hundred dollar penalty in the gas line case and a 500-dollar fine for cutting the phone line in Marshall County don’t rule out the utilities sending a bill of their own to the construction companies. He says there’s almost always a private action, in which the pipeline, electric company or other plaintiff will go after the one who violated the One-Call law for the price of repairs. Since power or other vital services are often cut off, emergency repairs are even more costly in such cases. Brammer says where the gas line was dented, repair costs were over 37-hundred dollars, and in the Marshall County phone-line disruption, it probably cost five or six-thousand dollars to fix the phone lines within hours, since it so disrupted service to a number of counties. The One Call law itself allows for a civil penalty up to ten-thousand dollars a day for natural-gas or hazardous-liquid pipelines.
Iowans who donate their cars to charity would have to wait a bit longer for what would likely be a much smaller tax deduction under federal legislation proposed by Senator Chuck Grassley. The Iowa Republican says the current system cheats charities and taxpayers. While the leader of one Iowa non-profit group says he’s “very concerned” about the legislation scaring away potential car donors, Grassley proposes making the process work the following way. You’d donate your car and the charity would sell the car and then would notify the taxpayer how much money the car brought and that’s what the person could write off. Under the current method, a “blue book” is used to assign a value to the vehicle, even though the car may be worth much less than that amount — or it may bring much less at auction. Grassley says the average car is written off for about 44-hundred dollars though the actual car only brings in about 17-hundred dollars, while the charity only gets about 900-dollars. That’s what Grassley says has to change about the process.Grassley says there’s an “in-between person that rips off the charity and the taxpayers are getting ripped off because they’re able to deduct more than the true value of the car.” He says market forces should determine what that car is worth, not a subjective opinion. Some critics of the legislation say it would hurt charities because people will quit donating their cars because they wouldn’t be able to get nearly as much of a tax benefit as before — or because they’d have to wait perhaps many months until the cars are eventually sold before seeing the tax benefit. Harold Wimmer is executive director of the American Lung Association’s Iowa and Illinois chapters. Wimmer says he has concerns about how the legislation would impact car donations. Wimmer says “It’s a very significant part of our revenue stream, so, very significant dollars and a very substantial part of our budget.” He estimates up to three-thousand cars a year are donated to the agency in Iowa every year — each bringing an average of 900 to a-thousand dollars. Wimmer fears Grassley’s amendment would scare potential car donors away.Wimmer says the legislation “could certainly effect the donor’s ability to write off a fair market value for the vehicle.” He says the vehicles are sold off “as quickly as possible” and often only bring a liquidation sale price, not a wholesale price. Grassley says his amendment will likely be up for debate next week.
Authorities are now revealing details of a northwest Iowa teenager who’s jailed in Emmet County on explosives charges. Using a search warrant Sunday night, authorities found gun powder, pipe, fuses and shotgun shot, in addition to a fully-assembled bomb that only lacked a fuse in the apartment of 18-year-old Edward Azar of Estherville. Bond is set at 13-thousand dollars. If convicted, Azar could face ten years in prison and/or a ten-thousand dollar fine. Federal charges are also pending.
A Republican State Representative who sits on the House Environmental Protection Committee admits he “did something dumb.” Representative Dell Hanson of Vinton has been charged with illegal dumping in what he calls the city “brush pile.”Hanson says it used to be the landfill “or the dump,” but for years, he says they’ve called it the “brush dump.” Hanson’s remodeling an old house, and hauled some boards, wainscoting, and old plaster out to the dump. He did put that plaster in an old steel bathtub — and he dumped that, too.Hanson says he was hauling the stuff on a flatbed trailer, and rather than having all that plaster blowing around, he put it in the bathtub. Hanson, who is an implement dealer, is also accused of dumping a muffler and some oil filters.Hanson says that muffler and oil filter were already there. Hanson says he wishes he’d gone back and taken a picture of the setting because he says he “figured” although he didn’t say what he had “figured” would happen. Hanson admits it’s embarrassing to have a member of the Environmental Protection Committee to be charged with illegal dumping. “Don’t look good, does it?” Hanson told reporters. “But this is the city dump site.” Hanson says he could have taken the trash to his own property and dumped it in his own brush pile to burn, but home was “three miles further.” Hanson says he intended to go back and pick up the bathtub.Hanson says he “got to visiting” and when he got done visiting, he hopped on his tractor and went back to town — forgetting the bathtub. Hanson won’t fight the charge — and will pay the fine. He believes the fine could be as high as $147. Hanson expects his democrat opponent to bring the issue up this fall, and Hanson says his answer to voters will be that it’s not the first time he’s “done something dumb, and it won’t be the last time, either.”
Senators at the statehouse are poised to debate a nearly five billion dollar plan for next year’s state budget. The bill is 215 pages long, and outlines the spending details for every state agency. Dozens of amendments will be offered to alter it — most from democrats and most will suggest spending increases. For example, democrats intend to call for spending the 52 million dollars in unexpected state tax revenue that’s been reported in the past two weeks. That money — if it does materialize by June 30th — will go into the state’s cash reserve. Republicans say they’re only willing to spend 160 million from the state’s cash reserve savings account and not a penny more. Democrats say republicans aren’t providing enough money for schools, and that means administrators will be forced to boost class sizes and make other budget cuts.
Three people in Odebolt are free on their promise to appear in court, after they were arrested in connection with a weekend incident. The two men are charged with assaulting officers and “interference with official acts.”Authorities say it began after an officer tried to stop a car for a traffic violation, but the driver took off, went to a local house, and ran inside. The officer says when he tried to apprehend the suspect he was met by the homeowner, 47-year-old Roger Sorenson, and a dog. Another resident of the home, identified as 18-year-old Mitchell Sorenson, was apprehended by a sheriff’s deputy, escaped and returned to the home where officers say he displayed a 20-gauge shotgun. Later, after he’d surrendered, they determined it was not loaded. The driver of the car, 18-year-old Jill Huffman, was charged with drunk driving, speeding and interference with official acts.
As Severe Weather Awareness Week continues there’s always talk about deadly storms, but one of the biggest killers is not high winds and lightening, it’s flash flooding. National Weather Service meteorologist Jeff Johnson says flooding results in lives being lost and major property damage each year.He says flooding can occur within six hours of the rainfall when you get rapid rises in areas that aren’t normally wet. Johnson says if you if come upon water lying over the road, do not drive through it. Johnson says you can never tell what’s under floodwater.Johnson says it’s always tough to forecast when flooding or flash flooding will take place, but the weather patterns usually can give them a good idea of what might happen. He says they can predict the larger scale atmospheric conditions that might bring flooding, and then break that down into the warning. If flash flooding occurs, Johnson says you should evacuate low lying areas subject to flooding…and never let children play in or around high water, storm drains, or viaducts which may be flooded.