Competitors from more than 30 states are expected to take part in the annual “Marathon-to-Marathon” on June 12th. The course begins in Storm Lake and the finish line is in the town of Marathon. Spokeswoman Lois Lind says there are several other races that are part of the event. There’s a five person relay that runs the same course as the marathon. There’s also a 5-K race for runners and walkers. The Marathon-to-Marathon” can be used as a qualifier for the Boston Marathon. Lind says people run for all sorts of reasons. Last year, a runner showed up from Germany who wanted to run his 50th marathon before the age of 50.Lind says this event has become a big part of the community as it takes up to 300 volunteers to put on the event.
Archives for May 2004
After a pair of disappointments, Lynnville-Sully’s Jaron Van Maanen closed out the boys state track meet with a title and a record. Van Maanen opened the meet by false-starting in the 110-hurdles and finishing second in the long jump, events he won last year, but Van Maanen came back to win the high jump with a leap of six feet 10 inches. Van Maanen says it feels really good to get a record he’s been trying to get for three years. “Ive been shooting for that since I was a freshman…It kind of evaded me last year and the year before,” he said. Van Maanen says it’s a nice way to end his high school career. “This is my baby. This is the one that matters to me.”
The propane for that gas grill is another one of the power sources that will cost you more this summer. Jennifer Moehlman, a fuel-price analyst with the Department of Natural Resources. says the DNR’s most recent survey, done in mid-May, found the price of propane up ten-percent from last year at this time, $1.02 a gallon compared with last year’s 93-cents, because of the higher price of both crude oil and natural gas. The price of propane probably won’t quench any cookouts this summer. Moehlman says the canister you get for the gas grill is not a big part of the propane market. Here in Iowa, propane’s used more for heating than for cooking, vehicle propulsion or anything else — and about eight to 10-percent of Iowans use propane for home heating, which means prices will be most volatile in winter. Propane’s linked equally to prices of crude-oil and natural gas, since it can be refined from either of those, so Moehlman says when crude oil’s high, propane is high…and when the price of natural gas is high, propane also is higher in cost. She says it “sort of gets a double whammy,” and in winter when it’s used for home heating the same supply-and-demand complex affecting crude oil, natural gas and gasoline also affects the price of propane as well. On world markets, analysts say the dollar’s weakness right now is one reason for the high price of crude oil, which lately has exceeded the target price OPEC producers set.
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in Iowa and nationwide. Opthalmologist Dr. Del Correy says it affects some 13-million Americans, many of them senior citizens. There is no cure for the most common form of macular degeneration, so Dr. Correy says prevention is key. He recommends Iowans get annual eye exams, wearing U-V ray-blocking sunglasses and perhaps, taking antioxidants to help prevent or slow the progression of the disease. Dr. Correy says “The macula is basically what we do everything with: we see each other, we drive, we read. And if they lose that it really takes away a person’s independence.” Correy says the disease brings vision loss but not total blindness. He says a person with both maculas affected, sitting directly across from another person, would not be able to see that person’s face, but they could see everything around the person. Correy says the macula enables us to read, watch television, drive…anything that requires straight-ahead vision. Symptoms include distorted vision, an inability to see objects clearly and a dark area appearing at the center of your vision.
The administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration visited Iowa recently. In an interview with Radio Iowa, Jeffrey Runge said there are a lot of things drivers could do to avoid accidents — like cut down distractions. He says they estimate that distraction in some form may be responsible for as many as one-third of traffic crashes. He says there are 10-million traffic crashes each year in this country. Cellphones have been blamed as one distraction, but Runge isn’t ready to give them all the blame. He was they don’t know to what extent cellphones are any more dangerous than other forms of distraction. He says a conversation on a cellphone is a distraction, but he says they don’t have the data to know if drivers compensate for that distraction, and he says they’re working on that data. Runger says the vehicle you’re in is a lot better than years ago. He says cars have never been safer,but he says people still need to buckle their safety belts to let the technology and the car work with them. Drunk drivers who commit the crime again and again are a problem on the highways. Runge says combating the problem has to include everyone from law officers, to judges to prosecutors. He says there needs to be an effective prosectorial system in which there’s one district attorney assigned just to drunk driving cases, as he says they go up against defense lawyers who specialize in trying to beat the system. He says courts set up to handle only drunk driving cases have also proven to be effective. Runge himself is a doctor, and he says putting people in jail isn’t always the best way to handle drunk drivers. He says sometimes “supervised sobriety” and keeping people out of jail on the condition of sobriety has been shown to be effective. He says doctors also need to proactively screen patients for alcohol problems and get them where they need to go. Runge recently visited Des Moines to kick off an effort to increase Iowa’s seatbelt usage.
About 300 people gathered at Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium in Des Moines at mid-day to honor the nation’s war dead, and those who have served or are serving in the military. Iowa Veterans Affairs administrator Patrick Palmersheim says the sacrifices of the men and women in the military — and their families — are the foundation of freedom. Palmersheim says the debt owed to America’s military is immeasurable, and he says Americans must never stop observing Memorial Day as a “healing practice” of paying tribute to fallen heroes. Governor Tom Vilsack has asked Iowans to observe a moment of silence in honor of those who have served in the military, and those who have died during their service to country. Vilsack says great societies recognize the importance of spending a moment in honor of those who served bravely and nobly. With this weekend’s dedication of a national memorial to World War II veterans, Vilsack singled out that so-called “greatest generation.” Vilsack says that generation came back from a terrible war and made the decision to build a strong and powerful country that would stand for peace and democracy throughout the world. Vilsack says they were first in war, and as a newspaper columnist has suggested, World War II veterans were first in peace. Iowa was the first state in the country to commit money for the World War II memorial in Washington. Vilsack says that one-hundred-thousand dollar committment spurred other states to send money as well. Congressman Leonard Boswell, a decorated Vietnam veteran, used his part of his time at the microphone to talk about faith, which he said was very important to him when he was in Vietnam. Boswell says it occured to him many times that he didn’t want to be taken as a prisoner of war, nor did he want to die in a fiery helicopter crash. Boswell says his faith saw him through, as did the faith of his wife and family that he would come home. For a benediction at today’s memorial service, a retired Army chaplain read the names of the 14 Iowans who have died serving in iraq.
In the past week, cellular telephone users across Iowa and nationwide were granted the ability to keep their current cell phone number even if they change service providers. Jay Ellison, a spokesman for U-S Cellular in Mason City, says only customers in larger markets have been able to keep their numbers until now. Ellison says this is the second phase of the Wireless Number Portability Act; the first phase began on November 1st of last year in the 100 largest markets in the country. Ellison says he’s not sure how many Iowans may change their providers and keep their current numbers. He says there was a major anticipation in the 100 largest markets that lots of people would take advantage of the chance to take their current number with them, but those high expectations were never realized. Ellison says you’ll have to wait a couple of hours before using your cell phone again if you switch carriers but keep your number. Ellison says the time it takes for your number to be transferred to another provider and activated will vary and depends on what carrier you choose as your new provider.
The staple of traditional summer cookouts is celebrating a major milestone this year. Grabbing a burger from a fast-food place, or throwing one on the grill is second nature to most Iowans. It was something new though 100 years ago. Nancy Degner of the Iowa Beef Industry Council says the hamburger was used in the 1800’s, but the first commercial use of hamburger came at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. Degner says thousands of buns, pickles and gallons of mustard and ketchup later — we’re still frying and grilling the burger. She says Americans consumed more thirteen-BILLION burgers in 2003, and she says we average around 30 pounds of ground beef per person per year. Degner says the research shows hamburgers are the most popular food for the grill, followed by steak and chicken. Degner says the Iowa Beef Industry Council will hold events around the state to celebrate the 100th birthday of the burger.She says the Iowa Beef Industry Council has information about ground beef, and 100 ideas for building a better burger on its website. You can visit the website at www.iabeef.org.
Forget about the boys of summer. The -bugs- of summer have emerged from their long slumber. The strange, clicky cry of the cicada fills the air in many parts of Iowa. The inch-long insects are more plentiful than you’d imagine — one-and-a-half million per acre — about a ton’s worth. Entomologist John Oddland says “The concentration itself helps them to survive. These animals are helpless against predators, at least one by one. But what they achieve is predator satiation. There’s so many of them that the predators can’t eat them all.” Most cicadas only live five weeks, after spending nearly two decades maturing before emerging from their shells. Odland says the survival of cicada young may depend on their mother’s choice of the tree on which she lays her eggs, which take 17 years to mature. Odland says “Seventeen years is a long time in the life of a tree. Only a few generations of cicadas can use the same tree, so that evolution may select for those mothers who seek young trees that have a long lifespan that can nourish their young for the next 17 years. Those young trees are also most likely to be found along sunlit forest edges.” The serenade of the male cicada is perhaps the loudest sound produced by any insect. To properly sing, Odland says the male needs to have a body temperature of about 95 degrees. Odland says “It takes a lot of energy to make all that noise. The animal really has to warm up. A few males start singing, they set up what’s known as a ‘calling center,’ and it’s likely that other males join that calling center to increase the amount of noise, rather than call individually, when someone else has already started. So, they concentrate partly to make more noise and attract more females—same theory as a heavy metal band. The noise you hear is from the male cicada, searching for a mate, but the racket makes him an obvious target for predators. Females who survive the onslaught can lay up to 600 eggs each, assuring survival of the species.
The dedication of the new World War Two Memorial this weekend has sparked an excitement among the Iowans who served. Iowa veterans who served in World War Two have gathered in small towns and large throughout the state over the years to play the old songs and remember those who served and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. But they’ve never had a national memorial to their effort. It took 60 years from the time the landings at Normandy that started the end to the war, and 10 years since plans for the memorial itself got underway, to make it become a reality. Iowa American Legion Commander John Ross isn’t sure what caused the delay, but says part of it is that we just forgot about the war. He says it’s awfully easy to forget unless you happen to have been one of them that was there. Ross, who served near the tail end of World War Two and in the Korean war, has seen the memorial. He says it has reflecting pool in front, and then a series of columns dedicated to the different areas of World War Two. Each one of the columns has a wreath. He calls it “just a gourgeous memorial.” The dedication of the World War Two memorial comes at a time when interest in the war is surging. Ross says the attacks of September 11th have helped refocus the nation on the sacrafice made by the young men and women who fought the war. Ross says the veterans he knows are thrilled to finally see their memorial become a reality, and he calls it long overdue. He says they were “the greatest generation” , and we owe a lot to them. Ross, who’s from Osage, hopes the memorial reminds generations into the future of the things the veterans did, and he hopes all Iowans continue remembering the veterans. Ross says sometimes when we leave the cemetery and the parade is over, we forget about the veterans. Ross says that’s not right and veterans should be remembered every day. He says you should thank a veteran, that’s all they ask, just for a thank-you.