Iowa State basketball coach Wayne Morgan has hired Michael Mennenga to be a member of his Cyclone staff. Mennenga has spent the past five seasons as an assistant at the University of Buffalo and helped lead the team to a school-record 23 wins last season and an appearance in the NIT. He says the Iowa State job is a great opportunity. He says Morgan is a tremendous coach and a wonderful person with a great amount of experience. Mennenga says he will learn a lot by working on Morgan’s staff. Mennenga says he first met Morgan on the recruiting trail, as he covered the east coast prep schools and they always seemed to cross paths and developed a relationship. Mennenga has also served as an assistant coach at Maine and played college basketball at Morehead State. He says he was a guy that “was born with a basketball in his crib” and he says he looks forward to “living, drinking, eating and dreaming Cyclone basketball.” He replaces Daryl Sharp, who resigned from the Cyclone staff last week.
Archives for May 2005
If you want to see some auto racing this summer than the state of Iowa will provide many chances again this year. More than 50 tracks operate across the state ranging from drag strips to figure 8 racing. Jim Amstutz, general manager of Hawkeye Downs speedway in Cedar Rapids says Iowa has the most tracks per population next to Indiana. Amstutz says the popularity of auto racing can be traced back to the county fairs where racing is a big part of the culture or the rural county fairs.Most of the tracks in Iowa are one-quarter to one-half mile dirt ovals. One notable exception is Hawkeye Downs which has been an asphalt oval since 1989. He says it’s a double-edged sword as if someone wants to run there, they have to build a car to race only there. Amstutz says the explosion in popularity of NASCAR racing has also been felt at the local level. He says it has legitimized the sports and they get more coverage and sponsorship than they used to as people realized there’s a broad fan base. He says the downside is it’s easier for people to stay home and watch televised races if the weather is bad.
Hazmat crews from Ames and Des Moines were called out this (Tuesday) morning after a scare on the campus of Iowa State University. I-S-U Police Captain Gene Deisinger says the call came after a discovery in the mailroom at Alumni Hall, which houses admissions offices. A little before ten A.M., a worker noticed white powder coming out of an envelope as it was opened, and they called a supervisor who contacted ISU police. He says it was a staff member who was sorting mail and feeding it into an automatic opener was watching it open each letter, and saw the powder. Three employees were “possibly exposed” to the unknown powder, and Deisinger explains the protocol is to keep anyone in that situation “in close proximity” so there’s no further contamination. On-campus environmental health and safety were first to respond along with campus police. They called the Ames Fire Department hazardous-materials team, which in turn called in a Des Moines Hazmat unit that has on-site analysis tools. The substance was found not to be dangerous he says, and it’s pretty certain it’s a common household chemical that posed no danger of contamination or injury to the people exposed. The substance has been sent to the state hygienics laboratory to confirm the on-the-spot analysis, but Deisinger says he’s confident the powder in the envelope is harmless. There was nothing else inside, and the captain couldn’t say whether there was any return address on the envelope. About 80 people were in Alumni Hall, though only 3 were considered at any risk of exposure to the substance, and the building was closed down for the rest of the day.
A northeast Iowa man is taking cross-country bicycling to a new level while raising money for charity. 22-year-old Tyler Weig of Oelwein is planning to ride his bike, solo, from Oregon to Virginia, while at the same time fundraising for the American Cancer Society. Tyler graduated from Iowa State University in May and wanted to challenge himself while doing something fun, big and that would help people. Tyler will start his four-thousand mile journey on Saturday in Florence, Oregon, riding through eleven states, before arriving at his destination of Virginia Beach on July 24th, which coincides with another significant event. That’s the date the Tour de France bike race is set to conclude and may be the day cancer survivor and American biking legend Lance Armstrong takes his seventh straight win in the event. Tyler will be riding through Iowa, but his cycling route won’t be through his hometown of Oelwein. He’ll follow Highway 30 to Ames, head south to Des Moines, then over to Iowa City before reaching Illinois. Mirroring Iowa’s RAGBRAI bike ride, which Tyler has participated in before, he plans to dip his bike tires in both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Tyler is still raising money for his expenses, as well as the American Cancer Society. About 15-hundred dollars has been raised for the trip, which may cost five or six-thousand dollars. He says the goal of the fundraiser is 50-thousand dollars. Anyone wanting more information on his ride or to make a donation can call 800-688-0147, option “3,” or go to the website “www.acsevents.org/ia/cyclingforacure”. The mailing address is: American Cancer Society, Cycling For a Cure, 8364 Hickman Road, Suite D, Des Moines, IA 50325.
Iowa Congressman Leonard Boswell is joining others who’ve introduced legislation to help states maintain sex offender registries. The kidnapping and murder of 10-year-old Jetsetta Gage of Cedar Rapids prompted renewed interest in the issue, as the man accused of the crime is a convicted sex offender.He says reports of “heinous acts” against children have shocked and horrified us and united everyone to work to make children safer. Boswell, a democrat, says millions would be available for states if the bill becomes law. He says the bill authorizes 300-million dollars in grants to help states to implement and maintain sex offender registries. Iowa Public Safety Commissioner Kevin Techau says the money would be used to keep better track of sex offenders that cross state lines. He says that takes a lot of resources in the state, and is one of the more expensive and challenging aspects of a sex offender registry. Boswell says his bill is just one of several introduced recently to crack down on sex crimes against children. Boswell says he hopes some of the bills can be rolled into one and quickly passed by Congress.
Congressman Jim Nussle is expected to announce tomorrow (Wednesday) that he’ll run for Governor, but he won’t have Iowa’s Republican U.S. Senator with him on the stage. Chuck Grassley says he won’t openly support anyone in the primary race.Grassley says he’ll wait until after the primary to get involved and he’s told that to both Nussle and Bob Vander Plaats of Sioux City, who has also declared his intent to run for governor as a Republican. Grassley says the last time he endorsed a candidate for governor in the primary was Terry Branstad in 1992. Grassley says Branstad “stuck his neck out for me in one of my primaries…and I felt an obligation to return the favor…to help a friend.” On the Democratic side of the ticket, only state Representative Ed Fallon of Des Moines has declared he’s running. Other Democrats who are considering a run for governor include: Secretary of State Chet Culver, Ag Secretary Patty Judge and Attorney General Tom Miller.
State Climatologist Harry Hillaker says May proved to be a month that was at times more suited to hot chocolate than iced tea. He says May overall was a little cooler than normal — averaging about one-point-seven degrees below normal. Hillaker says the start of May continued the late April cool trend. He says the first four days of May were well below normal with 95-percent of the state having a freeze on the fourth day of May. He says some places got as low as 19 degrees — which he says is very low for May. The early cold came with lots of rain — but then things evened out. He says the last half of the month was much drier, with frequent rainfall, but not amounting to much. He says overall the rainfall was about one-quarter inch less than normal. Hillaker says the first five months of the year have been pretty close to average overall temperature wise. He says we had a warmer than normal February and April, but the other months have been about normal to give us an average overall temperature just a little about normal, “But nothing very significant there.” Precipitation has also been average in the first five months of 2005. He says we may be about one-tenth of an inch below normal. He says the far eastern part of the state is below normal in precipitation, while the southwest, west-central and north-central parts of the state have been above normal in precipitation.
A federal jury starts deciding the fate of Angela Johnson today in Sioux City. The 41-year-old Johnson was convicted last week of five counts of conspiracy to commit murder as part of a drug conspiracy and five counts of committing murder while engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise in helping her boyfriend Dustin Honken in the 1993 drug-related murders of five north- central Iowans. Jurors must decide whether or not the murders were premeditated and the victims were killed in a cruel and heinous manner. A jury last year recommended that Honken receive the death penalty in two of the five murders, pinpointing the deaths of the two children, Kandace and Amber Duncan. Honken could be called as a potential witness in the penalty phase of the trial, but his attorneys have made it known that he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to testify.
Two Ringgold County men were seriously hurt in a one-vehicle accident on Memorial Day. Brock Still of Kellerton was going west on a Ringgold County road when cresting a hill he encountered another vehicle in the same path. Still overcorrected his vehicle which went out of control going into the south ditch overturning several times in the ditch. Both Still and passenger Jeff Starlin of Diagonal were thrown from the vehicle. Both were taken to the Ringgold County Hospital then lifeflighted to Mercy Hospital in Des Moines where they are being treated for their injuries which are not known at this time. The vehicle Still was operating was totaled. Still was cited for failure to maintain control and not wearing a seatbelt while Starlin has been cited for not wearing a seatbelt.
The Tournament Club of Iowa near Polk City takes center stage this week as it hosts the Allianz Championship for the first time. Less than two years old, the course takes over for the Glen Oaks Country Club as the host of the Champions Tour event. The tournament begins on Friday but TCI general manager Pat Franklin says the week will be full of action. There’s a junior pro-am on Tuesday, the pro-am’s Wednesday and Thursday, and then the first round starts Friday.Franklin says the course will offer fans a great view and they have worked hard to make it accessible. He says they’ve been working for a year to get things worked out and have it organized so people can get in and out of the club.Franklin predicts the fans and players will be impressed with what they see. He says it’s a beautiful piece of property with four of the best finishing holes on the tour that he knows of.D.A. Weibring is the defending champion.