April 15, 2014

Most older Iowans say they won’t give up their driver’s licenses

Iowa’s youngest Baby Boomers are turning 50 this year and the Hawkeye State has one of the nation’s largest populations of elderly residents by percentage.

Jodi Olshevski, a corporate gerontologist, says a new survey shows most drivers who are now between the ages of 50 and 68 see themselves staying behind the wheel for many more years.

“The majority of them, about 76%, told us they plan to drive into their 80s, 90s or some think they’ll never stop driving,” Olshevski says. “Boomer men are more likely to say they’ll never stop driving than women, and we asked them to tell us what they thought their driving patterns will be over the next five to ten years, and they said, essentially, they think it’ll be about the same.”

Olshevski has some tips for older Iowans who are still driving and want to keep that independence.

“Adjust to the changes in your driving skills so as you’re aging, be tuned in to changes that are occurring,” she says, “and don’t forget about maintaining your vehicle. That is so important and it’s something that usually can be fairly simple to keep on top of.”

Besides keeping your car in good shape, Olshevski suggests it’s also important to keep yourself in top running order.

She says, “We know that exercise is important for so many aspects of aging but we found out in a study we conducted that it’s also very important for driving and that it can enhance flexibility and range of motion.”

Familiarize yourself with the many features of the vehicle which can help to strengthen your ability to drive and also, consider taking a refresher course in driver’s education.

Olshevski is executive director of the Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence, based in Hartford, Connecticut.


Huxley man charged in murder of Cambridge woman

A central Iowa man is charged in the fatal shooting of a woman.

Police in the Story County town of Cambridge were asked to do a welfare check on a woman last night. At her home, they found the woman’s body in an upstairs bedroom.

Authorities say she’d been shot several times. Her name hasn’t been released. An autopsy is ordered for today.

Police say a weapon and shell casings were found near the body.

A suspect was identified in the neighboring town of Huxley and 44-year-old Jeremy Cory was arrested this morning.

Cory is charged with first-degree murder and he’s being held in the Story County Jail.

Some Iowans scramble as midnight federal tax deadline looms

The IRS is reminding Iowans who are preparing their federal tax returns on this deadline day of April 15th to double-check all of their numbers.

The agency’s spokesman for Iowa, Christopher Miller, says if you’re in a hurry, math errors can add up to big trouble, but he says mistakes are less likely if you file your return electronically.

“We’re running about 90% of people electronically filing their tax return,” Miller says. “More and more people are realizing how fast and easy it is to e-file your taxes. When you choose direct deposit and you e-file, you get your refund in the fastest amount of time possible.”

People who have procrastinated doing the taxing task of taxes may be trying to speed through the process as the deadline approaches, which Miller says can be a bad idea.

“When you’re rushing, you can make mistakes easier,” Miller says. There is about a one-percent chance of making a mistake when e-filing versus a 20-percent chance of error with paper returns.

If you’re not able to make the midnight deadline, all is not lost. “If you’re running out of time and don’t think you’re going to get your tax return done, file for an extension,” Miller says. “That has to be done by the deadline. It’s Form 4868. We’re expecting a lot of people will get that additional six months until October 15th to file their taxes.”

If you file for an extension though, Miller reminds, there is a string attached:

“An extension of time to file your tax return is not an extention of time to pay,” Miller says. “If you owe taxes, you still need to figure out your best estimate of how much you’ll owe and get that into us by the deadline to avoid further interest and penalties.”

More last-minute tax tips are available on the agency’s website, www.irs.gov.


Eastern Iowa drowning victim’s name released

Authorities in eastern Iowa have identified the man who drowned in the Mississippi River this weekend. The Scott County Sheriff’s office says 30-year-old Christopher Simms of Princeton died Saturday when the canoe he was in with three friends tipped over in the Mississippi River, upriver from Davenport near Princeton.

The other people were all able to swim to shore. A volunteer underwater diving team went into the water shortly before 5 P.M. and recovered Simms’ body about 16 minutes later some 50 yards from shore. He was not wearing a life jacket. The Iowa DNR is investigating.


It was a sunburn Saturday to snowstorm Sunday across Iowa

Overnight snow left green grass flocked in white in many areas of the state.

Overnight snow left green grass flocked in white in many areas of the state.

It was a wild weather weekend for many Iowans, with a little something for everyone, including near-record high temperatures, thunderstorms, flooding, high winds, hail and snow.

A tornado touched down around 6 P.M. Sunday near Lone Tree in eastern Iowa’s Johnson County, but no damage was reported.

Meteorologist Craig Cogil, at the National Weather Service, says it went from balmy to frigid pretty quickly. “On Saturday, we saw highs in the state well into the 70s and up into the mid 80s,” Cogil says. “Since that time, it’s been downhill to where temperatures in the state this morning are anywhere from the mid 30s in the southeast to mid 20s in the northwest, so a good 50-degree drop in some locations.”

Some Iowans awoke today to see their newly-sprouted green grass and tulip leaves covered with a white blanket of snow. “We’ve had some reports of a half-inch to an inch-and-a-half in various locations in central and northern Iowa,” Cogil says. “It is sticking this morning however, I don’t anticipate it’ll last too long.”

He expects temperatures to warm up very gradually this week. “Today is going to be well below normal,” Cogil says. “We’re going to remain relatively cloudy in most locations with highs only rebounding up into the mid to upper-30s across the state. We’re not going to see better moderation until we get into Tuesday and Wednesday.”

Highs on Tuesday are mostly expected in the 40s statewide, with 50s likely on Wednesday. There may be another chance for snow on Thursday.

Bix Beiderbecke part of new Smithsonian exhibit

Bix Beiderbecke

Bix Beiderbecke

An Iowa musician is featured in a new exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.

The exhibit is called “American Cool,” and a black-and-white picture of Davenport native Leon “Bix” Beiderbecke hangs alongside 99 others, ranging from actors James Dean and Humphrey Bogart to skateboarding legend Tony Hawk and boxer Muhammad Ali.

Beiderbecke is worshipped in the jazz world, according the Gerri Bowers, historian for the Davenport-based Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Society.

“He appeals to both the young, middle aged and older people,” Bowers says. “He has people from all over the world, England, Australia, Denmark, they all come to see him.” By that, she means, people come to see his gravesite in Davenport and to hear his music played live at the Bix Memorial Jazz Festival every summer at LeClaire Park along the Mississippi River.

“I personally have taken people from all over, from California to New York and from Canada to Texas, on tours of the Bix sites here in Davenport,” Bowers says, “and I’ve actually seen grown men cry over his grave.”

Bowers co-authored a book about Bix, a cornetist, pianist and composer who is considered one of the most influential jazz soloists of the 1920s. He died in 1931.

Bowers says Beiderbecke was a musical genius. “For someone that didn’t really learn to play music, he did,” Bowers says. “He became so well known. Actually, he is better known across in Europe than he is here.”

There’s also a huge Bix following in Japan, and that nation often sends a Dixieland band all the way to Iowa to play at the annual festival on the Davenport riverfront. The 43rd annual Bix Fest is scheduled for July 31st to August 3rd.



Harkin expects another attempt to pass the equal pay bill

Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says it’s “shameful” that an equal pay bill fell a half-dozen votes short in the chamber on Wednesday. Harkin, a Democrat, says the measure — which aimed to close the so-called wage gap — failed to win a single Republican vote.  “I am really disappointed that the Senate Republicans would not even allow us to bring the bill to the floor to debate it,” Harkin says. “If they have amendments, they could have offered amendments, but the vote yesterday was whether or not we’d even debate it and vote on it.”

Republican opponents said they feared passage would bring more civil lawsuits and added, the bill is redundant as it’s already illegal to discriminate based on gender. Harkin disagrees. “It’s just shameful, especially an issue that a lot of people think is just a women’s issue, equal pay for equal work, well, it is that but it’s a family issue,” Harkin says. “So many women are chief breadwinners in their families. A lot of single mothers out there, taking care of children.”

When the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, women were making 60-cents to every dollar made by a man. Studies show women today make 77-cents to every man’s dollar, so there’s been progress, Harkin says, just not enough. Harkin says, “For Republicans to just say ‘No, we’re not even going to discuss it, we’re not even going to vote on it,’ to me it’s just the height of irresponsibility.” This was the third Senate failure of an equal pay bill in recent years.

Harkin says the sponsors may try to introduce the measure again this summer. He calls it “amazing” the subject is still needing to be discussed and remedied.