Two historic Iowa residences are on the Des Moines holiday tour that begins December 5th. The Governor’s mansion, known as Terrace Hill, and the Salisbury House are part of this year’s Holly and Ivy tour along with two private residences. Terrace Hill programs coordinator Carla Herling says it offers a unique chance for you to see the homes. She says for one price you can see all four homes, and there’s musical entertainment at Salisbury House and Terrace Hill. Herling says they even have a shuttle service to take you between the homes. Herling says the halls of the homes will be decked out for the holidays. She says they’re incredible homes already and you can see them on a different level with their holiday decorations. There will be a historic gingerbread house at Terrace Hill, too, and you’ll get to see the finalists. Terrace Hill development director Alissa McKinney says the gingerbread contest was the idea of Iowa’s First Lady. She says First Lady Christie Vilsack saw a similar contest at the Hoover Library, and she thought it would fit well because so many people compare Terrace Hill to a gingerbread house. McKinney says they did historic homes to keep with their mission of featuring Iowa’s history. Admission to the tour is $10 for adults and $5 for children. McKinney says the event typically draws 1500 people from across the state.
Archives for November 2003
When the holiday season winds down, the job won’t end for the Transportation Security Administration. Iowa security director Tim McDonald says they’ll be putting out the “Help Wanted” sign. On December 1st, the authority will advertise on its website for 30 part-time screeners at the Des Moines airport. The part-timers won’t start work ’til next March, as it’ll take time for the hiring process and training, some of it on-the-job. All 30 or so jobs will be part-time, something that will offer flexibility for workers looking for a few hours and also economical for the homeland security agency. McDonald says the part-time workers can be “plugged in” at peak times and they won’t have to keep them all around during downtimes. To get the applications and information, surf to www.dhs.gov and click on “employees” or go to the site www.usajobs.com and register to view the jobs offered.
Security is tighter in many areas of our post-9/11 world, even in the home-buying business. Iowa’s largest real estate brokerage has started doing background checks on all of its new agents. Jim Koolof, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Iowa Realty, says several factors went into the decision. Koolof says Iowa Realty is the first in Iowa and may be the first in the nation to have implemented background checks on new agents, which includes a criminal background check and a request for things like a valid driver’s licenses. He says the background checks will help to “step up” the image of the agency’s realtors. Iowa Realty contracts with about 200 new agents every year, all of whom will now be subject to the screening. He says in the long run, the procedure won’t be a big expense. Koolof says each background check costs $50-to-$60 each, giving the “reasonable additional assurance that some of the more troublesome items would be caught.” By conducting background checks, he says, “we add another dimension of comfort and protection for our clients and our agents.” Among the reasons for the safeguard, Koolof says recent problems in central Iowa involved non-realtors in the real estate industry who were buying and reselling homes on contract. He says many of the contracts were less than sufficient and fell through, leaving the buyers, sellers and often the lenders in a losing situation. Des Moines-based Iowa Realty has more than 1200 agents under contract in Iowa and Missouri. Its main focus areas in Iowa are in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids.
County officials from around the state are asking the Iowa Legislature to take steps to “shore-up” the state’s child protective system. Iowa State Association of Counties executive director Bill Peterson says because of the state’s financial difficulties, not as many resources are being spent on child protective programs as county officials would like. Peterson says spending money now to help “at-risk” kids in an abusive home pays dividends in the long run because without early help, those kids may wind up in trouble later in life.Peterson says counties have a huge responsibility to cover jail and court costs for troubled kids who wind up in trouble with the law. Peterson says at-risk kids don’t always end up being charged with crimes as juveniles or adults, but he says there’s enough evidence to suggest helping children when they’re young and in a bad home is well worth the state’s investment. The Iowa State Association of Counties held its annual meeting last week, and among its top priorities was getting legislators to spend more money on social workers for child abuse cases and other “child protective” services.
An Iowa State University expert on all things creepy-crawly played a role in a new reference book called “The Encyclopedia of Insects.” ISU entomology professor Bryony Bonning was asked by the editors to pen a full chapter for the book on her area of expertise. She wrote a full chapter on how biotechnology has been applied to insects and what insects have lent to biotechnology. Professor Bonning says many people don’t realize the many scientific advances that are made with the help of insects. There are several enzymes produced by fireflies, for example, that produce light. Those enzyme sequences have been isolated and have been used as tools for all sorts of other systems, so Bonning says the insects themselves have actually lent products for research. She says biotechnology is also used to control insects in medicine and in agriculture. She says the classic example in Iowa is where corn D-N-A is manipulated so it produces a toxin that kills insects like caterpillars that try to eat the corn. The comprehensive 1265-page Encyclopedia of Insects includes 270 articles and 1000 images from 250 authors from 17 countries. More than 70-percent of all known species on Earth are insects.
Iowa Ag Secretary Patty Judge says Iowa farmers and the state of Iowa have spent over $360 million in the past 30 years to reduce soil erosion from farm fields. Judge estimates those efforts have stopped 18 million tons of fertile top soil from escaping farm fields and entering waterways. Judge says 18 million tons of soil would provide a six-inch layer of soil over 20,000 football fields — and could cover all four lanes of an interstate highway stretching from California to New York. The state has put up $180 million over the past 30 years for installing field terraces, planting grass along waterways and other soil-control measures. Iowa farmers who’ve gotten the grants have matched that and in some instances spent more than the required match. Judge says it’s important to remember that waterways do not respect state boundaries. Last week, Judge attended a meeting in St. Louis to discuss the “hypoxia” in the Gulf of Mexico — a”dead zone” that many blame on farm chemical runoff that comes down the Mississippi River. Judge has been attending these official meetings for five years, and she says participants have stopped the finger-pointing and are ready to take action. She has volunteered to head a task force of representatives from Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Missouri to devise solutions.
Hooked on e-mail? Do you go into internet withdrawal when you can’t Google or Yahoo at will? There’s a new way to get on the ‘net. Brandon Kusenda works at Neo Computers in Iowa City and helps clients set up a wireless internet connection. A lot of campuses and some businesses have wireless local-area networks, many of them free of charge, and you can make one at home as long as you have a high-speed cable internet service. He says it’s quick and handy. Kusenda says “wireless is definitely the future” and with big cities like New York and Chicago blanketed with wireless connection service, some free and some not, he thinks it’s “definitely where it’s going.” Just as a wireless phone can let your conversations be overheard, however, a wireless computer connection also carries hazards. He says there are security issues because the device will let anyone with a wireless “card” in their computer connect, unless you set up security for your network. Wireless networks have exploded in popularity in urban areas, and there’s a brand-new one for travelers at the Des Moines International Airport. The Des Moines International Airport has gone “wireless,” and the terminal’s a “hot spot.” Airport spokesman Roy Criss explains the airport has installed technology to let carriers of computer technology get on internet without cables or wires to connect them. Folks can bring their laptops and Palm Pilots and not have to hook up to hardware to get on the Internet while they’re waiting for a flight. Dozens of airports around the nation offer such “wi-fi” connections, and Des Moines has the service for both travelers and the airport’s own administration and businesses with offices in the terminal. Like a call on an airport pay phone, however, you’ll pay a toll. Logging on to wireless internet at the Des Moines airport will cost you $3.95 an hour, $10 a day, or $39.95 a month. Other wireless access locations in the state include the Sheraton Hotel in Iowa City, a Holiday Inn in Cedar Falls, and at least three bars in Des Moines including “Miss Kitty’s Dance Hall and Cyber Saloon.” ISU and the University of Iowa have wireless access on campus and the University of Northern Iowa’s working on installing the so-called wi-fi service.
The Iowa State Cyclones need a victory at Missouri tomorrow to avoid a winless Big-12 season. The Cyclones are 2-9 and meet a Tiger team looking for its eighth victory. Iowa State coach Dan McCarney says Missouri’s quarterback is one of the best in the country, and it’s easy to see why they’re winning when you review the films. McCarney says the Cyclones would love to finish on a positive note. McCarney says “we’re not going in there making any apologies or excuses. We’re going in there to try to win this football game.”The UNI Panthers open the 1-AA national playoffs at home against Montana State. Panther coach Mark Farley says they would love to have a large crowd but with the students on break that’s not as likely. Farley says it will affect the crowd size. Farley says there’s a lot of excitement in the community about the game, and those who come to the UNI-Dome “will see a championship game.” Farley says the one-and-done format of the playoffs is exciting. Farley says from here on out, the games should be fun to watch.
The Iowa State Cyclones need a victory at Missouri tomorrow to avoid a winless Big-12 season. The Cyclones are 2-9 and meet a Tiger team looking for its eighth victory. Iowa State coach Dan McCarney says Missouri’s quarterback is one of the best in the country, and it’s easy to see why they’re winning when you review the films. McCarney says the Cyclones would love to finish on a positive note. McCarney says “we’re not going in there making any apologies or excuses. We’re going in there to try to win this football game.”
Wartburg is at Linfield of Oregon in the second round of the division-three national playoffs. The Knights will be looking to avenge a 52-15 playoff loss at Linfield a year ago. Wartburg coach Rick Willis says being back in the same place will hopefully work to his team’s advantage and his team is determined to put on a better performance than it did last time they were at Linfield. Willis says while Linfield is known for its passing attack, they will keep you honest with the run. Willis says they have a good mix of running and passing plays and it will be important for Wartburg’s defense to try to shut something down to make Linfield “one-dimensional.”