Earlier this week investigators found a starving cougar and the remains of four others on a Poweshiek County farm. An Iowa lawmaker’s renewing his effort to ban the ownership of exotic animals. It’s a matter of public safety as well as protecting the animals, according to representative Kurt Swaim of Bloomfield. The democratic lawmaker introduced a bill that restricted the ownership of certain wild animals. Swain plans to “make a big push for it,” saying recent events prove the need. Tom Colvin, president of the Iowa Federation of Humane Societies, says the bill will get plenty of support from animal-welfare advocates. Colvin says he’s seeing more complaints about wild animals kept as pets, from people who either don’t think they’re getting good care or fear they’re kept under circumstances that could let them escape and threaten public safety Colvin says he thinks most exotic animals should be limited to sanctuaries and accredited zoos. He says state law could clarify which animals are okay for pets: There’d be a list so people don’t have to worry about hamsters or exotic chickens, but would know it bans “lions and tigers and bears.” Ryan Norris of St-Charles is an exotic pet owner who says unusual animals can make wonderful pets. He says it “only takes one or two” to ruin it for everybody because when the public hear about an exotic pet becoming a problem it turns them against them, and he says owners don’t speak out. Norris says he’s been considering adding a small Bengal cat to his menagerie of blood pythons, tortoises and exotic fish. It takes a special person, he says, to take care of a special animal, and he recommends screening would-be owners and registering the animals so the state can ensure they’re being cared for properly. Norris says some people buy exotic animals over the internet without considering the cost and time needed to care for them.
Archives for July 2004
A group of Cass County republicans has filed a lawsuit seeking to remove two top county officials from office. In a petition filed Friday in Cass County district court, seven plantiffs allege their fellow Republicans, County Attorney James Barry and Sheriff Larry Jones, are guilty of corruption and misconduct in office. Democrat Ron Fieldmeyer, attorney for the plantiffs, says that both Jones and Barry were informed late Thursday afternoon that a lawsuit would be filed if they did not agree to resign by noon Friday. Barry indicated immediately that he was not going to resign. There was no immediate comment from Jones. Both men are aware of the suit, but neither has been officially served with notice. Fieldmeyer says it could be nearly a month before the trial begins. Meanwhile, the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation is looking into the activities of Jones and Barry to determine if any crimes have been committed. It’s expected their report will be released in two weeks, but Fieldmeyer says his clients didn’t want to wait that long to file the suit.
Iowa’s wine industry has grown from 13 wineries in 2001 to 28 in 2004 as more Iowans look for a niche agriculture market. Mary Holz-Clause of the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center at Iowa State University says there’s room for even more wineries. But she says pressing grapes into wine isn’t something you can decide to do one day, and jump into the next.She says it almost takes four years from the time you plant the grapes until you get any kind of reliable grape production. If you’re working with red wines, it’s another year or two after you bottle them, so it’s five to six years before you actually are able to sell the product. Kolz-Clause says the startup cost of a winery is something that has to get a lot of consideration. She says there’s a long window that is capital intensive, because the product isn’t ready right away, you have to have the capital to carry the operation until you can start selling wine. Iowa wine production was nearly 78-thousand gallons in 2004.
Thousands of bicycle riders in the annual expedition across the state will be hitching a ride home today, or leaving the state till next year’s RAGBRAI. Rider Jon Cook was among those who began last Sunday by dipping a wheel in water from the Missouri river. He explains it’s a custom from the beginning of the 32-year event, though some have amended the final phase of it. You’re leaving the Missouri and heading to the Mississippi where you’ll dip the other tire to symbolize the end of the ride, except for those tired riders who zoom right off the end of the dock into the river. After a ride that’s usually been much hotter than this week, riders are ready for a dip, and bystanders may welcome it, too. Cook says “I imagine there are a good number of bicycles resting at the bottom of the Mississippi,” owned by people who decide after the great ride they could use a new bike — he says they “go screamin’ off the dock,” plunge into the river, and come swimming back to shore.
A former eastern Iowa couple, now living in Los Angeles, are back home to show a documentary they’ve made about one of the most mysterious unsolved crimes in Iowa history. Kelly Rundle is originally from the Quad Cities area. Tammy is from Waterloo. Still, Kelly Rundle says the 1912 murders in southwest Iowa are fascinating to them. There was a lot of material available, like court records, but not photographs. Rundle says they didn’t try to solve the crime, but they did eliminate some suspects. They used present day techniques, like forensic experts, to look at grand jury testimony relating to the crime scene. They even presented a new suspect. Rundle says they were fortunate enough to talk with some local residents who recalled details of the crime. About ten years ago, there were about 12 elderly women that remembered the events and were invaluable to the Randles. And while there are other accounts of the murders, Rundle says no one has gone to the lengths his film has gone to. The Moore family of six, and two visiting children, were murdered. Although there were two primary suspects at the time of the murders, only a traveling minister was charged with the crime. He was acquitted twice. The film will be show in 24 cities over five states, including this Sunday (August 1st) at 7p.m. at the Oster Regent Theatre in Cedar Falls. They say there are plans for a national cable broadcast and home video distribution next year.
Iowa State University police have arrested a man from the state of Washington for possession of child porn, after tracing images to a computer he used this week. Gene Deisinger, commander of the special operations unit of ISU police, says the 19-year-old was in Ames attending a national conference.On July 29 campus police became aware there was a computer at ISU that was sharing files for anyone on the University computer network, files reported to contain images of child pornography. Deisinger says investigators requested and got a search warrant. They were able to locate the computer, look through it, interview the owner — and after that, arrested the owner on two charges of sexual exploitation of a minor. The computer was not one that belonged to Iowa State. This was a conference participant using his own computer and a wireless connection, linked into the ISU computer network. The campus cops say they traced the traffic in the illegal images to a connection in the memorial union, and the to computer of 19-year-old Timothy Rand Wallace. Deisinger says ISU police have a “very sophisticated computer forensics team” he says is quite able to trace computer usage paths. He says it wasn’t necessary to do much since the suspect was putting things on a computer bulletin board, the equivalent of a “chalk board,” Deisinger says, that anyone passing by could view them, nothing that took hacking, just putting up things that could be viewed by anyone who knew how. Police say Wallace was on campus as part of a scouting event, the Order of the Arrow conference. Around 6500 people are in Ames for the conference, which organizers refer to as scouting’s national honor society.
Iowa Senator Tom Harkin spent last weekend in Canada, on the island where President Franklin Roosevelt contracted polio. Harkin talked about the trip to Campobello Island while speaking this past Monday with Iowa Democrats in Boston for their party’s national convention.Campobello Island is now an international park, administered by a board made up of Americans and Canadians. President Clinton appointed Harkin to the park board, and Harkin was in New Brunswick for the board’s annual meeting.Harkin says he walked around the park, listening to recordings of F-D-R’s speeches and fireside chats, and Harkin says he was struck again by what a “visionary” Roosevelt was. When F-D-R was 39, he contracted polio at his family’s vacation home on Campobello Island. Harkin says Roosevelt persevered despite his disability, and went on to become Governor of New York and President after he contracted polio. Harkin concluded his speech to Iowa Democrats by using his trip to the international park as fodder for a fist-pounding finale. “It is time for us democrats to persevere, to not give up, to reclaim the fire, reclaim the passion and give hope to our people once again that our government and our country will be better,” he said, punctuating the phrases with smacks to the lectern. Campobello Island is on the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, Canada, just across from the northern-most point in the U.S.
Grinnell High School junior Jenny Arsenault shot a final round four under par 64 Thursday to win the Iowa Womans’ Amatuer Championship by seven strokes at the Elwood Country Club in Marshalltown. The 16-year-old Arsenault was five strokes back after shooting a 74 the first day, shot a 66 on Wednesday to take a one stroke lead and went on to win.She says she didn’t strike the ball solidly the first day and went out and hit the ball better and hit some putts after that first day. Arsenault says it was good to know she could adjust her play.She says she’s excited to know she could come back and play well after a slow start. She says she’s excited now because she has a break. Iowa State golfer Christi Athes of Eldora New Providence finished second in the tournament.
West Des Moines Valley is hoping pitching depth leads them to another title as the semifinal round of class 4A continues tonight. Valley coach Steve Moore compares the pitching depth to the team in 1995, as they get ready to play North Scott in the final round.In Carroll class 3A semifinals Perry takes on Charles City and number two Davenport Assumption goes up against Sioux City Heelan.
At the state high school baseball tournament unranked and eighth seeded South O’Brien is a victory away from a state championship. Kyle Lang scored on an infield ground out in the bottom of the sixth as the Wolverines edged Fort Dodge St. Edmond 3-2 in a class 2A semifinal in Marshalltown. Skyler Roder was dominant on the mound for South O’Brien. He went the distance and yielded only three hits. The game continued a string of one run victories for the Wolverines. One of Roder’s few mistakes was was a throwing error in the top of the sixth that allowed the Gaels Ryan Garrett to score the tying run.