The Iowa softball team is 27-5 and ranked 19th nationally but the Hawkeyes face a difficult challenge to open the Big Ten race. Iowa plays the first of two games at Michigan Friday afternoon and will close the weekend on Sunday at Northwestern. Michigan is 32-1 and is the nation’s top ranked team. Iowa coach Gayle Blevins says it’s the first time a Big Ten team has been ranked number one. Blevins says the conference is much deeper this year, and she expects it to be a good race. Pitching depth is a key in conference play and that’s one of the reasons Iowa expects to challenge for the title. Senior Lisa Birroci, junior Ali Arnold and freshman Stephanie Ackerson have given up only 34 earned runs in their first 32-games. Blevins says the pitchers compliment each other well because they’re so different in style and strength. Michigan and Iowa have dominated the Big Ten race for the last decade. Either the Hawkeyes or Wolverines have won the conference regular season title since 1995.
Archives for March 2005
The number of girls and women taking part in sports has exploded over the last ten to 20 years and so has the number of sports injuries. That will be the toppic of a symposium this Saturday in Des Moines. Sponsored by Iowa Health the symposium will focus on the injuries and other health issues relative to female athletes.Rich Green is a physical therapist with Iowa Health and says one of the topics of discussion will be the high number of knee injuries suffered by female athletes. He says there are a lot of theories on why the injuries occur and they want to look at the things that are different from male athletes. He says the number of A-C-L injuries has become so large that the National Institute of Health has been give a multi-million dollar grant to study why. He says a recent study showed women injure their A-C-L at a rate nine times higher than males. He says there are all different types of theories as to why, such as hip size and the way women jump compared to males. Green says A-C-L injuries have been a big problem for female basketball players. Green says event is targeted toward coaches of atheletes 11 or older as well as athletic directors and athletic trainers.The symposium begins at 8:30 Saturday morning at the Des Moines Botanical Center.
An administrator who oversees the state’s Sex Offender Registry says there are almost 65-hundred names on the website and most abused kids. Steven Conlin, an assistant director of the Division of Criminal Investigation, says over 80 percent of all the people who’s been required by law to put their names and addresses on the sex offender registry abused a juvenile. Conlin says after a convicted sex offender was accused of killing a Cedar Rapids girl, the Sex Offender website has been deluged. On Tuesday of this week, those who visited the website logged 370-thousand page views, which means they called up that many pages on their computer screens. Conlin says his agency is trying to update the system. “I guess I would equate it to if any one of us would have bought a home computer in 1995 and now you’re using that same one, it just doesn’t have the same bells and whistles that some of the newer equipment does,” Conlin says. He says they hope to upgrade the system so you can type in your address, and the Registry will kick back a list of sex offenders who live within a mile of your home. Officials are also hoping to set up a system that would let you get an e-mail update if a sex offender who lives near you moves, or another person on the registry move into your neighborhood. Conlin testified this (Thursday) morning before the Senate Judiciary Committee and asked for more money to hire more people to handle the Sex Offender Registry and to upgrade the computer system and software used to maintain it. Some legislators, though, say state administrators should be reassigning money and people they already have to the Sex Offender Registry.
The Iowa Senate has spent much of this (Thursday) morning talking about tougher measures to crackdown on sex offenders, a day after a wide-ranging bill with the same goal cleared the Iowa House. Senator Larry McKibben, a Republican from Marshalltown, held up an eight-by-10-inch picture of the Cedar Rapids girl who was kidnapped, molested and killed and a matching picture of the man who is accused of the crime.”I think it’s very, very clear in the state of Iowa that in a case such as this we have a real weakness by not having a death penalty in this state,” McKibben says. McKibben calls Roger Bentley, the convicted sex offender accused of killing Jetseta Gage, an “animal” and McKibben says he has little sympathy for cops and others in law enforcement who say they need more money to adequately track sex offenders who’re released from prison. “Bunk,” McKibben says. “If you’re a law enforcement person, don’t come to me today and tell me you can’t enforce the law. That’s your job.” McKibben says the death penalty would be a better response than pouring more money into treatment of sex offenders. “How are you going to take care of guy (who is six-feet-one inches tall and 270 pounds) who murders a 10 year old girl?,” McKibben asked, pointing to his enlarged picture of Bentley. McKibben says you can’t “take care” of Bentley without the death penalty. Senator Keith Kreiman, a Democrat from Bloomfield, urged legislators to take a calm, deliberate approach to the problem. “The tragic murder of Jetseta Gage challenges all Republican and Democratic legislators to develop an effective, meaningful response that will prevent future tragedies,” Kreiman says. Kreiman says legislators must look for “common ground” and find out how best to manage convicted sex offenders.
Two former state officials today (Thursday) denounced a plan that backers say will help Iowa communities form municipal utilities to provide the highest-speed Internet access possible. Former State Auditor Richard Johnson predicts the “Opportunity Iowa” group will create the same kind of problems the state ran into when it installed a state-wide fiber optic system known as the Iowa Communications Network. “I watched and was involved with the operation of the ICN. I can see what it is today. I know how difficult it is for the ICN to operate because the state has walked away from it as far as subsidizing its operation,” Johnson says. “I can see the same kind of a problem happening, except local governments wouldn’t be able to walk away.” Johnson says local taxpayers would get saddled with the costs of running a communications system that’s competing with private industry. Gerald Bair the recently-retired director of the Iowa Department of Revenue will serve with Johnson as co-chair of the “Project Taxpayer Protection” group that’s asking legislators to put limits on “Opportunity Iowa.” “The potential there is for not only the cities but the taxpayers to come out on the short end, so we joined up with this ‘Project Taxpayer Protection’ to hopefully get some protective legislation passed that will at least put some safeguards (in the law) regarding ‘Opportunity Iowa,'” Bair says. Former Governor Terry Branstad and the Cedar Rapids businessman who founded MCI are among those touting the “Opportunity Iowa” project. Up to 45 communities across the state may hold referendums in November to explore the idea of a municipal utility that would provide residents with broadband service. An “Opportunity Iowa” spokesman says the goal is to install the kind of high-speed access available in places like Japan and Ireland that’s light years ahead of what’s available from most cable systems or phone companies here.
The state’s unemployment rate didn’t budge in February despite some increase in jobs. Labor analyst Ann Wagner says the February rate was the same as January at five-point-one percent. She says that rate represents 83-thousand-300 unemployed — up one thousand from last month. Wagner, who’s with the Iowa Workforce Development office, says some industries saw an increase in jobs. She says professional and business services saw the biggest growth, then manufacturing. Wagner says the state lost 500 government jobs and one-thousand in education and health services. Overall she says the new jobs aren’t yet outpacing the losses. She says we’ve recaptured some manufacturing jobs as non-farm jobs are up 19-thousand-200 over the year, but she says there still needs to be faster monthly job growth to bring the unemployment rate down. Wagner says the unemployment rate is a little higher than last year at this time, but the employment picture is better. She says the job market is much improved over a where we were a year ago, but she says that brings in more job seekers once they hear businesses are hiring. Wagner says Iowa’s unemployment rate remains below the national rate, which increased to five-point-four percent in February.
The Farmland Foods plant in the western Iowa town of Denison is reportedly expanding, perhaps hiring on hundreds of new workers, but questions remain about the specifics of the plan. Denison Mayor Ken Livingston says it’s an exciting announcement that’s been a long time coming.Livingston says Farmland Foods officials have been meeting with city leaders “in confidence” as the plans for the expanded pork slaughtering and processing plant were being made. One report says the expansion will cost 25-million dollars and could mean the creation of 220 jobs. Livingston could -not- confirm that. He will only say it represents multi-millions of dollars in investment and significant numbers of jobs. No Farmland Foods officials are commenting about the reported expansion plans.
Terri Schiavo died this morning. The case of the brain-damaged Florida woman has pushed many Iowans into action. Paul Sodders, spokesman for the Iowa Donor Network, says in the past few weeks, they’ve seen a healthy uptick in the number of Iowans signing up to be organ and tissue donors. Sodders says the network’s hotline has also been flooded with inquiries from Iowans who want to know the legal differences and definitions of brain death, vegetative state and coma. He says people are educating themselves about the issue, thanks to the publicity of the Schiavo case. Sodders says “It is such a sad case…it’s got a huge national impact. We know that people are just very interested in making sure that this type of incident never happens to them or anyone in their families. We have been encouraging people to make sure they’re filling out their living wills and that they’re signing on to the Iowa Donor Registry so their wishes can be carried out upon death.” For more information, call 800 831-4131 or surf to “www.iowadonorregistry.org”.
The test results are in and show that Iowa’s deer population remains free of the deadly Chronic Wasting Disease. Alan Foster of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says it’s good to hear that none of the 45-hundred whitetail deer tested had C-W-D. He says they’ve been testing for a couple of years now and didn’t expect to find anything, but were really excited by the news. Foster says one of the concerns is they don’t really know much about C-W-D. He says what they do know is the disease is always fatal and theoretically could be spread by one-to-one contact. Foster says a spread of the disease could decimate the herd and cause the state to lose some of the millions of dollars spent on deer hunting. The disease has been found in Nebraska, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois — but Foster says it apparently hasn’t spread. He says Iowa has natural barriers in the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers that help stop the transmission of the disease. And he says Iowa doesn’t allow hunters to put out bait to lure deer, and there’s not a large number of people that feed deer like there is in Michigan. Foster says feeding deer gets them to group into a small area, and that makes it easier for diseases to spread. Deer samples were collected from all 99 counties in Iowa — with the majority taken in the seven Mississippi River border counties stretching from Allamakee County south to Scott County. Foster says they’ll test again this year. He says they’ll probably test the same amount of deer, and if they find anything, they would intensify the testing. Iowa hunters and lockers voluntarily contributed samples to the D-N-R to test for C-W-D.
If it’s been a bad year, you may be able to salvage something when you finish your income taxes over the next couple weeks. As the deadline approaches, Caroline Gorman at the Insurance Information Institute says there are some losses you can deduct. It’s called a “casualty loss,” if you had damage from a fire, tornado, or some other incident that damaged your home and you didn’t have enough insurance to cover it all, you can deduct some of your loss. It won’t make up for your loss, but she says every bit you can deduct at least helps. Gorman says it must have been an unexpected event, like a windstorm, fire, flood or vandalism. She adds you should talk with your tax preparer to make sure you qualify to deduct some of your loss. She says many people are finding they now have a larger share to pay before their insurance kicks in. For example, you may have a deductible as high as a thousand dollars on your car or house. Taking a deduction could recap some of that deductible you’ve paid, which would be a help. Doctor bills sometimes can be deducted, especially if they qualify as “catastrophic medical expenses.” The Insurance Information Institute offers news for consumers and a referral to insurance companies in your state. www.iii.org