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Schools oppose Iowa law on pay for college athletes

News, Sports

February 20th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) — College athletes could earn money from endorsement deals under a bill that’s now eligible for debate in the Iowa House. Representative Ras Smith of Waterloo, says some players struggle as their universities reap the benefits from big-time college sports like football. “While people may be able to make money off of you when you’re wearing that jersey on that field that Saturday, you can’t afford shoes for your siblings or for yourself or groceries for yourself, is an issue that we have,” Smith says.

The bill is getting bipartisan support. Keith Saunders is a lobbyist for board that oversees the three state universities — including Hawkeye, Cyclone and Panther sports. Saunders is urging the legislature to wait for the NCAA to create nationwide guidelines.  “New rules are coming,” Saunders says. “Congress is also working on it and I realize not everyone has the greatest of faith in congress or the NCAA, but that’s where the solution’s going to have to come from.”

Lobbyists for private colleges and universities as well as the state’s community colleges are urging Iowa lawmakers to wait for national standards. The bill, as written, says students in Iowa could earn money based on their likeness as a college athlete as long as it doesn’t conflict with another endorsement in their athletic department. The bill cleared a Senate committee this week. It’s been approved by a SUB-committee in the Iowa House, too.

(By Iowa Public Radio’s Grant Gerlock)

Lawmakers abandon plan to let utilities charge new solar panel fees


February 20th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) — A bill that would have allowed utilities to charge extra fees to Iowans with solar panels has been changed to simply authorize a study of solar power in the state. The original version passed the Iowa Senate last year, but couldn’t get enough votes in the House. A compromise that has emerged would launch a study within the next seven years of how solar users affect the electric grid. THEN lawmakers could decide whether utilities should be allowed to charge extra fees.

Representative John Forbes has solar panels on the roof of his pharmacy in Urbandale. He says the compromise provides stability for Iowans who’ve installed solar panels on their homes and businesses.  “When I’m doing my budgeting process for my business, I’ll know how much my energy costs will now be going forward,” Forbes says.

Pork producers were among the critics of last year’s bill that would have let utilities assess new fees to customers with solar panels. The Pork Producers Association argued raising livestock is a low-margin business and the new fees would have wiped out the savings farmers were getting from using solar energy.

(Reporting by Iowa Public Radio’s Katarina Sostaric)

Board of Education turns down request to open Hamburg High School


February 20th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) — The State Board of Education today (Thursday) voted unanimously against a plan to bring back a high school in Hamburg. Superintendent Mike Wells proposed a plan to resurrect high school classes under a career academy format, in which students would receive a certificate for special skills, in addition to their high school diploma. The plan included sharing instructors with Essex–where he is also superintendent.

“I have met with the Essex staff, they are willing to do whatever it takes. For Essex, let’s say we have 20 students in our high school, we generate 140-thousand dollars. We cut them a check for a hundred thousand for teaching — it’s a win for them — they have no new expenses except for some travel,” Wells told the board. “And for Hamburg, financially we can make it, we can be solvent with the high school Over the next four years, the high school will grow.”

Wells says the agreement to have Hamburg students attend Sidney for high school forces them to do what Sidney wants them to do. Sidney Superintendent, Tim Hood, spoke out against the move, saying the state study shows it will not work financially. “The feasibility study is clear in its conclusion that Hamburg cannot support a high school. Plus, to complicate the issue, the Army Corps of Engineers is saying it’s going to be another grim spring for us in that area with flooding,” Hood says.

“After experiencing how things have gone with Hamburg students attending Sidney the past four years — we sincerely hope your decision today will allow our students to continue doing great things together.” Hood says taking the Hamburg students away from Sidney will end up impacting both schools financially and could lead to the end of both districts. “My final statement is please do not put both school districts in harms way when you do not have to,” Hood says.

Board member Mary Ellen Miller of Mason City says she supports small districts, but expressed concern about the possible financial ramifications of a Hamburg high school. “I supported this when they came a year ago — because I really felt that the community understood the risk. But now I am not so sure they do,” Miller says. She says the feasibility report helped her make up her mind.

“What I am hearing form all of this data is financially I just don’t see this being viable. And so, you’re putting at risk a school you already have. You have enough students to support — and you are putting that at huge risk,” Miller says. Board member Mike May of Spirit Lake is a former legislator. “I understand how we’ve struggled with issues of small schools for ever and ever, and all we seem to do is nibble at the edges. We don’t seem to be able to solve the problem. And I would guess that that’s probably going to be a problem we are going to be dealing with for years,” May says.

May said he worried about the plan on a couple of levels. “I am very much concerned about the viability of your plan — I think financially and instructionally,” according to May. “This will be a problem in succeeding years. And I think that if we do this now — as others have suggested — and end up in a situation where we have to dissolve the district, you are going to be very unhappy.”

The Hamburg Community School District operated as an independent district until 2011. Hamburg entered into a whole grade sharing agreement in 2011 with Farragut. Hamburg high school students attending Farragut — and middle school students from Farragut went to Hamburg. Hamburg began sending 9-12 students to Sidney after the dissolution of the Farragut district.

Iowa City approves 15-story towers near university campus


February 20th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

IOWA CITY, Iowa (The Gazette) — Officials in Iowa City have approved the construction of two 15-story residential towers near the University of Iowa campus. The City Council approved the buildings Tuesday night and granted special height bonuses that will allow the buildings to reach 15 stories.

The Gazette reports the buildings are on the southern fringe of downtown and the university campus. They would house 820 units and 1,575 beds. Opponents of the project had argued it was too large and could disrupt vacancy rates across Iowa City. Construction isn’t expected to begin for more than a year.

Rural Page County man arrested on warrants


February 20th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

Sheriff’s deputies in Page County, Thursday, arrested 42-year old Jeffrey Wade Bartles, of rural Coin, on four Page County warrants for Probation Violations. Bond on those warrants amounts to $40,000.

Jeffrey Bartles

Bartles was arrested in the 300 block of North 15th Street in Clarinda, without incident. He was transported to the Page County Jail where he was being held pending further court proceedings.

Shelby County Sheriff’s report (2/20)


February 20th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

(12-p.m. News) The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office reports a slow period of activity over the past week. On Sunday, 45-year old Reat Koang Panyuan, of Omaha, was arrested following a traffic stop by the Iowa State Patrol, in Shelby County. Panyuan was taken into custody on a valid Woodbury County warrant for Probation Violation. He was brought to the Shelby County Jail and processed, before being turned over to Woodbury County authorities.

And, 39-year old Bryan Christopher Heller, of Avoca, was arrested following a traffic stop at around 10-p.m., Saturday (Feb. 15th). Upon further investigation, Heller was taken into custody for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. He was released a short time later after posting a $300 cash bond.

CCHS Foundation Receives Donation from Local Artist


February 20th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Cass County Health System Foundation report they “Happily accepted two unique donations.” CCHSF says Arnie Jirsa, a metal artist from Marne, donated two metal sculptures to be displayed within treatment areas at CCHS.

Top photo: L to R: Dawn Marnin, CCHS Foundation Director; Tammy Bireline, Chief Clinics Administrator; Teresa Hardy, Clinical Lead Cardiac Rehab; Arnie Jirsa; Amanda Bireline, Chief Nursing Officer; Brett Altman, CEO/ Bottom photo: : L to R: Dawn Marnin, CCHS Foundation Director; Tammy Bireline, Chief Clinics Administrator; Traci Brockman, Specialty Clinic Nurse Manager; Amanda Bireline, Chief Nursing Officer; Arnie Jirsa; Brett Altman, CEO. (CCHS photo submissions)

“I have had such great experiences here and I wanted to do something to give back.” The first sculpture is a heart that is displayed in Cardiac Rehab, and the second is a collage of ribbons displayed in the oncology area of the Specialty Clinic. “We are so grateful to receive such beautiful pieces from a local artist,” stated Dawn Marnin, CCHS Foundation Director, “these pieces will be enjoyed by our patients for years to come.”

Fatal crash in Adair County this morning


February 20th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

One person died and another was injured during a crash in Adair County this (Thursday) morning. The Iowa State Patrol reports 47-year old Darrell Wain Smith, of Winterset, died in the crash that happened on Highway 92 east of Greenfield, at around 6:37-a.m.  Authorities say a 2008 Chevy Silverado pickup driven by Smith was westbound on Highway 92 near Pinewood Avenue, when for reasons unknown, his vehicle crossed into the eastbound lane and was struck head on by a 2003 International truck registered to Five Star Trucking, LLC. The driver of the truck, 44-year old Jeremy Criswell Houck, of Corning, was injured in the crash.

After the vehicles collided, the pickup spun around into the westbound lane and came to rest facing eastbound. The International truck came to rest in the south ditch. Darrell Smith died from his injuries at the scene. Houck was seriously injured and transported by LifeFlight to Methodist Hospital in Des Moines. Both men were wearing their seat belts.

Mills County Sheriff’s report (2/20)


February 20th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

The Mills County Sheriff’s Office reports 33-year old William Dean Meredith, of Glenwood, was arrested Wednesday afternoon, on a warrant for Probation Violation. His bond was set at $1,000. And, 36-year old Robert Paul Leckington, of Council Bluffs, was arrested late Wednesday night, for Possession of a Controlled Substance and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. His bond was set at $2,300.

14 of 15 levee breaches are fixed in SW Iowa and work on #15 is underway


February 20th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) — Contractors have closed 14 breaches on federal levees in southwest Iowa, breaches that were created by last year’s widespread flooding. They have one more to fix on a levee from Thurman to the Missouri border, before the spring flooding season starts. That 15th breach is expected to be closed by March 1st, according to Trish Lambert, with the U-S Army Corps of Engineers Systems Restoration Team out of Omaha. “The level of repairs are basically at an interim level,” Lambert says, “however, we’re confident that we’ve done our best to get them to a point where they can withstand high water events.”

Lambert says contractors are bringing the areas where breaches were closed up to the heights from before flooding hit last year. Contractors have armored the closed breach areas with clay on top, but she says they’re missing a top layer of grass that would protect and stabilize the levees. “Clay has the potential, if the water does sit against it,” she says. “It’s not as resilient as if it were to have that established grass.”

Without that grass protection, the clay could wash away if there’s rain, snow or high water. Lambert says contractors will work to add grass, seeding and do other final fixes after March 1st.

(Reporting by Katie Peikes, Iowa Public Radio)