Latest News from Gazette Online

World leaders condemn terror attack on mosques in New Zealand as gunman appears in court

Adeeb Sami’s trip to New Zealand was supposed to be joyful — a chance for the Dubai father to surprise his twin children for their birthdays.

Instead, the 52-year-old ended up in surgery to have a bullet removed from his spine after he dove to shield his sons from a gunman who stormed a mosque Friday in Christchurch, Gulf News reported.

By the time the rampage was over, the gunman had killed 41 people. An attack at another mosque killed seven more, and one victim died at a hospital, leaving the country reeling in the aftermath of its deadliest mass shooting in recent history.

“My dad is a real hero,” Sami’s daughter, Heba, told Gulf News. “He got shot in the back near his spine in an attempt to shield my brothers but he didn’t let anything happen to them.”

The main suspect in the mass shootings was charged for now with one count of murder. Brenton Harrison Tarrant, a 28-year old Australian citizen, appeared in a Christchurch District Court and was remanded to jail without a plea until his next scheduled appearance April 5. Handcuffed and wearing a white prison suit, Tarrant did not speak.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern labeled it terrorism.

Footage of the attack on one of the mosques was shown live on Facebook, and a online “manifesto” denounced immigrants as “invaders.”

The video showed a man driving to the mosque, entering it and shooting randomly at people inside.

Facebook said it had deleted the accused gunman’s accounts “shortly after the livestream commenced” after being alerted by police. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube all said they had taken steps to remove copies of the videos.

Police said two other people were in custody.

Ardern said the main suspect was a licensed gun owner who used five weapons during his rampage, including two semi-automatic weapons and two shotguns.

“I can tell you one thing right now, our gun laws will change,” Ardern told reporters.

World leaders expressed sorrow and disgust at the attacks, some deploring the demonization of Muslims.

President Donald Trump condemned the attack as a “horrible massacre” and talked with the prime minister to offer assistance.

The accused gunman cited Trump in the manifesto as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.”

Asked by a reporter if he thought white nationalism is a rising threat around the world, Trump said: “I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. I guess if you look at what happened in New Zealand perhaps that’s a case, I don’t know enough about it yet.”

Political and Islamic leaders across Asia and the Middle East voiced concern over the targeting of Muslims.

“I blame these increasing terror attacks on the current Islamophobia post-9/11,” Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan posted on social media. “1.3 billion Muslims have collectively been blamed for any act of terror.”

New Zealand police have not released the names of those killed in Friday’s attacks.

Children are believed to be among the dead and wounded. Heba told the Dubai news outlet that she lost five family friends, including a 12-year-old boy.

Abdulrahman Hashi, 60, a preacher at Dar Al Hijrah Mosque in Minneapolis, told the Washington Post his 4-year-old nephew was among those killed. He received a phone call Friday morning from his brother-in-law Adan Ibrahin Dirie, who was in the hospital with gunshot wounds. Dirie had been worshipping in Christchurch that morning with his five children when the gunman opened fire. Four of his children escaped unharmed. The youngest, Abdullahi, was killed.

The family had fled Somalia in the mid-1990s as refugees and resettled in New Zealand.

“You cannot imagine how I feel,” he said. “He was the youngest in the family.” He said that he would preach against Islamophobia during Friday prayers. “This is a problem of extremism. Some people think the Muslims in their country are part of that, but these are innocent people.”

In addition to the 49 killed at the mosques, dozens of others were wounded or are missing.

A group called Syrian Solidarity New Zealand said Syrian refugees were in the mosque when it came under attack. Ali Akil, an Auckland-based spokesman for the group, told the Post the father of a refugee family was killed, a son was wounded and another was missing.

The family fled the civil war in Syria in search of “a safe haven, only to be killed here,” he said.

Reuters and the Washington Post contributed to this report.

Beto O’Rourke makes good first impression in Eastern Iowa campaign stops

MOUNT VERNON — The introduction went well.

A hundred or more people who met Beto O’Rourke, the former Texas congressman who earlier this week joined the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, came away impressed with his energy, his vision and his contrast to President Donald Trump.

“There’s a lot of issues he’s on the right side,” Roger Schnittjer of Mount Vernon said after meeting O’Rourke on what the Texan called the “second day of running to serve you as the next president of the United States of America.”

“He has a lot of energy,” added Becky Douglas of Belle Plaine.

O’Rourke is scheduled to be in North Liberty at 10:15 a.m. Saturday for the St. Patrick’s Day 5K Run; in Waterloo at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the Black Hawk County Democratic Party headquarters; and 8 p.m. Saturday in Dubuque at 410 Shrewsbury Lane.

O’Rourke on Friday acknowledged that energy and excitement going into the next election. It’s not necessarily for him or even for the Democratic Party, he said while standing on the bar at the Sing-A-Long Bar and Grill in Mount Vernon.

“It’s around the energy we all feel at a moment of truth that will define us forever,” he said. It’s about “our eagerness to participate, to make sure we are up to the challenges before us, that we do everything we can in our power at this moment, for us, for the kids and grandkids we have, for the generations that will follow them.”

He was right that the excitement from the 50 people at the bar and about that many who listened from Yock’s Landing next door.

“We’re excited to have him as a candidate, but it’s pretty early to say we’ve made a decision,” said Alason Jones of Mount Vernon who attended with her husband and two children.

Douglas, who liked his answer to her question about restoring dignity to the presidency and being an ally other nations could depend on, called O’Rourke a “honest, decent man … but I’m open to others.”

The United States has to reassert global leadership that Trump has squandered, O’Rourke said.

However, the responsibility for that falls not only on the next president, O’Rourke said.

“In a democracy where the people are the government and the government is on the people, those actions are done and taken in our name,” he said. “All of us shoulder the responsibility of making it better. That’s part of what this campaign and this election can be about.”

Earlier, O’Rourke — who almost wrested the U.S. Senate seat from Republican Ted Cruz in Texas in November — made stops in Mount Pleasant, Fairfield and Washington where he spoke and took questions for about 45 minutes in a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd jammed at Cafe Dodici.

Later, O’Rourke was in Cedar Rapids where he was interviewed at Raygun for the Political Party.

He touted his refusal to take PAC money, access to reasonable health care by expanding Medicare and Medicaid and vowed to run a positive campaign and not attack other candidates.

“In this campaign, you will not hear me demean or vilify another candidate or really anybody,” he said.

Jose Maldonado, 33, an Iowa City man of Mexican descent wearing a “Beto” hat, liked O’Rourke’s passion as well as his stance on immigration, including finding a path to citizenship for those in the U.S. illegally. Maldonado also appreciated having a bilingual candidate in O’Rourke, who also speaks Spanish.

“He is very good at bringing a lot of people under his umbrella,” he said.

O’Rourke even impressed Republican Jenny Turner of Kalona, who asked whether O’Rourke felt embarrassed by the rush to judgment in the Jussie Smollett case, in which the actor is accused of making up a racist, homophobic attack by Trump supporters and whether young people should feel safe wearing a Make America Great Again hat.

Turner, while she’ll not caucus or vote for O’Rourke, said she appreciated his answer that political attacks have no place anywhere in the country.

“I like him,” she said. “I like how he works hard to look you in the eye when he talks to you. He is genuine.”

He’s also “smart and articulate and can see the big picture,” Catherine Jones Davies of Anamosa said. “He also sees the consequences of policies — that’s refreshing.”

So while first impressions were positive, Jones’ “anybody but Trump” Republican husband, Jim, wasn’t ready to commit.

“He’s one of many we’re going to have to see,” he said.

Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses are scheduled Feb. 1, 2020.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

Projected Iowa revenue growth slows a bit

DES MOINES — Lawmakers in the midst of crafting the next state budget will have $20 million less than expected — but still a minor adjustment in a roughly $7.6 billion state budget.

The state panel that estimates future state revenues Friday provided its latest figures in what will be its final update before legislators approve state spending for the fiscal 2020 budget that begins July 1.

The panel now projects state revenue will be about $7.85 billion for the next fiscal year, down $20 million from its project in December. The adjustment is a reduction of .25 percent.

But Republican budget leaders in the Iowa Legislature recently proposed spending levels at roughly $7.6 billion — still hundreds of millions of dollars below Thursday’s adjusted projections.

“House Republicans have offered a responsible, conservative budget that invests in priorities and leaves a healthy ending balance,” Pat Grassley, a Republican from New Hartford who leads the House budget committee, said in a statement. “Our budget plan does not require any adjustments” after the updated projection.

Majority House Republicans have proposed a $7.67 billion budget for the coming fiscal year. Senate Republicans proposed a status quo budget of $7.62 billion.

The panel also gave its initial projection of just 2.6 percent growth in state revenue for the budget year that begins July 1, 2020.

“The results of today’s (panel) meeting confirm Senate Republicans cautious approach to budgeting for the upcoming fiscal year,” Jack Whitver, leader of the Senate Republicans, said in a statement. “Conservative budget targets are more important now than ever.”

The panel also updated projections for the current budget year, which ends June 30.

The panel projected $7.61 billion, an increase of $5 million more than its December estimate.

That means lawmakers should not have to make midyear budget cuts and adjustments to take back money they had already approved — moves they made in each of the last two years to help balance the budgets.

Iowa City junior high students join global push for action on climate change

At 13, Massimo Paciotto-Biggers has read about the effect carbon emissions are having on the environment.

“I would like to have a good future on earth,” the South East Junior High student said, citing dire climate forecasts made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Disturbed by little action in Iowa City and globally to reduce carbon emissions, Massimo and his classmate Alex Howe, 13, waged a strike in front of their junior high Friday.

With signs they made earlier that morning, they convinced three students of some 810 to join their strike as school started.

By 2 p.m., another 30 would join them in a walkout and march to the Pedestrian Mall.

The Iowa City students were some of thousands globally who skipped school Friday to demand adults take action against climate change.

Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg inspired and started the movement, which spurred tens of thousands to demonstrate in Berlin, Paris and London. Some 50 students protested in front of the United Nations headquarters in New York.

In the Cedar Rapids-Iowa City area, district representatives for the Cedar Rapids, Marion Independent, College Community, Mount Vernon and Clear Creek Amana school districts said they were not aware of any of their students participating.

In the Iowa City Community School District — where students have held marches, protests and walkouts in the wake of the 2016 presidential election and school shootings — administrators notified families Friday morning of the planned walkout.

Students who participated were given an unexcused absence, though parents could excuse it by notifying the school.

“When a collective group, like our student body, takes interest in national topics to help make a difference in the world, we support them and want to work with them to do so in a positive and meaningful manner,” the district said in an email to families.

Massimo said he hopes his school district takes action to educate students on climate change and to shrink its own carbon footprint.

“It’s something I’m mad about — I think they should teach kids and make people more aware of climate change,” he said. “ ... And there’s no more excuses left for people not to put solar (panels) on our schools.”

The Washington Post contributed to this report.

l Comments: (319) 398-8330; molly.duffy@thegazette.com

Iowa medical students placed all over country in 2019 Match Day

IOWA CITY — The Ides of March has nothing on Match Day.

Nearly 140 University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine students found what future lies ahead of them Friday morning at this year’s Match Day, the nationwide release of residency placements for graduating medical students.

“Today, it feels like everything was worth it,” said Amy Hanson, a fourth year medical student graduating in May and a Cedar Rapids Kennedy High School graduate. “This is a good feeling. I feel like this ranks on the days of getting married, your first child. I feel like Match Day is in that realm, so this is a good day.”

Match Day is an annual event when residency placements are released by the National Residency Matching Program, a private organization that matches applicants with preferred residency directors. Residency programs are the next step in a doctor’s training following medical school, and can last anywhere from three to six years.

The majority of Iowa’s medical students obtained their match through the National Residency Matching Program. Four students secured residency spots outside of the program, and three students deferred training this year.

Of the 143 medical students graduating from the University of Iowa this year, 136 participated in the matching program and were accepted into programs all over the country in a number of specialties.

Fifty-nine of them are entering primary care training, including 24 in internal medicine, 17 in pediatrics, 15 in family practice and three in obstetrics and gynecology

Fifty have been selected to remain in Iowa for postgraduate training — 33 of them at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City.

Hanson was selected for Morris Green Physician Scientist Development Program at Indiana University in Indianapolis, a program for pediatric residents and fellows who want to develop careers as researchers and scientists. Hanson has an interest in pursuing hematology and oncology within pediatrics.

Other fourth-year medical students, like Chana Sachs, are going much farther.

Sachs was accepted into a pathology residency program at the University of California-Los Angeles. A native of Los Angeles, Sachs said she was excited to “go home” for the next stage of her career.

“I love that fact that everything you do (in pathology) has a direct impact on the patient,” Sachs said. “Even though it’s more behind-the-scenes lab tech work, I just fell in love with the mental problem-solving of everything with making the diagnosis. Everybody I’ve met in pathology is like finding my people.”

Of this year’s graduating class, 46 percent is women and 54 percent is men, according to Carver College of Medicine officials. The overall makeup of the medical school is 53 percent men and 47 percent women.

More women than men applied for medical schools across the country in 2017 and 2018, according to the Association of American Medical Schools — which could indicate why women hold the majority among the first-year medical students in Iowa’s medical school this year at 51 percent.

Hanson, who initially hoped to go into surgery, said she feels there’s still a stigma for women in medicine.

“There’s definitely a stigma with women going into surgery — and I applaud all the women here who are — because if you take off to go to your kid’s soccer game, you’re going to be judged by all the men in the field,” Hanson said. “That’s just how it is.”

But Hanson said she learned to be vocal about her place in the room.

“That definitely determined what I did outside of medicine,” Hanson said. “I did a lot of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) outreach, especially for middle school-aged girls to say, ‘Hey, you can go into medicine and be a doctor, too.’”

The Carver College of Medicine commencement ceremony for doctor of medicine candidates will take place May 17 at Hancher Auditorium.

l Comments: (319) 368-8536; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

Building Trades Council endorses Poe, Loeffler for Cedar Rapids City Council

CEDAR RAPIDS — A trades council announced two endorsements for the at-large Cedar Rapids City Council election on Friday.

The Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Building Trades Council endorsed incumbent Ann Poe, who is executive director of Hawkeye Downs, and Patrick Loeffler.

“Ann Poe has been a great friend for labor in the Cedar Rapids and surrounding area,” Rich Good, vice president of the council, said in a news release.

Loeffler is president of the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Building Trades, which represents more than 10,000 members and their families in Easter Iowa, according to the release.

.The trades council’s delegate body unanimously endorsed the two, according to the news release.

The at-large terms of Poe and council member Susie Weinacht, who has not announced her plans, expire at the end of the year.

At-large means all residents of the city can vote for a candidate. In the five council districts, only residents of the district can vote for a candidate.

Nominating petitions for council seats can be filed Aug. 26 to Sept. 19. The election is Nov. 5.

l Comments: (319) 398-8310; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

Downtown Cedar Rapids turns green Sunday for the 44th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade

CEDAR RAPIDS — Irish eyes will be smiling Sunday afternoon as 90 entries snake through downtown Cedar Rapids in the 44th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

And the National Weather Service predicts a mostly sunny day with highs in the mid-40s.

The usual route has been extended one block, turning on First Street SE to avoid construction on Second Street SE. So the parade will begin at 1 p.m. at Third Avenue and Sixth Street SE, turn onto Second Avenue SE, turn again at First Street SE, then onto Third Avenue SE and back to the appropriately named Greene Square, ending about 2:30 p.m.

Streets along the parade route and staging areas will close to parking at noon Sunday and reopen after parade cleanup, about 3 p.m.

For safety’s sake, organizers remind spectators to stay on the curb so the road won’t rise up to meet you.

Cedar Rapids police will lead in the pace car. St. Patrick, known as Steve Bryant most other days of the year, will follow the flags. On his heels will be Lori Nylund and family, striping the street green. Other entries include 2019 Irish colleen Meredith Glynn, Irish dancers, floats, walking units, families, Johnson County Irish, decorated vehicles, music, Scouts, political candidates, dogs, horses and fire trucks.

All ages are invited to the post-parade celebration and awards ceremony at the Eastbank Venue, 97 Third Ave. SE. Admission is free, and food and beverages will be available for purchase — food is cash-only, so bring some folding green. Music also is on the menu, with a DJ spinning Irish tunes, and the awards will be presented about 4:30 p.m.

Both events are volunteer efforts staged by the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Society — or SaPaDaPaSo for short.

Education secretary Betsy Devos touts ‘education freedom’ proposal in Iowa

DES MOINES — Pitching her proposal to fund scholarships for private-school and home-schooled students, federal education secretary Betsy DeVos met behind closed doors Friday with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and other state leaders and lobbyists.

DeVos pitched her proposal for up to $5 billion annually in federal tax credits that would allow states to create scholarships for private and home-schooled students, apprenticeships, tutoring, special courses and others.

DeVos met with Reynolds, state legislators, education leaders, and lobbyists for faith-based and taxpayer organizations for a roundtable discussion not open to the public or media.

Afterward, DeVos and state Sen. Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale, took questions from reporters.

DeVos described the proposal as “a historic opportunity to expand education freedom so that students and their parents can find the right fit for every child and their education. There’s just a wide range of opportunities this would afford Iowans to pursue.”

The proposal has been met with resistance by majority Democrats in the U.S. House. They and public education advocates say the proposal would adversely impact funding for public schools.

Devos insists the proposal would not do that since it would be funded by taxpaying individuals and businesses who choose to make a donation to the program.

“Public tax dollars should go to public schools. That’s the bottom line. That’s the investment that we choose to make in our students’ future,” said Matt Sinovic, executive director of the progressive advocacy group Progress Iowa. “So anything that would divert that would be problematic.”

The organizations that represent Iowa teachers, the state Democratic Party and legislative Democrats also issued statements criticizing DeVos’ proposal and Friday’s closed-door meeting.

“Iowans deserve to know what plans Secretary DeVos and Gov. Reynolds are working on behind the scenes that would start to privatize Iowa public schools,” state Rep. Ras Smith of Waterloo, the top Democrat on the House Education Committee, said in a statement. “If DeVos and Reynolds really want to improve education, they would have welcomed all those with a stake in improving education to the table, including teachers and parents from public schools.”

The lone public school representative was Waterloo Superintendent Jane Lindaman, according to a list released by DeVos’ office.

Podcast: On Iowa Politics talks Beto to Iowa, and post funnel week bills

This week On Iowa Politics talks about Steve King’s recent bout of headlines and gives a preview of the upcoming midterm elections.

On Iowa Politics is a weekly news and analysis podcast that aims to re-create the kinds of conversations that happen when you get political reporters from across Iowa together after the day’s deadlines have been met.

The show features James Lynch, Ed Tibbetts, Erin Murphy, Todd Dorman, and Thomas Nelson.

The show was produced by Max Freund and music heard in the podcast is courtesy of Porch Builder.

Paving for Progress: See what roads are on the list for Cedar Rapids

CEDAR RAPIDS — With a roundabout on Ellis Boulevard NW, a new intersection on Mount Vernon Road SE and as many as 50 residential projects across the community, officials say this year’s Paving for Progress season will be a busy one.

Paving for Progress program manager Doug Wilson said the program this year will be about 90 percent resurfacing projects on mostly residential streets, with the remaining 10 percent focused on full roadway reconstruction efforts.

“With 50 projects, it’s one of our largest years in the program for residential streets,” Wilson said. “We’ve got a lot of resurfacing projects this year, a lot of life extension projects.”

In addition to a handful of reconstruction efforts, Wilson said city crews will be tasked with some repaving efforts. He did note that those projects could see delays if city crews are pulled into other duties such as responding to weather or flooding.

Funded by a 1-cent local-option sales tax approved five years ago, Paving for Progress has funneled nearly $80 million into Cedar Rapids roads since it began in 2014 — roughly $18 million to $19 million a year. In the decade before the program, the city spent just shy of $60 million on roads, an average of roughly $6 million annually.

In its first five years, Paving for Progress has funded 134 separate projects covering about 43.7 linear miles of roadway. Of the projects completed, about 66 percent have been on local or residential roads, while the remaining 33 percent have been on arterial streets.

“Overall, over the past five years, we’ve seen about a 6 percent decrease in our poor roads, but we’ve also seen a decrease in the number of roadways that are in fair condition,” Wilson said, adding that officials expect to continue to see roads in fair condition drop while those in good condition climb.

With the local-option sales tax expiring in June 2024, city leaders have said it’s likely voters could be asked to renew the tax.

Wilson said officials have always known that 10 years of Paving for Progress wouldn’t be enough to address all the city’s roadway needs.

“Beyond the 10 years, some sort of funding will need to be recommended by city staff. We’re going to need to continue to work on the roadways beyond this 10 years,” he said.

In addition to Paving for Progress work this year, city crews most recently have been turning their attention to the plague of potholes caused by the last few months of winter weather.

City public works officials have said multiple snow events, extremely cold temperatures, rain and temperature swings have created street deterioration and potholes. A lack of dry conditions make it challenging to apply patches.

Wilson said some of this year’s Paving for Progress road updates — like Council Street NE and 12th Avenue SE — increase the overall roadway quality and can prevent future potholes, which generally occur on deteriorating streets.

“Overall, these permanent repairs will decrease our reliance on temporary measures such as pothole patching,” Wilson said in an email.

Some of this year’s larger Paving for Progress projects include:

• Council Street NE, from Collins Road to 46th Street. Work will include a complete reconstruction, drainage and utility improvements, a sidewalk on the residential side of the street and trail extensions.

• Center Point Road NE at the 32nd Street NE intersection and pavement improvements between 29th and 32nd streets. Work will include a new intersection at 32nd Street with left and right turn lanes, new ADA traffic signals and storm sewer, sanitary sewer and water main improvements.

• Ellis Boulevard NW and Sixth Street NW. Work on the three-year project begins this year and includes pavement and rehabilitation work between I and O avenues.

• Johnson Avenue NW. This year marks the final for the two-year project and will include a pavement replacement and roundabout installation at Jacolyn Drive.

• Mount Vernon Road SE between 26th Street and Memorial Drive and between 38th Street and East Post Road. Work will include pavement and utility installation, reconfigured travel lanes to create two eastbound lanes, one westbound lane and one center turn lane. Primary access to Hy-Vee will be built at the 40th Street intersection to improve safety. Future work on Mount Vernon Road is planned for 2022-2024.

• 12th Avenue SE. Work this year will take place between 17th and 19th streets and includes pavement reconstruction and utility improvements. Future work will take place in 2020 and 2021.

Full list of projects:

The full 2019 Paving for Progress list:

(Note: An asterisk means the project is continued from 2018 construction season)

1. *3rd Avenue Bridge over the Cedar River

2. 11th Street SW from 3rd Avenue to 8th Avenue

3. 12th Avenue SE from 17th Street to McCarthy Road

4. 19th Avenue SW from 11th Street to 9th Street

5. 19th Street NE from C Avenue to E Avenue

6. 1st Avenue West from Leroy Street to Johnson Avenue

7. 1st Avenue West from Stoney Point Road to Broadmore Road

8. 20th Street SE from Bever Avenue to Washington Avenue

9. 22nd Street NE from D Avenue to 1st Avenue

10. 23rd Street NE from D Avenue to A Avenue

11. 23rd Street SE from Meadowbrook Drive to 5th Avenue

12. 28th Avenue SW from 27th Street to 31st Street

13. 29th Street Drive SE (erosion control)

14. 35th Street SE from Mt Vernon Road to Dalewood Avenue

15. 3rd Avenue SE from 1st Street to 19th Street

16. 42nd Street NE from F Avenue to C Avenue

17. 7th Avenue SW from 6th Street to 8th Street

18. 8th Avenue SW from 18th Street to 15th Street

19. 8th Street SW from 5th Avenue to 7th Avenue

20. *Arizona Avenue NE from Center Point Road to Lawrence Street

21. Auburn Drive SW from 12th Avenue to 1st Avenue

22. Broadlawn Drive SE from Green Valley Terrace to Dead End

23. Center Point Road NE from 29th Street to 32nd Street

24. Cherry Hill Road SW from Johnson Avenue to 1st Avenue

25. Council Street NE from south of 46th Street to Collins Road

26. Crestridge Avenue SW from Broadmore Road to 1st Avenue

27. Dairydale Court SE from 32nd Street to Knoll Street

28. Dalewood Avenue SE from 34th Street to 35th Street

29. E Avenue NE from Old Marion Road north to Dead End

30. East Post Road SE from south of Fox Meadow Drive to south of Cottage Grove Avenue

31. Ellis Boulevard NW from I Avenue to O Avenue

32. Forest Drive SE from Grande Avenue to Mt Vernon Road

33. H Avenue NW from 10th Street to Ellis Road

34. *H Avenue NE from 14th Street to 16th Street; 16th Street NE from H Avenue to D Avenue

35. *Johnson Avenue NW from 1st Avenue to Wesley Drive

36. Matthew Drive SW from 29th Street to 25th Street

37. Meadowlark Lane NW from 1st Avenue to Skyline Drive

38. *Memorial Drive SE from McCarthy Road to Mt Vernon Road

39. *Memorial Drive SE from Mt Vernon Road to Bever Avenue

40. *Midway Drive NW from West Post Road to Zelda Drive and from Alma Drive to Wiley Boulevard

41. Mt Vernon Road SE from 38th Street to East Post Road

42. Outlook Drive SW from 29th Avenue to Clover Drive

43. Park Avenue SE from 19th Street to 21st Street

44. Ravenwood Terrace NW from Edgewood Road to 29th Street

45. Silverthorne Road NE from Coppermill Road to Dead End

46. Stoney Point Road NW from E Avenue to Cherry Hill Park

47. Teakwood Lane NE from C Avenue to Purple Drive

48. Washington Avenue SE from 19th Street to 20th Street

49. Willow Street SW from 29th Street to 25th Street

50. Zelda Drive NW from Midway Drive to 400 Zelda Drive

For more details, visit cityofcr.com/pavingforprogress.

l Comments: (319) 398-8309; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

See what road upgrades are happening in the Corridor this spring

In addition to Paving for Progress in Cedar Rapids, many communities have street upgrades planned for the coming construction season. Here are some of the biggest projects in our communities:

Marion

• The extension of Tower Terrace Road from Winslow Road to Lennon Lane could be completed this year. Phase one of the project includes extending Tower Terrace Road, with phase two including the reconstruction and realignment of Winslow Road, including connections to Oak Savannah Court and Vaughn Drive.

• Work could begin this year on a mini roundabout at the intersection of 10th Avenue and 10th Street.

• Intersection improvements are planned for Highway 13 and Hennessey Parkway, including left turn lanes and traffic signals.

• 14th Street is planned for reconstruction, including driveways, storm sewer and other work from 12th Avenue to Brockman Avenue.

Hiawatha

• Reconstruction is planned for the intersection of Center Point Road and Willman Street. Traffic and cross walk signals will be installed and asphalt and concrete will be replaced.

• A new street and city utilities will be installed on the east side of Robins Road, connecting A Avenue to Robins Road.

• An overlay project will cover 12th Avenue from Lyndhurst Drive to Blairs Ferry Road. ADA sidewalk updates are included.

• Another overlay project would cover Center Point Road from E Clark Street to Blairs Ferry Road. The project has not yet received City Council approval.

Iowa City

• Overlay updates to Highway 6 from near Rocky Shore Drive to Sturgis Corner should be completed this year. In addition, improvements including a median and new traffic signals are planned for the intersection of Riverside Drive and Myrtle Avenue, to allow for safe pedestrian crossing.

• A pedestrian tunnel will be installed on the west side of Highway 1 under the railroad bridge near Riverside Court. When complete it will allow for safe pedestrian travel on the west side of the street.

• The second year of downtown reconstruction will cover the College Street portion of the Pedestrian Mall. Work will include installing a new brick surface, new planters and amenities.

• McCollister Boulevard will be extended from Gilbert Street to the Sycamore Street roundabout.

• Mormon Trek Boulevard will transition from four-lane travel to three lanes — one in each direction and dedicated center turn lane — between Westside Drive and Melrose.

Coralville

• Work on First Avenue between 6th and 9th streets will include completing permanent northbound and southbound left turn lanes and medians at Sixth Street. Sidewalk and street paving north of Sixth Street also is planned. Railroad crossing signals and gates will be installed, along with a right turn lane onto E. Seventh St.

• Expanding Coral Ridge Avenue between Oakdale Boulevard and Forevergreen Road to four lanes of travel is planned for completion. Work will include final street, median and sidewalk construction on Coral Ridge Avenue from University Parkway to Forevergreen Road.

• E Seventh Street between First Avenue and E Second Avenue will be reconstructed, including the installation of a roundabout at E Seventh Street and E Second Avenue.

North Liberty

• New roundabouts will be constructed at the Penn Street and Front Street intersection and the future intersection at North Bend Drive and N Dubuque Street. Work is anticipated to be completed before classes start at the nearby Grant Elementary.

• Main Street improvements are planned for the block between N Dubuque and Cherry streets. Work will prepare the area for the future police station building and include sidewalks and sanitary and storm sewer updates.

l Comments: (319) 398-8309; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

School resource officers try to educate and prevent social media fallout before it results in arrests

CEDAR RAPIDS — Two Cedar Rapids school resource officers said about 85 percent of the problems they deal with revolve around social media, and a “good chunk” of it involves students sexting or sharing inappropriate or nude photos with other classmates.

Officers Charity Hansel and Janae Obbink said they and other officers who deal with high school and middle school students are not arresting every kid who sends these photos, depending on the situation, but they are taking actions to educate and prevent the incidents.

Q: What are the school resource officers mostly seeing? Boys sending nude photos of girls to their friends, or girls sending photos of boys?

A: “A little of both,” Hansel, officer at Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids, said. “It’s been a big problem for a few years now. More girls, who have their photos sent out, are probably reporting more. It’s usually a girlfriend and boyfriend situation. The girl sends him a photo and he shares it with others.”

A: “It’s usually on Snapchat, where they might have 500-600 ‘friends’ and can store photos, and it’s usually when a girlfriend and boyfriend break up and they revenge share the photos,” Obbink, officer at Prairie High School in Cedar Rapids, said. “There was a situation years ago where they were just sharing the photos like trading baseball cards.”

Q: How do you handle these situations? What options do you have?

A: “It’s not our goal to charge kids,” Hansel said. “We want to keep kids out of the system if possible. Last year, if they had inappropriate photos, I was wiping phones with parents’ consent, but they are still backed up, and once it’s sent out it’s still around. I tell the parents it’s their responsibility to take care of the cloud — backup. Most of the parents agree to it. Parents just need to take control and monitor the phones.

“In more serious cases, there was a subsection added to the harassment offense that includes sending out partially nude and nude photos. It’s added more teeth to the law. These would go through juvenile, not adult court. In the past, the only option was to charge a sex abuse-related crime, but we didn’t want to charge that — the penalty is too high, unless it rises to a more serious offense. We do have that flexibility to use our discretion. We work with these kids every day and know what will work — the kids who can modify their behavior. We have a lot of barriers in place before they end up in court.”

A: “I don’t think I’ve asked for harassment charges to be filed in these situations,” Obbink said. “Usually taking the report is enough. Telling them we’ve documented it, so going forward this will affect further actions, and when the parents get involved — it’s usually enough. About 90 percent of the time, it may just be inappropriate photos — girl in a bra and panties — which doesn’t meet the state code for a charge. Most of the time, we are tracking down students to get to who sent it out. These cases are time-consuming.”

Q: Why do the students send out these photos?

A: “I never thought I would have to teach kids to protect their bodies,” Hansel said. “They are so desensitized and don’t think about what they are doing. They want to be liked and want to belong. Their brains are not fully developed and they have no impulse control. It’s a terrible dynamic. If they would just stop and wait 10 seconds or so before pressing send, they might think better about sending that comment or photo.”

A: “Some of the younger girls are just wrapped up in their emotions over these boys and trust them with these photos,” Obbink said. “I can’t quite wrap my head around the why they do it. They don’t realize that these photos will be out there forever and for anybody to see. Recently, there was a girl who sent out photos as a sophomore and three years later they have resurfaced again.”

Q: How much do kids report an inappropriate photo?

A: “They are reporting more, but there are probably so many we don’t know about each day,” Obbink said. “Two girls came to me the other day and said they saw a photo of one of their classmates going around but were afraid to tell the girl and asked if I would tell her. That’s something we can do and we will follow it up. They had an idea of who sent it out and as I’ve talked to others, now I have several names to follow up. This is usually the way it works. You talk to one and they admit seeing the photo but say they don’t know why the person sent it to them and delete it but don’t report it.”

• Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

New Hartford man sentenced to 10 years for selling over five pounds of ice meth

CEDAR RAPIDS — A man who distributed several pounds of ice methamphetamine while in and out of state prison was sentenced Thursday to over 10 years in federal prison.

Duane Baker, 28, of New Hartford, pleaded guilty Oct. 29 to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine by a convicted drug felon.

According to evidence, Baker, while in state prison for felony methamphetamine charges, became involved in a conspiracy to distribute ice methamphetamine. He recruited the mother of his child to sell the meth on his behalf. Once he was released, he continued the conspiracy and ultimately distributed over 5 pounds of ice methamphetamine. 

U.S. District Chief Judge Leonard Strand sentenced Baker to 131 months in prison. He was also ordered to serve eight years of supervised release following his prison time.

Baker is being held in the U.S. Marshal’s Service until he can be taken to a federal prison.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa Williams and was investigated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force through a cooperative effort of Federal Bureau of Investigation, Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement, Tri-County Drug Enforcement Task Force — Waterloo police; Cedar Falls, Waverly, LaPorte, Marshalltown, Evansdale and Hudson police departments; and Bremer, Black Hawk, Dubuque, Marshall and Tama counties sheriff’s offices; and Mid Iowa Drug Task Force. l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

New Hampton man charged with child sexual exploitation, child pornography

CEDAR RAPIDS — A federal magistrate ruled Friday a New Hampton man will remain in jail pending trial on charges of child sexual exploitation.

William Rolen, 56, was charged with attempted enticement of a minor and the distribution, reception, possession, and accessing of child pornography, according to an indictment unsealed earlier this week in U.S. District Court.

Rolen pleaded not guilty Tuesday and his trial was set for May 13.

The indictment accuses Rolen of attempting to entice a person who he believed to be under 18 to engage in criminal sexual activity between February and March 2018. He is also accused of distributing, receiving, possessing and accessing child pornography between 2015 and 2018.

If convicted, Rolen faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and up to a life sentence and a $1.2 million fine. He would also be ordered to serve at least five years on supervised release following his prison term.

l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

Iowa campus ‘free speech’ bill heads to governor’s desk

After contentious debate in the Iowa House, which last year snubbed a similar bill, a measure aimed at enshrining “free speech” protections on Iowa’s public universities and college campuses is headed to the governor’s desk to become law.

Last Monday, the bill passed the Iowa Senate with a comfortable 35-11 majority, clearing the same hurdle it had cleared last year before House leadership declined to take it up.

But the legislation’s second wind this year proved stronger, with freshman Rep. Dustin Hite, R-New Sharon, on Thursday pitching it as a common-sense bill preventing public universities and community colleges from “protecting students from others’ free speech.”

A chain of House Democrats disagreed with that take, arguing — among other things — that a key piece of the legislation letting student organizations exclude leaders based on their beliefs amounts to “state-sponsored discrimination.”

“I cannot vote for this bill today because this bill would usher in discrimination at our community colleges and public universities,” said Rep. Liz Bennett, D-Cedar Rapids.

Bennett said she would have supported the bill had the chamber adopted an amendment from Rep. Mary Wolfe, D-Clinton, to delete a line. The provision she wanted to strike prevents universities and colleges from denying benefits to student groups that have requirements their leaders support their beliefs.

“Passage of this bill will permit the types of discrimination we’ve seen in the past, which have been justified sometimes by people’s personal beliefs,” Bennett said. “Will we have publicly-funded organizations that express a bona fide belief against interracial marriage? Will we have publicly-funded student organizations who don’t allow female leadership at all because they don’t believe females should hold authority over a man?”

Wolfe’s amendment to remove the one sentence about student organizations she called “toxic” failed 45-51.

“We all know what it means or what it’s supposed to mean,” Wolfe said of that line. “It means that under this provision, we are codifying the right of student organizations to violate the Iowa Civil Rights Act and to discriminate against their peers who do not share their exact values or beliefs by denying them the opportunity to hold leadership positions in the student organizations.”

Despite the pushback, the GOP-contolled House approved the bill 52-44, with Rep. Megan Jones, R-Sioux Rapids, joining Democrats in opposition.

The bill — which also requires public universities and colleges to adopt free-speech policies and explicitly bars First Amendment restrictions pertaining to public assemblies, campus property and outside speakers — saw similar heated rhetoric in the Senate last year.

Debate in that chamber this year, however, was more tempered — even gaining some Democratic support.

“On a college campus, the right to meet in university facilities, to use campus bulletin boards, or participate in club recruitment days — this is no different than the right of citizens to gather in the town square,” bill sponsor Sen. Amy Sinclair, R-Allerton, said in advocating for it.

Sinclair justified the need for this legislation by airing concerns with recent incidents on Iowa’s public university campuses — which lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers shared, though for different reasons.

Student org uproar

The bill not so subtly addresses the events of concern, including the University of Iowa’s dispute with faith-based student groups.

In that case, which began in fall 2017, UI administrators deregistered the student group Business Leaders in Christ — which goes by BLinC — for barring an openly gay member from becoming a leader in the organization.

The university said BLinC was discriminating and violating the UI human rights policy.

But BLinC sued, arguing it can choose leaders aligned with its values — and that UI, rather, was discriminating against it.

A federal judge found the UI was singling out BLinC and forced the institution to re-register BLinC on an interim basis. Being a registered student group comes with an array of benefits, including access to student recruitment fairs, bulletin boards, email addresses, facilities and student fees.

Following a review of its 500-plus student groups, the university found hundreds — like BLinC — were non-compliant with its human rights policy. So the UI deregistered dozens more, prompting a second student group — InterVarsity Graduate Christian Fellowship — to sue for discrimination and First Amendment violations.

A federal judge recently resolved the counter discrimination claims with a split decision — mandating BLinC be allowed back on campus permanently unless the university starts equally enforcing its human rights policy by prohibiting all groups from excluding members based on protected class — like sex, race, gender or religion.

The InterVarsity case remains unresolved and the two sides are sparring over how the BLinC decision should affect it.

Those opposing views of student rights exhibited in the BLinC and InterVarsity lawsuits — with some perceiving the religious groups as victims and others seeing the students they restrict as such — emerged in last week’s Senate debate as well, when freshman Sen. Zach Wahls, D-Coralville, proposed an amendment that — like Wolfe’s in the House — sought to delete the student group rules.

Wahls — who made a name as an LGBTQ advocate, including a speech before the Iowa House Judiciary Committee in 2011 — expressed support for the tenets of free speech but concern over students the bill could possibly harm.

He said the student group provision would “create a loophole that will lead to discrimination against students at our state schools who are from a group that is either historically or contemporaneously marginalized.”

Sponsor Sinclair said she see threats on free speech as more dire.

“Frankly, I’m more concerned about the attacks on students’ First Amendment rights,” she said, calling “logically and legally incorrect” arguments that student groups receiving student fees amounts to state endorsement of those groups’ agendas.

“Courts and the universities have always been clear that there is no state endorsement tied to any student group having access to such money,” Sinclair said. “All kinds of clubs organize around beliefs that some students share and other students oppose.”

Religious students pay fees, too, she noted.

“And, of course, they understand that their money — the money they pay — may also go to clubs with which they disagree,” Sinclair said. “What makes this fair is the ability of religious students to organize their own clubs on an equal basis as everyone else.”

As a matter of “practical necessity,” she said, that must include the right to choose leaders who support the club’s mission and goals.

“It does not equate to discrimination,” she said. “It’s not discrimination to allow students to assemble as they see fit.”

Wahls’ amendment — like Wolfe’s — failed.

And the measure passed the Senate with some Democratic support — even as Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, said he, too, would have liked to omit the student group clause.

“I think it would have made it a perfect bill,” said Quirmbach, who voted for it. “But perfection is hard to come by in this chamber.”

Public spaces

Beyond the bill’s student org clause, the bill regulates campus public spaces and speakers.

“A member of the campus community who wishes to engage in non-commercial expressive activity in outdoor areas of campus shall be permitted to do so freely, subject to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions,” according to the bill.

Although colleges and universities could continue to designate “free-speech zones,” as they’ve been called, the bill mandates “access to designated areas of campus must be granted on a viewpoint-neutral basis with in the bounds of established First Amendment principles.” But the bill envisions most outdoor areas on campus as free-speech areas, not only the ones designated by the schools.

Iowa State University in recent months and years has dealt with controversy over speakers and space on campus, just this month facing uproar over self-proclaimed white supremacist Nick Fuentes’ visit.

Fuentes, during his March 6 visit to campus, said College Republicans and Turning Point USA, which no longer has a registered ISU chapter, organized his stop.

With protesters and police involved, Fuentes was moved from East Hall to a free-speech zone outside, according to junior Ben Whittington, a candidate for Student Government president and past president of ISU’s Turning Point USA chapter but who was not involved in making the invitation.

The event ended peacefully, but Whittington told The Gazette he has concerns.

“I don’t necessarily say that he shouldn’t have been allowed to come to campus. My stance is that if a student org wants to invite him, they can. But they cant just keep it hush-hush,” he said. “His ideas are fairly dangerous if they go unchallenged.”

As a Student Government candidate, Whittington said he would condemn and work to disband student organizations that promote white supremacy or other discrimination “that leads to harassment.”

He also wants ISU to conduct a review of its student groups, which he said face similar inequities as at the UI.

“I don’t want to curb their values or tell them their values are wrong,” he said. “But when they involve actively discriminating against other students, that should be stopped.”

‘A lot of work’

Sen. Quirmbach acknowledged the daunting challenge of balancing free speech rights with discrimination protections and other harms, but said he believes this year’s revised version of the bill steers the “very narrow and challenging course.”

Among its revisions, for example, is one excluding health care facilities — like the UI Hospitals and Clinics — as lawmakers and the Board of Regents last year expressed concern about disrupting the “healing environment” with protests in and around the hospitals.

“Our universities, and indeed our society as a whole, are tasked with the responsibility of allowing for the free expression of a wide range of beliefs,” Quirmbach said. “A university has to accommodate a universe of beliefs.”

Last year, the Board of Regents opposed the bill, noting its universities already have free-speech policies and procedures. Board spokesman Josh Lehman this year told The Gazette, “Our public universities are places where all viewpoints should and can be heard and respected.

“This has been a long-standing core principle of institutions of higher learning,” Lehman said. “The board and our universities do and will continue to support this right.”

Quirmbach told his Senate colleagues he talked with a UI representative, who told him he believes the institution “will be able to respect the diversity of views while still protecting the rights of people on the basis of status.”

“They do have a lot of work to go back and do,” however, Quirmbach said. “The court decision has laid out they have been pretty inconsistent in their policies with regard to organizations. That is discrimination on the basis of status.

“They have to go back, and they have to get that right.”

• Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

Two men connected to Chris Bagley now face federal guns, drug charges

CEDAR RAPIDS — Two men with connections to a missing Walker man found buried in southeast Cedar Rapids have been charged in federal court for drugs and firearms but not for his death.

A Linn County Sheriff’s search warrant affidavit shows both men either saw or spoke with Christopher Bagley, 31, in the early hours of Dec. 14, the last day he was seen alive.

Paul Hoff, 40, of Cedar Rapids, is charged in U.S. District Court with two counts of possession of firearms by a felon and one count each of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

Hoff is accused of possessing a .38 caliber revolver and ammunition on Aug. 17 and a 9 mm handgun and a Ruger GP-100 revolver on Feb. 18, according to a complaint. He is also accused of having those guns while distributing drugs.

The complaint includes three of Hoff’s convictions in Linn County court for criminal mischief in 2013 and two charges of first-degree theft, one in 2000 and one in 2013.

Hoff pleaded not guilty earlier this week and his trial is set for May 6.

Logan Gerber, 29, of Marion, was charged last month in U.S. District Court with possession of a firearm by a drug user and possession of an unregistered firearm. Gerber is accused of having methamphetamine and marijuana and a Glock 9 mm handgun on June 9.

He is also accused of possessing a 16-gauge shotgun that isn’t registered to him, according to complaint.

Gerber’s arraignment hasn’t been set.

Neither man has been charged in connection with Bagley’s fatal stabbing.

Bagley left his Walker home about 9 p.m. Dec. 13 with a woman who has not been identified. Bagley’s wife reported him missing on Dec. 17.

His body was found March 1 buried in a yard on Soutter Avenue SE, but authorities haven’t said how that residence is connected to Bagley or his death. An autopsy determined he was stabbed to death.

A warrant request filed in January shows authorities were already convinced Bagley was dead and possibly murdered.

Authorities obtained the warrant to search Hoff’s mobile home, which is the last place Bagley was seen alive. The woman who was with Bagley told authorities they went to Hoff’s mobile home. Bagley and Hoff started talking about possibly robbing someone but never said who, the woman told authorities.

The woman left the home around 4:45 a.m. on Dec. 14, and Bagley stayed, she told authorities.

During an interview with investigators, the woman said Bagley and another man had been involved in robbing people in the past. She said one of the robbery victims may have been Bagley’s marijuana dealer, and she believed the dealer paid someone to harm Bagley because of their history.

In an interview with Hoff on Dec. 22, he admitted Bagley was at his trailer on Dec. 14 with the woman, the warrant shows. He said Bagley and the woman were talking about “hitting” a drug house and “getting a good score.” Hoff said they were vague about where and when, and he decided not to go with them.

Hoff said Bagley left between 7 and 7:30 a.m. He didn’t know who Bagley left with or what vehicle he got into when leaving, according to the warrant.

Gerber, during an interview with investigators, said Bagley called him about 3:32 a.m. Dec. 14, saying he was on his way to Hoff’s and told him to be ready because he was going to need his help for the “Grande Finale,” the warrant shows. Gerber said he didn’t know what that meant but he thought Bagley was planning to rob someone.

In the warrant, authorities said Bagley was a “known drug user” who used marijuana and methamphetamine. They also had information that Bagley may have been selling marijuana and “was known to carry a gun.”

During the investigation, authorities learned of threats allegedly made against Bagley, stating, “it is believed Bagley is deceased and possibly murdered,” according to the warrant.

Additionally, another acquaintance made threats about cutting out Bagley’s tongue to keep him quiet, authorities said. That person thought Bagley faced possible federal prosecution related to illegal weapons and drug charges.

No charges had been filed at the time of Bagley’s death.

• Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

New northeast Cedar Rapids apartment complex plans June opening

CEDAR RAPIDS — The developers of a $20 million apartment complex in northeast Cedar Rapids plan to begin leasing activity next month in preparation for initial occupancy in June.

The Enclave at Dry Creek will have 178 units in six buildings off Ridgemount Drive NE, north of the Target on Blairs Ferry Road NE. The studio, one- , two- and three-bedroom apartments will range from 570 square feet and $750 per month for a studio to 1,324 square feet and $1,300 per month for a three-bedroom unit.

Perry Reid Properties of Lincoln, Neb., and Anthony Properties of Dallas are co-developing the complex, which will include a central clubhouse featuring a seating area, fireplace, flat screen TVs, free high-speed Wi-Fi and a business center.

Residents also will have access to a swimming pool, patios and a 24-hour fitness center.

Justin Todd, assistant vice president of development for Anthony Properties, said each apartment building will have eight enclosed garages accessible from inside the building. Additional detached garages on the property will be available for use by the tenants, he said.

“We expect to have the clubhouse completed and ready for leasing activity in April,” Todd said Friday. “We are looking to get our certificate of occupancy for the first building for tenants to begin moving in in June.

“The remaining five apartment buildings should get certificates of occupancy in about 60 days after the completion of the first building.”

The market-rate apartments will feature large living areas, loft-style ceilings, bedrooms, walk-in closets, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, full-sized washer-dryers and oversized patios or balconies. Management and maintenance staff will be on-site.

Anthony Properties and Perry Reid Properties are developing similar projects in Sioux City and Davenport.

Iowa City man missing in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park

Officials in Utah are looking for a 33-year-old Iowa City man who went missing at Canyonlands National Park.

Jonathon Hogue may have been last seen in the area of Green River Overlook at Island in the Sky on March 10, according to a post on the national park’s Facebook page.

According to the National Park Service website, Canyonlands is Utah’s largest national park, with 337,598 acres of land and water, and is divided into three major districts: Island in the Sky, The Needles and The Maze.

The Island in the Sky mesa sits on the north end of the park near Moab Utah, and rests on sheer sandstone cliffs over 1,000 feet above the surrounding Canyonlands terrain. The website also shows a non-emergency alert stating the Green River Overlook at Island in the Sky “is temporarily closed” but does not state why.

Hogue is a Ph.D. student whose hobbies include drawing and painting, according to the park’s Facebook post.

“(Hogue) is a hiker and backpacker who is known to hike long distances, including off trail and scrambling. His dream was to be a park ranger,” the park also posted.

Hogue is described as a white man who is 5-feet-10-inches tall, weighs 180 pounds, and has brown hair and blue eyes. Hogue also has a tattoo of the words “Ninja Penguin” on one of his biceps.

The National Park Service’s Investigative Services Branch asks that anyone who was in the Green River Overlook area at Island in the Sky between March 10 and Friday, or anyone who may have information that could help investigators, to call or text the tip line at 888-653-0009 or visit nps.gov/ISB and click “Submit a Tip.”

Temperatures at the park since March 10 have seen highs in the 40s and 50s, with lows mostly in the mid-30s but falling below freezing every night since Wednesday. Skies have been cloudy with no rain, and the weekend is forecast to have sunny skies and highs in the low 50s.

l Comments: (319) 398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com

Group plans protest of Alliant Energy’s proposed rate increase

CEDAR RAPIDS — Upset over recently announced rate increases by Alliant Energy, some area customers plan to hold a protest rally outside the energy provider’s Iowa headquarters.

A Facebook group called Protest Alliant plans to hold a rally at noon Saturday outside the Alliant Energy building at 200 First St. SE to protest “an unfair and outrageous rate hike,” according to the group’s page. More than 500 people plan on going to the event and more than 4,000 have expressed interest, according to the group page.

Alliant officials last month announced plans for electric and gas rate increases — an interim increase next month and another at the start of 2020 — that would cost a typical residential customer approximately $20 more each month on their electric bill. A customer with the current monthly bill of $116 per month could see their 2020 monthly bills at $136. This would represent a $240 annual increase in 2020 over the current rate, which is a 17.24% increase.

Alliant has filed electric and gas rate cases with the Iowa Utilities Board for review.

The proposed rate increases would apply to a customer’s base rate and represent company investments in renewable energy and a resilient grid.

Alliant officials have said those investments will bring down customer costs in the long run — in other portions of their bill such as energy efficiencies and fuel and transmission costs.

The Iowa Utilities Board will host 10 public comment meetings across the state regarding Alliant’s rate requests. Customers with comments are encouraged to attend.

Representatives with Alliant, the Iowa Utilities Board and the Office of Consumer Advocate will be present at the meetings and answer questions.

• — April 11 at 5:30 p.m. at Southwest Community College Performing Art Center, 1501 W Townline St., Creston

• — April 23 at 5:30 p.m. at Iowa Valley Education Center, 3702 S Center St., Marshalltown

• — May 1 at 5:30 p.m. at Buena Vista University Science Center, 610 W Fourth St., Storm Lake

• — May 2 at 11:30 a.m. at the Historic Park Inn, 7 W State St., Mason City

• — May 2 at 6 p.m. at the Hotel Winneshiek, 104 E Water St., Decorah

• — May 8 at 6 p.m. at the Bridge View Center, 102 Church St. Ottumwa

• — May 22 at 11:30 a.m. at Southeastern Community College Building 300, 1500 W Agency Road. West Burlington

• — May 22 at 5:30 p.m. at Clinton Community College Tech Center, 1951 Manufacturing Drive. Clinton

• — May 23 at 11:30 a.m. at Hotel Julien, 200 Main St. Dubuque

• — May 23 at 5:30 p.m. at Kirkwood Community College Main Campus, Iowa Hall, 6301 Kirkwood Boulevard SW, Cedar Rapids

• Comments: (319) 398-8309; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

Decorah student turns trash into treasure

DECORAH — On a blistering hot summer day in 2016, of all the places I could’ve been, I was in a sinkhole full of junk, scavenging.

The miscellaneous objects in the sinkhole had all kinds of stories behind them — a modern washing machine that had cleaned 1,000 loads of clothes, an antique water pump that had pumped enough water and more to provide for a family who couldn’t have lived without it, and even a “big wheel” tricycle that had at least 25 miles on it and appeared to have seen its fair share of high-speed wrecks.

I continued looking until I saw exactly what I was going to take home — an old Roadmaster bike. It had stainless steel handlebars spotted with rust, a front and rear fender that held the original rustic, red look of the bike, and solid rubber tires on rims, one of which had been smashed.

“You don’t need to bring that thing home,” muttered my dad in a disapproving tone, “it’s junk.”

What my dad didn’t know was, in my mind, that bike already was yellow with a black racing stripe. It was practically mine, and it was coming home one way or another.

I spent the next couple weeks of my summer disassembling, shining up and then painting the bike. Since the wheels were in very rough condition and I didn’t feel like getting new ones, I stored the project in the upstairs of my garage.

Yellow with a black racing stripe, the bike was proof I could turn trash into treasure.

It was early June 2013. My younger cousins and I were running rampant around my aunt and uncle’s farm at my cousin’s graduation party. I came around the corner of their big pole shed and what I saw stopped me in my tracks. A Red Fox go-cart. Covered in leaves and walnuts, it was a small off-roader with a roll cage and big tires that had gone flat from sitting outside.

In that moment I realized I want to restore old pieces like this, to give them a second chance, a new life, so to speak. To this day, that go-cart still sits on their farm, sinking into the ground, wishing it could be taken for another ride.

Fast forward to spring of 2017. After doing yard work for my aunt and uncle, I had one thing on my mind — that go-cart. I asked my cousin if I could take it home and work on it. What I didn’t know was it was actually their neighbor’s go-cart.

“You probably better not take that one,” my cousin suggested, “but we have another one in the shed you could look at.”

My eyes lit up, and my heart started to beat faster. As we approached the shed, the suspense continued to build up. Thoughts were spinning around in my head like a tornado. What am I going to get my hands on? Is it fast? How old is it? What does it look like?

Covered in a thick layer of dust with a couple of cattle feed tubs sitting on top of it, the go-cart was low to the ground, blue with a hint of rust and a floor piece that had been pierced by gravel dozens of times. It had character, no doubt, and I could just tell that it was fast. I discovered my dad and his siblings owned it when they were kids.

Anyone else would’ve looked at it and seen just a dusty, old go-cart, but my dad and my cousin saw more than that.

“I remember one time when Blaine ran over Brandon with that thing,” dad said with a laugh. “He was chasing him around and Brandon couldn’t run fast enough.”

Knowing my uncles, it was easy to imagine such an incident. It became clear to me, while laughing with my dad and cousin about this single memory, this wasn’t just a go-cart, but rather a piece of their lives, and I wanted it to be a piece of mine.

When we got it home, I couldn’t wait to start working on it. I tore the motor all the way down to make sure every part was clean and in good shape, meticulously put it all back together, then cleaned the most essential part, the carburetor.

Once it was all back together, it was time for the moment of truth.

Will it run?

I pulled it once, twice, three times. Nothing. I was discouraged, but I knew I wasn’t going to give up. I removed the spark plug and poured a splash of gas into the cylinder. I pulled it three or four more times, then, like the “pop” of a 22 rifle, it fired. I couldn’t believe it. I continued to pull and, finally, it started.

A shot of adrenaline rushed through my body like water rushes through rapids in a river.

I have done more to the go-cart since then. I have welded spots on the frame, repainted the frame a royal blue and the rims white, and put quite a few miles on it, drifting around the house and cruising up and down the road.

To others, it’s just a go-cart, but to me, it’s the reason I do what I do. It’s the reason I aspire to turn trash into treasure.

Pages