Metro Briefs

BY DI STAFF | APRIL 24, 2009 7:29 AM

Sutliff bridge deadline nears

Several Sutliff, Iowa, residents were in attendance during the Johnson County Board of Supervisors meeting Thursday as the deadline for the county to take possession of the town’s historic bridge nears.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has agreed to repair or replace the Sutliff Bridge, which was wrecked by the June 2008 flood, on the condition that the supervisors agree to transfer the bridge to the county’s name.

The Sutliff Bridge Authority has control of the structure; if the switch is made, the county would be responsible for insurance, future costs, and maintenance.

FEMA gave the county a May 15 deadline for the switch, after which the government funds will no longer be available.

Supervisor Chairman Terrence Neuzil said the county needed time for the County Attorney’s Office to prepare necessary paperwork for the switch. He offered a tentative date of May 7 for having the transfer completed.

— by Shane Ersland

Woman charged with criminal mischief, theft, burglary

UI police arrested a Cedar Rapids woman for allegedly being present when two others burglarized roughly 70 vehicles in November 2008.

Casey Rathje, 20, was charged March 4 with first-degree criminal mischief, second-degree theft, and third-degree burglary.

According to authorities, Rathje and two others broke into vehicles at the Lodge Apartments, 100 Hawk Ridge Drive, and the UI Hospitals and Clinics parking ramp.

Stolen items were valued at more than $1,000, and damage is estimated at more than $10,000, police reports show.

First-degree criminal mischief is a Class C felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000. Second-degree theft is a Class D felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $7,500. Third-degree burglary is an aggravated misdemeanor, punishable by up to two years in prison and a maximum fine of $6,250.

— by Regina Zilbermints

Regents to consider 2 new retirement options

Two new retirement options may be available for UI employees pending approval from the state Board of Regents at its meeting next week.

An alternative phased-retirement program would be used selectively by colleges and divisions in the university; it would become effective July 1 and expire on Sept. 30. The program would be eligible to regular full-time faculty and staff who are 57 years old by July 1.

The phased-retirement program was first approved by the regents in 1982 for faculty and professional and scientific staff. It provides an opportunity for faculty and staff to transition from work to retirement over a period of time.

UI officials will also ask the regents to approve an early retirement program that would be available beginning July 1. Each application will be reviewed on an individual basis for its cost-saving potential and will be subject to approval, according to a document from the regents. Under the early plan, employees must fully retire no later than June 30, 2010.

—by Tessa McLean

Culver signs wind-energy bills

Just a day after President Obama announced his commitment to wind energy at plant in Newton, Gov. Chet Culver signed legislation designed to bolster the state’s wind-energy industry.

“Wind energy, along with biofuels, has helped transform our state into the nation’s leader in renewable energy,” Culver said in a statement. “With this legislation, we will go even further, encouraging new wind-energy development in communities large and small while creating good-paying, green-collar jobs for Iowans.”

The first piece of legislation would continue that by increasing tax credit dollar amounts. The lost revenue would be offset by transferring money from the Grow Iowa Values Fund to the state’s General Fund.

The second newly enrolled law would attempt to expand small wind-energy projects.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle embraced the measures, with the new laws receiving just three “nay” votes combined.

Iowa trails only Texas in overall wind-energy production; there are five wind-energy manufacturers in the state.

— by Shawn Gude

UI seeks approval for acoustic units

UI officials will seek regent approval at next week’s meeting to buy several acoustical units, totaling an estimated $2.4 million.

The units will be installed at all practice and performance areas in the former Campus 3 space in the University Capitol Centre. The School of Music will use the space for temporary facilities.

Use of the former space is dependent on installing the prefabricated, sound-isolated practice rooms, and teaching units, according to the document.

The university will seek state and a Federal Emergency Management Agency flood-assistance grant funding for the purchase and installation of the units. The university’s share of the funding will be from academic building revenue bond proceeds.

Officials will also seek approval for the purchase of a roughly $1.5 million Siemens Inveon MultiModality Small Animal Imaging System, a critical instrument for scientific translational research.

— by Tessa McLean

UI seeks new master’s degree

UI officials will seek approval from the State Board of Regents at next week’s meeting in Cedar Falls to create a new master of arts program in international studies.

The Graduate College program will build on the current bachelor of arts program in international studies, a multi-disciplinary approach, allowing students to explore opportunities in the humanities and social sciences.

There will be a maximum of eight students admitted to the program each year, according to information released Thursday.

Meanwhile, officials will request approval to terminate an existing program — a master of arts in Third-World development. Students formerly attracted the program would be well-served in the new program, according to the document.

Admission to the program was suspended in fall 2002 and there are no students currently enrolled in the program. The document cited lack of interest as a reason to eliminate the program.

— by Tessa McLean

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