The Daily Iowan's summer in review


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Iowa City Landfill burns

After two months of discussion between city officials over the fire at the Iowa City Landfill, city officials say much of the burning has been contained.

Rick Fosse, the city’s public-works director, said the majority of the fire is out, but some of the spots on the cell underneath the clay have continued to burn. After lab results were released from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, city officials said the waste does not need to be disposed of in a particular way or trucked elsewhere.

The landfill fire began on May 26 and burned more than 7.5 acres of the Landfill.

City officials implemented a stir, burn, cover process that stirred up and crushed piles of burning tires to accelerate the burning and allowed oxygen to flow. Afterwards, the city applied a layer of clay to cover the rest of the fire, and the process was complete.

On June 1 Mayor Matt Hayek signed a Local Disaster Declaration that will allow for better state funding assistance and insurance coverage.

Fosse said after communicating with the Department of Natural Resources, the total cost will remain around $4 million to $5 million. The city is still providing information to its insurance company, the Travelers Insurance Companies of Hartford, Conn.

Fosse said the goal is to clean up the site in the fall and bid the reconstruction of the 14-acre cell during the winter months. Construction is planned to start in the spring and will be completed by the end of the summer.

Council moves forward with 14-story development downtown

Construction on developer Marc Moen’s 114 S. Dubuque St. project is set to begin this August.

The City Council voted July 10 to go ahead with approving tax-increment financing for the 14-story mixed-use commercial building despite a petition that gathered more than enough signatures calling for a public vote on the decision.

Councilors had the option to hand out general-obligation bonds to finance the $2.5 million TIF grant, to abandon those initial plans and fund with TIF directly, or give into the petition and hold a special election for the public to weigh in on the funding.

TIF funding for the building was initially approved by the City Council on April 3.

Summer drought affects local businesses, farmers

The whole nation faced drought conditions and severe heat for most of the summer, and the Iowa City area was no exception.

Gov. Terry Branstad issued a disaster emergency proclamation Thursday that will provide relief to Iowa farmers affected by the drought. The proclamation took effect at noon Thursday and lasts for 60 days.

The last statewide rain occurred on May 31; the drought has affected the Iowa River level and the price of food and crops.

Dave Miller, the director of research and commodity services at the Iowa Farm Bureau, told The Daily Iowan earlier this month that the drought has caused corn prices in Iowa to increase almost 50 percent over a period of six weeks. Miller also said Iowa has lost 20 percent of this year’s prospective corn yield.

Local experts expect the price of corn and other food to increase incrementally throughout the course of the year.

Group files ethics complaint against Regent Bruce Rastetter

The Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement filed an ethics complaint with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board against Regent Bruce Rastetter on June 19, alleging that he abused his role as a regent.

The group alleges that Rastetter — the managing director and a cofounder of AgriSol Energy — used his power as a regent to negotiate a “land grab” deal involving Iowa State University and AgriSol Tanzania, the Tanzanian arm of AgriSol.

Rastetter sat down with Daily Iowan reporters earlier this month to the accusations against him. However, the citizens group and Food & Water Watch organizers continue to call for Rastetter’s resignation.

The state Board of Regents will meet Aug. 2-3, and while the ethics complaint against Rastetter isn’t an agenda item, the regents can choose to discuss the complaint or to drop it.

Obama campaigns in Cedar Rapids

President Obama made his fourth visit to the state of Iowa this summer with a stop at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids on July 10.

Obama spoke on behalf of his tax plan he announced July 9. Obama called on Congress to extend tax cuts for the middle class while ending tax cuts for Americans who make more than $250,000 a year.

Construction starts on new residence hall

Incoming students living on the West Campus will witness new construction this fall. The University of Iowa is building its first new dorm since 1968 near the intersection of Byington Road and Grand Avenue. Much of the focus of the new dorm will be on living-learning communities.

The university has incorporated these communities in residence halls for more than 20 years, and the UI recently included them in the renewal of the Iowa Promise in 2010 — an initiative that outlines the goals and mission for the next four years.

Along with living-learning communities, the new dorm will house dining options and additional study spaces.

While construction will continue in the fall, housing officials say it will not disturb students living near or around the area. Construction on the 10-floor, 500-person hall will be completed in the summer of 2015. The project has a $53 million budget.

T. Anne Cleary Walkway gets a makeover

The T. Anne Cleary Walkway is undergoing major renovation this summer to address facilities issues, and officials say the project is on schedule for completion by Aug. 10.

The estimated construction cost for the project is $524,000, with $100,000 in concrete repairs and replacement and $55,000 in granite work for sidewalk pavers and benches for a Blank Honors Center outdoor patio.

This summer marked the first time in 15 years the walkway has been renovated.

UI renews contract with Anheuser-Busch

University of Iowa officials renewed its contract with Anheuser-Busch and Learfield Communications Inc. — the sports-marketing company hired to represent the Hawkeye Athletics Department — last month.

The contract allows the Tigerhawk logo to share space on products with Anheuser-Busch logos so long as the phrase “Responsibility Matters” is present.

UI President Sally Mason said the money provided to the UI from Anheuser-Busch could be used to fund Alcohol Alternative Nights and other dry events on campus.

Learfield will pay the Athletics Department $114 million through 2026. Anheuser-Busch officials will provide $43,000 for the UI’s Alcohol-Harm-Reduction Plan in its first year.

Shooting near Mormon Trek and Petsel Place triggers Hawk Alert

The University of Iowa released a Hawk Alert around 12:06 a.m. June 22 after a reported shooting occurred in the area of Melrose and Mormon Trek.

At around 1 a.m. Iowa City police, University Heights police, North Liberty police, Coralville police, the State Patrol, and the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene. Thirty-year-old Donelle Derrell Lindsey, the victim of the shooting, was pronounced dead after being transported to the UI Hospitals & Clinics.

According to eyewitness accounts, the suspect — Brandon Brown — asked Lindsey to walk with him down the street, and they argued after a short distance. Then Brown reportedly took out a handgun and shot Lindsey numerous times at close range.

Despite the Hawk Alert being sent out, many students reported they did not receive the alert, and Chuck Green, the assistant vice president for UI police said this was the first time he has heard of students not receiving the alert.

Police officials are still investigating the whereabouts of Brown; a warrant is out for his arrest.

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