Metro Briefs

BY DI STAFF | APRIL 24, 2013 5:00 AM

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Ferentz's son-in-law reassigned following conflict of interest review

University of Iowa officials recently approved a conflict-of-interest management plan regarding the employment of head football coach Kirk Ferentz’s future son-in-law.

University officials last month called for a review of Athletics Department procedures related to Ferentz’s hiring of Tyler Barnes as an administrative assistant in 2012, The Daily Iowan has previously reported.

Barnes was hired in January 2012 as a temporary administrative assistant and became engaged to Joanee Ferentz, Kirk Ferentz’s daughter, six months later.

UI officials began a review of Barnes’ employment last month. The UI Committee on Conflict of Interest in Employment approved a conflict-of-interest management plan for Barnes on April 19. Barnes will now report to Steven Roe, the UI director of athletics communications.

— by Kristen East

Man accused of striking two teenagers with a saw blade

An Iowa man has been accused of hitting two teenage victims with a saw blade.

Courtney Michel, 23, was charged Monday with assault using/displaying a weapon.

According to a Johnson County Sheriff’s Office complaint, Michel struck a 13-year-old in the upper arm with a saw blade.

The victim suffered a minor laceration, which caused pain and bleeding.

Michel also allegedly struck a 15-year-old in the forearm causing a laceration, the complaint said. Michel continued to torment the victim by holding the saw blade to the victim’s neck, the complaint said.

Both teens fear Michel will retaliate against them once he is released from jail, the complaint said.

Assault using/displaying a weapon is an aggravated misdemeanor.

— by Rebecca Morin

Reynolds will not seek Harkin's Senate seat

Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds announced today she would not seek the Senate seat that will be vacated after next year by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa.

“I appreciate all the support, prayers, and well-wishes you have given me as I have considered a run for U.S. Senate,” Reynolds wrote in an email. “I truly believe that my focus needs to remain on being lieutenant governor and working with Gov. Branstad as we continue to move Iowa forward.”

Reynolds becomes the second Republican to decline running for the open Senate seat; Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, previously announced he would stay out of the race.

Currently, Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, is the only candidate running to replace the five-term senator.

— by Brent Griffiths

Iowa City City Capanna to remain in face, if not in name

A coffee shop in Iowa City slated for eviction will change ownership in early May, and the new owner hopes for a smooth transition.

Capanna Coffee & Gelato was in the process of being evicted from its space in the Iowa City Public Library building after failing to meet certain financial obligations with the city, according to city documents. However, the owner of the neighboring Wedge Pizzeria will take over the space with little change.

“There’ll be a new name for the businesses, but the face is going to stay the same,” Wedge owner-operator Steve Harding said. “The physical layout, staff, and for the most part, the product, will remain.”

The Iowa City City Council approved an interim lease agreement for the Wedge Tuesday night, covering the period of time until Capanna vacates the space.

One Capanna manager said the store may even remain open for business during the transition, and Harding hopes the change won’t result in any loss of service.

“From [the Wedge’s] side, we’ll continue on as we have been,” he said. “We hope to take over smoothly and have it function at least as well as it has.”

— by Nick Hassett

Iowa City City Council approves historic designation for Vine building

The Iowa City City Council approved several amendments related to historic landmarks and the Vine building by a 7-0 vote.

The amendments will change rules regarding historic landmarks to allow apartments on or below the street level, as well as designating the Vine building as an Iowa City historic landmark.

The Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval of the first amendment, and the Historic Preservation Commission joined the Planning and Zoning Commission in recommending approval of the historic designation.

— by Nick Hassett

Iowa City City Council authorizes transit fare system

The Iowa City City Council approved a replacement for a transit collection system at its meeting Tuesday.

The joint request for Iowa City and Coralville will replace the existing collection system, including 29 fare boxes, management software, pass-encoding equipment, and vault and fare media.

City staff recommended that the city award the contract to SPX Genfare Inc. at a cost of $504,284.

The project will be partially funded by a federal grant for 50 percent of the cost, with the remaining funding coming from a transit equipment replacement reserve.

— by Nick Hassett

Iowa City City Council names UISG liaison

The Iowa City City Council approved the new University of Iowa Student Government City Council liaison.

The council appointed Alec Bramel, currently serving as the UISG representative, to the position again until May 1, 2014.

An alternate to Bramel will be named in the near future.

— by Nick Hassett

Iowa City City Council to hear Chauncey rezoning request

After the Iowa City Planning and Zoning Commission shot down the rezoning effort of a group against the 20-story Chauncey building, the City Council will consider the rezoning.

The Planning and Zoning Commission rejected the rezoning request from the group Iowa Coalition Against the Shadow by a 5-2 vote. The rezoning would have prevented the 20-story building from filling the space at the intersection of College and Gilbert Streets, which is currently public land.

Iowa Coalition Against the Shadow members Rockne Cole, Jon Fogarty, and Mark McCallum submitted the application, which would have rezoned the parcel of land from Public (P-1) zone to Central Business Support (CB-5) zone.

CB-5 zoning would allow up to 75-foot buildings. The Chauncey development would need to seek CB-10 zoning, which has essentially no height limit outside of Federal Aviation Administration standards.

— by Nick Hassett

Iowa City City Council approves Hawkeye Court rezoning

The Iowa City City Council approved the first consideration to rezone the University of Iowa’s Hawkeye Court.

Approval of the measure would allow Hawkeye Court, publicly owned land, to be leased and developed for privately owned multifamily buildings.

The resolution rezones the area from Institutional Public (P-2) to Institutional Public/Medium-Density Multi-Family (P-2/RM-20).

An ordinance requires three considerations to pass into law.

The apartment buildings, first occupied in the 1960s, primarily accommodate graduate students, international students, and students with families.

The rezoning goes along with the state Board of Regents’ decision to approve the UI’s private contract for the apartment complex.

The regents passed its first contract with a private construction firm in March, charging Dallas-based Balfour Beatty Campus Solutions with the task of replacing the aging apartments in Hawkeye Court.  The replacement, however, will increase rent, which currently rests around $450.

— by Nick Hassett

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