Metro briefs

BY DI STAFF | DECEMBER 13, 2013 5:00 AM

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Iowa officials oppose lowering Renewable Fuel Standards

Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds joined Sens. Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin, Reps. Tom Latham, Steve King, Dave Loebsack, and Bruce Braley, and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey to send a letter to President Obama and other officials opposing an EPA proposal.

The proposal would lower levels in the Renewable Fuel Standard.

The officials also asked the federal government to host a hearing in Iowa so they could hear directly from Iowans on the EPA proposal. The officials stated the proposal would also have a harmful effect on the agriculture, agri-business, and biofuels industries in Iowa.

 — by Lauren Coffey

UI joins stroke-research network

The University of Iowa has been chosen to participate in a national research network that helps people both in Iowa and across the nation who are affected by strokes.

The network is funded by the National Institutes of Health.

It will include 25 regional stroke centers that will work with nearby satellite facilities, have teams of researchers representing medical needs for stroke patients, and will address the three aspects of stroke research: prevention, treatment, and recovery.

“The new system is intended to streamline stroke research by centralizing approval and review, lessening time and costs of clinical trials, and assembling a comprehensive data sharing system,” said Petra Kaufmann, associate director for clinical research at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in a statement.

UI Associate Professor of neurology Enrique Leira said the network will benefit Iowa.

“This award is wonderful news for improving stroke care in the state of Iowa,” said Leira, the principal investigator for the UI Statewide Stroke Research Network. “It endorses our comprehensive approach to stroke care and highlights the decades of research studies from the UI Comprehensive Stroke Center.”

Each center will receive five-year funding, with $200,000 in research costs and $50,000 for training stroke clinical researchers per year over the first three years, and additional funds driven by the completion of milestones.

The UI Comprehensive Stroke Center have partnerships with 12 hospitals in Iowa.

"I am moved by the level of widespread collaboration we have seen at the state level to support this project," he said.

— by Lauren Coffey

Graduate and Online Education associate dean chosen

Marc Armstrong, a University of Iowa professor, has been chosen to be the associate dean for Graduate and Online Education.

The position, in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will begin Jan. 15.

Armstrong is a professor in the Geographical and Sustainability Sciences Department.

In his new position, Armstrong will work with various departments and the Graduate College to assess graduate programs. He will also guide online education, including coordinating and expanding international education.

Armstrong earned a doctorate in geography from the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign.
Liberal-Arts Dean Chaden Djalali said he was happy to add Armstrong to the college’s administrative team.

“The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is delighted to have Professor Marc Armstrong step into this crucial new role,” Djalali says. “Graduate education and research are cornerstones of our college’s mission, and online education is an important new trend in higher education. Having Marc on board to shape the future of these areas will ensure that we stay innovative, competitive and true to our traditional educational values.”

Armstrong has previously served as interim associate dean for the liberal-arts school as well as interim head of five other liberal-arts units units. He also has experience on the Graduate Council, is a faculty member in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Informatics, and was named a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Collegiate Fellow.

— by Lauren Coffey

Grant may aid Burlington St. dam project

A state grant received by Iowa City may be used to redesign the Burlington Street Dam.

The City Council will vote to authorize the grant, which was awarded by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, for the Iowa River restoration and Burlington Street dam-modification project.

The dam project will address public safety concerns, improve riverbank stability, create fish passage, improve fish habitat, and created education and recreation opportunities.

The efforts also came in concerns to the Riverfront Crossings area to include flood-mitigation efforts.

The originally roughly $360,000 project was approved in February. However, after a more extensive study of the area, the project was shifted south because the project would have had too great of an effect on the floodplain in the area near the dam.

Because of the change in location, the costs of the project have increased.

The $50,000 Natural Resources grant will potentially cover the increased costs.

The council will vote to authorize the grant on Dec. 17.

— by Rebecca Morin

Council to vote on Downtown District’s budget

The Iowa City City Council will vote to accept the Downtown District’s budget for fiscal 2015 during its Dec. 17 meeting.

The Downtown District submitted a preliminary draft in early December, and it will continue to work with the downtown group’s Board of Directors to refine the draft budget over the first quarter of 2014.

The board will vote on the final budget in June 2014.

According to the operating budget summary preliminary draft, the total income for the Downtown District would be roughly $569,000.

The expenses in the district, which include programs and initiatives, events, and district-wide marketing, will also be roughly $569,000.

If approved, the Downtown District’s budget will be incorporated into the city’s fiscal 2015 budget.

— by Rebecca Morin

Council to vote on Hy-Vee land deal

North Dodge Street may see a new grocery store.

The Iowa City City Council will vote on a first consideration to approve a purchase agreement by Hy-Vee for 0.75 acres at the northeast corner at the intersection of North Dodge Street and Prairie Du Chien Road.

Hy-Vee would not pay any cash for the land through the offer, but it would dedicate land to the city for St. Clement’s Alley right-of-way.

— by Rebecca Morin

Council to vote on sales tax funds for flood project

After receiving a state grant for one flood-mitigation project, the city must pass a resolution to authorize a use of sales-tax revenue to finish the project.

The Iowa City City Council will vote to authorize the tax-increment funds from the Iowa Department of Revenue flood project fund at its Dec. 17 meeting.

The city is currently underway to complete a nearly $55 million project to centralize operations to the South Wastewater Treatment Plant from the north plant. A separate project would demolish the north plant and create a park at its site.

The Iowa Flood Mitigation Board awarded the city roughly $8.5 million to pay for the demolition.

Since the city was awarded funding for the demolition project, a separate flood-project fund will be set up by the Revenue Department to capture a portion for the future growth in sales-tax funds.

— by Rebecca Morin

Council to vote again on velocabs

The Iowa City City Concil will vote on the second consideration to revise Iowa City’s pedicab code at Tuesday’s meeting.

If passed, the code will revise the definition of pedicabs to include velocabs. Velocabs are human-powered vehicles that include a power-assist motor.

The current code defines pedicabs as a vehicle propelled only by human power.

— by Rebecca Morin

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