Metro briefs

BY DI STAFF | SEPTEMBER 03, 2014 5:00 AM

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Council OKs Normandy project

On Tuesday, the Iowa City City Council approved the Normandy Drive Restoration Project Phase Three.

The plan would reconstruct Normandy Drive and create a landscape plan and connect to trails as part of City Park. It would include the area bought out by Community Development Block Grant program and FEMA.

The estimated construction cost is around $150,000 and will be funded from bonds.

The council voted 6-0, with Mayor Matt Hayek not present, to approve the project.

Iowa City Gateway

The Iowa City Gateway project has re-added a proposed sidewalk to the east side of Dubuque Street from Foster Road to Church Street.

The 6-foot wide sidewalk was re-added to the project by the council after its previous decision to strike it in April. The council voted 6-0 for the resolution.

Councilor Jim Throgmorton displayed some concern about flexibility of the sidewalk. He said the topography in the area is a little different and didn’t want to damage it with a sidewalk.

The sidewalk as re-added in part because of the plan to shift Dubuque Street to the west.

The project has been in the works since the 2008 flood and will now move into the final design phase of the project.

After the design phase, construction is expected to take 18 months.

— by Nick Moffitt

Deloitte recommends new application system

Students could soon apply to three universities with a single click.

Deloitte Consulting, the company hired by the state Board of Regents to find ways to save money as part of its efficiency study, found the three Iowa regent universities calculate Regent Admission Index scores differently when applicants do not have high-school class ranks.

It will recommend at the September regents’ meeting that the regents find a common formula for such students and also create a portal to apply to all three universities simultaneously.

Such a portal could cost upward of more than $500,000. Applicants would still pay for each school to which they send their information.

Deloitte found nearly 32 percent of fall 2013 freshman entering the UI, UNI, and ISU did not have a class rank, according to its report.

— by Chris Higgins

Farm group backs Braley

Farmers across Iowa waded into the midterm elections a key agricultural group backed an array of candidates, including Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, on Tuesday.

The Iowa Corn Growers Political Action Committee endorsed 75 state and federal candidates on the midterm ballot. The group says the committee that determines which candidates to back is made up an equal balance of party affiliations.

Despite a large number of open seats in Iowa’s congressional delegation, the endorsements illustrate the group may prefer the status quo.

The committee backed Braley to replace fellow Democrat Sen. Tom Harkin while choosing David Young, a Republican, to succeed fellow Republican Rep. Tom Latham, who is retiring from his 3rd Congressional District seat.

The group backed Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, over Democratic challenger Jim Mowrer, as well as Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa.

Braley’s decision to run for U.S. Senate means his House seat is open. The group endorsed Sen. Pat Murphy, D-Dubuque, over Republican Rod Blum.

If the election follows the pattern of the endorsements, it would mean that Iowa would have a split delegation in both houses, the same makeup it currently has in Washington.

Another agricultural group, the Iowa Farm Bureau, previously backed Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Red Oak.

— by Brent Griffiths

Perry stumps in Iowa

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been in the news recently because he has been indicted In Texas, but he returned to Iowa on Tuesday to campaign for a U.S. House hopeful.

Perry toured much of eastern Iowa with Rod Blum, GOP candidate for Iowa’s 1st Congressional District, including stops in Cedar Rapids and Hiawatha. The visit was Perry’s first since the indictment for alleged abuse of power and coercion.

Perry praised not only Blum but other congressional candidates who will focus on securing the Mexican-American border, an issue that Perry has made clear he supports.

Blum stands with Perry about securing the border.

“He thinks it’s the first step toward solving the immigration issue,” Blum’s spokesman Paul Smith said.

And support for Blum, Smith said, will only continue to increase. While Blum opponent Pat Murphy is leading the polls 40 percent to 35 percent, Blum has gained endorsements from Gov. Terry Branstad and the Farm Bureau.

“I do think [this will put Blum in the lead],” Smith said. “He’s had a lot of momentum building for a while now … and I think the momentum will just continue to build.”

As for future campaigning with Perry, Smith said only time will tell.

“I think that would be great, but we would have to talk to them about it,” he said. “We would be really happy with that.”

— by Lauren Coffey

Man charged with 3rd OWI

Authorities have accused a local man of driving while intoxicated.

Mark Puerling, 46, was charged Sept. 1 with third-offense OWI.

According to online court documents, Puerling was headed west on Highway 1 and was having difficulty keeping his vehicle within the lines on the highway.

Authorities initiated a traffic stop. When an officer approached the vehicle, he asked Puerling if he had been drinking.

Puerling reportedly said he had been drinking beer and also had a few shots.

When asked for his driver’s license, registration, and insurance, Puerling reportedly had trouble finding it. He told authorities he did not have a driver’s license.

Third-offense OWI is a Class-D felony.

— by Rebecca Morin

County, West Branch discuss trails

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors met with West Branch Mayor Mark Worrell and West Branch city councilors to discuss planning and construction for two potential trails, one of which would connect West Branch and Iowa City and another trail as part of the American Discovery Trail system.

The American Discovery Trail system is a 6,800 mile series of walking and cycling trails that runs through 15 different states.

Currently, there are 512 miles of American Discovery trails in Iowa, but the members of the meeting in West Branch discussed adding to the trail, which would connect West Branch with Solon.

Johnson County Supervisor Terrence Neuzil said officials are considering different designs and looking at where to buy land for the trail.

The members of the meeting also discussed the construction of a different trail that would eventually form a loop from Iowa City to West Branch.

They are still early in the development stages and are considering where the trail could go.

They have considered building the trail along Herbert Hoover Highway, Lower West Branch road, or along Interstate 80.

Johnson County Supervisor Janelle Rettig said trails such as these “spur bed and breakfasts, they spur restaurants, they spur tourism, because if you have a trail that is in the more than 20 mile range, people will actually travel to ride it.”

— by Cory Porter

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