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Grand Times for Old Cap

Long-Closed Landmark Reopens Today; Visitors in '06 Could Top Prefire Levels

Diane Heldt

The Gazette

May 6, 2006

"Normal attendance ran 30,000 a year. . . . We could easily double that."
-- UI Old Capitol Museum Director Pamela Trimpe
[Note: This material is copyright by The Gazette, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of The Gazette.]

    IOWA CITY — Old Capitol, reopening today after a longawaited makeover, could attract twice as many visitors this year than it did before it was forced to close, Museum Director Pamela Trimpe said.

    People from around Iowa have been calling and writing, in response to publicity about the reopening, telling Trimpe they plan a special trip this summer, she said.

    ‘‘Normal attendance ran 30,000 a year. I’m not a betting person, but I think we could easily double that,’’ Trimpe said. ‘‘We’re going to see a lot of increased interest and we’ll get a boost all through summer.’’

    Excitement about the $9.35 million restoration of Iowa’s first capitol, closed to the public since a November 2001 fire, is part of the reason. That, coupled with high gas prices that may spur vacations closer to home this summer, should equal a record-breaking attendance year at the National Historic Landmark on the University of Iowa campus, Trimpe said.

    New features, including rotating displays in the Iowa Humanities Gallery and the Discovery Center, also should draw more repeat visitors, Trimpe said.

    Old Capitol in the next several weeks will play host to hundreds of area students from schools that participated in the Children’s Diaries Project in conjunction with the museum reopening.

    Many university events are scheduled in the next month, and the building is available for use by civic groups for a charge, a change in policy with the reopening.

    UI Provost Michael Hogan will deliver the provost’s annual address in the Old Capitol Senate Chambers on Tuesday.

    ‘‘To be able to speak in that great symbol and give the first provost’s address there personally is a thrill for me,’’ Hogan said.

    The KSUI radio broadcast of ‘‘Know the Score’’ will be broadcast live from the Old Capitol Senate Chambers next Friday, another event likely to draw the public, Trimpe said.

    Contact the writer: (319) 339-3158 or

Brian Ray/The Gazette Brandon Cochran of Des Moines dusts a staircase in the Old Capitol on Friday, the eve of the landmark’s reopening. The Old Capitol Museum has been closed since the building was heavily damaged by fire in November 2001. Cochran is a University of Iowa museum studies certificate student and anthropology major.

 Publication: TGC;   Date: May 6, 2006;   Section: Iowa Today;   Page: 17

2 editors suspended at Daily Iowan

The Gazette

    IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa’s student newspaper has suspended two staffers pending an investigation of the lack of attribution in a recent column, a publisher’s note in Friday’s paper says.

    Daily Iowan Publisher Bill Casey placed editor Jennifer Sturm and managing editor Alex Lang on leave with pay pending an investigation by Student Publications Inc., the paper’s board of directors.

    Editor-select Meghan Sims will be acting editor-in-chief for the remainder of the school year, which ends May 12.

    According to Casey’s note, ‘‘The Ledge’’ column in Monday’s paper ‘‘appears to have been taken from a Web site without appropriate attribution.’’

 Publication: TGC;   Date: May 6, 2006;   Section: Iowa Today;   Page: 14


Program helps small towns spruce up

More than 100 Iowa towns have benefited from support efforts

    DES MOINES (AP) — It may not be as glamorous as the huge, new community attractions popping up around Iowa, but there is a program that’s been working for years to help change the look of more than 100 small towns across the state.

    Under Iowa’s Living Roadways Community Visioning Program, small towns get help beautifying their cities.

    The help can include things like adding splashy new entrance signs, tiny roadside parks, recreational trails and prairie and tree plantings along main roadways.

    ‘‘It has had a big impact on recreational opportunities, and safety, and pride of place,’’ said Julia Badenhope, an Iowa State University landscape and architecture professor who came up with the program about a decade ago.

    The program’s impact was recently recognized nationally. The Living Roadways Community Visioning Program won the American Planning Association’s 2006 Outstanding Planner Award for a Project, Program or Tool.

    Badenhope said she saw a need in small towns for professional designers, and asked the Iowa Department of Transportation and private landscape architecture firms to help out. Also pitching in are ISU landscape architecture students, and the Marion-based Trees Forever, a non-profit organization that plants and cares for trees.

    Twelve towns are chosen each year. They get free planning and design services from the program, which gets its funding from the Department of Transportation.

    The towns can apply for outside grants or raise private funds to build projects.

    Badenhope said many residents show up to volunteer manpower.

    The professional assistance allows local leaders to learn about the planning process and create an enhancement plan based on their community’s identity, Badenhope said.

    It also helps residents get involved and support longrange planning efforts, she said.

    ‘‘One of the most important things is to help them understand their community, what their assets are, and helping people work together toward shared goals,’’ she said.

    So far, 113 Iowa communities — each with fewer than 10,000 people — have benefited from the program. Of the 192 proposed projects in those towns, 163 have been completed. That’s an 85 percent completion rate, Badenhope said.

    Among the towns that have implemented projects is the northwestern Iowa city of Sheldon, which planted 285 trees and about 10 acres of wildflowers and prairie grass along the Highway 18 corridor about five years ago.

    ‘‘Basically, we’re dressing up the entries into the city,’’ said Kurt Tatsumi, the mayor of the town of about 5,000. ‘‘It’s going to take a little time to mature, but once it’s there I think it will make a huge difference.’’

    Denise Clark, a senior in ISU’s landscape architecture program, helped design projects for the central Iowa city of State Center, including plans to revamp the town’s rose garden.

    She said it was rewarding to work on a project that is the ‘‘center point of their town,’’ serving as a site for weddings and other community activities.

AP Community members make suggestions to Iowa State University student interns during a design workshop in Washington, Iowa, in 2005. Under the community visioning programs, small towns get help beautifying their cities, including adding splashy new entrance signs, tiny pocket parks, trails and prairie, wildflower and tree plantings along main roadways.

 Publication: TGC;   Date: May 6, 2006;   Section: Iowa Today;   Page: 11

Sex offenders tax prison capacity

Corrections officials say new facility needed within next decade

By Christoph Trappe The Gazette

    MOUNT PLEASANT — Within the next decade, Iowa will have to build a 750-bed prison to accommodate a rising number of incarcerated sex offenders, officials said Friday.

    Law changes in 1996 and 2005 will cause the number of inmates in prison for sex offenses to rise by around 750, prison officials during an Iowa Board of Corrections meeting at the Mount Pleasant prison.

    ‘‘There’s considerable growth in this area, mostly because of legislative changes,’’ said Larry Brimeyer, a deputy director with the Department of Corrections.

    He said about 13 percent — a constant portion in recent years — of the state’s inmates are sex offenders, but that number will go up.

    ‘‘We don’t have a specific plan,’’ Brimeyer said. ‘‘The director wants us to get thinking about it . . . We’ll need additional facilities.’’

    A new 750-bed prison would cost $50 million, with an annual operating cost of around $28 million, Brimeyer said.

    By the middle of 2005, 1,115 sex offenders were in prison, and an additional 699 were on community supervision, such as parole or probation. The number in community supervision is forecast to jump to 2,526 by 2015 because of recent law changes.

    A 1996 law increased the length of prison terms for some sex offenses. In 2005, legislators enacted more changes, increasing some penalties, toughening electronic monitoring requirements and adding more prison time for sex offenders in prison who do not take part in treatment.

    The treatment change was in response to Jetseta Gage’s murder, said Gail Huckins, treatment director at the Mount Pleasant prison.

    Roger Paul Bentley, formerly of Brandon, has been convicted and is serving life in prison in the March 2005 murder and kidnapping of Jetseta, 10, of Cedar Rapids.

    He was in prison in the 1990s after a sex offense conviction. While in prison then, he refused to undergo sex offender treatment.

    Now, if inmates refuse treatment, they most likely will stay in prison longer after last year’s legislative changes, officials said. Basically, most inmates’ terms are cut in half from the start, and then they can earn more time off if they behave. However, if sex offenders refuse treatment, they can’t earn any more time off.

    ‘‘We may see an increase in population,’’ Huckins said. ‘‘They may stay with us longer if we can’t get them back into programming.’’

    Another cost increase is seen in electronic monitoring of sex offenders on parole or probation for crimes against children.

    In the past, around 20 sex offenders were on electronic monitoring supervision, such as ankle monitors. That number will jump to more than 500 statewide next fiscal year. Global positioning systems and staffing for the program will cost $2.4 million next fiscal year.

    Costs are expected to grow as numbers grow, said Anne Brown, who coordinates sex offender programs.

    ‘‘It’s going to be a monitoring nightmare,’’ said Ron Mullen, treatment director in the 8th Judicial District in southeast Iowa. ‘‘But we’ll do what they ask us to do.’’

    The system also will alert a sex offender wearing the ankle bracelet when he or she is in a restricted area — such as too close to a school.

    Mullen said high-risk sex offenders are actually in the minority. But high-risk offenders usually make headlines when they get in trouble again, he said.

    Contact the writer: (319) 398-8488 or christoph.trappe@gazettecommunications. com

Larry Brimeyer Corrections deputy director

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