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AMES, Iowa  —  Spring training is well underway in Florida and Arizona, and it won’t be long before the season begins. For a group of baseball from Ames, though, opening night is already here. After years of product development, their invention is ready to be presented to the open market.

“We all want it to just work so that kids hit and hit better.”

It does, and they do–so far.

Meet the Magic Tee, the brainchild of local baseball dads tired of the same old, same old.

“You can make a good swing and the tee falls over. Well, what kind of feedback is that?”

Pick it up, put it back, isn’t there a better way? Ryan McGuire vented to his friend, Rob Kibbe.

“He said, ‘you know, I was teaching my kids how to swing and I just wish I could find a way to hang the ball because their swing motion would just be so much easier,'” Kibbe said.

Kibbe is a mechanical engineer.

“I thought, well how hard could that be? You just need some suction to hold the ball in place, right?” he wondered.

“He had this crazy contraption on an engine hoist and then a shop vac all hooked up and it worked.”

But the journey from that to the sleek, rechargeable Magic Tee? That was a challenge, even for Kibbe.

“You know how hard it is to print a 3D base that’s this big? It’s hard! It took, like, six months and 18 tries,” he said.

Her it is, though, a revolution in hitting. The sweet spot of the ball, now exposed to the bat, allowing professional instructors like Mike Jensen to preach the modern baseball gospel of “launch angles” and practice it, too.

“It feels exactly like hitting a ball that’s being pitched.”

The ultimate goal is to see this hit carry outside the state to a national market. To help with that, enter Sam Schill and Nathan Haila.

“People are looking for things like this all the time,” said Schill.

Schill and Haila are product developers, but also little league dads who saw Magic Tee help their own kids.

“I put him on the Magic Tee and the first ball he hit off of it, he hit it over the fence. So that’s when I was like, ‘I think we might be onto something here,'” said Haila.

The pair then shot a slick video featuring McGuire, which will be part of Magic Tee’s campaign on social media and the crowdfunding site Kickstarter. There, customers will commit to buy the Magic Tee, and when enough commitments are made, production will begin. The question is, is a $400 batting tee something people want?

“We believe it is. Everyone’s telling us ‘hey, I want one of those!’ But now Kickstarter’s really the way that we’re going to roll out to check to see if we’re right,” said Schill.

For decades, hitting tools have come and gone. The ones that have stuck have been the ones that kept working.

“We want them to drag it to the field and use it, take it home, charge it up, and be able to use it the next day.”

In an age when many parents are spending small fortunes on their children’s sports, the Magic Tee seems like a safe bet. Safe, but not certain.

“As cool as it sounds, it’s also really scary. We’ve got to be in a position where if we go get this and we’re successful, we’re shipping product, and it better work, no matter what.”

Magic Tee could ship by the end of the year, meaning more hits, pings, and shots could soon be heard around the world. If you’re interested in the product, you can pre-order one now on the product’s Kickstarter page. The creators need to secure $70,000 in pre-orders before production can begin. If that happens, the Magic Tee should be ready to ship next January.

PERRY, Iowa  —  “When this bill was passed in 2013, the legislature made a promise to cities, counties, and school districts that they would make those backfill payments in a standing appropriation,” said Perry City Administrator Sven Peterson. “And for them to, only five years later, go back on that promise is really disheartening.”

Peterson says cities throughout Iowa need that backfill money.

“The cities rely on their tax base, the state cut their tax base, so we rely on that backfill,” said Peterson. “And our citizens rely on us to provide services to them.”

But without backfill payments from the state, those services may be forced to cut back.

“In Perry, we’d be looking at about an $80,000 cut to our revenues,” said Peterson. “About $41,000 of that would be in our general fund, which would either have to be made up in cuts and over the years with other things that have gone on, we’ve cut to the point where right now, it’s gonna be either services, jobs, or the possibility of increase in fees.”

Perry Police Chief Eric Vaughn is concerned about the impact the loss in revenues could have on his department.

“It could affect all kinds of things from maintenance on equipment to maintenance on vehicles to funds that we provide to personnel,” said Chief Vaughn. “Not only full time officers, but we do have part time positions, not only as police officers but as dispatchers, and that might cut that further and not allow us to give those persons as many hours, also.”

And the timing couldn’t be worse, as cities must have their Fiscal Year 2019 budgets certified by March 15th, which makes planning for the future difficult when it’s unclear what state lawmakers at the capitol are going to do.

“We’d have to go back and re-look at everything to figure out where we can make up those shortfalls,” said Chief Vaughn.

And for small communities like Perry, that’s no easy task.

“We don’t have, you know, a huge income with the city of Perry, you know, we’re not as big a department or a city as a Des Moines, West Des Moines,” said Chief Vaughn. “It’s going to be harder for us to make up those small amounts than maybe one of those other cities could.”

Alan Kemp, Executive Director of Iowa League of Cities, sent Channel 13 the following statement in regards to this issue:

“We are disappointed to see SF2081 pass out of subcommittee. In 2013 when the legislature enacted sweeping property tax reform, they made a commitment to local governments by backfilling revenue losses on commercial and industrial property. This legislation phases out these backfill payments over just a two year period beginning in FY2019 – a budget that many cities have just approved. While the impact will be unique in each city, this will result in forcing cities to make tough choices about cutting services valued by their citizens. Many cities are already struggling with declining revenues and populations. This will harm all cities and not help revitalize rural communities.”

A thrilling day one starting with the big schools, class 5A, and ending with Class 4A. Here are highlights and post-game from Central Iowa teams.

Monday, February 26, 2018
Game Time Location Team Score Team
B1 10:00 AM Wells Fargo Arena Johnston 73 48 Waukee
B2 11:45 AM Wells Fargo Arena Iowa City High 78 62 WDM Valley
B3 1:30 PM Wells Fargo Arena Dowling Catholic 53 63 Iowa City West
B4 3:15 PM Wells Fargo Arena Cedar Falls 63 64 Indianola
Monday, February 26, 2018
Game Time Location Team Score Team
B1 5:00 PM Wells Fargo Arena Center Point-Urbana 69 47 Boone
B2 6:45 PM Wells Fargo Arena Marion 71 39 Fairfield
B3 8:30 PM Wells Fargo Arena Grinnell  70  51 Mason City

 

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  Every point matters in the fast-paced game of basketball, but a member of the Iowa Hawkeyes gave up a point in order to preserve a legacy.

Hawkeye sophomore point guard Jordan Bohannon intentionally missed a free throw so he would not outshine a former Hawkeye basketball star.

“It’s not my record to have. Obviously that record deserves to stay in his name,” he says.

Bohannon is referring to Chris Street, an Iowa Hawkeye basketball standout who died in a car crash in 1993. He passed away just three days after making 34 consecutive free throws, holding the school’s record. Bohannon now shares that record with Street.

His gesture went viral on social media and basketball fans across the state are applauding Bohannon for his choice.

“I just thought it was a class act by a classy individual just to show you its not about basketball, it’s about life. I think it was a great lesson,” says Darwin Yossi of Dallas Center.

Those who knew Street personally say he would have been proud of the display of sportsmanship.

High school basketball coach Bert Hanson says, “Chris was all about the Hawkeyes, was all about the team, do the best you can all the time out there, but the act of sportsmanship he would have really appreciated. However, if it were in a game-winning situation, he would have said, ‘let’s win the game.'”

Hanson coached Street for three years at Indianola High School. He says Street was type of kid coaches loved to coach and players wanted to be like. He says he’s not surprised by the show of respect to honor a legend.

“Chris never mentioned going anyplace else. He always wanted to be a Hawkeye, and I think Jordan relates to that, also, because I think Jordan, in a way, is a similar type player,” Hanson smiled.

In this week’s Murphy’s Law, Keith Murphy gives his thoughts on whether it was fair to ask Iowa’s Fran McCaffery about his job security following an 11th place finish in the Big Ten (12 seed).

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  With just one mention of the city of Parkland, most people know it’s the city in Florida where a former student is accused of gunning down 17 students, teachers and staff. In the aftermath, there have been national town halls, heated debates, a social media fury from all sides. What, if anything, can be done to make our children safer at school?

Cathy Glasson is a nurse from Coralville who is also a Democrat running for governor. She talked with Political Director Dave Price about her views on gun laws, campaign funding, rallying, and the minimum wage.

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Burma refugee community is feeling nervous after several members, including refugees who have become legal U.S. citizens received a mysterious letter from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Department.

“The letter is very Gestapo-esque” said attorney Chris Rottler.

Rottler is working with Burma community advocacy group EMBARC to guide refugees through the process.

Thousands of refugees from Burma, many an ethnic minority who escaped a bloody civil war, settled in the United States. They are facing more uncertainty after some of them received the letter. The letter asks the refugee to return the city they originally settled in for an interview with USCIS. What the interview was about, the letter didn’t say; save that it was “part of an investigation”.

“An attorney who’s a liaison with the Des Moines USCIS office contacted them asking for a meeting which was declined. At this point they weren’t ready to meet to discuss any details about the USCIS investigation, so we’re all kind of working in the dark, we don’t really know what it’s about” said Rottler.

The letter says the refugee must come with their spouse if married and can come with a translator as well as a lawyer. However, neither would be provided for them. On Saturday EMBARC and a group of pro-bono lawyers held a community meeting for free legal counsel.

“They have come to the United States lawfully, these are not people that have broken laws, and they deserve to be treated with the respect and due process that any of us would” said Rottler.

Some would have to travel as far as Indianapolis to attend the meeting. That means travel costs, and time missed from work.

Rottler says those who got the letter include refugees who have become legal citizens, refugees who have legally become permanent residents, and refugees going through the process of becoming permanent residents. Those in the community say they’re scared.

“These letters are causing a lot of fear in our community members. We did everything, all the interviews and screenings, the process that we are legal to come to the United States, but I don’t know why they are asking again for the interviews, it’s confusing” said EMBARC Program Manager Abigail Sui.

Leaders in the Burma community like Pastor Gabriel Dar Lian says it’s another hurdle, both logistically and emotionally, that his people, who have already suffered a great deal, must through.

“They struggle a lot…we have to encourage them, they feel like they’ve done a serious crime or something criminal” said Pastor Dar Lian, at moments tearing up.

“It’s very sad really, these are some of the most vulnerable families in the United States, and in the world” said Rottler

EMBARC asks anyone who got the letter to call them at 515-286-3928 to be put in touch with a lawyer.

Advocates say refugees nationwide have gotten similar letters.

DES MOINES, Iowa —  West Des Moines native and the first Iowan to compete in the Winter Olympics games is recounting his Olympic experience. Channel 13’s Jodi Whitworth sat down with bobsledder Karlos Kirby to talk about the sport and team USA’s chances of making the medal podium in the 4 – man bobsledding event.

 

 

BOONE, Iowa  —  Fareway’s famous chicken salad will no longer be found on the store’s shelves, as the product has been pulled following a salmonella outbreak.

Jim Fox, a Grimes resident, said the chicken salad used to be one of his favorite foods. However, that was before he ate a salmonella-contaminated batch and became extremely sick earlier this week.

“It just kept getting worse. Tuesday I had diarrhea 15 times, by Wednesday morning I could barely function. I just got in the car and drove straight to the hospital,” he said.

That’s where Fox tested positive for salmonella. According to the USDA, Fox is among 100 other cases reported across five states.

“They said, ‘well, a day in the hospital, maybe two, we can get you through this,’ and that was on Wednesday morning. Thursday morning, about two o’clock in the morning, my room is full of doctors and nurses because my heart’s in AFib, I was so dehydrated,” he said.

Scared he wouldn’t survive, Fox now wants to be compensated for his lost wages and hefty hospital bill. He’s not alone in this–the outbreak also sparked lawsuits in Illinois and South Dakota.

“We have filed suit on behalf of four people so far, we expect there will be others,” said attorney Steve Wandro of Wandro & Associates.

Fox and three others suing Fareway and their Iowa-based meat supplier, Triple T Meats. According to the USDA, more than 20,000 pounds of tainted chicken salad was manufactured at Triple T and then shipped to Fareway.

“From what I’ve heard, I have not talked to them personally, is that they’re saying, ‘it wasn’t our fault, someone else was at fault,'” Wandro said.

The executive director of Triple T said the FDA recently tested the facility for salmonella and listeria, and all 60 results came back negative.

“So was it an employee that was sick, was it an employee that didn’t wash after the restroom?” wondered Fox.

Fox and his attorneys say Fareway or Triple T meats are to blame and that someone needs to be held accountable.

“At the end of the day they will do the right thing, but again, consumers are consumers. When you go into Fareway and you buy chicken salad, you expect it to be safe,” said Wandro.

Wandro also said he has never seen a food-borne outbreak this bad in Iowa. Channel 13 reached out to Fareway for comment, but had not heard back at the time of publication.

JOHNSTON, Iowa  —  In Iowa, permits to acquire and carry weapons are valid for five years from the date of issue.

“The federal law allows up to 60 months,” said Tom Hudson, General Manager of CrossRoads Shooting Sports in Johnston. “So Iowa, much like several other states, maximize that allowance. And that’s a federal thing, so it’s nothing Iowa’s really not doing that is circumventing or pushing the boundaries or anything on that. But, from a retailer’s perspective, knowing that not all states are actively complying with the federal level request for records checks and all those things, and quite frankly, I don’t know Iowa’s mix in that, but let’s assume that Iowa’s only partially really complying, then our 60-month window is a bit of a farce.”

Following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, the White House said President Trump “is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system” for gun purchases. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, is what is used to determine whether someone is allowed to purchase a gun.

“It’s going to go into a centralized database system that the FBI administers and curates, and that database is made up of data feeds from both the federal government and the state level of a variety of criminal, felonious, mental health in some cases or other background issues that causes you to be a prohibited person per the statue of purchasing a firearm,” said Hudson, describing how NICS works.

However, the system only works properly if federal and state authorities report criminal history records to it.

“We rely on state reporting systems to accurately flag, if someone during that 60-month window, commits any type of anything that would be a red flag item against their permit,” said Hudson. “And we rely on the Department of Public Safety and the other systems that are in place in the state of Iowa for those record systems to connect and talk to each other and make sure that’s gonna happen.”