Archive for  March 24th 2018

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DES MOINES, Iowa  —  “I flew fighters at the Des Moines Air National Guard for over 20 years,” said retired Colonel Keith Acheson. “I was proud to be a former Squadron Commander.”

When it comes to military readiness, Keith Acheson knows his stuff and is happy about the nearly $700 billion that will be going to the Pentagon.

“I think President Trump understands that our military has been on the second shelf for the last 8 or 10 years and I think one reason he signed this budget is because he knows our military needs the money to get it started,” said Acheson. “We need new airplanes. We need to fix old airplanes.”

With America facing growing threats around the world, beefing up the military budget sends a strong signal to leaders like Kim Jong-un in North Korea.

“He comes with missile threats,” said Acheson. “Okay, why did he do that? Because he didn’t think we could defend against that.”

Channel 13’s cameras were there with Acheson in September of 2013 as he watched the last manned flights for the 132nd Fighter Wing, when Des Moines said goodbye to F-16s and transitioned to drones with the MQ-9 Reaper.

“We flew manned aircraft out there for 70 plus years and it was just a shocker,” said Acheson. “No one liked it (when the F-16 Fighter Jets left due to federal budget cuts). And nothing like the sound of freedom coming in and out of the airport for everyone, you know? And also, (the) economic impact for the state of Iowa and surrounding regions. Many jobs come with those aircraft.”

While it’s too early to know how–if at all–the approved military spending will impact Des Moines, Acheson is hopeful about the possibilities.

“Perhaps along the line some, within the next year or two, foreseeable future, there might be a mix between drones and manned aircraft here at Des Moines Guard,” said Acheson.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Iowa National Guard said it’s too early to know what impact the increased military spending will have in Iowa.

CORNING, Iowa  —  For many Adams County racing fans, the number two stands for something special: racing family man Kevin Sharp.

“He’s going to win it. He was as enthusiastic about winning as anybody. He didn’t come down here to finish in second,” said Adams County Fair and Racing Board President Luis Avila.

Now, the speedway’s first races on March 31st will be met with heavy hearts, as all four Sharp family members were found dead Friday morning in their condo while on vacation in Mexico. Avila said, “It’s a complete surprise, man. It’s still unbelievable.”

While Kevin also served on the Adams County Fair and Racing Board, the sport wasn’t just in his blood, it ran through the entire Sharp family’s veins.

“The son was always in the pits with him last year, and he was probably just as big a competitor as his dad was, and his wife was just as competitive as Kevin was, pushing him to get here and to be competitive. We’re just gonna really, really miss them.”

The goal in every race is to take the checkered flag, which Kevin Sharp did often. His company, Southwest Distributing, sponsors “Victory Lane,” which now takes on a new meaning at Adams County Speedway.

“One of the things that Adams County Speedway is known for is our drivers win a race and they get a simple hat sponsored by Southwest Distributing,” said racetrack announcer Billy Rock. He added, “That was one of the things that a guy might wear to the Iowa State Fair, and they took a lot of pride in that.”

Life at the track without the Sharps won’t come easy, but the sounds of Saturday night racing will be music the speedway knows the family will still hear.

“They’re going to miss him, but he would be the first to say, ‘let’s go racing, boys. Let’s go out and have some fun. Remember the good times,'” said Avila.

Adams County Speedway will hold a vigil to honor the Sharp family on Saturday at 7 p.m. inside the racetrack in Corning. In the event of bad weather, the vigil will be held near the grandstand.