Archive for  March 2018

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In this week’s What’s Bugging Andy, Andy Fales tries to figure out if Niko Medved left Drake. Or Drake lost Niko Medved.

In this week’s Murphy’s Law, Iowa State and Iowa’s athletic departments don’t have to give money back to the universities, but Keith Murphy says they should. And they’re smart to do so.

CORNING, Iowa  —  Family members and friends gathered for a candlelight vigil on Saturday night at the Adams County Speedway where the Sharp family spent a lot of their time.

Friends of the family said this racing season will not be the same without them, after the family of four was found deceased in a condo while on vacation in Mexico. Mexican authorities later announced toxic gas inhalation as the cause of death.

“It’s going to be really weird not having Kevin there. He was always one of the glue guys. If I had a problem or something I would always go to him. If I needed a beer after the races, I would go to him. It’s going to be really weird and really different when I look over to my left from where I am normally at on Saturday nights and he’s not there. It’s going to be different,” said radio show host Trevor Maeder.

During the vigil, friends shared memories from life and Saturday nights at the race track.

“It’s going to be difficult for me to go home on Saturday nights, because walking through there usually I thought I was going to get out of there at a decent time, but when you walk by that Kevin Sharp pit you get to talking for about 45 minutes. So a lot of great memories and a lot of great things down on that pit pad and here at the Adams County Speedway that those guys did,” a friend of the Sharp family said.

Racing Crew Chief Daniel Rehmeyer said Kevin Sharp and his family were very dedicated to their community and their families were very close.

“Our kids was growing up together, playing football and hanging out at the race shop, but we were pretty close,” Rehmeyer said.

Many people attending the vigil said Adams County Speedway was more than just a race track.

“I can tell you one thing about Kevin Sharp: he was a family man. Most people don’t appreciate the fact that when you come to this race track, this is a family,” a friend of the Sharp family said.

Rehmeyer said his life will never be the same and he will miss the Sharp family very much.

“Kevin touched a lot of people. I mean just, not just on a racing basis, just on a business basis too,” Rehmeyer said.

URBANDALE, Iowa  —  North High School standout guard Tyreke Locure has never played three-on-three with the 5-0 before, but says he won’t take it easy on them because of their badge.

“I’m not gonna take it easy because I love to win.”

Locure and about 200 other metro students faced off against 30 law enforcement officers in the first annual Cops and Kids 3-on-3 tournament on Saturday. No brackets were busted during this tournament, but it was a time to strengthen community relationships. The game had a little focus on winning, but it helped give players and officers a chance to get acquainted.

“It kind of shows a different side of us. We’re not all these stiff guys that run around in uniform,” says 28-year-old Iowa Department of Transportation veteran Captain Robert Johnson.

The event serves as a timely reminder that it’s never to late build community relationships. A week ago, police in Sacramento gunned down an unarmed African American man believed to be breaking into property and carrying a gun. Police later discovered the suspected gun was actually a cell phone.

Urban Dreams, an non-profit organization that aims to strengthen police and community relationships, hosted the first time tournament. Its director, Izaah Knox, is working to prevent something like that from happening in Iowa.

“We are always working on being proactive and getting people together, working on solutions to issues instead of having people who are defensive and not working together proactively,” he says.

Urban Dreams normally includes only the Des Moines Police Department in its activities, but says it plans on expanding its reach to other metro law enforcement agencies on a more regular basis to better serve the community.

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.

DES MOINES, Iowa — “One day, you know, my granddaughter`s gonna know, my grandma was there for me, and my mom,” said Deborah Yanna of West Des Moines. “The people that truly love her are there to defend her.”

Yanna is vowing to do whatever she can to fight on behalf of her 7 year-old granddaughter. Yanna says the system failed her granddaughter, who she says was the victim of years of abuse by her grandfather on the child’s father’s side; starting when the girl was two years old.

“We are here to defend her even though the law here did not defend her,” said Yanna. “They defend the molesters, the pedophiles…”

Yanna is referring to what happened last month in Hardin County, when 61 year-old Dean Hilpipre of Alden was sentenced to five years of probation for the crime of lascivious acts with a child.

A 10-year prison sentence was suspended as part of a plea deal with prosecutors. Hilpipre was charged with two counts of 2nd degree sex abuse in August of 2017 and later pled guilty to the reduced charge in January.

“Dean Hilpipre took something very special from my granddaughter,” said Yanna. “And, so whatever can be done to bring healing into her life and to help her to grow to be a strong and secure little girl, into a woman, that’s my hope for her.”

That’s why Yanna’s daughter, Kasey Hilpipre, the mother of the child, is suing Dean, asking for money to compensate for the victim’s suffering.

Dean Hilpipre claimed a $100,000 prize from the Iowa Lottery just a few weeks after pleading guilty.

 

 

DES MOINES, Iowa — Channel 13’s Keith Murphy has confirmed Drake University Men’s basketball coach Niko Medved is leaving the team to become the new head coach at Colorado State University.

Medved took over as Drake head coach just last year.  He led to the team to a 17-17 record and fourth place conference finish, their best since winning the Missouri Valley Conference in 2008.

Drake Director of Athletics Brian Hardin released a statement saying, “We are disappointed by this news but remain excited and confident about the trajectory of the Drake men’s basketball program. The success of our men’s basketball program has been a team effort that is a reflection of the tremendous young men in our program. Our success is not defined by an individual and we are confident in the sustainable success of the Drake men’s basketball program. As always, we remain committed to our student-athletes and, in the ever-present wisdom of the late Paul Morrison, we are ‘All in this together.'”

Medved was hired less than a year ago on March 26, 2017 after spending four years at Furman leading them to a regular season conference championship in the 2016-17 season, and was named Southern Conference coach of the year.

Medved will replace Former Colorado State University coach Larry Eustachy.  Eustachy coached at Iowa State University from 1998 to 2003.

Hardin says Dave Thorson will serve as the interim head coach while a nation search is conducted for a new head coach for the men’s basketball program.

ESPN, Denver Post and Barstool previously reported the news.

 

DES MOINES, Iowa — “Absolutely not. I don’t think it had anything to do with how Trump was elected,” said Ann Robinson of West Des Moines. “I think he got elected because people voted for him. I mean, there was information coming in from the media on all sources, so I feel like Facebook played no more important role than the newspapers, the news stories.”

Robinson believes Facebook and the information it provided to Cambridge Analytica did not play a role in getting Donald Trump elected, but Justin Wise of Think Digital, disagrees.

“The way that they used the information was a textbook example of how to use the information that`s available to you, to me, to any business out there that would want to advertise on Facebook,” said Wise. “We all have access to that, those tools. We can leverage and acquire data. So, if you have an email list as a business, let’s say. You can feed that email list into Facebook, and say hey Facebook, go find the accounts that are attached to these email addresses and then show them this ad. On a small scale, that’s what Cambridge Analytica did. And that same ability is there for you, it’s there for me. It’s there for any business out there.”

In June of 2016, the Trump campaign hired Cambridge Analytica to take over its data operations.

“The mechanics of it, how they did it, what they did with the information was brilliant,” said Wise. “It was a great strategy and it totally worked. The campaign that hired Cambridge Analytica got their candidate in the White House.”

Cambridge Analytica specializes in what`s called ‘psychographic’ profiling, which means they use data collected online to create personality profiles for voters. They then take that information and target individuals with specifically tailored content. But that process has caused controversy and Facebook has drawn criticism because of it. The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal has highlighted the lack of privacy protections in the U.S., and caused some who use Facebook to question just how clear the social media platform is with its users about its terms of service.

“For me personally, I try and lock it up, my profile, as much as I can,” said Danny Higgins. “Even debated just getting rid of it completely. But, I definitely don’t want my information shared unless I consent to it, you know, either through the social media or whatever it may be.”

 

 

DES MOINES, Iowa — Dr. David Smouse’s love for education helped build Iowa’s first school dedicated to educating children with disabilities in 1931.  Teachers like Debbie Eldred who first taught inside it’s walls in 1977 continue to bring that passion into today.  “Smouse is a special school and it needs to stay that way,” she said while fighting back tears.  For over eighty years, Smouse educated students other schools just could not.  Kay Graham spent a decade at Smouse and now substitute teaches.  “I worked with kids that have behavior disorders so they required not only a lot of time academically but social skills and to cope with anger and things that got them in trouble before they came to Smouse.”

Now Des Moines Public School District Superintendent Dr. Tom Ahart says the need for educating students with disabilities inside Smouse Opportunity School is a fraction of what it once was.  “The number of students being served at those schools has continually and purposefully declined over time as we find better ways to serve our students in a comprehensive environment of the typical school.”

Beginning with the 2018-2019 school year, intellectually disabled school children will move next door to Ruby Van Meter which already serves similar students.  Behavior disabled children will be moved back to their home school with some students still being served in a classroom at Smouse.  Dr. Ahart said, “It is somewhere around forty students. That is the population of students having a possible change in building that they would attend.”

Graham said the changes concern her because comprehensive schools are still sending children to Smouse.  “I had a student that I was asked to come in and work with one-on-one.  He only had been going to school two hours a day and when they came to Smouse they went all day long the first day.  He was behind academically and needed one-on-one.  His home school couldn’t handle it last year. Why is it going to be any different this next year?”

The district feels it will be much different thanks to staffing numbers increasing over the years at comprehensive schools.  “Because of upgrading of our staff in comprehensive schools, we are at the point where there’s only a small handful of students still needing those specialty services that we will continue providing at Smouse.  If you take fifteen to twenty students and place them where we have forty schools at the elementary level it is hard to imagine overwhelming will be the sentiment.”