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All-purpose bike park up and rolling in Cedar Falls

CEDAR FALLS — A new all-purpose bicycle park has risen from the devastation of flooding in northern Cedar Falls.

Tondro Pray Bike Park, named for two early land developers of the city and located at East Main Street and Logan Avenue, is up and running — or rolling.

“The bike park itself is part of the flood recovery plan,” said Brian Heath, public works and parks manager. It is built on land acquired by the city after the record flood of 2008.

It will offer different kinds of bicycling for several skill levels, including mountain biking; a “pump track” in which the cyclist uses the track’s rolling dips, turns and contours to maintain momentum without pedaling; a junior-skills cycling area; and a “cyclocross” track with different challenges for more experienced cyclists as well as a proposed “single track” path circling the park.

The park has been developed through a combination of city and volunteer efforts that intensified over the last year, Heath said. One “cyclocross” event was held there last year and attracted about 100 participants. Some features will be added over the next couple of years.

“The maintenance is the concern, that things are maintained properly,” Heath said. “It’s going to be a combination of volunteer efforts and city staff.”

Heath is donating his own time on weekends and is able to get a weekend work crew of volunteers together on notice via social media. Associations such as the Cedar Valley Association of Soft Trails and the Twisted Spokes Racing Team are involved, and he noted a bike repair station has been installed courtesy of Scheels All Sports, as well as a shelter for special events.

The park is one of the first of its kind in the state and could attract visitors to the community, said Joel Mason, president of the Twisted Spokes group.

“Iowa has a very active cyclocross community,” Mason said. A “Jingle Cross” event in Iowa City attracts several hundred participants plus thousands of spectators and is live streamed over the Internet.

Having a park for individuals of various levels of bicycling skills is an important asset for the city that also saves wear and tear on other parks not specifically designed for those purposes, Mason said.


Crime-and-courts
Defense: 'Bachelor' star performed CPR on victim in fatal crash

INDEPENDENCE — Reality TV star Chris Soules performed CPR on an Aurora farmer after rear-ending a tractor, and he continued the procedure until it was clear the effort was futile, according to court records.

Soules, 35, of rural Arlington, is charged with leaving the scene of a fatal crash in the April collision that killed 66-year-old Kenneth Mosher. Details of the CPR effort were included in a defense motion filed Monday again asking the court to throw out the case.

“Four other individuals were on the scene with Mr. Soules nearly immediately, but Mr. Soules nevertheless took it upon himself to try to revive Mr. Mosher. Tellingly, after blood began coming from Mr. Mosher’s mouth and Mr. Soules stopped CPR, none of the other four individuals on the scene restarted CPR,” defense attorney Gina Messamer wrote in the motion.

One person was kneeling next to Mosher and could have resumed CPR, and three others were nearby, according to the defense.

“The fact that these bystanders did not restart CPR indicates they did not believe it would have been beneficial to Mr. Mosher. Their unanimous inaction confirms it was reasonable for Chris not to continue CPR,” Messamer wrote in the motion.

Authorities said Soules left the crash scene on Slater Avenue before law enforcement arrived and then refused to exit his home until authorities had obtained a search warrant.

Defense attorneys said Soules called 911 to summon help to the scene, identified himself to dispatchers and provided assistance before leaving. In the past, his attorneys challenged Iowa’s leaving-the-scene statute on the grounds its requirement to return to the scene or report the surviving driver’s location after leaving is unconstitutional.

On Monday, the defense argued the statute’s requirement to remain at the scene wasn’t violated in the Aurora crash.

“Because the minutes of testimony indisputably establish Mr. Soules contacted law enforcement, provided identification and ensured medical providers were attending to Mr. Mosher before he departed the scene, he did not commit the charged offense and it must be dismissed,” Messamer said in the motion.

She noted the law is worded to allow drivers to leave to seek help or report the collision, but because drivers can now call for assistance with cell phones, the wording is ambiguous.

“Here, ambiguity arises because the first sentence … does not define how long a surviving driver must remain at the scene. … The legislature would not have intended for a surviving driver to remain at the scene forever if the driver had no cause to leave to seek aid or notify law enforcement,” she wrote in the motion.

A hearing on the motions to dismiss is scheduled for Nov. 27. Trial for the case is tentatively set for January.


MATTHEW PUTNEY, COURIER PHOTO EDITOR  

Chris Soules at a court hearing Sept. 14 in Independence.


Govt-and-politics
Iowa governor: Senate GOP should release info on harassment
Iowa governor: Senate GOP should release info on harassment

Dix

DES MOINES — Iowa House Speaker Linda Upmeyer says her Republican caucus will go forward with plans to hire a human resources manager to oversee harassment complaints at the Legislature after Senate GOP officials put similar plans on hold.

Upmeyer made the announcement Tuesday, shortly after Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix told reporters the Senate GOP office will delay a similar plan. Dix’s office will instead hire outside counsel for more guidance on the issue.

Dix, R-Shell Rock, announced Monday the human resources job would be a joint position with the House. But Tuesday he said his caucus had raised concerns about accountability.

Both caucuses publicized their plans hours after Gov. Kim Reynolds said she wanted the Senate GOP office to share any additional information from an internal investigation into alleged sexual harassment within the caucus. Dix said he still won’t release that information, citing privacy concerns.

Reynolds told reporters the office, which is run in part by Dix, should disclose any information not discussed during a recent trial, in which jurors sided with a former staffer who reported harassment. Jurors awarded former Senate GOP communications director Kirsten Anderson $2.2 million. The state later agreed to drop an appeal and pay Anderson $1.75 million.

Anderson, a former Senate Republican Caucus Staff communications director, won the judgment over allegations she was fired hours after complaining of sexual harassment on the job.

Senate Republicans promised at the time to investigate harassment issues. They announced recently their inquiry was complete, but no information would be made public due to privacy concerns.

“The investigation performed as a result of the recent court proceedings related to the Iowa Senate will not be made public,” Dix said in a statement Monday. “Employees of the Senate have an expectation of privacy in these matters as reflected by Iowa’s open records laws and court decisions, and that expectation will be met. Similar practices are also common in private sector employment. The investigation is complete and appropriate action was taken.”

During her monthly WHO-AM radio call-in show Monday, Reynolds said hiring a human resources person would be “a step in the right direction.” She said the executive branch has “a zero-tolerance policy” and “sexual harassment in any form is not to be tolerated.”

However, the governor said she believed the Legislature should abide by a recently enacted law that says documents revealing why state workers are fired, demoted or resign to avoid termination are public records.

“We (the executive branch) have to live by those rules. It would seem that it would be fair if they would live within the same parameters that we do,” she said. “If there’s more information in addition to what we already know from the trial, then that should be disclosed. ... I think that they need to be transparent with the people of Iowa and they need to disclose that,” she added.

Discussions about sexual harassment have gained traction in recent weeks around the country, including at statehouses, amid allegations of sexual abuse and harassment that started with film mogul Harvey Weinstein and have spread to include many others.


Upmeyer