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The Cover of Waterloo Black Hawks radio play-by-play man Tim Harwood's book on the arrival and departure of the NBA in Waterloo. 

Kelsey Motley: A 'singularly unique talent that has improved our community'

Fourteenth in a series on this year’s 20 Under 40 winners.

CEDAR FALLS — In all areas of her life, Kelsey Motley is a ball of contagious enthusiasm. But when it comes to serving her community, her willingness to give — and brings others along — is unmatched.

“She constantly seeks ways to contribute her time and talent within the community she loves, and is tireless in her effort and enthusiasm,” wrote Philip Nash, Kyle Klingman and Brian Gable in their 20 Under 40 nomination of Motley.

Motley, 29, said she was surprised by the 20 Under 40 win.

“I’m very honored, very flattered,” she said. “It’s very humbling.”

Those who know her say she’s deserving of the honor for the myriad ways she’s volunteered in the Cedar Valley.

Motley recently moved to Ames to be manager of business development for Cyclone Sports Properties. Prior to that, she held the same position for Panther Sports Properties at the University of Northern Iowa.

“Kelsey comes highly regarded by both her clients and co-workers and lives a client-first mentality,” said her former supervisor and 20 Under 40 nominator Gable. “Her ability to connect with clients and co-workers the first time she meets with them is something many of us would love to have as a strength.”

Motley used that skill to connect with the community also. She is a mentor to a child through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Iowa and served on the Investor Relations Committee for the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber. She was a past board member for the Cedar Valley Jaycees and volunteered her time and talents with Children’s Cancer Connection, Habitat for Humanity and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum.

“Kelsey is an instrumental part of the growth of the Dan Gable Museum and its mission,” said Klingman, museum director. (She) is a singularly unique talent that has improved our community.”

Motley, an Eagle Grove native who graduated from UNI in 2011 with a degree in communications and public relations, said pitching in to help various organizations comes naturally.

“I’m single, I don’t have a family, so I was able to do it. And one thing leads to 10 things,” she said, laughing.

Then, at 27 years old, she was diagnosed with cancer. During arduous rounds of treatment, she took time to reflect.

“I value relationships differently. I value time differently. Because of it, I’ve learned where to put the time and focus on people,” Motley said.

Her unwavering strength in the face of adversity didn’t go unnoticed.

“If there is anyone I’ve met during my time in wrestling that has a lot of confidence and that has a personality that can take on some tough times, it’s Kelsey,” said wrestling legend and museum namesake Dan Gable.

In September, Motley celebrated two years cancer-free.

“It still doesn’t make any sense to me, but it’s a part of my story. If I can help by sharing any of my story or if I can help people grow in their own way, that’s important.”

‘If can help by sharing any of my story, or if I can help people grow in their own way, that’s important.’


Motley is the manager of business development for Panther Sports Properties. Photo taken at Hartman Reserve Nature Center in Cedar Falls.

Frank Magsamen completes five decades of public service

WATERLOO — Frank Magsamen is closing the book on the third chapter of a public service career spanning more than 50 years.

The former Waterloo fire chief who later served as an emergency management director officially finishes his 12th and final year as an elected member of the Black Hawk County Board of Supervisors on New Year’s Eve.

“I’d like to thank the citizens of Black Hawk County for allowing me to serve over the last 12 years,” Magsamen said during his final board meeting Wednesday. “It’s been a distinct pleasure on my part to be part of Black Hawk County government.”

The Waterloo Columbus High School graduate served 31 years as a Waterloo firefighter, including 17 as the chief, before retiring from that post in 2001. He spent the next six years serving as the county’s emergency management and homeland security coordinator.

Magsamen resigned his emergency management post after being elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2006. He was re-elected in 2010 and 2014 but chose not to seek re-election this year. Waterloo Police Chief Dan Trelka was elected in November to take Magsamen’s board seat.

“When I look back, I’ve basically had three careers in public service,” Magsamen said. “The fire department is still probably what’s impacted my life the most. Emergency management was at a time after 9/11, so I was able to work with training and equipment for first responders.

“Being an elected official, I set public policy,” he added. “When I ran for this position I wanted to emphasize that while making public policy it’s important how you treat people, because I think it really matters.”

Magsamen said he was particularly proud of the public safety issues the supervisors handled over the past 12 years, which included getting an interchange at U.S. Highway 218 and Cedar-Wapsi road and a rural roundabout at a location where other fatal accidents occurred. The county also funded an upgraded public safety radio system.

Magsamen took the lead as the Board of Supervisors worked after the 2008 flood to repair damaged county facilities and acquire property to mitigate future flood damage. He was also heavily involved in the county’s efforts to address mental health care services.

Black Hawk was among a group of counties that regionalized social services, ultimately serving as the statewide model. The county also opened a crisis stabilization center and is working to add additional services at a facility north of Waterloo.

That mental health access point will be a place for those needing mental health care who interact with law enforcement.

“Rather than being transported to the jail or the emergency room, this will allow them to go out there and be addressed at a level of service focused on their needs,” Magsamen said.

While he wished more could have been done to promote renewable energy, Magsamen said he was pleased with the improvements made to county buildings during his tenure.

“Almost every building we have we’ve made substantial progress in making our buildings more energy efficient, relying less on fossil fuels,” he said.

Despite those improvements, the county’s cash reserves have remained very healthy.

“I think we’re moving forward to meet the needs of Black Hawk County but also continuing to address the responsibility of doing this in a manner that does not put the county in (financial) jeopardy,” Magsamen said.

The county will be holding an open house for Magsamen from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. today in the Courthouse basement. But his fellow supervisors thanked Magsamen at his final board meeting with kind words and a plaque.

Supervisor Tom Little noted Magsamen’s “professionalism,” while Linda Laylin cited his “dedication.” Supervisor Chris Schwartz thanked Magsamen for his guidance during his two years on the board and promised to keep pushing for the solar energy panels he wanted.

Supervisor Craig White was brought to tears.

“You were very instrumental in the floods of 2008 and 2016; you helped a lot of people,” White told Magsamen. “We’ve had a hell of a team in place and I’m sorry to see you go.”

Magsamen said plans to continue working with the Cedar Valley Honor Flight program, which flies area veterans to military memorials in Waterloo, and other charitable organizations. Magsamen and White spearheaded the start of the honor flights out of the Waterloo Regional Airport.

Federal workers face grim prospect of lengthy shutdown

WASHINGTON — Three days, maybe four. That’s how long Ethan James, 21, says he can realistically miss work before he’s struggling.

So as the partial government shutdown stretched into its sixth day with no end in sight, James, a minimum-wage contractor sidelined from his job as an office worker at the Interior Department, was worried. “I live check to check right now,” he said, and risks missing his rent or phone payment. Contractors, unlike most federal employees, may never get back pay for being idled. “I’m getting nervous,” he said.

Federal workers and contractors forced to stay home or work without pay are experiencing mounting stress from the impasse affecting hundreds of thousands of them. For those without a financial cushion, even a few days of lost wages during the shutdown over President Donald Trump’s border wall could have dire consequences.

As well, the disruption is starting to pinch citizens who count on a variety of public services, beyond those who’ve been finding gates closed at national parks. For example, the government won’t issue new federal flood insurance policies or renew expiring ones.

Trump and congressional leaders appear no closer to a resolution over his demand for $5 billion for the border wall that could now push the shutdown into the new year. The House and Senate gaveled in for a perfunctory session Thursday, but quickly adjourned without action. No votes are expected until next week, and even that’s not guaranteed. Lawmakers are mostly away for the holidays and will be given 24-hour notice to return, with Republican senators saying they won’t vote until all parties, including Trump, agree to a deal.

The president spent part of the day tweeting about the shutdown, insisting “this isn’t about the Wall,” but about Democrats denying him “a win.”

“Do the Dems realize that most of the people not getting paid are Democrats?” he asked in one tweet, citing no evidence for that claim. That earned him a reprimand from Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, who tweeted: “Federal employees don’t go to work wearing red or blue jerseys. They’re public servants.”

Roughly federal 420,000 workers were deemed essential and are working unpaid, unable to take any sick days or vacation. An additional 380,000 are staying home without pay. While furloughed federal workers have been given back pay in previous shutdowns, it’s not guaranteed. The Senate passed a bill last week to make sure workers will be paid. The House will probably follow suit.

The longer the shutdown lasts, the more government activities will grind to a halt. It’s already caused a lapse in money for nine of 15 Cabinet-level departments and dozens of agencies, including the departments of Homeland Security, Transportation, Interior, Agriculture, State and Justice.

Many national parks have closed while some have limited facilities. The National Flood Insurance Program announced it will no longer renew or issue policies during the shutdown.

The chief judge of Manhattan federal courts suspended work on civil cases involving U.S. government lawyers as a result of the shutdown. The order suspends action in several civil lawsuits in which Trump is a defendant.

Judge Colleen McMahon said in a written order that the suspension will remain in effect until the business day after the president signs a budget appropriation law restoring Justice Department funding.

A similar order to McMahon’s has been issued in the Northern District of Ohio.

“I think it’s obvious that until the president decides he can sign something — or something is presented to him — that we are where we are,” said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.

House Democrats tried Thursday to offer a measure to re-open government, but they were blocked from action by Republicans, who still have majority control of the chamber until Democrats take over Jan. 3.

“Unfortunately, 800,000 federal workers are in a panic because they don’t know whether they’ll get paid,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., who tried to offer the bill. “That may make the president feel good but the rest of us should be terribly bothered by that, and should work on overtime to end the shutdown now.”

Government contractors like James, placed on unpaid leave, don’t get compensated for lost hours.

James said the contracting company he works for gave its employees a choice: take unpaid leave or dip into paid time-off entitlements. But James doesn’t have any paid time off because he started the job just four months ago. His only option is forgoing a paycheck.

“This is my full-time job, this is what I was putting my time into until I can save up to take a few classes,” said James, who plans to study education and become a teacher. “I’m going to have to look for something else to sustain me.”

As federal employees tell their stories on Twitter under the hashtag #Shutdownstories, Trump has claimed that federal workers are behind him, saying many have told him “stay out until you get the funding for the wall.’” He didn’t say whom he had heard from, and he did not explain the incongruity of also believing that most are Democrats.

Steve Reaves, president of Federal Emergency Management Agency union, said he hasn’t heard from any employees who say they support the shutdown.

UPDATE: John C. Culver, who represented Iowa in Congress, dies at 86

John Culver

IOWA CITY (AP) — John C. Culver, who became an influential liberal while representing Iowa in Congress during the Vietnam War era following his time as a star football player at Harvard, has died at age 86.

Culver died at his home near Washington late Wednesday after a long bout with chronic illness, longtime friend Jim Larew told The Associated Press. Larew served as a top aide to Culver’s son, Chet Culver, when he was Iowa governor from 2007 to 2011.

“He was a man of remarkable character. He was courageous and compassionate. He lived his life thankful for the opportunity to serve, and he taught me the importance of service to others,” Chet Culver said in a statement Thursday.

His father, who won praise across the political spectrum for his independence and willingness to take tough votes, served five terms in the U.S. House after winning election in 1964. He moved to the Senate in 1974 after winning a race for an open seat, serving one six-year term before losing re-election in 1980 to Sen. Chuck Grassley.

Culver was a close friend of the late Ted Kennedy, his classmate and teammate at Harvard in the 1950s when Culver won accolades as a burly fullback on the football team. Culver was drafted to play in the NFL but didn’t pursue that career. Instead, he served three years in the Marine Corps and returned to Harvard to earn a law degree.

Kennedy hired Culver as a legislative assistant in 1962 after winning election to the Senate.

Culver returned to Cedar Rapids, where he had grown up, in 1963. He was elected to represent Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District after defeating the Republican incumbent James Bromwell during the 1964 Democratic landslide. During his decade in the House, he served on the foreign relations and government operations committees, among others.

He also served on the House Un-American Activities Committee, which investigated allegations of Communist ties against citizens. Culver was critical of its methods and wrote dissenting opinions for every committee report. He said he found the work satisfying because he considered himself a defender of civil liberties.

Culver was among the few House members who voted against a 1967 bill to make flag burning a federal crime with stiff penalties — an issue that inflamed passions during massive protests against the Vietnam War. He said in a speech later it was among the most important votes he ever cast because it made other difficult votes throughout his career “relatively easy from that point on.”

“After studying the legislation, I realized I had to choose which fork in the road I would travel, because my conscience and my constituency were clearly in conflict,” Culver said years later. “I was convinced that, although most distasteful to me, the burning of the American flag was protected speech under the U.S. Constitution.”

Culver won the election to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Harold Hughes in 1974. He was a supporter of the SALT treaty in which the U.S. and the Soviet Union agreed to limit their nuclear stockpiles. He also wrote the resolution that established the so-called Culver Commission, a panel that helped modernize the Senate’s procedures.

Grassley, then a congressman, handily defeated Culver after a hard-fought 1980 campaign. Aides said Culver was proud to have defended, not obscured, his liberal voting record amid a conservative movement that put Ronald Reagan and other Republicans in power.

Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack called Culver a “strong voice who worked tirelessly” to represent the state.

“While holding his progressive values passionately, John Culver had the capacity to see compromise when it would be in the best interest of Iowa and the United States,” said Vilsack, a fellow Democrat.

After leaving office, Culver practiced law in Washington and was co-author of a biography about Henry Wallace, the Iowa farmer who served as agriculture secretary and vice president. He maintained ties to Harvard as an advisory committee member for its Institute of Politics, where he served as interim director in 2010 and has a namesake scholarship.

Simpson College in Indianola established the John C. Culver Public Policy Center to promote civic engagement.

Culver is survived by his wife Mary Jane Cheechi, five children and eight grandchildren. He will be buried in McGregor in northeast Iowa, where he owned a home.