Posted on July 20, 2021 at 4:44 PM by Kevin Jenison
MUSCATINE, Iowa – Developing leadership skills for use now and in the future is the goal of the FBI Youth Leadership Program (YLP) that was attended by 59 students from around the United States including the son of a current member of the Muscatine Police Department.
Abram Jirak, the son of Jeff and Alissa Jirak, was one of the 59 students selected to participate in the program that is designed to benefit young people and future leaders. It was his father, a Muscatine police officer, who planted the seed that led to Abrams participation in the program.
“When I was 14 my dad said ‘Hey, there is this cool leadership academy from the FBI, are you interested?’,” Abram said. “I said that it actually sounded pretty cool.”
His father is a 2007 graduate of the FBI National Academy, a professional development course for U.S. and international law enforcement leaders, and that is where he first learned of the Youth Leadership Program.
“I thought it might be of interest to him but the final decision was his,” Jeff Jirak said.
Abram first applied for the program through the Iowa Chapter of the FBI National Academy Associates when he was 14-years-old, completing an essay and going through an interview process.
“I actually tied for first that year but the other person was older (16) so the chapter decided that the older person, based on seniority, would get a chance to go before the other people,” Abram said. “But my name was still in the ring. I applied at 15 but COVID hit so they cancelled the program, and I applied this year and got it.”
The FBI National Academy Associates and its 48 Chapters in cooperation with the FBI National Academy, Society of Former Special Agents, and FBI-LEEDA, hosted the 22nd Youth Leadership Program in June at the FBI Academy in Quantico, VA.
“It was awesome,” Abram said. “It was a once in a lifetime event that I would do a 100 times over again. You get out there and meet people from around the country. Normally they would allow international people but this year they did not because of the restrictions on international travel. There were still 60 people from everywhere and I made friends with people from Alaska, Hawaii, Nebraska, and Maine.”
“The whole point of the academy is to provide special skills in leadership to the leaders of the next generation,” Abram said. “This is a prestigious academy built all around leadership and expanding that knowledge to the youth.”
Over the course of the week, participants focused on core subject matter which included Leadership, Ethics, Values and Choices, Juvenile Crime, Character Matters, Goal Setting, Bullying, Ethical Decision Making, Accountability, Social Media, and Financial Responsibility. These students also traveled to Washington, DC, to visit several museums and memorials, including Arlington National Ceremony.
The eight-day program culminated with graduation ceremonies.
“Where the FBI National Academy Program is the crown jewel of the FBI, the Youth Leadership Program is the crown jewel of the FBI National Academy Associates,” said FBINAA Executive Director Howard M. Cook. “We look forward to seeing where the journey of these impressive young leaders takes them in the future.”
Abram said that he just cannot say enough good things about the program.
“The training and classes were just amazing,” Abrams said. “I learned quite a lot about leadership, and about social skills and interactions with other people.”
Abram is not sure where his future lies but knows that the leadership tools he learned YLP will be a part of future.
“I get asked about my future a lot because I went to an FBI academy,” Abram said. “The program is based more on leadership than work in law enforcement. That is something you can take with you no matter what career you choose and just be a leader in that career and be a leader in your community.”
Abram is not necessarily looking at law enforcement as a future career but if he did it would probably be in federal service (FBI or DEA). He is keeping his options open, however, and is also looking at a trade school or the potential of military service where he could earn something like a trade certificate.
“Then coming back and maybe starting my own company or joining a company while using my leadership skills in that position,” Abram said.
“We are blessed and extremely pleased with what Abram has accomplished with grades, National Honor Society, and U.S. Community Service for silver cord hours, and definitely looking forward to his senior year to see what he can do,” Jeff said.
LINK TO SESSION 22 YOUTH LEADERSHIP PROGRAM VIDEO
LINK TO FBINAA PRESS RELEASE
Posted on May 27, 2021 at 2:24 PM by Kevin Jenison
The grants are funded by the U.S. Department of Interior’s National Park Service and administered by the State Historic Preservation Office, which is part of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.
The Japanese Garden project at the Muscatine Art Center developed from a Historic Landscape Preservation Plan prepared by Iowa State University Associate Professor, Heidi Hohmann, and Graduate Assistant, Asif Khan. Hohmann made her initial visit to the site in 2019, and fieldwork took place in June of 2020.
Referencing historic photographs and archives held at the Muscatine Art Center, Hohmann established a timeline for the garden and described the historic garden’s character defining features. The plan includes a series of side-by-side then and now photographs to illustrate how various components of the garden have changed over time. The plan also evaluates the garden’s historic integrity as defined by the National Register of Historic Places.
Implementation of the Historic Landscape Preservation Plan will help mitigate change that has occurred in the garden over the last 50 years. Although the garden in its present state retains the bone structure of the historic garden, some changes implemented since becoming a public garden in 1965 have not been holistic in approach. The 2020 treatment plan takes an overall approach that will bolster the garden’s historic integrity while improving its function as a public space. Specifically, this project will repair the garden’s water system, replace vegetation, and provide better access and interpretation.
“There are few existing Japanese-style gardens in the Midwest that date to this time period,” Melanie Alexander, Director of the Muscatine Art Center, said. “Japanese-style gardens were popular in the United States in the late 1890s through the early 1940s, but most were removed or neglected during World War II. We are currently working with a consultant, Beth Cody, author of Iowa Gardens of the Past, to research the garden and place it in its historical context.”
Cody’s research is funded by a grant from Humanities Iowa and is intended to aid in creating public programs, a booklet about the garden, and other interpretive materials.
The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs created the grant program last fall, after Iowa became one of just eight states to receive funding through the National Park Service’s Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization Grants program. The federal program was named in honor of an influential preservationist in Vermont and designed to support states, tribes, local governments and nonprofit organizations that own properties on the National Register of Historic Places.
“This was a great opportunity to collaborate with our federal partner, the National Park Service, to support historic preservation projects, boost economic opportunities and promote a sense of local pride in communities across the state,” Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Director Chris Kramer said. “Revitalizing these historic icons will better showcase the authentic character of rural Iowa and will benefit generations to come.”
With Monday’s announcement, the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs expands its support for historic preservation, community development and creative placemaking efforts alongside other programs such as Iowa Great Places, Iowa Cultural & Entertainment Districts, Certified Local Governments, Local History Network and Cultural Leadership Partners. All of these programs help communities leverage local history, art and culture to promote tourism and economic growth.
Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Press Release
The Muscatine Art Center is located at 1314 Mulberry Avenue in Muscatine, Iowa. Hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Thursday 10 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free. Donations are appreciated. Visit www.muscatineartcenter.org or call 563-263-8282 for more information about programs and events.
Posted on April 14, 2021 at 4:20 PM by Kevin Jenison
See the ORIGINAL POST
MUSCATINE, Iowa – Blocked railroad crossings can be a nightmare for drivers especially if they are in a hurry and the blockage lasts for more than 10 minutes. Most cars and personal trucks have the ability to turn around and seek another “open” crossing but larger semi-trucks, like those hauling grain, are not able to turn around and must wait, rather impatiently, for the train to clear the crossing.
Complaints concerning blocked crossings in Muscatine have been centered along the Grandview Avenue corridor and extending south past Dick Drake Way. Blocked crossings, however, is not a problem limited to Muscatine … it is a problem across the United States.
Canadian Pacific Rail Road (CPRR) has installed information signs at each crossing that provides the crossing location number and the telephone number to call (1-800-716-9312) to report extended blockages.
This is the number that individuals should call first to file a complaint of a blocked crossing.
“You will need to know the crossing number, the engine number if you can see it, and the length of time the crossing has been blocked when you call the 800 number,” Kevin Jenison, Communications Manager for the City of Muscatine, said.
All information goes directly to the CPRR safety office who is able to communicate directly with the train crew to determine why the train is stopped, how long it has been stopped, and inquire if assistance is needed.
Individuals can also call the Muscatine Police Department (MPD) at 563-263-9922 to report a blocked crossing (do not call 911 to report a blocked crossing). MPD will relay the information to CPRR through the 800 number.
“We have developed a good working relationship with CPRR and they work hard at resolving these issues,” Jenison said.
Iowa Code prohibits the blocking of a crossing for more than 10 minutes with four exceptions: (1) when necessary to comply with signals affecting the safety of the movement of the train; (2) when necessary to avoid striking an object or person on the track; (3) when the train is disabled: and, (4) when necessary to comply with governmental safety regulations including, but not limited to, speed ordinances and speed regulations. These four exceptions cover most of the extended crossing blockages.
Railroads are moving to longer trains in order to reduce costs and that is one of the reasons for the increase in the number and duration of blocked crossings. Sometimes trains have to sit due to safety protocols while at other times a part of the train will block a crossing due to switching operations.
Enforcement options are limited, however. Iowa Code does allow a local jurisdiction to issue a citation to the train, however, that power has been limited or removed by many courts in the last several years. These courts cite the fact that the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1995 gave the federal government exclusive jurisdiction over the speed and movement of trains. The Act abolished the Interstate Commerce Commission and replaced it with the Surface Transportation Board (STB) within the Department of Transportation.
The Act effectively makes Iowa Code unenforceable as well as a municipality’s ability to cite a train for blocking a crossing.
Neither the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) nor the STB have written any code or rules restricting the duration or timing of trains blocking a crossing.
“While there are limited options to reduce the timing of these blockages, we have found that keeping the lines of communication open and working with CPRR has been the best solution,” Jenison said.
The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) echoed that sentiment noting that by reaching out to the railroads directly with specific complaints can help mitigate a particular issue.
Public inquires can be directed to Canadian Pacific Rail Road’s Community Connect service at 1-800-766-7912 or emailing CPRR at email@example.com. This information, along with answers to some common questions about rail operations is also available through the CPRR website at www.cpr.ca.
The Federal Railroad Administration has a dedicated webpage for the public and law enforcement to report blocked highway-rail grade crossings. (http://www.fra.dot.gov/blockedcrossings)
Additional resources can be found at the Federal Railroad Administration (https://railroads.dot.gov/) or the Surface Transportation Board (https://www.stb.gov/stb/index.html).