Meet Karen, the new Iowa State Fair queen of food contests

Earlier this week the Elwell Family Food Center was silent save for the low hum of motors from the rows of illuminated, shiny chrome refrigerated display cases that sat empty. And then I spotted her sitting at the desk — the modest 2- by 4½-foot desk at the back of the building sits out in the open without any barrier to the fair chaos. The desk is the hub for nearly 10,000 food entries spread among at least 177 divisions. Karen McKilligan sat there in the spot that for more than 30 years had been the throne for her predecessor, Arlette Hollister. It’s big news this year at the fair among the kitchen crowd: Hollister, 87, suddenly ended her reign as superintendent of food contests, the corner of the fair that I’ve referred to as “the gladiatorial pinnacle for all Iowans who do battle with a spatula and measuring cup.”“It’s hard without her,” McKilligan said. “We miss her being here. It’s hard emotionally.” I spotted McKilligan again Thursday, the fair's opening day. She was the blur who sped from one contest to the next. She helped guide a rolling table of grotesque cakes. She gave a direction to a person in a giant mouse costume. Two years ago I wrote a profile of Hollister as she presided over not only the Food Center but the entire State Fair Parade as its distinguished grand marshal. Last year, McKilligan, 59, a longtime spectator and volunteer in the Food Center, officially became Hollister’s understudy. She shared every step of the process to learn the ropes. There was a loose plan for succession on an indefinite timeline.  More Iowa State Fair reading:  New things to see at the 2017 Iowa State Fair 20 things that even an Iowa State Fair fanatic can miss Here's where you can try the top 3 new foods at the Iowa State FairThat plan suddenly became reality in June when Hollister tripped and fell at a local hair salon, Continue Reading

Apple CEO talks Iowa, RAGBRAI and the Iowa State Fair

Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook made an unannounced stop at Iowa's only Apple Store in West Des Moines on Thursday afternoon, eliciting glee among fans of the company's computers, iPads and iPhones.Cook was in Des Moines celebrating the announcement of the tech giant's new data center slated for Waukee. His day included a press conference outside the Iowa Capitol and a tour of the Waukee school district's Aspiring Professional Experience (APEX) program. Inside the Jordan Creek Town Center, a small crowd of techies and off-duty Apple Store employees started amassing a few minutes before the CEO's arrival. His drop-in wasn't publicized, but word spread among Apple enthusiasts that he might stop by."This dude is my hero," one employee whispered to a co-worker, "and he's standing right there."While some employees went about working on phones and computers ―  a one-hour class teaching the basics of the iPad even went on uninterrupted ―  others took a break to schmooze with the boss.Shedding his dark suit jacket and purple tie from a press conference earlier in the day, Cook chatted with employees and customers alike.He posed for photos with Apple workers donning the standard Navy T-shirts and jeans. A uniformed Build-a-Bear employee ventured over to see the chief executive of the nation's most profitable company. And several rounds of mall goers carrying heavy shopping bags stopped by.In an interview with The Des Moines Register at the store, Cook shared his thoughts on a wide range of issues, including the data center, RAGBRAI and the Iowa State Fair. Cook said he hopes the company's first investment in Iowa won't be its last. The first two buildings Apple has planned will span about 400,000 square feet, leaving plenty of open land on the 2,000 acres the company secured in Waukee. "We went in with the idea of expansion," he said. "If you look at what we've done in other communities, we Continue Reading

Iowa Energy Center to run on ‘bare minimum’ after leaving Iowa State

Iowa's top economic development official wants the newly revamped Iowa Energy Center to tackle more "transformational" projects than it previously did under the umbrella of Iowa State University. But the center, now folded into the Iowa Economic Development Authority, will operate with a "bare minimum" of funding and staff, said Debi Durham, director of the authority.Durham and members of the board of the newly revamped Iowa Energy Center held their first public meeting Tuesday morning. The agency officially took over the center's operations Oct 1. At Iowa State, the energy center employed 14 people. None of them moved with the program to Des Moines. The economic development agency has hired three new employees to staff the center. A proposal to move the center away from Iowa State blindsided many people in the middle of the 2017 legislative session. Its programming had been the subject of a power struggle as Iowa utilities sought more control over priorities, budget and personnel. Though members of the center's advisory board were stunned, the university backed the move. As reported by the Associated Press, major utilities pushed for the transfer, though critics warned that it could jeopardize the center's independence and align it too closely with the interests of public utilities. RELATED: ISU collaborated with utilities on energy center transfer, emails showThe center receives about $4 million annually from a tax on gas and electric utilities. In the past, it has promoted ethanol, wind and solar energy and worked to cut energy consumption at public buildings. Since its formation in 1990, it has awarded grants to researchers and loans to homeowners and businesses that adopt on-site solar and wind production.But on Tuesday, Durham said the group would take a new direction. No new grants or loans will be awarded while the state agency maps out its future. In the past, Durham said the energy Continue Reading

‘Prototype middle linebacker’: 2019 prospect Coal Flansburg on Iowa and Iowa State’s radars

SOLON, Ia. — Kevin Miller has been the head coach at Solon for 17 years. He knows what good defenses look like, having overseen some of the state’s best in that stretch — including the No. 1 unit this year.Miller also knows what a good linebacker looks like. He coached former Hawkeye great James Morris, and he’s particularly high on one of his current linebackers: junior Coal Flansburg, who has developed into a 2019 prospect to watch this fall."Obviously, he looks the part right now,” Miller said of Flansburg, who checks in at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds. "And certainly he plays very aggressive and tough and physical. He’s just your prototype middle linebacker."Flansburg entered Week 9 with 27.5 tackles, three interceptions and two pick-sixes.Iowa and Iowa State have noticed. Flansburg has already gone to Kinnick Stadium for a Hawkeye game-day visit, and he’ll visit the Cyclones when they host TCU Oct. 28.Iowa has come to watch Flansburg this season, Miller said. Division II Minnesota State-Mankato has expressed interest, too.Flansburg participated in Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Illinois camps last summer. He said he’ll go the those three plus "probably a couple more" this summer to build interest.There’s been no talk of scholarships yet with the Hawkeyes or Cyclones. That could change with a big summer and fall of 2018.For now, HawkCentral watched Flansburg Friday night. Here’s what we saw from the "prototype middle linebacker."You can see this in all the videos: Flansburg’s stance is about as pretty as it gets with high school linebackers. He’s not bent over at the back; he’s bent at the hips. He keeps his chest "big" — facing in front of him, not down — with his hands free and ready. This way, he doesn’t have to waste time standing up when he drops back into coverage. He’s already in a position that allows him to drop Continue Reading

Nikki Moody, attorneys to get $60K in settlement with Iowa State

Iowa State and the State of Iowa settled former Cyclones basketball player Nikki Moody’s lawsuit to the tune of $60,000, according to terms of a settlement reached by the parties that were released on Thursday.According to the settlement, Moody will receive $35,619.13, and the remaining $24,380.87 would go to the attorneys.Furthermore, the three-page agreement stipulates that the settlement “shall not in any way be construed as an admission by (Iowa State and the State of Iowa) that it engaged in any acts of discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation against (Moody) or that it violated any federal, state or local law.”An Iowa State media relations spokesperson said she didn’t expect Iowa State would have a comment.In April 2016, Moody, the school's all-time women’s basketball assists leader, sued coach Bill Fennelly, Iowa State University and the State of Iowa for racial discrimination and retaliation. She also claimed being “demeaned, berated, harassed and discriminated against," by Fennelly.Moody, who graduated in 2015, also accused her former veteran coach of treating her and other black players differently than he treated others on the team, a claim Iowa State and the State of Iowa denied in their formal response to the lawsuit.“No act of discrimination toward (Moody) by (the) defendants, has ever occurred,” the document, filed by the Iowa Attorney General’s office, read.It went on to say that “defendants have acted at all times in good faith toward (Moody.)”During a gathering of reporters following the filing of the lawsuit, Fennelly admitted no wrong-doing.“I’m not going to deny who I am,” he said then. “I’m a passionate, emotional person. Every day, I am 100 percent committed, invested, in the people I work with and work for.“I will not apologize for that, but I am not – I am not the person I’ve been accused of being.”Last month, Continue Reading

Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg to have open heart surgery

AMES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg is scheduled to have open heart surgery next week to replace his aortic valve. The school said Hoiberg, who retired from the NBA following the 2004-05 season because of heart issues, will have the procedure next Friday at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Hoiberg replaced his aortic valve 10 years ago. He says the time has come to get the valve replaced, adding that he’s hopeful this will be his final heart surgery. Hoiberg just completed his fifth season at Iowa State. He has led the Cyclones to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances and back-to-back Big 12 tournament titles. Iowa State returns six of its top eight players in 2015-16 and is expected to open the year in the top 10. Continue Reading

Chris Mullin lands another recruit at St. John’s, Darien Williams skips out on Iowa State to join Red Storm

Chris Mullin's first St. John’s team has its first new player. Darien Williams, a 6-8 junior college shooting guard, has committed to the Red Storm and will likely sign in the coming week. The Williams commitment comes just a day after Tennessee freshman Tariq Owens said he would transfer to St. John’s. Williams can play this coming season while Owens is required by NCAA transfer rules to sit out a season. Williams had committed to Iowa State last November after then-Cyclones assistant coach and current Johnnies assistant coach Matt Abdelmassih was the point person in recruiting him. Over the weekend, Iowa State released him from his commitment so he could make the move to St. John’s. He did not play this season at City College of San Francisco after undergoing surgeries on both shoulders. In 2013-14 at Iowa Western, he averaged 16.1 points and 6.1 rebounds and made 37 three-pointers on 41% shooting beyond the arc. Before committing to the Cyclones, Williams had scholarship offers from Louisville, Nebraska, USC and Kansas State.  Continue Reading

In NCAA Tournament, Iowa State loss wrecks Daily News Bracket Guru’s plans

This is how quickly March can drive a Guru mad. On Monday, I told hundreds of thousands of Daily News readers — and millions more online — that putting Iowa State in the championship game opposite eventual champion Kentucky will be what separates your bracket from all other brackets. Then, the third-seeded Cyclones find themselves in a Round of 64 battle with 14th-seeded UAB in the second game to tip off on Thursday. I tell myself it’s OK. Iowa State had gotten off to slow starts only to turn it on in the second half and beat the Oklahomas, Texases and Kansases of the Big 12, the toughest conference in nation. But there’s a problem. UAB isn’t wilting under the Big Dance pressure. The Blazers keep hitting big shots and Iowa State continues to miss them. For a team that shoots 47.9% from the field on the season, the Cyclones are shooting 36.9%. RELATED: NCAA TOURNAMENT INTERACTIVE BRACKET: TRACK THE GAMES AS THEY HAPPEN The newsroom at 4 New York Plaza is beginning to get uncomfortably warm on this last full day of winter. My confidence isn’t wavering yet. Heck, the last three years, my published bracket in the Daily News has bested 90% of the rest of the country in challenge games on, and Last year, it was better than 98% of those brackets, and I didn’t even get the champion right. Iowa State will come around. The Cyclones’ shots still won’t fall, although they do take a 55-51 lead with 3:13 left. I breathe a little easier until UAB’s William Lee makes a layup and then Robert Brown hits a three-pointer with 52 seconds left. I’d start biting my fingernails, but I’ve already gnawed down the cuticles by now. “Hey Powers, how far do you have Iowa State going again?” my boss Bill Price yells over to me. “The final? Oh Lord!” he says. RELATED: PRINTABLE NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKET HERE This can’t be Continue Reading

Iowa State hires Steve Prohm as Fred Hoiber’s replacement

AMES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa State has hired Murray State’s Steve Prohm as its men’s basketball coach. Cyclones athletic director Jamie Pollard confirmed Monday that Prohm will replace Fred Hoiberg, who left last week after five seasons to take over the Chicago Bulls. The 40-year-old Prohm was 104-29 in four years at Murray State. He led the Racers to 29 wins, including a 16-0 regular-season mark in the Ohio Valley Conference in 2014-15. RELATED: RYSHEED JORDAN DONE AT ST. JOHN'S Prohm takes over an Iowa State team that could open next season ranked in the top 10. The Cyclones return six of their top eight scorers from last season, when they won their second straight Big 12 tournament. Prohm, who has agreed to a five-year deal with a base salary of $1.5 million per year, will be introduced at a news conference on Tuesday. “Steve’s personal values, style of play and proven success as a head coach make him an outstanding choice to be our next coach,” Pollard said. “He is a proven winner who is widely respected by his current and former players. We feel Steve is the ideal coach to continue the incredible success that Coach Hoiberg and his players have achieved during the past several years Prohm began his coaching career at Alabama and worked under current Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy at Southeastern Louisiana and Centenary. Prohm was promoted to head coach at Murray State when Kennedy left for the Aggies. Prohm led the Racers to 31 wins and a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament in his first season in 2011-12 behind star Isaiah Canaan. Murray State went 21-10 the following season and won 23 games and the CIT title in 2013-14. The Racers went on a 25-game winning streak at one point last season and earned a spot in the Top 25. But an 88-87 loss to Belmont in the OVC title game sent Murray State to the NIT. Prohm’s teams at Murray State played a fast-paced, high-scoring style predicated on Continue Reading

No. 14 UAB upsets No. 3 Iowa State, 60-59, in NCAA Tournament

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The UAB Blazers may not have a football program anymore. They do have the first big upset of the NCAA Tournament and hope they can give their university something to rally around. William Lee scored the last four points for 14th-seeded UAB, and the Blazers knocked off third-seeded Iowa State 60-59 on Thursday in their opening game in the NCAA Tournament. It’s the third straight year a 14 seed has upset a No. 3 seed, and Georgia State followed up by joining the list within an hour with a 57-56 win over Baylor. The Blazers (20-15) came in with the youngest team in the NCAA Tournament and with nobody having played in this tournament before. They wound up winning the program’s first NCAA game since 2005 and ran over to celebrate in front of the fans of a school that shut its football program down in December. “For us, it was just huge,” UAB junior Robert Brown said. “We come here, not just to play games, but to actually make some noise and to win some games. To be able to do that and win for Birmingham, win for Coach (Jerod) Haase, it’s a great feeling.” RELATED: BREAKING DOWN THE NCAA SOUTH REGION And it set off a wild celebration in the Blazers’ locker room. “We were celebrating because that was a really big win for us with us being the underdogs,” UAB guard Tyler Madison said. Haase estimated maybe four or five of the Blazers didn’t even realize a month ago that the Conference USA Tournament champion earned an automatic berth, while another had never watched a selection show before Sunday. “You’re a product of your thoughts,” Haase said. “There’s been more talk right now about 14 seed or upsets than we’ve said the entire year. Our thoughts have been, when we play well, we think we can compete with anybody, and those thoughts have been expressed to our team, and our team has made the Continue Reading