A few things to chew on

Posted December 12, 2012 at 1:46 pm

DEC. 12 OFF THE MARK COLUMN — MARK SPENSLEY, CO-PUBLISHER

Conference carousel. Just as the dust had settled after last year’s radical conference makeovers, the Big Ten announced the additions of Maryland and Rutgers. I like both teams entering the Big Ten.

For one, it now gives the Iowa football team some new looks. Seems like it’s been since the Hayden Fry days since the Hawkeyes have put some meat on their schedule. Even if these teams are not top 10 material, it’s better competition.

And when one or two teams move, like dominoes, others keep tumbling into new places to call home.

Iowa basketball. Seem like the men’s basketball team is finally turning a corner under Coach Fran McCaffery. Yet to prove themselves in the tough Big Ten, they are off to an 8-2 start and a big win over a tough Iowa State team. And they started three freshmen in that game!

Iowa vs. Iowa State. It wasn’t that long ago, or so it seems, that the Iowa versus Iowa State wrestling meet was a hum dinger of a dual meet. Not anymore. This is the ninth straight dual meet victory. Iowa State wrestling has fallen on some tough times.

NFC North. Thanks to a nice Viking win over the Bears and a Green Bay win over the Lions, my Packers now sit atop the NFC North. For a while there I thought the Bears might be the team to beat. And they still might be.

What I still can’t figure out is how come every time the Packers play the Giants, they get outcoached. And Eli Manning outplays QB Aaron Rogers.

Is it possible that the NFL is reverting back to a running league? Seems like more and more teams are starting to find success running the ball again. I hope so.

Fire of a lifetime. When I was awakened at 3:00-ish on November 28 for a building on fire, I never in my wildest dreams expected to take part in what many on our department described as a fire of a lifetime.

For me, this is the third such fire in my 17 years on the department. First there was the Smothers Equipment fire and then the First Presbyterian Church fire and now the downtown fire.

The date of the fire, November 28, will always be synonymous with my and Darcey’s anniversary. This was our 25th anniversary and the first time in twenty-five years we didn’t wake up side by side, wishing each other a happy anniversary.

I have heard many compliments from our citizens on what a great job we did to control the fire and keep it from spreading. We truly appreciate the many kind words.

Personally, I was a little nervous as our Express building was a mere 10 or so yards away from the originating spot of the fire.

I would like to recognize a true leader on our department, Chief Mark Stoneking. When we go into a fire like the one we just did, there are many unknowns. Through constant communication, which is a direct correlation of our exemplary training program, not only were we able to contain the fire quickly, Mark recognized and quickly called in other departments for mutual aid.

Also, often overlooked but not unnoticed, Mark’s decisions keep us safe and allow us to return home to our families. I’m sure Mark will give me a little grief for bringing him up but I felt it needed to be said!

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