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University of Iowa News Release

Aug. 29, 2003

Fire May Delay Opening Of Blank Honors Center

A fire at the construction site of the Myron and Jacqueline Blank Honors Center Friday morning apparently caused minimal structural damage but enough damage to the exterior to delay the scheduled opening of the building for several months, according to an initial assessment by University of Iowa officials.

The fire is believed to have been started when a welder's sparks ignited a tarpaulin covering an exterior wall of the building, which is located at 221 Clinton St. Iowa City firefighters brought the fire under control within 20 minutes but remained at the scene for about three hours to ensure that it was fully extinguished.

All construction workers were evacuated without incident. The loss, which is still being estimated, will be covered under a standard builder's risk insurance policy.

The building, estimated to cost about $14 million, is being constructed along the T. Anne Cleary Walkway east of the Chemistry Building and will eventually house the Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development and the UI Honors Program. By bringing the two programs under one roof, the UI will become the first school in the nation to offer programs, services and support for academically gifted and talented students all the way from kindergarten through college.

The building was originally scheduled to open in spring 2004.

The Belin-Blank Center specializes in programming and research to meet the educational needs of exceptionally talented children and their teachers. It conducts an extensive roster of talent searches, precollege programs, teacher training workshops and counseling programs. It also has partnerships with programs in other countries, making it both a national and international force. Additionally, the Belin-Blank Center has programs targeting teachers and students in nearly every grade level and from a variety of backgrounds.

The Honors Program is open to qualified undergraduate students. The program offers academic and social events such as classes, seminars, speakers, assistance in applying for scholarships and jobs, and opportunities for volunteer activities to more than 3,500 UI honors students.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 301, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACT: Linda Kettner, 319-384-0030,