The Concept Works to Promote Michael Martin Murphey Concert

March 14, 2005

Michael Martin Murphey, America’s #1 selling cowboy singer, will perform his second annual benefit concert for Easter Seals of Iowa’s Camp Sunnyside.


The Saturday, Sept. 17 concert at Dayton, Iowa, is sponsored by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, which is underwriting the event, and Pony Express Riders of Iowa. The Concept Works, a West Des Moines, Iowa, public and government relations firm will reprise its 2004 role by providing marketing and promotional services for the event.


Camp Sunnyside houses camping, respite and recreation programs for children and adults with disabilities.


Murphey has been an ardent supporter of Easter Seals through his granddaughter, Fiona, who has been a spokesperson for Easter Seals since an early age. Known and loved for such hits as “Wildfire” “What’s Forever For?” “Cowboy Logic” and “Carolina in the Pines,” Murphey has six gold records to his name. His latest CD, “Storm Over the Rangeland/Cowboy Songs 5,” will be released this Friday, March 18. (For additional information about Murphey, his music and his tour schedule, click on


Thrivent Financial for Lutherans ( is a faith-based membership organization called to improve the quality of life of its members, their families, and their communities by providing comprehensive solutions that focus on financial security, wellness and caring for others.


Apartment Property Owners File Suit to End Unfair Taxation of Apartments

March 11, 2005

Citing the negative impact on the state’s economy and residents, three apartment property owners filed suit today against the State of Iowa and the Iowa Department of Revenue and Finance seeking an order that the inequitable property tax treatment of apartment buildings is unconstitutional. The lawsuit presents a major and significant challenge to Iowa’s property tax system.


Michael Dee, an attorney with the Des Moines law firm of Brown Winick Graves Gross Baskerville and Schoenebaum, said the suit has been filed in Polk County District Court on behalf of Timberland Partners XXI, LLP, Edward L. Hendrickson and James C. Conlin.


The lawsuit was announced at a Statehouse news conference organized by The Concept Works, a public and government relations firm in West Des Moines. The announcement received statewide media coverage in The Des Moines Register, the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Iowa City Press Citizen, Fort Dodge Messenger, Sioux City Journal, Ames Daily Tribune and numerous newspapers that subscribe to The Associated Press, as well as on Radio Iowa, KCCI-TV, WOI-TV, WHO-TV, KDSM-TV, WHO Radio, KUNI Public Radio and WOI Public Radio.


An apartment building is taxed at 100 percent of its assessed value, while a condominium across the street that is essentially the same structure is taxed at 50 percent of its assessed value.


Dee said, “As the lawsuit states, condominiums, are taxed as residential property even where the condo owner rents the unit to a tenant. There is no legitimate reason for this disparate tax treatment between apartment buildings and condominiums. The bottom line is that the current system is grossly unfair to apartment property owners and, more importantly, to apartment property tenants who are paying those higher taxes through their rent.”


Michelle Ogden, regional property manager for Timberland Partners in Cedar Rapids, said Iowa’s effective tax rate on urban apartments is roughly double the national average.

“The current situation is a clear indication that our property tax system is broken and needs to be fixed. Ultimately, we’d like to see the Legislature and governor address all of the problems with Iowa’s property tax structure, but our suit is intended to remedy what can only be described as a glaring inequity,” Ogden said.


Conlin, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Conlin Properties in Des Moines, said tenants feel the burden of higher taxes and are unable to take advantage of the residential home owner property tax rollback.


“We represent the tens of thousands of Iowans who rent apartments to satisfy their housing needs. Many are unaware that up to 20 cents of every dollar they pay in rent goes to pay real estate taxes,” Conlin said. “These people already pay state, federal and local taxes, sales taxes and gasoline taxes. The real estate tax level on apartment communities has reached a point where it can no longer be defended and local officials know it.”


Ed Hendrickson noted that the tax inequity is magnified in a college community such as Ames, home of Iowa State University.


“Why should a single college student who is struggling to make ends meet pay twice as much in property taxes to rent an apartment than his or her professor is paying on a condo of the exact same size across the street?” Hendrickson asked. “It’s too bad that we have to resort to court action to make our state more tax friendly.”


He added, “The Iowa Supreme Court recently ruled that the state is required to tax casinos evenly. Does the state care more about its casinos than it does about renters and property owners?”

The Concept Works Stages Simultaneous Events, Announcements for Playground Safety Group

March 5, 2005

The Concept Works, a West Des Moines, Iowa, public and government relations firm, planned and directed the statewide announcement of a playground safety study on behalf of the Iowa Safe Surfacing Initiative on Friday, March 4.


The goal of the Iowa Safe Surfacing Initiative (ISSI) is to demonstrate that Iowa-based technology can economically convert waste tires into useful products and protect children from playground injuries.


The initiative was created on July 1, 2003. The General Assembly and Gov. Tom Vilsack have funded the project at $500,000 each year of the past two fiscal years. Eleven playgrounds were upgraded during the 2003-04 fiscal year and 16 playgrounds will be improved during the current fiscal year.


The Concept Works organized simultaneous events in Alden, Bedford, Little Rock and Waterloo in which legislators appeared at upgraded playgrounds in their districts to release initial results of a study conducted by the National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS) at the University of Northern Iowa.


As those events were taking place, localized releases were distributed so that other legislators could announce the study’s results to their local media and constituents. The Concepts Works has represented the Iowa Safe Surfacing Initiative since its inception.


The NPPS study concluded that safer surfacing and safety training provided by the Iowa Safe Surfacing Initiative have resulted in a dramatic decrease in playground injuries and a significant savings in medical expenses. The study reviewed data from 11 playgrounds installed in late 2003 and early 2004. The NPPS gathered injury data for each playground in the project before and after the new surfacing was installed and additional safety measures were taken. Fifty-eight fewer injuries were reported.


Every injury, even a minor one, requires 30 minutes of attention at least $25 in staff time. Yet, the real benefits from the 55-percent reduction in more-serious injuries are far more substantial. Eleven children were injured seriously enough on these playgrounds in the year before the initiative that they needed hospital treatment. Only five such incidents happened after the safer surfacing was installed and training took place. Using the average of $6,000 per visit, medical expenses were reduced $36,000 in one year and a great deal of pain and grief was prevented for kids and parents.


The safer surface is made of patented rubber and polymer tiles developed and manufactured by Welch Products of Carlisle. See these links and for additional information.