Excavation has been completed for the first house in the new Jefferson subdivision in Bettendorf. The new single-family homes, north of Holmes and east of 6th Street, will fill the void left by the demolition of Jefferson Elementary School last year.

Branches of a dead tree get an ice coat from water lapping the bank of the Mississippi River.

Red cherries glisten from the ice and frost that coated the landscape during the past week.

Education department expertise loses out to political power in school voucher legislation

The Iowa Department of Education has 220 staff members and a budget of more than $10 million. But it has zero independence or political power.

That's why school legislation in Iowa is driven by the political agenda of the governor, Republican Party leaders and this year, by the Americans for Prosperity, a right wing organization funded largely by the Koch brothers, and Betsy DeVos, ex-head of the Trump administration's education department.

Lee posts first quarter profit thanks in part to $24-million gain from axing retiree medical benefits

Lee Enterprises, Inc. – owner of the Quad City Times and Dispatch/Argus – reported first quarter net income of $16.4 million, thanks in part to a $23.8-million gain "associated with elimination of retiree medical benefits."

Total advertising revenue for the quarter ended Dec. 27 fell to $102.6 million, a decline of 20 percent compared to the same period a year ago when factoring in the acquisition of Berkshire-Hawthaway's BH Media and the Buffalo News in early 2020. Net income per share for the three months was 28 cents, compared with 9 cents per share for the same period a year ago.

Safety, transparency at the Iowa Capitol? Ahhh, no

Iowa Republican legislative leaders told reporters less than two weeks ago they were going to do all they could to preserve public access to the Iowa Capitol while keeping lawmakers, staff and the public as safe as possible from COVID-19. They are failing on both counts.

“We have to have a transparent process to the government, regardless of what party and I think we would all agree on that,” House Speaker Pat Grassley told reporters Jan. 7 at an Iowa Capital Press Association forum. “So we have to find that fine line in which we can still do that. We can still try to be as safe as we can, but also have transparency in this process.”

Hearing under way to determine if Cricket Hollow owners should be held in contempt of judge's order

Owners of the troubled – and now closed – Cricket Hollow Zoo are again in court.

This time the owners of the roadside zoo near Manchester are facing charges they disobeyed the district court's December 2019 order that required them to turn over hundreds of animals for relocation by animal rescue personnel.

The trial of Pamela and Thomas Sellner on contempt charges began Wednesday (1/6/21) and is expected to conclude Tuesday in Iowa District Court in Delaware County. The case was filed a year ago, Jan. 8, 2020.

This might hurt some feelings; or what can be done to actually improve Iowa's water quality

“To be radical is to simply grasp the root of the problem. And the root is us.” - Howard Zinn, 1999.

There’s a page on my website where I post the powerpoint slides from presentations I conduct. I took a look at that page this morning, and over the last five years I have conducted 69 programs for various groups, or about one a month on average. I reckon that at about half of these I get the question, “what can be done”, this in regard to Iowa water quality and pollution generated by the corn-soybean-CAFO (Confined Animal Feeding Operation) production model.

People have been thinking about “what can be done” for a long time.

Because of industry and farmer recalcitrance and hostility toward regulation, various ideas for improving water quality have focused on either (1) enticing farmers to voluntarily adopt practices that reduce erosion and nutrient loss without major modifications to the production system or (2), promotion of concepts like increased crop diversity and improved soil health that do require substantial management changes.

I suppose you could also throw land retirement in there, but this has not been tried on any significant scale in Iowa since the 1980s.

Iowa's ag college experts on nutrient reduction say their role is to educate, not regulate farm operations

Mandating measures to control and reduce chemical pollution from farm fields should begin, University of Iowa water quality researchers say.

But, don't expect Iowa's land-grant agricultural institution – Iowa State University – to join the call for regulation or any government measures to limit the use of fertilizer on ag land.

Researchers at the University of Iowa Hydroscience and Engineering Department have been analyzing farm field runoff of nitrogen and phosphorus for decades.

Voluntary efforts will never achieve Iowa's goal to curb nitrogen runoff, water quality researcher says

Iowa will never achieve its goal to reduce nitrate runoff from Iowa farm fields relying only on voluntary actions of farm operators, according to a hydrologist who has done extensive research on the state's waterways and water quality.

The state has not only has failed to achieve its goal to reduce nitrogen runoff by 45 percent over the past eight years, the 5-year average of nitrate flowing into the Mississippi River has increased, up more than 100 percent between 2003 and 2019, according to Larry Weber, Ph.D, a research engineer with the University of Iowa's IIHR-Hydroscience and Engineering Department.

Bettendorf to Riverdale: Plow your own streets, do your own engineering if you keep trail access closed

Unhappy Bettendorf City Council members are sending a stern message to the City of Riverdale and Mayor Mike Bawden: You can plow your own snow and handle your own engineering services if you're going to close down the Mississippi River Trail connection along South Kensington Street.

Farm bureau crows about water quality progress; nutrient reduction report stats show otherwise

The Iowa Farm Bureau unleashed its public relations machine after release of the 2018-19 Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS) Report July 2, heralding what it called "clear and significant strides" on reducing nitrogen and phosphorus leaching from farms fields into state streams, rivers and lakes.

Problem is the farm bureau either failed to read the report statistics on nitrogen and phosphorus runoff, or simply chose to ignore the research results and spin the findings.

Admissions, revenues at Bettendorf casino plunge as pandemic shutters facility for more than two months

Admissions and revenues at Bettendorf's Isle of Capri Casino fell to lows not seen since the launch of its predecessor Lady Luck Riverboat Casino in 1995 after the COVID-19 virus shuttered the facility for two and half months this spring.

For the 12-months ended June 30, the Isle – now owned by Eldorado Resorts, Inc. – reported gross revenue of $51.2 million and admissions of 627,436. That would be the lowest revenue and admissions since the fiscal 1995 results when the Lady Luck Riverboat generated $10 million in revenue and attracted 325,698 gamblers in operating less than three months.

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