Demolition of the old Interstate 74 (Memorial) Bridge has begun after opening of the new interstate bridge in 2022.

Waterpark/ice rink estimate doesn't include engineering/design costs nor possible bond and interest expenses

The $18.7-million estimate for the proposed Bettendorf waterpark/ice rink project doesn't include $1.3 million in engineering and design costs nor bonding fees or interest expenses should the city need to issue bonds to finance construction of the facility.

The disclosure of additional costs came during questioning of City Administrator Decker Ploehn at the council's Monday night committee-of-the-whole meeting.

The project has been touted as being funded equally with $6 million from the city, and like amounts from the Scott County Family Y and private donors.

Fitness center to be sold for $1.4 million; no appraisal planned of city recreational facility

Bettendorf city officials plan to sell the Life Fitness Center for $1.4 million without obtaining a property appraisal to determine its current market value.

Instead, the price tag for the 62,000-square-foot building along one of the city's busiest streets, Middle Road, was taken from the most recent assessed value of the property by the Scott County Assessor's Office.

The $1.4 million assessed value has changed little over the past four years.

Bettendorf city officials look to offload fitness center to "save taxpayers" $250,000, but $1.7 million annual tax subsidy of Family Museum not on table

Bettendorf city officials say they want to offload the Life Fitness Center to the Scott County Y to "save taxpayers" $250,000 a year.

But just a few blocks north and west of the fitness center sits the city's Family Museum that required six times that amount – nearly $1.7 million – in tax dollars last year to meet payroll.

Lee Enterprises digital revenue reaches 51 percent, but company loses $269,000 in third quarter

For the first time, online revenue during the third quarter exceeded print income at Lee Enterprises, Inc. – owner of the Quad City Times and Daily Dispatch/Argus newspapers and online news sites.

Despite the continued growth of online revenue, the company lost 5 cents per share ($269,000) for the three-month period ended June 26. A year earlier, Lee reported third quarter earnings of 56 cents per share, or $3.23 million.

Lee Enterprises digital revenues grow, but overall revenues and earnings drop in second quarter

Despite gains from its digital operations, Lee Enterprises, Inc. – owner of 77 media properties including the Quad City Times and the Argus/Dispatch – saw overall revenues and earnings fall during the second quarter compared with a year ago.

Lee reported Thursday (5/5) it lost $6.7 million ($1.26 per share) during the second quarter ended March 27. That compares with a loss of $608,000 ($.20 cents per share) for the same period a year ago.

Cricket Hollow Zoo owners face fines or jail after Iowa Supreme Court rejects contempt appeal

A tangled and contentious five-year legal odyssey involving the owners of eastern Iowa’s shuttered Cricket Hollow Zoo may finally be near an end.

The Iowa Supreme Court this week rejected zoo owners Pamela and Thomas Sellner’s efforts to set aside a judge’s finding that they were in contempt for having refused a court order to surrender the animals at their roadside attraction in Manchester.

The contempt ruling calls for the Sellners to pay $70,000 in fines. If payments are not made toward the fine, the Sellners will have to serve a one-day jail sentence for each animal that was not recovered from their zoo, for a total of 140 days.

Court records indicate no payments have been made on the fine.

All Bettendorf City Council input into sports complex tax rebate deal done behind closed doors

The City of Bettendorf recently negotiated a complicated agreement with sports complex developers over a six-month period, but did so without even a single email or written document shared with city council members.

So how did the city reach a deal with developers Doug Kratz, Kevin Koellner and Ryan Hintze without sharing any written communication with city council members or any public meetings to discuss what should be in the contract?

According to City Attorney Chris Curran, the council was kept abreast of staff negotiations through "informational meetings" held behind closed doors.

Iowa greenhouse gas emissions declined 7.6% in 2020; drop primarily from pandemic impact


Source: 2020 Iowa Statewide Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Report, Dec. 31, 2021

Iowa's greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 fell 7.6 percent from 2019, primarily because of lower electric power plant production and fewer vehicle miles traveled that resulted from the pandemic.

CLICK HERE to download the full report from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Sports complex development agreement released; public hearing set for Feb. 15 council meeting

Scott County opposed to use of new tax incentives for hotel, retail and commercial service businesses in proposed urban renewal area

The agreement providing millions of dollars in tax rebates for expansion of the sports complex at Forest Grove and Middle Roads was released Friday afternoon (2/11), less than three days before the Bettendorf City Council holds a public hearing and votes on it.

The council has discussed the agreement in so-called "3-on-3 meetings" outside the public view for months, but has yet to talk publicly about the multi-million-dollar Tax Increment Finance (TIF) deal with developers Doug Kratz, Kevin Koellner and Ryan Hintze.

It is possible the city council could approve the deal without any members even expressing their views on the agreement.

The agenda for the council's committee-of-the-whole meeting at 5 p.m. Monday (2/14) includes a presentation by the city's Director of Economic Development Jeff Reiter. No public comments are allowed at those sessions.

The council is then expected to hold a public hearing and approve the development agreement at its 7 p.m. Feb. 15 meeting.

CLICK HERE to download the proposed development agreement.

Lee Enterprises reports 20 percent decline in first quarter earnings as Alden Global pushes takeover

Lee Enterprises, Inc. today (2/3) reported a 20 percent decline in first quarter earnings compared with a year ago, while efforts by hedge fund Alden Global Capital to acquire the Davenport-based print and online media company intensified.

Lee – owner of the Dispatch/Argus and Quad City Times – earned $13.2 million ($2.21 per share) during the quarter ended Dec. 26, 2021, compared with $16.4 million ($2.79 per share) for the same period a year ago. The lower earnings occurred despite the inclusion of a one-time $12.3-million gain from the sale of company assets.

Meanwhile, Alden Global is seeking to replace Lee's Chairman and CEO Mary Junck and long-time board member Herbert Maloney III on the company's board of directors. Alden has submitted an alternative slate of candidates for the director slots coming up for election at the company's annual meeting to be held March 10.

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