The butterfly season has arrived. Here, a yellow swallowtail butterfly drinks nectar from a milkweed plant.

Users – including one person lying down and one person standing on the transparent "oculus" feature – of the new Interstate 74 Bridge recreation trail wave to the passing Mississippi Belle Riverboat below.

Cricket Hollow Zoo owners avoid jail, say the case against them could ‘cripple’ Iowa agriculture

Iowa Capital Dispatch

Last September, the owners of Manchester’s Cricket Hollow Zoo were ordered by an Iowa judge to pay $70,000 or serve five months in jail for refusing to surrender the animals at their roadside attraction.

Four months later, zoo owners Pamela and Thomas Sellner have yet to pay anything toward that fine or serve any time in jail. The couple is taking their case to the Iowa Supreme Court and arguing that if a contempt-of-court ruling against them is allowed to stand, it could “cripple our agricultural sector.”

Over 56 percent of tax rebates to sports complex developers would come from PV school taxpayers

Of the $14 million in tax rebates earmarked for developers of the bettplex sports complex expansion, more than 56 percent – nearly $8 million – are expected to come from the pocket of Pleasant Valley School District taxpayers.

That's because the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) planned by the City of Bettendorf for the northeast corner of Forest Grove and Middle Roads would allocated 75 percent of the "incremental" taxes from the development back to the developers Doug Kratz and Kevin Koellner over a 20-year period up to a maximum of $14 million.

When the city employs a TIF, all "incremental" property taxes (except those levied for debt service) are rebated back to the developers.

Those aren't just property taxes levied by the city, but by all taxing bodies within the TIF area, including those for the school district and county.

City officials plan more taxpayer subsidies for Bettendorf's hottest commercial corridor

Despite being the hottest commercial corridor in Bettendorf, city officials are planning to dole out nearly $20 million in taxpayer subsidies to developers looking to expand the "bettplex" sports complex at Forest Grove and Middle Roads.

In addition to tax rebates totaling $14 million, the city would give developers $5.8 million in outright grants and agree to pick up the tab for all infrastructure improvements in the area at an estimated cost of $25 million.

In just the next two years, the agreement calls for the city to complete $5.3 million in public improvements including $1.5 million for a pedestrian bridge across Middle Road, $2 million for an extension of Forest Grove Road and a roundabout, $1 million for internal roads and trails in the development and $800,000 for storm water and sanitary sewer work.

And, unlike the first development agreement, the new deal would not require that developers share sales tax rebates with the city nor pay a $5 per night fee on hotel rooms planned as part of the expanded sport complex/urban renewal area on the northeast corner of Forest Grove and Middle Roads. (In the agreement released publicly 2/11, a clause to share sales tax rebates, if granted by the state, is included. The city would get a 45 percent cut of those rebates. And, a provision has been added to require hotels in the TIF area to charge a $5 per night room fee to be paid the city.)

Lee Enterprises touts management strategy; reports $5.3 million profit in fourth quarter ended Sept. 26

Lee Enterprises, Inc. – owner of the Quad City Times, Dispatch/Argus and news operations in 76 other markets – earned $5.3 million during the fourth quarter ended Sept. 26.

The positive earnings announcement Thursday (12/9) came a day after the Davenport-based company's board of directors unanimously rejected the $24-per-share buyout offer made by Alden Global Capital last month.

While the Lee earnings news release held up fourth quarter operating revenues ($194 million) and fiscal year operating revenues ($794.6 million) as signs the company's strategic plan was working, on a pro forma basis, full year operating revenues were down 3 percent compared to 2020.

Hedge fund Alden Global Capital makes $24 per share, all-cash offer to buy Lee Enterprises, Inc.

Hedge fund Alden Global Capital today (11/22) made an unsolicited all-cash offer of $24 per share to acquire Davenport-based Lee Enterprises, Inc. with its 77 daily newspapers including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Buffalo News, and local Quad City newspapers, the Dispatch/Argus and Quad City Times.

Alden acquired Tribune Publishing earlier this year. That publishing group includes the Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, Orange County Register, Boston Herald, Baltimore Sun and the Mercury News (San Jose, CA).

‘Like he was my lawyer:’ State Sen. Roby Smith intervened in Davenport animal-welfare case

The owner of a Davenport dog kennel says state regulators scaled back their punishment against his business this summer after a state legislator intervened in the case on his behalf.

Earlier this summer, the Animal Playground boarding kennel in Davenport, run by Robert Burns, was visited by state inspectors working for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. At the time, the kennel was supposed to be shut down due to a license suspension triggered by a series of serious regulatory violations.

The kennel, however, was in full operation with 40 dogs milling about, inspectors reported.

Iowa Farm Bureau finances revealed by Investigate Midwest and Watchdog Writers Group reporting

The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting and the Watchdog Writers Group reported Thursday (10/7) on the Iowa Farm Bureau and how it has profited from funds generated by its insurance subsidiary.

"The political activities of farm bureaus at the state and federal level are well-documented. But the scope of the Iowa Farm Bureau’s sprawling financial operations is less understood. Through expanded investments, it has reaped massive profits. Over the past decade, its total revenue has increased about 200 percent. And, lately, about 80 percent of it comes from investments, according to tax documents. No other farm bureau even approaches that ratio."

CLICK HERE to read the full article.

Developer of senior housing in Muscatine agrees to $8,000 fine for allowing runoff to pollute Mad Creek

A former LeClaire developer now living in West Des Moines has agreed to pay an $8,000 fine for storm water runoff violations at a senior housing site in Muscatine that polluted the nearby Mad Creek.

James Bergman, of JNB Oak Park LP, signed the administrative consent order with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) last month. Bergman was one of the developers of Thomas Place Senior Housing in Bettendorf.

Cricket Hollow Zoo owners ordered to pay $70,000 or serve jail time for violating court order

The owners of Manchester’s Cricket Hollow Zoo have been ordered to pay $70,000 or serve five months in jail for violating court orders regarding the relocation of animals at their roadside attraction.

The ruling this week in the contempt-of-court case against Pamela and Thomas Sellner comes three days after the Iowa Supreme Court declined to review a lower court decision in the case that led to zoo’s closure in 2019.

In that case, a group of Iowans assisted by animal rights advocates sued the Sellners, alleging numerous violations of Iowa’s animal neglect laws. A judge ruled in their favor and effectively ordered the zoo closed with many of the animals to be relocated to wildlife sanctuaries in other states.

READ MORE from the Iowa Capital Dispatch

Reynolds office least transparent in 30 years

A journalist is arrested and put on trial for doing her job. The governor’s office and state agencies defy the law without consequence by ignoring or refusing requests for public records. A veteran state employee claims she was fired for complying with the law and providing a public record to a reporter.

It sounds like some banana republic that we might hear about on the news. Sorry to say, these and other assaults on the First Amendment, press freedoms and public access to their government have all happened right here in Iowa. And it’s costing all of us, the taxpayers.

In my years as a journalist in Iowa, I’ve covered five gubernatorial administrations. (Only four governors, because Gov. Terry Branstad served twice.) I can say without hesitation that Gov. Kim Reynolds’ administration has been the absolute worst in terms of secrecy and outright denial of public access to information.

Pages

Subscribe to Bettendorf.com RSS
Go to top