Category Archives: Local News

State board gets update on Mason City downtown project, hotel development agreement signed

DES MOINES — Mason City officials updated the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s Board of Directors this morning on the city’s River City Renaissance downtown project as part of the Iowa Reinvestment District program. The board originally pre-approved about $7 million in state assistance for the project, with the city hoping that amount goes to near $10 million on final approval. City Administrator Brent Trout says with development agreements now in place for the project, the city now has to wait for voter approval of components of the project before asking for the IEDA Board’s approval.



IEDA Board chair Chris Murray says the board is pleased with what Mason City has done to continue moving forward with the project.


A busy last week for Mason City’s outgoing city administrator

DES MOINES — For City Administrator Brent Trout, it’s his last day on the job as he now departs to be the City Manager in Topeka Kansas. Trout says he’ll be watching from afar about the progress of the River City Renaissance project after all the hours he put into working on it.



While most people on the last week of their job may have coasted into their last day, that’s not been the case with Trout, having a full plate on his agenda including a city council meeting, finalizing the development agreement for the hotel and Music Man Square project, as well as today’s presentation.

Charles City plant asks for state incentives for expansion plan

CHARLES CITY — Also at today’s meeting of the Iowa Economic Development Authority, a Charles City company  presented their application  for tax incentives as part of their expansion plans. Zoetis  is looking at expanding one of their largest manufacturing facilities, according to plant  site leader Pamela Stoops.



Stoops says they are asking the state for tax incentives through the Iowa High Quality Jobs Program



Zoetis currently employs about 400  people at their plant that produces animal vaccines and other important products for veterinarian and livestock farmer customers not only in the United States but to more than 60 countries worldwide.


State tax revenue prediction lowered, state budget cuts likely

DES MOINES — Another tweak has been made to official state tax predictions and it likely means cuts will have to be made in the current state budget.

“It’ll be a combination of looking at what’s the best approach, but we will need to make somewhat of an adjustment,” Iowa Department of Management director Dave Roederer told reporters Thursday afternoon.

Roederer is the governor’s top advisor on budget matters. He is also one of the three members of the Revenue Estimating Conference. The panel met this afternoon and reduced its official prediction of state tax collections in the current budgeting year. If that prediction holds through December, it means at least $35 million would have to be cut from the state budget. Governor Reynolds will review all the information and “likely” make a recommendation to legislators in January, according to Roederer.

Northey nomination to USDA clears committee

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee Thursday approved the nomination of Bill Northey to become a top official in U.S. Department of Agriculture. The 58-year-old Northey, a Republican from Spirit Lake, appeared before the committee earlier this month.

Northey has been Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture since 2007. On September 1st, President Trump nominated Northey to become Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation in the USDA.

State officials to get update Friday on River City Renaissance project

MASON CITY — Mason City officials will be in Des Moines tomorrow to provide an update to the Iowa Economic Development Authority Board about the city’s Iowa Reinvestment District project.

The board has pre-approved about $7 million in state funding to help leverage the $38 million project, with the city hoping that amount goes to near $10 million on final approval. With the changes of the hotel and Music Man Square components from the original project, state officials told Mason City that the project needed to be re-scored to make sure it still qualified for funding.

Clear Lake council approves smoking band in parks, smokeless tobacco can still be used

CLEAR LAKE — The Clear Lake City Council earlier this week passed the final reading of an ordinance that would ban smoking, nicotine products, e-cigarettes and vaping devices from the city’s parks, but the final version of the ordinance removes smokeless tobacco from the list of items that fall under the ban.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board had made the recommendation to the council for the ban in an effort to protect visitors, especially children, from unhealthy behavior and exposure to second-hand smoke.

Another positive quarter for Winnebago Industries

FOREST CITY — It’s a fourth straight quarter of profits for Winnebago Industries.

The Forest City-based recreational vehicle manufacturer says their Fiscal 2017 fourth quarter net income was $24-point-9 million, an increase of almost 90-percent compared to $13-point-1 million in the same time period a year ago.

Revenues for the quarter ending August 26th were $454-point-9 million, an increase of 73-percent compared to $263-point-3 million for the Fiscal 2016 period.

For the entire fiscal year, revenues were $1-point-5-4-7 billion, a 59-percent increase compared to $975-point-2 million in Fiscal 2016.

NIACC named top 150 community college, in running for $1 million prize

MASON CITY — North Iowa Area Community College is eligible to compete for a $1 million prize as it’s named one of the top 150 community colleges in the United States.

The Aspen Prize, awarded by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program , is the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America’s community colleges.

Canadian farmer discusses NAFTA at World Food Prize event

DES MOINES — Iowa farmers are keeping a close eye on the NAFTA negotiations and so are Canadian farmers. Jake Leguee farms with his family in the province of Saskatchewan in western Canada. He took part in a Global Farmer Roundtable, one of the World Food Prize events this week in Des Moines.

Leguee says the termination of NAFTA would be devastating for Canadian farmers. “Most of what we produce is exported and certainly a big part of the exports go to the U.S. The U.S. has a lot larger population than we do and cancellation of the NAFTA agreement would impact Canada greatly,” Leguee said. “It’s a critical issue for us.”

Arrest made in Mason City garage, bike thefts

MASON CITY — Police say they’ve arrested a man connected with a number of garage burglaries in Mason City.

22-year-old Joshua Hockenson has been charged with two counts of third-degree burglary, two counts of attempted second-degree burglary and fourth-degree theft. Police say Hockenson was arrested and officers served a search warrant at two Mason City residences.

ISU researcher finds smartphone link to ‘abrupt shift’ in teen sleep

AMES — New research from an Iowa State University psychology professor finds smartphones are causing a “seismic shift” in sleep patterns among teenagers. ISU’s Zlatan Krizan and a colleague at San Diego State University found teens who spend more than two hours a day on their smartphones get fewer than seven hours of sleep a night.

“I’ve studied sleep for a few years now and it seemed that the technological revolution is having unprecedented effects on sleep and especially among younger generations,” Krizan said, “the ‘iGen’ that grew up with internet and smart phones.”

Union says Iowa State Pen staffer stabbed by inmate with shanks

FORT MADISON, Iowa (AP) – Iowa prison officials are facing renewed criticism from a union representing correctional officers following an attack by an inmate at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison that left a staffer hospitalized.

Prison officials said in a news release that the inmate used a weapon in the Wednesday attack to strike the staffer several times. A statement later released by the union said the staffer was stabbed five times by an inmate wielding two 10-inch shanks.

Report: Trump has told EPA to ‘back off’ on RFS changes

PELLA — Bloomberg News is reporting that President Trump has directed the EPA to table proposals that would weaken the Renewable Fuels Standard.

Governor Kim Reynolds spoke by phone with President Trump Wednesday morning and a few hours later she told reporters in Pella that she intends to keep lobbying on the issue.

“It’s not done until it’s done and if you ever think that it is, you’re mistaken,” Reynolds said, “so you don’t stop until you get the final numbers.”

Send in the plows; Iowa DOT getting ready for winter

AMES — It’s been sunny and relatively warm with temperatures in the 60s and 70s this week, but Iowa Department of Transportation employees are busy preparing for winter.

Craig Bargfrede, the DOT’s winter operations administrator, says, “In our world, October 15th is actually the official start of the winter season and that runs through April 15th.”

The agency’s 900 plows and other snow-moving equipment are being brought out of storage for tuneups and maintenance.

Charles City man found guilty of second-degree murder in Mason City man’s death

CHARLES CITY — A Floyd County jury has found a Charles City man is guilty of second-degree murder.

36-year-old Antoine Williams was charged with first-degree murder after being accused of shooting 36-year-old Nathaniel Fleming of Mason City multiple times with a firearm during an argument on the night of June 30th at the Casa Apartments in the 2100 block of Clarkview Drive in Charles City. Williams was arrested in Chicago on July 5th.

Clear Lake man dead after motorcycle accident near Mason City

MASON CITY — A Clear Lake man has died from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident just north of Mason City on Tuesday afternoon.

Hospital officials confirm that 49-year-old died on Tuesday after being taken to Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa for treatment.

World Food Prize panel discussion involves farmers from 14 countries

DES MOINES — Farmers from 14 different countries discussed their concerns at a World Food Prize event in Des Moines Tuesday. Participants in the Global Farmer Roundtable shared many common concerns – among them; access to inputs such as capital availability, labor availability, and land and rent prices.

Argentinean farmer Pedro Vigneau talked about an issue in his country that many Iowans notice here as well. “People, every minute, are a little bit more far away from the farm and from farming,” Vigneau said.

Legislators urged to legalize needle exchange programs

DES MOINES — Public health advocates are urging lawmakers to approve needle exchange programs for drug addicts. University of Iowa medical student Sarah Ziegenhorn, a leader in the Iowa Harm Reduction Coalition, addressed a legislative committee examining the opioid crisis.

“There are 36 states that currently operate syringe exchange programs,” she said. “There are 19 that have had to go about the process in the way Iowa will need to go about the process to create them and that is to modify our existing drug paraphernalia laws.”

Fall allergies in Iowa are almost as bad as spring allergies

DES MOINES — While springtime is the worst time of year for most Iowans who suffer from allergies, thousands are also struggling this fall with sneezing fits, itchy eyes and runny noses.

Allergist Dr. Leiana Oswald says about one in every four Iowans have seasonal allergies which are spiking now as the leaves start to change color and drop.

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