Iowa air quality monitors have recorded 42 exceedances of ambient air quality standards from sulfur dioxide pollution...

The steady decade-long decline in admissions and revenue at Bettendorf's Isle of Capri casino continued in fiscal 2014...

Another year with heavy rainfall. Another year with flooding. And, another year of pumping raw sewage into the Mississippi...

A proposed land swap of Bettendorf's Forest Grove Park property would give a Texas-based land developer nearly five acres...

The long-anticipated move of Bettendorf's Isle of Capri Casino from its riverboat to a land-based site is moving forward...

Lee loses $9.7 million in third quarter; encouraged by digital subscription initiative

Lee Enterprises reported a loss of $9.7 million for the third quarter ended June 29, after paying $19.7 million in interest expense and $21.7 million in debt financing costs in the period.

The Davenport-based company – publisher of the Quad City Times and Muscatine Journal – lost 19 cents per share in the third quarter, compared with a 3 cent per share profit for the same period a year ago.

Despite the loss, company officials were upbeat in their remarks to stock analysts about the growth of digital advertising revenue, mobile advertising and the launch of its "full-access" subscription initiative which seeks to convert print subscribers into paying online subscription customers.

You asked for it Mr. Hawkeye AD

The University of Iowa Athletic Department has hired a marketing firm to find out why it can't fill each of Kinnick Stadium's 70,000 seats and attract more students to every home Hawkeye football game.

As the parent of a marching band member, I'm in a unique position to give an unbiased assessment to the university. I like football and the Hawkeyes, but I would not have attended any of the home games last year if not to watch the halftime show.

These are in no special order, so feel free to pick and choose my "solutions" to the falling number of fans, particularly students, at Hawkeye games.

• The games are slower than baseball. Television time-outs take any air of momentum out of the game and fans have way too much time to ponder why they are sitting in cramped hard seats in extremely hot or cold weather while football players stand around waiting to get the signal to play from a guy in a red hat who seems to control the entire contest. Seriously, last year in 90 degree weather, the first half took more than two hours. Last time I checked, a half in a football game was only 30 minutes long.

• Fans must be required to sit down, and stay seated, unless they are jumping to their feet to watch an exciting play. Why pay $50 for a seat, and then be required to stand the entire game to actually see the players on the field. I watched most of the game on the jumbotron replay because other fans were blocking my view. I contend most of the standing by fans is not related to excitement on the field, but seats the width of a small plate. . . on which most fans can no longer fit their derrière.

Air pollution exceedances of National Ambient Air Quality Standards on track to surpass 2013

Iowa air quality monitors have recorded 42 exceedances of ambient air quality standards from sulfur dioxide pollution and 13 from fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) pollution during the first seven months of this year.

During all of 2013, a total of 67 exceedances of National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) were recorded involving sulfur dioxide along with 15 involving PM 2.5 (particulate matter of less than 2.5 microns) pollution.

As with last year's air monitoring, the majority of the NAAQS exceedances occurred in Muscatine.

City eyes special September election to fill park board vacancy; single voting location planned

Bettendorf aldermen are expected to set a special election September 23 to fill the vacant Bettendorf Park Board seat – created by the election of Frank Baden to the city council July 1.

The city consulted with the Scott County Auditor last month and were told all voting in the special election could be held in one polling location, rather than in each ward, to reduce the cost of an election. The special park board election would be the second special election this year in the city.

City flushes nearly 129 million gallons of sewage into Mississippi River after heavy rains, flooding

The City of Bettendorf had to flush nearly 129 million gallons of sewage into the Mississippi River last month to prevent the Waste Water Treatment Plant in west Davenport from being overwhelmed by sewage, combined with a large volume of storm water that had seeped into Davenport and Bettendorf sewer lines.

The "Sanitary Sewer Overflow Events" began June 30, with eight large pumps transferring sewage from the backed-up sanitary sewer lines into storm water pipes, which flow into the Mississippi River. The pumps ran from June 30 until July 13, according to the report filed by the city with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR).

Cities must contact the IDNR when it begins "bypassing" sewage treatment by pumping into the river, and it must report the total amount bypassed once the pumping ends. The city filed its report with the state July 15.

The immorality of our economy

Wendell Berry, America’s farmer/poet and advocate for peace and justice, met with Centre College Professor Eric Mount at the Crescent Hill Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky May 18 with over 200 people in attendance.

Berry and Mount engaged in a rambling conversation in which Berry explained that when we abstract important concepts that are critical to the real lives of people, we loose their interest in solving real problems that the world faces.

An example of such abstractions is the idea of environmentalism.

People understand their relationship with the air they breathe and the water they drink and the weather events that are destructive.

“Environmentalism” is an abstract concept, something that academics discuss and argue over, but real people want clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and weather patterns that one can plan for and live with.

As the conversation progressed, Berry read a prayer from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer entitled, “For Every Man In His Work.” The prayer, in part, reads as follows: “Deliver us, we beseech thee, in our several callings, from the service of mammon, that we may do the work which thou givest us to do, in truth, in beauty, and in righteousness, with singleness of heart as thy servants, and to the benefit of our fellow men.”

Bettendorf casino admissions, revenues fall; declines higher than statewide gambling fall-off

The steady decade-long decline in admissions and revenue at Bettendorf's Isle of Capri casino continued during fiscal 2014.

Admissions for the 12 months ended June 30 fell to 923,000 – more than 1 million fewer than the casino's peak year in fiscal 2000.

Revenues declined to $70.4 million during fiscal 2014, down nearly 6 percent from the previous fiscal year. At its peak in 2004, the Isle had revenues of more than $105 million.

Amid sale rumors, Isle consolidates management to trim $2.5 million in corporate expenses

Amid rumors of its sale to a real estate investment trust, the Isle of Capri Casinos, Inc. announced Thursday (7/10) a consolidation of top management positions to cut corporate expenses by $2.5 million annually.

However, the news was not welcomed by investors, as the Isle stock price dropped more than 14 percent today (7/11) declining to $8.55 a share in early trading. Volume was more than five times the average number of stock transactions.

The management changes included the elimination of the executive chairman of the board of directors position, and the departure of the Isle's Chief Financial Officer Dale Black "to pursue other interests."

Familiar scenario: Heavy rain, then floods. . . then pumping sewage into the Mississippi River

Another year with heavy rainfall. Another year with flooding. And, another year of pumping raw sewage into the Mississippi River.

The all-too-familiar scenario is playing out again along the Bettendorf and Davenport riverfront as the Davenport Wastewater Treatment Plant struggles to cope with high flows – a combination of storm water runoff, flood water and sewage – resulting in the backup of interceptor sewer lines along the Bettendorf and Davenport riverfront.

Bettendorf activated its pumps along the riverfront near Leach Park and the Isle of Capri Casino June 29, according to reports filed with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), and in just the initial hours pumped 1.3 million gallons of raw sewage mixed with storm water into the river. The pumps have been pumping since, and a full tally of the sewage disposed in the river is expected when the pumps are turned off. Pumps were still on as of today (10/10) at three locations along the Bettendorf riverfront.

Davenport also reported bypassing of sewage June 30 at the River Drive and Howell St. lift station as well as 11 sewage back-ups in basements and nine sewage manholes overflowing between July 1 and July 3.

During the wet March-June period in 2013, Bettendorf flushed more than 200 million gallons of untreated sewage diluted by storm water into the Mississippi River.

UnityPoint Health returns for third time seeking variance to allow for billboard-sized sign

For the third time in four months, UnityPoint Health (formerly Trinity Terrace Park) is seeking a variance from the Bettendorf Board of Adjustment so it can erect signs on its building fronting Interstate 74 to promote its recognition by Truven Health Analytics as a "top 100" hospital.

The variance before the board Thursday (7/10) would allow the hospital to erect a second on-premise sign that is 513 square feet in size. Under city ordinance, only one sign is permitted on the frontage facing the interstate and the size is limited to 300 square feet. The hospital already has a sign with its name on the building fronting the interstate.

As with the previous two other sign variance requests, city zoning staff is not in favor of the latest plan.

Move to new land-based casino in Bettendorf comes as rumors surface Isle seeking a buyer

About the same time the Isle of Capri Casino, Inc. was telling Bettendorf officials last week it plans to move from its riverboat to a land-based facility, unconfirmed reports began circulating that the St. Louis-based gambling firm was in talks to sell out to a real estate investment trust.

While still unconfirmed, the rumors helped push the stock up more than $2 per share in the past week. The stock hit $10.71 per share today (7/7), a 52-week high, before closing at $10.12 per share.

Forest Grove Park land twice as valuable as property city will get in land swap

The new Forest Grove Park land the city of Bettendorf plans to swap with a subdivision developer is twice as valuable as the property the city will receive, according to a city appraisal obtained by Bettendorf.com as part of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

The 4.6 acres Ven Green Development is acquiring are valued at $38,500 per acre, or $177,100, according to a February 2014 appraisal by Douglas C. Nelson of Nelson Appraisals. The 3.7 acres in three parcels the city is receiving are appraised at $25,000 and $15,000 per acre, amounting in total to $89,750.

Part of the land Ven Green will gain would be used for construction of a shared access street to the park and subdivision, Spencer Hollow First Addition, reducing the size of land available for homebuilding to approximately 3.6 acres. However, even with the reduction in acreage, the developer would still gain 11 building lots.

Isle writes down value of gambling properties; reports $142-million loss for 4th quarter

The Isle of Capri Casinos, Inc. Tuesday (6/17) wrote down the value of its operations – including a $60-million impairment charge for its Bettendorf casino – and reported a $142-million loss for its fourth quarter ended April 27.

For its 2013-14 fiscal year ended April 27, the Isle reported a loss of $3.26 per share, or $127.7 million. That compares with a loss of $47.6 million, or a loss of $1.33 per share, in the previous fiscal year.

"Weakness in both visitation and win per visit impacted revenue from customers who spend less than $100 per visit," President and Chief Executive Officer Virginia McDowell said in the company's earnings release. "However, visitation and revenues from our top customers has remained relatively constant. In the current environment, we remain disciplined in our marketing and promotional activities."

Proposed park land swap gives developer additional lots; leaves city with unusable parcels

A proposed land swap of Bettendorf's Forest Grove Park property would give a Texas-based land developer nearly five acres designated for parking and playground areas under the park master plan, and leave the city with three parcels essentially unusable for recreation purposes.

The swap also would enable the developer to add 11 additional home lots. Residential lots in Huntington Meadows subdivision, just south of Forest Grove Road and across from the park, range in price from $55,000 to $70,000.

The proposed swap was given approval by the city park board June 10, despite commissioners not knowing how much the city will end up paying for extension of the street serving the park and subdivision.

The city paid $2.92 million – nearly $32,000 an acre – for the 92-acre park property in 2010, and have spent nearly $200,000 on master plans for development of the park south of Interstate 80 and north of Forest Grove Road.

Isle of Capri unveils new land-based casino plan; seeks approval for site adjacent to its hotels

The long-anticipated move of Bettendorf's Isle of Capri Casino from its riverboat to a land-based site is moving forward with the firm seeking approval to build a 70,000 square foot casino in the courtyard between its two existing hotel towers along the city riverfront.

The move to land by the Isle would mark the end of the era of riverboat casinos in the Quad Cities. The Rhythm City casino riverboat in Davenport (now owned by competing gambling operator Dan Kehl) is slated to move from its riverfront location in downtown Davenport to a new facility at Interstate 74 and 80. The Isle had indicated it planned to move to a land-based operation, but details of where the new casino would be built had not been announced.

In its filing with the city planning and zoning commission, the Isle is asking for approval of a 70,000 square foot casino to be built in the courtyard and entrance drive area near the north and south towers of the existing Isle of Capri hotel complex.

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