The number of Iowans exhibiting one or more "problem gambling" behaviors has increased to 16 percent, 369,000 people,...

A new commercial development consisting of a restaurant, retail and office space would be built adjacent to the new McDonald's south...

Iowa has a distinguished history for being in the forefront of wastewater treatment innovations, but the state's border...

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...

We can conserve by not wasting stuff we don't actually need

By Jill Richardson

California is on the verge of becoming the first state to ban plastic grocery bags. Governor Jerry Brown says he intends to sign the bag-banning law California lawmakers approved in early September. The ban will go into effect at grocery stores and pharmacies next year and extend to liquor stores and additional kinds of retailers in 2016.

In addition to making it against the law for stores to give shoppers single-use plastic bags when ringing up purchases, the new law will also require stores to charge customers 10 cents for each paper bag they get. The kinds of disposable plastic bags used for loose or perishable items like produce will still be allowed.

California’s not the first place in the world to ban plastic grocery bags. In fact, one out of three Californians live in cities and towns — including San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles — that are already plastic bag-free. So are Boulder, Chicago, Santa Fe, Seattle, Austin, and lots of other places across the country.

Iowa problem gamblers growing; 1 in 5 Iowans negatively affected by gambling

The number of Iowans exhibiting one or more "problem gambling" behaviors has increased to 16 percent, 369,000 people, according to a recently released survey by the Iowa Department of Public Health.

The survey – "Gambling Attitudes and Behaviors" conducted in 2013 by the University of Northern Iowa Center for Social and Behavioral Research – also found one in five adult Iowans (18 percent) had been "negatively affected by gambling behavior of a family member, friend, or someone else they know."

Nearly 30 percent of Iowans reported "knowing a person with gambling problems," and 7 percent of state residents have experienced someone in their family having a gambling problem when they were growing up, according to the study.

The next round of an un-winable war beckons

By Amanda Ufheil-Somers

Once again, a U.S. president vows to eliminate an extremist militia in the Middle East to make the region, and Americans, safe.

And that means it’s time again for a reality check. Having failed in its bid to destroy the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, the United States is still trying to dismantle both organizations. Over the course of 13 years of war, that mission has spread to Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Mali, and West Africa, as militant groups on two continents have adopted the al-Qaeda brand.

Contrary to normal logic, the White House wants everyone to see this failure as a badge of expertise. As President Barack Obama vowed in an interview on Meet the Press, fighting the Islamic State forces “is something we know how to do,” mainly because we’ve been battling similar groups “for five, six, seven years.”

Restaurant proposed near new McDonalds south of 53rd Avenue, Bettendorf

A new commercial development consisting of a restaurant, retail and office space would be built adjacent to the new McDonald's restaurant south of 53rd Avenue under a site development plan to be considered Wednesday (9/17) by the Bettendorf Planning and Zoning Commission.

The nearly 9,000-square-foot commercial development at 2207 Falcon Avenue is being proposed by Mark Roemer, who developed the Crust Pizza restaurant on the east side of 18th Street and south of 53rd Avenue. The site development plan did not disclose the name of the new restaurant.

According to the city, Roemer also is planning to seek a special use permit from the city Board of Adjustment to allow the restaurant to have an outdoor patio area on the north side of the facility.

Build it and bikes will come

By Jill Richardson

Did you see the baseball movie Field of Dreams? Even if you didn’t, you’ve probably heard the phrase “If you build it, they will come” — which it immortalized.

Well, how about “If you don’t build it, they won’t come”?

When it comes to bicycles, cars, and public transportation, both sayings are true (even though one is decidedly catchier than the other).

I recently moved back to Madison, Wisconsin after spending eight years in San Diego, California. I used to bike to work when I lived here before and bike for fun on the weekends. Now that I’m back, I’m commuting by bike once again.

Three candidates on special Sept. 23 ballot to fill vacancy on Bettendorf Park Board

Three candidates are on the September 23 special election ballot to fill a vacant seat on the Bettendorf Park Board.

Thomas Dryg, of 3826 Brookwood Lane, David Pratt, of 220 Bechtel Road, and Sandy Smith-Henzen, of 914 14th St., are seeking to fill the unexpired term of Frank Braden, who was elected to the city council earlier this year.

Long history of Iowa border cities using Mississippi, Missouri Rivers for sewage disposal

Iowa has a distinguished history for being in the forefront of wastewater treatment innovations, but the state's border communities were holdouts in building sewage treatment plants and allowed to dump untreated municipal and industrial wastes into the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers long after other cities along smaller streams were required to treat wastewater, according to a history of Iowa's water pollution control published in 1974 by the Iowa Water Pollution Control Association.

Writing in "Iowa's Heritage in Water Pollution Control," State Sanitary Engineer Paul Houser noted that the state's largest border cities along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers were exempted from state stream pollution laws enacted in 1923 and 1949 "thanks to the lobbying power of the border cities and their industries.

"In fact, the exemption also included the lower 5,000 feet of any tributary, which was written specifically to protect the Sioux City meat packers dumping their untreated wastes into the Floyd River," Houser wrote.

City administrator asks council: should city accept high debt level for next five years?

Bettendorf City Administrator Decker Ploehn is asking the city council if it wants to stay the course on a 10-year expansion of city debt – now $132 million and within 17 percent of the legal maximum – to continue to fund an "aggressive" program for capital improvements from streets to so-called "WOW" projects under discussion.

In his presentation to the council August 25, Ploehn said historically low bond interest rates and the need to fix and expand streets in the city justify the high debt strategy adopted five years ago by the council. He also pointed out that additional significant bonding may be required for the possible WOW projects, which were listed as: development of I-80/Middle interchange; sports complex; replacement of city pool, fitness center and community center with a new recreation facility; and a potential riverfront development project.

Davenport sewage treatment plant discharged 317 million gallons of partially treated sewage into Mississippi River after heavy rains, flooding

Davenport's wastewater treatment plant dumped 317 million gallons of partially treated sewage into the Mississippi River in late June and early July after heavy rains and river flooding overwhelmed the treatment capacity of the plant along Concord Street.

Flood water and storm water runoff infiltrated sewer lines after the heavy rains and the plant began "bypassing" secondary treatment of the sewage, dumping an average of 10 million gallons of sewage per day into the river after only primary treatment of the wastewater. Primary treatment only involves removal of solids from the wastewater, essentially bypassing the normal secondary biological treatment of the waste.

The sewage "bypassed" by the Davenport plant was in addition to the 129 million gallons of sewage Bettendorf pumped into the river during the same period.

Isle reports $2.3 million loss in first quarter; stock price climbs nearly 5% in past week

Despite a $2.3-million loss for its first quarter ended July 27, Isle of Capri Casinos, Inc. stock gained nearly 5 percent this week to close Friday (8/29) at $8.27 per share.

Stock in the St. Louis-based gambling firm – owner of the Bettendorf casino riverboat – had climbed to more than $10 per share in July after rumors surfaced about a possible buy-out of the company by a real estate investment trust. The stock price had since fallen to nearly $7 a share earlier this month before the recent run-up.

The first quarter loss of $2.3 million, or $6 cents a share, compares to a loss of $4.9 million, 12 cents per share, for the first quarter last year.

Net revenues totaled $241 million for the first quarter, compared to $238 million for the same period a year ago.

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.

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.

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.

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