A warm spring evening along Mississippi River shoreline.

Air quality exceedances fall sharply in 2015; Muscatine GPC pollution reduction main reason

The number of exceedances of National Ambient Air Quality Standards declined sharply in 2015 compared with 2014, due in large part to reductions in pollution emitted by Grain Processing Corporation's (GPC) corn-milling operations in Muscatine.

According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) air quality report for 2015, 17 exceedances of the sulfur dioxide ambient air standards were recorded and 8 exceedances of the PM 2.5 (fine particulate) standard.

All 17 SO2 exceedances and one of the eight PM 2.5 exceedances occurred at Muscatine air monitors.

Unsightly truck auctions now a city 'enterprise' thanks to $1.9 million state purchase for bridge

The Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) this spring paid $1.9 million to acquire 3.8 acres of Bettendorf riverfront property – owned by the Goldstein family's Green Bridge Company – and needed for the new Interstate 74 Bridge.

The land was part of the property once hyped as the future site of a Mark Twain-themed amusement park by gambling proponents setting off to lobby the Iowa legislature in the early 1990's.

Second quarter Lee Enterprise earnings increase thanks to one-time $30-milion insurance settlement

Lee Enterprises, Inc. – owner of the Quad City Times and 46 other daily newspapers – reported Thursday (5/5) morning second quarter earnings of $19.5 million, or 36 cents per share, thanks largely to a one-time insurance gain of $30.6 million.

Without the insurance proceeds, the company would have reported a 1 cent per share loss for the 3-month period ended March 27, compared with a 3 cents per share gain for the same quarter a year ago.

Bettendorf borrows much of Davenport stormwater rules but topsoil standards don't make initial drafts

Much of Bettendorf's proposed new stormwater management ordinance is based on similar regulations put in place by Davenport two years ago.

But despite the wholesale borrowing of Davenport's stormwater ordinance language, one key section – requiring developers to amend new residential lots to absorb rainfall and provide homeowners with healthy organic topsoil – never made it into the two initial drafts circulated by Bettendorf city staff to city council members.

Why the soil infiltration standards for new residential developments went "missing" from the Davenport ordinance to the Bettendorf stormwater draft rules isn't clear.

Cricket Hollow Zoo tigers, lemurs to be transferred by summer; judge denies stay seeking delay

The endangered tigers and lemurs held at the troubled Cricket Hollow Zoo should be in a new home yet this summer.

U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Jon Stuart Scoles April 29 denied the zoo's petition to stay his court order requiring removal of the animals from the rural Manchester, Iowa roadside zoo.

New stormwater management ordinance in the works, but don't expect a 4-inch topsoil rule

Bettendorf is in the midst of revising its stormwater management ordinances, but if the initial draft is any indication there won't be any requirement for developers to retain a specific amount of topsoil on each new home site.

The draft ordinance – scheduled for discussion at next week's (April 19) committee-of-the-whole meeting – lists many suggested "water quality practices" intended to capture and treat rainfall events of up to 1.25 inches (90 percent of all eastern Iowa rain events) on-site.

Cricket Hollow Zoo appeals federal court ruling; status of endangered animal removal uncertain

The owners of the troubled Cricket Hollow Zoo have appealed the federal court ruling issued Feb. 11 which ordered removal of the zoo's lemurs and tigers because of inadequate veterinary care and sanitation for the endangered animals.

Owners Tom and Pamela Sellner, of Manchester, filed the notice of appeal with the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis March 9. The appeal seeks to reverse the lower court decision, halt the removal of endangered animals from the zoo and lift the court's order prohibiting the Sellners from adding endangered animals to their roadside zoo.

Iowa Supreme Court ruling toughens open meetings law; staff acting as agents count toward quorum

A recent Iowa Supreme Court ruling is expected to toughen the state's open meetings law, finding a county administrator should be counted the same as an elected official in determining whether a majority of board members were present at private meetings since she was acting as an "agent" for other board members not in attendance.

Many public bodies – including the Bettendorf and Davenport City Councils – have in the past intentionally held less-than-majority meetings to circumvent the state's open meeting law and avoid 24-hour public notice and public inclusion in the sessions.

Trump’s America: A shining outhouse on a hill

When Donald Trump announced he was running for president, I mocked him. “Of the United States?” I asked. (I got a C- in Mockery when I was in college, unfortunately.)

When he jumped into the lead almost immediately, I laughed. “The higher the climb, the harder the fall,” I said. (I did better in Pithy Quotations.)

Isle of Capri Casinos, Inc. posts higher earnings despite 2.5 percent drop in overall revenues

Isle of Capri Casinos, Inc. posted higher earnings for its third quarter ended January 24 despite a 2.5 percent drop in overall revenues.

The gambling firm, owner of the Bettendorf Isle of Capri casino riverboat, reported third quarter earnings of $6.6 million, or 16 cents per share, compared with $5.4 million, or 13 cents per share, for the same period a year ago.

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