Nearly a year after the Bettendorf Fire Department burned down a vacant house on Elm Street in a training exercise, the charred foundation and debris remain untouched adjacent to the city's newest riverfront park/overlook and the new section of the Mississippi riverfront recreation trail.
The lot at 3717 Elm St. is owned by Bettendorf Terminal Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Moline Consumers, which operates a sand storage and barge-loading operation next to the lot.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is taking a second shot at getting federal approval for a plan to reduce fine particulate (PM2.5) pollution in Muscatine.
The IDNR's first submission of a State Implementation Plan (SIP) to cut emissions of particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter was found "substantially inadequate to maintain the 2006 24-hour National Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for PM2.5 in Muscatine." That finding in July 2011 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 7 office required the IDNR to conduct air modeling to determine what facilities in the area were signficantly contributing to exceedances of the air quality standards.
"The Iowa DNR determined that three major sources of air pollution in the Muscatine area significantly contribute to predicted (modeled) PM2.5 exceedances of the standard in the vicinity of the Garfield School monitor," according to the new proposed SIP plant. "These facilities are Grain Processing Corporation (GPC), Muscatine Power & Water, and Union Tank Car Company."
According to the new SIP draft, the IDNR has worked with the three companies on measures "that will result in expeditious attainment of the 24-hour PM2.5 NAAQS through reductions of ambient air impacts of PM2.5 emissions from each facility."
The Bettendorf-based LED light assembly company planning to bring its operations from China has been approved to receive $130,000 in job training reimbursement through Eastern Iowa Community College (EICC).
The funds would pay for development of a customized training program for 15 employees of LED-O Holding, LLC who would have "an average wage of $17 per hour and benefits of health, life, dental, vacation, holiday pay initially," according to the LED-O agreement with EICC. The firm, now located at 6125 Valley Drive, "is planning to move its operations from China and eventually will locate in a 13,000-square-feet building that can be expanded to as much as 75,000 square feet over time," the agreement states.
The agreement between EICC and LED-O Holding was approved at the community college's April meeting.
Two months after the U.S. Treasury sold out its preferred stock position in National Bancshares, Inc. at a $3.2-million loss to taxpayers, the Bettendorf-based banking firm announced it had been sold to a Texas financial holding company.
In return, the Treasury received preferred stock and warrants in the bank and was to be paid a 5 percent annual dividend. The bank paid a total of $2.3 million in dividends during 2009 and 2010. The bank had not repaid any of the initial loan amount and its last dividend payment to the Treasury was in November 2010.
Lee Enterprises – owner of the Quad City Times and 46 other daily newspapers – reported a loss of $6 million, or 12 cents per share, for its second quarter which ended March 31.
The results were an improvement from a year ago, when the firm reported a loss of $26.6 million, 54 cents per share. The narrower loss and improved revenue trends reported by the company helped push up the stock nearly 10 percent in trading Tuesday to $1.39 per share.
Grain Processing Corporation (GPC) in Muscatine has agreed to pay a $129,000 fine for violations of the federal Clean Water Act that occurred in 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today (4/16).
"GPC failed to comply with its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) monitoring requirements by taking unrepresentative flow measurements and not conducting settleability tests; failed to maintain all facilities and control systems in good working order; and exceeded the effluent limitations for biochemical oxygen demand, total suspended solids, temperature, and pH," according to the EPA news release. "GPC came into compliance with Clean Water Act regulations after EPA Region 7 issued an order to the company on July 29, 2011, requiring it to correct the violations."
The effluent violations negatively impacted the Mississippi River, according to the EPA. The operations and maintenance violations, which included malfunctioning equipment and failure to comply with monitoring requirements, led to wastewater pollutants being released into the river which are not accurately known or documented.
Muscatine's sulfur dioxide pollution woes continued in the first three months of 2013 with eight exceedances of national air quality standards recorded as of March 12.
Three of the National Ambient Air Quality (NAAQ) exceedances were recorded at the Musser Park monitor and five others at the East High (Garfield) monitor operated by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
The 14-acre Davenport estate once presided over by bank baron V.O. Figge is on the real estate block for $3.5 million.
Even if you can't afford the French Country villa, you can get a glimpse into the life of the rich back in the 1950's by clicking through the online gallery of photos taken back in 1954. The link is: http://www.hawthornacres.com
If the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has its way, only the city of Muscatine and not the entire county of Muscatine would be designated as in non-attainment for sulfur dioxide (SO2) pollution by the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA).
The EPA has proposed designating the entire county in non-attainment, which would bring tougher regulations on new and existing businesses to lower SO2 emissions in Muscatine County. The IDNR and the governor had tried unsuccessfully to avoid any non-attainment designation two years ago, suggesting to the EPA the county be designated as "unclassifiable."
Under the non-attainment designation proposed by the EPA, existing SO2 pollution sources in the county could be required to reduce their emissions, and new sources that emit sulfur dioxide above certain levels would be required to be built with air pollution controls having the lowest sulfur dioxide emissions technically possible.
The U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals handed the Iowa League of Cities a sweeping victory Monday (3/25), vacating U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules on sewage bypass and mixing zones saying the agency failed to follow federal notice and procedures for setting those regulations.
The league had challenged the EPA rules based on two letters from the federal agency which were sent in response to letters from U.S. Senator Charles Grassley.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is expected to argue only a small portion of Muscatine County – not the entire county – needs to be designated as in non-attainment for sulfur dioxide (SO2) pollution, a significant change from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) recommended plan.
The IDNR will hold two public meetings – 1 p.m. and 6 p.m., Thursday, March 28 – at the Muscatine County Conservation Board’s Environmental Learning Center, 3300 Cedar Street, Muscatine, to provide information on the proposed non-attainment designation and seek input from the public, businesses and other affected stakeholders.
At those meetings, IDNR officials also are expected to present an analysis of air monitoring in support of a much smaller designated area of non-attainment.
The Loop – a riverfront circulator bus service connecting Quad Cities downtowns Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and Sundays – will be scaled back to just two days under a plan expected to be approved by the Bettendorf City Council Tuesday (3/19).
Bettendorf received a federal transit grant to purchase the four retro-looking Loop buses in 2009, and the service has been running significant deficits every since. The revenue from the Loop is expected to total just $30,000 for the current fiscal year, while operating expenses are projected at nearly $303,000 (excluding depreciation).
The operator of the DekHockey facility at Crow Creek Park is seeking city approval to sell beer at the rink during the coming season.
Patrik Levesque, a Quad City Mallards player and organizer/operator of the Bettendorf DekHockey facility, is expected to make his proposal to the park board Wednesday (3/13). He made a similar request last year, but the board tabled that request to investigate the issue of allowing alcohol sales at the park.
High levels of fine particulate and sulfur dioxide pollution Monday (3/4) in Muscatine prompted a health warning to residents by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR).
At noon Monday, fine particle levels averaged 57.5 micrograms per cubic meter at Garfield School in Muscatine and a daily maximum reading of 158 parts per billion (ppb) of sulfur dioxide was measured early this morning at the same school monitor, according to the IDNR.
Conditions were expected to improve by Tuesday (3/5) with a change in wind direction from a winter storm.
A public presentation on the proposed 2013-14 Bettendorf city budget will be given at 6:30 p.m., Monday (2/25) at city hall, 1609 State Street.
The $87-million budget would result in an overall 5 percent hike in property taxes and city service fees for the average Bettendorf homeowner.
The owner of the median-priced home – having an assessed value of $162,235 – would see an annual increase of $42 in property taxes, $18 in sewer fees, $4 in storm water fees and $4.60 in garbage collection cost under the budget proposal.
I’ve already told you the story of Mrs. Campbell, my well-meaning high school guidance counselor. In case you missed it, I’ll tell you again.
High school seniors in Detroit, where I grew up, had career counseling before they were turned loose on society. You took “aptitude” tests (“Would you prefer arranging flowers or building a bridge?”) and read boring brochures in the name of finding out what you wanted to be when you grew up. I took the tests and read the brochures. When I went to see Mrs. Campbell for advice, she had my records spread out in front of her.
“I think you can be just about anything you want to be,” she said. That was counselor-speak for: “You don’t have any identifiable talent.”
She reviewed the traditional professions — medicine, law, engineering, dentistry. She started on trades — machinist, carpenter, plumber, mechanic — but they seemed even more problematic.
Finally, she gathered my records into a neat pile, handed them to me and said “I’m sure you’ll think of something.”
John McPhee has recently written two pieces for the New Yorker* that have made me feel much better about myself.
The first word in one is “Block” – as in writer’s. The other begins (well a sentence or so in…): “I lay down on it (a picnic table) for nearly two weeks, staring up into branches and leaves, fighting fear and panic, because I had no idea where or how to begin a piece of writing…I had assembled enough material to fill a silo, and now I had no idea what to do with it…”
The project I’ve undertaken is a big one and the research part is fun. I greatly enjoy learning new stuff and meeting interesting people. The problem comes when I try to convince myself to to make something out of it all. As opposed to McPhee though, I don’t fight fear or panic, I just daydream, something at which my roommate will tell you I am very very good.
The game of life is hard to play
I'm gonna lose it anyway
The losing card I'll someday lay
so this is all I have to say.
(Refrain) That suicide is painless
it brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please.
- Third verse of “Song from M*A*S*H (Suicide is Painless)” with music by Johnny Mandel and lyrics by Mike Altman
A February 5 article by Melanie Haiken of Forbes reported that, “Almost once an hour – every 65 minutes to be precise – a military veteran commits suicide, says a new investigation by the Department of Veterans Affairs.” The report goes on to say that, “69 percent of the suicides recorded were by veterans age 50 and older.”
Regarding soldiers on active duty, Ms. Haiken writes that, “Just two weeks ago, the military released data showing that suicides among those on active duty hit a record high in 2012. There were 349 suicides among active duty personnel – almost one a day. That means there are now more suicides among active duty soldiers than there are combat deaths.”
Civic/recreational amenities getting plenty of talk; little public input
March 6, 2013 by Greg Gackle
Bettendorf's civic and recreational amenities – how to upgrade or replace and where such facilities should be built – got plenty of discussion in this year's city budget and planning sessions and are likely to get even more in the coming months.
Finding a way to finance such an undertaking won't be easy. The city is trying to reduce its long-term debt while continuing to finance major infrastructure improvements ranging from a new I-80/Middle sewer and water line extension to large street projects (Utica Ridge, Tanglefoot and Forest Grove) to finishing an ambitious recreational trail build-out.
Three of the city's main recreational and civic facilities – the swimming pool, the community center and the Life Fitness Center – are all showing their age.