A Great Blue Heron rests on a log in the Mississippi River above Lock & Dam 15, Davenport on a foggy fall morning.

Building permits issued for the sports complex at Middle and Forest Grove Roads, Bettendorf, total $38 million, about $8 million less than the value specified in the city development agreement.

Rendering of new $9-million Ascentra Credit Union headquarters proposed for part of city's Town Square block. Source: Legat Architects

Construction work on support piers for the new Interstate 74 bridge between Bettendorf and Moline now is under way.

Heavy rains prompt additional sewage overflows; sewage treatment plant once again over capacity

Heavy rain in November and December prompted yet another series of "sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) events" in Bettendorf, resulting in more than 17 million gallons of untreated sewage and storm water being pumped into the Mississippi River.

With the additional sewage bypasses in the last two months of the year, Bettendorf operated pumps along the riverfront a total of 15 days during 2015 and dumped a total of more than 46 million gallons of the storm water and raw sewage into the river.

Animal rights group awaits court ruling; asks to add more evidence to Cricket Hollow Zoo lawsuit

While awaiting a U.S. District Court ruling seeking removal of endangered animals from Cricket Hollow Zoo near Manchester, animal rights advocates have filed a motion to add more evidence in support of their case.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) and plaintiffs Tracey and Lisa Kuehl filed the motion Dec. 18 asking U.S. District Court Chief Magistrate Judge Jon Stuart Scoles to admit U.S. Agricultural Department inspection reports on the zoo from last July and September.

The motion to allow the two USDA inspections reports from July and September into evidence was approved by Judge Scoles in an order filed Wednesday (12/30).

Iowa Partnership for Clean Water ads a smear campaign against Des Moines Water Works head

Editorial reprinted with permission from Des Moines Register, Dec. 10, 2015

It’s time for the Iowa Partnership for Clean Water to consider a name change that more accurately reflects its true mission. For example: The Iowa Partnership for the Malicious Persecution of Public Servants.

The partnership was formed last spring after the Des Moines Water Works sued Sac, Buena Vista and Calhoun counties, alleging their drainage districts are largely responsible for Raccoon River pollution that’s costing central Iowa residents millions in clean-up costs.

Lee reports higher 4th quarter earnings; lower expenses offset 4.3% drop in operating revenue

Lee Enterprises reported higher fourth quarter earnings today (12/10) compared with a year ago thanks primarily to lower operating expenses that offset a 4.3 percent decline in revenue for the three-month period.

For the fourth quarter ended Sept. 27, Lee reported earnings of 18 cents ($10.13 million) compared with 6 cents per share ($3.38 million) for the same quarter last year. For the fiscal year, earnings totaled 44 cents per share ($24.3 million) compared with 13 cents per share ($7.67 million) a year ago.

Isle 2nd quarter earnings up; weak revenues lead to stock sell-off and 19 per cent drop in stock price

Isle of Capri Casino, Inc. officials reported second quarter earnings of $11.45 million (28 cents per share) Wednesday (12/2), but its stock got hammered as investors apparently were concerned with weak casino revenues, particularly at the company's St. Charles, Louisiana operation.

The Isle's stock lost more than 19 percent of its value, more than $3.70 per share, in morning trading after the company reported its second quarter numbers. The stock had more than doubled in value since the first of the year, from $8.45 per share January 1 to $21.43 per share November 5.

City/Isle deal to end tax dispute; city gets $652,000 and schools, county may finally see tax boost

The tax dispute between the city of Bettendorf and the Isle of Capri Casinos, Inc. would be resolved under a development agreement deal expected to be approved tonight (11/17) by the city council.

The Isle has been seeking to lower the assessed value of its riverfront property to $45 million from the current $85 million. An appraiser hired by the city valued the Isle's two hotels and riverboat casino at $55 million. The county review board in June rejected the Isle's tax appeal, but the casino operator then filed suit in Scott County District Court.

Downtown urban planners urge city use of Town Square block for civic events and activities

The so-called Town Square block along State Street in downtown Bettendorf should be used as originally envisioned – as an open plaza for civic events and activities – a team of urban planners from the Iowa Downtown Resource Center told city officials in early October.

The planning experts' recommendation is in stark contrast to two development proposals currently being considered by the city council. Both call for creation of mixed use commercial/residential development with parking on the block between 20th and 21st Streets between State and Grant Streets.

City appraiser pegs value of Isle casino property at $55 million; stage set for court hearing on tax issue

An appraiser hired by the city of Bettendorf pegs the value of the Isle of Capri Casino and its two hotels at $55.15 million. The Isle contends the property is worth just $44 million.

Unfortunately for the city, both estimates are far below the current assessed value – $85 million – agreed to by the Isle under terms of the casino/city development agreement signed when the QC Waterfront Convention Center was built.

Emails indicate mayor, city administrator pushed TIF's for downtown apartments for past year

For more than a year, Bettendorf Mayor Bob Gallagher and City Administrator Decker Ploehn have been telling their economic development staff and developers they would support use of city tax incentives for projects involving downtown apartments.

In emails obtained by bettendorf.com through a Freedom of Information request, both Gallagher and Ploehn were focused on redevelopment of eight apartment buildings in the downtown known collectively as the Carling Apartments.

Lee touts cost reductions at lender confo; decline reflects 44% reduction in employment since 2007

Lee Enterprises executives touted their 39 percent reduction in costs since 2007 at an Arizona lenders' conference last month, a decline which tracks the steady decline in employment at the Davenport-based firm from more than 8,100 to just over 4,500 full-time employees.

The presentation at Deutsche Bank's Leveraged Finance Conference September 29 may have helped contribute to recent gains in the price of its stock, which has climbed nearly a dollar per share since hitting a 52-week low of $1.36 per share Sept. 10.

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