- Associated Press - Monday, September 23, 2019

Quad-City Times. September 18, 2019

We should listen to science

It seems like we get reminders on almost a daily basis that climate change is real.

Spring rains drench us. Floods inundate us. Then we get weeks of hot, dry weather.

Farmers who, at first, couldn’t get into their fields because it was too wet now worry about too little moisture.

These are extremes that we absorb and suffer through and, all too often, forget after they’re gone.

Yet, in the words of the author of a new report focusing on Iowa, “science is giving us warnings.”

Will we listen?

So far, too many of us are not. Too many of us dismiss the warnings as hokum, a conspiracy. And among those who tend to believe, there is less urgency than the moment requires.

We are encouraged by the young people who are refusing to remain silent - people like 16-year-old Greta Thunberg of Sweden, who is leading the Global Climate Strike movement. This will entail a series of events next week around the world to try to galvanize movement.

One of those events will be a rally in the Quad-Cities on Sept. 27, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., at 900 Middle Road, Bettendorf.

We have seen recent polling that also tells us younger conservatives are far more likely than older ones to believe that global warming is happening, and that humans are the primary cause.

We hope policymakers will pay heed to these young people, as well as to this new report, distributed earlier this month by the Iowa Policy Project.

The report, which was supported by a grant from the Environmental Defense Fund, was written by James Boulter, an associate professor of chemistry in the Watershed Institute for Collaborative Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin, in Eau Claire.

Boulter’s current research is heavily centered on climate change, and he has been integrally involved in monitoring greenhouse gas emissions and developing climate action plans with the university and the city of Eau Claire.

The new study noted that a range of climate models have predicted that by 2041-2050, there will be a 30 percent increase in the number of two-day precipitation events in the Midwest that set five-year records. And that would be on top of a 40 percent nationwide increase since 1970, with the biggest impact falling on the Midwest and Northeast.

The greater intensity of rainfall in the Midwest is already apparent, but the idea that, in the near future, it will occur with that much greater frequency is striking.

The additional rainfall will probably mean greater flooding. But it also has implications beyond those events that just grab the headlines, that galvanize us into talking about floodwalls and the like.

Heavier rain events overfill municipal and residential drainage systems, raising long-term costs and becoming burdens for people who don’t live or work anywhere close to rivers and streams.

In other words, while we continue to debate whether the City of Davenport should build a structural flood protection system, we should all - no matter what city we live in - be talking about whether we need to upgrade our stormwater drainage systems. And who will pay for it? And how quickly will we do it?

These are questions better answered long before they become a necessity.

This new report does not tell a wholly different story than the so many others that have come before it. It is but the latest reminder - as if what happened this spring and summer wasn’t already enough - that complacency is a dangerous habit.

Science is giving us warnings. We should listen.


Fort Dodge Messenger. September 19, 2019

Heart of Iowa Housing Trust Fund makes an impact

It didn’t take long for a new housing fund to start making an impact in Webster and Hamilton counties.

The Heart of Iowa Regional Housing Trust Fund was organized in late 2018 thanks to $217,108 from the state plus matching funds from local governments and banks. It started putting that money to work at the beginning of this year.

The results have been impressive. They include 11 new roofs, eight home energy efficiency upgrades, five handicapped accessibility projects, three new water heaters and one retaining wall.

All of those projects were vital to the people who live in the homes where the work was done.

The projects also demonstrate the mission of the Heart of Iowa Regional Housing Trust Fund, which is keeping people who need a little financial help in their own homes.

The trust fund uses money from government and private sources to provide financial help to people who own a single family home and make up to 80 percent of the area median income. Priority is given to those whose income is at or below 30 percent of area median income, those with disabilities and those who are 62 or older.

The assistance isn’t exactly a handout, however. The money comes in the form of loans to the homeowners. They are five-year interest free loans that will be forgiven for those who stay for at least five years in the home where the money was invested.

Three local officials are largely responsible for the trust fund project. They are Vickie Reeck, the community and economic development manager for the city of Fort Dodge; Paige Wheeler, nuisance inspection administrative technician for the city of Fort Dodge; and Lindsay Henderson, community vitality director for Webster City.

It is refreshing to see a housing program that produces real results for people, and does so quickly.

We thank Reeck, Wheeler and Henderson for doing the hard work to make this program possible.

We believe the Heart of Iowa Regional Housing Trust Fund is worthy of support.


Dubuque Telegraph Herald. September 18, 2019

Slow and steady to win the race on Central

A year ago this week, the Dubuque Main Street organization staged a weeklong event called “Build a Better Block.”

The idea was to attract people to a part of town that many had written off, noting that it had seen better days, but to see, perhaps with new eyes, the “potential on Central.”

The many activities included transforming vacant storefronts into temporary “pop-up” shops, conducting “lunch and learn” educational programs, offering art classes and hosting a street dance.

It was part of the broader initiative involving public and private organizations - they include city government, Greater Dubuque Development Corp., and the aforementioned Dubuque Main Street - to breathe new life into the area.

Too often, it seems, people with a good idea and best of intentions find how hard it is to cross the finish line with that initiative. They might sprint to of couple of quick (and perhaps easy) “wins,” but flame out in the face of bigger challenges - before success takes root. And the idea fades away.

That’s possible regarding Central Avenue, we suppose. But we doubt it.

Recall the moral from Aesop’s Fable: “Slow and steady wins the race.” It’s apt regarding Central, where initiatives include improving retail, traffic flow and housing (quality and home ownership).

Over the past year, there has been slow and steady progress on Central Avenue. Last week, Dubuque Main Street was again at the forefront, hosting dozens of folks for a show-and-tell event called “Path to Potential.” They toured nearly 20 sites - occupied and vacant - in the 1400 to 2200 blocks of Central Avenue, some of which would be available for “pop-up” shops during the holiday shopping season if not permanent tenancy.

Dubuque Main Street has other programs in mind, including weekly, holiday-themed events and a promotion dubbed “Central Express.”

If comments to the Telegraph Herald reporter the other day - by current and prospective tenants - are any indication, things on Central Avenue are heading in the right direction. (And we’re not talking about the plan to change it to two-way traffic).

Current retailers are reporting more activity, others are moving in and prospective business owners are expressing interest in the corridor. That’s encouraging, especially since more significant actions are in store.

One new cupcake shop or jewelry store, by itself, won’t turn the entire corridor around. But every small step is critical to the longer journey.

It’s been slow and steady on Central Avenue of late, but we know what Aesop said about that.


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