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Waterloo University Avenue Hy-Vee closing at end of March

WATERLOO — A grocery store with a presence on University Avenue in Waterloo for decades is closing its doors at the end of next month.

The University Avenue Hy-Vee, at 4000 University Ave., will close March 31, company officials announced Monday.

The store’s 282 employees, both part- and full-time, “will have the opportunity to transition to positions at other Hy-Vee stores in the area,” according to the corporate news release.

Darren Baty, executive vice president of Hy-Vee’s northern region, said the decision was made due to a history of poor sales and because the store “no longer reflects the current brand standard and amenities Hy-Vee strives to offer customers.”

“The University Hy-Vee has served as a neighborhood store for many nearby residents for a number of years, and we understand it will be missed by its customers,” Baty said. “It’s always difficult when we make store adjustments, but we must keep pace with customers’ shopping behaviors and meet their needs through excellent customer service and more modern amenities.”

“Hy-Vee remains committed to the Waterloo community,” said Baty. “We have continued to invest and improve our other area stores through remodeling projects that include the addition of coffee shops, food courts and in-store restaurants.”

University Avenue Hy-Vee assistant director of store operations Matt Nelson referred all questions to corporate officials.

Employees were notified Monday morning, the company said. Pharmacy customers will receive a letter, and most prescriptions will be transferred to the Hy-Vee on Ansborough Avenue.

Hy-Vee opened on University Avenue in 1977. It originally occupied about 23,00 square feet of the former Kmart building at 3810 University. The company built the current 64,000 square foot free-standing store on the former Starlite Drive-In Theatre site in 1992-93, along with the construction of a new store near Crossroads Center.

There will remain three Hy-Vees in Waterloo, one in Cedar Falls and one in Waverly. The company built a new store on Ansborough Avenue in 2011, closing a smaller store on Byron Avenue. The Ansborough store is just three miles from the store that will close.

In 2006 the company relocated its store at College Square on University Avenue in Cedar Falls, moving from a 60,000 square foot building to 80,000 square feet in the new store on the west end of the mall. That store is just two miles from the Waterloo University Avenue store.

The company’s first local store was opened in Cedar Falls in 1964, with the first Waterloo store opening in 1969.

The supermarket chain has more than 245 stores across eight Midwestern states. Its headquarters are in West Des Moines.

Supreme Court declines to decide fate of 'Dreamers' just yet (copy)

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday rejected the Trump administration’s highly unusual bid to bypass a federal appeals court and get the justices to intervene in the fate of a program that protects hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation.

The announcement means the case affecting “Dreamers” will have to work its way through the lower courts before any Supreme Court ruling is possible. The case also could become moot if Congress takes action in the meantime. Right now, however, efforts to address the issue in Congress have hit a stalemate.

The Supreme Court’s decision for now to stay out of the case on the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, wasn’t surprising. It’s highly unusual for the Supreme Court to hear a case before a lower appeals court has considered it.

But DACA supporters hailed the decision as a significant — if only temporary — win. President Donald Trump said the case would now be heard by an appeals court and “we’ll see what happens from there.”

“You know, we tried to get it moved quickly because we’d like to help DACA. I think everybody in this room wants to help with DACA,” he said to visiting governors. “But the Supreme Court just ruled that it has to go through the normal channels.”

DACA has provided protection from deportation and work permits for about 800,000 young people who came to the U.S. as children and stayed illegally.

In September, Trump argued President Barack Obama exceeded his executive powers when he created the program. Trump announced he was ending the program effective March 5 and gave lawmakers until then to come up with a legislative fix.

But in recent weeks, federal judges in San Francisco and New York have made Trump’s deadline temporarily moot for people who have sought and been granted renewals; the rulings do not extend to people who are applying for the first time. Judges issued injunctions ordering the administration to keep DACA in place while courts consider legal challenges to Trump’s termination. As a result, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services resumed accepting and processing DACA renewals in January, just as it had before Trump’s September announcement.

The Trump administration has not tried to block the injunctions that force it to continue operating the program. Although the March 5 date is now moot, Greisa Martinez, policy and advocacy director for United We Dream, said DACA supporters planned to demonstrate in Washington on that day in part to continue to pressure Congress to act.

The Senate two weeks ago blocked a bipartisan bill offering Dreamers potential citizenship and providing $25 billion for Trump to build his proposed border wall with Mexico. A more conservative House proposal that sharply reduces legal immigration and imposes other restrictions has languished short of the GOP votes it would need to pass, leaving its fate in question.

The Supreme Court’s announcement Monday that it wouldn’t step in to the case now means the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will likely be the first appeals court to weigh in on the topic, the step before the case would return to the Supreme Court.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who joined other states in lawsuits to keep DACA in place, cheered the Supreme Court announcement Monday.

“It’s a victory for all Dreamers, certainly a great victory for California,” Becerra said during a phone call with reporters. “It’s a victory for the rule of law and it’s a victory for our economy.”

The Ninth Circuit has set no date to hear arguments but has given lawyers dates by which they must file briefs that run through April. Andrew Pincus, an attorney who represents more than 100 businesses that intervened in support of DACA, said June is probably the earliest that the court would rule.

Trump on Monday didn’t seem to hold out much hope of winning at the Ninth Circuit, criticizing the liberal-leaning court by saying “nothing’s as bad as the Ninth Circuit.”

“I mean, it’s really sad when every single case filed against us is in the 9th Circuit we lose, we lose, we lose and then we do fine in the Supreme Court,” he said.

Waterloo grows U.S. 20 business park despite council concerns

WATERLOO — An ongoing effort to acquire land for a business park in the U.S. Highway 20 corridor survived the scrutiny of revamped city leadership.

Waterloo City Council members voted unanimously Monday to spend $364,000 for 9.5 acres of farmland southeast of the Ansborough Avenue highway interchange.

It was the eighth purchase made under a master agreement approved in 2010 for the city to acquire about 191 acres of land from L & H Farms, the Hollis family farming operation, for a future industrial park.

But it was the first with three new council members.

The cooperative agreement allows the city to spread out the purchases over time using its tax-increment financing revenue instead of borrowing for the entire amount up front. The city has now acquired 106 acres.

Councilwoman Margaret Klein complained about having to vote on the latest acquisition after being told the council could be found in breach of the 2010 contract if it failed to acquire the L & H Farms property.

Klein, who took office in January, has voiced opposition before when voting on obligations the city incurred before she was elected.

“If we are contractually obligated to some vote that occurred eight years ago, why is this vote here if ‘no’ is not an option?” Klein said. “This is ridiculous.”

The city is required by state law to hold public hearings and votes every time it buys or sells property.

“If you’re put in a position where you feel uncomfortable, my apologies for that,” said Mayor Quentin Hart. “But we are following the state code on this one.”

Residents David Dreyer and Forest Dillavou voiced opposition to the purchase price and the use of TIF funding.

“I have a lot of difficulty with paying $38,000 plus an acre for land,” Dreyer said. “I wish I had some; I’d like to sell it to you.”

Dillavou said any development on that land won’t help lower the tax rate in his lifetime.

“You’ve got to start thinking about us people out here, us baby boomers,” he said. “We need relief now. We don’t need it 10 years, 20 years from now.”

Mark Rollinger, attorney for L & H Farms, said there’s a big difference between the value of agricultural land and the value of the development land at a key highway interchange.

“At one point this series of transactions is going to be looked upon by the citizens of Waterloo as a monumentally good deal,” he said. “When that land goes to somebody like Target Distribution Center or Nordstrom’s Distribution Center or whomever it might be, we’re talking about substantial economic development and substantial jobs.”

Community Planning and Development Director Noel Anderson said the site is on a list of certified properties for major projects going through site selection with state economic development officials.

“In identifying and talking with business such as Target Corporation and others, they felt that the city of Waterloo needed to have a larger business presence along the Highway 20 corridor,” Anderson said.

Jeff Reinitz / JEFF REINITZ 

Amy Lynn Hangartner, right, entered Alford pleas to dependent neglect and child endangerment on Monday, Feb. 26, 2018.

Senate passes 1 percent school aid increase

DES MOINES — Iowa schools will get a 1 percent bump in state aid — about $67 per student — under a plan approved by Senate Republicans on Monday and sent to Gov. Kim Reynolds for her expected signature.

The $32 million boost in funding for K-12 schools passed the Senate on a 29-20 party-line vote. It will increase the per-pupil investment from the current $6,664 to $6,731 for fiscal 2019. At 1 percent, 183 of the state’s 333 school districts will be on the budget guarantee that means the state will backfill property taxes.

Senators acted without debate, ending an impasse with the House. The delay caused the Legislature to miss its self-imposed deadline of setting the school aid funding level within 30 days after the governor presented her budget on Jan. 10.

The compromise was struck in a separate bill in which legislators agreed to make a one-year commitment of $11.2 million for busing students and to also devote $2.8 million to address an inequity in per-pupil funding. That bill passed with a 44-5 vote with four Democrats and one independent opposing.

“This is a monumental first step,” said Sen. Roby Smith, R-Davenport. “This is a fix that can work. It’s reasonable, sustainable and prudent.”

However, Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, said Senate Republicans “wimped out,” “caving in” to the House and “kicking the can down the road with a measly little injection of money. I think that is pathetic.”

Under the compromise, 140 of the state’s 333 school districts will get a share of the $11.2 million. Transportation costs run as high as $970 per pupil per year at North Winneshiek. The plan would lower the district share of those costs to $432 per pupil, said Amy Sinclair, R-Allerton, the Senate Education Committee chairwoman.

The compromise also adds $5 per student to the per-pupil allocation for 161 districts. In those districts, there is a $175 per pupil inequity in the funding. The additional $2.8 million would close the gap by $5.

“I truly believe that a student’s zip code shouldn’t determine the quality of education that they get,” said Sinclair. “Our hope is to bring the district cost per pupil to the same level for every school district over the course of time.”