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Maddie Poppe: Hometown hero. See all the pictures and videos of her stop back home

CLARKSVILLE — Clarksville residents didn’t need the producers of “American Idol” artificially ramping them up: They already were plenty excited for their hometown finalist.

Hundreds of Iowans packed the town square Tuesday afternoon, some wearing “Maddie Poppe”-branded shirts in a multitude of colors or carrying signs featuring slogans cheering her on, waiting in anticipation of the “American Idol” stretch limousine to arrive so they could finally celebrate one of their own getting to the finals of the reality singing competition.

And thousands later packed the Butler County Fairgrounds in Allison to see Poppe perform some of the songs that have quickly propelled her to stardom on the ABC talent show.

Poppe, 20, is one of three contestants to be voted to the finals of “American Idol.” The winner receives a recording contract with Hollywood Records and a $250,000 cash prize.

Some fans, like Joe Vaughn of Story City, made their own shirts — his said “Team Sign Me,” and his prized signature was Maddie Poppe’s on the front.

“I love how humble she is,” Vaughn said, noting she was also kind enough to sign a photo the two had taken previously. “She is very much deserving.”

But perhaps no one was more excited than Poppe herself, who arrived just before 3 p.m. Tuesday for a short presentation with Mayor Val Swinton.

“I literally can’t even believe this,” she said. “To see it all is just incredible. Thank you so much. ... It’s good to be home.”

A couple of local business owners presented her with gifts, including Prairie Rose Fabrics owner Holly Fokkena, who presented Poppe with a quilt as a “bus-warming gift” for Poppe’s first tour bus.

“I’m not usually a reality-television person,” Fokkena said. “But for this, you have to.”

Another fan who showed up for Poppe’s return to Iowa was Gov. Kim Reynolds, who presented her with a T-shirt on the stage at Allison.

The hometown folks were sure Poppe will beat out Caleb Lee Hutchinson and Gabby Barrett to claim the “Idol” crown. Poppe noted she was grateful for their support.

“This community has been so amazing, (but) I’m not surprised by this,” Poppe said. “We all always back each other, no matter what anybody is going through.”

Mayor Swinton proclaimed Tuesday as “Maddie Poppe Day,” noting Poppe had generated “positive awareness” of the town.

“You literally have put us on the map,” said Swinton, noting his niece in South Carolina posted to Facebook that her uncle was the mayor. “All of a sudden, because of you, I have a really cool position.”

“I’ve always wanted a holiday!” Poppe said. “You know what that means, kids — you get off school! And you can take off work too!”

“Watch it — you’re gonna get elected mayor,” Swinton said.

Poppe got emotional talking about being surprised by classmates of hers from the Class of 2016 when she went to her old high school Tuesday morning, as well as hearing the elementary school students sing “Rainbow Connection,” the song she auditioned with.

“So many of you out here have really supported me since day one, since I sang ‘Landslide’ in the gym the first time, or when I would get up with my dad’s band at Pioneer Days and sang ‘Sweet Child of Mine,’” Poppe said. “You guys aren’t just hopping on the bandwagon now; you’re not just supporting me because I’m on the show. You guys truly have been there for this whole thing ... It means the world to me.”

She and her family also rode in a parade down the downtown stretch of North Main Street at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Mike Kramer, who owns Pete and Shorty’s along the route, sold hot dogs, brats and beverages to the crowd while Poppe’s “Idol” tunes played on a speaker.

“She’s the full package — songwriter, singer, musician,” Kramer said.

Signs were plentiful along the route, including Cyndy Christensen of Rockwell, who wrote on hers: “We may not have any stoplights in Butler Co., but we do have a shining star.”

“It’s just amazing for an Iowa town,” said her coworker, Noreen Wiegmann. “A small-town girl getting this opportunity — it’s just cool.”

The “American Idol” face-off performances are on KCRG-TV beginning at 7 p.m. Sunday. The winner will be announced in the season finale at 7 p.m. Monday.


Nation's most restrictive abortion law is challenged in Iowa

DES MOINES — A lawsuit challenging the nation’s most restrictive abortion law was filed Tuesday in Iowa, a state that for years was largely left out of Republican efforts to overturn abortion protections and where the Democratic attorney general has refused to defend the law.

If allowed to take effect, the law would ban most abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, around the sixth week of pregnancy, a point when, abortion-rights groups say, many women don’t know they are pregnant.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America announced the filing of the complaint in Polk County District Court in Des Moines. The lawsuit seeks an injunction to halt the law’s July 1 implementation. Litigation could take years.

Until the 2016 election, Iowa had little to no role in the broad GOP effort to overturn Roe v. 

Wade, the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion.

“We haven’t heard much out of Iowa until the past couple of years,” said state policy analyst Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute, a national research group that supports abortion rights and tracks legislation tied to abortion. “It has been a very striking shift in the state Legislature, and it really shows how important state Legislatures are to abortion access.”

The election flipped control of the Iowa Senate, putting Republicans in charge of the Legislature and the governor’s office for the first time in two decades. Until then, Democrats had maintained enough political power to curtail Republican anti-abortion attempts.

Chuck Hurley is chief counsel for the Family Leader, a faith-based group in Iowa that opposes abortion. He recalled being at an election night party alongside several state lawmakers. When it became clear Republicans would win Statehouse control, Hurley said he immediately worked the room to talk about abortion legislation.

“It is very interesting that a purple state is this out front on life,” Hurley said, adding, “There’s a pent up pro-life effort here in Iowa.”

Several abortion restrictions were adopted in 2017, including a 20-week abortion ban and a requirement that women wait three days before ending a pregnancy. The waiting provision, one of the longest in the country, is on hold because of a different lawsuit.

Separately, a coalition of Iowa anti-abortion organizations mounted its own efforts last year. The Coalition of Pro-Life Leaders put aside years of disagreement to help win passage of the 20-week ban and the six-week ban.

“The pro-life movement in Iowa is unified for the first time in many years,” said Maggie DeWitte, executive director of Iowans for Life, one of the coalition’s groups.

Iowa Republicans last year also gave up millions in federal dollars to create a state-funded family planning program that prohibits participation from abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood.

Other plaintiffs in the lawsuit include Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, the affiliate’s medical director and the Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City.

The abortion-rights groups declined to make the legal documents public until the court clerk filed and stamped official copies. That could happen later Tuesday or Wednesday, they said.

Shortly after the announcement of the lawsuit, Iowa’s longtime attorney general said he would not defend the law. Democrat Tom Miller said the decision to remove his office from the case was based on a belief the measure “would undermine rights and protections for women.”

Miller said the Thomas More Society, a conservative Chicago-based law firm, has agreed to defend the law for free. The firm had no immediate comment.

Suzanna de Baca, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said Iowa’s abortion law is tied to a small group of “very extreme politicians” in the Legislature.

“The perception of Iowa is that we have been a rational, relatively progressive state that has always valued the health of our citizens,” she said. “It seems very uncharacteristic and extreme for an abortion ban of this magnitude to happen here.”

The lawsuit names Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Board of Medicine as defendants, according to the abortion-rights groups. Reynolds, who signed Iowa’s ban earlier this month, said at a public event in Davenport that she felt “very confident” about defending the lawsuit, adding: “It’s about life. It’s about protecting life.”

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Associated Press Writer Ryan J. Foley in Davenport contributed to this report.


Govt-and-politics
Country View sale draws 3 buyers, proposing $5M-plus each

WATERLOO — At least three companies have expressed interest in acquiring the cash-strapped Country View care center.

Black Hawk County, which owns and operates the 168-bed nursing and mental health care center north of Waterloo, received letters of intent from firms initially offering to buy it for $5.4 million to $5.6 million.

The Board of Supervisors meet in executive session Tuesday to discuss the proposals and a potential fourth offer, which was not among the preliminary bids.

“I was really surprised we had three, probably four (bids),” said Supervisor Tom Little. “But until we get to the fine tuning you really don’t what we’ll come up with.”

Supervisor Linda Laylin added, “The devil’s in the details.”

The supervisors voted 4-1 in March to hire national real estate brokers Marcus & Millichap to market Country View for possible sale. The center is one of just two county-run nursing homes in Iowa and has been running a $2 million operating deficit subsidized by property taxes.

Preliminary proposals were received from Pritok Capital of Skokie, Ill., at $5.6 million; Beacon Health Management of Tampa, Fla., at $5.5 million; and GS Holdings based in the Chicago area, at $5.4 million.

Marcus & Millichap is expected to perform due diligence reviews on the firms, which are required to visit Country View. Final bids are scheduled to be opened at a May 29 public hearing.

A group of Country View employees has been leading a petition drive asking the supervisors to stop the sale, putting up more than 100 signs around the county and picking up more than 2,000 signatures.

Supervisor Chris Schwartz is also opposed to the sale, favoring a plan to retain county ownership and county employees while working to reduce the subsidy.

The request for proposals requires bidders to maintain Country View as a skilled nursing facility for a minimum of 10 years, while giving admission preference to Black Hawk County residents, allowing existing qualified residents to stay at Country View and keeping at least 50 percent of the beds for Medicaid payees.

County officials have said Country View’s financial struggles are largely due to its large percentage of clients with mental health care needs and a large number of clients on Medicaid, which is not being fully funded by the state and federal government.

Marcus & Millichap representatives have said Country View’s overall personnel costs, including benefits, far exceed those provided at other area nursing centers.