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YWCA enters phase 2 of renovation capital campaign

WATERLOO — Worldwide, the YWCA has always been ahead of its time, improving opportunities for women since the mid-1800s.

In Waterloo, that was the aim when the first brick was laid in 1924 at 425 Lafayette St. Today, the building still stands, a monument to an updated mission “to attain a common vision: Peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all people.”

To help achieve that, the 94-year-old building needed some updating of its own. The YWCA is in the planning stages of phase two of its renovation. A capital campaign will begin in the next couple of months, said Executive Director Cindy Mohr.

Phase one began in late 2012, and work was completed in 2015. Much of the $3.1 million project isn’t readily seen by visitors. But they do feel it.

“The whole building got a new (heating and cooling) system. That was a majority of the cost. There’s also a new sprinkler system and new LED lighting with motion sensors throughout the building,” Mohr said.

Renovating a century-old building isn’t for the faint of heart. Mohr had concerns about whether donors would back such a project. Early on, all options were on the table, including moving to a new building.

“We looked at it from every angle,” Mohr said. “But we couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.”

The gym and the pool are original, though new air exchange ducts now span the spaces’ ceilings. Phase two of the renovation will include further improvements to those areas, including refinishing the gym floor. The pool itself is in remarkably good shape for its age and is used daily for exercise classes.

“We keep the pool at 89 degrees,” said Melissa Summers, YWCA wellness director. “It’s more comfortable on the joints.”

Permanent pool stairs and a new whirlpool are also part of the next renovation phase.

Phase two also will include:

A kitchen renovation.

The addition of a smoothie/coffee bar that provides on-the-job-training for those needing work skills.

Restoration of the terrazzo tile floors.

Tuckpoint the building’s exterior brick facade.

New windows.

Renovation of the locker rooms and the addition of family changing rooms.

New technology and media systems.

As with phase one, phase two will utilize all local contractors and be designed by Invision Architecture and the Samuels Group.

Preliminary estimates for phase two are about $3 million. Funding once again will come from grants and generous donations from individuals and organizations.

“I didn’t get some of the grants I applied for the first time, but that doesn’t mean I won’t keep taking a run at it,” Mohr said.

Governor race to be costly

DES MOINES — A dozen Iowans hope to become the state’s next governor.

Recently those candidates’ fundraising efforts for 2017 were made public by a state campaign finance disclosure deadline.

Who fared well? Who went beyond Iowa’s borders for financial support? Who are the people donating thousands of dollars to these candidates?

The answers lie within hundreds of pages of campaign finance reports.

Who raised most?

Able to draw on contacts developed during her time in office — as governor since last summer and as lieutenant governor for the six-plus years prior — Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds raised the most money in 2017: more than $3.7 million.

Reynolds received $1.25 million from the Republican Party’s national organization that works to elect GOP governors.

Fred Hubbell was not far behind. The Des Moines businessman raised just shy of $3.1 million to easily outpace the Democratic field. The next-best Democrats didn’t raise half that. Cathy Glasson raised more than $1.3 million and Nate Boulton nearly $1.1 million.

Who spent most?

Hubbell was far and away the biggest spender in 2017. He spent more than $1.8 million, including more than $255,000 on TV and radio advertising. Hubbell was the first candidate to air TV ads in Iowa, in October.

Reynolds has not yet advertised on TV and thus spent a small portion of what she raised. That indicates she believes she is in a strong position to survive her party primary challenge without using too many resources before the June election.

She has more than $4.1 million in her campaign account, almost four times what Hubbell has remaining. And Hubbell still faces a hotly contested Democratic primary.

Ron Corbett, the former Cedar Rapids mayor challenging Reynolds in the Republican primary, used up less than a third of what he raised in 2017, finishing the year with $579,000 left, roughly one-seventh of what the governor has in her account.

Candidates love to boast about how much of their campaign cash comes from the people they hope to represent.

Boulton, Hubbell and Republican candidate Ron Corbett had the highest share of Iowa donors among candidates who raised at least six figures. Boulton set the mark with 83.7 percent of his donors or donor organizations coming from Iowa; 78.3 percent of Corbett’s donors were Iowans, as were 75.7 percent of Hubbell’s.

Cathy Glasson, on the other hand, received a scant 3.7 percent of her donations from Iowans. The Coralville nurse and labor leader has been endorsed by the Service Employees International Union, whose myriad political groups across the country have donated to her campaign.

Small donors

Glasson and Boulton also had the most grassroots support in the form of small donations from individuals. Glasson received 2,685 donations of less than $20, easily the most among all candidates. Boulton received 1,499 donations of less than $20. No other candidate had more than 135 such donations.

Big donors

Boulton and Glasson may have dominated small-donor support, but their campaigns also benefited from big-dollar support from labor organizations.

Boulton’s campaign is top-heavy with support from political fundraising committees; 25 of the top 27 donors in 2017 to the attorney and state senator’s campaign were political action committees, or PACs. Most of them are tied to labor groups, and the donations ranged from $5,000 to $30,000.

Glasson’s campaign is even heavier in support from labor-related PACs. The various SEIU groups made 43 donations totaling more than $1.3 million to her campaign.

Hubbell relied on a network of high-dollar individual donors.

He received more than 600 donations of $1,000 or more from individuals. At the very top, he received a pair of $100,000 donations: from Norwalk’s Art Coppola, CEO of a retail real estate company, and Van Meter’s William Knapp, chairman of a real estate development company.

Hubbell also found a high-dollar donor close to home: himself. He donated more than $118,000 to his campaign, and another $75,000 donation is credited to his wife, Charlotte.

He was not the only self-funder. The top five donations to Democrat Andy McGuire, a physician and former state party leader, came from McGuire. Self-funding accounted for more than a third of McGuire’s fundraising in 2017: roughly $255,000 out of $719,000.

Reynolds received four six-figure donations from Iowans: two totaling $275,000 from the family of Jeff Hansen, owner of the pork producer Iowa Select Farms; and $100,000 each from David North, president of an eastern Iowa claims management company, and his wife, and from the family of deceased paving and construction company CEO Robert Horner.

Corbett also benefited from big-money donors. He received $100,000 from Dyan Smith, the wife of John Smith, who owns the Cedar Rapids trucking business CRST International. Corbett used to work for CRST.

Corbett also received $50,000 donations from a pair of individuals: Chris DeWolf, CEO of a Cedar Rapids health care drug distributor; and John Bloomhall, the CEO of an animal feed ingredients company who listed his home as Naples, Florida, but also has had a home and office in Marion.

Nearly half of Corbett’s 2017 fundraising came from the 10 biggest donations to his campaign, including a transfer of nearly $42,000 from his former mayoral campaign account.

Iowa Legislature approves voluntary water quality bill

DES MOINES (AP) — Iowa lawmakers on Tuesday agreed to send a voluntary water quality bill to Gov. Kim Reynolds that doesn’t require comprehensive statewide monitoring of water pollution and excludes benchmark improvement goals, a point some environmental groups argue will lessen its impact.

The Republican-controlled House voted 59-41 for the legislation after floor debate took less than an hour. It passed in the GOP-majority Senate last session, remaining alive because of the two-year legislative calendar.

The House’s swift action masks years of disagreement in the Legislature over how the state should address its dirty waterways. The final vote isn’t expected to quell conversation, as highlighted by minority Democrats who note the bill doesn’t codify how the state should measure cleaner water.

The issue was deeply divisive for Republicans, some of whom pushed last session to add more collaboration from stakeholders like city, county and conservation officials. That proposal also had more Democratic support.

Rep. Chip Baltimore, a Boone Republican, voted against the final bill that passed Tuesday and appeared to criticize lawmakers who might view it as a legislative win for the midterm elections.

“Just because ... the words ‘water quality’ are in the title of a bill does not make me proud to vote for it so that I can put it on a postcard when I go campaign,” he said.

The bill is expected to redirect $282 million over 12 years from state revenue toward existing voluntary water quality programs and create others. The funding would come from a water tax currently in the state budget and an existing infrastructure fund that collects gambling dollars. The funding is set to expire in 2029 unless the Legislature takes further action.

There has been little GOP support to start paying into a natural resources trust fund created in 2010 by voters. It requires raising the state sales tax by less than a penny.

Rep. John Wills, a Spirit Lake Republican who spoke on the chamber floor in support of the measure, defended its lack of water monitoring requirements by arguing existing programs base their work on research set by a state-supported water quality initiative released in 2013. Known as the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, it aims to reduce pollution delivered to Iowa waterways and the Gulf of Mexico.

The same initiative estimates effectively addressing water quality will cost the state billions of dollars.

Wills said he intends to introduce additional water-related legislation and promised the chamber “this is just the beginning, not the end.”

The final bill is expected to be the first Reynolds signs into law as governor. The Republican praised its passage Tuesday, but added it “does not mean the water quality discussion is over.”

“It should ignite a continuing conversation as we begin to implement and scale best practices that will continue to make an impact on water quality in Iowa,” she said in a statement.

Iowa has faced water pollution issues for years, and research shows it’s tied in part to farm runoff. According to the latest update from the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, agriculture and urban runoff contribute more than 90 percent of the nitrogen and 80 percent of the phosphorus leaving the state of Iowa.

Water dominated the 2016 legislative session, after a Des Moines water utility filed a lawsuit that claimed drainage districts in three counties didn’t properly regulate the release of nitrate pollution. The Iowa Supreme Court later determined the drainage districts have immunity to such lawsuits. But the issue has remained on the legislative to-do list ever since.

Iowa’s main agriculture department supported the final bill, as did groups like the Iowa Farm Bureau and Iowa Corn Growers Association. The Iowa Environmental Council, a coalition of more than 65 member organizations, opposed it. Kerri Johannsen, government affairs manager for the council, said the legislation falls short.

“It just really continues the status quo, which we all know is clearly not working,” she said.