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Pam DeVries hangs a poster in support of Clarksville native Maddie Poppe on the front window of the Clarksville Star on Monday.

Maddie Poppe coming to Clarksville Tuesday after making "American Idol's" top 3 on Sunday (copy)

CLARKSVILLE — Clarksville’s Maddie Poppe is in the finals of “American Idol,” and the television show is visiting her Iowa hometown today.

“It’s a little hectic,” said Clarksville Mayor Val Swinton, “but this is a huge deal for us. We finally get to see her after all these months.”

After Poppe was named to the top three Sunday night, a 25-member organizational committee met for a late night of planning at the Clarksville Public Library.

“We are anticipating a huge crowd for the parade and most will head over to Allison for the concert afterward,” where organizers are expecting 6,000 in attendance, Swinton said.

“As soon as the show was over and we knew Maddie was moving on, we were working until almost midnight to figure out traffic, how many porta-potties we would need, that kind of thing.”

Swinton called Poppe’s “American Idol” success a “huge feather in the cap for Clarksville. She has become a major source of pride in our community.”

The top five contestants performed live Sunday night, but only three moved on to next week’s two-part finale: Maddie Poppe, Gabby Barrett and Caleb Lee Hutchinson.

All five contestants opened the show singing Carrie Underwood’s song “See You Again,” with Underwood joining them halfway through the performance. Each then performed two songs, one Carrie Underwood hit, and a song dedicated to their mothers.

Poppe, 20, performed “I Told You So” as her Carrie Underwood song. And she performed the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” as a tribute to her mom, Tonya.

The American Idol champion will be crowned next week. Footage from her hometown visit will be aired during the finals coverage.

The parade featuring Poppe begins at 5 p.m. today in downtown Clarksville. It will run down Prospect Street to Main Street to Superior Street. No parking will be allowed on the streets in that area, the mayor said.

“If you leave your car there, it will be towed,” he said.

Poppe will ride the parade route in a convertible with her parents in a convertible directly behind. Her grandparents will follow that car in a limousine.

“We are going to have our high school marching band out there, our fire trucks and ambulance, our drill team. It’s going to be so exciting for us,” Swinton said. “It’s just a blast. Everybody is so thrilled over this.”

The parade will be followed by a free concert at 6:30 p.m at the Butler County Fairgrounds in Allison. Space is limited to first-come, first-serve.

“There’s going to be a large crowd headed that way with some heavy traffic,” Swinton warned. She asked drivers be patient and careful.

Organizers said the event will happen at the grandstand rain or shine. Food and water will be available to buy. No alcoholic beverages will be allowed.

Swinton said he wouldn’t be at all surprised if Poppe is named the winner of “American Idol” winner next week.

“I think her odds are great,” he said. “Of course I’m biased, but I think the judges have a soft spot for Maddie. They just seem to save some of their warmest comments for Maddie. ... She has the most natural talent, and her stage presence just keeps improving.”

Maddie Poppe's 'American Idol' journey in pictures, videos

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

Iowa missed shot to fast track sports betting


DES MOINES — Proponents say Iowa missed the boat by not passing a law allowing casinos to offer sports wagering before the U.S. Supreme Court made such bets legal Monday.

“The story today is that Iowa is behind the eight ball, and that is not a good position to be in relative to this market,” said state Sen. Jeff Danielson, D-Waterloo.

The high court paved the way for states to legalize sports betting. Danielson was among those pushing legislation in 2018 so Iowa was ready for Monday’s widely expected outcome.

The ruling was a defeat for major American sports leagues, endorsing New Jersey’s bid to allow sports wagering. It struck down a 1992 federal law that allowed betting on individual games only in Nevada.

Iowa was among 18 states that considered legislation to allow sports gambling if the court ruled as it did, but the Legislature adjourned earlier this month without adopting it.

So sports wagering will remain illegal in Iowa — at least for now.

“We’re excited to see the U.S. Supreme Court ruled as we expected them to do,” said Wes Ehrecke, a representative of the Iowa Gaming Association, which represents 19 state-licensed casinos.

“The timing would have been great to have had this done four weeks ago,” added Ehrecke.

Rep. Jake Highfill, R-Johnston, the author of a House bill to legalize sports betting, expects to push the issue early when the Legislature convenes in January.

“It’s about time. Let’s get this done. It’s been a stupid law for a very long time, and I’m ready to get this thing moving,” Highfill said.

However, Danielsen said the bill is by no means a lock.

“Pardon the pun, but we face long odds,” Danielson said. “I think people are allergic to evidence on this issue.”

At best it will be April or May of 2019 before the state could get sports books up and running. That means Iowans probably will not be able to legally bet on games until after some of the sports calendar’s biggest annual events: the 2018 NFL season and 2019 Super Bowl and 2019 NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a 2014 New Jersey law permitting sports betting at casinos and horse tracks. It voided the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.

The ruling takes the United States a step closer to legal sports betting in numerous states. The current illegal sports betting market is worth billions of dollars annually, and some states see it as a potentially important source of tax revenue.

The proposed Iowa law would have placed sports betting under the direction of the state’s casinos, regulated by the state’s Racing and Gaming Commission.

Bettors would be allowed to wager on professional and college athletics. Properties that wish to host sports betting would be required to pay a $25,000 license fee and a tax of 8 percent on sports betting revenues.

Sports betting could generate $80 million to $90 million annually in Iowa, according to an Innovation Group survey. The proposed legislation also would legalize mobile sports betting.

Miller said the rate of taxation will remain a hurdle for any Iowa legislation. And the professional sports leagues will fight for a portion of the revenues.

Experts said sports gambling is not a huge moneymaker for casinos. But it likely would add foot traffic to Iowa casinos, including many people who do not currently visit them.

Danielson and Highfill said legalizing sports gambling would bring current bettors out of the shadows. Americans illegally wager $150 billion on sports annually. Of the $4.7 billion wagered on the 2017 Super Bowl, for example, 97 percent was illegal, according to estimates from the American Gaming Association.

Tom Coates, an official with Consumer Credit of Des Moines who has been a leading gambling opponent in Iowa, said he expects a major push to legalize sports and fantasy sports betting in Iowa as part of an effort by the gambling industry to move into the online competitive interactive gaming market full tilt.

“The casinos are pushing hard for it, and so I’m sure that their army of lobbyists and money will be fully on display this next legislative season,” Coates said.

Casinos are hungry to tap into a market of younger players.

“They’ve been looking for some way to reach out and grab the younger people. Sports betting will start, but I don’t think it will end there,” he said.

“This is a big nose of the camel into the tent,” Coates said.

The ultimate goal is online gambling, he maintains. “We’ve been able to avoid the online gambling, but the casinos have been salivating over this for a long time.”

Reynolds signs bill intended to curb opioid overdose deaths

DES MOINES (AP) — Doctors in Iowa will be required to screen patients’ risk of addiction before prescribing some painkillers under a law signed Monday by Gov. Kim Reynolds.

The law, an attempt by lawmakers to curb Iowa’s growing opioid problem, mandates the tracking of prescription drugs through a software system that should automatically flag patients believed to have a high risk of abusing painkillers. The measure seeks to reduce so-called “doctor shopping,” where a patient visits multiple physicians seeking prescriptions.

Reynolds signed the law at a Dubuque medical center that offers treatment for opioid addiction.

“Opioid-related deaths have more than doubled over the past decade,” the Republican governor said. “With this legislation, we are taking the first step to reverse this heart-wrenching trend.”

Medical experts warn the state must be careful to avoid a spike in illegal drug use, an unintended consequence of limiting opioid medication.

Lawmakers have taken some steps in recent years to address opioid abuse. In 2016, they expanded access to a drug used to treat overdoses. Grants also are increasing access to treatment for those addicted to opioids. But there’s been a push to do more as opioid-related deaths increase.

Opioid patients will now be assigned a number similar to a credit score that indicates their risk for abusing opioids — which include prescription pain relievers, such as oxycodone, and illegal substances, such as heroin. High risk patients would be scrutinized by doctors and pharmacists.

“The higher the number, the higher the risk,” said Andrew Funk, executive director of the Iowa Board of Pharmacy.

Iowa will join 38 other states that require the use of a prescription monitoring program, according to the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws. Iowa’s neighboring states of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois have mandatory review programs. Nebraska and South Dakota have optional programs, while Missouri lacks a robust statewide program.

Prescription management programs need to be linked to other efforts to combat opioids, said Silvia Martins, a Columbia University assistant professor who co-authored a recent study examining whether such programs decrease overdose deaths. The study, published earlier this month, encouraged states to have mandatory programs like Iowa’s where doctors review patient data before writing prescriptions. Providing adequate access to treatment is also critical.

“It has to be a multipronged approach,” Martins said.

States can’t only focus on legal access to opioids. Martins said some states see a spike in heroin overdose deaths after taking steps to reduce legal prescriptions for opioids.

Iowa had 98 deaths linked to heroin last year, part of 309 overall opioid-linked deaths, based on preliminary data from the Iowa Department of Public Health. Iowa had more than 50 opioid-linked deaths in the first four months of 2018. Nationally, more than 115 people die each day from opioid overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The law, which goes into effect in July, also provides immunity from prosecution to anyone who calls 911 to report an overdose.

Critics question whether Iowa’s opioid legislation goes far enough. The new law doesn’t place any limits on how many doses of opioids can be prescribed or directly address the spread of illicit drugs.

Democrats unsuccessfully attempted to add a needle exchange program, which could help slow the spread of hepatitis C and HIV from illicit drugs. State Epidemiologist Patricia Quinlisk said such programs are a “proven method” to get people with drug addiction into treatment.

Rep. David Heaton, a Mount Pleasant Republican who isn’t seeking re-election, said he’s also concerned that the private companies that run Iowa’s Medicaid system “drag their feet” on providing authorization for medicine to help curb addiction.

“My hat’s off to all of us on passing a good start,” Heaton said in floor debate. “But there’s a lot of work to be done.”