WATERLOO — There are some things that can always be counted on when attending the annual Mike and Leona Adams Thanksgiving Dinner. The food will be good, the service will be friendly and Lorna Neil will be overseeing the kitchen.
Neil, 95, has been running the kitchen at the Local 838 Union Hall in Waterloo almost since the free event’s inception 37 years ago.
She’s been doing it since the volunteers would roast, de-bone and slice dozens of turkeys. They would spend hours toasting bread and cutting celery for dressing.
“We used to pick up the turkeys and take them to the three hospitals and they would cook them for us,” said Julie Gage of Veridian Credit Union, who just marked her 20th year with the event.
Neil, of Waterloo, said she enjoys doing the dinner every year, but is considering hanging up her apron. She won’t say this is definitely her last year and promises to come back and help even if she decides to hand over the reins to someone else.
Gage didn’t seem to like that idea.
“I’ll go pick her up myself if I have to,” she said.
Another pair of women remember how things were done before a number of sponsors stepped up to help with the yearly feast.
Sally and Sandy, the Adams’ daughters, have been working the dinner and helping with preparations for decades. On Monday they sat at the beginning of the food line handing out plates and chatting with the guests, wearing headbands embellished with turkeys and T-shirts that read “Adams Turkey Day. Eat, nap, repeat.”
The sisters — Sally is 57 and Sandy is 63 — said volunteers did all the cooking until their father died.
“After that, Mom couldn’t do it all on her own,” Sandy said.
Sally has worked every dinner since the beginning except one.
“I was sick one year,” she said.
Sandy worked second shift and couldn’t always help with the dinner but always helped prepare for it.
The younger generations of the Adams family also are involved.
“We have some great nieces and nephew who will be helping tonight,” Sandy said. “They just love it.”
This year, the College Square Hy-Vee store in Cedar Falls cooked the turkeys, dressing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pies for the meal. Gravy, corn and cranberries were prepared in the UAW Hall kitchen.
This was Laura Heeren’s first year in Neil’s kitchen. She decided to volunteer because her husband is in the union. She had dish washing detail.
“It’s fun,” she said. “I’ve had a good time.”
Doors opened at 4 p.m., and people streamed into the hall and were greeted and seated right away.
Mackensie Davis, a Veridian volunteer, welcomed guests with a smile and directed them to one of six long rows of tables already set up with placemats, utensils and napkins.
“This is my third year,” she said. “This is my absolute favorite volunteer event. ... I get to be a part of my community.”
Gage said more than 100 volunteers help with the event.
“We have 40 to 50 serving home-delivered meals and another 60 to 70 working in the actual hall,” she said.
“We plan for 1,000 meals, and then there’s 375 meals delivered in conjunction with the Northeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging’s Meals on Wheels program.”
This was Dulce Orozco’s third year attending the event. She brought her son, Ismael, 12, and daughter, Salma, 11, to enjoy the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Orozco took advantage of one of the free services offered during the meal and had her blood pressure checked by a volunteer from the Cedar Valley Hospice.
“It is a wonderful event,” she said. “When we first moved, we didn’t have no place to live and we came here to do Thanksgiving because of the meal they provide.”
Mike Adams started the event to help community members who had been laid off, and it has continued all these years.
“The need is still there,” Sally Adams said. “Dad would be so happy that it is still going on and still helping people.”
Other event contributors include Anderson Erickson Dairy, Clip Art Corner, which provided free haircuts, Martin Bros. Distributing, MET Transit, which bused people to the event, and Special Occasions Party and Event Rental.
WATERLOO — A meatpacking company could be returning to the former Rath Packing Co. site.
Waterloo City Council members voted unanimously Monday to rezone 2.5 acres of land near Vinton and Sycamore streets for a beef processing plant to be constructed by an unidentified out-of-state developer.
Officials with the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber, who are working with the developer, said the project would create at least 71 jobs. The starting annual salary for 55 of those positions would be $39,200 with benefits.
“In addition to the possibility of attracting a new business to Waterloo this project will directly benefit three existing Waterloo businesses already in the supply chain, creating and contributing to Waterloo and the Cedar Valley’s economy,” said GCVA representative Bob Smith.
Crystal Distribution Services owns the site, which is directly south of the company’s offices and cold storage building.
Crystal President Tom Poe said he became acquainted with the businessman looking for a site to develop the organic beef processing facility, noting he fell in love with the location.
“Not only do we have the infrastructure in place adjacent to our facility, the available work force in the neighborhood is a big draw to him,” Poe said. “It would enhance our business and bring in other surrounding businesses such as trucking, hotels and restaurants.”
Poe said he’s helping line up construction contractors for the project, noting the developer was anxious to begin soon. It was unclear Monday whether a development agreement would be returning to the City Council or Iowa Economic Development Authority first.
Poe noted the rezoning returns the land back to the “M2” zoning that existed when the Rath Packing Co. was operating its hog processing plant.
Crystal Distribution has utilized some of the buildings vacated following Rath’s 1985 bankruptcy and constructed new buildings on a portion of the site where the city demolished others.
The developer has already met with city staff to ensure the area has adequate sewer and water infrastructure to support the plant.
DES MOINES — The head of Iowa’s revenue department is stoked over state income tax cuts that will begin lowering Iowans’ payroll withholdings effective Jan. 1.
“It is an exciting time to be in taxes. If you’re a tax nerd, this is good stuff,” Courtney Kay-Decker, director of the Iowa Department of Revenue, told Gov. Kim Reynolds on Monday at the start of her yearly hearing on her state budget request.
The source of her excitement was twofold:
Federal income tax cuts started last February, and now the largest income tax cut in Iowa history begins its multiyear implementation in January. And second, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last June put states in a stronger position to force online retailers to collect sales taxes, which also expand Jan. 1 under Iowa’s new tax law.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime sort of thing that we all get to do,” she told the governor. “It’s so fun. This is stuff that we don’t see very often. You see bits and pieces of it come along, you don’t see major reform like that very often in the tax world.”
Since Iowa has a federal deductibility law, Republicans who passed the plan — which Reynolds signed into law last May — say the change is designed to prevent Iowans from seeing an increase in their state tax liabilities. The federal cut reduced Iowans’ federal tax liabilities by an estimated $1.8 billion.
Those cuts already have boosted state revenue by about $100 million this fiscal year because Iowans have less being deducted in federal taxes.
Kay-Decker indicated she and her staff spent months working on Iowa tax-code changes by updating 138 forms and creating seven new ones, along with addressing 29 regulations and placing an updated withholding calculator for 2019 year for Iowans to use on her agency’s website at tax.iowa.gov/withholding-calculator.
The department also is continuing cybersecurity efforts to combat tax refund fraud, she said.
The new law also included sales tax “modernization” changes to capture more revenue from online purchases made by Iowans. State sales taxes will be collected and remitted on digital books, ring tones, electronic games and entertainment, ride-hailing services, online travel sites and subscription services such as streaming audio or video, among other items.
According to the revenue agency analysis, for tax year 2019 Iowa’s 1,639,741 income tax filers would receive an average cut of $243, or 9.8 percent.
By calendar tax year, the reductions would be $255.3 million in 2019; $307.6 million in 2020; $391.6 million in 2021; $405.9 million in 2022; $525.9 million in 2023; and $851.9 million in 2024.