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Charlie Neibergall 

Iowa mascot Herky runs on the court before an NCAA college basketball game between Iowa and Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018, in Iowa City, Iowa.(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

First of seized Samoyeds brought to Waterloo from puppy mill is adopted (PHOTOS)

WATERLOO — “I’m going to miss you. Forget all that horrible stuff that happened to you. You are going to be a good dog.”

Those were the parting words from Abby Cresap, adoption supervisor at Cedar Bend Humane Society, to puppy Gus as he left for his new home Tuesday morning.

Gus is one of nine Samoyeds that arrived at the shelter last week. Those nine were among 154 Samoyeds seized from a puppy mill near Manly earlier this month.

Five-month-old Gus was the first of the Cedar Bend Samoyeds to be adopted. He’ll now live with his new family, Sheila and Lynn Williams of Cedar Rapids.


Puppy Gus gets his adoption day photo with his new owner, Sheila Williams. Shooting the photo is Cedar Bend Human Society Adoption Supervisor Abby Cresap.

CBHS staff said sending Gus off to his new home is bittersweet.

“In cases like this we get very attached,” said Kristi Gardner, CBHS co-director. “We put a lot into them.”

The dogs will continue to need a lot, Gardner said.

When the Worth County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant Nov. 12, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals seized 154 Samoyeds and four cats from a property near Manly, citing animal neglect, according to court documents.

The property is owned by Barbara Kavars, 65, who operates White Fire Kennels, as reported by the Mason City Globe Gazette. Kavars has not been charged with a crime, but the ASPCA says animal neglect charges are pending.

The dogs were living in “appalling and overcrowded conditions and exhibiting signs of neglect with no access to clean water,” said the ASPCA. The outdoor kennels had little to no food and no clean water, with only a few non-heated buckets containing frozen water, according to court documents. The kennels, which smelled strongly of ammonia and were full of feces, had limited roof cover, were unheated and were overcrowded.

Many of the dogs seized were underweight, had dental problems, untrimmed nails and fecal matter on their bodies and between the pads of their feet. Some dogs were fighting, others were cowering and some had trouble standing and walking.

The Samoyeds that arrived at Cedar Bend — Gus, Rose, Dutchess, Tippy, Luna, Maddy, Snow, Blizzard and Indy — are grossly underweight and timid. Under quarantine, they’ve been vaccinated, spayed and neutered, de-wormed and groomed to remove matted fur. A couple of them, including Gus, needed hernia repair surgery. Indy, 3 months, was quickly placed in foster care to begin early socialization.

“Socialization, that’s the biggest challenge,” Gardner said.


Kristi Gardner, Cedar Bend Humane Society co-director, spends a few minutes with one of the 154 Samoyeds seized from a puppy mill in Manly and one of the nine being sheltered, evaluated and acclimated to human contact at the Waterloo shelter.

When the dogs arrived at CBHS, they cowered in the corners of their kennels. They’re still timid but are learning to trust humans. Staff sit alongside them in their kennels several times a day, offering treats and gentle pets.

“It’s going to be a process,” Gardner said. “They’ve never been in a house before. They don’t know what carpet feels like, what a TV sounds like, the movement of a ceiling fan. They’re terrified of leashes. It’s going to take a while.”

It took Gus a few minutes to warm up to Sheila Williams, who’d made the hour-long drive to get him.

“You gotta be brave,” Cresap told Gus as he anxiously inched out the kennel door toward his new mom.


"Gus," one of the 154 Samoyeds seized from a puppy mill in Manly and one of the nine being sheltered and evaluated at the Cedar Bend Humane Society, takes in his surroundings with the gentle hand of his new owner, Sheila Williams, of Cedar Rapids.

“They are great dogs. They are very outgoing and are such happy dogs generally,” Williams said, noting Gus will have some four-legged help adjusting to his new life from Williams’ other family member — Olivia, a 10-year-old Samoyed.

CBHS has received more than 100 applications from all over the country — New York, Maine, Colorado, Indiana, Minnesota — from people interested in adopting the Samoyeds. Gus was the first to go home Tuesday. That afternoon, Tippy met her prospective family and would head to her new home that evening. Indy is expected to be adopted by the end of the week.

The remaining dogs continue to be evaluated and socialized and will be matched with families that are the best fit.

“We’re excited to get them homes, but we want to match up the right people with the right pet,” Gardner said.

See all the photos of the Samoyeds seized from an Iowa puppy mill

Cedar Falls Industrial Park expanding west

WATERLOO — Black Hawk County is helping clear the way for the city of Cedar Falls to expand its industrial park.

Members of the county Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to allow Cedar Falls to add land currently west of the city limits to the industrial park’s tax increment financing district.

Cedar Falls is planning eventually to purchase and annex the property along the east side of Union Road generally between Viking Road and Ridgeway Avenue. But county approval was necessary to utilize the TIF program for the land acquisition prior to the annexation.

“The city of Cedar Falls is looking to expand its industrial park, and we have come to an agreement to purchase approximately 200 acres of land located just west of the current industrial park,” said Shane Graham, a city planner.

“We see this as a positive project,” he added. “We’ve been seeing some demand for larger industrial sites that we’re starting to run out of now.”

The city’s current industrial park was designed with street extensions to serve the area west of the city limits. Cedar Falls Utilities constructed a new electrical substation on South Union Road in 2017 to accommodate additional growth in that area.

The Cedar Falls City Council voted Nov. 5 to buy 126 acres of farm land from the Rieger family for $2.65 million. The second land acquisition is pending a council vote, and closing on both properties is expected in January.

Graham said the city will begin the annexation process after the acquisitions are complete.

The county supervisors’ approval for Cedar Falls to add the property to its urban renewal area will allow the city to use taxes generated in its current industrial park to pay for the property acquisitions.

The Cedar Falls City Council is expected to vote on the TIF arrangement Dec. 17.

4 things to know about medical marijuana kicking off in Iowa

First in a two-part series on medical cannabidiol dispensaries opening in Iowa.

WATERLOO — Iowa’s new law allowing limited medicinal uses of cannabidiol was signed in 2017, and five dispensaries will open to legally registered patients Saturday. One of those dispensaries is in Waterloo — the Iowa Cannabis Co., 1955 La Porte Road.

Before that happens, here are four things to know about medical marijuana in Iowa:

How it started

In 2017, the Legislature passed and then-Gov. Terry Branstad signed the Medical Cannabidiol Act, which allows up to two in-state operations to grow marijuana and process 3 percent THC cannabidiol to be distributed by five state-approved dispensaries.

Iowa-based doctors — for now, only doctors — can certify a patient has one of several approved conditions treatable with cannabidiol. A board oversees and periodically updates the law in conjunction with the Iowa Board of Medicine.

The law, an update to the 2014 law decriminalizing cannabis oil for epilepsy patients, was modeled after Minnesota’s regulations, which have been in place for a few years, said Sarah Reisetter, deputy director of the Iowa Department of Public Health.

State law requires everything to be up and running by Dec. 1.

What is legal?

The law defines “medical cannabidiol” as any approved strain of cannabis, but it can’t have more than 3 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC — the psychoactive compound in marijuana that gets a recreational user high. (In states where marijuana is legal for adult use, like Colorado, THC levels can reach 15-20 percent or more.)

“Minnesota doesn’t have any limit on THC,” said Reisetter. “Our law caps the THC content at no more than 3 percent.”

The Iowa law allows pharmaceutical-grade “marijuana extracts,” which can include nebulizers or inhaled products, but MedPharm — the company making all legal products for sale in Iowa — is selling only capsules, tinctures and creams.

“I think the biggest thing that people should realize, and one of the things that’s kind of confusing, is that the products available in these dispensaries are not what most people think about when they think about marijuana — there won’t be smoking products, there won’t be joints, there won’t be edibles,” Reisetter said.

Who is it for?

The law is intended for patients with what the Legislature defined as a “debilitating medical condition:”

  • Cancer patients with “severe or chronic pain,” nausea, severe vomiting or severe wasting.
  • Multiple sclerosis patients with “severe and persistent muscle spasms”
  • Seizures, including epilepsy.
  • HIV or AIDS.
  • Crohn’s disease.
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.
  • Terminally ill patients with a life expectancy of less than one year who have “severe or chronic pain,” nausea, severe vomiting or severe wasting.
  • Parkinson’s disease.
  • “Untreatable pain.”

Petitions to add conditions are taken on the Office of Medical Cannabidiol’s website at

Reisetter said the Board of Medicine is taking a look at adding severe, intractable pediatric autism with self-injurious or aggressive behavior.

“There’s concern that THC can have negative effects on a developing brain,” she said. “But children with autism this severe — adverse effects don’t really apply here. They felt like it was a compassionate use.”

“Compassionate use” has come to define the state medical cannabidiol board’s mission, Reisetter said. It has already approved ulcerative colitis, which also has been approved by the Board of Medicine and will join the list early next year.

“It’s been interesting to listen to their discussions,” said Reisetter of the nine-member board. “As it relates to ulcerative colitis, they said Crohn’s was passed by the Legislature, and it has symptoms that are very similar to ulcerative colitis. They said they are not sure why they would include one and not the other.”

Research has shown both THC and cannabidiol, or CBD, both naturally found in the marijuana plant, can have medical benefits. CBD can be used to treat seizures, mental disorders, inflammatory bowel syndrome and depression, while THC can be used to treat muscle spasticity, glaucoma, low appetite and insomnia. Both can be used to treat pain, nausea and anxiety.

How do I get it?

To obtain cannabidiol products, patients or their primary caregivers must download a form on the IDPH’s website: They then take that form to their doctor to sign.

“The doctor is not prescribing — they’re certifying that patient has one of the eligible debilitating conditions,” Reisetter said.

There’s already a snag in the process: Only about 325 of Iowa’s 7,000 doctors have certified people for medical cannabidiol, in part because many are uneasy about their role in the system, according to a recent article in the Des Moines Register.

UnityPoint Health said in a statement the company “defers decisions regarding patient care to its physicians,” and doctors who choose to certify patients for medical cannabidiol have a “responsibility to remain informed about the associated clinical and regulatory guidelines.”

UnityPoint spokesman Carson Tigges said he was unaware of any local physicians who had certified patients. Covenant Medical Center did not respond.

Certified patients must complete a patient registration application and submit that along with the form signed by their doctor, a valid photo ID and $100 for a patient registration card.

The IDPH notifies patients if they’ve been approved, said Reisetter. Approved patients or caregivers then go to their local Department of Transportation Office — yes, the driver’s license stations — to receive their registration card.

Patients with valid registration cards can then visit one of the five cannabidiol dispensaries around the state. In Northeast Iowa, that’s the Iowa Cannabis Company, located at 1955 La Porte Road, Waterloo. (The others are in Sioux City, Council Bluffs, Windsor Heights and Davenport.)

“Then, generally how they work is the patient or primary caregiver will go back, talk to staff about what products are available and are efficacious for treatment,” Reisetter said.

Read part two of our series, as The Courier interviews Iowa Cannabis Company owner Aaron Boshart:

Recount shows House District 55 race goes to Bergan

DECORAH — Incumbent Republican Rep. Michael Bergan is the winner in the race for the Iowa House District 55 seat.

After a recount in Winneshiek and Clayton counties, Bergan leads Democrat Kayla Koether by nine votes. He added five votes to bring his total to 6,924.

Koether failed to close a seven-vote gap, although she added three votes to her count for a total of 6,915.

“It feels good, of course,” Bergan said. “I’m looking forward to getting down to Des Moines and working on legislation with a priority on children’s mental health.”

Koether declined to comment.

Koether gained one vote in Clayton County and two in Winneshiek, while Bergan gained five in Winneshiek County.

Jim Beeghly, chosen by Koether, James Burns, chosen by Bergan, and Craig Cutting, chosen by both candidates, counted the ballots.

The votes for each candidate were in flux since Election Day; 56.9 percent of the vote in Winneshiek County was cast by absentee ballot.

The votes were counted by hand and machine. The three-person board went over votes and separated clearly marked ballots to be counted mechanically.

“They’re taking any questionable ones out that either don’t have marks, have more than one box marked or that they have any questions on, and then they’ll all look at those together,” said Ben Steines, Winneshiek County auditor.

The counters were tasked with determining the voter’s intent on the ballot.

The Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors will canvass the recounted votes at noon today.

Representatives for the Democratic and Republican parties were there to witness the results in Winneshiek.

Bob Ward, Iowa Democratic Party regional campaign manager, and Josh Wilson, Northeast Iowa field director for Iowa House Republicans, watched over the counting.

Ken Kline, the Iowa Secretary of State deputy commissioner of elections, also was present.

The tally at the start of the recount was 6,919 votes for Bergan and 6,912 for Koether. In Winneshiek County, 31 mail-in ballots will not be counted because they weren’t postmarked.