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Govt-and-politics
Buyer lowers Country View offer again

WATERLOO — Black Hawk County has agreed to lower its sale price for Country View after the buyer found shortfalls at the nursing home.

Members of the county Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 Monday to let Pritok Capital use $400,000 initially earmarked as part of the sale price to make building improvements.

Pritok Capital, of Skokie, Ill., bid $5.6 million when the county-owned skilled nursing and mental health care facility was put on the market in May.

But the supervisors agreed to lower the price to $4 million after the state slashed Medicaid reimbursement rates for some residents at the care center, which Pritok claimed devalued the center after the original bid was provided.

This week’s action essentially drops the county’s proceeds to $3.6 million. The deal is expected to close by the end of December.

“In doing their due diligence, Pritok found various deficiencies within the facility that they noted and wanted to negotiate a reduction in the price,” said Eric Johnson, an attorney hired to help the county negotiate the sale.

Johnson said the county instead required Pritok to put the $400,000 into an escrow account for building improvements “so that we know … that what is left for the residents and the staff there would be an improved facility.”

Supervisor Chris Schwartz, who had opposed selling Country View throughout the process, cast the lone vote against the latest price cut.

“This is essentially the second price reduction we’ve had,” said Schwartz, adding the brokerage hired to sell Country View had put the projected price at $5.5 million to $8.5 million before bids were sought.

The supervisors put Country View on the market after the 168-bed facility began racking up annual budget deficits that required a $1.5 million property tax bailout last year. The process drew heavy criticism from Country View employees and family members of residents.

Country View had avoided needing additional county general fund support since the new fiscal year started July 1. But that changed this month.

The supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to advance $500,000 to the care center’s budget, which they hope to recoup when the books are closed on the sale.

County Finance Director Susan Deaton said County View had $240,000 in its bank account Monday, which wasn’t enough to cover this week’s $300,000 payroll or another $280,000 in employee benefits owed to the county for the month of October.


Local
10-year-old Cedar Falls boy posts encounters with dogs on internet

CEDAR FALLS — If you walk your dog in or around Cedar Falls, there’s a good chance you’ve met Gideon Kidd, the 10-year-old who is on a mission to pet as many dogs as he can.

Gideon, a fifth-grader at Lincoln Elementary School, has garnered a lot of attention for his canine quest and his posts on his “I’ve Pet That Dog” website and Twitter account. He currently has 146,000 Twitter followers, and people recognize him from his internet posts.

“I like it,” Gideon said. “I’m kind of famous. Well, me and the dogs split the fame.”

Gideon’s journey to internet popularity started about two years ago when he began approaching dog owners while they were out walking their pets.

He introduces himself, asks if he can pet the dog and gives the owner “the slip” — a small piece of paper with his website and Twitter account information, so owners can see their animal posted online.

“It’s kind of like my business card,” he said.

Gideon will pose with the dog and interview the owner to find out more about the animal — all while his mom, Rachel Braunigan, takes photos and notes. The notes will be written up and accompany the dog’s photo online.

“We have almost 660 dogs on the website now,” Braunigan said.

Recently, Gideon met Daisy, an active 4-year-old collie-lab mix, at Overman Park in Cedar Falls.

After petting her and getting some photos taken, Gideon interviewed her owner.

“Does Daisy like to play with toys?”

“Do you have any funny stories about Daisy?”

“What does Daisy like to do in her free time?”

Gideon found out Daisy has developed an affinity for baked goods, can open doors on her own and is afraid of the dark.

Two days after the encounter, a photo of Gideon and Daisy appeared on the website, www.ivepetthatdog.com, and the “I’ve Pet That Dog” Twitter feed.

Gideon has met a lot of dogs in the last few years, and some are pretty memorable.

One of his favorites is Persia, a pitbull mix he met at the Cedar Bend Humane Society.

“She is a great dog, and she was at the shelter for months,” Gideon said. “I was sad when she got adopted, but happy, too, since now she has a family.”

In fact, most of the dogs Gideon has met on his monthly visits to the humane society and posted online have been adopted.

Gideon also recalls his meeting with Remy, a poodle mix who liked to eat goose poop.

“And then he tried to lick my face!” Gideon said.

Tucker, a black pug, never followed commands and liked to eat mud, Gideon said.

“And then he would demand water — chilled from the fridge. He was a I-do-what-I-want kind of dog.”

Gideon has discovered not all dogs appreciate the attention. He once came across a chihuahua that wasn’t having any of it.

“I asked the owner if I could pet it, and he said no, that wouldn’t be a good idea,” Gideon said. “He said the dog hates the world.”

Gideon said he has never had a bad experience with a dog.

But after seeking out dogs for more than two years, it can be a difficult task to find one he hasn’t met.

Every few days, Gideon and his mom will drive around looking for dogs to pet.

“When we see one, we have to drive by a few times to make sure it’s not a dog I already met,” Gideon said.

Now what would possess a mom to drive around looking for dogs several times a week?

“It’s important to him,” Braunigan said. “When you see your kid stick with something every single day, you have to support that.

“And I know a lot more about dogs now,” she said laughing.

Gideon has a dog of his own and a few cats. His dog, Walter, a middle-sized mutt, appears in his profile pictures on his website and Twitter account.

Walter doesn’t seem to mind when Gideon comes home with the smell of other dogs on him.

“He’s lazy,” Gideon said. “He doesn’t even play with toys or move when someone’s at the door.”

Gideon, who is a middle child with four siblings, likes to read graphic novels and comics in his free time. He likes to be outside and enjoys soccer. He considers himself a friendly guy.

“I say hi to everyone I see,” he said.

Gideon said he wants to work with animals when he grows up and is planning to volunteer at the humane society when he is older.

“I hope I can keep doing this for a very long time,” he said about “I’ve Pet That Dog.” “I just love dogs.”


National
AP
Natives finally being heard, 400 years later

PLYMOUTH, Mass. — The seaside town where the Pilgrims came ashore in 1620 is gearing up for a 400th birthday bash, and everyone’s invited — especially the native people whose ancestors wound up losing their land and their lives.

Plymouth, Massachusetts, whose European settlers have come to symbolize American liberty and grit, marks its quadricentennial in 2020 with a trans-Atlantic commemoration that will put Native Americans’ unvarnished side of the story on full display.

“It’s history. It happened,” said Michele Pecoraro, executive director of Plymouth 400, Inc., a nonprofit group organizing yearlong events. “We’re not going to solve every problem and make everyone feel better. We just need to move the needle.”

Organizers are understandably cautious this time around. When the 350th anniversary of the Pilgrim landing was observed in 1970, state officials disinvited a leader of the Wampanoag Nation — the Native American tribe that helped the haggard newcomers survive their first bitter winter — after learning his speech would bemoan the disease, racism and oppression that followed the Pilgrims.

That triggered angry demonstrations from tribal members who staged a National Day of Mourning, a somber remembrance that indigenous New Englanders have observed on every Thanksgiving Day since.

This time, there’s pressure to get it right, said Jim Peters, a Wampanoag who directs the Massachusetts Commission on Indian Affairs.

“We’ll be able to tell some stories of what happened to us — to delve back into our history and talk about it,” Peters said. “Hopefully it will give us a chance to re-educate people and have a national discussion about how we should be treating each other.”

The commemoration known as Plymouth 400 will feature events throughout 2020, including a maritime salute in Plymouth Harbor in June, an embarkation festival in September, and a week of ceremonies around Thanksgiving.

The Mayflower II , a replica of the ship that carried the settlers from Europe to the New World four centuries ago, will sail to Boston in the spring. That autumn, it will head to Provincetown, at the outermost tip of Cape Cod, where the Pilgrims initially landed before continuing on to Plymouth.

Events also are planned in Britain and in the Netherlands, where the Pilgrims spent 11 years in exile before making their perilous sea crossing.

But the emphasis is on highlighting the often-ignored history of the Wampanoag and poking holes in the false narrative that Pilgrims and Indians coexisted in peace and harmony.

An interactive exhibit now making the rounds describes how the Wampanoag were cheated and enslaved, and in August 2020 tribal members will guide visitors on a walk through Plymouth to point out and consecrate spots where their ancestors once trod.

There are also plans to invite relatives of the late Wampanoag elder Wamsutta “Frank” James to publicly read that speech he wasn’t allowed to deliver in 1970 — an address that includes this passage: “We, the Wampanoag, welcomed you, the white man, with open arms, little knowing that it was the beginning of the end.”

Dusty Rhodes, who chairs a separate state commission working to ensure the commemoration has a global profile, said she hopes it all helps make amends for centuries of “mishandled and misrepresented” history.

“The Pilgrims were the first immigrants,” said Plymouth 400’s Pecoraro. “We’re in a place in this country where we need solidarity. We need to come together. We need to be talking about immigration and indigenous people.”

Plymouth, nicknamed “America’s Hometown,” is sure to draw a crush of 2020 presidential candidates who will use its monuments as campaign backdrops. With President Donald Trump, Queen Elizabeth II and other heads of state on the invitation list, state and federal authorities already are busy mapping out security plans.

Wampanoag tribal leader and activist Linda Coombs, who’s helped plan the commemoration, is skeptical that anything meaningful will change for her people.

“It’s a world stage, so we’ll have more visibility than we’ve had in the past,” she said. “We’ll see if it’s enough. It’ll be a measuring stick for all that has to come afterward.”