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Jamie Brown, Sioux City Journal 

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Crime-and-courts
Judge appoints receiver to oversee Badgerow Building

SIOUX CITY | A federal judge on Friday ordered the appointment of a receiver to manage the historic Badgerow Building while foreclosure proceedings against the building's owner and developer continue.

U.S. District Judge Leonard Strand granted Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Bank and Trust's request for a receiver at the conclusion of a hearing in U.S. District Court in Sioux City.

The bank's lawyer, Michael Rosow, of Minneapolis, said via teleconference that a receiver would be able to preserve federal historic preservation tax credits that are at risk because the building owner has defaulted on a $6 million bond agreement to finance work to renovate and redevelop the 12-story downtown Sioux City office building.

Rosow said that Mako One Corp., the Carlsbad, California-based owner and its managing partner Bruce DeBolt, still owe nearly $4.7 million to the bank.

Mako One's attorney, Robert Patterson, of Alexandria, Virginia, had argued against the appointment of a receiver, saying the bank had caused the default by asking DeBolt to cease actions that could have prevented it.

"We believe this whole receivership is ill-conceived, ill-thought out and destined for failure," said Patterson, who attended the hearing in person.

Strand said he would soon issue an order outlining the receiver's duties. Generally, receivers manage a property, trying to maximize any income potential as if they were the owners while foreclosure cases involving the property continue.

Earlier this week, Strand scheduled the case to go to trial on Jan. 3, 2019.

Cedar Rapids Bank and Trust had requested appointment of a receiver in April, when it filed for foreclosure on the building at 622 Fourth St. That request was delayed after Mako One filed for bankruptcy in June, leading to a stay of the foreclosure proceedings.

A U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge in San Diego dismissed the bankruptcy petition earlier this month, paving the way for the foreclosure case to resume.

Strand's ruling is the latest development in a decade-long effort to bring life back to the Badgerow, which was built in 1933 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places because of its art deco style of architecture.

DeBolt bought the building, which had fallen into disrepair and had been red-tagged as unfit for occupation, for $440,000 in 2007 and announced a $10 million plan to renovate the building to attract corporate data centers, restaurants, professional offices and other businesses.

DeBolt entered into a development agreement with the city and received a tax increment financed $800,000 loan, which he repaid. In 2013, DeBolt agreed to forgo the remaining $1.2 million of a city loan, telling the City Council at the time he had spent about $6 million on renovations and had bonded for an additional $6 million. Cedar Rapids Bank and Trust issued the historic tax credit revenue bonds to Mako One and DeBolt in August 2013.

Later that year, DeBolt announced he had leased the Badgerow's fourth floor for use as a high-tech data center, but did not identify the company, citing confidentiality and security reasons. It's unclear if the data center ever located there and, if it did, if it is still inside the building. Also unclear is the extent of other building renovations.


Education
Education labor union leader Lear retires after 27 years

SIOUX CITY | Bruce Lear taught high school for 11 years in Iowa before he shifted gears to become a union leader representing educators.

Initially, "I did miss teaching quite a bit. Honestly, teaching is performing six shows a day, and it was a rush," Lear said.

But he never went back to the classroom.

"A few times I thought about it, and then I remembered lunch duty," Lear said with a smile.

So his work as director of the Siouxland UniServ group of the Iowa State Education Association, the entity that represents seven groups and 1,500 teachers and other education workers, panned out perfectly as his later life's work. Lear will retire on Tuesday after 27 years of helping educators bargain for wages and benefits, working conditions and other issues.

"I loved this job. It really became more of a calling for me than a job. Representing these people was phenomenal," Lear said.

"...Did I always win? No. Did I always lose? No. Did I always fight to get everything we needed? Yes."

Brenda Zahner, of Sergeant Bluff, becomes Lear's successor on Wednesday. She is a former elementary teacher who for the last three years represented 33 schools in Northwest Iowa, as far east as Buena Vista County and as far north as the Minnesota border.

Zahner will lead the seven bargaining units Lear headed, which includes two for the Sioux City School District and one each for Northwest Area Education Agency, Western Iowa Tech Community College and other groups.

"(Zahner) will do a magnificent job. She bargained 15 years with me in Sergeant Bluff," Lear said.

Sioux City School District Superintendent Paul Gausman, who worked with Lear for nine years, termed him a positive colleague who will be missed.

"While our professional positions occasionally put us on opposite sides of specific issues, we agree far more than we disagree. The blessing to me has always been the way he has been willing to work together toward positive results for students, while respecting the work we each must do to yield improvement in our organizations, the district and the community," Gausman said.

Lear said he worked with five Sioux City School District superintendents over his 27 years, and he most enjoyed the final two, Gausman and Larry Williams.

"Gradually, as we moved through them, things improved. We've had a pretty decent relationship in terms of bargaining, we really have," Lear said.

A native of tiny Shellsburg in eastern Iowa, Lear began his teaching career in Alden, Iowa, in 1979. A comprehensive state collective bargaining law for public employees started in 1974, and some school district teachers were slow to unionize. In Lear's second year at Alden, some veteran teachers asked him to participate in setting the first master contract. Before that, school superintendents settled on teacher salaries with each person individually.

"The whole idea was that collectively you are stronger as a profession than individually," Lear said.

He taught at Alden for four years, then in Cherokee, Iowa, for seven years through 1990, all the time becoming well-versed in union bargaining as he took on new roles. He moved to the UniServ job that year, becoming only the second director in the unit history, succeeding Ken Zeising.

Back when Lear began union tasks, he said teachers were primarily concerned about work hours and salary. He said benefits like health insurance were not a prime issue, since that coverage didn't cost much. As health costs escalated in the 1990s and 2000s, having strong health care options has risen in prominence as teacher negotiation issues.

Until the controversial collective bargaining law Republican lawmakers approved in 2017, Lear said union negotiations with school officials followed a predictable pattern. Using his hands, he pointed upward on how teachers in January opening proposals sought a high salary increase of about 5 percent, the district would respond with a zero or 1 percent offer, then they would settle somewhere in the middle by April.

Only twice in 27 years did the negotiations extend to the step of binding arbitration.

Lear said the negotiations weren't overly adversarial, and "striking a balance" is a key concept.

"You approach it so you are not necessarily demonizing the other side, because you've got to make a deal," he said.

"There is not a lot of shouting. There are positions, there is problem solving. I think collective bargaining is problem solving and, if not, you are doing it wrong."

Lear, 60, and his wife Jo live in Sioux City, where their two adult children and two grandchildren, ages 5 and 9, also live. In retirement, Lear plans to read, walk and travel more than he could before. He also pushed back against a rumor that he'll run for elective office.

"My wife told me, 'You are not running for any office,' and she is correct," Lear said.

"I think I will play with my grandchildren. I am good at that."


Govt-and-politics
Spectra offers to promote tourism in Sioux City

SIOUX CITY | When Spectra Venue Management takes over day-to-day operations of the Tyson Events Center and Orpheum Theatre, city leaders also plan to have the company involved in running Sioux City's tourism bureau. 

But leaders acknowledged Friday that conversations need to be had about what that will look like moving forward. 

The city is continuing to negotiate a contract with Spectra, a Philadelphia-based firm, to manage the city-owned Tyson Events Center and the privately-owned Orpheum Theatre. The City Council voted 4-0 Oct. 16 to enter negotiations with the firm for a management contract

Tourism was not a piece included in Spectra's original proposal to manage the two publicly run venues, but Spectra representative Adam Flack on Friday told the Events Facilities Advisory Board that Spectra is on board with the plan.

"The short answer is yes, we would be interested in that," he said. "The long answer is, I'm not prepared to talk through the tourism part of it today." 

Currently, tourism falls under the city's Events Facilities Department. Events Facilities Director Erika Newton told the board Friday the tourism bureau wields a budget of about $20,000 per year, primarily used for the annual Mardi Gras Big Parade, the Sioux City Foodie video series and approximately one marketing ad. 

Newton

"We have more tourism ideas than we can financially support," Newton said. "We will need to have a conversation about tourism and what the goals and objectives are and how it’s going to be funded and how much it’s going to be funded."

City Manager Bob Padmore added that discussions should include how much Spectra's corporate marketing could assist the city with its efforts to boost tourism. 

 

Padmore

Padmore also said Friday that the city plans to have a contract negotiated with Spectra and ready for City Council approval by mid-November and to begin under new management by Jan. 1. 

Asked by EFAB members whether their board should still exist under the new management structure and what its responsibilities might be, Padmore said he sees the value of maintaining the board, whose primary role is to advise the council on operations of the Tyson, Orpheum, Convention Center and tourism bureau.

Padmore later told the Journal some of its internal committees, such as finance and marketing, may not be necessary, while others, such as a contract oversight committee to monitor Spectra's adherence to its contract, may be added.

Padmore said conversations will continue on whether the nine-member board needs to be downsized and what its responsibilities will be moving forward. 

Friday's discussion came as the annual Iowa Tourism Conference ended a three-day run in Sioux City.


Local
Family doctor delivers bride to life and marriage

SIOUX CITY | Rachel Meisner was born May 11, 1994.

"She was 6 pounds and 14 ounces," said Dr. Jeff Kellogg, who performed the delivery at St. Luke's Hospital. 

Kellogg, the Meisner family doctor, has been healing ailments for them for generations and on Saturday he cures one more problem.

Rachel, a Bishop Heelan grad, is marrying Hunter Hovde, an East High alum. The two first met in middle school and began dating in high school. Hunter proposed last year by carving "Marry Me" into a tree while the two had dinner at their favorite camping spot. 

Rachel said the wedding planning was going smoothly, until the ordained minister they arranged stopped answering their calls.

"We couldn't get a hold of him, and we couldn't get a hold of him," Rachel worried. "And we had already paid the deposit."

Rachel went to the minister's website and found his obituary -- a month before the wedding. 

"I was in with Dr. Kellogg doing a checkup and he asked me how the wedding planning is going so I told him, 'Oh, it is falling apart, I don't know what to do," said Rachel, who explained what had happened. "Then (Kellogg) asked, 'Why don't you ask me?' I didn't even know he was an officiant, so I asked him. I'm happy it worked out." 

Kellogg became an ordained minister online a few years ago to officiate at his niece's wedding in Wisconsin. He estimated he has been the doctor to at least 25 members of the bride's family through his practice at Family Health Care of Siouxland Morningside's Clinic, 4545 Sergeant Road.  

Kellogg recalls while Rachel's mother, Roxanne, carried her, she had trouble with nausea.

"Rachel was just a pistol to mom throughout the pregnancy," Kellogg remembers after 23 years. "Mom was in labor for two days, she started having contractions on Monday and she was delivered on Wednesday." 

Rachel said she keeps coming back to Kellogg because of the effort he puts into staying up-to-date with her loved ones.   

"He takes time to talk about our personal lives and knows my whole family so he asks me, 'Oh, how is grandma doing or how is your brother,'" Rachel said. "It's what I like about him." 

Rachel is an assistant manager at a clothing store and Hunter works at a Sioux City auto body shop and they just bought a house together. The two are celebrating their marriage at Country Celebrations, 5606 Hamilton Blvd, Saturday but a scheduling conflict forced them to pick another venue for the rehearsal. Kellogg then offered to have it in the breakroom at Family Health Care of Siouxland Friday.  

"It is an honor," Kellogg said. "(My job) is to make sure it goes the way they want because it is her big day." 


Strand