SERGEANT BLUFF, Iowa | The Sergeant Bluff-Luton girls' basketball team didn't get a bad break in the latter stages of this season.
It got two bad breaks. Same finger, in fact.
Both Kylee Christensen and Kenzie Foley, Warrior post players, suffered a broken left pinkie. Both are out for the season after having surgery; Foley on Feb. 6, Christensen on Feb. 7.
Surgeons inserted two pins to address the fractures. For both, of course.
Christensen, a senior, suffered the injury in a game against the Spencer Tigers on Jan. 20. The ball bounced off the rim at a weird angle and caught her finger. "I ran down the court and closed my fist and I felt it crack," Christensen said. "I couldn't move it."
She saw the trainer at halftime and learned her season might be over. She got that news, for good, a while later as her hand didn't respond to treatment the way doctors hoped it might. She eventually had surgery after medical pros tried to re-break her finger to see if it would stay in place.
Foley's injury took place in the first half of the Warriors' game against Bishop Heelan on Feb. 2. Foley said a rebound came off the rim and hit her left hand oddly, splitting her pinkie away from her ring-finger. "I felt the pops in my hand," she said. "I played in the second half, but I only scored one point. It was hard to grab the ball."
The injuries swiped two starters and major contributors from the team of Coach Miranda Riediger. However, as both Christensen and Foley stood by offering support and water bottles for their teammates, the Warriors played on and ended up sharing in the regular season title for the Missouri River Activities Conference, a repeat of the 2016-17 campaign. The key victory without these two was a 57-43 triumph at Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson one week ago which left the Warriors with a 9-3 league mark, equaling the loop record fashioned by the Crusaders.
"We get a little medal and a t-shirt for winning the conference," Foley said.
"The seniors designed the t-shirts," Christensen added. "They're cool."
On Wednesday, the Warriors began post-season action with a victory over Spencer, allowing SB-L to advance to a Class 4A Regional contest at Le Mars Community High School at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Warriors, without these two, will attempt to avenge a 46-45 loss to the Bulldogs on Dec. 9. While it's not impossible, it is a tall order considering Christensen had 15 points and 11 rebounds in the earlier meeting, while Foley scored 14 points and gathered 15 boards.
Riediger said she's proud of how her injured players have rebounded, to use a basketball term in a different sense. "Both girls are on our bench and both are sharing what they recall from the scouting reports," said Riediger. "They share what they're seeing from the bench. It's coming from a whole new perspective."
Christensen, who coaches an eighth-grade Black Attack AAU volleyball team from SB-L, said the experience, while incredibly disappointing, may help her one day as a teacher and coach, should she ever have a player who suffers a season-ending injury. She's heading to the University of Nebraska at Lincoln this fall to major in elementary education.
Foley, on the other hand, eyes a return to competition when softball season begins this spring at SB-L, where she played shortstop and pitched last summer. She'll also continue her SB-L career on the volleyball and basketball courts as a junior next year.
"I feel worse for Kylee because she's a senior," said Foley. "I still have softball this year and then two more years."
Their basketball team, they hope, has more action this season. And they promise to do all they can to keep their teammates going strong in practice on Friday and at Le Mars in the Regional on Saturday.
"Our teammates have really stepped up," Christensen said, heaping praise on the team as it began practice in the background. "When our coaches are done in the huddle we try to tell our players to be confident. We're trying to be as supportive as we can."
After good plays, they share high-fives with their teammates. And, with each other? They share what you might call the "high-cast."
SIOUX CITY | The 11th-largest single-day snowfall on record in Sioux City likely cost about $300,000 to clear from the streets, according to city records.
Sioux City's snow removal budget took a large dent after the Jan. 22 blizzard that dropped 12.1 inches of snow on the city, shutting down schools, businesses and government offices and resulting in a more than five-day snow emergency. The cleanup from that storm had plow crews running 24 hours a day for around six days.
While the blizzard packed a financial wallop, streets superintendent Ed Pickens said his snow removal budget is still in good shape. As of the beginning of the week, about $566,000 remained out of the $1.42 million budgeted for the fiscal year that ends June 30.
"That's great. I've seen years where we were done by now with the budget," Pickens said. "If we're still in the black at this time, we're in a good spot."
Prior to the Jan. 22 storm, the city had spent $551,266 for snow removal. Pickens said several small snows in December had also placed a drain on the budget, requiring crews to mobilize and put down material.
"Unfortunately it seemed like all of those fell on holidays," he said.
Since then, the total spent has climbed to $857,754, more than $306,000 in additional costs. That includes more than $200,000 paid to workers during the pay period that included the Jan. 22 snow, said city finance director Donna Forker.
Forker said she doubted many of the expenses from last week's Monday, Thursday and Friday snows had rolled into the total yet.
Pickens said while several small snows can drain a budget, large snows like the big snow in January present large costs.
"We have a lot more equipment out there, so we have more repairs. And when it's a heavier snow we have to load a lot of it out," he said.
Sioux City's snow budget covers all costs related to snow removal. The city adjusts the budget each year to accommodate ever-changing personnel costs. The last time the city was forced to overspend on its snow budget was in the 2011 fiscal year, when it went $97,500 over.
This year's Jan. 22 snowfall was the 11th largest 24-hour total on record for Sioux City, according to the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls. It was the third-largest this decade, dwarfed only by a 12.5-inch snowfall on Feb. 2 and 3, 2016, and a 14.1-inch snowfall on March 23-24 that same year.
Sioux City has seen 27.8 inches of snow so far this fall and winter, which is 5 inches above normal for this time of the season.
While snow season is far from over in Siouxland, the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls does not report any chances of snow for the rest of the week. In fact, temperatures are expected to remain relatively warm through the weekend.
Pickens said while spring is on the horizon, that means pothole season is arriving. He said crews have been out patching the city's larger potholes for about a week.
DES MOINES | The end of funnel week at the Iowa Capitol is marked by sleep-deprived lawmakers checking smartphones to see where they are supposed to be, legislative staffers burdened down by growing three-ring binders and reams of paper, and a dwindling number of lobbyists as senators and representatives whittle away at the list of bills that will meet the Friday’s deadline to be eligible for further debate.
Still lawmakers lifted significant pieces of legislation, including a long-sought 20-year extension of the 1-cent Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE) sales tax for school infrastructure that is set to expire in 2029.
The Sioux City school district has spent in excess of $200 million in sales tax revenues to finance more than 16 renovation or construction projects since local voters first approved the tax in 1998. The idea for the tax originated in Sioux City as local leaders looked for an alternative to raising property taxes to replace aging school buildings.
Because the sales tax is scheduled to expire in 2029, the district has nearly reached the limit of bonding authority to fund additional projects. That list includes finishing the job of replacing its antiquated elementary schools and modernizing the three high school buildings, which will be nearly 60 years old when the current sales tax would expire.
The SAVE extension advancing was just one piece of legislation that prompted House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, to say the six-week-old session is on target.
“I think things are very much on course for the priorities we identified at the beginning of the legislative session, which if you recall were the priorities based on what we heard all summer,” she said.
Senate President Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, agreed “it’s been a very busy few weeks … and we feel like we’re in pretty good shape.”
“It’s been a very productive session. We’ve accomplished most of our goals,” added Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale.
Of course, that hasn’t been the case for minority Democrats.
“I think it’s been another year of bills that are going to hurt Iowans,” Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, said. “I think that (Republicans) have implemented some destructive legislation.”
“We just continue to see some misguided priorities,” Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, said. “We’ve seen a number of extreme bills. There are a whole host of really divisive bills that go after the most-vulnerable people in our state.”
With the first funnel deadline in the review mirror, the House and Senate will turn their attention to floor debate to move bills from one chamber to the other. House bills must be approved by a Senate committee and Senate bills by a House committee by March 16 to remain eligible for consideration this year.
While Upmeyer’s priorities may be very much alive, numerous bills did not fare as well.
“Oftentimes bills need more work,” Upmeyer said, “so they’re set aside and we’ll work on in the interim.
“But nothing’s dead forever,” she added. “Things are, from time to time, resurrected” — often as amendments on other bills.
School boards and other education interest groups have been pushing for a SAVE extension for a number of years. They said districts were finding it difficult to enter into long-term borrowing or bonding as the time remaining for the revenue grew shorter.
“Schools districts will be able to breathe easier,” Rep. Sharon Steckman, D-Mason City, told House Education Committee members before they approved House Study Bill 647 22-1 to continue to collect the tax until 2049.
“People have seen the great things that have happened as a result of SAVE,” said Rep. Cecil Dolecheck, R-Mount Ayr, who sits both on the Education and Education Appropriations committees. School districts were beginning to hoard their SAVE funds because they weren’t sure if the Legislature would extend it. “I think you’ll see infrastructure and maintenance projects that were being put off.”
“There definitely is a pent-up demand,” according to Emily Piper, a lobbyist for the Iowa Association of School Boards. The extension, if agreed to by the full House and Senate, will give local districts the assurance of a stable funding source for infrastructure, she said.
“I think it’s a great step forward and I think the commitment is there,” from lawmakers to send the bill to Gov. Kim Reynolds.
The funds will be distributed on a per pupil basis except for increasing the allocation for property tax equity relief from $984 per pupil in fiscal 2019 to $1,087 in 2029 and $1,521 in 2050.
The bill also would require schools boards planning to issue bonds against the SAVE revenue to have a public hearing and allow 14 days for residents to call for a referendum. It also place limits on the use of SAVE funds for athletic facilities.