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MedPharm seeks to locate medical marijuana dispensary in Sioux City

SIOUX CITY | Iowa's sole licensed medical marijuana manufacturer is looking to Sioux City as the site of a cannabidiol dispensary. 

MedPharm Iowa wants the Sioux City Council to submit a letter of support as it applies for a state license to open the dispensary in Sioux City. The council at its weekly meeting Monday will discuss whether to support the application. 

The Iowa Department of Public Health Health earlier this year issued a request for proposals from companies with the intent of awarding licenses for up to five medical cannabis dispensaries throughout the state. The application deadline is Thursday. 

The IDPH plans to award the five licenses by April 1. The licenses must then be renewed yearly on Dec. 1. 

Dispensaries are locations where patients and primary caregivers with valid medical cannabidiol registration cards can obtain cannabidiol.

Cannabidiol is a chemical found in cannabis plants that is used for products that help treat medical conditions. Medical cannabis cannot contain more than 3 percent of THC, which is the element in marijuana that produces the high.

Iowa hoping cannabis dispensaries reach statewide

ANKENY  | State officials said Friday they hope to get geographical diversity from companies seeking permission to dispense medical cannabis when they go out for bids next week under Iowa’s expanded medical marijuana law.

The request for dispensary proposals follows a new law signed in May by then-Gov. Terry Branstad that calls for up to two state-licensed medical cannabis manufacturers and expands the illnesses patients with a prescription could treat with medical cannabis. The list now includes chronic epilepsy, cancer, multiple sclerosis, AIDS or HIV and others. 

MedPharm Iowa was granted the first manufacturing license and must begin manufacturing products at its Des Moines facility by Dec. 1. The state plans to seek another manufacturer later this year, but is currently seeking applications for five qualified dispensaries to dispense products to eligible patients and caregivers. 

Companies are allowed to submit applications for up to five dispensaries each, according to the rules. 

Feb. 8 was the deadline for companies to declare an intention to apply for one or more dispensaries. Twenty-two entities submitted letters of intent for a combined 71 dispensaries, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health. 

MedPharm is the only company that has requested support from Sioux City so far, according to city documents. 

As part of the process, applicants must identify their cities of choice and show the cities' support of having a dispensary in their community. Licenses will not go to dispensaries if the cities don't support them, according to city documents. 

Sioux City City Manager Bob Padmore said he is not yet aware of where the dispensary would be located if it is approved. 

A representative of MedPharm Iowa said the company is refraining from commenting on the dispensary applications until approval is awarded. 

Sioux City, Iowa's fourth-largest city, would potentially provide an accessible location to eligible patients in the northwestern part of the state. State officials have said they hope the locations of the five dispensaries will be geographically diverse to provide the best access to patients. 

A combined seven patients and caregivers in Woodbury County have active registration cards to purchase cannabidiol, according to the Iowa Department of Transportation, which issues the cards. That is tied with Warren County for ninth-highest in the state.

There are 289 active cardholders statewide, with the highest concentrations in Polk (44), Scott (23), Linn (22) and Black Hawk (17), according to the DOT.

Editor's note: The story has been updated to eliminate an incorrect reference to MedPharm Iowa's relationship to the Des Moines-based Kemin Industries. 

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Sioux City students learn Dr. Seuss lessons as they observe author's birthday

SIOUX CITY |  Mikel Walker doesn't like green eggs and ham. 

The Spalding Park Elementary School fourth grader doesn't like it in a house or with a mouse. Nor does he like here, there or anywhere.

"Actually, I just don't like eggs," Mikel said, poking through a plate of ham and scrambled eggs dyed with a green food coloring. "It doesn't matter what color it is."

Justin Wan, Sioux City Journal 

Brian Gomez, a Spalding Park Elementary School third grader, listened as Douglas Wheelock read from a book written by Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss). In addition to reading Seuss books, students participated in several Seuss-related activities during the week leading up to the author's birthday. Dr, Seuss would've turned 114 on Friday. 

As a way to celebrate what would have been Theodor Seuss Geisel's 114th birthday on Friday, Spalding Park students participated in several Dr. Seuss-related activities throughout the week.

"We've been incorporating Dr. Seuss books into our curriculum for several years," teacher Krista Benson explained. "For instance, we teach conflict resolutions based on a story from 'The Butter Battle Book,' recycling lessons from 'The Lorax,' and activities like engineering a shoe out of newspaper and tape from 'The Foot Book.'"

On Wednesday, she was responsible for creating a very colorful culinary concoction: the aformentioned green eggs and ham.    

So, what is Benson's secret for mastering a plate full of emerald-colored Seussical scrambled? Five drops of green food coloring, plus plenty of cheese.

"Everything is made better with cheese," she admitted.

Well, it's debatable if fish is improved with a pinch of Parmesan. That didn't deter Dr. Douglas Wheelock from reading "One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish" to a Spalding Park third grade class on Thursday.

Wheelock, a dentist with Wheelock & Associates, was one of several community volunteer readers who chose to share their favorite Seuss books and memories with students.

Justin Wan, Sioux City Journal 

Dentist Douglas Wheelock reads "One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish," to a Spalding Park Elementary School third grade class. Wheelock said the Dr. Seuss book was a favorite since he read it for his children and grandchildren.

"This is my favorite Dr. Seuss book for two reasons," Wheelock shared. "First, I love it because I like to fish. Secondly, I remember reading this book to my children and, now, my grandchildren."

According to Benson, parents often pass on their love of rhyming books to the next generation of readers.

"Dr. Seuss is frequently the first author a beginning reader reads," she said. "That's because his books contain a limited number of words."

Don't believe it? Benson said Seuss' "The Cat in the Hat" contains 225 words in total, while "Green Eggs and Ham" contains even fewer words.

Justin Wan, Sioux City Journal 

Dentist Douglas Wheelock reads "One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish," to  Spalding Park Elementary School third grade students on Thursday. Wheelock was one of the community readers participating in activities commemorating the 114th anniversary of the birth of Theodor Seuss Geisel (aka, Dr. Seuss).

"Seuss wrote 'Green Eggs and Ham' as a way to win a bet with his editor, who dared him to write a book that featured just 50 words," she told her class. "While some of the words may repeat themselves, Seuss won his bet. The full text of 'Green Eggs and Ham' consists of exactly 50 words." 

Even though Trishelle Miller appreciates Benson's Seuss trivia, the Spalding Park fourth grader was more intent on eating than studying.

"When my brother read 'Green Eggs and Ham,' he said it was mold that made the eggs green," Trishelle said, laughing as she took a bite of Benson's food. "This doesn't taste like mold to me."

Still, Trishelle's classmate Adam Matney has a few ideas on making green eggs and ham both greener and tastier.

"I'd like to add green onions, jalapeno and garlic to mine," he said.

Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal 

Newell-Fonda's Olivia Larsen (41) and the squad celebrates its win over Central Decatur in Class 1A semifinal-round action of the Iowa Girls Basketball Championship Friday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

Brennan Linsley, Associated Press file  

A bottle of cannabis-infused oil is shown in Colorado Springs, Colo., in February. At least three companies are seeking to apply with the state to open a medical cannabidiol dispensary in Sioux City. 

Details set for $4.6M Le Mars sports stadium

LE MARS, Iowa | The 2018 football season will be the last for Le Mars High School's grass field as the school board has approved plans for a $4.6 million major renovation of the aging sports complex.

Le Mars School District Superintendent Steve Webner said the school board members on Tuesday approved the architecture plans prepared by Cannon Moss Brygger Architects of Sioux City for what has been called a "showcase stadium."

"The (community) response has been one of strong support and excitement for the project. They believe it will be a great project for the community of Le Mars," Webner said.

Plans include replacing the existing grass football field with turf, installing a new track and modernizing grandstand bleachers. Work also involves a new scoreboard, press box, lighting, visitor’s bleachers and fencing.

Webner said the work will begin after the football season ahead, and the planned work will be done by August 2019.

The current facility, located on the high school grounds at 921 Third Ave. SW, was built in 1959.

The project will be financed by a $2 million donation from the Le Mars Community School Foundation and from a school district fund filled with a 1-cent sales tax. An anonymous donor in 2017 gave $2 million to the foundation to boost the possibility of a "showcase stadium" for the community, Webner said, and other fundraising has since continued.

At one point the estimated cost of the project was at nearly $5 million.

Upcoming steps include selecting a contractor for the work. Webner noted the plans to date have been developed in collaboration with school personnel, the school foundation and community members.

Trump: 'Trade wars are good, and easy to win'

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Friday insisted "trade wars are good, and easy to win," a bold claim that prompted threats of retaliation against U.S. exports like blue jeans and motorcycles.

"Make no mistake: If the president goes through with this, it will kill American jobs — that's what every trade war ultimately does," said Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican.

Trump has declared that the U.S. will impose punishing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The move will likely raise steel and aluminum prices here. That's good for U.S. manufacturers. But it's bad for companies that use the metals, and it prompted red flags from industries ranging from tool and dye makers to beer distributors to manufacturers of air conditioners. The American International Automobile Dealers Association warned it would drive prices up "substantially."

Markets tumbled in Asia, where China had already expressed a "grave concern" about U.S. trade policy. And the European Union promised retaliation against American exports if Trump follows through. In the United States, the S&P 500 dropped as much as 1.1 percent before paring its decline.

"None of this is reasonable, but reason is a sentiment that's very unevenly distributed in the world," said Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the EU's executive body.

Asked if a trade war is brewing, he said: "I can't see how this isn't part of war-like behavior."

Early Friday, Trump took to Twitter to defend himself: "When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win. Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don't trade anymore-we win big. It's easy!"

He later tweeted: "Our steel industry is in bad shape. IF YOU DON'T HAVE STEEL, YOU DON'T HAVE A COUNTRY!"

Sen. Sasse echoed a sentiment of many U.S. lawmakers when he issued a statement in response: "Kooky 18th century protectionism will jack up prices on American families."

Trump's plan to slap taxes on steel and aluminum imports was branded Friday as "absolutely unacceptable" by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, the United States' biggest foreign source of both metals.

Trump hasn't sparked a trade war — yet. But his provocative action has raised the risk of an all-out conflict that could pit the United States against its friends and the entire global financial system that it helped create after World War II. When Trump announced Thursday he was imposing a 25 percent tariff on steel and 10 percent tariff on aluminum on national security grounds, he set into motion the possibility that trading partners would fight back with tariffs of their own.

The rebukes delivered on Friday suggested that some countries were prepared to retaliate if necessary.

Trudeau stressed in his comments he was prepared to "defend Canadian industry" and that the tariffs would also hurt U.S. consumers and businesses because prices could rise.

The 28 countries in the European Union could respond by taxing goods that are core to the American identity such as Bourbon whiskey, blue jeans and Harley Davidson motorcycles, Juncker said.

"I don't like using the word trade war, but I can't see how this isn't part of warlike behavior," Juncker told German media.

Roberto Azevedo, the director-general of the World Trade Organization, warned that a "trade war is in no one's interests."

Chinese leaders have threatened in the past to retaliate if Trump raises trade barriers, but now need to weigh whether to back up those threats with action and risk jeopardizing U.S. market access for smartphones and other exports that matter more to their economy than metals.

"China will definitely respond. It doesn't want to be seen as weak. But it will be relatively restrained," said economist Louis Kuijs of Oxford Economics. "They don't want to be seen as a party that is wrecking the international trading system."

Doug Andres, an aide for House Speaker Paul Ryan, said that Ryan "is hoping the president will consider the unintended consequences of this idea."

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross downplayed the risk of rising prices from the steel and aluminum tariffs. He held up cans of Campbell's soup and Coca-Cola during a CNBC interview, noting that each would go up by less than a penny under the new taxes.

Even if Trump is itching for a trade war, it's not clear if one will materialize.

"It's too soon to tell for a whole host of reasons," said Scott Lincicome, a trade lawyer and adjunct scholar at the libertarian Cato Institute.

Trump's announcement came only after an intense internal White House debate.

"This is going to have fallout on our downstream suppliers, particularly in the automotive, machinery and aircraft sectors," said Wendy Cutler, a former U.S. trade official who is now vice president of the Asia Society Policy Institute. "What benefits one industry can hurt another. What saves one job can jeopardize another."