SIOUX CITY -- The Sioux City Council is expected to vote Monday on increasing garbage collection rates and ending the senior discount.
Under the proposed ordinance changes, the base rate for solid waste collection would increase from $16.30 to $16.63 per month. The extra container fee would increase by 6 cents to $3.05 per container, while solid waste stickers would cost 8 cents more, $1.08.
In December 2015, the council amended a contract with Gill Hauling Inc. to allow an annual 2 percent increase in solid waste collection fees. Solid waste collection rates, which were last increased in January 2016, have remained steady for three years. The collection rate increases will accommodate the increase in contract costs payable to Gill Hauling, according to city documents, and generate additional revenue for Environmental Services Division activities.
If the council approves the changes, some 4,200 seniors, who are currently charged $12.05 a month, would pay the regular base rate for solid waste collection, an increase of $4.58 a month.
According to Melissa Campbell, an environmental services analyst for the city, staff hadn't recognized in the past that the senior discount could be putting the city at risk for a class action lawsuit. Other Iowa cities also stopped offering senior discounts after the state auditor's office released a report in August 2016 on a special investigation of the Cascade Municipal Utilities.
"We don't necessarily want to make this change. I know it's going to be unpopular, but we do have to follow state law," Campbell said.
According to the state auditor's report, providing discounted utility service to certain customers based on age is considered a discriminatory rate and does not comply with requirements established by section 388.6 of the Code of Iowa, which states that: "A city utility or a combined utility system may not provide use or service at a discriminatory rate, except to the city or its agencies."
"As a result, the city is required to establish and provide consistent billing rights to all customers," Campbell said.
SIOUX CITY -- Cheerful, articulate and full of energy, Rosario Chaclon doesn't seem much like a rabble-rouser.
Yet, the 10th-grader is the brains behind a Love Revolution taking place, all week long, at West High School.
"I met with Rachelle Rawson (advocate and volunteer coordinator with the Council on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence) who gave me some startling statistics," the 16-year-old Chaclon explained. "Rachelle told me that whether it was mentally, physically, sexually or emotionally, one teenager out of three has been in an abusive relationship."
Even though it never happened to her personally, she's had friends who've been in such toxic relationships.
Wanting to bring attention to an underreported problem, Chaclon, a member of West's student council, began brainstorming ideas.
"I knew abuse was an issue facing many teenagers," she said. "If we put a spotlight on the problem for an entire week, we could bring it out of the shadows."
On Monday, students will be encouraged to wear rainbow colors in support of the LGBTQ community.
"There's always been a stigma with abuse in straight relationships," Chaclon noted. "In some ways, the stigma's even greater in LGBTQ relationships."
On Tuesday, students will be encouraged to wear orange in support of February being Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.
The revolution will continue when the Wolverines boys basketball team takes on the Dakota Valley Panthers later in the day.
"Fans from each school will take turns reciting stats during the game," Chaclon said.
Statistics will also be important on Wednesday, when students will be encouraged to wear anything with a number.
"It will be a very special day," Chaclon explained. "If only one student experiences violence, that's one student too many."
On Thursday -- Valentine's Day -- kids will be encouraged to dress in red or pink. On Friday, school pride will be exhibited by wearing green, black and white.
"West is the most diverse school in the city and domestic abuse is something that can impact anybody," Chaclon said. "By approaching the topic from all angles, we didn't want to leave anyone out."
Hiatt Holman, a West 12th-grader and student council president, can't help but smile at Chaclon's enthusiasm.
"Rosario knew exactly what she wanted Love Revolution Week to be," he explained. "The student council essentially said all of these were great ideas. OK, how can we help out?"
However, it wasn't just the school who wanted to offer assistance. Area businesses will also lend a helping hand.
For instance, Texas Roadhouse, 5130 Sergeant Road, will donate 10 percent of its food purchase sales to the Council on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence for diners who mention the Love Revolution. Also Starbucks Coffee and Hy-Vee will be selling orange wristbands with "Love Right," "End Violence" and "#Loverevolution" printed as inscriptions.
Like Holman, West 12th-grader and student council sergeant-of-arms Cristina Valadez has been blown away by Chaclon's ambition.
"Every time you thought Rosario was done with ideas for the Love Revolution, she'd come with something new," Valadez said. "Rosario is simply incredible."
That's a notion the modest Chaclon quickly deflects.
"Anyone with love in their heart knows it has the power to overcome hate," she explained. "I think you can start a revolution through love."
The eldest child with four brothers and two sisters, Chaclon said both love and leadership came naturally for her.
At a time when most of her contemporaries haven't a clue about life after high school, Chaclon already has hers mapped out.
"I want to go to the University of South Dakota to study pre-med and, then, go to the University of Michigan and become a dentist," she explained without a moment of hesitation. "Once I become a dentist, I want to work as a missionary, performing dental work in third world countries."
But, first things first. Chaclon has an entire Love Revolution to supervise.
"When you're a teenager in an abusive relationship, you feel like it is your fault or you think this only happens to you," she said, shaking her head. "Neither is true. If we can shine a light on such abusive behavior, then love will win out over anything else."
Chimps make ladder, escape Belfast Zoo
LONDON — Zookeepers say a group of chimpanzees used branches weakened by a storm to make a ladder and escape from their enclosure at the Belfast Zoo.
Video filmed Saturday by visitors to the Northern Ireland zoo showed several primates scaling a wall and perching atop it, with one walking down a path outside the enclosure.
Zookeeper Alyn Cairns said trees in the chimps' enclosure had been weakened by recent storms, allowing the animals to break them and fashion a ladder to escape. He told the BBC "they're intelligent primates and know they're not supposed to be out of their enclosure, so got back in themselves."
5 alleged Hitler watercolors go unsold
BERLIN — Five watercolors attributed to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler from his early days as a struggling artist have failed to sell at auction in the southern German city of Nuremberg, possibly over fears they could be fakes.
The Nuremberger Nachrichten newspaper reported Sunday that no bids were received on the paintings, which had starting prices of between 19,000 euros ($21,500) and 45,000 euros ($50,900).
Three days before Saturday's auction, prosecutors seized 63 other paintings attributed to Hitler from the auction house to investigate allegations they were fakes.
As a young man, Hitler unsuccessfully struggled to succeed as an artist in Vienna before World War I.
-- Associated Press