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Paying tribute to a late coach
Storm Lake St. Mary's honors late basketball coach with jersey retirement

STORM LAKE, Iowa -- For Storm Lake St. Mary's basketball fans over the years, watching the Drey brothers shooting hoops while wearing the number 44 jersey was a common sight.

First it was Kirby, then Kyle. As a freshman, Kennedy Drey had to wait because a senior was wearing the number. He switched to 44 as a sophomore.

"I wore it because Kyle wore it," Kennedy Drey said.

Of course, other players have worn the number since Kennedy graduated in 2013, but once the current St. Mary's basketball season ends, no boys basketball player will wear number 44 again. (The Panthers open district play tonight.)

Kyle and Kennedy Drey were to co-coach the boys team this season, a plan that tragically ended on June 13, when Kyle was killed after a train struck the agricultural sprayer he was driving at a railroad crossing near Newell.

On Jan. 25, during hall of fame night and homecoming festivities at St. Mary's, the school retired Kyle's number 44. The jersey will hang in the gym, likely on the wall across from the home team's bench, easily visible to Kennedy and future players and coaches.

It's a fitting tribute to a man who loved basketball and St. Mary's school. Kyle farmed and operated K&J Spraying and coached the junior high boys teams and several youth teams over the years. He'd open the gym so kids could come in to shoot and spend extra time helping them hone their skills.

He also was a willing volunteer at the school, said Ryan Berg, St. Mary's middle and high school principal, who was Kyle's junior high basketball coach.

"He was someone who always just had a love for the school and was such a kind-hearted person," Berg said.

Many of Kyle's former class of 2003 classmates returned to Storm Lake for his funeral, and while reminiscing about Kyle and looking through photos from their high school days, they agreed something needed to be done in his memory, said Ashley Hoff, formerly Ashley Hammen. They kicked around a few ideas and concluded that the best way to keep Kyle's memory alive would be to retire his jersey -- a big honor for any athlete -- and display it in the gym, a spot that meant so much to him.

"It just came about fairly obviously because basketball was such a big thing for him," said Hoff, who works for a television production company in Los Angeles.

Provided 

Kyle Drey, at left in back row, coached the Storm Lake St. Mary's junior high boys basketball teams during two separate stints. Drey was to be the high school coach this season, but he was killed in June when his ag sprayer was struck by a train. The school has retired his jersey and number 44 in his honor.

They ran it by Berg, who asked other school leaders what they thought. There were no objections, least of all from the family.

"It was kind of a special moment. I know how much basketball meant to him," said Kennedy, who's wrapping up his first season as the Panthers' coach. It also would have been Kyle's first season coaching the high school team.

The jersey retirement also was special for the current number 44, freshman Tanner Fiorendino. Kyle had coached Tanner since fifth grade, and the freshman said he had wanted to wear number 44 this season because of his coach. He'll need a new number next season, but that's OK with him.

"I was appreciative of it. I think it was a great honor to retire it," Tanner said. "He really always cared about us and wanted us to do the best we could."

Throughout the season, the boys and girls basketball teams and cheerleaders have worn patches with the initials K.D. on their uniforms. That season-long honor peaked the night of the jersey retirement.

In front of a packed gym, Kyle's wife, Jacquie, their children and other family members were honored on the court.

"It was extremely emotional to watch his two little girls carry that jersey out," Hoff said.

There were few dry eyes left in the building by the end of the ceremony, which included the kickoff of a fundraiser for two new adjustable side baskets in the gym, an upgrade Kyle had wanted so that youth teams could practice and play on hoops with lower heights.

"You felt him smiling at that moment," said Hoff, one of about a dozen of Kyle's classmates who attended the ceremony. "It's special that now he will always be part of that space. He'll still be there shining down on everyone."

Countless times during games this season, Kennedy said, he has asked himself what Kyle would do in certain situations. In future seasons, he won't have to look far for an answer.

"Having his jersey hanging up in the gym so our family and friends can see it, it will just feel like he's there with me," Kennedy said.

And now, he'll be with the school and basketball program for as long as his number hangs in the gym, a constant reminder to future generations of his love for the school and the sport.


Justin Rust 

West Sioux's Carson Lynott brings his opponent, MVAOCOU's Bryce Kafton, to the mat during a first-round Class 1A district match in Sibley, Iowa on Saturday.


Govt-and-politics
top story
'Our hands are tied:' Sioux City Council votes on garbage collection rate increases

SIOUX CITY -- A proposal that would increase garbage collection rates and end a discount for some 4,200 seniors received unanimous approval from Sioux City Council members Monday.

The council voted 5-0 on the first reading of ordinance changes that would increase the base rate for solid waste collection from $16.30 to $16.63, the extra container fee from $2.99 to $3.05 and the cost of a solid waste sticker from $1 to $1.08. The senior discount rate, which is currently $12.05, would end, because city staff say it puts the city at risk for a class action lawsuit.

According to an August 2016 report from the state auditor's office, which was released after an investigation into the Cascade Municipal Utilities, 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." 

City Attorney Nicole DuBois told the council that the city should follow the state auditor's recommendation to end the senior discount. She said some Iowa cities give discounts to low-income residents who meet guidelines set by the state after undergoing an application process.

DuBois

"No one wants to do away with the senior discount, I understand that. I understand that it's an unpopular position to have, but, unfortunately, it's the one that needs to be taken in order to ensure that we're in compliance with state law," she said.

A Seniors Advisory Committee survey conducted between Aug. 31 and Sept. 30 revealed that senior discounts were the second-greatest concern of Sioux City residents age 55 or older, their family members and caretakers.

"Instead of eliminating the senior discount right away, why don't you melt the city into (a limited income) program instead of just jerking it from us?" resident Keith Baker asked.

Councilman Dan Moore told Baker that council members will take his suggestion into consideration and look at all options on the table.

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 and generate additional revenue for Environmental Services Division activities.

Justin Wan, Sioux City Journal 

Watters

Councilman Alex Watters said seniors have told him that they aren't using enough space in their garbage bins to warrant a fee increase. He said garbage container sizes could be discussed when the contract is renegotiated next year.

"No one wants to see anyone on a fixed income being assessed more of a fee or any more of an increase and we're trying to be cognizant of that," he said. "However, in this case, our hands are tied. We have to make this decision."


Iowa
Iowa Democrats propose virtual caucus options, allowing early participation, ranked choices

DES MOINES -- An online option may be available for Iowa Democrats to participate in the state’s first-in-the-nation caucuses, the most significant changes since 1972.

The Iowa Democratic Party announced the proposed changes Monday. They are designed to improve participation and transparency in the process that kicks off the presidential nominating process every four years.

The changes appease national party leaders who called for more inclusion, and New Hampshire Democrats protective of their role as the nation’s first presidential primary state.

Iowa state party chairman Troy Price said the changes would be the most significant since the caucuses’ inception in 1972.

“With these proposals, there is no doubt that we are making the most significant changes to the Iowa caucuses,” Price said Monday on a conference call with reporters. “We do so not because we have to, but because we know that we are stronger as a party, we are stronger as a state, and we are stronger as a nation if everyone can participate in our political process.”

Currently, participants must physically attend Iowa’s Democratic presidential precinct caucuses, where individuals organize into groups to show support for a candidate. The multi-stage process yields delegates for each presidential candidate, who retains at least a prescribed level of support through the process.

That process can limit participation because people must attend and be willing to stand up in front of their peers. After the 2016 elections, the national party instructed caucus states to create a format that allows people to participate without having to make the time commitment to be in the room on caucus night.

The Iowa proposal would allow people to participate in one of six virtual caucuses, available online over a span of six days. Virtual caucus participants would rank up to five choices for president, and the combined total of the six virtual caucuses would account for roughly 10 percent of the state’s delegate equivalents.

“We are going to be able to give more Iowans a chance to participate in this process,” Price said. “This process will now give these individuals a voice in selecting the next president of the United States.”

Iowa Democrats walked a fine line between adding more participants and turning the process into a primary election, which would encroach on New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary status and potentially threaten Iowa’s position atop the presidential nominating schedule.

Price said Iowa Democrats worked with New Hampshire and other early state Democrats, and New Hampshire’s state party leader gave his blessing to the Iowa proposal.

“We’re excited to see that Iowa is taking steps to make their caucus more accessible while keeping its spirit alive, and we appreciate their careful consideration of New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary status when making these changes,” New Hampshire Democrats chairman Ray Buckley said in a statement emailed to the bureau.

Iowa Democrats who wish to participate in the virtual caucus would register in advance and then log into an online program at one of six scheduled times: one apiece on the six days leading up to and including the Feb. 3, 2020 caucuses.

Online participants would make a first choice for president and then list up to four more preferences, which would be used if the first preference does not garner sufficient support.

Just as with the normal caucuses, only candidates supported by 15 percent of participants would remain in the running.

Participants in the six virtual caucuses would be divided by Congressional district, and the results would yield additional delegates in each district.

The virtual caucus results will yield roughly 10 percent of the state equivalent delegates regardless of how many people participate, Price said. Delegate equivalents are decided based on previous caucus results; since the virtual caucuses are new, party leaders discussed and settled on 10 percent.

Among other proposed changes, raw totals from the first, second and final alignments would be released by the state party. Previously, the party did not release that information, only the final calculation of the state delegate equivalents.

The proposal will go through a 30-day comment period, after which it must be approved by the Iowa Democratic Party’s state central committee and then the national party’s rules committee.