News, State Feed

Public Safety Telecommunicators Classified as First Responders

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA – On June 25, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed legislation that classifies public safety telecommunicators as first responders.  The Iowa House and Senate unanimously passed legislation on June 12 that changed the classification of 911 dispatchers from telecommunicators to public safety telecommunicators in Iowa Code, and also classified them as first responders.

In Cedar Rapids, the Joint Communications Agency (JCA) dispatches Cedar Rapids police officers, firefighters, and animal control officers.  In 2019, the JCA managed over 140,000 police calls for service, 13,000 fire calls for service, and 5,000 animal control calls for service.  The JCA also managed 70,000 emergency 911 calls and 152,000 non-emergency calls, and made 40,000 outbound calls to provide communications services.  All Cedar Rapids JCA employees, which includes a Communications Manager, Operations Manager, three Shift Leads, and 22 Public Safety Telecommunicators, are certified in Emergency Police, Fire and Medical dispatch through the International Academy of Emergency Dispatch.

According to Police Chief Wayne Jerman, “Our public safety telecommunicators are the critical first point of contact when there is an emergency or the need for other public safety services.  Trained telecommunicators save lives in our community.  They provide pre-arrival instructions for such emergencies as cardiac arrest, choking, shock, profuse bleeding and respiratory problems. Telecommunicators are also responsible for sending back-up to officers in need of assistance, amongst several functions to support police officers.  They are an integral part of the public safety team in Cedar Rapids.”

Fire Chief Greg Smith said, “Cedar Rapids public safety telecommunicators have to effectively communicate with callers on their worst day – whether it is a family member that has suffered a medical emergency or traumatic injury to finding flames engulfing their home.  We have professional telecommunicators who evaluate the situation and send the appropriate response required to assist the victims.   Emergency medical dispatching drops the response time to zero minutes – help is not delayed until the first fire engine arrives, but can start immediately once the emergency is known.”

For more information about the City’s Joint Communications Agency, please visit www.cedar-rapids.org/police.


Governor removes 50% capacity rule for businesses

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The Governor has ordered that, starting 8 a.m. Friday, June 12, 2020, some businesses no longer need to restrict capacity to 50% due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Businesses such as restaurants, bars, movie theaters, entertainment venues, fitness centers, and others will still have to maintain social distance measures of at least six feet, according to the Governor's latest orders

Public gatherings such as parades, festivals, farmers markets, auctions, and others are also allowed to operate, but only if social distancing measures are met. 

As with previous orders, businesses are not mandated to change current capacity rules. Before visiting, be sure to verify that the establishment is open to customers, or if they are maintaining takeout services or operating with delivery services only. 

For all Iowa City COVID-19 news updates and resources, visit icgov.org/Coronavirus.


Governor announces Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Program details for those with COVID-19 related lost wages

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The Governor announced on Friday, May 29, 2020 new details on how the State will help fund rent or mortgage costs for Iowans who have lost wages due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Program will help renters and home owners who have lost wages by:

  • Providing up to four months of assistance.
  • The program can provide up to $3,200 for renters, and $3,000 for home owners. 

Some qualifications for the program include: 

  • Individual or household has to earn no more than 80% of the median family income for the County. 
  • They must not be receiving the extra $600 in additional federal CARES Act stimulus unemployment benefits.

Applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis and assistance will be provided to eligible applicants on a first come, first ready to proceed basis until all funds have been exhausted.

Applications must be submitted online through the online application portal. Applications will not be accepted by email, US mail, fax, or any other means. 

To learn more about the program, please visit the Iowa Finance Authority's website.


Governor opens playgrounds; allows sporting gatherings with restrictions

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The Governor has ordered that outdoor performance venues, bowling alleys, and more may reopen, with restrictions, in Iowa City and Johnson County starting Monday, June 1, 2020. The latest order also allows for recreational, leisure, and sporting gatherings and events of more than 10 people if public health measures are implemented. 

Businesses and facilities are required to follow specific guidelines in order to reopen. 

Facilities allowed to reopen on June 1 include: 

  • Outdoor performance venues
  • Casinos
  • Bowling alleys
  • Amusement parks
  • Skating rinks and skating parks
  • Outdoor playgrounds 

Those that are reopen must follow specific guidelines, including limiting the number of patrons inside, and maintaining social distance of six feet. To read the full order, visit the Governor's website

The order also permits social, community, recreational, leisure, and sporting gatherings and events of more than 10 people if public health measures are implemented, including limiting attendance to 50% of the venue capacity and maintaining six feet of distance between those attending.

This also allows practices, games, and competitions for youth and adult baseball, softball, and individual sports such as running, biking, swimming, tennis, and golf to resume with appropriate public health measures in place.

Iowa City Parks and Recreation updates 

Iowa City Parks and Recreation will reopen playgrounds and Terrel Mill Skate Park on June 1. Signage at the parks will be updated. Basketball courts will also reopen on June 1. 

Registration for new summer recreation sports skills programs will begin online on June 1 as well. Those interested can register online.

City staff are in discussions with the Iowa City Community School District and youth sports associations to determine opening plans for athletic fields. 

  • Weekly Party in the Park events will begin on Thursday, June 18 with an event at Riverfront Crossings Park. 
  • Registration is open for a summer child care camp which will begin on June 15 at Mercer/Scanlon Recreation Center. Find more information online.
  • Individual sports like running, biking, swimming, and tennis, will be allowed, though dates for reopening the City's indoor pools have yet to be determined. City Park Pool will remain closed through the 2020 season. Splash pads also remain closed. 

Bathrooms and drinking fountains at all parks will remain closed. Water will be turned on at the City’s two off-leash dog parks and portable restrooms will soon return to several locations. Park shelters are not being rented or serviced, but may be used by small groups that maintain adequate social distancing. 

Any questions about Parks and Recreation openings or facilities can be directed to Juli Seydell-Johnson, Director, at Juli-SJohnson@iowa-city.org, or 319-356-5104. 

As with previous orders, businesses are not mandated to reopen to the public by this date. Before visiting, be sure to verify that the establishment is open to customers, or if they are maintaining takeout services or operating with delivery services only. 

For all Iowa City COVID-19 news updates and resources, visit icgov.org/Coronavirus.


Governor reopens bars, breweries with restrictions

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The Governor has ordered that bars, breweries, and other alcohol-related businesses may reopen, with restrictions, in Iowa City and Johnson County starting Thursday, May 28, 2020. Businesses are required to follow specific guidelines in order to reopen. 

Businesses reopening with the same public health measures as restaurants are:

  • Bars
  • Wineries
  • Breweries
  • Distilleries
  • Social and fraternal clubs 

Each business allowed to reopen must follow specific guidelines, including limiting the number of patrons inside, and maintaining social distance of six feet. To read the full order, visit the Governor's website.  

As with previous orders, businesses are not mandated to reopen to the public by this date. Before visiting, be sure to verify that the establishment is open to customers, or if they are maintaining takeout services or operating with delivery services only. 

For all Iowa City COVID-19 news updates and resources, visit icgov.org/Coronavirus


Governor reopens movie theaters, museums, more with restrictions

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The Governor has ordered that movie theaters, museums, and more businesses or facilities may reopen, with restrictions, in Iowa City and Johnson County starting at 5 a.m. Friday, May 22, 2020. Businesses are required to follow specific guidelines in order to reopen. 

The full list of businesses allowed to reopen with restrictions are:

  • Movie theaters 
  • Museums, aquariums, zoos
  • Swimming pools

Gatherings of 10 or more people are still prohibited until at least Monday, June 1, 2020. The following events may have more than 10 people, according to the latest order include:

  • Summer school-sponsored activities, including sports
  • Wedding receptions
  • Auctions (up to 25 people)

Each business or facility allowed to reopen must follow specific guidelines, including limiting the number of patrons inside, and maintaining social distance of six feet. To read the full order, visit the Governor's website.  

As with previous orders, businesses and facilities are not mandated to reopen to the public by this date. Before visiting, be sure to verify that the establishment is open to customers, or if they are maintaining takeout services or operating with delivery services only. 

Bars and other alcohol-related businesses can also reopen, according to the latest order, but not until Thursday, May 28, 2020, and with restrictions in place.

Casinos, performance venues, and other similar businesses remain closed to the public. 

There are no changes to City facility closures. Updates on previously announced closures will be provided prior to Monday, June 1, 2020. 

For all Iowa City COVID-19 news updates and resources, visit icgov.org/Coronavirus


Renewable energy comprised 61.3% of the electricity MidAmerican Energy delivered to Iowa customers in 2019

DES MOINES, Iowa – Renewable sources, mostly through wind energy, supplied 61.3% of the energy that MidAmerican Energy delivered to its Iowa customers last year, the Iowa Utilities Board verified in an order issued Thursday.

The measure is a 19%, or 10 percentage point, gain from a year earlier. It reflects the amount of renewable generation, as a percent of total retail energy delivered, that MidAmerican provided to its customers in Iowa in 2019. In 2018 the percentage was 51.4.

“We’re making significant inroads in our quest to provide 100% renewable energy annually to our customers,” Adam Wright, MidAmerican Energy president and CEO, said. “We continue to work hard every day on expanding our wind energy infrastructure,” Wright added. “We’re adding wind generation at no net cost to our customers while still providing reliable energy at some of the lowest rates in the country.”

MidAmerican leads nation in new wind generation
Last year, MidAmerican led the nation in wind project installations by adding more than a 1,000 megawatts of new capacity, according to the American Wind Energy Association. AWEA further reports that MidAmerican’s wind farms helped make wind energy the number one source of electricity generation in Iowa in 2019. Also last year, MidAmerican helped Iowa lead the nation in the percent of electricity generated by wind energy.

“Despite all that has changed this year, what hasn’t changed is our commitment to providing our customers with more and more renewable energy,” Wright said. “We remain focused on safely delivering clean energy to our customers.”

GreenAdvantage program
MidAmerican Energy’s GreenAdvantage program, which the company provides to all Iowa customers at no additional cost, assures all customers across the state that a significant part of their electricity comes from renewable energy – 61.3% in 2019.

The program enables businesses to claim the verified percentage of energy they received, which helps companies meet sustainability goals. Wind energy is a zero-carbon and zero-water electricity source.

Economic benefits
In addition to providing clean energy at no net cost to its customers, MidAmerican’s wind energy provides significant economic benefits, particularly to rural Iowa. Through last year, MidAmerican has cumulatively invested $11.9 billion in wind energy.

In 2019, the company paid $26.3 million in property taxes. County property taxes help pay for schools, roads and bridges, and county medical services.

Additionally, MidAmerican paid rural landowners $30.9 million through lease payments, helping these landowners weather this year’s extreme economic volatility.

Wind turbine technician: 2nd fastest-growing job
MidAmerican’s wind energy projects currently employ hundreds of people across the state, both in short-term construction and long-term operations and maintenance jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a wind turbine technician is the country’s second fastest-growing job in the nation. Additionally, according to the agency, those technicians earned an annual mean wage of $57,510 in Iowa in 2019, exceeding the median wage for all occupations in Iowa last year, which was $47,330.

About MidAmerican Energy Company
MidAmerican Energy Company, headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, serves more than 791,000 electric customers in Iowa, Illinois and South Dakota, and 771,000 natural gas customers in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota. Information about MidAmerican Energy is available at MidAmericanEnergy.com and company social media channels.


Governor to reopen malls, retail businesses, fitness centers in Iowa City, Johnson County May 8

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The Governor has ordered that malls, retail stores, fitness centers, and more businesses may reopen in Iowa City and Johnson County on Friday, May 8, 2020.

City facilities remain closed until further notice. Residents should continue to practice social distancing at all times, and only essential trips should be made outside of the home.

In businesses or places where social distancing may not be possible, people should continue to wear cloth masks. 

The order, issued on the evening of Wednesday, May 6, 2020, also extends the State Public Health Emergency in Iowa, and allows for dental services to resume.  

The full order can be read online at the Governor's website

Each reopening has conditions, according to the ordinance:

  • Re-opened businesses must limit the amount of customers inside the business by 50% of its normal capacity.
  • Fitness centers are open for appointment only, with one patron at a time.
  • Dental services must follow guidelines from the Iowa Dental Board. 

Restaurants, barber shops and hair salons, movie theaters and other theaters remain closed to the public in Johnson County.

For all Iowa City COVID-19 news updates and resources, visit icgov.org/Coronavirus


Iowans Are Encouraged to Take the TestIowa Online Health Assessment

TestIowaIn response to COVID-19 across the state, Governor Kim Reynolds has announced the launch of TestIowa, a new initiative in partnership with state leaders and private corporations. The goal of TestIowa is to provide Iowans with better access to COVID-19 testing, help stem the spread of the virus, and get Iowa back to normal as quickly as possible.

Iowans are encouraged to visit www.testiowa.com and take an online health assessment. The assessment includes a few questions to determine your current risk, and responses provide the Iowa Department of Public Health and government leaders insight into our state’s collective health. 

While Iowa currently can’t test everyone, the online assessment prioritizes testing for those who currently have symptoms, have interacted with someone who has already tested positive, or have recently visited places where COVID-19 is more widespread. Those who qualify for a test through the online assessment will receive a confirmed time slot for testing and a drive-through testing location. Those who test positive will be asked to answer questions to help isolate the infection rate, and will receive accurate, evidence-based information on COVID-19.

To take the online assessment or to learn more, visit www.testiowa.com.


Governor orders malls, more stores closed due to COVID-19 pandemic

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The Governor announced that the State will close malls, campgrounds, and more stores due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

During the Monday news conference, the Governor also stressed that all Iowans need to stay home, and to only leave their homes for essential reasons: to get food, medical care, or if they are an essential worker required to leave for work.

The list of businesses and facilities closed by the Governor include:

  • Shopping malls
  • Museums and libraries
  • Toy, music, gaming, instrument & movie stores
  • Roller or ice skating rinks and skate parks
  • Campgrounds
  • Social and fraternal clubs, including those at golf courses
  • Outdoor/indoor playgrounds and children's play centers
  • Tobacco and vaping stores
  • Bowling alleys and bingo halls

In addition, all unsolicited door-to-door sales are prohibited. The proclamation also calls on law enforcement to assist in the enforcement of these mitigation efforts. To read the full order, visit the Governor's website.

The closures begin at 8 a.m. Tuesday, April 7, 2020, and will remain through Thursday, April 30, 2020. 

Though parks remain open, the City reminds residents not to gather in any groups of 10 or more, to follow social distance guidelines by remaining at least six feet away from others at all times. These guidelines pertain to dog parks as well.

For all Iowa City COVID-19 news updates and resources, visit icgov.org/Coronavirus