Ernie Goss
Iowa's Rural Mainstreet Index, produced by Creighton University, jumped to 51.5 in April, up from 50.2, the Des Moines Business Record reports.
Though across the region floods helped boost farm lending, Iowa's farmland-price index climbed to 44.4 from March's 35.7, Creighton's survey of bankers in 10 central U.S. states found.
A reading above 50 suggests growth. The index for the Midwest region fell to 50, right at growth-neutral, in April. The reading had been 52.9 in March.
"Our surveys over the last several months indicate the Rural Mainstreet economy is expanding outside of agriculture. However, this month, 43.8 percent of bank CEOs indicated that the recent floods were having a negative impact on their local economy," said Creighton economist Ernie Goss.
Miron Construction Co. will celebrate the LEED certification of its Cedar Rapids with an event from 4-6 p.m. Tuesday at 335 French Court SW, Cedar Rapids.
A public ceremony will take place at 5 p.m., with comments from representatives of the city of Cedar Rapids, architect Rohrbach Associates PC and Miron Construction, the construction manager manager and LEED project administrator.
LEED certification is meant to recognize buildings that are designed, constructed, and operated in a sustainable manner aimed at enhancing the well-being of people.

Miron was chosen to participate in the LEED v4 pilot in 2012, which resulted in many changes before it was approved by its members and publicly released.

"We are truly honored to be recognized as a sustainable leader by the USGBC and are excited that our Cedar Rapids office is the first building in Iowa to be awarded LEED v4 certification," said Theresa Lehman, director of sustainable services for Miron, in a news release. "Working for an organization that strives to be a leader in sustainability and  by example is gratifying."

Constructed to better serve the organization's Iowa clients, the 11,884-square-foot, one-story, open-concept office space is meant to encourage collaboration, communication, and transparency, and illustrate the company's commitment to sustainability.

Tobacco companies involved in the 1998 landmark settlement have transferred about $49.5 million to the state treasury for this year's payment, of which $10.9 million will go to the state.

In the last 21 years, Iowa has received more than $1.25 billion in payments under the settlement. The state will continue to receive annual Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) payments in perpetuity, based on the number of cigarettes sold in the United States. The MSA is the largest legal settlement in U.S. history.

"Our office carefully monitors and aggressively enforces this agreement so Iowa gets its fair share of the settlement," Attorney General Tom Miller said in a news release.

About $10.9 million of this year's payment, or 22 percent, will go to the state.  The remainder will be used principally to pay bondholders who bought bonds issued by the Tobacco Settlement Authority. 

In 1998, Mr. Miller and attorneys general of 45 states signed the MSA with the nation's four largest tobacco companies to settle lawsuits to recover billions of dollars in state health care costs associated with treating smoking-related illnesses.  Since then, several other tobacco companies have signed onto the agreement. The 2019 payment came from 29 companies, including Philip Morris USA, R.J. Reynolds, Santa Fe Natural Tobacco, Vector and Commonwealth Brands. 

The settlement created restrictions on the advertising, marketing and promotion of cigarettes, including a ban on targeting children through advertising.  It also includes prohibitions on outdoor advertising of cigarettes and the advertising of cigarettes in public transit facilities, as well as the use of cigarette brand names on merchandise, and other restrictions.

Since it was announced, cigarette sales in the United States have fallen substantially and adult smoking rates have fallen from 24 percent of the U.S. population in 1999 to 14 percent in 2017, according to the U.S. Centers on Disease Control and Prevention.

Five Deere & Company employees have earned designation as a John Deere Fellow - the highest individual honor bestowed by the company. The Fellows program recognizes employees for deep expertise, demonstrated leadership, and reputation inside and outside the company.

"This year's John Deere Fellows represent a wide range of experts who are recognized by their peers for innovation and leadership. Their work greatly benefits our customers and their fellow employees," Deere chairman and CEO Samuel Allen said in a news release.

The John Deere Fellows program is in its fifth year and now will include 26 Fellows and 2 Senior Fellows. Honored for 2019 are Dr. Noel Anderson, August Altherr, Dr. Martin Kremmer, Carol Lewis, and Dr. Adrian Rantilla.
  • Noel Anderson - Strategic Intellectual Property Fellow. Mr. Anderson has 116 patents to his credit and is one of John Deere's most prolific inventors. He provides Deere with a distinctive competitive advantage by bringing together diverse and emerging areas of technical expertise into invention disclosures and patents. He has played a key role in the development, deployment, execution, and continuous improvement of the John Deere Enterprise Intellectual Property Strategy Process.
  • August Altherr - Innovation Delivery Fellow. Mr. Altherr is a key driver of European innovation in agriculture equipment and has numerous patents to his credit. His work evolved into the 6R Series, considered as one of Deere's successful tractor platforms and which is now assembled in five locations globally. Mr. Altherr helped establish think tanks of young engineers from top European universities to find innovative solutions for contractors and large arable farms, and key customer segments.
  • Martin Kremmer - Technology Innovation Fellow. Mr. Kremmer is known for expanding the method for studying granular media in complex, moving 3D geometries and conducting fundamental studies on agricultural goods such as soybeans in mechanical meters of precision planters. He is named author or co-author in 40 invention disclosure and patent applications. Mr. Kremmer has been responsible for the overall vehicle concept design of all mid-sized tractors.
  • Carol Lewis - Human Resource Fellow. Ms. Lewis is a respected voice in employee benefits. Her efforts include working in Washington, D.C. on legislation or regulatory changes, educating employees on health care benefits, updating senior leadership on employee pension and post-retirement benefits, negotiating lower health care solutions, meeting with retirees, and mentoring employees. She was instrumental in deployment of a company-wide wellness program, navigating health care reform, and other benefit-related activities.
  • Adrian Rantilla - Market Research Fellow. Mr. Rantilla has earned a reputation for applying research and analytics in sales and marketing. His insight and diligence has reduced costs in multiple programs through understanding customer motivations and behaviors. He is known for developing and cultivating strategic customer advisory relationships around the globe, adding value by focusing on how to solve the most challenging business problems.

Heartland Express ended the first quarter of 2019 with net income of $17.3 million, compared to $13.4 million in the first quarter of 2018, an increase of $3.9 million, or 29.5 percent.  

Basic earnings per share were 21 cents during the quarter compared to 16 cents of  basic earnings per share in the first quarter of 2018. Operating revenues were $139.5 million, compared to $156.7 million in the first quarter of 2018, a decrease of $17.2 million, or 11 percent.

Operating revenues for the quarter included fuel surcharge revenues of $17 million compared to $21.5 million in the same period of 2018, a $4.5 million decrease.  Operating revenues decreased 9.4 percent, excluding the impact of fuel surcharge revenues, due primarily to fewer miles driven. Although revenues were down quarter over quarter, operating income increased $7.9 million primarily due to improved operating margins.

"Our operating results were strong in terms of profit and overall operating efficiency despite general freight environment and weather challenges during the quarter," Heartland Express CEO Michael Gerdin said in a news release. He said operating revenue results in the first quarter of 2019 were challenged by multiple weeks of severe weather that included safety shutdowns for drivers and impracted customer operations and shipping patterns. In addition, he said customer demand in the first quarter of 2019 was lower than the same period of 2018.

Successful driver recruitment and retention resulted in organic growth during the first quarter of 2019 compared to the final quarter of 2018, Mr. Gerdin added.
April 22
Coralville Roundtable, by Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, noon-1 p.m., Iowa River Power, 501 First Ave., Coralville. Network during this social lunch and keep up-to-date with chamber and community events. Free. For more information, visit

April 24
Speed Networking, by Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, 7:45-9 a.m., Economic Alliance, 501 First St. SE. Meet fellow Economic Alliance members in a quick-paced and casual environment. Free. To register, visit

1 Million Cups, by 1MC Cedar Rapids, 8:15-9:15 a.m., Geonetric, 415 12th Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids. Join for community connections, free coffee, and presentations by entrepreneurs, established companies, experts and more. Free. For more information, visit

1 Million Cups, by 1MC Iowa City, 9-10 a.m., MERGE, 136 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City. Join for community connections, free coffee, and presentations by entrepreneurs, established companies, experts and more. Free. For more information, visit

Let's All Get Along: Building Respectful Relationships, by Kirkwood Corporate Training, 9-9:30 a.m., online. This webinar will teach participants to understand themselves and their worldview and offer advice for achieving productive and respectful relationships. Free. For more information, visit

Prepare a Winning Proposal, by Iowa State University CIRAS, 1-3:30 p.m., The Hotel at Kirkwood, 7725 Kirkwood Blvd. SW, Cedar Rapids. Learn how to read and answer an RFP, and get tips for organizing your proposal and getting questions answered. Free. For more information, visit

Excellence in Education Awards, by Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce and Iowa City Area Development Group, 6:30-8 p.m., The Englert Theatre, 221 E. Washington St., Iowa City. Exceptional students, volunteers, educators and business partners in Johnson County will be honored during this reception and awards ceremony. Free. To register, visit

April 24-25
Train-The-Trainer Workshop, by Association for Talent Development, Hawkeye Chapter, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Mount Mercy Graduate Center, 1650 Matterhorn Drive NE, Cedar Rapids. Discuss the phases of a training cycle, write effective learning objectives, design a participant-centered training experience and more. Cost: $99-$225. To register, visit
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Headlines from CBS2/FOX 28
These news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28  
Saturday, a group of community members gathered in the Wellington Heights neighborhood in Cedar Rapids to call for an end to violence. It started with a march around the neighborhood and ended in a community party at Redmond Park.  Snaking through the streets, neighbors could hear chants, emerging from their front doors.  "What do we want?" beckoned a leader.  "More love!" they echoed.  "How do we get it?"  "Stop the violence!" they cheered.  Some neighbors left their porches and joined in.
"This event is a statement piece," said Paki Williams, co-organizer of the "Stop the Violence" event. "There's been a lot of gun violence, a lot of violence -- period -- in the neighborhood." Ms.  Williams is referring to the four shots fired incidents that occurred within three days in early April. Cedar Rapids Police Department public safety officer Greg Buelow says that string of incidents is a high concern.
"The police department has taken a number of steps, including the formation of a Police Community Action Team that includes messaging those prone to being involved in criminal activity," said Mr. Buelow in an email. He said they're also having school resource officers work with youth in area high schools to identify and resolve issues before they lead to violent activity.  According to Brandon Jackson, co-organizer of the event along with Ms. Williams, youth are the exact reason they organized the event.  "I feel like the age is getting younger and younger with the violence," said Mr. Jackson, founder of Dream Sports, a local nonprofit youth sports organization. "I wanted to put something out there to let kids know there's something here for you."

Saturday was a day of victory for Cedar Rapids community gardener Ed Thornton.  For years, Mr. Thornton, has been battling with city officials to let him exercise his green thumb to benefit his neighbors.  Saturday, was the first season he was able to till his garden with a permit. Mr.  Thornton started gardening in 2011 on an empty lot on First Avenue SW. Then in 2014, he received a letter saying he was trespassing. Now, he has a lease on the land and held a tilling party to get the garden ready again.  Even Cedar Rapids City Council members showed up to help him till. Coming full circle made Mr. Thornton emotional.  "This--this means a lot," said Mr. Thornton, through tears. "They're the world to me. Sometimes stupid rules shouldn't be followed!"  Friends and neighbors say that Mr. Thornton has always had a heart of gold.  "The whole entire community is welcome," said Kimberli Giesbrecht. "I've sat here many summers in a row before the city came and took this land from him. I've watched single moms walk up with two, three, for children at a time, and they go home with more bags than they showed up with, full of food. That's the whole point of this garden, to make sure that people don't go hungry." Mr.  Thornton says gardening brings him peace and serenity, and to him, it is almost like a religion.

T hese news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28 
CBS2 Chief Meteorologist Terry Swails' Weather First Forecast

The week will begin with scattered showers and thunderstorms, then it will be dry for the rest of the work week. Temperatures will be near and above normal.  A cold front will move through the area today and bring scattered showers and thunderstorms through the day. It will be mostly cloudy with temperatures in the 70s. An isolated shower or thunderstorm will be possible this morning with the higher chances after 2 p.m. An isolated strong storm will be possible today, otherwise a few storms will produce heavy rain and small hail. Rain will wind down around 10 p.m. and it will be cloudy and breezy through the night.  Clouds will break up Tuesday and it will be cooler with temperatures in the 60s.