MONDAY, JAN. 29, 2018  |  IN THIS ISSUE  

The owner of the Duane Arnold Energy Center nuclear power plant near Palo says the plant will likely close in 2025, about nine years earlier than it is licensed to operate. 
 
The potential for an early closing of the plant was disclosed by NextEra Energy Resources on Friday in its fourth quarter 2017 earnings report, which included a $258 million after-tax impairment charge for the plant. The charge reflected a review of Duane Arnold Energy Center's value and the costs to retire it after NextEra concluded in the fourth quarter of 2017 that its largest customer was unlikely to renew its power purchase agreement when it expires.

"In late 2017, NextEra Energy Resources concluded that it is unlikely that the facility's primary customer will extend the current contract after it expires in 2025," NextEra spokesman Peter Robbins said. "Without a contract extension, the facility would likely close at the end of 2025 despite being licensed to operate until 2034." 
 
Mr. Robbins said NextEra will continue to seek customers for the plant's power, and has not made a decision to close the plant.

Nuclear Energy Commission Public Affairs Officer Chandrathil Prema confirmed the NRC has not received a notice of intent to close the plant. A formal notification, called a "certificate of permanent cessation of operation," will be required if it does. The removal of nuclear power facilities and their fuel can be a lengthy process taking years or decades, Ms. Prema said, but the agency continues to have inspectors onsite to monitor the facilities throughout the process.

Alliant Energy is the main utility served by the 615-megawatt nuclear power plant, which is minority owned by Central Iowa Power Cooperative and Corn Belt Power Cooperative. Energy spokesman Justin Foss said the company is committed to continuing to buy power from Duane Arnold Energy Center for the remaining eight years of the contract.

"Energy markets continue to change," Mr. Foss said. "The cost of wind energy in the past eight years has dropped dramatically and it is hard to forecast out eight years from now. With all that said, we're continuing to work with NextEra to determine the best course forward for our customers." 

The Duane Arnold Energy Center stimulates $255 million in economic impact locally per year, and has a payroll of about $85 million, according to NextEra Energy. It employs about 600 full-time workers, and can bring as many as 1,500 contract workers to the area during shutdowns for refueling and maintenance. Nuclear power advocates point to the fact that the heat produced by the plants to generate steam is created without carbon emissions, and that the plants provide baseload power which helps balance renewable power sources that are dependent on fluctuating sources such as wind and sunshine.

NextEra Energy reported fourth-quarter earnings per share $1.25, or $590 million, compared to $566 million in the fourth quarter of 2016. For the full year, NextEra reported earnings of $11.38 per share, or $5.378 billion, up from $6.25 per share, or $2.912 billion, in fiscal 2016.
   
IMAGE IOWAWATCH 
The University of Iowa's majority white student body was one of many novelties Miguel Torres noticed when he stepped off the bus from Chicago for orientation in fall 2013.
 
His parents were against him leaving the city and the primarily Latino community, the Pilsen neighborhood, where he grew up. Mr. Torres came to Iowa City alone.
 
"I never knew where Iowa was. I'd never seen the campus before," said Mr. Torres, 22, now a fifth-year senior studying chemistry.
A new Hechinger Report study, reported on by IowaWatch, shows many flagship universities across the country have low enrollment of African-American and Latino students, although the UI shows a slight rise in first-time degree-seeking students from those minority populations.
 
The report, released today and covering enrollment between 2010-2015, shows the university's Latino student enrollment for first-time, degree-seeking undergraduates increasing from 5 percent of all students in 2010 to 9 percent in 2015. African-American undergraduate first-time degree enrollment rose from 2 percent of the student body in 2010 to 4 percent in 2015.
 
Despite the increase, minority students IowaWatch interviewed said the UI could do more to cultivate a culture of diversity and create a safer learning environment for African-American and Latino students on campus.
 
African-American students, for example, face micro-aggressions or hostile racial slights, daily, Matthew Bruce, 22, a senior from Des Moines, said. They are so pervasive on a campus such as the UI that Mr. Bruce said they're hard to even articulate. They include food served at residence halls that caters to white students, how people react to what black students wear, being told to change your tone of voice and implications that your dreadlocks aren't appropriate for a job fair. Read the rest of the story here
 
This story was produced by the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism-IowaWatch.org, a nonprofit, online news website, and The Hechinger Report, an independent nonprofit effort from Teachers College, Columbia University that covers inequality and innovation in education. 
Story4This week's CBJ: RePurpose It takes creative, hands-on approach 
 
Leslie Allender and painter Jamie Fritz stand among RePurpose It's showroom. PHOTO EMERY STYRON
British home decorating guru Annie Sloan would have to look far and wide to find a better example of her shop local/have fun philosophy than RePurpose It in downtown Washington.

Run by Main Street Washington board member Leslie Allender, the hobby-turned-business is an add-on to Carson's Plumbing, and one of the few shops in Eastern Iowa stocking Ms. Sloan's line of hot-selling chalk paints.
 
The paints, known for adding a velvety matte finish to craft and furniture refurbishment projects without surface prep, combines with the store's fast-changing inventory of "rustic, shabby chic and distressed" furniture and home d├ęcor to pull in locals and out-of-towners, who also enjoy Ms. Allender's friendly, learn-it-here approach.
 
Customers get hands-on training in using the products at painting parties, "bring your own piece" nights, weekly classes and team-building events held around the "working paint bar" at the rear of the store.
 
"The last thing I want to hear is that a customer bought a bunch of paint and never used it because they didn't know how," said Ms. Allender. "We want to make sure they are comfortable before they leave. If you offer the opportunity to have success, they're going to have fun with it."
 
Read the full, members-first story in this week's print or digital edition of the CBJ.  

The parent company of West Bank reported year-end earnings for fiscal 2017 that topped last year's, although its fourth-quarter earnings fell with a one-time charge related to federal tax reform.

West Bancorporation reported net income of $4.19 million, or 26 cents per share, in the fourth quarter, down from $6 million, or 37 cents per share, in the year-earlier quarter. Net interest income rose to $15.5 million from $14.3 million in the year-prior quarter, while noninterest income remained at $1.9 million.

For the full year, West Bancorporation's net income inched up to a record $23.1 million, or $1.41 per share, from last year's $23 million, or $1.42 per share, despite an additional provision for income taxes of $2.3 million in the fourth quarter related to the revaluation of deferred tax assets as a result of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

West Bancorporation President and CEO Dave Nelson said the primary driver of increased earnings continues to be overall loan growth.

"Management remains committed to achieving a high level of earnings and creating value for our stockholders in an evolving economic and regulatory environment," Mr. Nelson stated in a press release. "We are confident in the strength of our balance sheet and capital position."

Eastern Iowa Market President Jim Conard reported record loan production in the region. He said the company attributes its success to bringing value to customers, and will focus on delivering new and innovative value propositions to the market in 2018.
Story5Corridor Development to host virtual job fair
 
To help fill open positions across the region, Corridor Development will host a virtual job fair March 1 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.. The event, sponsored by Rockwell Collins, will include jobs in the fields of engineering, operations, quality control, management, marketing, sales, advertising, customer service and more.

"Our employers are eager to share their professional job opportunities with candidates across our country and all over the world," DaLayne Williamson, director of workforce solutions for Corridor Development, said in a release. "A virtual career fair is a great way to connect with potential employees who may not be able to attend a more traditional event."
 
The job fair will include "virtual booths" where employers can connect with candidates and conduct interviews through an online platform. Corridor Development plans to market the event to potential candidates through a variety of direct and social media venues. Local colleges and universities will also promote the event to new graduates, and alums and Iowa Workforce Development and Home Base Iowa will share details with their clients. 
   
"Our engineering groups are seeing an increased hiring demand based on recent program wins for both our government and commercial clients," Seth Wear, senior manager of talent acquisition at Rockwell Collins, said of the company's decision to sponsor the event. "It was an easy choice to partner with Corridor Development on this virtual career fair; it's a simple and convenient way to connect our recruiters with interested job seekers across the Midwest." 
 
Employers and candidates interested in participating can register here. Anyone who would like to learn more about virtual job fairs is also invited to attend a Lunch and Learn event on Feb. 22 from noon - 1:30 p.m. at the Kirkwood Regional Learning Center in Coralville to hear from local employers willing to share advice and answer questions.   
EventHeadlinesShort-Term Event Planner

Jan. 30
Federal Tax Reform Panel, by Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, 8-9:15 a.m., Economic Alliance, 501 First St. SE, Cedar Rapids. Travis Fell and Chris Hendricks from RSM, and Jon Landon, a tax attorney with Shuttleworth & Ingersoll, will answer questions about tax reform. Attendees can submit questions during the registration process. Free. To register, visit bit.ly/2DcFvZn.
 
Jan. 31
1 Million Cups, by 1 Million Cups, 9-10 a.m., MERGE, 136 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City. Join for community connections, startup pitches and free coffee. Free. For more information, visit facebook.com/1MCICR.
 
Power Ladies Lunch, by NewBoCo, IWLC and F&M Bank, noon-1 p.m., Eastbank Venue & Lounge, 97 Third Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids. Join other entrepreneurial, professional women from across the Corridor to share resources, connections and referrals. Cost: $12. For more information or to register, visit newbo.co.
 
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Headlines from CBS2/FOX 28
These news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28  
 
The Cedar Rapids Police Department is investigating a shooting that sent one man to the hospital. Police say they were called to the 200 block of Third Street SE at 2 a.m. Sunday morning for a report of shots fired. While officers were still driving to the location they were told about a male victim who was at UnityPoint - St. Luke's Hospital with a gunshot wound. Officers then went to the hospital and located the male victim. His name and current condition have not been released.
 
Iowa City leaders are expressing excitement with the announcement RAGBRAI will make the city its second-to-last overnight stop on July 27. "Iowa City's experience with hosting large world-class events will be put on display to a new audience, and we couldn't be more excited," said Josh Schamberger, president of the Iowa City/Coralville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. While planning for Iowa City's overnight stop just started, the University of Iowa will play a key role in the festivities. In a release, Peter Matthes, vice president for external relations and a senior advisor to the UI president, said, "The University of Iowa has a history of direct and indirect engagement with RAGBRAI and we are happy to share our campus and community with this quintessentially Iowan event ... RAGBRAI and the UI both started as ideas that have manifested into national and international representations of Iowa and Iowans: welcoming, hard working, innovative and kind." Volunteer committees will be organized and announced in the coming months by the executive committee, which includes Mr. Matthes and Mr. Schamberger as well as Geoff Fruin, city manager; Nancy Bird, executive director of the Iowa City Downtown District; and Juli Seydell Johnson, Iowa City's Parks and Recreation director.
 
T hese news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28 
CBS2 Chief Meteorologist Terry Swails' Weather First Forecast

The week will start off calm and cool. Skies will clear through the day, but despite the sunshine it will be cool. Temperatures will be in the 20s across the area. Winds will switch out of the south tomorrow and it will be breezy and warmer. Temperatures will climb above freezing once again into the mid 30s. It will be even warmer Wednesday with temperatures in the upper 30s to mid 40s. The party ends as the month of February begins - cold air moves right back in to end the week. Temperatures will be in the teens and 20s Thursday and Friday. There will be a few weak disturbances that may bring light snow to the area over the weekend. Otherwise just cold.