Cafe Muse in North Liberty has closed permanently due to a pandemic-related slowdown in business. CREDIT CAFE MUSE
One of North Liberty's only independent coffee shops closed its doors permanently last week, the victim of a pandemic that is felling businesses large and small.

Cafe Muse, 565 Cameron Way, poured its last cup of joe Oct. 3. The popular venue, which sold coffee drinks, teas, smoothies and a variety of toasts and sandwiches, was opened by Nasi Moradi and CJ Huang in February 2017. It offered a modern design and what Mr. Huang hoped would be a "cozy, hangout kind of space."

"For the past four years, we have had the honor of serving this community," owners said in a Facebook goodbye. "We are grateful for our incredible team, loyal fans, and all of the friends we have made along the way. We had such a tremendous run and enjoyed providing quality products, warm atmosphere, and new coffee concepts to the community."

The cafe added, "the pandemic has affected us, as it did so many businesses worldwide."

Cedar Rapids has lost a string of coffee shops since the onset of the pandemic. Independent coffee shop closures are so widespread nationally, Dunkin' cited them over the summer as a golden opportunity to expand its chain.

Several dozen Cafe Muse fans - from members of knitting circles who met there regularly to online daters who used the spot to assess potential matches - lamented the loss of the cafe in online comments.

"We have really felt the love and appreciation from everyone and it really meant a lot to us," Cafe Muse owners posted on its last day of business. "Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!"
Para2Mindful Leadership offers coaching, consulting in Hiawatha
Angie Chaplin
More than two decades of working in organizational leadership and human resources and "a newly discovered life purpose" led Angie Chaplin to found Mindful Leadership, a new coaching and consulting practice in Hiawatha. 

"My passion has always been leadership development," said Ms. Chaplin, who has worked as a leadership coach, facilitator, consultant, author and educator. "When I was approached by two former classmates about working on leadership initiatives, I felt the timing was right to launch this new venture." 

Ms. Chaplin is one of only 40 Certified Master Facilitators in the country, and only one in the upper Midwest, for The Leadership Challenge, an internationally recognized book, curriculum, and workshop.

Ms. Chaplin said she found a new purpose for her career path through recovery from alcohol addiction. 

"The heart of leadership is relationships," she said. "My work is to authentically connect with people where they're at in leadership, and in life, to help achieve their goals. Those can be goals in serving strong families, thriving community organizations, successful small businesses, and high-performing companies." 

Connecting with people is what led Chaplin to partner with Dusty Swehla, owner of Panda Marie LLC in Hiawatha. Panda Marie is a holistic wellness studio offering services and programs to help others live the lives they love, naturally. Ms. Swehla was one of the first people Ms. Chaplin met after she moved to Marion in July and joined a Yoga of 12-Step Recovery class at Panda Marie. 

"Partnering with Panda Marie, an existing successful business, while also operating as a stand-alone company allows me to experience the best of both worlds," she said. 

Ms. Chaplin will celebrate her new business with a ribbon cutting and open house Friday at 4 p.m. at 1200 N. Center Point Road in Hiawatha. To learn more about Mindful Leadership, visit the Facebook page, or contact her at (319) 404- 7357 or
Para3KCRG: Collins Road Square businesses still closed after derecho
Austad's Golf, 1436 Twixt Town Road in Marion, removed inventory as it awaited repairs to its roof and interior following the Aug. 10 derecho. CREDIT AUSTAD'S
Even nearly two months following the powerful Aug. 10 derecho, news partner KCRG-TV9 reports, some Marion businesses are still forced to be closed.

The storm caused significant damage to the Collins Road Square strip mall, just across the street from Lindale Mall. Up and down the storefronts, shoppers are greeted with the same message: Closed.

"The water damage from the rain coming in and the wind damage blowing off the HVAC units and none of it can be seen from the sidewalk and so, people are wondering how come we aren't open yet," Bruce Taylor, owner of the Collins Road Theaters, said.

Mr. Taylor said it's mainly damaged inside, which could keep him and other retailers closed for months. That's on top of some delays in construction.

"There has been a drain on resources trying to get cranes and crews and things like that done," Mr. Taylor said.

The inside of the theater is almost unrecognizable. All of the ceiling tiles, flooring, and some seating will have to be replaced.

"But at least we still have our front doors, which is better than a lot of business came out," he said.

Other shops are completely boarded up, like Austad's Golf. According to their Facebook page, they're still not sure when they will reopen.

Down the sidewalk, Betty Jane Candies closed the Marion location for good. An employee said that the effort to repair just wasn't worth it after the novel coronavirus pandemic shifted most of their sales online.

The pandemic is also another concern for Mr. Taylor.

"Business was slow [after the COVID-19 closure] because the public wasn't ready to get out to the movie theaters yet, but it was starting to increase slowly but surely," he said, adding insurance is helping him cover the cost of some repairs and other losses for now. "But what happens when all that's done is still scary with the COVID situation."

Mr. Taylor said he hopes construction will be done in about a month, but said it could last even longer.
pitchCR pool company raises funds for distressed animal shelter

Splash Pool & Spa, a Cedar Rapids based pool and spa retailer and construction company, has raised $6,000 for Last Hope Animal Rescue after the Aug. 10 derecho damaged its facility and hurt fundraising efforts.

"I have been a lifetime dog owner," said Splash Pool & Spa owner Weston Darling in a release. "In fact, a large amount of our customers are 'dog people', as well. Our pets are not just pets, to many of us they are equal members of the family. Splash Pool & Spa products are aimed at nurturing that family dynamic and infusing fun into everyone's lives, so supporting local animal shelters only makes sense for that reason."

The company presented the proceeds of its Make It Rain (for) Cats & Dogs campaign at an Oct. 5 event. Splash Pool & Spa donated a portion of its retail sales between Aug. 15 and Sept. 5 to the shelter, with Mr. Darling making a personal commitment to match the total. 

The company previously teamed up with Last Hope in 2019 as a sponsor of its annual Barks & Brew event. But given pandemic safety guidelines and recommended social distancing, Last Hope pivoted its annual fundraiser to a new format in 2020. The Mutt Putt Challenge, a store-to-store golf challenge, had been scheduled for Aug. 15 with Splash Pool & Spa being the final destination and headlining sponsor of the event. 

Before that could happen, though, the derecho swept through Cedar Rapids, leaving a trail of destruction in its path, the event canceled, and Last Hope's building damaged.

"We had already planned a fundraising event that would have piggybacked off of the Mutt Putt
Challenge," said Splash Marketing Director Emily Carlson. "With an event being such a significant source of funds for Last Hope being canceled, and damages from the derecho exacerbating the whole situation, we knew it was even more crucial to continue with our own fundraiser at all costs."
Para5Column: Reliable child care is critical for Iowa's economy
Dawn Oliver Wiand of the Iowa Women's Foundation lays out how the coronavirus crisis has had a disproportionate impact on working mothers and why Iowa needs a solution.

Before COVID-19, we had a child care crisis in Iowa-one that continues to impact families, businesses, and communities and one that puts much of the pandemic's burden on the shoulders of parents, especially mothers.

In rural and urban areas across our state, child care has become unaffordable, inaccessible, or simply nonexistent. Pre-COVID, 75% of Iowa families with children under the age of six had all parents working outside of the home. On average, one in two children went without access to quality, affordable child care. And in the five years leading up to the pandemic, Iowa lost 37% of its child care businesses.

In February 2020, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, along with Iowa ABI, released the study: "How Child Care Impacts Iowa's State Economy." Their report found that, annually, child care issues result in an estimated $935 million loss for Iowa's economy. In addition, Iowa loses an estimated $153 million annually in tax revenue due to child care issues. Finally, absences and employee turnover cost Iowa employers an estimated $781 million every year.

Over a matter of months, due to COVID-19, the situation became even more dire as both licensed centers and in-home providers closed their doors at alarming rates. According to a provider survey conducted by DHS, 969 licensed centers and 117 childcare development homes were temporarily shuttered. The economic destruction we are living through now spotlights how vulnerable and essential the child care sector is.

That women are bearing the brunt of this crisis, sadly, comes as no surprise. Statistics from the National Women's Law Center show just how disproportionally women have been affected by COVID-19: women made up 49% of the overall workforce, but account for nearly 60% of job losses, outnumbering men in all sectors nationwide and in Iowa. Unemployment claims for women increased over 1,000% from 6,315 in January to 100,882 in May, while men's claims went from 22,098 to 74,634. At the time I wrote this article, women's unemployment in Iowa sat at 12.2%, while the unemployment rate for Iowa men was 2.6%.
As schools tackle return-to-learn plans and parents wonder how they will continue to work and supervise their children's learning without child care, businesses must be a part of the solution.
Child care is essential to maintaining and supporting the workforce-and the workforce is central to any company's success. Without child care, parents cannot work in the same capacity as they once did. And without working parents, businesses will struggle and Iowa's economy will stall.
Read the full column in this week's print and digital editions of the CBJ.
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Short-Term Event Planner     

Oct. 9 
Breakfast Smart Series: Managing Health Care Costs, by Iowa City Area Business Partnership, 9 a.m., online. Learn ways to drive down health care costs through plan design, preventative care incentives and resources. Presented by Scott Fisher, president of McCrossen Consulting. Free. To register, visit
CLP Alumni Micro-Session: Crucibles of Leadership in 2020, by Iowa City Area Business Partnership, noon-1:30 p.m., online. The panel of CLP alumni and community leadership will share what they have learned from the crucible moments of 2020. Panelists include RaQuishia Harrington, Laura McLeran, Todd Means, Kaila Rome and Bruce Teague. Cost: $15. To register,
Oct. 13
Leaving the Office Behind: Building the Best Culture for Remote Work, by Kirkwood Corporating Training, 8 a.m.-noon, Legacy Manufacturing, 6509 Partners Ave., Marion. Explore proven tips and techniques to help you be effective and productive in a remote situation while also leading team members to be connected, engaged, effective, and productive. Free. For information, call Kirkwood Corporate Training at (319) 398-5623.
Plant Layout Simulations with Flow Planner, by Iowa State University Center for Industrial Research & Service (CIRAS), 10-11 a.m., online. This webinar will explain how CIRAS can create a simulation of your plant layout and find the most efficient way to operate. Free. To register, visit
Oct. 14
1 Million Cups, by 1MC Cedar Rapids, 8:15 a.m., online. Join for community connections and presentations by entrepreneurs, established companies, experts and more. Free. For more information, visit
1 Million Cups, by 1MC Iowa City, 9 a.m., online. Join for community connections and presentations by entrepreneurs, established companies, experts and more. Free. For more information, visit
Headlines from KCRG-TV9 

These news items are provided by KCRG-TV9
An Iowa City hospital has informed state officials it plans to lay off 29 employees because of losses suffered during the coronavirus outbreak. The Gazette reports that Mercy Iowa City filed notice of the layoffs with Iowa Workforce Development, noting that the layoffs will be effective Nov. 21. According to Mercy Iowa City spokesman Aaron Scheinblum, the layoffs will affect a variety of non-specific areas in the hospital. The notice was filed days before the hospital announced last month that it would close its inpatient mental and behavioral health unit. Scheinblum says the layoffs are not specifically tied to that unit.

A Linn County Correctional Center inmate died in custody Wednesday after staff and medical personnel found him not breathing and without a pulse. At approximately 4:20 p.m., jail staff were notified by inmates of a medical emergency involving another inmate in a dormitory-style cellblock on the second floor of the jail.  Another inmate had initially attempted CPR efforts and upon arrival of jail staff, they took over medical care. Deputies and medical staff discovered the man was not breathing and had no pulse. Additional advanced medical support was requested and provided by paramedics from Area Ambulance Service and Sheriff Rescue 57.  The inmate was transported to Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, where he was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival. The inmate, Ryan Edward Bailey, 40 of Marion, had been booked into the Correctional Center that morning. Upon Bailey's arrival at the jail, medical staff examined him for a potential knee injury after an alleged scuffle with arresting officers. No obvious injuries were observed and Bailey declined any further medical treatment. Jail deputies had previously conducted a cell check in the cellblock in which Bailey was housed at 3:44 p.m., approximately 36 minutes before the medical emergency was reported, and found nothing out of the ordinary. In reviewing cellblock video, Sheriff's Office investigators have found no apparent cause for Bailey's medical emergency. The County Medical Examiner has ordered an autopsy to help determine the cause of Bailey's death. The death has been reported to the State Jail Inspector and the incident remains under investigation.
These news items are provided by KCRG-TV9
Your KCRG-TV9 First Alert Forecast

Highs today will be above average, in the low to mid-70s with lots of sunshine. We may see a bit of hazy skies at times due to wildfire smoke, but overall not a huge impact. Our warmest day of the week continues to be Friday in the low 80s. Dry conditions continue through the weekend, making it a great weekend to get outside. Highs will be in the mid- to upper 70s through Sunday.