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Gov. Reynolds, local officials help launch new youth recovery facility

MASON CITY | About 75 people watched Gov. Kim Reynolds and others cut the ribbon and tour a new facility at Youth and Shelter Services' (YSS) Francis Lauer's Adolescent Residential Addiction Treatment's North Iowa Campus.

Along with Reynolds — who personally described her alcohol addiction before becoming Iowa governor — YSS President and CEO Andrew Allen also addressed the crowd, as well as Shanda Hansen, Francis Lauer's Community Based Center Director.

Hansen will be heavily involved in helping run the new facility, located at 30 N. Eisenhower Ave., across the street from the current complex.

Reynolds told those gathered it's extremely important for Iowans to prioritize mental health and addiction recovery for its youth.

"If Iowan youth aren't healthy, they can't learn, they can't earn, and for God's sake, they can't succeed," she said.

Allen, like Reynolds, told the crowd he had overcome addiction —but much earlier on in his life. He stated he had drinking and drug addiction issues when he was 10-11 years old.

Now, he's leading YSS, the same organization that helped him overcome his addiction. According to Allen, 7,000 youth in Iowa who need treatment for substance abuse each year don't receive it.

"Many people think this is a moral failure, that it's still a choice," Allen said of the stigma of drug addiction. "And families find themselves increasingly isolated."

Hansen also stated to those in attendance — which included Mayor Bill Schickel, State Sen. Amanda Reagan and Mason City Police Chief Jeff Brinkley, among numerous other local leaders — that she had overcome drug addiction.

She noted the numerous programs the new facility will offer, including mental healthy therapy, medication management, crisis management and several other programs.

After she finished her speech, her and the Mason City Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors walked outside YSS's main complex at 50 N. Eisenhower Ave., and helped cut the ribbon outside the new facility, as snow slowly fell down late Thursday afternoon.

Inside the new facility, Hansen told the Globe Gazette it will be important to create relationships with local mental health facilities and hospitals to help youth overcome their addiction.

She added the full amount of services the new facility will provide is important to youth who need the tools to overcome addiction.

"When we have somebody come into our shelter, many times they need other support besides just that safe place," Hansen said. "They may need outpatient treatment, they may need residential treatment ... it's just important instead of pushing them out to another facility or getting on a wait list for a unit to meet their needs. We want to do that here."

Along with the new facility opening, YSS presented Reynolds with the Youth Advocacy Leadership Award, specifically for helping young people in recovery. Reynolds commended those in attendance for their help in opening the new facility.

"With a team like YSS behind you and a community behind you, life can be so much better," he said.

The YSS is asking for household items for its new facility, ranging from towels and bedding to new TVs. Those interested in helping should visit

K-12 school funding debate continues at Capitol

DES MOINES | Establish state funding levels for public schools now; address inequities in the school funding formula later.

That was the message state lawmakers in the Iowa House sent across the Iowa Capitol to their colleagues in the Senate on Thursday, as Republicans in command continued their work on setting public school funding for the 2018-2019 school year.

The chambers have agreed on increasing public school funding over the current year by 1 percent, which would result in more than $3.2 billion in statewide funding, an increase of roughly $32 million.

The chambers have not agreed on how to address inequities in the school’s funding formula. Some districts have higher transportation costs, which means they have a smaller share of funds to spend on the classroom than other districts. And some districts are able to spend more per student than others.

The Senate on Wednesday attached to the school funding bill their plan to address the transportation funding issue.

The House on Thursday rejected that plan; House leaders said they prefer to address the funding formula’s inequities in separate legislation, and that the Senate plan does not appropriately tackle the issues.

Rep. Cecil Dolecheck, who leads the House’s education budget committee, said the Senate proposal addressed a “very much needed concern,” and pledged the House will offer its proposal in legislation next week. He said the House plan will prioritize funding for districts with the largest transportation costs.

“I give you my word we will address this issue,” Dolecheck said, adding that he has been working on the transportation funding issue for 20 years. “I’m excited we’re at the point we can get something done.”

Although she respected his word, Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City, called the Senate proposal a “bird in the hand” for Democrats who have been pushing to address transportation costs, especially for large rural districts, as well as the per pupil inequity issue in Davenport and other districts.

“I’d rather have this one than the promise we’ll do something next week,” she said.

Rep. Todd Prichard, D-Charles City, also found it “troubling that when given an opportunity that we can’t have a proposal that is acceptable.”

However, Rep. Cindy Winckler, D-Davenport, said she respected the effort Dolecheck and others were making by working on Senate File 455 to solve those issues.

“The dilemma we are in is whether or not what is promised to us today will actually come before us on the floor of the House,” Winckler said. “I will take a leap of faith and support the intent the majority party has.”

House Minority Leader Mark Smith, D-Marshalltown, wondered why the House and Senate Republicans hadn’t worked out their differences before bringing the school funding bill to the floor.

The House voted 57-37 to defeat the Senate-amended version of the school funding bill. Thirty-six Democrats and Rep. Norlin Mommsen, R-DeWitt, voted for it. Winckler joined 56 Republicans to defeat it.

That sends the school funding bill back to the Senate, which adjourned Thursday for the weekend before considering the updated version. Because the House rejected the Senate plan that included the transportation funding, the Senate must approve the new plan without the transportation funding before sending the bill to Gov. Kim Reynolds for her approval.

By failing to agree on the school funding bill Thursday, Republicans missed the deadline that they wrote into law a year ago that requires K-through-12 public school funding be set within the first 30 days of the legislative session.

“We did our job,” Rep. Walt Rogers, chairman of the House education committee, said with a shrug.

Associated Press 


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Woman arrested for prostitution after Mason City police investigate Asian massage parlor

MASON CITY | A woman has been arrested for prostitution after police investigated an Asian massage parlor in Mason City. 

Yu Hong, 37, who was wanted for prostitution in Lee County, has also been charged with misdemeanor prostitution in Cerro Gordo County. 

Hong was arrested as a result of an investigation Thursday at Asian Tuina, 525 S. Washington Ave., Mason City Police Lt. Rich Jensen said in a news release. 

The investigation is ongoing and more arrests are possible, Jensen said.

Hong was booked in Cerro Gordo County Jail about 1 p.m. Thursday, where she is being held on a $3,000 bond. 

No court date has been set. 

The Iowa Department of Public Safety-Division of Intelligence and the North Central Iowa Narcotics Task Force provided assistance.