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North Iowa jazz students take center stage at festival (with photos)

MASON CITY — The North Iowa Area Community College hosted its annual jazz festival on Thursday and Friday. 

The festival, in its 22nd year, was founded by NIACC Band Director John Klemas. 

CHRIS ZOELLER, The Globe Gazette 

The Osage High School Jazz Band performs during the 22nd Annual NIACC Jazz Festival in Mason City Friday. 

The two-day festival gives students the opportunity to perform and receive private critique from educators outside of their programs without the stress of being in a judged competition. 

Serving as adjudicators for the this year's event were Dr. Tony Guzman, director of the jazz program and professor of music at Luther College, and Steve Citta, a retired Waterloo Community Schools band director. 

CHRIS ZOELLER, The Globe Gazette 

Steve Citta, a retired Waterloo Community Schools band director and adjudicator of the annual NIACC Jazz Festival, listens as Dr. Tony Guzman leads his portion of the clinic for the Osage High School Jazz Band on Friday.

Guzman and Citta both listened and took notes as each band performed three pieces and then took the stage to give feedback and led the bands through song passages that needed work. 

Participating schools on Thursday were Clear Lake bands I and II, West Delaware, Crestwood, Algona's standard and expanded bands, and the NIACC Jazz Ensemble. Belmond-Klemme, Waverly-Shell Rock bands I and II, Central Springs, Osage and Mason City performed on Friday. 

CHRIS ZOELLER, The Globe Gazette 

Dr. Tony Guzman, director of the jazz program and professor of music at Luther College, leads a clinic for the Osage High School Jazz Band during the 22nd Annual NIACC Jazz Festival in Mason City Friday. 

US government shuts down; Dems, GOP blame each other

WASHINGTON — The federal government shut down at the stroke of midnight Friday, halting all but the most essential operations and marring the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump's inauguration in a striking display of Washington dysfunction.

Last-minute negotiations crumbled as Senate Democrats blocked a four-week stopgap extension in a late-night vote, causing the fourth government shutdown in a quarter century. Behind the scenes, however, leading Republicans and Democrats were already moving toward a next step, trying to work out a compromise to avert a lengthy shutdown.

Since the shutdown began at the start of a weekend, many of the immediate effects will be muted for most Americans. But any damage could build quickly if the closure is prolonged. And it comes with no shortage of embarrassment for the president and political risk for both parties, as they wager that voters will punish the other at the ballot box in November.

Social Security and most other safety net programs are unaffected by the lapse in federal spending authority. Critical government functions will continue, with uniformed service members, health inspectors and law enforcement officers set to work without pay. But if no deal is brokered before Monday, hundreds of thousands of federal employees will be furloughed.

After hours of closed-door meetings and phone calls, the Senate scheduled its late-night vote on a House-passed plan. It gained 50 votes to proceed to 49 against, but 60 were needed to break a Democratic filibuster. A handful of red-state Democrats crossed the aisle to support the measure, rather than take a politically risky vote. Four Republicans voted in opposition.

In an unusual move, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell allowed the roll call to exceed 90 minutes — instead of the usual 20 or so — and run past midnight, seemingly accommodating the numerous discussions among leaders and other lawmakers. Still as midnight passed and the calendar turned, there was no obvious off-ramp to the political stalemate.

Even before the vote, Trump was pessimistic, tweeting that Democrats actually wanted the shutdown "to help diminish the success" of the tax bill he and fellow Republicans pushed through last month. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders later termed the Democrats "obstructionist losers."

Democrats balked on the measure in an effort to pressure on the White House to cut a deal to protect "dreamer" immigrants — who were brought to the country as children and are now here illegally — before their legal protection runs out in March.

The president watched the results from the White House residence, dialing up allies and affirming his belief that Democrats would take the blame for the shutdown, said a person familiar with his conversations but not authorized to discuss them publicly.

Predictably, both parties moved swiftly to blame each other. Democrats laid fault with Republicans, who control both chambers of Congress and the White House and have struggled with building internal consensus. Republicans declared Democrats responsible, after they declined to provide the votes needed to overcome a filibuster over their desire to force the passage of legislation to protect some 700,000 younger immigrants from deportation.

Republicans branded the confrontation a "Schumer shutdown" and argued that Democrats were harming fellow Americans to protect "illegal immigrants." Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said a "Trump shutdown" was more accurate.

Earlier Friday, Trump had brought Schumer to the White House in hopes of cutting a deal on a short-term spending agreement.

The two New Yorkers, who pride themselves on their negotiating abilities, started talking over cheeseburgers about a larger agreement that would have included greater military spending and money for a southern border wall.

But the talks fell apart almost as abruptly as they started. In a phone call hours later, the president raised new concerns about the deal he and Schumer had discussed, according to a person familiar with the conversation. In a subsequent phone call with Schumer, chief of staff John Kelly said the deal discussed was too liberal. The White House did not immediately comment on that account.

Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told CNN that "not much has changed" over the course of the day, but he predicted a deal would be reached by Monday, when most government offices are to reopen after the weekend.

Democrats in the Senate had served notice they would filibuster the government-wide funding bill that cleared the House Thursday evening. They were seeking an even shorter extension that they think would keep the pressure on the White House to cut a deal to protect the "dreamer" immigrants.

"We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands," Sanders said in a statement.

Trump first described his discussion with Schumer as an "excellent preliminary meeting," tweeting that lawmakers were "making progress - four week extension would be best!" But that optimism faded as the evening wore on. 

Trump had been an unreliable negotiator in the weeks leading up to the showdown. Earlier this week he tweeted opposition to the four-week plan, forcing the White House to later affirm his support. He expressed openness to extending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, only to reject a bipartisan proposal. His disparaging remarks about African and Haitian immigrants last week helped derail further negotiations.

Anonymous donation pushes Cheer Fund past 2017 goal of $125K

MASON CITY | The Christmas Cheer Fund has surpassed its 2017 campaign goal thanks to an anonymous $4,000 donation delivered to the Globe Gazette Friday.

The donation was received the day after the Cheer Fund announced it hadn’t met or surpassed its goal for the first time in its 90-year history.

The fund was established by Globe Gazette Publisher Lee Loomis in 1927 so every child could have a present on Christmas morning, and in the years since, it has come to mean a little help during the holidays for people of all ages.

Before the donation was delivered, the Cheer Fund was more than $3,600 shy of its $125,000 goal for 2017. With the anonymous donation, the fund raised $125,346.29 to help North Iowans in need.

In 2017, more than 2,600 applications were received by the Cheer Fund from individuals and families who were struggling with homelessness, family hardships, unexpected disasters and more.

Since the Cheer Fund began, more than $3 million has been raised to help thousands of North Iowans.

Contributions to the Christmas Cheer Fund can be made at any time throughout the year by dropping them off or mailing them to the Globe Gazette's office, 300 N. Washington Ave., Mason City, IA 50402-0271.

Wintry mix in Northern Iowa could make travel difficult Sunday, Monday

MASON CITY | A potential for freezing rain and drizzle could lead to dangerous road conditions in North Iowa Sunday into Monday.

The National Weather Service warns that the freezing rain may lead to ice accumulations across much of Iowa, specifically North Iowa. The wintry mix may lead to adverse travel conditions Sunday through Monday.

In Mason City, there is a chance of snow and freezing drizzle before 8 a.m. Sunday, then the drizzle is expected to continue through the afternoon. Temperatures are expected to reach 34 degrees with a low around 29.

Early Monday morning is expected to bring freezing rain possibly mixed with sleet before 11 a.m., then snow continuing though the afternoon.

Strong winds are possible on Monday which could make roads slippery and reduce visibility. Strong winds may also be dangerous for trees and power lines.

Temperatures will hover around 32 degrees Monday. Freezing rain is expected after 4 p.m. through early evening Monday. The rain is expected to turn to snow after 7 p.m. Monday. The forecasted low temperature is 15 degrees. 

Northwestern Iowa could see several inches of snow Sunday evening through Monday.

A winter storm watch is in effect from Sunday evening through Monday afternoon for Kossuth, Winnebago and Worth counties as well as Emmet and Palo Alto.

Heavy mixed precipitation and difficult travel conditions are possible for the area. Total snow accumulations could be between 3 to 5 inches with localized higher amounts of 6 inches toward Emmet County. Ice accumulations could reach one tenth of an inch.

Wind gusts of up to 45 mph will cause blowing and drifting snow. Freezing drizzle or rain is also possible earlier on Sunday that may create a glaze of ice in those counties listed in the watch area.