MASON CITY | The Subway sandwich shop in Southbridge Mall is closing Saturday after 24 years in business there.
Bobbie Engebretson, operations supervisor, said company officials are looking to relocate the store somewhere in Mason City but no decision has been made on a new location.
"The time had come," said Engebretson. "We say thank you to Southbridge and thank you to the community. We plan on staying here."
The other four Subway stores in Mason City will remain open, she said.
KGB Inc. owns 26 Subways, all in north and central Iowa. Engebretson is operations manager for all of them.
She said management has been looking for quite a while to make a change with the Southbridge location.
"We have great employees and faithful customers," she said. "But traffic has reduced in recent years. When the theaters closed several years ago, it affected the traffic in the mall. We had ups and downs. We held our breath. We hung in there a long time."
Subway is the third store in Southbridge to close or announce a closing in recent weeks.
Hasey Asian Fast Food, adjacent to Subway is no longer open. Book World, at the main entrance to the mall, announced it will close but no specific closing date has been decided, a store employee said Friday.
Book World's corporate office announced in November it was closing all 45 of its stores in seven states.
FOREST CITY | The Forest City School Board has approved a resignation agreement for a teacher who made racist comments about Eagle Grove's basketball team while working as a radio producer.
The agreement was unanimously approved for third-grade teacher Holly Jane Kusserow-Smidt during a special meeting Friday. She worked for the district for 43 years.
"While I was planning to retire and end my teaching career at the conclusion of this school year, I am deeply saddened that end has come under these circumstances," Kusserow-Smidt wrote in her resignation letter dated Dec. 7, which included an apology to board members, administrators and students and communities of Forest City and Eagle Grove.
"The comments I made were inappropriate and not a true reflection of who I am I or what I believe," Kusserow-Smidt wrote. "I had no idea a private conversation would become a public issue.
"I am sorry for the unnecessary stress and negative publicity that has resulted from the private conversation. I sincerely hope that the students and communities affected can positively move forward."
Copy of her resignation letter pic.twitter.com/T5f7azNlzp— Steve Bohnel (@Steve_Bohnel) December 8, 2017
Kusserow-Smidt did not attend the meeting. No one answered the door when a Globe Gazette reporter knocked on the front door of a Forest City property in her name Friday afternoon.
She did not respond to a phone message from the Globe Gazette seeking comment Friday afternoon.
Forest City Superintendent Darwin Lehmann said district officials first found out details about Kusserow-Smidt’s resignation letter and agreement on Thursday, which led to Friday’s meeting.
Kusserow-Smidt and longtime sports announcer Orrin Harris, who worked for Forest City-based radio station KIOW, could be heard on a Nov. 28 streaming service commenting about multiple players on the Eagle Grove basketball team, seemingly mocking their Latino names. The comments were not broadcast on KIOW.
Both were fired from the station.
Lehmann emphasized that the district does not condone or tolerate the remarks she made, and that he reached out to KIOW and Eagle Grove school district officials following last Tuesday night’s game.
Lehmann added that the district has a legal responsibility when it comes to teachers resigning and similar issues — hence why it took over a week for Kusserow-Smidt to resign.
“It’s called due process,” he said of the time between the basketball game and Friday’s meeting. “We have a legal responsibility to follow through with the due process piece, and some people will accept that, some people will not. I can’t control that, but as you lead an organization, you have a legal responsibility to handle the due process piece in the right steps.”
Copy of the resignation agreement between Kusserow-Smidt and the district pic.twitter.com/VD4rDeu1p1— Steve Bohnel (@Steve_Bohnel) December 8, 2017
The resignation agreement states Kusserow-Smidt will receive full contracted salary for the 2017-18 school year through Feb. 23, 2018, and benefits through Aug. 31, 2018.
Kusserow-Smidt’s salary is $69,792. She will receive about $20,400 in wages and benefits through February, according to Lehmann.
In return, Kusserow-Smidt agrees not to sue the district. She qualifies for and will receive an early retirement package, which is $35,000 paid towards health insurance.
Lehmann said the district is currently looking at implementing new programs for Forest City teachers and employees to ensure a similar incident does not occur.
“We are in a plan that we will provide some diversity training for some staff here when we get back from Christmas,” he said. “And we are looking at a plan where we have some diversity training on an annual basis.”
SIOUX CITY | Iowa 4th District Rep. Steve King on Friday twice declared that diversity is not an American strength and endorsed a European leader's view that "mixing cultures" leads to a lower quality of life.
In a tweet, King linked to a Voice of Europe story that quoted Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban as saying, 'Mixing cultures will not lead to a higher quality of life but a lower one.' "
King, a conservative Republican and leading critic of U.S. immigration policies, followed with a second tweet, "Assimilation has become a dirty word to the multiculturalist Left. Assimilation, not diversity, is our American strength."
The social media posts were King's latest take on the cultural shifts happening in Europe and how they intersect with U.S. culture.
The Kiron Republican has long contended that immigrant groups are best served by blending in strongly, or assimilating, into American culture. It was a topic he raised again in March, during the time after he tweeted about culture again.
King drew widespread criticism after a March 12 tweet in which he said America "can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies." The post was in support of a Dutch politician who opposes immigration and has spoken against Islam. King tweeted that Geert Wilders "understands that culture and demographics are our destiny."
King followed the controversial Tweet with several interviews on national outlets where he defended his comments. Critics accused King of racism and condemned the support the tweet received from some white nationalist leaders.
King also took to Twitter to address other immigration issues. In September, he blasted Republican President Donald Trump over reports of a potential immigration comprise with congressional Democrats.
King, who represents 39 counties in Northwest and North Central Iowa, was first elected to the U.S. House in 2002. One Republican, four Democrats and one Libertarian have announced plans to challenge him in the 2018 election.
Editor's note: Requests for help this holiday season have substantially outpaced donations, and the disbursement of funds to our neighbors begins next week. Donations may be dropped off at the Globe Gazette office, 300 N. Washington, in Mason City.
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