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Britt patriarch of West Hancock girls' basketball, remembered as passionate coach, educator (with photos)

BRITT | For those who knew Bill Hudson, he was much more than a basketball coach.

He was a husband, a father, a grandfather, a great-grandfather, friend and “a great gentleman” respected by many.

That was evident Tuesday, Dec. 19, as a crowded gymnasium of basketball fans, including his former players, colleagues and friends, stood for a moment of silence before the West Hancock varsity girls basketball game against Newman Catholic to remember him and Amy Paulus, the wife of the Rev. John Paulus, former pastor at Britt Zion Church of the Nazarene, and mother of a former boys basketball player.

Hudson, 84, died Friday, Dec. 15, at his home in Britt.

“He was a tough coach, but he wanted a successful program, and the girls all knew he cared about them,” said Julie Guenther, who coached with Hudson from 1984 to 1987. “He knew how to laugh and have fun with them as well as expect a lot out of them.”

Hudson, a 22-year girls basketball coach, is credited for starting the girls basketball program at Britt High School in 1971, and laying the foundation for decades of athletics for girls.

Early beginnings

Hudson, a Horton, Kansas, native, started his teaching and coaching careers in Nebraska after serving in the U.S. Navy for six years and graduating from Peru Teacher’s College in Peru, Nebraska.

In 1967, Hudson and his wife, Sandi, moved to Irwin, Iowa, where he taught industrial arts and coached varsity boys’ basketball, football and junior high boys and girls basketball for two years.

It was there he met and coached with Gene Perkins, who is now a resident of Britt and Hudson's neighbor. Hudson was the head coach for boys basketball and Perkins was his assistant, and Perkins was the head football coach and Hudson was his assistant.

Ashley Stewart / ASHLEY STEWART, The Globe Gazette 

Mark Hudson, left, stands among a crowded West Hancock gymnasium Tuesday, Dec. 19, when a moment of silence was observed in remembrance of his father, Bill Hudson, former longtime girls' basketball coach and educator, who died Dec. 15.

“Bill was a great organizer, and I always admired the way he set up practices and did things,” he said. “He was very well-respected by the boys then, and even when I helped him here, the girls had a lot of respect.”

In 1969, Hudson became the guidance counselor and girls basketball coach in Exira, Iowa, but he and Perkins would be reunited in 1983 in Britt when Perkins landed coaching and teaching jobs at the school.

Hudson arrived in Britt in 1971 and started the high school girls basketball and softball programs.

“When you start something from scratch, that’s pretty remarkable what he did,” Perkins said.

While he was at Britt, Hudson continued his 37-year career as a guidance counselor, coached volleyball and served as athletic director. He retired in 1997.

In retirement, Hudson enjoyed spending time with his family, volunteered with Meals on Wheels in Iowa and Texas and was active in Britt United Methodist Church.

Patriarch of girls basketball

At a table in the West Hancock High School library, former players, parents of former players and coaches reminisced about Hudson’s career coaching six-on-six girls basketball, drawing laughter about forgotten uniforms, broken beds and his go-to phrases as well as relished memories of the school’s first appearance at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids for the state tournament where thousands of area fans cheered the team on as it became 2A champions and finished fourth place overall.

“My dream forever was to go to Vets Auditorium,” said Linda Sanger, who was a chaperone for the girls basketball team under Hudson. “In 1980, that was my ticket to go.”

Feb. 11, 1982 — CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS - Here is the Britt E'gal varsity basketball team which won the 1981-82 North Iowa Conference championship for the fourth year running. From left, in front are: Natalie Foy, Lisa Hiscocks, Tracy Rinehart, Cindy Wells, Brenda Perkins and Brenda DeGeus. Second row: Patty Beech, Bonnie Paca, Roxanne Whipple, Karen Tuttle, Jolene Leerar, Cindy Hejlik and Mary Chizek. Standing: assistant coach Dennis Etringer, Ranae Hempe, Tammy Harle and head coach Bill Hudson.

Jane Swenson, who played girls basketball from 1971 to 1975, remembers when girls basketball at Britt High School began under Hudson’s leadership.

“There was gobs of girls out for basketball,” she said. “We had so many people out until we started doing the running and the drills and that kind of stuff.”

During Hudson’s 22-year career as the girls basketball coach, his record was 329-117, and he led the team to two state tournaments in 1980 and 1982 and eight North Iowa Conference championships.

He also had 57 All North Iowa Conference selections, four all-state selections and one Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union Hall-of-Fame player.

Jana Loeschen, who played girls’ basketball from 1979 to 1981, remembers learning the fundamentals of basketball during Girls Basketball Association on Saturday mornings led by Hudson.

Nov. 25, 1976 — E’GAL BASKETBALL TEAM—Here are the members of the Britt High School girls basketball team. From left, in front, are: Mona Madson, Robin Rasmuson, Janet Richter, Kris Baack, Jeanette Huling, Karrie Wallen, Mitzi Gray and Gayle Anderson. Middle row: Melanie Carter, Julie Grant, Kathy Horstman, Jo Dudgeon, Melanie Hempe, Paula Grove, Carrie Madson, Sue Hesley, Shari Tegtmeyer and Robin Nielson. Back row: coach Bill Hudson, Laurie Love, Jean McDermott, Tammy Brumm, Bonnie Chizek, Darla Michelson, Barb Burgardt, Becky Conaway, Jean Madson, Carla Kollasch, Dawn Huling and assistant coach Dennis Etringer. Check our Facebook page next week for more photos from the past.

“There was a lot of us little ones in there between third and eighth grade,” she said.

And many of those girls became Hudson’s high school basketball players.

One of those girls was Cathy Weiland, who was one of six Madson girls who played for Hudson.

“It was all the basic fundamentals, and he made it fun,” she said.

Weiland played girls basketball for Hudson from 1981 to 1985 with teammates, like Roxanne Savoy, who suited up for the 1982 state appearance.

“He was intense, but everybody respected him. He wanted us to win,” she said.

Guenther was the assistant coach for Hudson from 1983 to 1986, while it was still six-on-six.

“I was a new teacher, new coach, brand new to everything, but I just so much appreciated his passion for the sport, his love for young people,” she said. “There were a lot of life lessons taught on the court and off the court.”

July 29, 1976 – GIRLS FINISHED STRONG THIS SUMMER – This is the Britt High School girls softball team that finished with a rush in the tournaments, coming within a game of a state tournament berth before losing to South Hamilton of Jewell 1-0 in district finals at Stanhope. From left in front are Tammy Brumm, Melanie Carter, Bonnie Chizek, Sue Hesley, Lauri Love, Barbara Burgardt, Karrie Wallen, Darla Michelson and Dawn Hulling. Second row: D’arcy Adreon, Gayle Anderson, Kathy Horstman, Julie Grant, Carl Madson, Renae Swanson, Karla Kollasch, Loretta Dudgeon and Jen Madson. Third row: Jean McDermott, Darla Eden, Sandy Smith, Loretta Dudgeon, Deb Hilton, Sandy Buns, Mona Madson and coach Bill Hudson. Check our Facebook page next week for more photos from the past.

When Hudson stepped down as the girls basketball coach in 1995, he continued to support the program.

Kevin Wilson, who was the head girls basketball coach in 2005 and 2006 and has been an assistant coach since, said he and Hudson would visit often about basketball.

“We’d just sit and talk about basketball for hours,” he said.

Wilson recalled a time five years ago, when he visited Hudson to show him a highlight video, and what was supposed to be a quick visit ended up lasting hours.

“We meshed well,” he said. “I would’ve loved to be coaching when he was around. It would’ve been fun.”

Lasting legacy

Today, a large accomplishment board sits on the wall of the West Hancock High School gym.

It was unveiled at the six-on-six girls basketball reunion in 2012 that honored Hudson for his commitment to girls basketball at Britt and West Hancock schools.

“This was his life. He loved it,” said Hudson’s son, Mark Hudson, who resides in Fort Worth, Texas, but was in Britt Dec. 19.

And this fall, Hudson was named to the Iowa Girls Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Greg Bodensteiner, a member of the Iowa Girls Coaches Association, said due to Hudson’s health, a plaque was made and sent to him before the induction banquet, which will take place in April.

“It was reported to me that Bill was pleasantly surprised by the honor,” Bodensteiner said in an email.

Photo courtesy Kevin Wilson 

Bill Hudson stands beside an accomplishment board unveiled during the 2012 six-on-six girls' basketball reunion at West Hancock High School. Hudson started the girls' basketball program at the school in 1971.

The recognition is based on Hudson’s record, longevity, state tournament accomplishments and service with the Iowa Girls’ Coaches Association.

Bodensteiner said it’s one of the coaches association’s goals to “recognize coaches who have given a lot to girls’ basketball in general.”

Hudson’s legacy will likely continue at West Hancock through the girls he coached who in turn became coaches as well as his assistant coaches, friends and family.

“His influence is huge,” Weiland said.

Sept. 24, 1986 – VOLLEYBALL – These are members of the 1986 Britt varsity girls volleyball team. Front row, from left: Kim Brumm, Michelle Eckels, Pam Hockmuth, Amy Nielsen and Carleen Weiland. Back row: head coach Bill Hudson, Jennifer Beech, Shelly Fisher, Chris Palmer, Cindy Madson, Bethene Kjellberg and assistant coach Linda Sanger. Check our Facebook page next week for more photos from the past.

A memorial service for Hudson will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 6, at the United Methodist Church, 707 Fourth St. SW in Britt, with the Rev. Robert Dodge officiating. Burial will be held at Evergreen Cemetery in Britt.

His visitation is from 4 to 6 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 5, at Ewing Funeral Chapel, 178 Center St. W. in Britt, and will continue one hour prior to the service.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Britt United Methodist Church or Hospice of North Iowa.

CHRIS ZOELLER, The Globe Gazette 

Mason City Southbridge

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With hotel decision made, Mason City officials ready to move on

MASON CITY | North Iowans with a stake in the Mason City downtown hotel decision said Friday they are ready to move on.

John Barron, president of the Mason City Foundation, which oversees The Music Man Square, said he's not in a position to say too much about the council action other than he wants the Renaissance project to move forward.

The Music Man Square had a memorandum of understanding with Gatehouse Mason City LLC but does not yet have one with G8.

"We want to look at the G8 development agreement and compare it dollar for dollar, square footage for square footage, basically apples for apples," Barron said.

"Obviously we don't want the thing to collapse. We want to move forward. But there's a transition. The council has acted, so that part of it has been resolved."

Robin Anderson, head of the Mason City Chamber of Commerce, said, "North Iowa needs this project. Locating the hotel in the Southbridge parking lot and utilizing The Music Man Square as a conference facility is the right plan."

Concerning another aspect of the Renaissance plan, Anderson said the Principal Foundation has approved a grant application and has secured naming rights for the Performing Arts Pavilion. "We think the Principal Pavilion has a nice ring to it," she said.

Former City Administrator Brent Trout, now city manager of Topeka, Kansas, worked on the River City Renaissance project for almost three years before leaving for Topeka in October.

Trout said he had a City Council meeting of his own Thursday night but checked the Globe Gazette's website afterwards for the results of the hotel vote.

"I am very excited to see the River City Renaissance Project meet another important milestone," Trout said Friday. "I will be anxiously awaiting for the word on final approval of funding from the IEDA that will hopefully come in January of 2018. The project will have a huge impact on the community that is hard to fully contemplate.

"I look forward to coming back to Mason City in a couple of years to tour the new facilities, take in an event at the arena and spend a night in the new motel," he said. 

Loni Dirksen was chairwoman of the Mason City Says YES campaign that supported two ballot issues in November connected to the project. She said she knows many people favored Gatehouse.

She said Friday it's time for the community to work together to back the project.

"We need to bring ourselves back to the bigger picture of why we said yes to this project. We are on the same side," Dirksen said. "We all want to continue to promote positivity and growth but we need to unite to do it," she said.

Dirksen said the community needs to show unity to the Iowa Economic Development Authority. "We need to show that we are deserving, grateful and thankful for the many years they have spent working with us to get our project going and that we can work together to make it happen," she said.

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Clear Lake construction company claims Mason City, developer ignored legal letters about hotel drawings

MASON CITY | Dean Snyder Construction Co. of Clear Lake was treated unfairly during the process that led to the Mason City Council approving G8 Development to build the downtown hotel, a company official said Friday.

Dean Snyder Construction had been working with Gatehouse Mason City LLC for several months on the project. Gatehouse was the only bidder until G8 entered a bid at the last moment and was selected by the council for the project.

"There were certain aspects of the last six weeks that did seem a little unfair," said Kolton Wagaman, project manager for Dean Snyder.

"One important example: G8 being allowed to turn in a proposal that had copies of Dean Snyder drawings within it that our design team worked hard on. This was a pretty egregious action and it seemed to go completely ignored throughout the process," Wagaman said.

"With how it was handled Dean Snyder felt we had no other choice but to send out cease and desist letters to both G8 and the city of Mason City. This letter went ignored by the city," he said.

At a City Council meeting earlier this month, Director of Development Services Steven Van Steenhuyse acknowledged that G8 had used Gatehouse's drawings but said it had no bearing on the bid-off process that resulted in G8 getting City Council approval.

Mason City Mayor Eric Bookmeyer said he had no comment Friday and referred the Globe Gazette to Interim City Administrator Kevin Jacobson or Van Steenhuyse. Neither could be reached Friday afternoon. 

Wagaman and Dean Snyder also took issue with city officials saying "local" involvement was a factor in making the decision to go with G8. "We felt that argument was weak at best," Wagaman said. "We have been working in Mason City for countless years, we are a member of the Chamber of Commerce, not to mention that we have multiple employees who actually live there." 

Wagaman said the company worked on the project for eight months and was ecstatic when Mason City voters approved two public issues related to the project  on Nov. 7 when Gatehouse was the only developer in the picture.

"The process of a project falling through after time was spent on it isn't really that unusual in this industry," Wagaman said. "This specific project, however, is unique in the manner it fell through. That was new for us."

Nonetheless, he said, the company respects the decision of the council and the difficult decision it had to make.

"Many exciting things are to come involving the River City Renaissance Project and we are confident that with the new council and mayor, they will be handled with great care."  

Iowa tax cuts a top 2018 Republican priority

DES MOINES | Republicans who control the Iowa Statehouse aren’t debating whether they will reduce state income taxes this session, but rather by how much and just where changes will deliver the most bang for the buck.

Now that President Donald Trump has signed a major overhaul of the federal corporate and individual income tax system, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and the 29 GOP senators and 58 representatives who make up the legislative majorities are analyzing the numbers to determine how much tax relief the state can afford and how best to enhance the state’s competitive position equitably.

“It’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity,” said Senate President Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny.

“Frankly, we haven’t had income tax reform in 20 years. We haven’t had corporate reform in 30 years, and so it’s really a once-in-a-generation opportunity for us to take a new look at our tax code,” added Whitver. “I would like to see something that is fair across the board so that everyone is getting the same percentage decrease in their taxes and it’s beneficial for everybody in the state of Iowa.”

In 1997, the Republican-led Legislature and Gov. Terry Branstad approved a 10 percent across-the-board cut in state income taxes, which put Iowa’s top rate for individuals at 8.98 percent and the top rate for corporations at 12 percent.

They left intact the politically popular option for Iowans to deduct their federal tax liability from their taxable state income. But the feature skews Iowa’s competitive position by placing it high in state-by-state comparisons that do not reflect the effective rates once the federal deductibility is factored in.

Business recruiters say companies do not conduct deep-dive research that would show Iowa’s top individual rate is really more like 6 percent after federal deductibility. Instead, Iowa ranks 40th in the Tax Foundation’s business climate index, they say, and Iowa’s current nine brackets are too cumbersome and complicated compared with other states that have streamlined their tax systems.

With Iowa facing a likely revenue windfall from the federal tax cuts — due to Iowans deducting less tax on their state returns — Reynolds and GOP legislative leaders say the time is right to do a comprehensive rewrite on the Iowa tax code. They say they are looking at reducing tax rates, compressing brackets, simplifying the state return while also examining credits, deductions and expanding the sales tax base to capture online sales that have given Internet-based operators an advantage over “bricks-and-mortar” businesses in the state.

“The economy has changed in 20 years and it’s changing very rapidly. And so what do we need to do with our tax code to fit a 21st century economy — and for me it’s all about growth. The only reason to do tax reform is to encourage more growth in the state of Iowa,” Whitver said. “To fund our priorities long term, we need more people in the state of Iowa. We do need economic growth because our revenues have stalled out over the last three or four years. Without growth, there are a lot of priorities that aren’t going to get funded.”

Sen. Randy Feenstra, R-Hull, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said lawmakers have had to start over with simulated computer runs based on the “game changer” of the federal tax rewrite. He said he hopes to have state Department of Revenue data fairly early in the legislative session that can be used to craft a package of tax reforms for consideration.

“I do think we are at a precipice to do something,” said Feenstra. “Maybe this is a watershed year that you can do some solid planning for years ahead if you do it right, if you create a plan of spending and reform or discounting.”

Reynolds, in assembling her first legislative agenda, said improving Iowa’s competitive business climate and building a skilled workforce are at the top of her list.

While the tax discussion is in its formative stages, she said she hopes to convey “some broad ideas of the direction that we’re headed” to help Iowans “keep more of their hard-earned money” when she gives her Jan. 9 Condition of the State address.

“We want to make sure that it’s financially sustainable and that we can continue to honor the commitments that we’ve made,” she said in an interview. “So I think we can give some broad senses about the direction that we’re heading but I just want to make sure that we’ve done the proper analysis, we feel comfortable in what we’re doing, it accomplishes what some of our goals are going forward.”

Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock, said his No. 1 priority is lowering the rates for Iowa’s income taxpayers and creating a competitive environment to attract new careers and more taxpayers.

“In my opinion, this won’t be a successful session unless we have a significant tax bill get accomplished,” he said.

Minority Democrats worry that Iowans will be shut out of the process, given past GOP actions to revamp collective bargaining for public-sector employees, injured workers’ compensation and gun regulations, along with closing state mental health and other institutions and shifting to privately managed Medicaid.

“Their tax packages that we have seen in the past have not been beneficial to everyday Iowans,” said Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines. “With the budget our state is facing, knowing that all of us will be coming back and Republicans will have to fix the budget mess we’re in, it seems like this is not a wise time to be cutting taxes when they’re busy cutting essential services that Iowans count on and our public education system.”

Tax overhaul has to be “framed in the context of the existing budget mess,” said Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids. “Tax reform that would take more revenue away from the state is unimaginable.”

House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, said majority House Republicans are “pretty pragmatic” when it comes to balancing the budget while improving tax competitiveness.

“We’re not going to do something that puts the state in a position where we have an entire mismatch there,” Upmeyer said. “We’re not going to do that. But we are going to look for opportunities and, if for any reason the federal activity generates a windfall or an increase in resources here for Iowa, I think much of that is dollars that weren’t paid in taxes, we expect them to be able to keep it so we’re not just going to haul it in.”

That struck a chord with John Stineman, executive director of the Iowa Chamber Alliance, which wants to see the Legislature address the “sticker shock” associated with Iowa’s top individual and corporate income tax rates — but not at the price of fiscal responsibility that fosters quality of life and other elements also important to business development.

“We want to make sure that whatever we bite off is something we’re actually able to swallow,” said Stineman. “All that being said, we want to see lower rates, lower advertised rates in particular, and we want to see a move toward simplicity.”

Mike Owen, executive director of the Iowa Policy Project, said Iowa has a regressive tax system that slants in favor of wealthy Iowans who pay a lower percentage of their income in state and local taxes than do the bottom 80 percent of the taxpaying population.

Any changes should be based upon fairness and generating the revenue needed for vital public services, he said, especially with indications coming from Congress that some safety-net programs may be cut.

“I don’t think there’s an argument for cutting business taxes for competitiveness reasons,” said Peter Fisher, an Iowa Policy Project economist. “We don’t need to be near the bottom, probably don’t want to be near the bottom, because that probably means we’ve got potholes in our roads and our kids aren’t getting a good education, which are all things that matter to businesses.”

Rather than flattening income tax rates, which would make sales and property taxes more regressive, Owen said, lawmakers should place a five-year “sunset” on existing tax credit programs and inject more accountability into the tax system while plugging loopholes.

Whitver said he expects “everything will be on the table” during the legislative tax policy examination, including more than 40 tax credits that carry an obligation ranging between $400 million and $500 million.

“Some of those have been around for a long time,” he said. “Maybe at one point they served a great purpose and maybe today in this new economy it’s not as relevant.”