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The Music Man Square: What's our part in Mason City's downtown project?

MASON CITY | The Mason City Foundation Board will meet Thursday to try to answer "where do we go from here?" regarding its part in the River City Renaissance project.

Some of its personnel met last week with Philip Chodur, president of San Diego-based G8 Development, which was a last-minute choice by the City Council to develop a downtown hotel, a key piece of the $38 million Renaissance project.

The foundation operates The Music Man Square and was taken taken by surprise when the City Council switched developers last month, choosing G8 Development over Gatehouse Mason City LLC, whom the city had been negotiating with for several months.

The foundation had a memorandum of understanding with Gatehouse addressing how The Music Man Square would be impacted. It does not have an agreement with G8. 

"We still support the project," board president John Barron said Wednesday. "We want it to work. That's where we are. That's where everyone is. But we need to figure out where we go from here. That's what we'll be talking about at our meeting."  

Barron said he and others met Chodur for the first time last week. "He had a little tour and wanted to look around," said Barron. "It was cordial."

Repeated attempts to reach Chodur via phone and email Wednesday were unsuccessful.

Arian Schuessler / ARIAN SCHUESSLER, The Globe Gazette 

Elizabeth Allison speaks during a reception where she was introduced as the new executive director of The Music Man Square in February 2017. 

Elizabeth Allison, executive director of The Music Man Square, expressed disappointment when the council chose G8 over Gatehouse, claiming the council had done a "bait-and-switch."

She pointed out voters approved two ballot issues related to the Renaissance project on Nov. 7 when Gatehouse was the only developer. In effect, she said, they were approving Gatehouse.

She now says, "The Mason City Foundation and The Music Man Square support the River City Renaissance project. We have no further comment at this time."

The Music Man Square and its foundation were caught in the middle when the council approved G8 over Gatehouse as developer of the downtown hotel.

 

The city has a rocky history with G8. Last year, G8 had proposed a different downtown hotel project but defaulted on deadlines to begin construction and was eliminated from consideration.

The company resurfaced when the city put out a new call for hotel developers and Gatehouse Capital and G8 were the only respondents. The City Council chose Gatehouse over G8 and began negotiations in April. Chodur then filed a civil lawsuit against the city.

In November, because of Gatehouse delays in completing a development agreement, the law required the city to once again open up the project for bids.

G8 emerged for a third time, and this time the City Council agreed to move forward with G8, saying its bid offered considerable savings to the city over Gatehouse's and had more local people involved.

Mason City Council approval of G8 follows emotional meeting

MASON CITY | The Mason City Council's approval Monday night of G8 Development for the downtown hotel project came after a three-hour meeting filled with emotional pleas, podium pounding, two recesses, and in the end, a surprise turn of events.

So G8 is now the proposed developer of the hotel with essentially the same plan as Gatehouse's. That means the hotel will still be built in Southbridge Mall's parking lot and will be connected with The Music Man Square via a skywalk.

The Renaissance project includes a conference center/ballroom inside The Music Man Square with the museum being moved to a separate, adjacent building. It also calls for a hockey arena/multipurpose center to be built in the space formerly occupied by J.C. Penney in the mall and a performing arts pavilion in the north entrance of the mall.

The city has applied for up to $10 million in state funding to help leverage the project. The Iowa Economic Development Authority, through its Iowa Reinvestment Act has pre-approved the city for $7.1 million.

Final approval awaits a development agreement between G8 and the city; G8 getting financing for the project; and G8 dropping its lawsuit against the city. None of those had been accomplished as of Tuesday night, Interim City Administrator Kevin Jacobson told the City Council.

The council will meet in special session Dec. 28 with the intent of approving a final development agreement with G8, having the lawsuit dropped and having G8's financing in place.


Tom Thoma / Picasa 

Chodur


Local
Mason City Jingle Ride spreads holiday cheer for a cause

MASON CITY | Cyclists decked out in lights, Santa hats and holiday cheer cruised through Mason City Tuesday for the first ever Jingle Ride.

The ride began at the Rancho Delux — The Original Bicycle Garden. Hot cocoa and chili were provided to riders after a 5-mile ride. 

Contests included the best Santa/Mrs. Claus, ugliest sweater and best decorated bike.

Though the ride was free, riders brought non-perishable food donations to benefit Hawkeye Harvest Food Bank.

Organizers hope to make the ride an annual event.


Crime-and-courts
breaking
Investigator details timeline surrounding Mason City shooting, autopsy photos shown to jury

MASON CITY | About 6:30 a.m. Dec. 2, 2016, Mason City police investigator Terrance Prochaska began his interview with Larry Whaley.

On Wednesday afternoon, Prochaska detailed much of that conversation with a Cerro Gordo County jury, which will soon determine if Whaley is guilty or not guilty of the second-degree murder in the shooting of 19-year-old Samantha Teeter.

Prochaska testified Wednesday that Whaley told him he felt threatened by Corey Mays the entire week leading up to the incident, and believed Mays had a key to his apartment and a gun.

Much of his testimony described the Dec. 1 timeline Whaley told him. That included Whaley renting a hotel room at the Days Inn for himself and Deb Ewing — the only other person in his apartment when he fired his .44-caliber revolver.

Before that, Whaley, Ewing, Samantha Teeter and Kalab Van Scyoc, Teeter’s boyfriend, had bought ammunition and a cell phone at Walmart in Mason City, shortly after 7 p.m. Dec. 1, Prochaska testified.

Whaley had previously bought the revolver earlier that day from a Charles City man, named Charles, for $500, Prochaska added.

Prochaska’s timeline was dense, but it eventually put Ewing, Whaley, Teeter and Van Scyoc back at his apartment late that night. Whaley left to go see a friend and then to buy a TV and groceries from Walmart before returning.

As Whaley was doing that, Teeter and Van Scyoc got into an argument, and then eventually left the apartment with Whaley’s key, Prochaska testified. When Whaley returned, Ewing told him they had left, and that Teeter said she would return.

Whaley then proceeded to insert two kitchen knives into his front doorjamb — Prochaska detailed this to the jury and demonstrated it on the door itself, which was brought into the courtroom Wednesday morning. Whaley then sat on his one of his couches with his revolver.

The next sequence detailed the shooting itself, which occurred about 3:43 a.m. Dec. 2, 2016.

“He saw the doorknob starting to move,” Prochaska testified. “And then he said he heard knocking.”

“He said he got up, walked over to the door, and shot through it,” he later added.

Prochaska later clarified that Whaley shot three shots total, and only yelled for someone to get away from his door after he first fired through it.

He detailed how Whaley described the shooting, standing up and mimicking how it occurred — one shot through the door, a pause, then two shots to the right.

Much of Wednesday morning's testimony focused on how the gun functioned, and physical evidence tied to the crime scene. Victor Murillo, a firearms expert who works in the state's Division of Criminal Investigation, told the jury how he examined the .44-caliber revolver that was recovered at Whaley's apartment the morning of the shooting.

He also handled the gun, and explained its different parts and how it works.

In State Public Defender Mike Adams’ cross-examination of Prochaska Wednesday afternoon, he asked about whether Whaley was nervous about Corey Mays, who was allegedly involved at a shooting in the plaza near the north entrance to Southbridge Mall on Oct. 16, 2017.

Prochaska stated that Whaley told him this in the initial interview, and that “he was hoping Corey behind the door” instead of Teeter. He added immediate recollections of events can be jumbled because of how stressful a shooting situation is.

Iowa Assistant Attorney General Douglas Hammerand followed up by questioning Prochaska if Whaley said he was confused when he was being interviewed Dec. 2, 2016. The Mason City police investigator said he didn't ask Whaley if he was confused. 

The state’s last witness was Dr. Ross Reichard, a pathologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Reichard performed the autopsy on Teeter Dec. 5, 2016, a day after she died.

Reichard testified he ruled Teeter’s death a homicide based off medical records and the autopsy. Photos from that autopsy, released in court, show she was shot through her right eye.

Testimony ended about 3:10 p.m. Wednesday, and the defense is expected to begin calling witnesses tomorrow. Judge Christopher Foy said Wednesday he hopes to hand the case to the jury by the end of this week.


Barron


Local
Mason City mother seeks assistance from Cheer Fund for baby (with Dec. 20 donations)

An 18-year-old Mason City mother has turned to the Christmas Cheer Fund for assistance.

The woman, who hasn’t applied for the Cheer Fund before, has an infant daughter.

“If my grandma wasn’t helping right now, we’d be homeless,” she wrote in her application.

If awarded Christmas Cheer Fund assistance, the woman said she’d use it to purchase food and presents for her daughter.

“Any help would be appreciated,” she wrote.

Since the Cheer Fund began in 1927, more than $3 million has been raised.

This year’s goal is $125,000.

The Christmas Cheer Fund was established by Globe Gazette Publisher Lee Loomis in 1927 so every child could have a present on Christmas morning. In the years since it has come to mean a little help at Christmastime to people of all ages.

Donations may be dropped off or mailed to the Globe Gazette office, 300 N. Washington Ave., Mason City, IA 50402-0271.

Any remaining funds not distributed for the holidays will be given to local nonprofits. The Christmas Cheer Fund balance will return to $100 in January to maintain the checking account.

Those in need can apply for help from the Cheer Fund at the Globe Gazette between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays. Applicants must use the 2017 request form. Applications will close at noon Thursday, Dec. 21.

Cheer Fund donations: Wednesday, Dec. 20

WEDNESDAY’S TOTAL: $8,513.83

TO-DATE TOTAL: $87,546.09

TO REACH GOAL: $37,453.91

MCHS Student Senate, $323.83

David and Patricia Guetzko, in memory of Jake Sullivan, $25

Paula, Robin, Cindy, Nicki and Kirk, remembering our Dad Lloyd Findley, $25

Anonymous, $30

Dennis and Kathy, Keith and Julie, in memory of Walt and Juanita Kruger, $50

Tommy and Darcee, in memory of Dawn, Ranny, Gibb, Mike and Jimmy, $3,000

Anonymous, $1,500

Steve and Janet Molstad, in loving memory of our parents Dean and Ruth Molstad and Bruce and Maxine Mitchell, $200

Gordon and Cindy Schrock, $100

Randy and Patt Ridder, in memory of loved ones, $100

Kenison Construction Inc., $300

John and Mary Amos, $25

Marie Weiss, in memory of all my loved ones, my husband Clem, sons Michael and Daniel and our parents, $100

David and Donna Kruckenberg, in memory of our parents and Jean Ann, $50

Gary and Jeanette Sturges, in memory of Beth Ollanik, $20

Betty Pierson, in loving memory of my husband George (Butch), parents Joe and Helen and George and Irene, sisters Shirley and Sandy and my precious "Kozy,” $50

Betty Christensen, in memory of Curt, $20

Robert Swanson, $50

In memory of Walter Sable, $25

Mark, Denise, Rylan and Collan Kuhn, in loving memory of Alex J. Kuhn, $100

Deborah Snook, in memory of my father Lew Snook, $50

Richard and Marcia Formanek, in remembrance of Jim, Agnes and Eileen Formanek and Robert and Lorraine Pletcher, $100

Sue Hartwell and family, in loving memory of Jerry Hartwell, a great husband, father and papa, $20

Darlene Kuhlers, in loving memory of Duane Kuhlers, husband father and grandfather, $25

Darlene Kuhlers, in loving memory of Hilda Hodge, mother and grandmother, $25

Arvid Matson and family, in memory of Dixie Matson, Ferd and Ruby Matson and Kathern and Raymond Freie, $100

John and Marcy Colvin, in memory of Theo, $50

James and Karen Jorgensen, $50

Clear Lake UMW, to remind everyone of God's love, $100

Mary Lou and Jerald Weiskamp, in memory of our grandson Kael, $100

Anonymous, a "Big Thanks" to the Mercy 6 West care team for helping me out, $25

Denny and Kathy Borchardt, in memory of our parents Ray and Olive, George and Helen and other family members, $25

Dan and Cathy, $50

Marlin and Carol Liljedahl, $100

Jackie Wilson, in memory of Wally Johnson of Clear Lake, $95

Bob and JoAnn Mason, $50

Their family, in loving memory of Dean, Pamela and Douglas Mostrom, $300

Bruce and Bea Pennington, $100

Jan Monson, in memory of family and friends, $50

Roger and Cynthia McBride, $50

Laura Olander – Merry Christmas, $50

Rita Merfeld, in memory of Richard, $50

John and Myra Bowman, $100

In memory of James T and Marilyn Shannon, $20

In memory of Ed Hunt and Doreen (Hunt) Fischer, $20

In memory of William and Lillian Shannon, $10

In memory of Albert and Edna Herrod, $10

In memory of the Dougherty boys - Nick and Ben, $10

In memory of W P and Aredella Shannon, $10

In memory of Jack Shannon, $5

In memory of Shirley Shannon, $5

In memory of Carol (Dempsey) Shannon, $10

In memory of Buzz Sberal, $10

In memory of Tara Jo Shannon, $10

Michael and Constance Wentworth, in loving memory of our parents Lawrence and Terese Hamann and Royal (Bud) and Beverly Wentworth, $100

Anonymous, in memory of our parents, $25

Matt, Mary, Ellie and Henry Determan — Merry Christmas and God Bless, $100

Richard and Lori Jorgensen, $50

His kids in memory of Kurt Petersen, $100

In honor of my boss at Principal Financial Group, $100

Anonymous, $25

Dick and Sandy Dillavou, in memory of Tammi Dillavou, Mearle and Marv Lunbeck, Bud and Shirley Dillavou, Ruth Lunbeck and Jim Kiser, $60

Arnie and Thelma Prohaska, for all of our veterans and in memory of all of our loved ones, $75