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CHRIS ZOELLER, The Globe Gazette 

NIP Fitness co-owners John Berding and Jake Prazak stand inside their new gym location on Hwy 18 in Clear Lake on Thursday. It is the third location for the Mason City-based fitness center.

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Don't skip leg day, Clear Lake: NIP opens new gym with smoothies, wraps, pizza (with photos)

MASON CITY — North Iowa Powerlifting will open its largest location Saturday after about six months of remodeling the old Dollar General building in Clear Lake.

With stone pillars and bright red lettering for NIP, the former storefront between Lake Coffee and Ice Cream and Stephany Insurance on Highway 18 looks nothing like the former discount store.

“It was a tremendous amount of work,” owner Jake Prazak said. “It was stressful, but we’re excited to serve the area.”

Prazak and co-owner John Berding began renovations 6,600 square foot space in August.

“Everything was gutted and redone,” Prazak said.

The staff put on the finishing touches Thursday and Friday to prepare for their open house Saturday, which begins at 10 a.m. and runs throughout the day. 

Photos: First Look - NIP Fitness Clear Lake

The original NIP facility, opened in 2011, and is still open on South Federal Avenue. NIP, or North Iowa Powerlifting, started as a powerlifting group out of Prazak’s garage.

NIP Fitness & Smoothie Clear Lake will be the first NIP location to also offer wraps and protein pizzas. The Mason City Regency location near Hy-Vee East also offers smoothies.

“We care about everyone and their well-being,” Prazak said. “To us, you aren't just a number.”

The Clear Lake location will be more convenient for current customers and new customers in the area, Prazak said, including people in Ventura and Garner. 

“We now offer three unique locations for a variety of workouts,” Prazak said.

CHRIS ZOELLER, The Globe Gazette 

All three NIP Fitness locations offer different equipment options from one another for members, who have 24-hour access to all locations.

Prazak feels the variety of three locations will help keep people interested in working out. All three are open 24/7.

“Most people get bored, that’s why they stop,” he said. “Here, you can change it up with three unique places within 10, 15 miles.”

The facility is filled with plenty of equipment sure to fit workouts of all kinds and cater to all ages, Prazak said.

Cardio equipment will include treadmills with interactive display screens, ellipticals, step mills and bikes. Classes include favorites like cardio kickboxing, yoga and more.

The treadmills offer USB power outlets to charge a phone and a headphone jack. From the display screens, customers can surf the web, go on Facebook, watch YouTube, play music and more.

CHRIS ZOELLER, The Globe Gazette 

All three NIP Fitness locations offer different equipment options from one another for members, who have 24-hour access to all locations.

This location also has a basement for competition-level weight lifting and athletic training, as well as cryotherapy and water massage tables upstairs.  

With the therapy additions, Prazak added pain relief to his list of goals for NIP.

“When people are pain-free, they’re happy,” he said.

Prazak, a powerlifter, is dedicated to helping those of all levels and abilities live a healthier lifestyle through fitness. He said customer service is what sets their gyms apart from others.

“Your success is our success,” Prazak said.

Study: Mississippi River shutdown could cost millions, increase truck traffic

LA CROSSE — A new study suggests the failure of any one of 25 aging locks on the upper Mississippi River could result in nearly half a million truckloads of freight on highways between the Twin Cities and St. Louis.

University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers estimate that a shutdown of the river at Hannibal, Missouri, would require more than 12 million tons of grain during a nine-month shipping season to be moved by truck, costing hundreds of millions of dollars and damaging already stressed roads.

The vast majority of these shipments would travel through southern Minnesota and Iowa, while a smaller amount would move through Wisconsin and Illinois, according to the study, causing nearly $29 million in pavement damage.

The study was funded by the 10 states of the Mid-America Freight Coalition, an organization dedicated to planning, operating and improving transportation infrastructure in the Midwest.

"We’re talking about a system," said Ernest Perry, manager of the coalition and the lead researcher on the study. "If we don’t take care of this one part of the system it’s going to negatively impact another part of the system."

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has estimated the backlogged maintenance costs for locks and dams of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers is more than $1 billion. Mostly built in the 1930s, many of the locks have reached the end of their service lives, and the inland waterway system has earned a D-minus from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The lock and dams between Winona and La Crosse are more than 80 years old.

Bryan Peterson, navigation business line manager for the St. Paul District, said the Corps has been working in recent years to address maintenance issues as the budget allows.

"We definitely have needs," he said. "I think we’re maintaining them well enough until we can fill those needs."

Peterson said over the past five years the river has been open about 99 percent of the time, with most closures resulting from vessels hitting the gates rather than mechanical failure.

"It’s always a potential," he said. "It’s a pretty good record, but there’s always that risk."

In the event of a river closure, the study estimates, about 1.4 million tons would originate from Winona and nearly 500,000 from La Crosse, which would result in more than 190 trucks per day traveling through Wisconsin on Interstate 90.

Nearly 5.8 million tons coming from the Twin Cities and Red Wing would result in nearly 600 more trucks per day on Highway 52 through southern Minnesota and into Iowa.

Researchers have previously assumed railroads would absorb most of the displaced shipments during a river shutdown. The study looked at scenarios in which trucking picks up 75 to 100 percent of the load. While it’s likely that more volume would move by rail, Perry said, states were interested in seeing the impact on roads.

One 15-barge tow carries the equivalent of about two trains or more than 1,000 trucks.

The study also focused only on agricultural products, though such products made up less than 30 percent of the total river volume in 2016, according to Corps data. 

"There’s stuff moving north as well," Perry noted.

Perry estimates the total costs of a season-long shutdown would be about $319.6 million, including the social costs of additional carbon dioxide emissions. The costs with failures in following years, he said, could begin to approach the $1 billion in deferred maintenance on the river.

"Everybody knows it's an issue," Perry said. "If we don’t take care of this one part of the system, it’s going to negatively impact another part of the system."

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Police: Woman charged with prostitution in Mason City, Fort Madison massage parlors performed sex act on officer

MASON CITY | A Mason City woman arrested for prostitution at a local massage parlor is also charged with performing sex acts on an undercover Fort Madison police officer for $40.

Yu Hong, 37, was charged with prostitution in Lee County after an undercover police investigation at the Ave. L Day Spa in Fort Madison, located in southeastern Iowa.

A Fort Madison police officer purchased what was listed as a 30-minute massage for $40 at the spa Nov. 4, 2016, court documents said. 

According to court documents, Hong told the officer "you can have all this" as she pointed up and down her body.

The officer asked, "I get all that?" to which Hong replied, "yes, yes," court documents said. 

He was then taken to a room where Hong told him to take off all his clothes as she stood in the doorway watching, charging documents said.

The officer then laid face down on the table with a towel covering his rear, which Hong removed, according to court documents. 

Documents say she began by rubbing his back and then went down to his buttocks, upper thighs and genitals before instructing him to turn over on the table, face up. 

She then allegedly asked, through broken English and hand motions, if he wanted her to apply oil to his genitals and perform a sex act, charging documents said. 

"Before he had a chance to say 'no,' she had already applied oil to this area," the criminal complaint said, which noted Hong continued to rub the offier's upper thighs and genitals until the 30 minutes were up. 

"Hong stated to officers that she was afraid to tell her family in China what she actually does for a living because she wants them to think that she has a 'legitimate profession,'" the criminal complaint said. It is unclear when Hong made this statement.

A warrant for her arrest was issued in Lee County June 15, which was served upon her arrest for similar charges in Mason City Thursday. 

Police arrested Hong as a result of an investigation at Asian Tuina, 525 S. Washington Ave.

According to court documents, Hong allegedly performed a sex act on a man in exchange for money between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday at Asian Tuina.

The documents list Hong was “caught in the act” and was “observed by officers.”

A ad for Asian Tuina is listed under "massage therapy." It says Asian Tuina provides "golden massage" in an Asian atmosphere with relaxing music.

Portions of Backpage, a website for classified advertising, are allegedly used for prostitution and child trafficking, prosecutors have argued. 

The investigation at Asian Tuina, which appeared to be closed Friday, is ongoing and more arrests are possible, Mason City Police Lt. Rich Jensen said in a news release Thursday. 

Hong has since been released from jail after posting a $3,000 bond for Cerro Gordo and Lee County charges. She is scheduled to appear in court in Lee County Feb. 15 and Cerro Gordo County Feb. 28. 

In February 2016, Mason City police raided Asian Body Work on East State Street after receiving complaints about people being able to pay for sex acts. The massage parlor was shut down.