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Accord Architecture 

This cutaway rendering of a proposed ice arena and multipurpose center is shown where the J.C. Penney store was located in Southbridge Mall. 

Mason City mayor announces arena construction plans, revitalization projects

MASON CITY | Mayor Bill Schickel's spent a good deal of the annual state-of-the-city address on Wednesday discussing forthcoming plans for the city.

He released prepared statements before talking to the council Wednesday evening.

He called the beginning of this new year "one of promise" and pointed to recent developments with the multipurpose arena and the broader River City Renaissance project as evidence.

Schickel said that in recent days the city council had hired architects from ICON Architectural Group, out of Grand Forks, North Dakota, to "design and coordinate building a state-of-the-art multipurpose arena."

Some of those architects were in attendance as Schickel unveiled that a major priority for the year 2019 was to: let construction bids on the River City Multipurpose Arena by Jan. 15, break ground in February and have the long-simmering project completed by year's end.

The mayor added that city staff was meeting regularly with: Mason City Youth Hockey, North Iowa Figure Skating, the North Iowa Bulls, Music Man Square, Southbridge Mall, the Performing Arts Pavilion Committee and NIACC to help accomplish this goal and that architects have "been listening to our project partners" to keep in fashion with the city's Prairie School architecture style.

Schickel said that moving forward on such a plan was important for the city because so-called "placemaking projects" help to attract "young workers and families" to a qualified workforce. 

Along with the arena construction, Schickel also dove into the "Willow Creek Master Plan" which looks to revitalize areas along the riverfront.

"The beautiful river that flows through downtown was made famous in 'The Music Man,'" Schickel said. "It has more potential today than ever.

"There is no reason Mason City can’t have a river walk that rivals San Antonio. Affordable mid range housing should be part of the mix in the river walk area."

To support such claims, Schickel noted that Mason City was uniquely positioned to accomplish these goals because it's an "up-and-coming, low-cost, high quality of life location for workers and families."

"We have the location," he said. "We have the transportation. We have stable industries and hard working people. We have everything we need to make 2019 the year of promise."

Here's everything you need to know about Mason City's River City Renaissance Project

Courtesy Accord Architecture  

The arena will feature seating for 5000 when converted to a multi-purpose arena.

Warren plans Iowa trip in another step toward 2020 campaign

BOSTON (AP) — Sen. Elizabeth Warren is preparing to bring a populist message to Iowa voters just days after taking her first major step toward launching a campaign for president.

The Massachusetts Democrat told reporters on Wednesday that she's planning to visit the state with the nation's first presidential caucuses after being sworn in on Thursday to a second Senate term.

Warren said that Washington "works great for the wealthy and the well-connected" but that it needs to work for everybody else.

"This is a moment in America where people really want to get the focus back on the points that touch their lives, about things like student loans and what it costs to get a prescription filled," Warren said after a swearing-in ceremony for state lawmakers at the Massachusetts Statehouse.

Warren on Monday announced she's launching an exploratory committee for president.

She is the most prominent Democrat yet in what is expected to be a crowded field of fellow contenders hoping to retake the White House from Republican President Donald Trump in 2020.

The former Harvard law professor made a name for herself a decade ago with calls for greater consumer protections, which led to the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under former Democratic President Barack Obama.

Letter: King's support, base is in Iowa

Congressman Steve King is a steadfast supporter of life, the Constitution and agriculture. He continues to work hard in the best interest of Iowans. Because of leaders like King, the average Iowan will see a $2,000 increase in take-home pay in 2018, America is seeing its lowest unemployment levels since 1969, black and Hispanic unemployment are at all-time lows, and consumer confidence is approaching a record high. He has my vote and hopefully yours, too.

Warren said she plans to run on many of those same basic economic issues, which she said have been made even more precarious by Washington politics.

"I believe that Washington is corrupt," she said. "I see it firsthand."

Warren was been a favorite target of Trump, who frequently calls her "Pocahontas" — a reference to Warren's claims of Native American heritage. Warren in October released a DNA test meant to bolster those claims, but the test seemed only to generate more controversy for Warren. The test indicated that Warren likely had Native American in her bloodline, though the ancestor probably lived six to 10 generations ago. Some critics complained that the genetic analysis cheapened the identities of tribal members with deeper ties.

Trump told Fox News Channel's "All-American New Year" in an interview Monday that he hopes Warren runs.

"We'll see how she does," he said. "I wish her well. I hope she does well. I'd love to run against her."

Warren plans to start her swing through Iowa on Friday with a stop at an organizing event in Council Bluffs followed by similar events on Saturday in Sioux City and Des Moines and a roundtable discussion in Storm Lake.

Warren also defended her decision to host a live Instagram event on New Year's Eve from the kitchen of her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The live feed showed her drinking a beer, petting her dog and taking questions from viewers — an event some derided as awkward.

"It's one more way to be able just to invite people into your home. I wish I could just open the door and have lots of folks in, but this is a way to do it," she said, adding that her beer of choice is Michelob Ultra, what she called "the club soda of beers."

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At least 10 injured in New Year's crash near Forest City

FOREST CITY | Ten people in two vehicles were injured in a head on collision on a rural road near Forest City.

The crash occurred just after 3 a.m. Tuesday, on 120th Street about a half mile south of 360th Street, about 5 miles northwest of Forest City.

Authorities say a southbound vehicle crossed into oncoming traffic and collided with a northbound vehicle.

A 2004 Grand Prix and 2010 Dodge Ram were involved. It is unclear which vehicle crossed into traffic. 

Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Mindy Coe said investigators believe there were eight people in the Grand Prix.

Investigators think alcohol consumption may have been a factor. The 10 injured ranged from 18 to 22 years of age.

Most were transported to Mercy Medical Center - North Iowa while others were transported to Hancock County Health Services in Garner, Mayo and Iowa City. Three were transported to Mayo, Coe said. 

Coe said the investigation is complicated. 

“We’re trying to place all the occupants in the vehicles,” Coe said. “We are trying to ascertain who the driver was.”

The investigation is ongoing. Coe said the investigation could take months.

“We might not know who the driver was for several months,” Coe said.

He said there were conflicting accounts regarding who was driving and where individuals were seated. 

Seat belts were not used by all passengers. 

Coe said charges could be possible depending on the completion of the investigation.

Investigators are waiting on approval to release the names of those involved. 

Winnebago Sheriff’s Office, Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, Titonka EMS, West Hancock Ambulance, Garner EMS, Forest City EMS, Buffalo Center EMS, Clear Lake EMS and Forest City Fire Department assisted at the scene.

Photos: Buckle up, drive safe - 101 North Iowa crashes

Photos: Buckle up, drive safe - 101 North Iowa crashes from the past 20 years