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Gazette Daily News Podcast, May 25
This Stephen Schmidt from the Gazette Digital News Desk, and I’m here with your update for Thursday, May 25.
It'll be sunny again Thursday, but it will be a bit cooler than much of the week. According to the National Weather Service it will be mostly sunny in the Cedar Rapids area with a high near 72 degrees. On Thursday night it will be clear, with a low of around 45 degrees.
The New York-based company that will operate Iowa’s new state-funded private school financial assistance program will be paid $4.3 million over the first six years, according to the terms of the contract with the state.
Odyssey, which was chosen by the state through a competitive bidding process, will be paid from the state’s general fund budget, the governor’s office said.
The company, which operates similar programs in Arizona and Idaho, this week began educating Iowa parents through a series of webinars about the new state program, which is projected to ultimately cost the state $107 million in the first year and $345 million annually at full implementation.
Under the new law, Iowans will be eligible for state funding equal to the amount of state per-pupil funding for K-12 public education, which for the 2023-2024 school year will be roughly $7,600, to pay for attending a private school.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s annual Click It or Ticket campaign — calling attention to the requirement for seat belts — started this week in advance of the Memorial Day weekend as traffic fatalities in Iowa remain higher than in previous years.
As of Wednesday, there have been 122 traffic-related deaths in the state so far in 2023. The average number of deaths for this point in the year during the last five years was 100, according to the Iowa Department of Transportation’s daily traffic fatality count.
Of the 122 people killed so far this year, 52 weren’t wearing a seat belt. There were 43 fatalities where the individual was wearing a seat belt, eight that are unknown and 19 where a seat belt was inapplicable, such as with a pedestrian or motorcyclist death.
According to Iowa State Patrol Trooper Bob Conrad, there will be extra traffic enforcement projects — like using planes to watch for speeding — over the holiday weekend and throughout the campaign. There also will be extra patrol officers working overtime who are specifically watching for things like seat belt use and speeding.
Ten acres at the corner of First Avenue and Second Street in Coralville — a “gateway between the University of Iowa and Coralville” — will include restaurant, retail, commercial and multifamily housing as part of a redevelopment project.
The Coralville City Council on Tuesday approved the site plan for the first addition of the Gather Iowa project by Dallas-based Rael Development Corporation. Last July the council approved a rezoning and master development plan to make way for the mixed-use development.
The city continues to work with the developer on addressing affordability concerns as part of the project’s future phases. Concerns have previously been raised about the plan possibly displacing existing minority-owned businesses and the people who live in 34 affordable housing units.
The site is in a prime location along the Coralville strip, but there have been challenges around proposed redevelopment of it.
Some of the difficulties include its position in the flood plain, replacing streets and other infrastructure and relocating a utility line that cuts across the site.