CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus in Iowa, live updates for April 3: Iowa Supreme Court extends postponement of criminal and civil trials

Executive director Kaila Rome looks out ready to help the next drive-up client as they arrive at the North Liberty Commu
Executive director Kaila Rome looks out ready to help the next drive-up client as they arrive at the North Liberty Community Pantry in North Liberty on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

5:14 P.M. CHANGES MADE TO JACKPOT GAMES

CLIVE — Changes are coming to popular jackpot games.

According to a news release Friday from the Iowa Lottery, the Mega Millions group has decided to eliminate starting jackpot amounts and minimum amount of growth between drawings, following a similar announcement by the Powerball game earlier this week. Jackpots for both will be determined on a drawing-by-drawing basis.

The move was necessary to ensure ticket sales support jackpots and other prizes. Ticket sales have declined since the coronavirus outbreak. Interest rates have dropped as well, impacting the annuity amount of the games’ jackpots.

Mega Millions jackpot remains an estimated $121-million annuity or a lump-sum payment of $96.7 million. If there is a winner, the drawing on Tuesday will reset to $20 million. If the jackpot is not won, it will increase to a $127 million annuity Tuesday. Beginning April 10, jackpot amounts will be based on sales and interest rates with no fixed minimums.

Saturday’s Powerball drawing will remain an estimated $180 million annuity and $144 million one-time payment. If the jackpot is won, Wednesday’s drawing will be reset to $20 million annuity. Without a winner Saturday, the prize will grow to an estimated $190 million annuity Wednesday. Starting April 11, the starting jackpot amount will be based on sales and interest with no fixed minimums.

In the release, the Iowa Lottery said the “multi-draw” function to purchase plays in future Powerball and Mega Millions drawings will still be valid, but are now subject to the upcoming jackpot changes.

As a goodwill gesture to those players, the Iowa Lottery is making available free-play coupons for use in future drawings of the game involved. To be eligible for free-play coupons:

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* In Mega Millions, an Iowa Lottery player must have purchased a multi-draw ticket no later than 4 p.m. Friday (April 3) for a Mega Millions drawing held on April 7 or later.

* In Powerball, an Iowa Lottery player must have purchased a multi-draw ticket no later than 4 p.m. Thursday (April 2) for a Powerball drawing held on April 8 or later.

For more information, visit the Iowa Lottery website.

4:23 P.M. IOWA SUPREME COURT EXTENDS TRIAL POSTPONEMENT

The Iowa Supreme Court this week further postponed criminal and civil trials to avoid large groups of people gathered in Iowa courthouses during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Nonjury trials will be bumped back to June 1 or later. Jury trials may not be scheduled earlier than July 13, giving priority to cases in which a defendant has not waived his right to a speedy trial, according to the order released Thursday. Trials and hearings already in progress, as well as emergency proceedings, are allowed to continue.

A March 14 order put jury trials on hold until at least April 20, declaring the response to the coronavirus “constitutes good cause” for any delays that might affect a person’s right to a speedy trial.

“In addition,” the new order states. “Because significant logistical issues — including backlog of cases — are expected even when trials restart, the court finds good cause to extend the speedy trial deadline ... beyond 90 days.”

The order gives judges and attorneys the option of holding videoconference or teleconference initial appearances and preliminary hearings through Aug. 3.

3:58 P.M. HY-VEE ADDS PANELS, SIGNS FOR SHOPPER TRAFFIC FLOW

Hy-Vee, Inc., will implement changes to its operations in an effort to protect employees and customers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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All 265 stores will add temporary window panels on the back of checkout lanes to help provide more protection for cashiers and customers. These will be in addition to the previously added panels on the front side.

Stores also will install new, one-direction signs in its aisles, directing customers on traffic flow to prevent them from passing each other. The effort is an attempt to help maintain six feet of social distancing throughout the store.

Hy-Vee also will encourage customers to follow a “one person per cart” rule to cut down on the number of people in the store at one time. Customers are urged to designate one person per family to visit the store during each visit.

“We continue to implement additional ways to adapt at Hy-Vee, so that we can serve our customers and protect the health and wellness of those who work and shop in our stores,” Hy-Vee Chairman, CEO and President Randy Edeker said in Friday’s news release.

1:58 P.M. MIDWESTONE BANK JOINS ICDD GIFT CARD EFFORT

MidWestOne Bank has joined Iowa City Downtown District as a campaign partner for the incentive gift card program that encourages support of local businesses, arts institutions and service programs to lessen the impacts during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a news release Friday.

The addition of MidWestOne Bank doubles the budget for the program that offers gift cards for certain levels of patronage at ICDD businesses. Customers will receive a $25 “thank you” gift card for spending $100. Those who spend $500 or more can get a $125 gift card.

“MidWestOne Bank is proud to partner with the Iowa City Downtown District to provide support for downtown businesses during this uncertain time,” said Community Engagement Officer, Jenny Olson. “We’re looking forward to the time when we can get back to the busy and active downtown we know and love. We will get through this together.”

The ICDD has issued more than $6,000 in incentive gift cards. Participants have the option of donating their incentive gift card to the Shelter House to be used for families in need. Currently, $1,000 has been donated back to Shelter House, according to the release.

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“The campaign is going great,” Director of Creative Service Betsy Potter said. “We have had dozens of emails and comments from customers and businesses on how important it is to the community. Since we have our own gift card program downtown, it is a double win for our businesses, customers can purchase from the shops and restaurants and then they are able to use their thank you gift cards once at those very locations later.

“With the generous partnership of MidWestOne Bank, we have now had the opportunity to double our budget, which means the campaign can continue for many more weeks.”

The incentive for spending at downtown arts venues will increase each Friday, starting today. For every $100 spent at Riverside Theatre, Englert Theatre, FilmScene and Public Space One, customers will receive a $35 thank you gift card. The amount climbs to $170 for $500 spent at any of those institutions.

Further information and the form to submit proof of receipts can be found here.

12:23 P.M. APPLICATION PERIOD EXTENDED FOR HOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE

The Iowa Department of Human Rights and Division of Community Action Agencies announced Friday they have extended the application period for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program due to the COVID-19 virus and the State of Iowa Public Health Disaster Emergency. Families in search of assistance have until May 31.

LIHEAP can help pay a portion of an eligible household’s utility bill. Eligibility is based on household size and income. Anyone facing difficulty in paying their utility bill is encouraged to contact their local community action agency. Those offices can be found at the IDHR website.

Community action agencies also offer additional assistance, including food and clothing pantries and other services.

 

PROPERTY ASSESSMENT APPEALS EXTENSION GRANTED

The Iowa Department of Revenue has granted an extension to property assessment appeals in response to a request by the Cedar Rapids Assessors Office in March, attempting to alleviate the challenges related to COVID-19 impacts. The decision extends the appeal period for property owners who believe the recent assessment notice on their property is not a reflection of the market value.

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Formal protests can be filed with the Board of Review until June 5. The previous deadline was April 30. The Informal review period remains until April 25.

According to a news release from the Cedar Rapids City Assessor, in accordance with Iowa law, assessment notices were mailed on March 30, 2020 to Cedar Rapids property owners whose property assessments have changed since last year, informing them of the January 1, 2020 assessment.

Property owners wanting to request a review can call the Cedar Rapids City Assessor’s office at 319-286-5888 or email at crassessor@cedar-rapids.org.

Petition forms to file with the Board of Review are available at the City Assessor’s website. Forms can also be requested from the Assessor’s office. Petitions are required to be in writing and include identification of the property (address, parcel number, legal description), grounds (reason) for the appeal and a signature with contact information. Please state if you are requesting an oral hearing with the Board of Review.

The City Assessor’s office is currently closed to the general public due to social distancing efforts. Staff is available via phone or email Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Paperwork can be submitted via email or by using a drop box located outside the City Services Center at 500 15th Ave. SW.

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Our most important Coronavirus coverage is free to the public.

If you believe local news is essential, especially during this crisis, please donate. Your contribution will support news resources to cover the impact of the pandemic on our local communities.

All donations are tax-deductible.