ICON Water Trails, Best Development Awards
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Thursday PM Daily | September 7, 2023
ICON Water Trails hires Oppel as executive director
By Michael Crumb | Senior Staff Writer
Stephanie Oppel, pictured, has been named the new executive director of ICON Water Trails.

The organization announced her hiring today, saying Oppel will begin her new duties on Sept. 25.

Oppel’s hiring comes almost a year after Maggie McClelland, who held the director’s position since July 2021, left the organization. Hannah Inman, CEO of Great Outdoors Foundation, has filled the role on an interim basis.

ICON is a $125 million initiative that is funded through a combination of public and private dollars, including a $25 million BUILD grant awarded to the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization by the Federal Highway Administration. ICON includes the development of projects that connect more than 80 sites along 150 miles of rivers and creeks in Central Iowa.

Oppel most recently served as the director of work-based learning at Des Moines Area Community College. According to a news release, she has extensive experience in organizational leadership, working across the public and private sector.

"We couldn’t be more excited to have Stephanie at the helm of this transformational initiative," Inman said in a prepared statement. "Her poise, integrity and leadership skills will be instrumental in developing the organization and mobilizing its mission."

Dan Houston, co-chair of the ICON Water Trails board of directors, said Oppel will bring "incredible expertise" to the position.

"She embodies the talent, determination and knowledge needed to steward the organization into this next phase of implementation," said Houston, the chairman, president and CEO of Principal Financial Group.

According to the release, the pool of candidates for the position was competitive, but the ICON board decided to hire Oppel for the newly-revised position because of her knowledge related to fundraising and development, strategic communication and creative problem-solving skills.

Oppel, who lives with her family in Norwalk, grew up in Ankeny. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska and her master’s and doctorate degrees from Drake University.


David Hurd receives 2023 Iowa Innovation Award
The Des Moines Water Works Park Foundation recognized David Hurd as the recipient of the 2023 Iowa Innovation Award on Sept. 3 at the Lauridsen Amphitheater at Water Works Park. Established in 2022, the Iowa Innovation Award recognizes a person who "has made a positive impact on planet Earth with an emphasis on displaying the core values of DMWWPF," according to a press release. "Nominees exhibit DMWWPF vision and mission through their work – fostering stewardship for clean water and nature." Born in Chicago, Hurd moved to Des Moines in 1954 and started working for Bankers Life, now Principal Financial, staying with the company for 40 years before retiring in 1994, although he continued to serve as director of Principal Mutual Life Insurance Co. He was inducted into the Iowa Business Hall of Fame in 1994, and in 2015, he was presented with the Eychaner Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.

1,000 Friends of Iowa opens nominations for Best Development Awards
Nominations are now open for the 1,000 Friends of Iowa’s Best Development Awards program. The awards program, in its 22nd year, recognizes Iowa’s thoughtfully considered projects and programs that connect building, land, natural resources, development, positive community impact and quality of life, as well as the organizations and people responsible for those projects and programs. With a mission focused on responsible land use, 1,000 Friends of Iowa, a statewide nonprofit organization focused on promoting responsible land use and sustainability, promotes smart planning principles that help communities. There is a $25 fee to submit a nomination, and anyone can nominate, or self-nominate, for the following categories: new civic, renovated civic, new commercial, renovated commercial, innovative leadership, mixed use, renewable energy, new residential, renovated residential, stormwater management, transportation/complete streets and placemaking/greenspace. The nomination deadline is Nov. 17. Winners will be chosen by independent jurors in December, and an awards ceremony is scheduled for Jan. 23, 2024. For more information about the nominating process, click here.
The Elbert Files: What if?
What I am about to propose is not likely. In fact, it’s probably more likely that Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds will be the Republican candidate for president or that Democrats will make a clean sweep of the Iowa Statehouse next year.

But if you read on, I think you’ll admit that what I’m suggesting is an intriguing "what if."

The idea came from Kent Zimmerman, a retired marketing guru. Zimmerman and I were having lunch recently at Wesley Acre’s new bistro cafe, which is adjacent to the 24 acres on Grand Avenue that, until recently, was the home of Des Moines University, Iowa’s osteopathic medical school.

DMU moved in June to a new campus in the southwest corner of West Des Moines, leaving everyone in our west-side neighborhood wondering what might replace it. Read more

North Dakota groups oppose Summit’s permit ‘do over’
Iowa Capital Dispatch: North Dakota utility regulators should deny Summit Carbon Solutions’ request to reconsider its pipeline permit application because it was the company’s fault it didn’t supply sufficient evidence for it, according to several groups that oppose the company’s proposal. The state’s three-person Public Service Commission unanimously denied the company a route permit last month because there was not enough evidence that its proposed carbon dioxide pipeline would be located, constructed and operated with "minimum adverse impacts upon the welfare of the citizens of North Dakota," the commission decided.

Walmart cuts starting pay for some new hires
Wall Street Journal: Walmart is paying some new store workers less than it would have three months ago, a sign that employers are seeking to cut labor costs as the once-hot market for hourly staff cools. The country’s largest private employer changed its wage structure for hourly workers in mid-July, according to documents reviewed by the Wall Street Journal and store workers. Under the new structure, most new hires will make the lowest possible hourly wage for that store.

Maui beckons tourists, and their dollars, to stave off economic disaster after wildfires

Associated Press: Richie Olsten has been in Maui’s helicopter tour business for a half century, so long he’s developed a barometer for the tourism-dependent economy: rental cars parked at the island’s airport. There are so many since wildfires killed 115 people in the historic town of Lahaina that Olsten is worried about a full-blown economic catastrophe. Restaurants and tour companies are laying off workers and unemployment is surging. State tourism officials, after initially urging travelers to stay away, are now asking them to come back, avoid the burn zone and help Maui recover by spending their money. Airlines have started offering steep discounts, while some resorts have slashed room rates by 20% or are offering a fifth night free.

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics agrees to pay $15 million for overtime pay delays
A judge granted approval Wednesday to a settlement that would see the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Board of Regents pay current and former employees over the timing of their paychecks, KCRG reports. Before 2020, UIHC used to have a system in which employees would get their base pay for one month on the first day of the following month. Overtime and other adjustments were paid the month after that. (For example, on Dec. 1, an employee was paid their November salary and overtime adjustments from back in October.) Read more
Chance of a shower or two, mainly in western/southwest Iowa. Low 58. Winds east at 5 to 10 mph.

Becoming sunny. Slight chance of a shower in southwest Iowa early in the day. High 82. Winds northeast at 5 to 10 mph.

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