Investors buy steel company assets from bankruptcy court

BETTENDORF — A local investment group has bought an eastern Iowa steel castings company that filed for bankruptcy protection in March.

Scott Tinsman Jr. represents the Tinsman family, which is part of the group, and he said Friday the group bought 100 percent of the Sivyer Steel assets from the bankruptcy court in July. The price: $6.5 million.

The company's new name will be Sivyer Steel Castings LLC. New CEO Michael Baxley says the company plans to renovate its Bettendorf facility and update its equipment. The company also hopes to add to the list of more than 240 employees.

Sivyer produces medium to large steel castings for the mining, military, passenger rail and oil and gas industries.

Company officials say a slowdown in orders, especially from the mining industry, forced the bankruptcy filing.

Tinsman says Sivyer has "hit the bottom, and we're on the way up."

Iowa unemployment rate down to 2.5 percent, 2nd lowest in US

DES MOINES — Iowa's unemployment rate dropped slightly to 2.5 percent in August, giving the state the second-lowest rate in the country.

Iowa Workforce Development reported Friday that the unemployment rate dropped from 2.6 percent in July and was down from 3 percent a year ago.

Iowa was only behind Hawaii, which has the nation's lowest rate of 2.1 percent.

The number of unemployed people in Iowa dropped to 42,800 in August, with the total number of working Iowans climbing to 1.64 million.

Authorities clear officers who exchanged gunshots with man

VINTON — Authorities have cleared two eastern Iowa police officers who exchanged gunshots with a man.

Benton County Attorney David Thompson says the officers were justified in using deadly force because they were confronted with a deadly threat.

The Iowa Public Safety Department says 43-year-old Lyle Fowler shot toward officers sent to check his welfare on Sept. 7. The two officers fired back, but no one was wounded in the exchange.

The department says the officers were Sgt. Benjamin Parmater and Patrol Officer Katlyn Schimerowski of the Vinton Police Department.

Court upholds hospital 'charity care' tax exemption

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois Supreme Court has upheld a 2012 law that sought to clarify property tax exemptions for charitable hospitals.

The court voted 7-0 in an opinion issued Thursday. It ruled on a law that allows issuing tax exemptions to hospitals when the value of the "charity care" or "free or discounted services" they provide exceed its estimated tax liability.

Constance Oswald argued in her lawsuit that the law requires issuing an exemption regardless of whether the constitutional requirements are met. The court found that the language of the law merely allows allowing an exemption in warranted cases.

Illinois Health and Hospital Association spokesman Danny Chun says the law has cleared up previous confusion and ensured financially stretched hospitals can serve their communities.

Deal brings partial resolution to Chicago hotel strike

CHICAGO — A hotel workers union says a new contract with Marriott International has been ratified, bringing partial resolution to a strike that began two weeks ago in Chicago.

The deal reached Thursday between Unite Here Local 1 and Marriott covers seven downtown hotels.

Details of the agreement haven't been released. A statement from Mayor Rahm Emanuel said workers will receive year-round health insurance, which has been a main demand of the union for employees laid off during slower months.

Employees at 19 other hotels remain on strike. The walkout began after contracts covering some 6,000 housekeepers, servers, cooks and others expired.

Officials for Hyatt and Hilton hotels say they continue to negotiate with the union.

Some visitors say the hotels have been scrambling to clean rooms and check in guests.

University of Illinois reports nearly $500M in fundraising

URBANA, Ill. — The University of Illinois says it raised nearly $500 million in outside money over the past year, posting a record system-wide amount.

The university announced Friday that the $498.5 million fundraising total for the 2018 fiscal year is $212 million more than it raised the year before in contributions and grants.

The fundraising mark comes after the university publicly launched a major fundraising campaign last fall. The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports the university's main campus has raised $1.35 billion toward its $2.3 billion goal by 2022.

A $150 million donation last fall from Chicago businessman Larry Gies helped boost the fundraising total.

The university's foundation has also created a registered charity in England in an effort to attract more donations from graduates in the United Kingdom and Europe.