Lucas Kline and Nick Applegate, owners of The Iowa Brewery Project, holding glasses of beer

The Iowa Project Brewing Company ready for grand opening

Craft beer lovers will be able to enjoy a cold beverage brewed in Spencer on Saturday when The Iowa Project Brewing Company holds its grand opening. The brewery, long-awaited in Spencer, has been selling beers to-go through online ordering and curbside pickup for a couple of weeks now. Brewery co-owner Nick Applegate said they’re ready to welcome guests into the taproom. “We’ve got the taproom all set up, decorations up,” Applegate said. “The building’s finished finally.

JCPenney logo

JCPenney in Spencer not among initial stores closing

JCPenney in Spencer is not on the list of stores the retailer plans to close this summer, though more closure announcements are expected. The retailer, which declared bankruptcy last month, announced that it would be closing 154 store locations. The company declared bankruptcy while facing the same struggles of the coronavirus pandemic that other businesses have had to navigate. Stores in Carroll and Marshalltown are among the list of those that will be closing. JCPenney in Spencer is one of the anchor stores at Southpark Mall.

5:13, 513 S Grand Ave., was open Thursday for the first time in two months.

Spencer bars ready for nightlife to return

Kay Meyer was more than ready to reopen her bar Thursday afternoon. Like other bar owners throughout Iowa, Meyer, owner of 5:13 at 513 S Grand Ave. in Spencer, has had to keep her establishment closed to guests since March 17. That was the day Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds ordered restaurants, bars and many other businesses to close to the public as part of a declaration intended to slow community spread of COVID-19. A later order allowed bars and similar establishments, such as breweries and wineries, to sell drinks to-go.

Fridley Theatres logo with movie theater auditorium in background

Southpark 7 reopens Friday

For the first time in over two months, Spencer residents can see movies on the big screen Friday when Southpark 7 reopens to the public. Movie theaters had been closed to the public since March 17 as part of Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’s orders to slow community spread of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19. Reynolds allowed movie theaters to begin reopening Memorial Day weekend with social distancing guidelines still in place, such as limiting tickets to 50% of seating capacity. “Friday was the first time in weeks that Iowans had the opportunity to go to a movie,” Reynolds said Tuesday during her daily COVID-19 press conference. “Even though the experience will be different for a while, it’s one that many people have been looking forward to.”

The Bear had a patio and green space that was frequently used for community events.

DejaBrew closing in Spencer

DejaBrew’s last day in business in Spencer will be June 12. The coffee shop, located at 24 W. Park Street, announced it would be closing in a Facebook post earlier this week. “We would like to thank those of you who have shown us so much support over the last 11 months and especially that last few weeks,” the business stated in the post. “It is because of you we avoided this decision for so long, hopeful that things could and would turn around.” DejaBrew opened its Spencer location a little less than a year ago.

Map of Iowa counties with April 2020 unemployment rates

Clay County unemployment rate 10.5% in April

The unemployment rate in Clay County climbed to 10.5% in April, showing how COVID-19 closures and related workforce changes have affected area jobs. April’s rate is a significant increase from the 3.7% rate in March. Clay County’s unemployment rate in April 2019 was 2.7%. Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend said last week that April was the first month Iowa truly saw the impact COVID-19 has had on the state’s unemployment rate. “We remain hopeful that as we reopen the state and more people return to work, the rate will decrease quickly and this unprecedented rate will be a very temporary one,” Townsend said.

Spencer City Council Chambers sign

Architecture firm to prepare design guidelines for Grand Avenue Historic Commercial District

A Mason City architecture firm will begin preparing design guidelines for the Grand Avenue Historic Commercial District. The Spencer City Council on Monday approved with a 7-0 vote an agreement with Bergland and Cram to create the guidelines. The discussion about the need for guidelines began, City Manager Amanda Mack told the council, after a “rather intense” discussion about murals on commercial buildings. “Painful,” said Bill Orrison, Ward 2 council member, regarding those mural discussions. The new guidelines will provide business and property owners with guidance on certain topics, such as murals, replacing windows and more.