Spencer Signal circle and tower logo behind text: COVID-19 Community Updates spencersignal.com/covid19

Clay County records first COVID-19 death

One person from Clay County has died due to COVID-19, according to data updated Wednesday by the Iowa Department of Public Health. This is the county’s first reported death during the pandemic. No other information about the individual is available. As of Wednesday afternoon, Clay County has 141 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH). IDPH provides a breakdown of cases by age group.

These are the Spencer and Clay County businesses and organizations that received PPP loans

A total of 523 Clay County businesses and organizations received Paycheck Protection Program loans that they indicated would help retain 4,476 jobs, according to data from the U.S. Small Business Administration. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and U.S. Treasury Department released the data on Monday for loans made under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The Signal has gathered data on the 523 PPP loan recipients in Spencer and throughout Clay County. That data is below. You can also view the data here.

Clay County Fair and Events CEO and Manager Jeremy Parsons speaks behind podium.

Parsons: A 2020 Clay County Fair would not have lived up to reputation

The Clay County Fair, now postponed until 2021, would have been at risk of not living up to its reputation as “The World’s Greatest County Fair” had it been held this year. That realization, combined with fairgoer, staff, volunteer and vendor safety issues during the COVID-19 pandemic, eventually led fair officials to decide it was best to not hold a Clay County Fair in 2020. The decision was officially announced Thursday. At a press conference Thursday, Clay County Fair CEO and Manager Jeremy Parson said the 2020 fair, were it to happen, simply would not have been recognizable. “It just would have not been the same,” he said.

city of spencer iowa new logo

City issues 36 building permits in June

The City of Spencer issued 36 building reports in June with total fees collected equaling $2,063.81. Construction costs for all projects combined was valued at $520,772. June building permits

June 1

714 S Grand Avenue, aluminum lettering direct mount to wall, $35 fee919 1st Ave. SW, new three-stall garage on adjacent lot to primary dwelling unit, new structure is approximately 36 feet by 48 feet by 10 feet high, flood plain permit $50, $66,899 construction cost, $183.80 fee

June 2

709 W 4th St., renovate interior, move kitchen from SE corner to NE corner, build 21-foot by 11-foot-4 deck at rear yard, $4,200 construction cost, $70 fee

June 3

1202 W 9th St., 4-foot-high at front yard (portions closed and portions open), approximately 5 feet high at side and rear and 6 feet high privacy at rear SW side of house, $6,500 construction cost, $30 feeAdvanced Door, 4000 Hwy. Blvd., new 12-foot by 25-foot billboard on monopole, total height 37 feet, $35 fee919 E 13th St., add 11-foot-3 by 19-foot deck to east side of house, $3,500 construction cost, $70 fee1305 13th Ave.

Woman on scooter at Spencer Walmart on Wednesday, July 1.

City fires employee after racist confrontation at Walmart

The City of Spencer fired an employee Thursday after investigating an altercation that occurred Wednesday evening at Walmart. The city employee hurled racist comments at another shopper and several times sent the scooter she was in toward the shopper and toward the cart holding the shopper’s 3-year-old daughter.

Clay County Fair and Events Center logo with tower gate and Ferris wheel

Clay County Fair survey gauges ‘comfort levels’ of attending 2020 event

Clay County Fair and Events officials want to know how comfortable people are with the idea of attending the Clay County Fair in 2020. As of now, the major annual event in Spencer is still on for September 12-20, but officials have sent out a survey to get more input. “A decision on what the 2020 fair will look like is going to require a pretty big toolbox of things to really kind of put together a full picture,” Clay County Fair and Events CEO and Manager Jeremy Parsons said. “And one of those tools that will be in the toolbox will be the results of the survey.”

The survey asks people to answer questions that will gauge their “comfort levels,” Parsons said, about attending the fair this year. It also tries to see what people may need to feel more comfortable at the fair. 

“That’s just one of the tools that we will be using as we plan for the 2020 fair,” Parsons said.

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.

Map of May unemployment rates by county in Iowa

Clay County unemployment rate drops to 8.3% in May

The unemployment rate in Clay County dipped back below 10% in May to 8.3%, according to Iowa Workforce Development. That’s an improvement of just over two percentage points compared to April, when the rate in the county spiked to 10.4% due to the economic impact of COVID-19. The Clay County unemployment rate had jumped from 3.7% in March to the 10.4% mark in April. For comparison, the May 2019 rate was just 2.5% in Clay County. Neighboring counties also saw decreases in their jobless rates.