Council declares support for Healthy Life Center, motions for ordinance to prevent human trafficking


Grant Tetmeyer/Iowa State Daily

First Ward Representative Gloria Betcher at an Ames City Council meeting on June 18.

Kara Gravert

Ames City Council unanimously approved three memorandums and a lease agreement in preparation for the construction of the Healthy Life Center in its Aug. 13 meeting. Ames voters will decide on the $29 million bond issue for the center’s construction on Sept. 10. 

David Martin, 3rd Ward Representative, motioned for a resolution outlining the council’s support for the construction of the contingent Healthy Life Center. The motion passed unanimously. 

No public input was provided prior to the memorandum approvals. 

Polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. on Sept. 10 at the following locations:

  • Ames Public Library, 515 Douglas Avenue

  • Grand Avenue Baptist Church, 612-24th Street

  • Bethesda Lutheran Church, 1517 Northwestern Avenue

  • Ascension Lutheran Church, 2400 Bloomington Road

  • Green Hills Community, 2205 Green Hills Drive

  • Collegiate United Methodist Church, 2622 Lincoln Way

  • Buchanan Hall Room 2009, 2160 Lincoln Way

  • Trinity Christian Reformed Church, 3626 Ontario Street

For information regarding absentee voting, visit the Story County Auditor’s website

In an effort to prevent incidents of human trafficking, the council unanimously motioned to draft an ordinance to regulate massage parlor operations.

The proposed ordinance will follow in the footsteps of cities like Des Moines, Davenport and Iowa City. Regulation includes efforts such as photo identification of operation personnel and employees, the expulsion of overnight operating hours and a comprehensive license application process. 

Amid public input, George Belitsos, a representative for Iowa Network Against Human Trafficking, cited swift results out of Davenport following the adoption of such ordinances. 

“Within a week after the [Davenport] ordinance went into effect, [the city] closed five establishments,” Belitsos said. “Ten women were recovered, two traffickers were brought into custody … and the city saw a 33% increase in tips.”

The City of Ames was the first in Iowa to require training for hotel and motel employees to protect guests from from sexual exploitation and trafficking. 

Currently, the state does not require background checks or photo identification within the licensing process. 

The council heard a presentation from MetroNet, a fiber-optic internet company, regarding an estimated $20 million investment for the arduous installation of fiber-optics broadband in Ames.

Fiber-optic communication is a method of information transmission through light pulsation. Fibers, as opposed to metal wires, experience less loss of signal transmission. 

Council members raised concerns with respect to community-wide access to the new infrastructure. 

Gloria Betcher, 1st Ward Representative spoke about neighborhoods with infrastructure outmoded for fiber-optic development. 

“I’m somewhat concerned … that in Bloomington, the older neighborhoods did not get the coverage, and the poles seemed to be a concern there.” Betcher said.  

MetroNet representatives indicated a provision that would allow the company to install a utility pole capable of delivering fiber-optic services. 

The council examined MetroNet’s policy on net neutrality — a principle that without, an internet service provider could degrade or enhance access to certain websites or services. 

“Can you characterize your high level position on net neutrality?” Martin asked. “You said you adhere to it, what do you mean by that?”

In response, MetroNet representatives stated that they do not foresee invoking their policies unless an extraordinary increase in infrastructure and expense occurred out of adherence. 

Visit this link to access the complete agenda and supplemental materials.