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PM News 2.28.20: Poultry Fire, Caucus Latest, Supervisor Special Election, Flood Outlook and More


A massive fire last night killed more than 400,000 chickens at a poultry plant outside of Bloomfield, Nebraska.

Michael Foods operates the facility that produces eggs.  No employees got hurt but the fire destroyed a barn.

The National Weather service says the flames were so intense their weather satellite detected the heat more than 22,000 miles above the Earth.

Bloomfield is about 75 miles northwest of Sioux City in Knox County.

The Iowa Democratic Party has released results of a recount of the Iowa caucuses, and there's still no winner according to the Associated Press.

Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders remain essentially tied, with Buttigieg holding a lead of 0.04 percentage points.

The AP says it will not declare a winner in Iowa, following the party's initial delay in reporting results and after observing irregularities in those figures.

Buttigieg has won 13 national delegates in Iowa, while Sanders won 12. The AP will update its tally of the national delegates won in Iowa with a final delegate on Saturday, after the Iowa Democratic Party formally votes to certify the results.

Democrats in Woodbury County picked State Representative Tim Kacena as their candidate for a special election for the County Board of Supervisors

Kacena won unanimous support during a special nominating committee last night to potentially fill an opening left by Republican Jeremy Taylor.  Taylor resigned in January over residency issues.

The Special Election for District 2 takes place on April 14th.  There are three years left on Taylor’s term.

Last month, Kacena announced he wouldn’t seek re-election to the Iowa House this year.  He served for four years in District 14.  

The Iowa State Senate has passed a bill requiring the Department of Human Services to use outside vendors to double check the incomes of Iowans in public programs like Medicaid.

The Legislative Services Agency estimates the state would find more than 8 thousand people receiving benefits who do not actually qualify.

Republican Senator Jason Schultz of Schleswig says it would be up to DHS to investigate potential abuse.

The vendor doesn’t do anything other than take the identity of the recipient, run it through the algorithm, say hey there are a few things that don’t look kosher here, DSH why don’t you actually make the manual check on this individual.

Recipients would have 10 days to respond to DHS or lose access to public assistance. Opponents say the system could create false positives that take away benefits by mistake.

Nebraska lawmakers have sent a nearly unanimous message to federal officials who control the flow of the Missouri River: focus on preventing floods above all else.

Lawmakers voted 43-1 on a resolution calling on Congress and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to make flood control their top priority.

The resolution is largely symbolic but is intended show that lawmakers view the issue as important.

The risk of spring flooding along the Missouri River remains above normal. That’s according to the National Weather Service’s second spring flood outlook.

The next couple of weeks look generally dry. Mike Gillisipie is a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He says snow has been melting at a steady, ideal rate, and that could continue.

The longer we can keep this up, the less chance there is of that real significant flooding, barring any real big, heavy future precipitation. 

Very wet soil and the large volume of water flowing down the Missouri River are the two things contributing to the above-normal flood risk along the river. The National Weather Service will release a third spring flood outlook on March 12.

And, it’s an end of an era this weekend for an alumni group at the Sioux City’s old Central High School.

The Castle on the Hill Association must leave the building they called home for years. 

Frank Conkey is a volunteer with the organization.

“We have been here for 15 years and really took care of our spaces. I’m sure it won’t be the same.”

The alumni association sold the former school to the developer from Woodbine, Iowa for $1 in exchange for a 15-year lease that ran out at the end of the year.

A representative for the owner says he wants to potentially sell the apartment building to a new owner.

Jeff Wooldridge was a member of the last graduating class in 1972.

“It’s been here since 1882, my grandfather went here, my father went here aId I went here, my brother went here.  My brother didn’t, he went on to North High.

Last weekend, Woodridge picked up some T-shirts and sweatshirts at the Castle on the Hill Gift Shop.

“Great place, great school.  Who knows what will happen next to the school.”

The gift shop will be open for two more days.  It’s open this afternoon until 4 p.m. and then again tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Some of Central’s memorabilia will go to the Sioux City Public Museum.

Listen for a special report on “Castle on the Hill”  next week on Siouxland Public Media.  Hear the memories of former students of the school, Wednesday at noon on The Exchange.

Sheila Brummer returns to her radio roots as a Reporter/Special Projects Producer for Siouxland Public Media KWIT-KOJI.