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News 8.4.20: Iowa School Update, Riverfront Project, River-Cade Cancellations, Tyson Concerns & More

City of Sioux City

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds says if schools ignore her order to provide at least 50 percent in-person learning, they’ll have to make up the time at the end of the year.

“Schools that choose not to return to school for at least 50 percent in person instruction are not defying me. They are defying the law.”

A law passed late in the legislative session states that schools cannot primarily use virtual learning unless the governor allows it by proclamation.

Reynolds says individual families can choose virtual learning, but it’s not allowed district-wide without permission from the Department of Education.

The city of Sioux City Parks and Recreation Foundation launched a fundraising campaign to try and help secure state money for the Chris Larson Park Riverfront Development Project.

The city applied for a grant of almost $600,000 from the Iowa Economic Department Authority’s Enhance Iowa Fund.

The Enhance Iowa Board requested the city show an increased amount of community donations to show public support for the project.  The city is scheduled to give an update to grant staff on Friday and make another presentation to the Enhance Iowa Board on August 20th.

Phase one of the project broke ground in June and includes a new public park in the place where the Argosy Casino use to sit.  The park will an include an overlook, three shelters, basketball courts and take about two years to complete. 

River-Cade announced on social media the cancelation of two events in the next two months. There will be no fishing derby in September or Riverssance in early October.  The post says “the health and safety of everyone is our 1st and foremost concern.  Everyone stay safe and healthy.  And we will return next year.

There are 886 deaths in Iowa with almost one-half 80 years or older or residents of long-term care facilities.

There are outbreaks at six facilities in six northwest Iowa counties; Woodbury, Plymouth, Sioux, O’Brien, Lyon and Emmet.  Valley Vue Care Center in Emmet County reports 45 cases with almost 20 people recovered. 

The state’s coronavirus website shows 51 deaths again today in Woodbury County.  Siouxland District Health reported two more deaths on Monday for a total of 50.  Officials with Siouxland District Health say they will add the new fatality to their report on Wednesday.

State lawmakers in Waterloo are asking federal regulators for a second opinion on workplace safety at the local Tyson hog processing plant that had a massive coronavirus outbreak.

After more than a thousand workers there got the virus and some died, Iowa’s workplace safety investigators found no violations.

Representative Timi Brown-Powers is a Democrat from Waterloo. She says it’s hard to believe that, and she’s heard from workers that virus prevention measures might be slipping. That’s why she sent a complaint to federal regulators.

“Just because I really do want to get the second opinion on what we’re doing in Iowa, and are we doing all that we can with Iowa OSHA, and are we protecting the workers?”

“What we were hearing from workers and family members in the community is they didn’t have PPE, there were some issues in the locker rooms, and they were starting to take the panels down—the protective panels between workers.” 

Brown-Powers says she’s encouraged by Tyson’s new plan for regular testing and expanding health care staff. But she’s waiting for a response from the regional occupational safety and health director based in Kansas City.

Tyson officials have denied requests by Siouxland Public Media to disclose the number of employees who have died from complications of COVID-19 at facilities in Dakota City and Storm Lake.

Nebraska lawmakers will try once again to pass a major property tax and business incentive package as early as Wednesday, with time running out in this year’s session. The Legislature’s Revenue Committee voted Tuesday in favor of a new proposal designed to benefit Nebraska property owners and attract businesses. The committee’s previous attempts to lower property taxes have stalled, and lawmakers have just five days remaining in this year’s session. The new proposal seeks to combine the priorities of lawmakers who want to lower property taxes and those who want to continue offering tax incentives to businesses to replace a program that expires this year.

Gov. Pete Ricketts has acknowledged that state officials planned to sue if Douglas County's health director had issued an Omaha-area mask mandate last week to try to slow the spread of coronavirus. The Omaha World-Herald reports that Ricketts acknowledged Monday that officials from his office and the Attorney General’s Office told Douglas County Health Director Adi Pour in a phone call last week that she didn't have the legal authority to mandate masks and that "if she moved forward, we would challenge that in court.” The governor's account helps explain Pour's unexpected decision on Thursday to buck the unanimous approval of the county's health board for a mask mandate.

South Dakota has recorded 59 new cases of COVID-19 and one death amid an increase in the average number of daily new cases over the last two weeks. Most of the new cases were reported in Minnehaha County, the state’s most populated area. But the state’s western part has also seen outbreaks. An outbreak at a Christian summer camp in the Black Hills infected nearly one-third of the 328 people at the facility. The man who died was over the age of 80 and lived in Codington County. The state has tallied 136 deaths from COVID-19.

Philanthropist Denny Sanford has given $12.5 million to the University of South Dakota’s law school which will be renamed the Knudson School of Law in honor of Sioux Falls lawyer and businessman David Knudson, his longtime adviser. Knudson received his MBA from the university in 1981 and went on to serve as chief of staff for Gov. Bill Janklow before being elected to the state Senate and serving as its majority leader. Knudson is now a senior vice president at United National Corporation. Law school dean Neil Fulton says the gift doubles the size of the school’s current endowment and will fund up to 10 full-tuition student scholarships for each incoming class for generation

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