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NEWS 3.23.21: IA Prison Killings, Tyson Vaccinations, SD Governor Pay Raise, and More

Associated Press/Liz Martin

Iowa state prisons officials say a nurse and a corrections officer have been killed in an attack by an inmate at the Anamosa State Penitentiary. The Iowa Department of Corrections says the attack happened Tuesday morning, when an inmate attacked several staff members and inmates in the prison’s infirmary. The department said that it was still collecting and confirming details of the assault but it can confirm “an inmate attacked multiple staff members and inmates.” As a result of their injuries, a correctional nurse and correctional officer died. The incident is under investigation by the department and state police.

Tyson Foods will offer the COVID-19 vaccine to workers at its beef plant in Dakota City, Nebraska on Friday. In a statement, the company says it’s an effort to ensure workers have “convenient access” to the vaccine.

The beef processing facility employs more than 4,000 people and is one of the largest beef plants in the country. Around half of the workers are from Iowa.  

Earlier this month, Tyson offered the vaccine to thousands of workers at its Iowa facilities, including Storm Lake.

The Iowa Department of Public Health reports no new deaths due to complications of COVID-19. After a week of long-term facilities being free of the virus, there is one outbreak in central Iowa.

There are almost 500 new cases in 24-hours, with 29 in Woodbury County.

People could buy firearms and carry a concealed handgun without first obtaining a state permit in the state under a bill the Iowa Senate approved and sent to Gov. Kim Reynolds.

The bill was approved Monday with only Republican support.

Last week it cleared the House with the backing of only one Democrat.

The bill would eliminate current state permit requirements and background checks that ensure the person obtaining or carrying a gun isn’t disqualified from ownership due to past felonies or abuses. It now goes to Gov. Kim Reynolds for her signature to become law.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts says he doesn’t like three bills pending before lawmakers, including a state takeover of Omaha Public Schools’ troubled pension fund and a proposal to allow electronic keno games. Ricketts says in his weekly public column that one measure would require the state to take over management of Omaha Public Schools’ pension fund, which faces an $848 million dollar shortfall. He's also critical of a bill that would allow electronic keno as part of the state's push to regulate newly approved casinos. Ricketts also objects to a bill that would offer unemployment benefits to workers who were denied because of their citizenship status. He says it would undermine existing laws that prohibit state benefits for people in the country illegally.

Gov. Kristi Noem has signed legislation that gives herself a pay raise if reelected and those of other top state officials. The bill raises the salaries of the governor, the attorney general, the secretary of state, the state auditor, the state treasurer, and the commissioner of school and public lands. The governor’s 9.4% raise to $130,000 a year pays the state’s top executive more or equal to South Dakota’s six neighboring states. The governors of Nebraska and Wyoming make $105,000 a year. Iowa pays its governor $130,000. 

A candidate for South Dakota Attorney General, Marty Jackley, announces he has gained an early advantage in the 2022 election by gathering endorsements from a large majority of county state’s attorneys. Jackley — a Republican — is running for his old job in the wake of the current attorney general, Jason Ravnsborg, facing three misdemeanor charges and calls for his resignation after he struck and killed a man walking on the side of a rural highway last year. Jackley’s campaign announced that prosecutors from 59 out of the state’s 66 counties have endorsed him for the position.

Researchers have sent out surveys to randomly selected Latino households in nine Iowa counties with significant Latino populations. They want to find out COVID-19’s long-term effects on Latinos in the state.

Miriam Velez-Bermudez is one of the doctoral students leading the study. She says the findings will be sent to organizations throughout the state to help public health responses in the future.

“We can't address those needs if we're not able to assess them. So, this is sort of the first step in knowing what needs there are, so it can inform public health measures moving forward.”

The surveys come with a five-dollar incentive. The researchers hope to have enough data to analyze by late spring or early summer.

South Dakotans now have the option to text 911 when they’re unable to make a 911 voice call. The text, like a phone call, will be routed to a local dispatch center. Officials said texting should only be used when someone can’t safely make a voice call, such as in situations involving an active shooter, domestic violence or a home invasion. Texting to 911 can also be used by people who lose the ability to speak because of a medical crisis. The South Dakota Department of Public Safety issued some guidelines, including first texting location and type of emergency. Photo or video texts cannot be received by dispatchers. 

Federal wildlife officials have confirmed that a gray wolf was shot and killed last fall in north-central Nebraska south of Bassett. The 81-pound male wolf was shot Nov. 16 by a rancher checking on his livestock. Wildlife officials said the wolf had coloration like a coyote, but was much larger. The rancher told authorities he had recently lost three yearling calves to what he suspected were coyote attacks. The rancher did not face prosecution since authorities found no criminal intent. The incident was only the second confirmed case of a wolf being killed in Nebraska in more than a century.

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