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NEWS 5.25.21: Reflecting on Floyd, Tibbetts Trial, IA Vaccination, SCCSD Graduation Change, and More

Associated Press


The head of Sioux City’s NAACP reflects on the one-year anniversary of the death of George Floyd.

“We have seen change that people are talking about, but I don’t know we can put our teeth into it, because things are still happening.”

That is Ike Rayford who is talking about incidents involving injustice against Black men across the country.

He say accountability is important and is happening in the case surrounding Officer Dereck Chauvin convicted in the murder of  George Floyd and the upcoming litigation involving the other officers in the case.

Rayford says he is satisfied with tranparancy shown by local law enforcement. The Sioux City Police Department started using body cameras late last year.

You can hear more with Rayford tomorrow at noon during The Exchange, along with Sioux City Police Chief Rex Mueller. They also address a recent incident that took place at Perkins in downtown Sioux City, that brought national attention that both say was incorrectly reported.

The defense says the man on trial for the 2018 stabbing death of a University of Iowa student is a hard-working, family-centered immigrant from Mexico who was pressured into making a false confession. Jennifer Frese, a lawyer for Cristhian Bahena Rivera, told jurors in her opening statement that their hearts should break for 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts. But she says authorities conducted an incomplete investigation into her death and were too quick to close the case. Bahena Rivera’s defense declined to give an opening statement when the trial began last week, opting to do so after prosecutors rested their case on Monday.

A teenager charged with first-degree murder and other counts in the fatal shooting of another man in downtown Sioux City has pleaded not guilty. Dwight Evans pleaded not guilty Monday to the murder count, as well as going armed with intent and two drug counts. Prosecutors say Evans shot and killed 22-year-old Martez Harrison, of Sioux City, on May 1 following Harrison's fight with Evans' friend, 20-year-old Lawrence Canady. Police say the fight occurred after Canady attacked Harrison's girlfriend. Canady earlier pleaded not guilty to willful injury and serious assault.

A former South Sioux City High School coach has pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting a 15-year-old student. The Sioux City Journal reports that 25-year-old Nathan Rogers filed a written plea on Monday to first-degree sexual assault and child abuse. Rogers was first arrested in March after he was accused of raping the girl at his home in December. The girl told investigators she had gone to Rogers' home to pick up a vaping pen. Once inside, she said, he pinned her to a couch and forcibly sexually assaulted her. Rogers has said he had consensual sex with the girl, who was too young under Iowa law to consent to sex. Rogers also faces charges in a second case involving another 15-year-old girl.

The Iowa Department of Public Health once again reported no additional deaths due to complications of COVID-19. 6,035 have died during the pandemic. There are about 170 new cases, with six more in Woodbury County.

As demand for the COVID-19 vaccine continues to drop, Iowa health officials say they’ve accepted just 12 percent of its vaccine allocation from the federal government this week. That’s just under 8 thousand doses.

17 of the state’s 99 counties accepted part of their allocation. Just one - Calhoun County - accepted its entire allocation. 

According to the New York Times, 43 percent of Iowa’s total population is fully vaccinated. Ranking it 16th in the nation.

Restaurant industry expert fewer establishes than originally thought will close due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Iowa Restaurant Association initially estimated about 1,000 Iowa bars and restaurants would close over this past year. That number is predicted to be about 700 according to Des Moines television station KCCI. 

Many of the closures are due to a change in ownership. The association credits Iowa's quick thinking to keep drive-thru and takeout options helped some businesses.

Restaurants are still trying to deal with a worker shortage.

A trade group for pork producers is asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to appeal a recent federal judge's order that struck down a federal rule allowing pork processing plants to speed up processing. The National Pork Producers Council said Tuesday that a Minnesota judge's ruling in March ordering a return to slower processing line speeds will cost farmers $80 million in reduced income. Meatpacking worker unions challenged the faster speeds, saying they put workers' health and safety at risk. The pork producers group is asking the USDA to appeal the ruling and seek a stay so six plants now operating at faster speeds may continue under the new rules finalized by former President Donald Trump's administration in 2019.

A group that advocates for people with disabilities is extending its reach specifically to Spanish speakers in the state.

Disability Rights Iowa, DRI, has started intake hours exclusively in Spanish. The advocates say this is just the first step in a long-term goal to make sure all Iowans have access to resources. Charissa Flege is a staff attorney at DRI. She says when one group has better access, it causes a ripple effect for everyone else.

 “If you look at our community as a whole, we all do better, when everybody's needs are met, when everybody has access to employment.”

Along with the exclusive phone hours, DRI is collaborating with the Office of Latino Affairs in a disability awareness campaign.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s campaign has formed a federal political action committee, indicating her growing fundraising prowess and national ambitions. The Republican insists she is focused on getting reelected as governor next year. But her nationwide fundraising network has fueled speculation that she could be eyeing a 2024 presidential bid. Last week, her campaign registered a PAC called Noem Victory Fund with the Federal Elections Commission. Campaign finance experts say the move means the PAC can distribute funds into elections beyond South Dakota and create a pot of money that could be put into a future campaign for federal office.

The Sioux City Community School District sent out updated guidelines for graduation on Saturday at the Tyson Events Center. The school district is following the bill signed into law last week that banned school districts from issuing mask mandates. The district also removed the limit on guests for the ceremonies for all three Sioux City High Schools. A news release says the district does plan to support all who choose to continue to wear masks or face coverings. A live-stream will also be available.

News release from the Sioux City Community School District:

Updates for the Sioux City Community High Schools’

Graduation Ceremonies on May 29


Sioux City, IA – Each Sioux City Community School District high school will hold a graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 29 at the Tyson Events Center. North High School will hold the ceremony at 11 am. West High School will hold the ceremony at 2:30 pm. East High School will hold the ceremony at 6 pm. The doors open to ticket holders one hour before each ceremony.

In accordance with the bill signed by Governor Kim Reynolds on May 20, the Sioux City Community School District has lifted the mask and face covering requirements for all staff and students. Therefore, masks and/or face coverings will not be required for staff, students, or guests attending our commencement ceremonies. While the Sioux City Community School District is complying with the Governor’s bill, we support all who choose to continue to wear masks or face coverings.

In light of the relaxed guidance announced most recently, the District is also removing the ticket requirement for this year’s ceremonies. We welcome all guests and the public to join us in celebrating this momentous occasion. A live stream of the event will also be offered for guests that cannot attend in-person. Visit each school’s Facebook page to access the link or log onto the District website at www.siouxcityschools.com.

During each ceremony, a professional photographer will take a portrait photo of each graduate, which will be available for graduates and families to purchase. Following each ceremony, a recessional will be held to guide patrons to an appropriate location for family and friends to gather and capture memorable photos.

Because the Tyson Events Center is secured with metal detectors, all patrons of the graduation ceremonies will be required to pass through the detectors upon entry into the event. In accordance with Tyson Events Center guidelines, and out of respect to all graduates and patrons, the following items will not be permitted:

  • Silly string
  • Cowbells
  • Air horns
  • Large bags / backpacks, coolers or boxes
  • Bottles, cans, glass containers, liquid containers or other projectiles
  • Any food product, coolers or backpacks
  • Laser devices
  • Projectiles
  • Skates, skateboards, Heelies or scooters
  • Strollers
  • Alcohol or illegal drugs
  • Tobacco of any kind
  • Animals, other than service animals
  • Signs/posters
  • Any item or action deemed to challenge public safety
  • No Weapons of any kind, including Lawful Concealable Firearms
  • Any other item deemed unacceptable by Tyson Events Center Management or the Event Producer

This year, over 900 graduates will be recognized during the three ceremonies. Names of graduates and ceremony awards will be released at a later time.
New Release from the City of Sioux City:

Community Support Still Needed for Chris Larsen Park Riverfront Development – Phase 2

An award of bid and approval of contract for the Chris Larsen Park – Riverfront Development Project Phase 2 was approved by the City Council at their May 24, 2021 meeting. Phase 2 was designed to include site preparation and demolition of existing appurtenances and partial structure removal, site grading and filling, trails, construction of three (3) river overlooks, construction of two (2) covered pavilions, a fountain area/splash pad, general utility and electrical work, new lighting and site restoration and development.

The project was bid to include a base bid and four bid alternates: Alternate #1 – Virginia Overlook, Alternate #2 – Floyd Overlook, Alternate #3 – Virginia Shelter, and Alternate #4 – Floyd Shelter. Due to the available funding on the base bid and Alternate #4 – Floyd Shelter were the only bid items approved by the City Council. Alternate #4 was selected due to the shelter location and the specified requirements of grant funding awarded towards that improvement.

The project development still needs the community’s support! Recently, the Riverfront Fundraising Committee re-launched the fundraising campaign to support the construction of Phase 2. The committee’s efforts have been successful; however, there is still a deficit of $50,000.00. Those funds are needed to fully fund the proposed base bid and Alternate #4. The committee is also working to fund the rest of the alternates.

To make a donation please visit https://www.riverfrontsiouxcity.com, a donation button is located on the website. All donations of $1,000 or more will be recognized on a donor wall at the park. Contact Matt Salvatore at 712-279-6216 for more payment options.

Completion of Phase 1 and Phase 2 is anticipated for Fall 2022.

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