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NEWS 6.3.21: Woodbury County Jail Funding, Gov. Reynolds Plans to Run Again, Rushmore Fireworks Ban

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Woodbury County Law Enforcement Center Authority
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State Auditor Rob Sand is alleging Governor Kim Reynolds’ appearance in COVID-19 public service announcements last year was a violation of Iowa’s self-promotion law. Reynolds denies this.

The law prohibits state officials from using public money to promote their name and image. But it contains an exception for disaster emergencies, and Iowa has been under a disaster emergency proclamation for more than a year because of the pandemic.  

Reynolds pointed to that exception in a statement, and said the law allowed her to use public funds as necessary to respond to the emergency.

In November, Reynolds and other high-profile Iowans appeared in a video PSA, urging Iowans to wear masks and wash their hands.

Sand is a Democrat, and Reynolds is a Republican. Sand has said he’s considering running for governor in 2022.

Sand has scheduled a townhall meeting for Woodbury County tomorrow. It takes place from two to three in the afternoon at Mid City Park in Sioux City. That’s located near 8th and Court Streets.

Higher than expected cost for Woodbury County’s Law Enforcement Center has members of the Woodbury Board of Supervisors looking at spending COVID-19 relief money on the project.

The Sioux City Journal reports the board moved closer yesterday to allocating $15.6 million toward the jail, but took no action.

The original estimate for the main phase of the project came in at $34 million. But, there is a 36% increase in cost.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds says she will be running for reelection in 2022.

Radio Iowa reports she was asked by reporters in Lake View yesterday if she might run for the U.S. Senate if Republican Chuck Grassley decides to not seek another term. Reynolds says “she is not leaving Iowa” and will make a formal statement

Reynolds took over as governor four years ago when Terry Branstad resigned to become U.S. Ambassador to China. In 2018, she was elected to a full, four-year term.

Several Democrats are considering a run for governor in 2022, including State Auditor Rob Sand, who won his first statewide race in 2018.

Statement from Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds:

“We’ll make a formal announcement later, but I’m not done with what I want to do. I’ve got some things I want to continue to work on. I love this state. Our family’s here. I have 11 grandchildren here and so I want to stay in the state and you can work on policy and be effective in what you’re doing.”

The United States 2nd largest meat producer in the U.S. is working to get plants back online after a cyberattack earlier this week.

The company has facilities in Council Bluffs, Marshalltown, Ottumwa.

Speaking at an event in Washington on Wednesday, Senator Chuck Grassley said he believes the U.S. should consider sanctioning Russia if they are behind the attacks.

Workers at a Sioux Falls meatpacking plant that became a coronavirus hotspot last year are considering a strike after contract negotiations between Smithfield Foods and the union have stalled. The dispute has centered on the wages for meatpacking employees, health care costs and break times. The union pointed out workers have risked their health and lives throughout the pandemic, arguing the company should do more for its employees.

A federal judge has rebuffed South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s efforts to force the National Park Service to grant the state permission to shoot fireworks from Mount Rushmore National Memorial to celebrate Independence Day this year. Noem sued the U.S. Department of Interior in an effort to reverse the decision to deny the state’s permit for the pyrotechnic display. The Republican governor successfully pushed last year for a return of the event after a decadelong hiatus. But the National Park Service denied it this year, citing safety concerns and objections from local Native American tribes.

An 18-year-old Sioux City man pleaded guilty to a lesser charge arising from a shooting death at a New Year's Eve party. Anthony Bauer pleaded guilty Wednesday to second-degree murder after he admitted that he and others fired several shots into a home where people were gathered for a New Year's Eve party. Eighteen-year-old Mia Kritis was killed and three others were injured. Bauer was originally charged with first-degree murder. Under the plea deal, he would be required to serve 35 years of a 50-year sentence before he is eligible for parole. Two brothers, Christopher and Carlos Morales, have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the case.

Only two years after historic flooding along the Missouri River ravaged parts of Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri, officials are now dealing with what's shaping up to be one of river's driest years. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Thursday that the forecast from last month hasn't changed: Significantly less water is expected to flow into the river this year because conditions remain so dry and snowpack is below normal levels. Officials say only about 69% of the normal amount of water is expected to flow into the Missouri River this year, which would be the 22nd driest year in the upper basin since 1898.

Today is Heat Awareness Day according to the National Weather Service. Last week parts of Siouxland experienced temperatures in the 30s, and even a frost advisory. That will change as we head into the weekend with the mercury expected to rise in the middle 90s.

Officials tell Radio Iowa anytime anyone is working outside, especially, when humidity rises people need to be extra cautious to avoid heat stress syndrome. And, never leave your child in a vehicle that is unattended for any length of time. Summer officially arrives on June 20th.

* News stories include information from the Associated Press and Radio Iowa. News partners of Siouxland Public Media.