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NEWS 6.17.21: Houlihan Allowed In U.S. Trials, "Back the Blue" Law, Juneteenth Reaction, & More

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Banned runner and Sioux City native Shelby Houlihan is in the lineup and will be allowed to run at U.S. Olympic track trials while any appeals she files are pending. The American record holder at 1,500 and 5,000 meters, Houlihan is on the start list for Friday’s preliminaries at both distances. Though those list were initially produced before word of her four-year doping ban went public, USA Track and Field said there were no plans to take her off. Earlier this week, the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld Houlihan’s four-year ban after she tested positive for trace amounts of the performance enhancer nandrolone. She blamed a positive test on a pork burrito she ate 10 hours before a test in December.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed the so-called "Back the Blue" bill into law Thursday morning. 

Reynolds held a signing ceremony at the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy in Johnston, surrounded by members of law enforcement.  

Supporters say the law is about public safety. 

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Credit Kelsey Kremer/The Des Moines Register via AP

Those against it say the bill known as Senate File 342 does the opposite.

The measure makes rioting a felony instead of a misdemeanor and increases penalties for blocking streets and highways. It also makes it harder to sue and win lawsuits against police.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds visited the site of a devasting fire that destroyed a world-known pipe organ company. The State Fire Marshal says a malfunctioning fan ignited saw dust at Dobson Pipe Organ Builders in Lake City on Tuesday. The company was founded in 1974 and provide products for churches, schools, and customers from around the world.

Reynolds also plans to end her public appearances today at the Clay County Heritage Center in Spencer at 4:20 this afternoon.

Democratic candidate for governor Ras Smith will be in Sioux City tonight. The 33-year-old is a three-term 

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Credit Woodbury County Democratic Party

state representative from Waterloo. He announced his candidacy on Tuesday. He gained prominence by helping broker a police accountability law that passed unanimously after the murder of George Floyd.  Since then, he has been critical of many of the Republican-controlled Legislature's actions that he says stand in contrast to the unity shown last year over police accountability. 

Smith will be at Jackson Street Brewing from five to seven tonight.

News release from the President of the NAACP Sioux City Chapter Ike Rayford:

(Sioux City) The Sioux City Chapter of the National Association For The Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is proud to observe and celebrate Juneteenth this week. In recognition of observances all over the US and beyond we pay tribute to the journey and achievement of African Americans – from a horrific period of sanctioned enslavement to the pinnacle of human endeavors. It is a story of pride, resilience and determination that will always be of historical and spiritual importance, as it serves us well to understand that together, we can overcome all obstacles in our past.

We are especially thrilled and excited at the signing of the new law to officially recognize Juneteenth as a Federal Holiday. We are encouraged by the signing and look forward to more common-sense laws that reflect America in its entirety!

June 19th 1865 was the day, word reached the enslaved in Galveston, TX that their emancipation had been made formal, though it had been so since Januray 1, 1863. At which point, everything changed...and as we continue to change, striving for a day when equality is the norm not the exception.

We have the opportunity to look back and pay homage to those who have gone before us, those that have paved the road to freedom, many with their lives. We stand on their shoulders. We as a collective, from all walks of life, are a part of this victory. We celebrate Freedom!

About The NAACP:
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our six “Game Changer” issue areas by visiting NAACP.org. The Sioux City Chapter of the NAACP traces its roots back to 1937 and has been consistently active in the Siouxland community since 1947.

Almost 40% of the state of Iowa faces severe drought conditions according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor released today. A majority of northern Iowa, including portions of Siouxland are included. This was an increase from last week’s report. Overall about three-fourths of the full state faces either moderate or severe drought. Woodbury County is seeing moderate drought conditions.

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Credit U.S. Drought Monitor

A judge fined a northwest Iowa man $80,000 for burning thousands of railroad ties despite being told the burning was illegal. The Iowa Attorney General's office said Wednesday that John Goldsmith, of Sergeant Bluff, was also ordered not to violate state solid waste disposal and open burning regulations in the future. The Department of Natural Resources said Goldsmith called the agency in August 2018 and said he planned to burn some of an estimated 30,000 railroad ties on his property because it would cost too much to properly dispose of them. He also said he had barricaded his property so firefighters could not put out the fire, which burned for four days.

Residents in Woodbury County will get to help decide the future of wind energy projects after the board of supervisors set three public hearing. The gatherings will provide input on a proposed commercial wind energy ordinance.

The hearings are scheduled for the next three Tuesday afternoons at the board of supervisors meeting room at the Woodbury County Courthouse.

The director of rural economic development David Gleiser tells the Sioux City Journal his staff worked to draft the proposed ordinance after researching other counties across the state. 

A proposal outlines protected area where turbines can’t be built, including 600 feet of public conservation areas, cemeteries, homes, and city limits.

Supervisor Mark Monson says the Loess Hills should be added to the list.

Gleiser says due to wind patterns the windmills would most likely end up in the northern portion of Woodbury County.

A new monthly survey of bankers suggests strong growth continues across rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states. The overall Rural Mainstreet economic index slipped in to 70 June from May’s record high of 78.8, but it remained in positive territory above 50. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss said the number of nonfarm jobs across the region remains 2% below where it was before the pandemic began, but three states — Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska — reported employment levels above where they were before the virus emerged last year.  Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.

All Classes are back on at Des Moines Area Community College on-line after a two-week disruption caused by a ransomware attack. DMACC canceled online classes on June 3 and wound up closing the entire campus on June 4 due to the security breach. In-person classes resumed June 9.

Radio Iowa reports the state of Iowa did not pay any ransom to the hackers.

The Iowa Department of Public Health added six more deaths due to complications of COVID-19 and 74 new cases for a total of 6,109 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

There are 75 hospitalized patients with the virus in the state.

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