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NEWS 6.30.21: Godfrey Verdict Overturned, Delta Variant in SD, Local Health Officials Honored

Siouxland Public Media/Sheila Brummer

The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad did not illegally discriminate or retaliate against a gay state official — overturning a landmark $1.5 million jury verdict. The court on Wednesday found a lack of evidence to show Branstad, a former U.S. ambassador to China, discriminated against then-Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner Chris Godfrey because of his sexual orientation. Godfrey, a native of Sioux City, was widely known as openly gay, but justices say there is no proof Branstad was aware of Godfrey’s sexual orientation before asking him to resign and slashing his salary when Godfrey refused. The ruling overturned a 2019 verdict that found Branstad, a Republican, violated the Iowa Civil Rights Act. Jurors had awarded Godfrey, a Democrat, $1.5 million in damages. Godfrey currently works for the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, D.C. as a chief judge working on federal workers’ compensation disputes.  

The Des Moines Register reported the taxpayers of Iowa spent almost $2.5 million on legal fees for the defense.  Godfrey’s attorney also asked a judge to cover $3.5 million in fees and costs.  The state of Iowa has asked the court for a new trial in the case.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem says she will use a donation from a Republican donor to fund a deployment of up to 50 South Dakota National Guard troops to the U.S. border with Mexico. Noem joins a growing list of Republican governors sending law enforcement officers to Texas. Noem's spokesman says private funding for the deployment will alleviate taxpayer costs. But Democratic state Sen. Reynold Nesiba warns that it sets a dangerous precedent. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he has authorized a 90-day deployment of up to 40 National Guard troops to the border. His office says that deployment is not privately funded.

The South Dakota Department of Health confirms that the Delta variant of COVID-19 has been found in South Dakota.

The case came from Edmunds County in northeast South Dakota.

The Iowa Department of Public Heath shows one more death due to complications of COVID-19, and 210 new cases. The state coronavirus website shows 6,134 deaths since the start of the pandemic with 230 deaths in Woodbury County.

The leaders of Siouxland District Health will be the marshals for tomorrow night’s Mardi Gras Parade. The announcement was made this morning for the event that kicks off Saturday in the Park festivities. Kevin Grieme has been director of the Siouxland District Health Department for a decade. Deputy Director Tyler Brock has been with the health department since 1997. A news release says the men were chose to “celebrate the hard work and dedication the entire Siouxland District Health Department has provide for our community during the pandemic.” The parade starts at 6 p.m. tomorrow in downtown Sioux City.


News release about the Mardi Gras Parade:

The Mardi Gras Parade returns to Downtown Sioux City this Thursday, July 1st. The Tyson Events Center and the City of Sioux City have announced Kevin Grieme and Tyler Brock of the Siouxland District Health Department as Grand Parade Marshals.

“We are thrilled to welcome Kevin and Tyler as this year’s Mardi Gras Parade Marshals,” said Spectra’s Tim Savona, General Manager of the Tyson Events Center and Orpheum Theatre. “This is a small token of our appreciation to celebrate the hard work and dedication the entire Siouxland District Health Department has provided for our community during the pandemic.”

Kevin Grieme has served as the Director of Siouxland District Health Department for 10 years. When hired, his Board of Health was looking for an individual that would be able to focus on creating partnerships, with Kevin's first position in public health being a regional emergency response coordinator that supported emergency planning across a 16-county territory in Northwest Iowa, he was an excellent fit for the Director's role. When the pandemic hit, it was time to activate the partnerships that had been cultivated. The response that was mounted reflects the strength and impact that true health care coalitions can have during challenging times.

Tyler Brock has been on staff at Siouxland District Health Department in Sioux City, IA since 1997, serving most recently as the Deputy Director. He has filled public health roles that include disease investigation and epidemiology, clinical and environmental laboratory duties, sexually transmitted disease prevention, and emergency preparedness.

Bring your family and friends as we kickoff The Saturday In The Park Festival weekend. The 2021 Sioux City Mardi Gras Parade will take place on Thursday, July 1st beginning at 6:00 PM.

The Parade will start at the Tyson Events Center, making a left out of the parking lot onto Pierce Street. Continuing on Pierce Street route will turn right on 3rd Street ending on Iowa Street. Tens of thousands of beads will be thrown into the crowds that line the streets - get your spot early!

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A state of emergency order signed by South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem will allow producers to begin mowing ditches for hay. A Department of Transportation rule prohibits mowing ditches in eastern South Dakota until mid-summer primarily to provide cover for pheasant chicks. Noem says the mild winter and early spring has put most of the pheasant hatch “well behind us" and reports for the upcoming pheasant season “look fantastic.” Noem says the order signed Tuesday will allow producers to immediately gain access to hay for their livestock.

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