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NEWS 7.12.21: Tri-State Governors' Conference, Border Patrols, New Year's Murder Update, and More

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Governors from all three Siouxland States spent the day at the Tri-State Governors’ Conference. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem met at the Marriot Riverfront in South Sioux City.

The event hosted by the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce focused on shortage of workers in the region and addressed the impact of COVID-19.

Governor Reynolds was then scheduled to tour the Arena Sports Academy in Sioux City.

Agreements between Iowa and Texas show Iowa is donating the use of state troopers and their equipment at "no cost to Texas” to fight crime along the U.S. border with Mexico.

Despite that language, a spokesman for Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds says there still is a chance Texas could eventually pick up the costs after the mission concludes.

The agreements show Iowa troopers, tactical officers, command staff and an investigator will be part of the deployment.

Iowa officials have said previously they expect to send 25 to 30 officers from the Iowa Department of Public Safety for a two-week mission this month. The agreements show Texas and Arizona asked other states to “absorb the associated costs with this mission” for the good of the country.

Meanwhile, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts extended the deployment of 15 state patrol troopers along the U.S.-Mexico border for another two weeks.

Ricketts has said little about what duties the Nebraska troopers are performing. It also is unclear how much the mission will cost and who will cover those expenses.

The COVID-19 positivity rate in Woodbury County is 3% with a dozen cases in a week. Dakota County has a two week positivity rate of about 1.9% and five new cases during that timeframe.

A Sioux City man accused in a deadly shooting at a home in Morningside says his attorney pressured him to pleading guilty to a murder charge. The Sioux City Journal reports Anthony Bauer wants to withdraw his plea of 2nd degree murder for the shooting at a New Year’s party that killed 18-year-old Mia Kritis.

Bauer also wants his attorney replaced. Bauer is also 18-year-old and originally faced a charge of 1st degree murder. The plea was for a reduced charge of 2nd degree murder and three charges of reckless use of a firearm. The plea agreement says Baurer must serve 35 of a 50-year sentence.

Iowa voting rights activist Deidre DeJear says she is considering a run for Iowa governor. DeJear on Monday announced the formation of an exploratory committee and a tour of seven Iowa cities this week to discuss the idea with Iowans. 

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 2019 file photo, former Democratic candidate for Iowa Secretary of State Deidre DeJear speaks during a news conference, at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa. DeJear said Monday, July 12, 2021, she is considering a run for Iowa governor. DeJear, a Democrat, announced formation of an exploratory committee and a tour of seven Iowa cities this week to discuss the idea with Iowans. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
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She will begin at a Des Moines hair salon and then travel to Clinton, Davenport, Muscatine, Burlington, Fort Madison and Ottumwa.

DeJear won the Democratic nomination for Iowa secretary of state in 2018, becoming the first Black person to be nominated by a major political party for a statewide office in Iowa. She was defeated in the general election by incumbent Republican Paul Pate.

Iowa Rep. Ras Smith, also a Democrat, announced his candidacy last month. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds has not yet formally announced a run for reelection.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The storms that knocked down trees and power lines across eastern Nebraska this weekend left more people without electricity that any area storm in years. The Omaha Public Power District says the 188,000 customers that lost power after the storms Friday night and early Saturday is a larger outage than any storm since June 2008 when 156,000 customers lost electricity. By midday Sunday, less than 60,000 OPPD customers remained without power but utility officials said it could take several days to restore electricity to everyone. By comparison, the historic snowstorm that pummeled Omaha in October 1997 left 150,000 in the dark. 

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — As federal officials debate investing billions of dollars in broadband access, South Dakota is planning to invest $100 million as it struggles to extend reliable internet service to every corner of the state. Data reported by the Sioux Falls Argus Leader shows that in about half of South Dakota’s counties, broadband access is available to at least 88% of residents. Yet in about half of the state, no more than 28% of households actually have high-speed access. That helps explain why the Legislature and Gov. Kristi Noem have set aside $100 million to help the broadband industry build out its infrastructure.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Warren Buffett’s company is abandoning its purchase of a natural gas pipeline from Dominion Energy because of uncertainty about whether the deal could get regulatory approval. Berkshire Hathaway Inc. will receive a $1.3 billion refund on the proposed purchase of Questar Pipelines that was also supposed to include $430 million of Dominion’s debt when it was announced a year ago. The Richmond, Virginia-based energy company said it still plans to sell Questar and will work to find another buyer by the end of the year. Dominion also said the decision won’t affect its financial outlook.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — An Omaha, Nebraska, zoo says roughly 200 people were possibly exposed to a rabid bat. Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium on Friday said it's paying for rabies shots for 186 campers who stayed overnight at the aquarium in recent weeks. A camper woke up to a wild bat flying around her head July 4. No scratches or bites were found on her. The zoo euthanized seven wild bats found in the aquarium. One tested positive for rabies. The zoo's animal health director says people who visited the aquarium during the day shouldn't be worried because bats are nocturnal.