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NEWS 8.30.21: IA Mask Ban Federal Inquiry, Tibbetts Sentencing, Storm Fallout, WW 2 Sailor Honored


The Education Department says it’s investigating five Republican-led states that have banned mask requirements in schools, saying the policies could amount to discrimination against students with disabilities or health conditions. The department’s office for civil rights sent letters to education chiefs in Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah. Those states have barred schools from requiring masks among students and staff, a move that the department says could prevent some students from safely attending school. It marks a sharp escalation in the Biden administration’s battle with Republican states that say wearing masks should be a personal choice.

Response from Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds:

Gov. Reynolds issues a statement in response to the Biden Administration’s latest letter 


DES MOINES – Gov. Reynolds released the following statement today in response to a new  letter we received from President Biden’s Administration:   


“Iowa was able to reopen schools safely and responsibly over a year ago. President Biden and his team know this, yet they’ve decided to pick a political fight with a handful of governors to distract from his own failures - Afghanistan, the border, inflation, and more. 


“As I’ve said all along, I believe and trust in Iowans to make the best health decisions for themselves and their families. Iowa’s democratically elected legislature endorsed that view as well when they passed a law to support a parent’s right to decide what’s best for their own children. In Iowa, we will continue to support individual liberty over government mandates.” 


A man has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in the stabbing death of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts three years ago. Judge Joel Yates sentenced Cristhian Bahena Rivera on Monday to the mandatory sentence for first-degree murder in Iowa, which doesn’t have the death penalty. The 27-year-old former dairy farm laborer has been jailed since his arrest in August 2018. The sentence caps a case that inflamed anger over illegal immigration, fueled fears about random violence against solo female runners, and took several noteworthy twists during and after Bahena Rivera’s trial in May.

Sioux City police are investigating a pickup that lost control Saturday night during heavy rain and ended up in the Missouri River.

Dive crews recovered the vehicle and remains of the driver yesterday morning.

Today, authorities identified the driver as 69-year-old Gerald Reed of Smithland.

The incident happened in Sioux City near mile marker 150.

Weather may have played a factor in the deadly incident.

Traffic deaths on roads and highways in Nebraska are down in 2021 when compared with previous years, especially fatalities involving motorcyclists.

The state recorded 126 traffic fatalities as of late last week. That is down from 154 at the same time in 2020.

Eight motorcyclists have died this year, compared to 23 at the same time last year.

The administrator for the Nebraska Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Office, says more motorcyclists are taking training classes, and he believes those classes are paying off.

A storm survey team from the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls has confirmed it was a tornado that caused damage in Lennox during the weekend.

Cleanup is underway in the community 20 miles southwest of Sioux Falls after the F1 twister struck Saturday afternoon and traveled about two miles.

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office said it received several reports of Interstate 29 being covered with debris and vehicles in the ditch. Two semis were blown over on the interstate.

Rainfall has been below normal across Iowa this year, but agricultural experts say the overall picture isn’t that bleak heading into the harvest season.

However, experts say farmers could see some significant yield losses in northwest and north-central Iowa because of too little rain; and in southeast Iowa, because of too much rain.

Iowa’s agriculture secretary says this year’s harvest could be one of extremes.

The most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report estimates that Iowa farmers will harvest a record 570 million bushels of soybeans and a healthy 2.4 billion bushels of corn.

The process is underway that could lead to the construction of the first carbon dioxide pipeline in Iowa.

A spokesperson for the Iowa Utilities Board tells Radio Iowa, Summit Carbon Solutions is considering the pipeline. The project in Iowa would be proposed to cross 30 Iowa counties, including Siouxland. Hearings for homeowners start next month.

For more information click here.

Due to recent severe weather Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds issued a disaster proclamation for 11 counties, including some spots in Siouxland.

This move paves the way for assistance and includes Emmet, Lyon, and Palo Alto counties in northwest Iowa.

News release from the state of Iowa:

Gov. Reynolds issues disaster proclamation for 11 counties

DES MOINES – Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a disaster proclamation today for 11 counties in response to recent severe weather. 

The governor's proclamation allows state resources to be utilized to respond to, and recover from, the effects of recent severe weather and activates the Iowa Individual Assistance Grant Program for qualifying residents, along with the Disaster Case Management Program, for  Allamakee, Buchanan, Cerro Gordo, Chickasaw, Clayton, Emmet, Floyd, Howard, Lyon, Palo Alto, and Winneshiek counties. Bremer and Fayette counties, which also sustained impact from the most recent severe weather, were previously included in a disaster proclamation issued by Gov. Reynolds on Aug. 26 that allows these same state resources to be utilized. 

The Iowa Individual Assistance Grant Program provides grants of up to $5,000 for households with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level for a family of three. Grants are available for home or car repairs, replacement of clothing or food, and temporary housing expenses. Original receipts are required for those seeking reimbursement for actual expenses related to storm recovery. The grant application and instructions are available on the Iowa Department of Human Services website at https://dhs.iowa.gov/disaster-assistance-programs. Potential applicants have 45 days from the date of the proclamation to submit a claim.

The Disaster Case Management Program addresses serious needs related to disaster-related hardship, injury, or adverse conditions. Disaster case managers work with clients to create a disaster recovery plan and provide guidance, advice, and referral to obtain a service or resource. There are no income eligibility requirements for this program; it closes 180 days from the date of the governor's proclamation. For information on the Disaster Case Management Program, contact your local community action association or visit www.iowacommunityaction.org.

Residents of counties impacted by the recent severe weather are asked to report damage to help local and state officials better understand the damage sustained. Damage to property, roads, utilities and other storm-related information may be reported. This information will be collected by the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and shared with local emergency management agencies. Damage may be reported at www.homelandsecurity.iowa.gov.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds ordered flags to fly at half-staff on Tuesday to honor a former Siouxland sailor killed during Pearl Harbor in World War II.

Over the weekend, dozens attended a funeral for Wesley Brown at the Little Sioux Township Cemetery in Smithland. Brown, of Oto, died at age 25 aboard the USS Oklahoma during the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Gov. Reynolds orders flags at half-staff to honor fallen Pearl Harbor sailor returning to Iowa 

    DES MOINES– Gov. Kim Reynolds has ordered all flags in Iowa to fly at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Tuesday, August 31, 2021, to honor fallen U.S. Navy Fireman 1st Class Wesley J. Brown, who was killed at Pearl Harbor during World War II.

Flags will be lowered on Tuesday August 31st, following the President Biden's Proclamation to lower flags until sunset on Monday, August 30th to honor and pay our respects to the U.S. service members and other victims killed in the terrorist attack on August 26, 2021, in Kabul, Afghanistan. 

Navy Fireman 1st Class Wesley J. Brown was assigned to the USS Oklahoma when it was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor and capsized during multiple torpedo hits on December 7, 1941. Brown was 25-years-old. Navy personnel have been identifying remains of sailors lost at Pearl Harbor.  

Brown, his mother, and sister had lived in Oto, Iowa. Brown worked for a cousin on a farm before enlisting in the U.S. Navy. He was buried in the Little Sioux Township Cemetery of Smithland, Iowa this past Saturday. 

Flags will be at half-staff on the State Capitol Building and on flag displays in the Capitol Complex. Flags will also be half-staff on all public buildings, grounds and facilities throughout the state.   

Individuals, businesses, schools, municipalities, counties and other government subdivisions are encouraged to fly the flag at half-staff for the same length of time as a sign of respect.   

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