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News 12.14.21

National Weather Service/Sioux Falls

UPDATE: Social media threats forced Sioux City schools to issue lockouts on Tuesday with two students under investigation; one even faces charges.

A spokesperson for the Sioux City Community School District says a lockout was quickly lifted for East Middle and High School. Another threat targeted West High earlier in the day.

A lockout is called when there is a perceived threat outside a building.

The Sioux City Police Department says a 14-year-old girl created a post that included a picture of a gun that said they were on their way to the school.

Investigators say the teen created the post to cause alarm but did not plan on carrying out the threat. She created a fake profile on Snapchat before making threats against East High School.

She was taken to Woodbury County Juvenile Detention and charged with a Class D Felony of making terroristic threats and harassment.

Police say another threat was made toward West High School. A 15-year-old boy who police say was responsible for the posts was also identified. The county attorney’s office is reviewing the case to see what changes, if any, will be filed.

The Police Department says they appreciate students and parents who took a proactive approach in alerting authorities right away about the social media posts.

The National Weather Service issued a high wind warning for all of Siouxland on Wednesday from noon until midnight. That means some areas could see gusts up to 70 miles per hour.

Meteorologist Brooke Hagenhoff is with the National Weather Service. She says most of the state is in a high wind warning and can expect gusts from 50 to 70 miles per hour.

Hagenhoff says there’s also a chance of severe thunderstorms.

“This is roughly going to be from 4 to 8 pm. So embedded within that window for high winds, we’ve got a small window for severe storms. The main threat with any storms that are able to develop is going to be of course gusty winds because you’ve got a thunderstorm on top of already strong winds. There is also a tornado threat with any storms that are able to develop across parts of northern and into central Iowa. ”

Hagenhoff says travelers should rethink plans for tomorrow and Iowans should secure any outdoor furniture and holiday decorations that have the potential to blow away. And to prepare for any power outages that could occur due to winds.

Former Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman says he won’t run for his old office next year, shutting the door on a possible candidacy that would have brought another well-known figure into the gubernatorial race. Heineman, a Republican and the state’s longest-serving governor, announced his decision in a message to friends. Heineman would have joined a competitive GOP primary field that includes University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen, of Columbus; Falls City business executive Charles Herbster; state Sen. Brett Lindstrom, of Omaha; former state Sen. Theresa Thibodeau, of Omaha; Breland Ridenour, an Omaha information technology manager; and Michael Connely, a Lincoln educational adviser.

A special election is underway today to fill a State Senate seat of Spirit Lake lawmaker Zach Whiting who moved to Texas.

On the ballot in District 1 that covers the Iowa Great Lakes area is Republican Dave Rowley and Mark Lemke who is a Democrat.

Polls close tonight at 8 p.m. The winner will fill the rest of Whiting’s term that ends next year.

The former director of a South Dakota appraiser agency says she felt intimidated at a meeting Gov. Kristi Noem called where state officials discussed her daughter’s application for an upgraded real estate appraiser’s license. Sherry Bren’s testimony before a joint legislative panel examining the state’s appraiser certification program is the first time that Bren has spoken in depth in public about a meeting in the governor’s mansion last year since The Associated Press first reported on it in September. The meeting occurred in July 2020, a week after the agency notified Peters that her application did not meet federal requirements and was headed for denial.

An attorney for Nebraska Rep. Jeff Fortenberry is arguing that the congressman’s prosecution on charges of making false statements to federal authorities is politically motivated. Defense attorney John Littrell says Fortenberry will argue that he’s facing a “political prosecution” for his statements to federal authorities who were investigating illegal campaign contributions from a foreign national. Prosecutors disputed the accusation, asserting that Fortenberry lied to federal officials during their investigation into $180,000 in campaign contributions to four U.S. politicians from a Nigerian billionaire of Lebanese descent.

Sioux City will give each city employee a $300 bonus using federal coronavirus relief funds.

The city council voted Monday to use 250,000 dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act to show their appreciation to workers.

The city will receive a total of 40 million dollars in coronavirus relief funds within the year.

City employees can expect their bonuses by December 17th.

The Sioux City Community School Board delivered an early Christmas gift to teachers and staff. The board voted unanimously last night to start the holiday break after classes on December 21st instead of the 22nd. That means there will be no school on the Wednesday before Christmas. District employees will still get paid. Sioux City Superintendent Paul Gausman says the district spends $750,000 a day for instruction.

The Sioux City Community School Board also voted unanimously Monday night to approve a plan to recruit and retain more substitute teachers. The district plans to hire someone full-time to work on staffing substitutes at a salary of $45,000, plus benefits. Substitutes will also get a raise as well.

Meanwhile, the International Baccalaureate program will stay in place. After listening to concerns from several citizens, a majority of the board voted to remove it from the agenda. Two schools in the district Perry Creek and Nodland/Sunnyside are working toward Baccalaureate World School designations. The program encourages critical learning skills and teaches students about different cultures.

Former Iowa state epidemiologist and medical director Dr. Caitlin Pedati has accepted a new public health job in Virginia. The Virginia Beach Department of Public Health says Pedati will serve as the coastal city’s public health director beginning Dec. 10. Pedati left the Iowa Department of Public Health in October, citing an interest in pursuing new career opportunities. She began working for IDPH in 2018. She says in a statement she's happy to return to her home state.

Some unemployed Iowans will ring in the new year with new work search requirements, Iowa Workforce Development announced Monday.

The Reemployment Case Management program, which will take effect the week of Jan. 9, will require unemployed Iowans to meet weekly with a career planner and to do at least three other “reemployment activities” each week. That includes applying for jobs, taking the Civil Service exam and attending job fairs and workshops.

“Our goal with RCM is to give unemployed workers both extra help and extra incentive to find a new career path as quickly as possible,” IWD Director Beth Townsend said. “Iowa needs its people working, and we’ll do whatever we can to help get you there.”

Not every unemployed Iowan will immediately participate in the new program. According to Monday’s release, Iowans who have been collecting unemployment for 13 weeks or more will be automatically enrolled, while union members and some seasonal workers will be excluded.

IWD will hire 18 career planners to staff the program. Those case managers will use a new software program to match individuals to job openings in the state.

Gov. Kim Reynolds first revealed in October that changes were coming for IWD’s unemployment system. She said the goal was to promote “rapid reemployment,” getting Iowans back into the workforce as soon as possible. Townsend concurred, saying unemployment benefits were not meant “to provide long-term support.”

“We are taking a holistic approach in revitalizing our reemployment process to ensure that Iowans have the access they need to match them with the successful career paths and opportunities that await them across our state,” Reynolds said Monday in a news release.

The organizers of a fundraiser that featured teachers on their hands and knees grabbing for dollar bills at a junior hockey league game in South Dakota are apologizing after the event was criticized as demeaning. The “Dash For Cash” Saturday night at the Sioux Falls Stampede arena was a competition in which 10 local teachers were selected to go out on the ice and grab as much cash as they could for school projects. The event was heavily criticized on social media. The Sioux Falls Stampede and CU Mortgage Direct, which donated the cash, together issued an apology Monday and said they would be providing an additional $15,500 to area teachers.

Liquor sales in Iowa surpassed $400 million for the first time in the 2021 fiscal year.

KCCI Television in Des Moines shows an increase of more than 13%.

The Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division’s annual report shows the state sold more than 6.5 million gallons of liquor in 2021. Once again, Black Velvet is the again the most popular brand in the state.

Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Captain Morgan Spiced Rum round out the top three. Blue Ox Vodka was the most popular Iowa brand for the third year in a row.

The 2022 Drake Relays will return to its traditional format with high school, collegiate and professional athletes participating alongside each other in an integrated four-day schedule.

The events at Drake Stadium will take place April 27-30th. The relays did get canceled in 2020 and returned last year with an altered schedule.