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NEWS 2.10.22

A standoff between Sioux City police and an armed robbery suspect forced the lockdown of Bishop Heelan High School Thursday morning.

Authorities say the suspect, who was already handcuffed in the back of a squad car, said he had a gun and planned to hurt himself.

Officers backed off and started negotiating with the man. Shots were fired, and a team moved in with chemical munitions.

The suspect, identified as 36-year-old Emanual Pleitez, broke out a window to get out of the car before turning himself in. He went to the hospital for treatment of cuts and chemical exposure.

An investigation into the incident is underway. Police chief Rex Mueller says this is an example of the dangers officers face daily, especially since the suspect was armed with a micro-sized handgun.

U.S. Representative Randy Feenstra was visiting Heelan at the start of the incident. He quickly left the school.

A bill advanced by an Iowa Senate subcommittee (SF 2198) would make it a misdemeanor for a teacher or school librarian to give a student access to a book that is considered obscene.

Melissa Peterson of the Iowa State Education Association spoke against the bill and said that’s already against Iowa law.

“We already have very clear definitions of what constitutes obscene materials. We already have severe penalties for our education professionals and employees should they happen to violate that existing standard.”

Several parents who support the bill read from books they said should be removed from schools because they include passages depicting sexual acts.

Obscenity law requires a book to be judged as a whole.

An Iowa House panel is advancing a bill (HF 2309) that would prohibit transgender girls from competing in girls’ sports.

The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union currently allows transgender girls to compete if they identify as female both at school and at home.

Supporters of the bill said in a subcommittee today (Thursday) that girls should not be asked to play against classmates who they said may have a physical advantage.

Poppy Malone of Boone goes to middle school in Ames where she competes in girls wrestling.

“Wrestling just got sanctioned for girls and I’m not going to let males come in and ruin the sport for us. We fought so hard to get girls wrestling going and it’s not going to end now. Transgender females can still do sports but with the males.”

Opponents of the bill say it goes against anti-discrimination laws and further isolates transgender students who are at a high risk of depression and suicide.

The bill now goes to the House Education committee where it must pass by the end of next week to be up for consideration this session.

A federal judge has granted a preliminary injunction against a South Dakota rule that would make the state one of the hardest places in the U.S. to get abortion pills. District Judge Karen Schreier issued a preliminary injunction against a rule pushed by Gov. Kristi Noem that would have required abortion-seekers to make three separate visits to a doctor to take abortion pills. Schreier previously approved a temporary restraining order. Women are currently able to receive both drugs in the two-dose medical abortion regimen in one visit. They can take the second medication at home.

Mask mandates have been extended in Nebraska's two largest cities because virus cases and hospitalizations remain higher than health officials want to see even though they are falling. Omaha officials announced their decision Wednesday — a day after Lancaster County officials extended their mask requirement through Feb. 25. Douglas County Health Director Lindsay Huse said the number of new COVID-19 cases remains too high to drop Omaha's mask mandate. But the latest virus numbers are encouraging. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Nebraska fell dramatically over the past two weeks, going from 4,088.57 new cases per day on Jan. 24 to 1,036.14 new cases per day on Monday.

A bill advanced by an Iowa Senate subcommittee (SF 2136) would create standards for school districts to follow if they choose to offer a class about the Bible.

Opponents of the bill say it isn’t necessary because schools can already offer classes on religion.

Senator Jeff Taylor, a Republican from Sioux Center, says he still supports the idea as a way to show schools that a class can focus on the Bible, in particular.

“Why the Bible? Well, because obviously it has a disproportionate influence in American history and American culture and in Western culture in general.”

Taylor said he would support similar proposals for classes about other religions.

Senator Herman Quirmbach of Ames, the Democrat on the panel, said if that’s the case the bill should mention other religious texts and not just the Bible.

From Radio Iowa:

The Iowa Department of Public Safety is relaunching its Missing Person Information Clearinghouse website after making some upgrades. Iowamissingpersons.com is updated daily and shows between 300 to 400 missing persons. Officials say there is no mandatory time for someone to be gone before appearing on the site. Some have been missing for decades, but authorities say it is important that no matter how long someone has been missing, it’s extremely important to keep information out there to potentially receive a break in the case.

News release from Western Iowa Tech Community College:

Western Iowa Tech Community College will continue to offer free tuition for the third year in a row thanks to the Last-Dollar Scholarship. The Last-Dollar Scholarship was first offered to WITCC students in 2019, and covers tuition and some fees for specific programs that align with high-demand jobs in Iowa. The Scholarship is available to recent Iowa high school graduates and adults ages 20 and older, who are enrolled in an eligible program, and who are attending WITCC part-time or full-time. A wide variety of programs are covered with the scholarships in areas such as Agriculture, Health Administration, Building Trades, Health, Police Science, Cyber Security, Computer Networking, Robotics, Engineering, and Culinary. Additional programs in Business, Administration, and Paralegal have been added for Fall 2022.

The Last-Dollar Scholarship is part Governor Kim Reynolds Future Ready Iowa initiative, which aims to build a pipeline of skilled workers, fill worker shortages in certain industries, and keep Iowa competitive to other states. The Last-Dollar Scholarship was first offered to WITCC students in 2019. Since then, 1,240 of students have received the scholarship and over $2.7 million in scholarships have been awarded.

WITCC student Courtney Akins says “Without seeing the scholarship commercials last summer I would have not considered enrolling in college because of the financial barrier. The scholarship has been what I owe my college success to for having been given the chance to attend college and making the most of this opportunity. I appreciated being rewarded with this financial boost and didn't want to waste it. This scholarship has awarded me with being on the Presidential Scholar's list and now giving me my certification in the HVAC program. I really enjoyed my second round of college life more than the first time and will forever be indebted.”

For more information about the Last-Dollar Scholarship, contact Andrea Rohlena at andrea.rohlena@witcc.edu.