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NEWS: 5.16.22

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Federal appeals judges have lifted a court order from September that blocked enforcement of Iowa’s ban on mask mandates in K-12 schools.

Eleven Iowa families joined disability rights groups to challenge that law. They argued local districts must be able to make decisions on masking to protect vulnerable students.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said in a 2-1 ruling that their lawsuit can continue, but the state ban on mandates should be allowed to take effect now that vaccines are widely available and omicron has displaced the delta variant of the coronavirus.

The judges also said that even with the state law in place, masks may be required under federal law in some cases to protect students with disabilities.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts once again says he plans to call a special legislative session to pass an abortion ban if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

Ricketts stated on CNN he supports a ban for all abortions, including cases of rape or incest.

Ricketts did not get enough support during this year’s Legislative session to pass an abortion ban.

A draft Supreme Court opinion leaked earlier this month revealed the court could overturn the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion across the U.S. If overturned Roe would send the issue of abortion back to the states.

An opinion is expected in June.

A jury has convicted a man of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of an Iowa State Patrol trooper last year. The jury on Monday also convicted 42-year-old Michael Lang of attempted murder and assaulting a police officer for his actions on April 9, 2021, that killed patrol Sgt. Jim Smith. He faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Smith was shot as he led a tactical team into Lang’s home to arrest him following Lang's assault of another officer during a traffic stop that day. Smith was a 27-year patrol veteran.

Local law enforcement agencies took part in an annual Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony at the law enforcement memorial in downtown Sioux City on Monday. The event pays respects to the 11 local officers and staff members who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

News release from the Sioux City Police Department:

The Sioux City Police Department held its annual awards ceremony on May 16 to recognize the accomplishments of civilians, volunteers, civilian staff, and officers during the past year.

Chief Rex Mueller, Chief of Police, presided over the ceremony and handed out awards for volunteering, lifesaving, and efforts made to improve relationships with the community and improve the department.

The following a list of the recipients and the awards.

Lifesaving – Officer Brooke Davies & Officer Brent Heald Lifesaving – Officer Donald Schroeder & Officer Mike Simons Lifesaving – Jeremy McClure, Officer Josh Fleckenstein & Officer Mackenzie Neely Lifesaving – Officer Mackenzie Neely & Officer Lucas Petersen Lifesaving – Officer Casey McBride

Community Policing – Officer Mike Koehler Community Policing – Lt. Judy Kellen, Officer Ryan Moritz & Marie Divis

Chief’s Appreciation - Gary Niles Chief’s Appreciation – Kevin Sampson Chief’s Appreciation – Dr. Ryan Meis

Achievement – Capt. Mark Kirkpatrick, Lt. Kevin Heineman, Sgt. Jay Hoogendyk & Officer Marc Hein

Chief’s Commendation – Judy Kellen & Chris Groves Chief’s Commendation – Jerry Levay

Chief’s Citation – Richard Crosby Chief’s Citation – Forde Fairchild

Nebraska has agreed to pay $479,000 to the family of a “talkative” Scottsbluff man who was strangled to death in 2017 by a fellow inmate who didn’t want a cellmate. The lawsuit filed by Terry Berry Jr.’s family against prison officials they argued were responsible for the 22-year-old’s death because they put him in the same cell as Patrick Schroeder was dismissed last week after both sides agreed to the settlement. Berry was nearing parole when he was placed with Schroeder who was serving a life sentence for killing a 75-year-old man. Schroeder later pleaded guilty to killing Berry and was sentenced to death.

The Sioux City Human Rights Commission is trying to educate tenants about their housing rights. The department is hosting a fair housing workshop Monday night to help renters advocate for themselves.

The workshop is taking place at the Urban Native Center in Sioux City from 5:30 until 8 p.m. Contact the Sioux City Human Rights Commission for more information.

The Iowa Finance Authority reports that more than 40 percent of renters spend a third of their income on housing.

Iowa Legal Aid predicts that 2022 will bring a record number of evictions. That’s partly due to a loss of COVID-19 emergency aid.
The ongoing drought in South Dakota has been hard on the state’s wildlife. The U.S. Forest Service says the grouse population in the Fort Pierre National Grassland has declined by 15% in 2022, largely because of the dry conditions. The total grouse population has averaged around 300 since the mid-1980s. Over the last twenty years, both greater prairie chicken and sharp-tailed grouse populations have primarily remained stable or have grown. Duck production is expected to decline because natural wetlands and stock ponds need water. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a little more than 76% of South Dakota is experiencing some kind of drought.

Greyhound racing in Iowa ended its 37-year run Sunday as the final races were held at the Iowa Greyhound Park in Dubuque.

Greyhound races started there in June of 1985. The Iowa legislature approved a plan seven years ago to phase out the greyhound parks in Dubuque and Council Bluffs due to the decline of the sport nationwide.

Radio Iowa reports with the Iowa Greyhound Park closing and the Southland Casino Racing track in West Memphis, Arkansas, also planning to end live races this year, that will leave just two tracks in West Virginia as the only greyhound racing tracks still operating in the United States.

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