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NEWS 7.6.22: Ida County Home Explosion, Judge Appointed, Masks Required, Another Derecho and More

The Iowa State Fire Marshal is investigating a house explosion in Ida County.

The incident happened around 9:30 this morning, four miles north of the community of Battle Creek.

The blast destroyed the home. The local sheriff says two men and one woman were outside when first responders arrived. They went to the hospital with substantial injuries, according to the Sioux City Journal.

A lawyer from Sergeant Bluff, Iowa, has been chosen as the state’s next district court judge. Governor Kim Reynolds appointed Robert Tiefenthaler to the position that serves Judicial Election District 3B and the counties of Woodbury, Plymouth, Sioux, Monona, Ida, and Crawford. Tiefenthaler graduated from law school at the University of South Dakota. He takes over for District Court Judge Jeffrey Poulson, who retired from full-time service on the bench.

Woodbury County's old county home could soon be torn down. The Sheriff’s Department quit using the Prairie Hills building five years ago for low-risk inmates. The Woodbury County Supervisors are taking bids later this month to see how much it will cost to demolish the 100-year-old building. Supervisors have said they do not want to renovate the property.

UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s in Sioux City is once again requiring masks for patients and visitors over the age of two at all facilities. The change is effective starting tomorrow. A news release says the change comes at the recommendation of the CDC based on Woodbury Country transmission rates. UnityPoint officials say there is not an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

A spokesperson from MercyOne in Sioux City says mask mandates continue to be in effect for all MercyOne facilities where care is delivered and there are no changes at this time

Federal health officials are reporting the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Iowa has increased in the past week.

As of today (Wednesday), 190 Iowans are hospitalized with the virus. That’s up from 162 last week.

That’s as the number of new reported positive COVID-19 tests has remained mostly steady for the second week in a row.

State officials report nearly 47 hundred new cases in the past seven days. That’s a drop of about 100 reported tests from last week’s number.

The Centers for Disease Control say two Iowa counties – Hancock and Henry – have high community levels. It’s recommended people there wear masks in indoor public spaces.

According to the CDC, 62 point 4 percent of all Iowans are fully vaccinated against the virus.

The National Weather Service says last wind storm system that pushed across the Dakotas and Iowa was a derecho.

It’s the third such storm to hit the region in three straight years.

The National Weather Service, says a derecho is a long-running, straight-line wind storm associated with fast-moving severe thunderstorms.

Iowa experienced very damaging derechos in August of 2020 and in December of 2021.

Last night’s severe storms dropped inch-diameter hail in Worth County and up to four inches of rain in some areas, which prompted flash flooding, along with very strong winds. The Sioux Gateway Airport clocked winds at 64 miles per hour. Iowa's Governor issued a disaster area for four counties, including two in Siouxland: Emmet, Hancock, O'Brien, and Winnebago.

Tornado sirens sounded in a few Iowa communities last night, but no twisters have been confirmed as yet. Radio Iowa says there was an unofficial report of a twister in the Estherville area. A post on social media appears to show video of a funnel cloud that almost reaches the ground. MidAmerican Energy reported brief outages across the state, including the community of Sheldon, Iowa.

Xcel Energy says 55,000 customers lost service when a long line of severe thunderstorms rolled across South Dakota. By Wednesday morning, 90% of power lost on Tuesday has been restored by more than 600 employees and contractors working in the field.

The storms toppled trees and power lines, blocked roads and caused structural damage in Potter, Sully, and Hyde counties. There was no confirmation of a tornado in South Dakota, according to the National Weather Service Office out of Sioux Falls.

News release from Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds:

Gov. Reynolds appoints Robert Tiefenthaler as District Court Judge

DES MOINES– Gov. Kim Reynolds today announced her appointment of Robert Tiefenthaler as a district court judge in Judicial Election District 3B.

Tiefenthaler, of Sergeant Bluff, Iowa, currently practices law as a sole practitioner in Sioux City. Tiefenthaler received his undergraduate degree from the University of South Dakota and his law degree from the University of South Dakota Law School.

Tiefenthaler fills the vacancy created by the upcoming retirement of District Court Judge Jeffrey Poulson. Judicial Election District 3B includes Crawford, Ida, Monona, Plymouth, Sioux, and Woodbury counties.

Gov. Reynolds issues disaster proclamation for four counties

DES MOINES – Gov. Kim Reynolds has issued a disaster proclamation for Emmet, Hancock, O'Brien, and Winnebago counties in response to severe weather on July 5. The governor's proclamation allows state resources to be utilized to respond to, and recover from, the effects of this severe weather.

In addition, the proclamation activates the Iowa Individual Assistance Grant Program for qualifying residents, along with the Disaster Case Management Program, for the four counties. 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.

News release from UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s in Sioux City, Iowa:

UnityPoint Health – Sioux City will once again be requiring team members, patients and visitors over the age of 2 to wear a mask at all facilities, effective Thursday, July 7.

This change comes at the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) based on Woodbury Country transmission rates. While we have not seen an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations here at the hospital, we do care for individuals that are sick or have weakened immune systems and we must be more cautious when COVID-19 levels are higher in our community.

It’s important that we as a community remember the basic infection prevention strategies we’ve been practicing since the beginning of the pandemic – wash your hands, wear a mask, stay home when you’re sick, and get your appropriate vaccinations. As always, the health and safety of our patients and team members is our top priority.

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