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NEWS 8.9.22: Sioux City School Board Open Seat, Daycare Funding Concerns in South Dakota, and Iowa Provides More Funding for "Field of Dreams" Project

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The Sioux City School Board is accepting applications to fill the term of resigning board member Juline Albert.

The vice president of learning at Western Iowa Tech Community College resigned from her seat last week, effective immediately, citing family reasons. Albert was elected in 2019, and her term runs through next November.

At last night’s board meeting, President Dan Greenwell said the district has 30 days to fill Albert's vacancy. However, a special election could be called. People have until August 19th to submit applications and two weeks to petition for a special election.

“So the 14-day clock starts for a special citizen’s petition at that point in time. We really can’t appoint anyone before that time frame elapses.” 

Those seeking a special election need to have more than 1,800 signatures. Woodbury County Auditor Pat Gill says a special election would cost the school district around 20-to-25 thousand dollars. A special election cannot occur four weeks before or four weeks after the general election in November.

Greenwell says the board is looking for applicants with experience in education or financial matters. Applicants are asked to speak and answer questions at the Aug. 22nd meeting. The board will have until September 2nd to select someone to fill the remainder of Albert's term.

Last week Siouxland Public Media reported another board member Bob Michaelson a retired district teacher and coach, took a job as a dean with Bishop Heelan Catholic Schools. Michaelson plans to abstain from voting on issues related to Heelan.

The South Dakota Department of Social Services is holding multiple town hall meetings over the next two weeks for child care providers and families to provide input on how the state should spend $38 million in federal funds.

Roughly 35 child care providers weighed in during the first listening session held Monday evening at Southeast Technical College in Sioux Falls.

But in the first meeting, providers raised concern that the funds left over from one-time COVID-19 relief won't solve the ongoing childcare crisis statewide long-term.

Governor Reynolds has awarded the City of Dyersville 12-and-a-half million dollars in federal American Rescue Plan money to support the construction of a stadium.

The “Field of Dreams” ball field featured in the 1989 movie is a few miles outside Dyersville. A $50 million “This is Iowa Ballpark” nearby would be a permanent stadium for baseball games, concerts, and other gatherings year-round. It’s a joint project of Travel Dubuque and a new nonprofit. The federal funding, awarded through the state’s Destination Iowa program, is providing 25% of the financing for the stadium, according to radio Iowa.

A lush, green lawn is a source of pride for many Iowans, and this prolonged drought is forcing many of us to quit worrying about having the best lawn on the block — and to let the grass go dormant.

Adam Thoms, a horticulture professor at Iowa State University and a turfgrass extension specialist, tells Radio Iowa, that grass can last for 30 to 60 days with a straw-brown color and will bounce back in the fall.

News release from the Iowa Department of Transportation:

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Aug. 9, 2022 – The Iowa Transportation Commission today approved $8.3 million for the fiscal year 2023 State Aviation Program, which includes several subprograms detailed below.

The Airport Improvement Program (AIP) will fund $5.4 million for a variety of aviation safety initiatives, system planning, and air service development activities. It will also provide funding for airport development projects at 21 airports in Iowa. Eligible AIP projects include runway, taxiway, and apron development; fuel systems; navigational aids; maintenance of aviation weather systems; runway marking; windsocks; emergency operational repairs; land-use planning; air service initiatives; and the mitigation of obstruction and wildlife hazards at airports. The AIP program is funded with revenue from aircraft registration fees and aviation fuel taxes. Aviation vertical infrastructure programs will provide $2.9 million for projects at six general aviation airports and eight commercial service airports throughout Iowa. These programs provide funding for the maintenance and development of airport facilities, such as terminal buildings, maintenance facilities, and aviation hangars. Vertical infrastructure programs are funded from the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund.

Modal Transportation Bureau Director Tammy Nicholson notes that funding for the State Aviation Program has stabilized as aviation activity and resulting revenue streams have returned to pre-pandemic levels. She said, “It’s good to be back to normalized funding streams, but now we need continue to find ways to stretch funding that has lost buying power with increased costs of materials and labor.”

The State Aviation Program supplements local and federal funding sources and seeks to maintain a safe and effective statewide air transportation system. Details on the State Aviation Program funding can be viewed at https://iowadot.gov/aviation/airport-managers-and-sponsors/State-Funding/state-funding-programs

Additional information regarding aviation in Iowa is available at www.iowadot.gov/aviation.

News release from the State of Iowa:

Governor Reynolds, IEDA announce $16M in third round of Destination Iowa funding for quality of life and tourism

DES MOINES -- Today, Governor Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) announced $16 million in grant funding for the following three projects through Destination Iowa. The $100 million program, announced in April, invests in transformational attractions that will bolster the quality of life in Iowa communities and attract visitors and new residents.

The City of Dyersville has been awarded $12,500,000 toward the This is Iowa Ballpark project to create a permanent multi-use stadium capable of hosting professional baseball games, collegiate baseball tournaments, and other year-round events. The award represents 25 percent of the total project investment of $50,000,000, and will be utilized for stadium infrastructure. The stadium is part of a larger, phased project with an initial private investment of $80 million which will include nine ball fields, a hotel and event space, and an outdoor concert amphitheater.

The City of Marion has been awarded $3,000,000 toward the development of Marion’s Central Plaza into a four-season gathering space and completion of the CeMar Trail, connecting downtown Marion to Cedar Rapids. Plaza amenities include a dedicated performance space, ice skating loop, fire tables and seating, interactive play sculptures and green space additions. The award represents 40 percent of the total project investment of $9,014,000.

The Danville Railcar Project has been awarded $500,000 to purchase and restore a 1937 European Oppeln Boxcar, which will add interpretation and educational opportunities to the existing Anne Frank Pen Pal exhibit in Danville. The project also includes parking lot and accessibility improvements. The award represents 88 percent of the total project investment of $566,338.

IEDA began accepting applications on May 9 and will continue to review applications as they arrive through December 31 or until funding runs out. Applications are scored based on eligibility, completeness, and the project’s ability to meet the program goal of creating transformational tourism attractions. Cities, counties, nonprofits and other organizations can apply for Destination Iowa grants through four separate funds: Economically Significant Development, Outdoor Recreation, Tourism Attraction, and Creative Placemaking.

Funded projects must be completed by June 30, 2026. For more information on the Destination Iowa program, visit iowaeda.com/destination-iowa/. Funding for this program is being made available through the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

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