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NEWS 6.27.23: Air Quality Alert, IA Gov. in Kosovo, broadband boost, and more

Iowa Governor Reynolds meets with the president of Kosovo
State of Iowa
Iowa Governor Reynolds meets with the president of Kosovo

Smoke from the Canadian wildfires is moving into the region, causing hazy conditions across the state. The EPA warns this is leading to unhealthy air quality, particularly in eastern Iowa. An air quality alert remains in effect until midnight tomorrow.

Sioux City Police are investigating a deadly shooting from Monday night. Thirty-six-year-old Marlon White-Eyes of Sioux City was shot near 14th and Ingleside and died at the hospital. A police spokesperson says a fight between several people took place before the shooting. Officers are still looking for the suspect.

Today marked 28 years since the disappearance of Mason City news anchor Jodi Huisentruit. She was believed to have been abducted from the parking lot of her apartment complex early in the morning in 1995 and her body has never been found.

She was legally declared dead by a Cerro Gordo County district court judge in 2001, and the case remains unsolved. Family and friends gathered in front of KIMT late this morning. They say they hope to someday find closure in the case.

Former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad recently returned to China, the country where he served as U.S. Ambassador for three years.

“We still do a significant amount of business with them,” Branstad said. “The Chinese appreciate the quality and the safety of American food. We sell them a lot of agricultural goods, but we’re very concerned about the aggressive relationship both in terms of economic and military.”

Branstad resigned as ambassador to China in the fall of 2020. A year later he formed a consulting firm that gives advice on how to conduct business in China.

Three weeks ago, Branstad was in China with two other former U.S. Ambassadors three weeks ago to launch the non-profit U.S. China Green Institute, to promote collaboration on climate solutions in both countries.

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Monday announced $42.45 billion to connect all Americans to high-speed broadband internet by the end of the decade, likening the ambitious goal to FDR’s New Deal-era rural electrification program that brought the then-modern technology to farms and rural areas across the United States.

The Iowa Capital Dispatch reports the funds, which will be distributed as grants across U.S. states and territories, are allocated under the bipartisan infrastructure law, passed in 2021, but unveiled as the kick-off for the administration’s three-week tour highlighting infrastructure projects and private sector investment across the U.S.

Iowa is set to receive $415.3 million, according to the White House. The state of Nebraska expects to receive about $405 million through the Broadband, Equity, Access, and Deployment Program.

The Iowa Association of Realtors report shows some improvement in the availability of homes in May. More on the story from Radio Iowa can be found here.

Over the upcoming holiday weekend, tens of thousands of Iowans will be declaring their independence from their houses and heading off on road trips. A spokesperson from AAA Iowa gave an update to Radio Iowa.

LSU cranked up its offense a day after it gave up the most runs ever in a College World Series game and won its first national title since 2009 with a 18-4 victory over Florida in the third and deciding game of the finals. LSU staved off elimination three times in bracket play and bounced back from a 24-4 loss in Game 2 to claim its seventh championship. That's second to Southern California's 12. The Tigers wiped out an early 2-0 deficit with a six-run second inning against Jac Caglianone and Cade Fisher.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Iowa basketball star Caitlin Clark was honored as the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year. She received the Honda Cup in a ceremony at UCLA. It’s the second consecutive year that a women’s basketball player won the award as South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston was the recipient in 2022. Overall, 17 basketball players have won the Honda Cup — the most of any sport. Clark, the AP women’s basketball Player of the Year, helped Iowa reach the national championship game for the first time in school history this past spring before the team lost to LSU. Other finalists for the award were Texas senior volleyball player Logan Eggleston and Stanford sophomore golfer Rose Zhang.

Submitted news releases:

Gov. Reynolds Completes Kosovo Leg of Trade Mission

DES MOINES – Today, Gov. Kim Reynolds completed the Kosovo leg of her trade mission and will be traveling to Israel.

While in Kosovo, Gov. Reynolds met with President Vjosa Osmani, Chairman of the Assembly of Kosovo Glauk Konjufca, and several ministers to discuss the Iowa-Kosovo Sister State Agreement, National Guard state partnerships, and opportunities for commercial partnerships. Gov. Reynolds also attended a meeting with the American Chamber of Commerce in Kosovo to present Iowa’s investment climate and encourage development of economic and commercial ties between Iowa and Kosovo. Gov. Reynolds also met with the Mayor of Pristina Përparim Rama – the Sister City of Des Moines – and received a key to the city.

Gov. Reynolds joined President Osmani to renew the Iowa-Kosovo Sister State Agreement.

“Our special relationship is built on the strong foundation laid by the highly successful security partnership between our state National Guard and the Kosovo Security Force, which continues to flourish to this day,” said Gov. Reynolds. “In addition to our security relationship, multiple educational and cultural exchanges have given your people a special place in the hearts and minds of Iowans. Fruitful as this relationship has already been, I truly believe the best is yet to come.”

Gov. Pillen Announces Broadband Director & July 6 Fly Around

LINCOLN, NE – Today, Governor Jim Pillen announced his appointment of Patrick Haggerty as the state’s first broadband director. Haggerty will lead the Nebraska Broadband Office established by Executive Order No 23-02 and LB 683 which will coordinate broadband deployment across the state. Reflective of the significance of this position for Nebraska, Governor Pillen established the Office of the Director of Broadband as part of his executive Cabinet.

“Patrick’s many years of executive level experience in the telecommunications and government relations fields uniquely positions him to lead our efforts to bring reliable and affordable high-speed internet to all Nebraskans,” said Gov. Jim Pillen. “The Broadband Office will connect Nebraska, coordinating efforts across state and federal programs to ensure there is an innovative vision and execution capable of bringing broadband services to our rural communities.”

“We are at a pivotal time, where a strategic and coordinated approach to broadband deployment is vital,” said Patrick Haggerty. “As someone who grew up in Nebraska and built a career serving rural America, I am thankful for the opportunity to return to Nebraska with a focus of bringing high-speed internet to all Nebraskans.”

Haggerty brings almost three decades of experience to this role, having served in a variety of positions with Qwest Communications, CenturyLink and Charter Communications. He most recently served as the regional senior director for State Government Affairs over Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota. Haggerty will assume his new duties July 17.

The Nebraska Broadband Office will oversee the roughly $405 million awarded to Nebraska through the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program. The office, supported by the Nebraska Department of Transportation (DOT), is currently collecting public input for the five-year action plan that will inform Nebraska’s proposal for the execution of BEAD funds.

Haggerty will join Governor Pillen and fellow directors K.C. Belitz from the Department of Economic Development (DED), and Vicki Kramer of DOT, for a fly around on July 6 to outline his administration’s approach for connecting Nebraska. Details about specific locations and times for that event will be announced soon.

The Broadband Office, along with DOT, the Nebraska Information Technology Commission (NITC) and the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) continue to host public meetings across Nebraska, to provide and seek input about the quality and availability of internet access. Several upcoming meetings remain.

Public Meetings on Broadband Expansion

Meetings are open to the public and will provide an opportunity for attendees to learn about broadband programs and buildout and provide input into digital access, affordability, and need for technical skills resources to create equitable distribution of resources. For those who are unable to attend and want to learn more about high-speed internet access in Nebraska, visit https://broadband.nebraska.gov/Home to review information and provide feedback.

The link to Executive Order No. 23-02: http://govdocs.nebraska.gov/docs/pilot/pubs/eofiles/23-02.pdf

LINCOLN, NE – Nebraskans are invited to hear from Governor Jim Pillen during a two-day fly around to central and western communities. Six stops are included in the trip, scheduled on Wednesday, June 28 and Thursday, June 29. Five of those visits will involve town hall events, during which the Governor will talk about highlights from the 2023 legislative session and take questions from attendees.

Gov. Pillen will also make remarks at the groundbreaking for a new fertilizer plant in Gothenburg.

All events are open to the public.

The schedule is as follows:

Wednesday, June 28

12:00 p.m. Phelps/Gosper Chamber of Commerce & Farm Bureau Town Hall

Sun Theater, 417 West Avenue, HOLDREGE

2:00 p.m. Groundbreaking for New Fertilizer Plant

Industrial Park Road, GOTHENBURG

5:30 p.m. Town Hall Event

Handlebend, 215 Douglas Street, O’NEILL

Thursday, June 29

9:30 a.m. Town Hall Event

Mid Plains Community College, 715 E US-20, VALENTINE

11:30 a.m. (MT) Town Hall Event

Chadron State College Student Center, 1000 Main Street, CHADRON

1:30 p.m. (MT) Town Hall Event

Driftwood Restaurant, 118 N Spruce Street, OGALLALA

Bill Peterson and Friends

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (June 27, 2023) — On Sunday, July 9, at 2:00 PM at the Betty Strong Encounter Center, Bill Peterson and friends will present some amazing fiddle tunes from the vast repertoire of Bob Walters. Admission is free with a reception to follow.

Bob Walters was the top fiddler in Nebraska for many years. He won 34 of the 38 fiddle contests that he entered. He had a fiddle program on Grand Island radio station KFAB for several years. Bill’s fiddle mentor, Dwight Lamb, listened to Bob’s program in the late 1940’s and later searched him out and learned fiddle tunes directly from Bob. Come to hear the story of Bob Walters and Dwight Lamb and how this Missouri Valley tradition is being carried on today.

The musician friends will be Bill Peterson, fiddle; John Everist, fiddle; Tom Carlson, nyckelharpa; and Tom Weisbecker, guitar. They hope to have Dwight Lamb and members of the Walters Family at the concert.

Hidden Vineyards Winery: How it Got Started

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (June 27, 2023) — The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center invites the community to a new fun event beyond our normal operating hours. On Tuesday, July 11, from 5:30PM to 6:30PM,Lea Knowles of Hidden Vineyards Winewill present on how she started her vineyard. She will share some information about the wine making process and about where to purchase her wines.

This event is the first of our series of “Tuesdays for You”. The next Tuesday event will be on July 18 featuringNoah’s Hope Animal Rescue. For a full list of events, visithttps://siouxcitylcic.com/series/tuesdays-for-you. Each event will be held from 5:30pm—6:30pm. No registration is required so stop by if you are in the neighborhood!