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Newscast 01.26.24: ALCU asks lawmakers to keep transgender protections in the Iowa Civil Rights Act; 1-80 project near Kearney, NE gets $20 million dollar federal grant

I-80 near Kearney, Nebraska
I-80 near Kearney, Nebraska

Today the ACLU of Iowa issued a statement today encouraging Iowa legislators to halt consideration of removing transgender protections from the Iowa Civil Rights Act.

The Iowa Legislature
The Iowa Legislature

Representative Steven Holt, a Republican from Denison, has scheduled a subcommittee hearing on House File 2082. The bill would remove gender identity protections from the civil rights law. It would also add gender dysphoria "or any condition related to a gender identity disorder" to the definition of a disability that would be protected under the law. The legislation will be considered by state lawmakers next week at the Iowa Capitol.


Nebraska Governor Jim Pillen is touting the receipt of a $21.2 million Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant for a construction project on Interstate 80 (I-80). It is located in Buffalo County between Odessa and Kearney.

Pillen says the grant will help maximize state funds to get the project going in an area with vital manufacturing and agricultural industries.

I-80 is a main freight corridor, with the section in Buffalo County supporting over 22,000 vehicles a day, 38% of which are heavy trucks. By 2045, it’s anticipated the section will see a 39% increase in daily traffic volume, making the replacement project crucial to the area’s freight economy.

This Odessa to Kearney project is estimated to cost $35.3 million, with the remaining 40 percent of the project being funded by a 50/50 split between National Highway Performance Program funding through the Federal Highway Administration and state transportation funds.

The project will also include the removal and replacement of a rural two-lane bridge over I-80, needed for local connectivity and farm-to-market accessibility. Construction is anticipated to begin in spring of 2026 and be completed by the end of 2027.

Currently, the state highway system carries 63% of all vehicle miles traveled in the state and 83% of heavy truck traffic. By 2045, Nebraska’s transportation system will carry more than 623 million tons of freight annually, valued at $404 billion.


Siouxland has left behind two challenging weeks of heavy snow and dangerous wind chill temperatures, and now with warmer temperatures comes a slew of potholes.
The Iowa Department of Transportation in a release told drivers to be aware that potholes are likely on the way.

Potholes are mostly caused by moisture getting into or underneath the pavement. During freeze and thaw periods, moisture causes the asphalt or concrete to shift, buckle, or break. When vehicles drive over those weakened areas, potholes get created.

IDOT maintenance crews, as well as city and county crews, are patching potholes as quickly as they can using cold-mix asphalt, which isn't always a long term repair. Iowans are encouraged to contact city administration or county engineer offices to report the holes, so they can be addressed.

New donation of instruments at the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, South Dakota
The National Music Museum
New donation of instruments at the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, South Dakota

The University of South Dakota has a massive museum holding some of the world’s finest musical instruments, and on Friday some very notable new pieces were added.
The National Music Museum in Vermillion, South Dakota, welcomed a highly valuable stringed instrument collection once owned by the late cellist and collector Robert Cancelosi.

National Music Museum Director Dwight Vaught in a release said the new addition is highly significant, although he declined to provide a dollar amount. Five cellos, 27 bows, archival materials, and a Hawaiian guitar that Cancelosi used as a child are now at NMM. Vaught said they are not only museum objects, but also playable, which he called a game-changer for students in the USD College of Fine Arts.

The cellos date to the 1600’s and 1700’s. One of the cellos will be played during the Rawlins Piano Trio concert on Sunday, Jan. 28, afternoon as part of an ongoing NMM concert series.

The museum now has more than 14,000 items in its holdings in the USD facility.