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Newscast 5.13.2024: South Sioux City Library will seek to raise $1 million; Drought eases in Iowa after wet April; Lawsuit against Gov. Reynolds dismissed

South Sioux City Library facility (SSC Website image)
South Sioux City Library facility (SSC Website image)

Officials with the South Sioux City Library are expected to embark on a $1 million fundraising campaign to modernize the library facility.

The South Sioux City Council members in their Monday meeting will hear details about the upcoming fundraising campaign. Library Director Cicely Douglas told Siouxland Public Media News this will be the first large scale library fundraiser, which will likely begin in 2025.

The library opened in 2004, and Douglas said the library changes will make it even better for patrons.

“Over the last few years we have seen an increase in library usage and individual interests. We are proud to provide a space in the community for gathering, teaching, education, and entertainment. As the community continues to grow, we seek to accommodate the public’s increasing needs,” she said.

Additionally, a federal judge has dismissed a class-action lawsuit against Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds that argued her decision to terminate enhanced pandemic-related unemployment benefits early was unconstitutional.

The plaintiffs claimed they were wrongly denied federal unemployment money when Reynolds ended the extra payments in June 2021 instead of waiting for the September expiration date.

U.S. District Court Judge Stephanie Rose wrote in her order filed last week that the federal CARES Act allowed states to end the benefits with 30 days’ notice. Rose wrote there’s nothing to support the plaintiffs’ claim that ending the benefits was an illegal taking of their property.

Reynolds in a statement said the federal government tried to pay able-bodied people to stay home during the pandemic, while her goal was, quote, “getting people back to work when it was desperately needed.”

In other news, continuing rains in April have improved overall drought conditions across Iowa, leading to increased stream and soil moisture levels, according to a recap from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

April’s preliminary statewide precipitation was 4.16 inches, or one-half inch above normal. At the end of April, Iowa’s Drought Plan showed the areas of northeast and southern Iowa continuing to carry a "drought watch" designation. But for the first time in nearly two years, no areas in Iowa carry an "extreme drought" designation, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

IDNR’s Hydrology Resources Coordinator Tim Hall said the trend of wetter months in encouraging, but what happens the next few months remains critical to long-term water resources in Iowa.

Five of the last seven months have been wetter than normal. However, some parts of Iowa have precipitation deficits nearly 7 inches below normal, and the state has now seen 209 consecutive weeks of dryness or drought conditions.