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Newscast 5.15.2024: $20 million courthouse measure defeated in Northeast Nebraska; Dickinson County tightens rules on wind turbine placement; Queen II gets modernized ahead of Okoboji summer season

The Queen II excursion boat is shown in this publicity photo from Explore Okoboji.
The Queen II excursion boat is shown in this publicity photo from Explore Okoboji.

A proposal to build a new $20 million county department courthouse in Dixon County, Nebraska, has been strongly defeated by voters.

Tuesday was the day for primary election voting in Nebraska, and it also marked the end of three weeks of mail voting for the Dixon County Courthouse measure. Only 41.5 percent of voters supported the bond issue measure, so it went down to defeat.

The current courthouse is comprised of two aging buildings that date to 1883 and 1940, which county officials said are not ideal.

There also was a primary election to reduce the field from three to two candidates for the Nebraska Legislature District 17 seat held by the departing State Senator Joni Albrecht. The two candidates who advanced to the November general election are Mike Albrecht, the husband of Joni Albrecht and who got 40 percent of the vote, and also Glen Meyer, who had 32 percent.

Additionally in a statewide primary race in Nebraska, current U.S. Senator Pete Ricketts won a special Republican primary to advance to November. That special primary made for a rare event, as the two usually separately staggered U.S. Senate seats in the state will be on the ballot in the same year.

That was because Ricketts was appointed to the Senate seat after Ben Sasse resigned. The other U.S. Senator in Nebraska, Deb Fischer, also emerged from a second, more traditional, Republican primary election Tuesday, so in November, voters could conceivably return both Ricketts and Fischer to the Senate.

The primary elections in Iowa and South Dakota will take place on June 4.

On Wednesday, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed into law a new measure that means Iowans seeking treatment for mental health and substance use disorders will now get that care from one of seven regions.

The measure reduces the state’s current 13 mental health and disability service regions and 19 integrated provider networks that oversee substance use disorder.

Reynolds said navigating services has been too difficult for patients and providers alike.

The bill also pulls disability services out of the mental health regional system and puts it under Department of Health and Human Services Aging and Disability Services division.

In other news, the placement of wind turbines in Dickinson County in Northwest Iowa continues to be a much-debated issue, and on Tuesday the Dickinson County Board of Supervisors tightened requirements on where they could be placed.

The county supervisors approved that action, as they followed a recommendation from the county’s Planning and Zoning Commission, Explore Okoboji News reported.

People who supported new restrictions on where wind turbines could be placed cited concerns of noise, shadow flicker, and lessened property values. Those who opposed the measure said people should not have their rights as landowners curtailed.

The topic has been roundly debated in many Dickinson County meetings for the past year.

In other news in the Okoboji area, as the summer vacation season nears, a modernizing makeover of the popular Queen II large excursion boat has been completed.

The Queen II was placed back in the water of West Lake Okoboji near Arnolds Park Amusement Park on Monday, after the work. Public cruises on the boat will begin on May 25, and the amusement park will open on May 18.

The Queen II is more than 40 years old, and the work included such things as new engines, propellers, and other pieces to make it operate better.

Additionally, there is an update related to the April 26 severe storms that rocked western and central Iowa.

Eight counties have received Federal Disaster status after the damaging storms, which means FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration can help impacted people and businesses.

Among the eight counties are Harrison in Siouxland, plus Pottawattamie County, where a tornado severely damaged the small town of Minden.

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