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Newscast 7.8.2024: South Sioux City voters to decide on fire department plan; More FEMA centers coming to flooded Northwest Iowa; Trial begins for Iowa man accused of killing policeman

South Sioux City, Nebraska
South Sioux City, Nebraska

South Sioux City residents can participate in a special election Tuesday that will decide whether a currently collected sales tax will be redirected in part to the fire department to hire more firefighters.

Polls in South Sioux City will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The city council in May put forth a proposal to add three more fire department employees contending that more workers should be added. The last time more firefighting personnel were added came in 2018.

The measure would have a half-penny sales tax be split from going all to public works infrastructure to being evenly shared with the fire department. If the proposal is defeated on Tuesday, the half-penny sales tax would not drop, it would continue to entirely go to public works, a city release specified.

Hiring three more South Sioux City firefighters would enable the department to add one more person to each of the three shifts over the course of each day.

Recovery from flooding in Siouxland has moved into a third week, following heavy rains on June 21 to 23.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will open two more Disaster Recovery Centers in Northwest Iowa this week.

Those centers will open in Estherville on Tuesday, and then in Rock Rapids on Wednesday. Last week, FEMA opened two such centers in Spencer and Rock Valley, which are two of the most impacted towns by flooding.

At those four FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers, workers can explain disaster assistance programs and help people complete or check the status of applications for federal assistance. Tiana Suber, a FEMA spokeswoman, said recovery from a natural disaster is more of a marathon than a sprint.

On Wednesday afternoon, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds will return to flooded towns, visiting Rock Valley, Spencer, and Sioux Rapids. The latter two of those were flooded by the Little Sioux River.

Seven Northwest Iowa counties have been proclaimed disaster areas, with the list including Buena Vista, Cherokee, Clay, Emmet, Lyon, O’Brien, Plymouth, and Sioux counties.

Additionally, the trial of a man accused of shooting and killing an Algona police officer began on Monday.

Kyle Ricke is charged with first-degree murder for the death of Officer Kevin Cram in September. The trial was moved from Kossuth County to Dickinson County, over concerns about finding an impartial jury. Because of flooding in the Iowa Great Lakes area, the trial was delayed for two weeks.

The estimated timeline has jury selection on Monday, with opening statements planned for Tuesday.

Investigators say Officer Cram was trying to arrest Ricke for his involvement in a harassment case when Ricke opened fire. Ricke fled the scene and was taken into custody four hours later in Minnesota.

Cram served with the Algona Police Department for eight years.

*Iowa Senate Majority Whip Waylon Brown has resigned from the Legislature. In a statement Monday morning, Brown didn’t explain why he’s leaving office on Wednesday, and ending his re-election bid after seven years in the senate.

The Republican senator from Osage narrowly defeated a primary challenger in June, in a race that was focused on proposed carbon capture pipelines. Brown’s opponent accused him of using his position as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee to block proposals that would’ve limited eminent domain use for carbon pipelines.

The Iowa Utilities Commission last month approved Summit Carbon Solutions’ request to use unwilling landowners’ land for its pipeline.

The Iowa Republican Party is expected to hold a nominating convention this summer to name a different person for the election in November.

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