NEWS 10.1.21: Harrelson Investigation, Business Index Falls, UNI Professor's Mask Fight & More

Oct 1, 2021

Credit Associated Press

Investigators searching for an Iowa boy who vanished in May days before his 11th birthday say they have found human remains matching his description in a nearby cornfield in Poweshiek County.

The remains were discovered Thursday afternoon by a farmer who was working in a field a few miles outside of Montezuma, where then 10-year-old Xavior Harrelson lived.

A spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation says  the body “appears to be that of an adolescent” and the clothing found on scene match what Xavior was wearing.

A celebration of life service is planned for tomorrow for a boy who died after falling from a float during a homecoming parade in Sloan, Iowa a week ago.

The gathering is scheduled for tomorrow at Westwood Community High School at 11 a.m. for 12-year-old Kage McDonald of Salix. A GoFundMe account for his family raised more than $31,000.

A judge has convicted a South Carolina man of stabbing his mother to death last year in Sioux City. Paul Belk was convicted of second-degree murder for the death of his mother Lisa in April of 2020. Belk had entered an insanity defense. The judge ruled that Belk was not insane when he killed his mother but his use of marijuana aggravated his mental illness.

The Iowa State Patrol will be out in full force this weekend in an effort to try and reduce the number of people dying on Iowa roads.

The patrols are planned for Saturday through Monday. The enforcement will focus on distracted driving.

A new monthly survey of business leaders in nine Midwest and Plains states shows their confidence in the economy over the next six month plummeted to its lowest level since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year. The overall index for September of the Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions released Friday dropped to 61.6 from August’s 68.9. Any score above 50 on the survey’s indexes suggests growth. But the survey's business confidence index, which looks ahead six months, fell more than 16 points to 37 from August's 53.5. The monthly survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

Iowa Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver says Republican senators haven’t made a final decision on whether to approve or reject the first set of proposed redistricting maps.

The Legislature is holdinga special session on Tuesday.

Democratic leaders say they’ll vote to approve the first set of proposed legislative and congressional district boundaries.

The maps were drawn by the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency. If the maps are rejected, the agency has 35 days to draw a second plan. 

Democratic presidential hopefuls could still have a shot at claiming one of Nebraska’s electoral votes, despite Republican dominance statewide, based on newly approved political maps. Nebraska passed congressional boundaries Thursday that would keep the Omaha-centered 2nd Congressional District competitive, even though Republicans have pushed to draw the districts in a way that would have given the party a greater advantage.

GOP lawmakers withdrew their plan after realizing they didn’t have enough support to overcome a Democratic-led filibuster. Nebraska and Maine are the only states that can split their Electoral College votes. Nebraska has done so twice. The 2nd District’s vote went to Democrats Barack Obama in 2008 and Joe Biden in 2020.

A Nebraska state lawmaker from Norfolk is self-isolating at home after he contracted the coronavirus. Sen. Mike Flood missed the final few days of the Legislature’s special session after testing positive on Monday. Flood, who received the two-dose Pfizer vaccine in April, says his symptoms started with a stuffy nose on Friday as he drove home from the Capitol and grew worse over the weekend. He said he lost his sense of smell and taste and noticed a blister on his finger. Flood says some of his symptoms have cleared, but he’s remaining at home. Flood, a former speaker of the Legislature, returned to office in 2021 after an eight-year hiatus. He previously served from 2005 to 2013.

Republican candidate for governor Charles Herbster said Thursday he was cutting ties with a longtime advisor to former President Donald Trump after he was accused of making unwanted sexual advances to a GOP donor at a fundraising event. Herbster said he has known Corey Lewandowski since 2015 and had relied on him as a senior advisor to his campaign for governor, but he is asking him to step away from that role now. Lewandowski recorded an endorsement video for the Falls City businessman three weeks ago where he praised him for always maintaining his support of Trump.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem also cut ties with Lewandowski.

The South Dakota attorney general says a request from a state lawmaker to investigate Gov. Kristi Noem’s use of the state airplane should be handled by a board that’s responsible for reviewing allegations of misconduct from state officials.

Democratic state Sen. Reynold Nesiba in February requested the attorney general to investigate whether Noem had violated state law by flying on the state airplane to events hosted by political organizations.

Noem had defended her travel to those events as part of her role as an “ambassador for the state” and said she has always used the plane according to state law. 

A University of Northern Iowa professor has been relieved of teaching duties for the rest of the semester.

KGAN Television in Cedar Rapids reports it comes after he required masks in his classroom and threatened to lower students' grades if they didn't wear one.

Biology professor Steve O'Kane's rule went against the policies put in place by the university and the Board of Regents. O'Kane says this move won't change his stance come January. 

If O'Kane fails to comply next semester, the university says further action will be taken. That could include termination.

UNI says, despite not being able to require masks, they strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated and wear masks indoors.

Some changes could be coming to the university system in South Dakota.

The South Dakota Board of Regents is considering everything from selling buildings in Sioux Falls to redefining university missions at next week’s meeting in Rapid City.

They are weighing the possibility of combining administration at all levels of operation within an institution and operations and functions across multiple institutions.

The President of Morningside University received a big honor from the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce last night.

John Reynders received the 2021 W. Edward Deming Business Leadership and Entrepreneurial Excellence Award. The Deming Award is given to one local leader each year who shows commitment to the community.

Reynders arrived at Morningside in 1999. He plans to retire next June after delaying his decision for one year due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The keynote speaker during the Chamber dinner was Melissa Stockwell.

Stockwell is top Paralympian and first U.S. female soldier to lose a limb in the Iraq War.

Her message was the power of choice.

That is Melissa Stockwell talking to reporters yesterday before her speech at the Sioux City Convention Center. A longer video can be found on the Sioux City Journal’s website, siouxcityjournal.com.

News release from Morningside University:

President Reynders receives the Deming Award from Siouxland Chamber of Commerce

Sioux City, Iowa – The 2021 W. Edwards Deming Business Leadership and Entrepreneurial Excellence Award was presented to Morningside University President John Reynders in recognition of his vision, leadership, and impact on the university and the Siouxland region.

The Deming Award is the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce’s most prestigious honor which annually recognizes one outstanding business executive and exceptional community leader in the tri-state region. Reynders joins an exclusive list of recipients who have been honored for their business leadership, entrepreneurial success, and commitment to Siouxland.

“It has been one of the greatest honors of my life serving as president of Morningside these last 22 years,” Reynders said when receiving the award at the 35th Annual Meeting of the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce. “Siouxland embraced me as one of their own when I arrived two decades ago. Today, this place is home and the people in it are family to my wife Robin and me. Success at Morningside is success for Siouxland, and I feel incredibly proud and fortunate for all that has been achieved working alongside a truly wonderful community during my tenure.”

President Reynders was named the 12th president of Morningside University in 1999, and his tenure is the longest in the history of Morningside. Reynders’ presidency ushered in a new era of success for the college, resulting in stronger enrollment, campus transformation, and a sense of community and pride at Morningside. After delaying his retirement by one year to lead the university through the COVID-19 pandemic, Reynders will retire in June 2022.

Morningside University is a private four-year liberal arts college with a beautiful 69-acre campus located in a safe and residential area in Sioux City, Iowa. Morningside's educational programming is designed to meet the needs of undergraduate, post-undergraduate, and graduate students in an increasingly fast-paced world with over 65 majors and pre-professional programs, online graduate programs in education and nursing, and online bachelor's degree completion programs. Learn more at morningside.edu.

After a year off due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the W. Edwards Deming Business Leadership and Entrepreneurial Excellence Award was, once again, presented at the 35th Annual Meeting of the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce on Thursday evening.

The 2021 award was presented to Morningside University President John Reynders in recognition of his exceptional vision, outstanding leadership, and the positive impact he has had on the local college, as well the broader Siouxland region. Returning to the Sioux City Convention Center for the first time in three years, the Siouxland Chamber's signature fundraising event drew approximately 1,000 attendees who gave Reynders a rousing reception as he took the stage to receive the Chamber's most prestigious award.

Upon receiving the large crystal plaque, Reynders stated, “It has been one of the greatest honors of my life serving as president of Morningside these last 22 years. Siouxland embraced me as one of their own when I arrived two decades ago. Today, this place is home and the people in it are family to my wife Robin and me. Success at Morningside is success for Siouxland, and I feel incredibly proud and fortunate for all that has been achieved working alongside a truly wonderful community during my tenure."

Reynders, who was named Morningside's 12th president in 1999 and after 22 years is the school's longest serving leader, delayed his planned retirement by one year to ensure steady leadership and continuity through the global COVID-19 pandemic. Noting his commitment to the college and the community, Klinger Companies, Inc. president, John Gleeson, explained, “He's truly one of the most transformational, inspirational, and bold leaders I've ever known and whether that's in education, the business community, or government, he is a truly remarkable leader. What he's done here at the college, and the impact it has on our greater community, has been remarkable and that's because of his bold leadership.”

Siouxland Chamber of Commerce president, Chris McGowan, added, “John Reynders designed, developed, and delivered the strategy that rebuilt Morningside University from the ground up, and his profoundly positive influence will be felt, both on the campus and throughout the community, for decades to come.”

The South Dakota pheasant hunting season gets underway in two weeks, and the numbers look more than promising. According to the Game, Fish and Parks Department, last year’s season was spectacular in South Dakota, with hunters harvesting over 1 million birds. And the department says 2021 is shaping up to be even better. A mild winter plus a dry spring and summer have contributed to potentially record pheasant numbers. Pheasant hunting in South Dakota is a long-standing tradition for many hunters across the country and the Midwest. KELO-TV reports some believe the state could see even more out-of-state hunters this year because of its loose pandemic rules.

The giant Powerball jackpot has grown even bigger, with officials raising the estimated payout to $635 million ahead of Saturday night’s drawing. The grand prize was raised Friday from an earlier estimate of $620 million, reflecting a surge in sales from players attracted by the potential payoff. While the jackpot increases, the chance of winning all that money remains miniscule, at one in 292.2 million. There have been 39 drawings in a row without a grand prize winner. The jackpot amount refers to the payout for winners who choose the annuity option, paid over 29 years. Most winners take cash, which for Saturday’s drawing would be an estimated $450 million. Powerball is played in 45 states plus Washington, D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.