NEWS 4.6.21: IA Police Force, COVID-19 Update, Woodbury County Treasurer Applicants, and More

Apr 6, 2021

Credit pxhere.com

An internal report has found that state police officers in Iowa drew their weapons and used force against suspects significantly more often in 2020 than prior years, due to a major increase in resistance.

The Iowa Department of Public Safety's annual report on force incidents found that suspects fled in vehicles and on foot from officers far more often in 2020.

It found that officers responded by drawing their handguns, shotguns and rifles 269 times in 2020, an 83% percent increase from the prior year. Officers also took or ordered suspects to the ground in dozens of more cases compared to 2019.

The Iowa Department of Public Health reports another day of no new deaths due to complications of COVID-19. There were more than 500 new cases and an increase of new patients statewide, with 18 hospitalization in Sioux City. That is the same level as yesterday locally.

More than 120,000 Nebraskans were vaccinated for the coronavirus last week, which was up from roughly 106,000 the week before. The state has now opened up vaccine eligibility to everyone age 16 and older, but health officials in Lancaster County are still prioritizing older residents at this point. More than one quarter of all Nebraskans over age 16 have been vaccinated. But the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Nebraska has increased over the past two weeks from 259.71 new cases per day on March 21 to 486.43 new cases per day on Sunday. 

South Dakota will be getting more than $16 million in federal funding to expand its coronavirus vaccination programs. The announcement from the White House Tuesday says the award from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will help support local efforts that are focused on creating greater equity and access to COVID-19 vaccines for those disproportionately affected by the virus. Goals for the funding say 75% must focus on initiatives intended to increase vaccine access among racial and ethnic minority communities. And, 60% must go to support local health departments, community-based organizations and community health centers, the Argus Leader reported.  

U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota has received a shot for the COVID-19 vaccine in Sioux Falls as part of an effort to promote widespread vaccinations in order to extinguish the pandemic. Johnson, a Republican, says, “This is how we get back to normal.” South Dakota opened vaccine eligibility to anyone 16 and older Monday, and it has recorded one of the nation’s highest rates of people fully vaccinated. But the congressman noted that as a man in his 40s, he represented a demographic that has been hesitant to get a vaccine.

A local art collective received a boost from the city of Sioux City. The city council approved a development and assessment agreement for the Art SUX Gallery. It is located in the Karlton’s building on 4th Street. The building is being renovated for an art gallery, studio space and classrooms. 

Campers looking to overnight in Iowa's state parks this year will pay more do so. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has raised camping fees at the state's parks for the first time in more than 20 years.

The move comes after the state Legislature passed a measure in 2018 allowing the department to set its own fees. Under the agency's new four-tier pricing structure, out-of-the-way parks that get fewer visitors won’t see a rate increase. But larger parks that draw more visitors see nightly fee increases from 25% to 55%, which will mean an increase of about $3 to $7 per night, depending on amenities.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources was called to the scene of a manure spill yesterday in Plymouth County. Officials say liquid manure from a cattle operation near Remsen turned the water in the nearby creek brown and killed many fish.

According to a news release, the owner of the farm Louis Pick filled a tanker with manure on Saturday night, but a valve failed. Manure flowed into a ditch and then into a tributary of Whiskey Creek.

The Woodbury County Board of Supervisors plan to interview three people for the post of county treasurer.

Michael Clayton retired in the middle of his term on Friday.

The three applicants include Tina Bertrand, a local businessperson, Mike Headed who ran for the office in 2018, and Kolby DeWitt. DeWitt works for U.S. Senator Joni Ernst and is the nephew of current Supervisor Chairman Rocky De Witt.

From summer-like temperatures to a winter storm warning, the weather in western South Dakota has been all over the map in recent days. The National Weather Service in Rapid City has issued a winter storm warning for 6 inches or more of snow Tuesday in the higher elevations of the Black Hills. Any accumulation shouldn’t be around long with temperatures in the region returning to the mid-60s by Thursday. The weather service expected snow over the Black Hills to taper off Tuesday night. While higher amounts of snow are possible near the foothills, Rapid City is expected to get anywhere from a dusting to 2 inches.

News release from the Iowa DNR:

REMSEN—Responding to a report of brown water in a creek, DNR is investigating a manure spill and fish kill that occurred about five miles southeast of Remsen.

The spill apparently started after Louis Pick, who owns LCNJ Farms, filled a tanker with manure from his confined beef operation late on Saturday evening. Pick says a valve on the tanker failed, allowing manure to run down a road ditch and into a tributary of Whiskey Creek. He discovered the spill Monday morning.

Monday, DNR staff found dead fish for several miles downstream. Pick blocked the road ditch leading to the tributary, stopping the manure release. He is working to recover pooled liquid manure remaining in the area.

The DNR will continue to monitor cleanup and will consider appropriate enforcement action. DNR fisheries is on site conducting a fish kill count.