NEWS 9.16.21: NE Hospital Concern, IA Redistricting, SCCSD Board Candidates, Storm Lake Movie & More

Sep 16, 2021

Hospital capacity remains a concern as the number of virus cases continues to rise across Nebraska.

In Lincoln, Bryan Health officials said their two hospitals are operating “at the breaking point” with large numbers of COVID-19 patients putting stress on the system.

Cases are up across the state and hospitalizations are growing. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services said 415 people were hospitalized Wednesday with the virus. That’s more than 2.5 times higher than it was in early August when 158 people were hospitalized. In late June, 28 were hospitalized statewide.

The field is set for the Sioux City Community School Board election on November 2nd. There are three open seats with nine candidates. Board President Perla Alarcon-Flory is running for re-election; Ron Colling and Jeremy Saint are not. Also, on the ballot will be Bob Michaelson, Jan George, Shaun Broyhill, Arthur Ryan Baker, Amanda Gibson, Joshua Potter, Chad Krastel, and Michael Bushby.

Iowa’s four congressional districts would include two that lean heavily toward Republicans, one that favors Democrats and one that both parties would have a chance at winning under proposed redistricting maps released Thursday by a nonpartisan agency.

The first plan would expand the fourth Congressional District that covers Siouxland from 39 to 44 counties. However, the city of Ames would be moved to a different district.

The nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency is responsible for following detailed guidelines to ensure population balance among Iowa’s congressional districts and to prevent political influence in the initial drafting of changes.

Public hearings are set for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Legislature then is scheduled to meet in special session beginning Oct. 5 to consider the first proposal

Legislative leaders of both parties said they're reviewing the maps. Lawmakers can only approve or reject the first maps without amendment.

Construction is starting on a Nebraska plant that will pretreat animal fat for eventual conversion into renewable diesel fuel. The Sioux City Journal reports that the  JST Global facility is a joint venture between Tyson Foods’ and Jacob Stern & Sons. It will be built on 6.5 acres next to Tyson’s flagship beef plant in Dakota City and will complement a similar JST plant in Houston. Construction begins this week, with plans to have it up and running by the end of 2022. It will employ 22 people, including management and operations.

South Dakota is one of four states, along with the District of Columbia, that won’t be resettling any of the nearly 37,000 Afghan evacuees who made it to the U.S. during the final days of its chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan last month.

Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota, which is the state’s refugee resettlement agency, decided not to accept any Afghans after weighing local conditions and its ability to resettle them. Many arriving from Afghanistan are currently not eligible to work or receive federal aid to help them resettle.

Iowa is expected to receive 695 Afghan evacuees from the first group of arrivals to be resettled in the United States. Nebraska is expecting about 775 evacuees.

The documentary movie “Storm Lake” officials opens tomorrow at select theatres.

The film profiles the newspaper “The Storm Lake Times” as the publisher and his family try to keep the publication alive.

Since 2004, 1800 local newspapers have gone out of business. 

Art Cullen appeared on Fresh Air Thursday afternoon and shared his insight on the importance of local journalism.

Cullen won the Pulitzer Prize in 2017 for editorial writing.

The Sioux City International Film Festival will feature “Storm Lake” later this month and the movie will appear on PBS November 15th.