Siouxland Public Media News

Your daily dose of local news.

Ways to Connect

Siouxland Public Media/Sheila Brummer

Sioux City is transforming into an oasis for local artists. Later this afternoon a grand opening takes place for Art SUX one of the venues taking part in Siouxland Public Media's "Art Walk". Local artist and member of the Art SUX Gallery Betty Skewis-Arnett chats with Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer on the emerging art scene in Siouxland.

Abby Finkenauer/Facebook

Iowa Democrat Abby Finkenauer is running for Republican Chuck Grassley’s U.S. Senate seat. The one-term former congresswoman hopes her blue-collar credentials will propel her forward in a state that has grown more conservative over the years.

The 32-year-old offers a stark contrast to the 87-year-old Grassley, who was elected to his first Senate term eight years before Finkenauer was born.

The week on The Exchange, we tell stories of people and groups who have searched from their place in the world and found it.  

But first, we preview RAGBRAI as it returns to the road after being sidelined last year by the coronavirus pandemic.  This year, the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa begins in Le Mars.  We talk with one of the local organizers. Mitch Christoffel helps chair the local committee.

pxhere.com

The first-degree murder trial of 36-year-old Roderick Banks started Wednesday in Woodbury County District Court.

Banks is accused of the shooting death of Solomon Blackbird near 26th and Douglas late last year.

Authorities say the motive for the shooting might be related to a drug deal between two men.

Banks was arrested in Alabama and sent back to Sioux City for trial.

Siouxland District Health

Local health officials are making a push for more people 12-years and older to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Siouxland District Health says cases are going up around the country, especially in areas with lower vaccination rates. A post on social media says the vaccine is free and easily available in Siouxland. People can call their local health departments, pharmacies, or doctors to set up an appointment.

Meanwhile, UnityPoint Health in Des Moines reports 95% to 99% of their COVID-19 patients are not vaccinated.

Facebook

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem announces the state finished the last fiscal year with an $86 million surplus. The Republican governor says tax revenue hit a 30-year high and finished $62 million over what was estimated. The state also spent about $24 million less than what was budgeted for the fiscal year that ended on June 30. Noem credits the state’s “respect for freedom and our continued emphasis on fiscal responsibility” for the financial windfall. Federal coronavirus relief funds sent both to taxpayers and state government also fueled the surplus.

304 News

Republican US Senator Joni Ernst stopped in Northwest Iowa today to meet with law enforcement officials. Ernst toured the Le Mars law enforcement center and talked with officers about increasing crime and a lack of resources to deal with it.  Ernst said there has been more violence in nearby large cities in Minnesota and Illinois, and it is now spreading to Iowa.

Some high profile Republicans who may run for president are in Des Moines today (Friday) where they’ll speak at a gathering of Christian conservatives.  Two members of the Trump White House will address The Family Leader’s annual Leadership Summit: former Vice President Mike Pence and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem will also be there.

071521 404

A prosecutor today has rejected claims that the killing of  a University of Iowa student could be connected to sex trafficking and other abductions.  Mollie Tibbetts disappeared and was found murdered in rural eastern Iowa in 2018.  Cristhian Bahena Rivera was convicted for the murder earlier this year. The 27-year-old dairy farm worker testified that two masked men killed Tibbetts but forced him to dispose of her body.

071521 304

Officials say no deaths or injuries have been reported from tornadoes that tore through central and eastern Iowa, but many have found damaged buildings, shredded trees and overturned vehicles in the path of the storms. The National Weather Service says law enforcement and trained spotters confirmed tornadoes  yesterday afternoon and night in mostly rural, uninhabited areas. But one that touched down near Lake City in north-central Iowa damaged a home, flipped a truck and trailer and flattened nearby corn crops. 

National Weather Service/Sioux Falls

Parts of Siouxland under a tornado watch until 9 tonight, including Woodbury, Monona, Ida, Cherokee, Buena Vista, Clay, Emmet, and Pocahontas.

The National Weather Service issued tornado warnings for several counties across central Iowa, including Calhoun and Carroll just outside of Siouxland.

A judge has agreed to delay the sentencing of the man convicted of killing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts after his lawyers said they need time to investigate new information implicating other people.

Sioux City Democrat  J.D. Scholten says today he won’t run for office anytime soon. In fact, today Scholten is announcing he will take a job with a progressive group that seeks rural votes in battleground states. He'll be taking over as executive director of RuralVote.org, a super PAC focused on improving Democrats' chances in rural America.

News Noon 071321 

Last night, some Siouxland residents once again asked Sioux City Council members to ban fireworks within city limits. Councilman Alex Watters said he "battles back and forth" about what can be done regarding the discharge of fireworks. He said he isn't certain that an all-out ban would do anything. Watters floated the idea of having "fireworks zones" located in large parking lots, according to the Sioux City Journal. 

The governors of tri-state region talked about the need to train workers and fill jobs in the post-pandemic era, today at Tri-State Governors' Conference. the conference in the South Sioux City Marriot on the Riverfront. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem talked about possible ways to fill high-demand jobs.

Governor Ricketts said Nebraska is focusing on career pipeline that starts in middle school, to a career academy and post-secondary education the apprenticeship program.

Siouxland Public Media

Governors from all three Siouxland States spent the day at the Tri-State Governors’ Conference. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem met at the Marriot Riverfront in South Sioux City.

The event hosted by the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce focused on shortage of workers in the region and addressed the impact of COVID-19.

Governor Reynolds was then scheduled to tour the Arena Sports Academy in Sioux City.

FBI

The FBI says Nebraska and Iowa have seen a rise in hate crimes in recent years, most of which have been committed on the basis of race and ethnicity.

The special agent in charge at the FBI's Omaha field office says Nebraska and Iowa have seen a 21% increase in the reporting of hate crimes in recent years.

Federal officials define a hate crime as a criminal offense, such as assault or arson, with an added element of bias against the intended target's race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender or gender identity.

Cities across Iowa will have a month to decide what to do with a windfall of federal money coming their way over the next two years, thanks to the pandemic relief bill passed by Congress in March.

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced today that 930 cities with less than 50,000 population are eligible for $220 million distributed by the Iowa Department of Management. The cities can use it for water, sewer, and broadband investments, enhance pandemic preparedness, or launch programs that directly support workers and small businesses.

The money is in addition to the $1.5 billion the state receives over the next two years from the American Rescue Plan Act. A dozen larger cities, including Sioux City and Council Bluffs, are drawing down their own allocation of $339 million in federal money, according to the National League of Cities.

CDC

A top doctor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center warns about a new surge of COVID-19 cases with younger people.

The state recorded more than 450 cases last week, an increase of 55% from the week before.

Dr. James Lawler says the increase isn’t a surprise given the presence of the highly contagious delta variant and the number of unvaccinated people in the state.

He also told an Omaha TV station the summer could get “ugly” for people in the 20-to-50 year age group.

He predicted the worst part of the pandemic is coming for this younger demographic.

After three public hearings, this week the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors this week approve a new commercial wind farm ordinance that does not exclude the Loess Hills area. 

Board member Mark Monson had requested that the Loess Hills be a restricted area and that change was made after the first hearing. That restriction was removed Tuesday night.

Several community members said restricting wind farm construction would violate land owner’s rights. 

July 2, 2021
Siouxland Public Media/Sheila Brummer

Thousands of people gathered at Grandview Park in Sioux City, Iowa on July 2-3, 2021 to watch more than 20 artists on two different stages after a year off due to COVID-19.

Saturday in the Park brought a chance for performers to finally play in front of a live audience after the intensity of the pandemic.

Veterans and new fans alike enjoyed fun under a warm sun with diverse music, unity, and solidarity.

The number of Iowans hospitalized with COVID-19 is ticking up, though the raw numbers are close to what they were at the start of pandemic last year. That uptick in hospitalizations comes as public health officials warn that the more transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus is spreading in Iowa, according to the Des Moines Register.

The Iowa Department of Public Health said that 85 people were hospitalized in Iowa with the disease today, after briefly falling to 50 two weeks before that. 

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he will work with his colleagues to restore the 15% ethanol fuel blend for sale year-round. On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed the rule enacted by the EPA that allowed E-15 to be sold between June and September, a move that was encouraged by then-President Trump. 

 The decision to allow E-15 to be sold year-round put that blend on a par with the popular 10-percent ethanol blend, which has been available for sale all year for decades. Grassley says he'll push for a legislative solution to the issue to give some certainty to farmers and producers as he says the court ruling is a "big hit" to ethanol. "

State officials say Adventureland’s Raging River Ride has received five years of satisfactory inspection reports. An 11-year old boy died after a fatal accident this weekend on the ride. The Raging River ride was inspected last Friday. The inspector found “no code violations at this time,” according to a notation at the bottom of the inspection report. The father of 11-year old Michael Jaramillo told ABC News that his son and other family members were trapped by the ride’s seat belts when the boat carrying them flipped on the Raging River ride. Police say Michael Jaramillo died Sunday from his injuries, and three others were injured. Michael’s older brother is hospitalized in critical condition. The is shut down, and Adventureland says the family-owned park is cooperating with investigators.

Despite a bit of rain, Iowa's drought worsened in the past month, according to the director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Midwest Climate Hub. Dennis Todey says prospects for the rest of the summer are hard to forecast. At best, Iowa would get enough rain to hold off an even worse drought, he predicted. Todey says the drought is the worst in 20 years, and the long-term forecasts don't call for much rain in the Midwest in the next week. 

Siouxland Public Media/Sheila Brummer

The Mardi Gras Parade kicked off Saturday in the Park festivities in downtown Sioux city last night. SPM's Sheila Brummer shares a few highlights.

The grand marshals of the parade were Siouxland District Health’s Kevin Grieme and Tyler Brock. They were honored for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Saturday in the Park starts tonight at 5 p.m. at Grandview Park and continues Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. 

U.S. Drought Monitor

Even with the deluges of rain, hail, and thunderstorms that brought severe flash flooding to parts of Iowa, June wrapped up with below-normal rainfall statewide.

State experts tell Radio Iowa the first half of the month was in the top ten for warmth.

The second half of June brought storms and plenty of them for other regions of the state, with up to 11 inches in southeastern Iowa.

pxhere.com

Iowa’s new permit-less gun law is in effect as of today. Iowans no longer need a permit to carry or purchase a handgun.

Sgt. Jeremy McClure is a spokesperson for the Sioux City Police Department.

“What hasn’t changed though is when you are carrying a concealed weapon, you can’t take them into schools, or certain businesses. And, you can’t have a gun if you are intoxicated. So, it’s important people know those laws before they carry a concealed weapon in Iowa.”

Nebraska plans to stop reporting coronavirus numbers online after Wednesday. The state Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday that it plans to retire the online dashboard that it has used to report statistics on the coronavirus pandemic for more than a year. The current state virus emergency also is set to expire on Wednesday, and along with that Nebraska will eliminate the last few social distancing guidelines that remain in place. As of its final update Wednesday, the state had reported 224,488 virus cases and 2,261 deaths linked to COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

Siouxland Public Media/Sheila Brummer

The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad did not illegally discriminate or retaliate against a gay state official — overturning a landmark $1.5 million jury verdict. The court on Wednesday found a lack of evidence to show Branstad, a former U.S. ambassador to China, discriminated against then-Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner Chris Godfrey because of his sexual orientation.

Siouxland News - CBS 14 | FOX 44

Gun deaths have been surging in Iowa as a law is set to go into effect that will allow people to more easily buy handguns and carry them in public without training or a permit. The Iowa Department of Public Health said Tuesday that a record 353 people died from gunshot wounds in Iowa in 2020, a 23% increase from the previous high in 2019. This year saw 85 firearm homicides, an 80% increase. Suicides still made up three of every four gun deaths in the state.

Pages