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Newscast 08.03.22: Nebraska firefighters containing wildfires; Winnebago issues boil water alert


Residents of Winnebago are urged to boil their water before using it for drinking or cooking after a Wednesday morning water break left the village without water.

The advisory pertains to residents inside and outside of town. Bottled water disbursement will be at the Blackhawk Center back parking lot. Water will be limited to two cases per household and will be delivered to senior citizens. Portable toilets are being delivered and will be positioned at the Blackhawk Center, the Police Station and other locations in town.

The Winnebago Comprehensive Healthcare System also will be closed because of the lack of water.

A University of Iowa law professor says there are “practical guidelines” in a bill to update how the Electoral College count for president is conducted. Radio Iowa reports that Derek Muller advised the bipartisan group of senators who developed the bill. During a Senate Rules Committee meeting today, Muller said the risks in failing to enact the Electoral Count Reform Act of 2022 are significant.

The bill would make clear the vice president’s role as congress counts the votes of state electors is merely ceremonial. Also, under current law, one senator and one representative are able to lead an objection to a state’s electoral count. The bill raises the objection threshold to one-fifth of the members of the House and the Senate.

Making changes in the 135-year-old Electoral Count Act is a priority for congressional leaders of both political parties.

An ethics board investigating a pair of complaints leveled against Gov. Kristi Noem voted to extend its probe in a meeting Wednesday.

The Argus Leader reports that the nearly 90-minute closed door session to discuss complaints against the Republican governor, which include her alleged personal use of the state airplane for political gain and allegations she interfered in her daughter's efforts to receive a real estate appraiser license, ended with the Government Accountability Board voting 3-0 to extend the investigation another 60 days.

The complaint against Noem's alleged use of the state airplane was made in 2021 by Democratic Sen. Reynold Nesiba, of Sioux Falls, according to previous reporting.

This was at least the sixth meeting since the board of retired judges began investigating the complaints in Nov. 2021 to have ended with a decision to extend.

Fire crews made substantial headway in containing a western Nebraska wildfire that earlier destroyed some homes. Ben Bohall with the the Nebraska Forest Service said this morning that officials believe the Carter Canyon Fire south of Gering was about 85% contained after being only about 30% contained going into Tuesday. Fire crews had hoped for forecasted storms to bring heavy rains to help douse the flames, but Bohall said the storms instead brought only light showers and lightning strikes that sparked two additional fires. Bohall says crews quickly extinguished the new fires while continuing to form a containment line around the wildfire, which has scorched about 25 square miles of mostly grass and timberland.

Three state agencies are developing guidelines and real-time resources for city and county officials who may have to restrict water usage during a drought emergency.

Tim Hall of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources tells Radio Iowa that the first-ever state “drought plan” would leave decisions about limiting water usage to local officials.

Iowa Drought Map July 28, 2022
Iowa Drought Map July 28, 2022

The latest information from the U.S. Drought Mitigation Center shows there are “extreme” drought conditions in four northwest Iowa counties, but water shortages haven’t dropped to the level of what’s called an “exceptional” drought.

In July, state officials hosted meetings in Sioux City, Cedar Rapids and Creston to hear from water utilities, local communities, county emergency managers and industries that use water. A final virtual meeting will be held this morning with about 70 representatives of those groups.

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