Siouxland Public Media/Sheila Brummer

A groundbreaking for the new Woodbury County Law Enforcement Center took place Wednesday, September 15th at the construction site on 28th Street on the northside of Sioux City.

Voters approved spending more than $50 million for the project. Officials say the cost rose to $65 million. The county board plans to spend $15.6 million in Federal COVID-19 relief money to cover the shortfall. 

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.

Sioux City Community Schools

The Sioux City Community Schools District’s new virtual learning academy the “Vibe Academy” uses the slogan “Learning Without Limits”. However, one local advocate says some students with disabilities are left out of equation. 

During Wednesday's special school board meeting surrounding masks in the Sioux City Community School District, some citizens talked about a virtual option for parents to send their children. However, as Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer reports that option is not available to all.

Sioux City Community Schools

The Sioux City Community School District will not bring back a mask mandate after an emergency session on Wednesday, September 15.  Siouxland Public’s Sheila Brummer reports.

Even from the start, contention filled the air of the Sioux City Community School District’s headquarters Wednesday afternoon for a special board meeting, mainly from those who did not want their children to wear masks in school.

More than 20 concerned citizens on both sides of the issue shared their viewpoint by phone and in person.

Siouxland Public Media/Sheila Brummer

No mask mandate for the Sioux City Community School District after the board did not have a consensus of support to hold a vote. Concerns were raised about disrespect from citizens who attended today's meeting

Prior to the meeting, the local teacher’s union president said there wasn’t time to meet with members to issue a stance on masks. Lesa Banks says there are educators on both sides of the debate. The state teachers' union hopes school leaders will focus on science and decide what to do next. 

Woodbury County

A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon for the new Woodbury County Law Enforcement Center. The new facility is located on 28th street just off of Highway 75.

Controversy surrounds some of the funding for the facility. In March of last year, voters approved a bond issue of more than $50 million for the project. The Woodbury County Law Enforcement Authority now puts the total price tag at about $65 million.

The County Board of Supervisors allocated $15.6 million in Federal COVID-19 relief money to cover the higher costs.

Just hours after a federal judge blocked Iowa’s law banning mask mandates, the Sioux City Community School Board agreed vote on the issue. It will take place tomorrow at 3 p.m., instead of noon.

Board vice-president Monique Scarlett put forth the motion, saying the mask mandate could help stop the spread of the very contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus.

School Superintendent Paul Gausman agreed that it was time to bring back face coverings, but some students and staff are likely to be exempt for health reasons.

Sioux City Community Schools

The Sioux City School Board is expected to discuss COVID-19 relief money spending at tonight’s meeting.

The district received a third round of federal funding of almost $39 million. A new budget proposal calls for spending more money to help students who have fallen behind, from 20 to 40%.

Board Member Dan Greenwell says he is worried about the implementation of the plan. 

“Talk is cheap, action much more subtenant in my book. I want to make sure we have action and not just talk.”

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Covid 19 cases and vaccinations are slowly rising in Woodbury County. As of facebook posting on Wednesday, Siouxland District Health said for the week beginning August 30th, there were 287 new cases of COVID-19 in Woodbury County, and a positivity rate of 13.2 percent. There were 17 people hospitalized in Siouxland due to covid 19 and the vaccination rate is at 43.4 percent. 

Sioux City has been awarded for its response to housing needs during the coronavirus. The City of Sioux City Neighborhood Services Division has been selected as the 2021 COVID-19 Housing Response award winner by the Iowa Finance Authority.  Staff were presented with the award today at the Housing Iowa Conference in Cedar Rapids.  

The  City was awarded for the new Neighborhood Services Division Outreach Office, as well as the emergency shelter program which provided temporary housing in hotels to those experiencing homelessness. The award recognizes "an initiative that was implemented in immediate response to needs created due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 Developers will be able to build 36,450 new housing units to help address Iowa's growing shortage. That's because Iowa is allocating $100 million of its federal coronavirus relief funding to build new homes in the state.  Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that today at the housing conference. The money comes from The American Rescue Plan Act funding. That is being added to more than 230 million dollars the Iowa Legislature allocated over five years to Iowa's tax credit programs.The 100 million dollars will be split among several existing programs, plus a new pilot program to improve housing access for minority groups.

A petition drive condemning Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and lawmakers for passing a law banning mask mandates is gaining traction. Siouxland Public Media talked to the organizer, who says the safety of students and families is at risk.

“It started out with us just wanting to make a statement.”


The number of COVID-19 cases in Nebraska has increased in each of the past ten weeks, and the total nearly doubled over the past two weeks as the highly contagious delta variant of the virus continues to spread.

Nebraska reported around 5,000 new cases last week to the CDC.

That’s up from the previous week and nearly double the cases recorded the week before.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Nebraska has risen over the past two weeks from 190 new cases per day on Aug. 15 to more than 715 new cases per day on Sunday.

Governor Pete Ricketts/Facebook

Nebraska governor Pete Ricketts enacted a hospital staffing emergency in the state. Ricketts says the problem does come from a list of issues: staff shortages, COVID-19 cases, and other illness, including RSV.

Starting on Monday, the state will limit some elective surgeries and waive licensing to try and boost the number of heath care workers. Some facilities already paused elective surgeries to preserve hospital capacity.

However, Ricketts says he is still against mandating masks in schools or enforcing vaccine passports.

Associated Press

Public health officials in Iowa’s largest county are sounding alarms that too few people are wearing masks and getting vaccinated as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations climb in the state to levels not seen since January. The surge of the delta variant of COVID-19 comes as schools go back into session banned from requiring masks by a Republican legislature and governor. The Iowa Department of Public Health in its weekly update Wednesday added 42 deaths, bringing the state total to 6,268 deaths. The state reported 7,619 positive tests in the past seven days.

2017 Dan Moore Campaign

Sioux City Mayor Pro Tempore Dan Moore tells Siouxland Public Media he filled his nomination petition for city council today.

Woodbury County Auditor Pat Gill says if more than six people file for three open seats, there will be a primary on October 5th, otherwise a combined city/school election will take place countywide on November 2nd.

Pete Groetken says he will not seek a third term on the city council. Alex Waters seat is also up for reelection. He told Siouxland Public Media he plans to run for reelection.

National Weather Service/Sioux Falls

Parts of Siouxland are under a heat advisory until six tonight. The heat index will climb easily into the triple digits. According to the National Weather Service, there is a chance for severe storms with hail and high wind. Plus, areas south of Yankton to Spencer will have an elevated risk for a brief tornado.

Due to the heat, Hunt Elementary school will have an early dismissal. While a new school is being built, students are attending class in the old Crescent Park building. It is the only non-air conditioned school in the district.

Siouxland District Health

In a weekly update, Siouxland District Health reported lower COVID-19 positivity rates and hospitalizations in Woodbury County. The positivity rate is almost 7% with only three hospitalizations due to COVID only.

However, the number of people vaccinated rose by point-six (0.6) percent.

Deputy Director Tyler Brock says .6% is actually a decent increase for one week for the number of people finishing their two-dose series. One week ago, local officials urged anyone age 12 and older to get their shot.


Cases of COVID-19 are on the rise in Nebraska as the highly contagious delta variant continues to spread, but those reported totals may be undercounting the actual number of cases because the number of tests being performed each day is down significantly compared to last fall.

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Community leaders joined forces to stress the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine, especially among younger populations. Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer has more on the push to get more people to roll up their sleeves.

With an increase of cases of COVID-19, including the more contagious delta variant, Sioux City Mayor Bob Scott urged the public to listen to medical experts.

Dakota County Health Department

Tonight, the Sioux City Community School Board meets to discuss the district’s Return-to-Learn plan and Pandemic relief funding.

Students started last school year with a hybrid model of learning with two days in the classroom. That continued for a few weeks and again after the winter break.

The meeting starts at 6 p.m.

UnityPoint Health-St. Luke's

The number of COVID-19 cases is on the rise in Iowa and Siouxland. Siouxland Public Media reached out to one of the local experts, Dr. Michael Kafka, he Medical Director for Quality and Patient Safety at UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s in Sioux City to hear his take on this increase, delta variant, vaccine rates, masks, and more.

As of late last week, Kafka says Sioux City’s two major medical facilities are treating patients in the single digits.

The City Hall and Community Center in Sergeant Bluff are closed this week due to COVID-19. In a statement sent to Siouxland Public Media, the city clerk says an “unusually large number” of staff members were exposed to COVID-19. So, they decided to close City Hall and the Community Center to protect the public. They hope to have all facilities open by the weekend.

National Weather Service/Sioux Falls

A Siouxland Sheriff’s office is mourning the death of one of its own.

The Burt County Sheriff says Deputy Justin Smith passed away yesterday after a battle with COVID-19.

Deputy Smith has been a member of the Burt County Sheriff's Office and since 2008. He also served as the Police Chief of Decatur, Nebraska. 

The Burt County Board of Supervisors has requested that all flags in the county be lowered to half-staff.

National Weather Service/Sioux Falls

The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory today for the entire state of Iowa, most of South Dakota and a large portion of Nebraska.

The heat advisory is in effect until 9 p.m. for Siouxland with a heat index near 110.

Governors from all three Siouxland States slam the CDC’s announcement on Tuesday urging both vaccinated and nonvaccinated people to wear masks due to a surge of cases of COVID-19.

The CDC also advises children in schools wear masks this fall.

National Weather Service/Sioux Falls

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds called new revised guidance from the CDC surrounding wearing masks “not grounded in reality or common sense.”

Reynolds issued a statement shortly after the CDC recommended fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors in areas of the country where the virus is circulating widely.

She still encouraged people to get vaccinated, but went on to say she’s concerned the guidance will be used as a vehicle to mandate masks in states and schools, something she does not support.

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.


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.

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.