local news

J.J. Stone for Siouxland Public Media

Sioux City leaders once again commented on the importance of wearing masks at this week’s city council meeting. Council Member Alex Watters expressed concern after attending the Greater Siouxland Home Show 

over the weekend at the new Expo Center.

The city manager says staff members from Spectra were handing out face masks and encouraging people to use them. Watters says he quickly left the Home Show.

Mayor Bob Scott and Council Member Julie Schoenherr weighed in. Here is part of their exchange in addtion to more reaction from Watters.

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Iowa’s new voting law faces a legal challenge.

Governor Kim Reynolds signed the Republican-backed bill into law yesterday (Monday). It shortened the time allowed for early, mail, and Election Day voting, and made many additional changes to Iowa’s election procedures.

The League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa filed a lawsuit.

Attorneys argue the new law unconstitutionally burdens Iowans’ voting rights. 

In a statement yesterday, Reynolds said the new law will promote transparency and accountability in elections.

Today is the one-year anniversary of the first positive cases of COVID-19 in the state of Iowa. Then were there three positive cases, since the start of Pandemic with more than 367,000 positive test results. There have been 5,559 deaths statewide and 214 in Woodbury County.

The Iowa Department of Public Health reports one more death due to complications of COVID-19 and almost 140 positive cases, including eight in Woodbury County.

Siouxland District Health

We’re approaching the first anniversary of confirmation of the first cases of COVID-19 in the state of Iowa. Siouxland Public Media reached out to Kevin Grieme the Director of Siouxland District Health, the public health agency that oversees Woodbury County, to look back on the past twelve months and the near future with the vaccine.

Several studies show people of color in the U.S. saw greater levels of sickness and death during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Grieme says work is being done to bring the COVID-19 vaccine to underserved populations. 

Ho-Chunk Capital

A big economic development from Ho-Chunk Capital today. The company finalized purchase of several businesses on historic Fourth Street in Sioux City from the Aalfs family. This includes the Aalfs main office building, Buffalo Alice, Antiques on Historic Fourth, M’s on 4th and SoHo.

Ho-Chunk plans to preserve and renovate several buildings and create new opportunities for commercial and residential tenants.

coronavirus.iowa.gov

The Iowa Department of Public Health reported three more deaths due to COVID-19 in Woodbury County for 214 in all since the start of the pandemic. Statewide there were 35 additional deaths reported in 24-hours and more than 550 new positive tests.

There are currently outbreaks at a dozen long-term care facilities in Iowa, with none in northwest Iowa.

Associated Press

The Iowa Department of Public Health recorded three more deaths statewide due to complications of COVID-19 and more than 600 new positive test results, including 28 in Woodbury County.

The number of hospitalizations fell below 200 in Iowa. Sioux City’s two medical facilities saw a decrease of about 30% in patients with COVID-19. There were 15 yesterday and 11 today. The 14-day test positivity rate is up slightly to 6%.

Our community recently lost an inspiring and active leader in both politics and the arts. Rick Mullin of Sioux City died suddenly on February 25th, 2021 at the age of 67. He is survived by his wife of more than 40-years Sue, their two children and two grandchildren. Mullin graduated from Bishop Heelan Catholic School, ran a family-owned business, served as a leader of the local Democratic Party, and co-founded the Sioux City International Film. He was a friend of Siouxland Public Media and even volunteered for the IRIS reading program in conjunction with Siouxland Public Media. 

Britton Hacke Photography

A few dozen people attended a vigil in downtown Sioux City on March 1, 2021 to remember victims and survivors of the COVID-19 Pandemic. 

Several who attended spoke about their loved ones who died during the past year. Others talked about the impact of the disease on minorities and front-line workers in the community.

Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer attended the event virtually on Facebook and shares the heartbreak and insight from the evening.

The full event can be found at this link.

coronavirus.iowa.gov

The Iowa Department of Public Health reports 27 more Iowan has died from COVID-19 with more than 450 new positive test results with 18 more cases in Woodbury County. The death toll in Iowa is just under 5,500.

Statewide there are almost 210 hospitalized, including 15 at Sioux City’s two medical facilities. That number has stayed steady in the middle teens for several days.

Sioux City, IA - March 1, 2021
youtube/City of Sioux City

Sioux City Mayor Bob Scott declared March 1st COVID-19 Memorial Day.

“To remember the survivors and victims of the COVID-19 Pandemic and to acknowledge the sacrifices and service of all first responders, medical providers, and others who have stepped up during this global pandemic.”

Council Member Alex Watters questioned if more could have been done to prevent deaths in the community.

Siouxland District Health

Victims and survivors of the COVID-19 Pandemic will be honored at community vigil in Sioux City March 1, 2021. The gathering is scheduled for 7 p.m. in front of the Siouxland Public  Museum. Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer talked to one of the organizers of the gathering Cassie Thompson.

* People who attend the event will be asked to social distance and wear masks with masks available for anyone who who needs one.  

Livestream of the event can be found here.

Siouxland Public Media

Upper photo: Brady Hanson Lower left: Pam Bailey Lower right: Cheryl Singleton Edit | Remove

The “The Takeaway” on February 24, 2021 featured a reflective moment surrounding the COVID-19 Pandemic and included community leader, Ike Rayford of the Sioux City Chapter of the NAACP. Rayford talked about the loss of three friends in 2020 and then shared a more in-depth look at the lives of Brady Hanson, Pam Bailey, and Cheryl Singleton with Siouxland Public Media.

IDPH

The state of Iowa plans to launch a new website tomorrow to provide more information on how to get COVID-19 vaccines.

However, the Governor stressed during a news conference today Iowans will not be able to schedule an appointment on the site www.vaccinate.iowa.gov.

The state also plans to reach out to older Iowans in need of finding a vaccine. Starting on March 8 they will open a 211-call center to answer questions and help with scheduling.

Winnebago Public Health Department

The Iowa Department of Public Health reported 15 more Iowans have died from COVID-19 complications. More than 700 tested positive in 24-hours, including 26 more in Woodbury County. The positivity rate for Woodbury County increased about a 1/3 or a percentage point for a currently level of 5.4% over 14-days.

Community advocate and anti-violence movie producer Cindy Waitt has worked behind the scenes to help with the COVID-19 Pandemic through the Kind World Foundation. 

Earlier this month, the Governor of Iowa ended the mask mandate in the state of Iowa. A move Waitt calls psychological abuse. She shares her thoughts with Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer.

Associated Press

South Dakota House lawmakers have begun impeachment proceedings against the state’s attorney general, who is facing misdemeanor charges for striking and killing a man with his car. Republican lawmakers on Tuesday introduced a resolution in the House to impeach Jason Ravnsborg, the state’s top law enforcement officer. He has indicated he will not heed calls to resign. The Republican attorney general faces three misdemeanor charges in the September death of 55-year-old Joseph Boever. It will require a simple majority to advance the impeachment charges to the Senate.

Iowa Department of Public Health

The number of people in Iowa who have died of complications of the novel coronavirus reached 5,400 on Tuesday. The Iowa Department of Public Health added 26 more deaths in the past 24-hours, including one more in Woodbury County, for 211 in all.  

The state added more than 600 new cases with 18 more in Woodbury County.

Sioux City Police Department

The Sioux City Police Department released preliminary crime statistics that show a 26% overall increase in violent crime from the year before. A news release from Police Chief Rex Mueller did show property crimes fell by 15%. He says while the COVID-19 pandemic likely impacted local crime numbers, officials can’t give specifics to why violent crime is up.

Woodbury County Democratic Party

On Monday night the Woodbury County Democratic Party is holding an event to address what they call voter suppression by Republicans in the Iowa Legislature.

“These are potential laws based on Donald Trump’s lie about the last election in 2020,” said Jeremy Dumkrieger, Democratic Party Chair for Woodbury County.

Republicans in the Iowa House and Senate are fast-tracking a bill to shorten the early voting period in Iowa from 29 to 18 days. Plus, county election officials would be banned from sending absentee ballot applications to voters.

City of Sioux City

South Dakota lawmakers are considering impeaching the state's attorney general as he faces misdemeanor charges for striking and killing a man with his car.

Jason Ravnsborg, the state's top law enforcement officer, has said he will not step down before he gets a hearing in front of a judge.

Prosecutors have charged the Republican attorney general with three misdemeanors but no felonies in the September death of 55-year-old Joseph Boever. Republican Rep. Tim Goodwin says Ravnsborg should resign and that lawmakers are considering impeachment if he doesn't.

Siouxland District Health

Siouxland District Health reported two more deaths in Woodbury County for a death toll of 210 due to complications of COVID-19. The positivity rate is up slightly to 6%. Hospitalizations are up almost 15% with 14 patients at Sioux City’s two medical facilities. Statewide there are 241 patients, with 60 in intensive care. That’s a small decrease from the day before.

There have been 18 new cases added in Woodbury County.  Statewide, there are more than 550 new cases and 15 deaths in a 24-hour period that ended this morning at 10 a.m.

pxhere.com

Iowa lawmakers recently approved increased spending for K-12 schools by 2.4%.  The governor is expected to support the plan.

The funding plan would add $36.5 million to base funding for schools statewide 

Republicans say the move provides reliable funding, but Democrats say it is too little to cover cost increases.

Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer talked to the Superintendent of Sioux City Public Schools Dr. Paul Gausman about the potential impact on Siouxland’s largest school district.

Associated Press

South Dakota’s attorney general has been charged with three misdemeanors including careless driving after he hit and killed a man with his car. Jason Ravnsborg, a native of Cherokee, Iowa was charged today. Ravnsborg initially told authorities he thought he had struck a deer while driving home from a Republican fundraiser on September 12. Ravnsborg has said he didn’t know he struck a man until he returned to the scene and found the body the next day. The man’s relatives have questioned Ravnsborg’s account.

Sioux City Community Schools

Yesterday on Siouxland Public Media you heard from Sioux City School Board Member Dan Greenwell. Greenwell attended a finance committee meeting this week where the school district outlined how it plans to spend COVID-19 CARES Act money. Greenwell expressed concern the district was spending a majority of the millions of dollars awarded toward virtual schooling. Today, we wanted to hear from the superintendent of the school district. Here is Dr. Paul Gausman.

Iowa PBS

The Iowa Department of Health recorded 43 more deaths due to complications of COVID-19, including two more in Woodbury County. The state also added more than 600  new cases. The number of hospitalizations at Sioux City’s two medical facilities has doubled in a day to a dozen patients. However, that number is less than 10% of the record high of 108 set back on December 1st.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has announced the state will not move forward with plans to contract with Microsoft to build a centralized COVID-19 vaccine registration system.

One member of the Sioux City Community School Board says he is concerned about how the school district wants to spend CARES Act Money.

Dan Greenwell says there is too much emphasis put on virtual schooling.

The Sioux City Community School District was awarded more than $20 million in federal emergency relief money due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On Monday, the district unveiled a draft budget to the district’s finance committee. Greenwell is part of that group .

National Weather Service/Sioux Falls

A second day of Arctic temperatures across Middle America have prompted rolling power outages Tuesday morning in Nebraska and a call for energy conservation in Iowa. Residents in Nebraska experiences some of the coldest weather they've seen early Tuesday, putting a strain on the power grid that saw the state's power utilities implementing rolling outages. Nebraska’s largest utilities — the Omaha and Nebraska Public Power Districts — said the planned power outages were over by midmorning and they were working to restore power to all customers.

National Weather Service

Siouxland is under a Wind Chill Warning until Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. The National Weather Service says expect dangerously cold wind chills of up to 40-below overnight.

Last night’s weather set records across the region. Sioux City did as well, with a low temperature of -28.

Nebraska also saw a number of low-temperature records broken and expected more to fall Tuesday — as a polar vortex pushed Arctic air into the Plains. Temperatures are expected to be below normal for almost a week.

Iowa Department of Public Health

Siouxland Public Media provided extensive coverage of COVID-19 during 2020, including news stories, call-in shows, and special media projects. The station also lauched newscasts in five different langauges (Amharic, Oromo, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese) to keep more members of the community informed during the pandemic. 

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