Sioux City Council

Update: Iowa Senate Republicans have voted to reject the state’s first proposed redistricting plan. The proposed legislative and congressional districts were drawn by the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency.

All 32 GOP senators voted against the plan, and all 18 Democrats voted for it. 


  This week on The Exchange, we hear from Native American tribal leaders about the treatment of the homelessness in Sioux City. Also, with cases of COVID-19 increasing in Iowa and Woodbury County, we talk with public health leaders about what we can do to protect ourselves. And we talk with the author of a new book about a long ago racial incident created by white supremicists that mirrors the behaviors seen at the January 6 at the Captial building in Washington. 

Native Americans and other residents spoke out yesterday at the Sioux City Council meeting about the removal of a downtown homeless camp. Siouxland Public Media’s Mary Hartnett has this report. 

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State Democrats are calling on Gov. Kim Reynolds to fill the vacant seats on the Iowa State Board of Public Health. The bipartisan board oversees state health department policy and advises the governor on public health issues, including the COVID-19 pandemic. But it was unable to meet earlier this month as seven of its eleven seats are vacant.

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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. 

An Omaha aviation company is hoping to open a center at Sioux City's airport and offer professional flight training there. The Sioux City Journal reports that the Oracle Aviation of Omaha plans to partner with Morningside University to establish a fully-accredited aviation program, which will offer a bachelor of science degree in aviation-related fields. The Sioux City Council is expected on Monday to consider a resolution inviting proposals for the lease of land and the construction of a new hangar facility for the program.

A trial date has been set for the South Dakota attorney general who struck and killed a man along a highway in Hyde County. Jason Ravnsborg will go on trial Aug. 26 on three misdemeanor charges, including careless driving, operating a vehicle while on an electronic device and driving outside of his lane.

The state Department of Public Safety says Ravnsborg was distracted when he swerved out of his lane near Highmore in central South Dakota and hit 55-year-old Joe Boever who was walking on the shoulder with a flashlight.

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.

Sioux City Police Department

Sioux City police say they are investigating a death inside an apartment used by transients as a homicide. The victim's body was found Tuesday near 26th and Douglas near Grandview Park. Police did not release the gender of the victim, who appeared to have signs of blunt force trauma. The person appeared to have been deceased for a week. A medical examiner has not yet determined the cause of death. The apartment is part of a complex where 33-year-old Solomon Blackbird was shot on November 1st. He later died. Police say the two deaths do not appear to be related.

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The Sioux City council took action surrounding COVID-19 and face coverings.  As Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer reports, they wish more could be done as local health officials track an increase in cases.

The Sioux City Council strongly recommends citizens wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Last week, a group of concerned citizens presented a petition asking the council to take action with a resolution for a mask mandate.

Council members say their hands are tied with the state when it comes to a mandate. 

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After a large increase in complaints on and around the Fourth of July, the Sioux City Council today discussed a new ban on fireworks, but took no action. Fireworks complaints increased 80 percent for the month of June compared to a year ago.

Currently, fireworks may only be legally discharged within city limits between the hours of 1 and 11 p.m. on July 3 and 4, on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.  But residents say they have heard fireworks going off in their neighborhoods before and after the Independence Day holiday.

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The state of Iowa as of this morning reports another 766 cases of the coronavirus. State health officials also report six additional deaths. The state has had more than 39,000 cases of the COVID-19 and and nearly 800 deaths.  Polk County had 353 of those new cases.

Woodbury County added nine new cases of the coronavirus since yesterday, and now it has a total of 3,472 cases and 46 deaths. There were no new deaths yesterday.


The state of Iowa reports 21 more confirmed cases of COVID-19 for a total of 145. 

This comes the day after Governor Kim Reynolds announced the state's first death linked to the coronavirus outbreak.

The victim is a resident of Dubuque County who was between 61 and 80 years old.

Another news conference is planned for 2:30 this afternoon.

Alex Watters/City of Sioux City

The COVID-10 pandemic has forced many local governments and groups to find creative ways to conduct official business.  On Monday, the Sioux City council held a meeting with social distancing.  Council Member Alex Watters chose to attend the meeting by phone.

He is in self isolation and shares his thoughts on the new coronavirus, the state’s response and what issue is keeping him up at night.  Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer reached him by phone the day after the council meeting.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is getting support this afternoon in Siouxland as former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry will visit his campaign office in Sioux City this afternoon.  Listen for coverage during “All Things Considered”.

Iowa’s senior U.S. senator says he expects the U.S., Mexico, Canada trade agreement to get “unanimous support” today in a Senate Finance Committee hearing. Republican Chuck Grassley, who chairs the committee, also expects passage in the full Senate. 

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The Sioux City Council will be asked today to approve a pre-construction agreement with the Iowa Department of Transportation for the reconfiguration of Iowa 12/Riverside Boulevard to a three-lane roadway, according to the Sioux City Journal.

The project would reconfigure Iowa 12/Riverside Boulevard from four lanes to three on Iowa 12 from War Eagle Drive to Military Road.  

Iowa is the only state that still bans all people with felony convictions from voting unless they appeal to the governor.

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Democratic presidential candidate and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar is back in Iowa less than a week after completing visits to all 99 counties and about a month ahead of the Iowa caucuses.

Klobuchar held a town hall in Sioux City today (Thursday). She read a question from a voter asking how she’d flip back counties that voted for President Barack Obama in 2012 and President Donald Trump in 2016. She says that happens by visiting small rural towns where it’s sometimes “uncomfortable.”

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Bob Scott

The start of the new year also brought a change to the Sioux City Council.  Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer reports.

On Thursday, January 2nd, 2020  a few city leaders took the oath of office at City Hall in downtown Sioux City.

Mayor Bob Scott was sworn in for a third consecutive term. 

Also, new to the council, the owner of SoHo Kitchen and Bar, Julie Schoenherr.

Schoenherr beat incumbent Rhonda Capron in November.

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Democratic Presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar told potential Siouxland caucus-goers today that her campaign has surged since the December 19th debate.  The Minnesota US Senator told supporters at the Orpheum Theater today that that financial boost has meant a lot to her campaign.

“After that last debate, we raised over a million dollars in small contributions in 24 hours.  So we’re seeing a total surge that’s allowed us to double our staff in the state of Iowa. “

This afternoon, the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors will vote on building authority for a new jail and law enforcement center.

Yesterday, the Sioux City Council unanimously voted to support the authority.  It would oversee the $49 million dollar project.

The public would still need to approve the new facility.  It is expected to go before voters in Woodbury County in March.

A send-off this morning for the Morningside Mustangs.

The football team left this morning for Louisiana to play in the NAIA football National Championship game.

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The Sioux City Council is expected to vote today to vote on an ordinance that would amend water rates for South Sioux City and Dakota Dunes.

According to the Sioux City Journal, the City of Sioux City entered into agreements for water service with South Sioux City and Dakota Dunes in 2002. The agreement with Dakota Dunes was amended in 2004.

The 2020 rates for South Sioux City will decrease by 7.3 percent, while Dakota Dunes' rates will decrease by 4.8 percent. The minimum monthly charge is set at $1,000 per community. 

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The National Weather Service is predicting near-blizzard conditions in north-central and parts of northwest Iowa tomorrow and tomorrow night.  Forecasters say a storm system will move into the state tomorrow with the potential for rain, freezing rain, and high winds.

Jim Murray,  a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls says Sioux City could see between five and eight inches of snow and parts of western and southern Nebraska up to a foot.

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The weather this Thanksgiving week is shaping up to be a turkey.  The whole Siouxland area will under either a Winter Storm Warning starting tomorrow morning.

“Looks like a pretty decent storm at this point.  We’ll begin to that move into the Sioux City tomorrow afternoon Tuesday.  The snow will pick up through the evening.  The heaviest after 6 pm and continue into early Wednesday morning.”

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The Sioux City Council will be asked today to approve a resolution that a maximum of $1 million in funds be committed to the Badgerow Building and another $1.6 million to two other projects in the city's Historic Fourth Street District.

The council will consider adopting an amendment to the Combined Central Sioux City -- CBD Urban Renewal Area Plan.

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Sioux City Mayor Bob Scott won another term in office in yesterday’s general election.  He picked up almost 70% of the vote over Maria Rundquist.

And incumbent council member Rhonda Capron was defeated by the owner of SOHO Julie Schoenherr.   Capron was seeking her 3rd term in office and says she doesn’t plan to run again.

Six people were on the ballot for four school board seats.

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It is election day across Iowa. Voters are electing local and school board candidates.  Six candidates are competing for four seats on the Sioux City Community School board There are also school board races in the Lawton-Bronson and Sgt. Bluff Luton districts. 

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A broad coalition of biofuel and farm advocates today sent a letter to the White House calling on President Trump to fix a proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency. It notes that the EPA’s draft plan undermines the administration’s commitment to restore integrity to the Renewable Fuel Standard and accurately account for biofuel demand destroyed by Small Refinery Exemptions 

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association sent out a news release saying the letter says was signed by 60 organizations, including the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. 

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Pet licensing fees could be going up in Sioux City.  The action comes as the possibility of doing away with the pit bull ban still looms for the Sioux City Council.  The City manager’s office says an ordinance to repeal the ban was expected to come before council for final consideration today, but the matter will be deferred 

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City Council will defer the 3rdand final reading of the ordinance repealing Sioux City’s pit bull ban.”. A final vote will be made by the Council after the Animal Control Chapters of the City Code have been reviewed and further revised. The first reading on a revision to these chapters will be heard on Monday, November 4. 

Iowans will go to the polls next week for school and local government elections. It’s the first time these races are happening at the same time.