FATAL ATV ACCIDENT
An 8th grade student who just graduated from Holy Cross Catholic School has died in an accident in Plymouth County. Bishop Heelan Catholic Schools say Austin Blakey died in an all-terrain vehicle accident this morning, the day after his 8th grade graduation.
He would have attended Bishop Heelan High School this fall. Blakey’s sister just graduated from Notre Dame University.
Funeral services for Austin Blakey are pending.
REYNOLDS SCHOOL SECURITY
Governor Kim Reynolds says she believes the State of Iowa could use federal pandemic relief money on additional school security measures. Reynolds says banning semi-automatic weapons like the one used to kill two teachers and 19 students in a Texas school isn’t the cure to mass shootings.
Earlier this spring, Reynolds met with a company that digitizes the layout of schools, so those maps could be used by law enforcement in an active shooter situation. The state may also buy an app that lets students anonymously submit tips that a classmate may be threatening their school.
Reynolds signed a law in 2018 requiring every Iowa school to have a high-quality emergency plan, conduct annual reviews and practice the response to an active shooter. The Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management also conducts threat assessments.
Those could be done over the summer, according to Reynolds. Reynolds says there’s no single answer to what happened in Texas, but the governor says she is concerned by reports the shooter was in the school for an hour before law enforcement intervened.
The Texas shooter shared his plans on social media right before heading to the school and Reynolds says she’s troubled by news he may have indicated at the age of 14 that he’d go into a school with a gun when he was a senior.
Reynolds says the Governor’s School Safety Bureau is submitting applications for federal grants and is coordinating state agency efforts to plan for and respond to threats in Iowa schools.
VETERANS DIRECTOR RESIGNS
The Executive Director of the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs has resigned. Steve Lukan (loo-can) is a Navy veteran who has served in the post for nearly five years. Governor Kim Reynolds appointed Major Matthew Peterson — the Commandant of the Iowa Veterans Home as Interim Executive Director of the Veterans Affairs Department. The governor says they plan to explore how to consolidate the Veterans Home and Veterans Affairs Department into one agency. Peterson has led the Iowa Veterans Home since July 2021. He served 20-years in the Marine Corps infantry — including seven deployments before retiring from active duty in 2019.
The National Weather Service is looking for Iowa volunteers to help be their eyes and ears when severe weather strikes — and for everyday data. Meteorologist Allen Curtis, at the Weather Service office in Johnston, says they’re in need of what are known as “weather observers” in several Iowa communities.
When there’s a drought, for example, federal funding may be based on data that’s gathered by the agency’s statewide network of observers. The National Weather Service will provide all of the equipment needed to measure rain, snow and temperatures and multiple observer positions are open now.
Those who are interested in volunteering should contact the local National Weather Service office in Sioux Falls. Their phone number is 605-330-4227. Learn more at www.weather.gov/fsd.
BORDER WALL SUPPLIES
Iowa Senator Joni Ernst is proposing a bill to use materials stockpiled for the border wall that have been sitting since the Biden administration stopped work on the wall. The Republican says the federal report shows the government is paying three million dollars a day to keep the materials from being stolen, and her bill would solve that problem too. It would turn over the unused materials purchased to construct the southern border barrier to any state wishing to finish the job. Ernst says they are working on getting some bi-partisan support — especially from states like Arizona — where border crossings have increased.