ORANGE CITY COUNCIL
The Iowa Department of Transportation is requesting final approval of a preconstruction agreement with Orange City for construction of a roundabout at Iowa Highway 10 and Jay Ave. The project also includes construction of a 3rd traffic lane at that site. If approved, it would be the DOT’s first roundabout project in the northwest quarter of Iowa.
The Orange City Council today will also consider approval of a grant to build a Dutch front on the commercial portion of a new residential development proposed for Orange City.
The City council will also consider renewal of the city health insurance plan.
HALBUR BOWS OUT
Republican Todd Halbur has abandoned his call for a statewide recount of his race against State Auditor Rob Sand and conceded the election. County officials conducted the official canvases of votes last week. According to the Iowa Secretary of State’s website, Sand finishes the race with 27-hundred-13 more votes than Halbur. Sand is the only Democrat on the statewide ballot to win this year. A week ago, Halbur said he would ask for a recount because he didn’t feel confident in the unofficial results. Now, Halbur says his campaign lacks the resources and manpower to conduct a legitimate recount in this statewide race — and Halbur says the Iowa Republican Party and its leadership team failed to provide any support and resources for a recount and has abandoned his campaign. Halbur did not receive financial support from the Iowa Republican Party and was not included in the campaign events Governor Kim Reynolds hosted in the weeks leading up to Election Day. In October, a jury awarded Halbur a million dollar settlement in his lawsuit against the State of Iowa. Halbur was fired as comptroller of the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division in 2018. Halbur argues he was fired for determining the state was overcharging restaurants, bars and retailers who have to buy liquor and alcohol from the state’s wholesaling agency. Attorneys for the State of Iowa are exploring an appeal of the jury’s verdict.
From Sioux City to the Quad Cities, Iowa hospitals are reporting surges in children being brought to emergency rooms with cases of respiratory syncytial virus, or R-S-V. Dr. Amy Groen of Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines, says daily patient volume is about double what it normally is for this time of the year. Groen says R-S-V is more dangerous for young children because their airways are smaller and cannot handle swelling from the virus the way older children and adults can. She recommends parents consider keeping their young children away from others as much as possible. A report from the state hygienic lab says during the first week of November, there were 810 cases of R-S-V reported statewide, a jump from 568 the week before.
Members of the Northwest Iowa Credit Union of Le Mars have voted to merge with CENT Credit Union of Mason City. The vote took place Saturday at the Knights of Columbus in Le Mars, and the vote count was streamed live. The merger was approved by a majority of 82.5%. The merged credit union will be known as the CENT Credit Union. Current employees in Le Mras will be retained.
The Iowa Utilities Board Friday denied a request for an environmental impact study on the proposed carbon capture pipeline by Navigator LLC. The request was filed by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska last June. The Utilities Board said it will consider environmental impacts as part of a public hearing to grant a hazardous liquid pipeline permit to Navigator. An environmental impact statement is required in a federal case, but the Board doesn’t think it is required in this case. The IUB made a similar decision last month in the case of an environmental impact statement requested of Summit Carbon Solutions. That request also came from the Winnebago Tribe. The Tribe also asked for an environmental impact statement regarding the Dakota Access oil pipeline. The Utilities Board in 2016 denied that request for the same reason as the carbon capture pipelines.
A federal jury has ordered former Congressman Steve King’s campaign to pay 750 dollars for using a copyrighted image in online fundraising. The Florida mother who took the photo of her young son in 2007 sued King and his campaign a year and a half ago, seeking at least 75-thousand dollars. She got a copyright for the image in 2012 as it became known as the “Success Kid” meme on social media. The jury in Sioux City decided King’s campaign must pay Laney Griner 750 dollars for using the boy’s image, but King owed the Griners nothing. The Sioux City Journal reports Griner left the courtroom in tears. King had said the lawsuit was politically motivated and he told the newspaper he had been vindicated by the jury. King had used the “Success Kid” meme to raise money for his unsuccessful campaign for a 10th term in the U.S. House. King lost to Randy Feenstra in a Republican Primary. Feenstra was then elected to congress in November of 2020 and reelected to a second term in the U.S. House earlier this month.
Governor Kim Reynolds says by the end of her new four-year term, she hopes to get rid of Iowa’s state income tax.
Reynolds made the comment on a Republican Governors Association panel. South Dakota has no personal income tax or corporate tax and mainly relies on property taxes and sales taxes to fund government operations. Reynolds has just been elected chair of the Republican Governors Association for the next two years. Reynolds reviewed her education priorities for the group.
Reynolds has tried in each of the past two years to get the Republican-led legislature to approve state scholarships for some students who switch from a public to a private school. During the 2022 campaign, Reynolds has said her goal is for all parents to have the choice of sending their child to a private school, but she has not outlined the details of this new plan. House Democratic Leader Jennifer Konfrst says Democrats will oppose any bill that shifts money from public schools to private schools. It’s not clear yet whether Reynolds has enough Republican votes in the Iowa House to pass her latest plan. Some House Republicans who oppose the school choice concept either did not seek reelection or were defeated in G-O-P primaries.
LA NINA EFFECTS
The La Nina weather pattern will influence Iowa’s climate for the winter ahead, likely bringing wetter and colder-than-normal temperatures. It’s the third winter in a row for La Nina, but observers do -not- expect it to make a fourth appearance. The climate services director for the central region of the National Weather Service, Doug Kluck, says they see La Nina fading early next year. Kluck says the forecast models for December through February show better chances of below-normal temperatures, also with above-normal chances for precipitation. A lot of those places need the water, Kluck says, adding, we hope they get it.
Iowa’s unemployment rate inched up slightly in October to two-point-nine percent. Iowa Workforce Development spokesperson, Jesse Dougherty, says there are positive signs despite the increase — as more Iowans are entering the labor force. He says the overall labor participation rate held steady at 67-point-seven percent which is a strength of Iowa’s economy. Dougherty says employers reported 45-hundred jobs created, and that’s the seventh straight month they’ve seen that. He says October’s job growth pushed the state employment level above the level in March 2020 — which means the state has now replaced all of the 169-thousand jobs lost during the pandemic.