NEWS 9.21.21: Death of a C-19 college student, Targeted co-op, Minority housing assistance, Blue Ribbon schools


A 21-year-old student from Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids has died of COVID-19. According to the school, Ashley Hudson was studying education and was an aspiring kindergarten teacher. Mount Mercy held a vigil for the student last night.

Social media posts indicate Hudson had been hospitalized and battling the disease for weeks.

State data shows 6,401 Iowans have died from COVID. Sixty-five percent of Iowans aged 18 and over have been fully immunized.

Floyd Valley Healthcare in Le Mars is demanding that all of its employees get vaccinated against COVID-19 by the first of next year. Medical and religious exemptions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, according to hospital officials.

Siouxland District Health posted a statement on social media regarding the COVID-19 booster shots. He says they’re not recommended for people 65 and older with normal immune systems. On Friday, an FDA committee voted to recommend boosters for this demographic, but the FDA and CDC have yet to approve.

A ransomware attack forced an Iowa corn and soybean farmer co-op to take their computer systems offline. But a person close to the New Cooperative says it has created workarounds to receive grain and distribute animal feed. The cooperative, which serves parts of Siouxland, said in a statement that the attack had been “successfully controlled” and that it had notified law enforcement. The attack struck just as the Iowa corn and soybean harvest began. The New Cooperative did not say whether it had paid a ransom. A security researcher said the criminals demanded $ 5.9 million.

Nebraska lawmakers will have to negotiate new legislative and congressional cards now that the two original Republican-backed measures are stuck in the legislature.

Opponents blocked the proposed legislative map with an obstruction on Monday, and the congressional map stalled on Friday amid similar objections.

Critics say the cards unfairly benefited the GOP by making it harder for Democrats to win in certain districts where they might otherwise be competitive.

The votes came as no surprise, given that Republicans lack the super-majority they need to overcome an obstruction in the one-chamber legislature, as they did in the 2011 redistribution. This means that lawmakers will have to come to some kind of compromise.

A public hearing on Iowa’s political boundaries was held today at noon.

Five people spoke at the first virtual hearing last night.

Most speakers urged the state to keep the Iowa redistribution process as non-partisan and as fair as possible. None of the speakers commented directly on the proposed division plans.

The meeting lasted for about half an hour although three hours were scheduled for people to comment.

The third public hearing is tomorrow at 6 p.m. Iowans can also submit written comments. Information on the public hearings and commentary is available on the Iowa Legislature website.

The company that operates the Dakota Access pipeline wants the United States Supreme Court to overturn an appeal decision ordering an additional environmental review. Energy Transfer says the review puts the line in danger of being shut down. A Circuit Court of Appeals panel in Washington earlier this year supported the argument of the Standing Rock Sioux and other tribes that the project deserves a thorough environmental review and is currently operating without a key federal permit. The study will determine whether the US Army Corps of Engineers is re-issuing a permit for the line to cross the Missouri River in south-central North Dakota.

Rapid City Council has approved an ordinance that sets rules for medical marijuana dispensaries in the community. The rules go into effect Oct. 2 following the council’s 8-1 vote on Monday night. The ordinance limits the number of dispensaries to 15 within the city limits. Council member Bill Evans cast the only vote against, saying he believes the market should decide on the number of dispensaries or that the city should have its own facility. Companies that apply for medical cannabis and receive a license will have one year to start the business. Licenses cost $ 5,000 and require an annual renewal fee of the same amount.

Iowa is testing a new program to help racial and ethnic minorities buy homes. The loan assistance program will be used for down payments and closing costs.

The minority down payment pilot program is part of a larger statewide investment in housing assistance.

Approximately $ 1 million has been allocated to the program by federal COVID-19 relief funds.

The Iowa Finance Authority is in partnership with approximately 400 lenders. Applicants will work with their direct lender to get the funds distributed.

A school in Siouxland has been named the National Blue Ribbon School. The US Secretary of Education today recognized 325 schools, including five in Iowa. Spencer Middle School is on the list, including schools in Council Bluffs, Iowa City, Bettendorf and Bedford. The award is based on overall academic performance or progress made in reducing achievement gaps.

Iowa State Press Release:

Five Iowa Schools Named 2021 Blue Ribbon National Schools

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona today recognized 325 schools as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2021, including five schools in Iowa. Recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress made in reducing achievement gaps among subgroups of students. Secretary Cardona made the announcement when he returned to school as he visited an award-winning school, Walter R. Sundling Jr. High School in Palatine, Illinois.

The schools in Iowa named National Blue Ribbon Schools were:

  • Bedford – Bedford Elementary School, Bedford Community School District.
  • Bettendorf – Pleasant Valley High School, Pleasant Valley Community School District.
  • Council Bluffs – Lewis Central Senior High School, Lewis Central Community School District.
  • Hills – Hills Elementary School, Iowa City Community School District.
  • Spencer – Spencer Middle School, Spencer Community School District.

“This year’s cohort of laureates demonstrate what is possible when engaged educators and school leaders create vibrant, welcoming and empowering school cultures where rich teaching and learning can flourish,” Secretary Cardona said. . “I congratulate all of our Blue Ribbon recipients for working to keep students healthy and safe while meeting their academic, social, emotional and mental health needs. In the face of unprecedented circumstances, you have found creative ways to involve, care for, protect and teach our children. Blue Ribbon Schools have so much to offer and can serve as a model for other schools and communities so that we can truly build back better.

The coveted National Blue Ribbon Schools award affirms the hard work of educators, families and communities to create safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content. Now in its 39th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has awarded approximately 10,000 awards to over 9,000 schools.

The Department recognizes all schools in one of two performance categories, based on all student scores, student subgroup scores, and graduation rates:

  • Exemplary and efficient schools are among the best performing schools in their state, based on state assessments or nationally standardized tests.
  • Schools bridging the gap in exemplary achievement are among the best performing schools in their state at bridging achievement gaps between groups of students in a school and all students.

Up to 420 schools can be nominated each year. The department invites nominations from the Blue Ribbon National Schools by the highest education official in all states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Department of Defense Education and the Office of the Indian education. Private schools are appointed by the Council for American Private Education.

NOTE TO EDITORS: Photographs and brief descriptions of the 2021 National Blue Ribbon Schools are available at


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