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Blankenship


Goodfellows
Mr. Goodfellow: Guarantee Roofing

DONOR: Guarantee Roofing, Siding and Insulation Co. LLC

AMOUNT: $1,000

ABOUT THE DONOR: Guarantee Roofing, Siding and Insulation Co. LLC has been serving Siouxland since 1926. The company does commercial and residential roofing, as well as siding, insulation and replacement windows, storm windows, entry doors and gutters.

DONOR COMMENT: "My grandfather and father were part of the Yellow Dog Auction from the beginning. I'm proud to say I've also been involved with it for many years. The smiles on the faces of children during the holidays really tug at your heart. Having witnessed people go in to get toys for their children, it's a pretty amazing sight," said Charese Yanney, owner and managing partner of the Sioux City-based business.


Local
Monday's snow will give way to milder weather for Siouxland

SIOUX CITY -- The blast of cold weather that dropped the first significant snow of the season on Monday will likely give way to milder conditions on Tuesday.

Janice Maldonado, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, said a fast-moving system brought gusty northwest breezes, and single-digit wind chills caused major shivers for many Siouxlanders.

"Sioux City saw an inch of snow for this system while South Sioux City and Sergeant Bluff both saw slightly less than two inches," she said.

Outside of a trace in snow recorded in October and a trace reported last week, this system brought with it Sioux City's first significant snowfall.  

Maldonado said this year's snow is actually ahead of schedule. Sioux City's average date for the first snowfall of 1 inch or more is usually Nov. 23.

Maldonado said Tuesday will be the start of a weeklong warmup, when south winds will send daytime highs to the upper 20s.

PHOTOS: 33 images of Sioux City pizza from the past and present

Rain, snow and a mix of the two is in the forecast for Wednesday, as temperatures top off at around 40, Maldonado said.

Expect to see daytime highs in the 40s and lows in the 30s from Thursday through Sunday.

"After a cold start, Sioux City should be close to normal by this weekend," Maldonado said.

Gallery: Remembering Sioux City restaurants that have closed
Photos: Historic Siouxland blizzards

Education
top story
First look: Sioux City schools budget could add 15 teachers

SIOUX CITY -- Sioux City School District administrative officials are expecting a bigger budget next year, as initial projections aired Monday show new revenues could be up to 2.5 percent higher, while expenses could rise up to 3 percent.

Blankenship

In a first discussion of projected topline budget numbers for the 2020-21 school year, district Finance Director Patty Blankenship in a school board meeting shared projections at 1.5 and 2.5 percent growth in higher state supplemental aid, along with spending scenario increases of 2 and 3 percent, which could add 15 more teachers.

Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal 

Gausman

Superintendent Paul Gausman said the budget process doesn't usually begin with a specific expenditure, but said with a higher enrollment of 385 students this year, at least 15 new teachers would be ideally added next year.

Gausman said that would reduce the class size ratio, which "is such a hot topic."

[Read more: Sioux City school staff gets roughly 2 percent increases; tax levy going down.]

While administrators and board members in recent years have bemoaned not getting bigger chunks of money from the Iowa Legislature, the financial picture for schools seems to be improving. For instance, at this point two years ago, Blankenship shared scenarios where supplemental state aid growth rate was at zero percent or 1 percent, and it ultimately ended up at 1 percent for Iowa school districts for 2018-19.

Over the last five years dating to the 2015-16 year, the average supplemental state aid has been 1.53 percent, and the district's expense growth has been 1.47 percent, Blankenship said.

Iowa school officials have requested legislators to set the supplemental state aid percentage as early as possible, so budgets can more readily be settled. Gausman said the projection of 1.5 percent SSA is more likely than 2.5 percent.

The budget covers the level of services that can be delivered for approximately 15,000 district students.

The Sioux City School Board in April adopted a budget of $225 million for the 2019-20 school year, which included raises for teachers and other workers in the vicinity of 2 percent, while adding more special education personnel, in one of the few ways the district will expand offerings. The  budget contains $172.6 million of spending from the general fund, which is by far the largest budget category.

This year, the district's property tax rate is $15.30 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, or down by 5 cents per $1,000 from the $15.35 of last year.

PHOTOS: 33 images of Sioux City pizza from the past and present

The 2019-20 budget was set in a better financial climate than in the last few years, and the district did not need to cut staff. The 2.06 percent increase in state supplemental aid is higher than the previous two budget years, which saw increases of 1.1 percent and 1 percent.

During those two years, Sioux City district officials were forced to cut millions of dollars in spending, which included slashing some teachers' pay and offering financial incentives to teachers who agreed to retire early.

The projection of the property tax rate for 2020-21 will be aired in the Feb. 22 board meeting, and other meetings on Dec. 9, Jan. 27 and Feb. 10 will highlight other key budget figures. 

The budget timeline shared by Blankenship recommends that final changes to the financial plan be made on March 9, then the budget is expected to be adopted after a final public hearing on April 14.

The Monday meeting also included spending authority projections that were tied to varying supplemental state aid projections. The district’s spending authority impacts the development of the general fund budget, and is composed of the current year spending authority, plus the carried over spending authority from the prior year.

PHOTOS: Bryant Elementary first day

National
National security officials objected to stopping Ukraine aid

WASHINGTON — The view among the national security officials was unanimous: Military aid to Ukraine should not be stopped. But the White House's acting chief of staff thought otherwise.

That was the testimony of Laura Cooper, a Defense Department official, whose deposition was released Monday in the House impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.

"My sense is that all of the senior leaders of the U.S. national security departments and agencies were all unified in their — in their view that this assistance was essential," she said. "And they were trying to find ways to engage the President on this."

Cooper's testimony was among several hundred pages of transcripts released Monday, along with those of State Department officials Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson.

Cooper told investigators that, in a series of July meetings at the White House, she came to understand that Trump's acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, was holding up the military aid for the U.S. ally.

"There was just this issue of the White House chief of staff has conveyed that the president has concerns about Ukraine," she testified.

When she and others tried to get an explanation, they found none.

"We did not get clarification," she said.

She said it was "unusual" to have congressional funds suddenly halted that way, and aides raised concerns about the legality of it. The Pentagon was "concerned" about the hold-up of funds and "any signal that we would send to Ukraine about a wavering in our commitment," she said.

Cooper told investigators that she was visited in August by Kurt Volker, the U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, who explained there was a "statement" that the Ukraine government could make to get the security money flowing.

It was the first she had heard of the quid pro quo that is now the central question of the impeachment inquiry — the administration's push for the Ukraine government to investigate Trump's political rivals.

"Somehow an effort that he was engaged in to see if there was a statement that the government of Ukraine would make," said Cooper, an assistant defense secretary, "that would somehow disavow any interference in U.S. elections and would commit to the prosecution of any individuals involved in election interference."

Meanwhile, Mulvaney plans to file his own lawsuit over testimony in the House impeachment inquiry, withdrawing his bid to join a separate case filed last month by a former Trump adviser, his attorneys said Monday.

The plans were revealed in a court filing that withdrew Mulvaney's earlier request to become part of a suit by Charles Kupperman, the president's former deputy national security adviser.

Lawyers for Mulvaney had asked Friday evening to join that lawsuit, saying his case presented similar legal issues to that of Kupperman. But they switched course following a conference call with a federal judge. They said they instead plan to file their own lawsuit asking a court to rule on whether Mulvaney must follow a subpoena from Congress directing him to testify or an order from the White House that he not appear.

Mulvaney faced opposition from lawyers for both Kupperman and House lawmakers in his bid to join the lawsuit, underscoring the lack of a unified approach from Trump administration officials in responding to the impeachment inquiry, which enters a critical public phase this week. Several people have testified in defiance of White House orders, while others have skipped their scheduled appearances.

Kupperman's lawsuit aims to have a court decide on compliance with congressional subpoenas and to resolve conflicting directives from the White House and Congress. He asked a judge to determine which branch of government should prevail.

Like Kupperman, Mulvaney has defied a subpoena from impeachment investigators. Kupperman's subpoena has since been withdrawn. His lawyer also represents former national security adviser John Bolton, who did not appear for a scheduled interview last week and has not been subpoenaed.

Lawyers for Mulvaney had said their arguments raised similar issues that belong in the Kupperman lawsuit, since they both have been close advisers to the president and in regular contact with him.

But in a court filing Monday, Charles Cooper, who represents Kupperman and Bolton, said there were important distinctions between Mulvaney and Kupperman's situations, including that Mulvaney already spoke publicly about issues central to the impeachment inquiry from the podium of the White House briefing room.

The House is investigating whether Trump violated his oath of office by pushing Ukraine's president to investigate Democrats, including Joe Biden, while the administration was withholding military funds for the East European ally.

Cooper described the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, saying it involved a range of items such as night vision goggles, vehicles, sniper rifles and medical equipment.

"Security assistance is vital to helping the Ukrainians be able to defend themselves," Cooper said.

Because Ukraine and Georgia are two "front-line states" facing Russian aggression, the U.S. needed to "shore up these countries' abilities to defend themselves."

"It's in our interest to deter Russian aggression elsewhere around the world," she said.


Local
featured
Saluting veterans
Veterans Day services can represent pride in service for veterans -- and much more

SIOUX CITY -- A Veterans Day service can mean something to veterans in more ways than one.

In the most obvious sense, Monday's observance at the Woodbury County Courthouse was a tribute to U.S. military veterans for their service to their country.

Standing tall and saluting the flag, veterans who filled the courthouse rotunda displayed the pride they felt for their service then and still feel today.

For other veterans, a service like Monday's can mean much more, said Mary Jordan, director of the Sioux City Vet Center.

[More Veterans Day coverage: Kingsley man urges fellow veterans to show their ID on Veterans Day.]

Attending a service in which veterans are shown appreciation for their service can be an important step in helping veterans remember the value of their service. Jordan said she and her staff encourage veterans to attend the ceremonies, helping them see that appreciation and also to come into contact with other veterans.

"We're trying to remind people by virtue of their status and experience that they should come to events like these," Jordan said.

nickhytrek / Nick Hytrek, Sioux City Journal 

Mary Jordan, director of the Sioux City Vet Center, speaks at Monday's Veterans Day observance at the Woodbury County Courthouse.

Asked to speak about the Vet Center's services, Jordan told the audience that she and her staff help veterans facing a number of issues.

"It is a humble privilege to help the veterans of our community," Jordan said. "What we do every day is talk, but we listen."

Counseling, both in group and individual settings, and helping with Veterans Administration benefits are among the center's better-known services. Jordan said the center also helps veterans seeking employment or those who are homeless or at risk of losing their home.

Jordan said it's an honor to help veterans get the help or services they need.

"Thank you for everything you've done," she said to veterans in attendance Monday. "You are why I'm here today."

nickhytrek / Nick Hytrek, Sioux City Journal 

Members of the Marine Corps League Siouxland Detachment 507 prepare to post the colors at Monday's Veterans Day observance at the Woodbury County Courthouse.

The presence of so many men and women who have served their country is something to be thankful for, Andrew Nelson said in delivering his invocation.

The 185th Air Refueling Wing, Iowa Air National Guard chaplain said that those in attendance can be inspired to remember our veterans and their service.

"Inspire us by their service and sacrifice to live lives dedicated to service to others," Nelson said.

PHOTOS: 33 images of Sioux City pizza from the past and present