SCHOOLS CLOSED-BUS DRIVER SHORTAGE

Davenport schools cancel classes, citing bus driver shortage

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — Schools in Davenport surprised parents Monday with an announcement that classes had been cancelled because there weren’t enough drivers to run school bus routes. The Davenport Community School District informed parents early Monday that classes were cancelled because of a school bus driver shortage. All Saints Catholic School and Trinity Lutheran School also announced closures Monday because of the shortage. A message left Monday with a spokesman for Durham School Services, which provides school bus service to the districts, was not immediately returned. Students had been slated to return to school Monday following a two-week holiday break.

MIDWEST ECONOMY

December report: Midwest economy, confidence improve

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The final 2021 report on a monthly survey of business leaders in nine Midwest and Plains states shows the region’s economy continues to improve going into the new year, with confidence in the economy over the next six months soaring. The overall index for December of the Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions released Monday grew to 64.6 from November’s 60.2. Any score above 50 on the survey’s indexes suggests growth. The survey’s business confidence index, which looks ahead six months, rocketed from a weak 46.2 in November to 64.0 in December. The monthly survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-IOWA

Judges send Tyson workers’ virus lawsuit back to state court

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A federal appeals court has ruled that Tyson Foods can’t claim it was operating under the direction of the federal government when it tried to keep its processing plants open as the coronavirus spread rapidly within them during the early days of the pandemic. So a lawsuit filed by several families of four workers who died after contracting COVID-19 while working at Tyson’s pork processing plant in Waterloo will be heard in state court. The families allege that Tyson’s actions contributed to the deaths. Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson said the company is disappointed in the court ruling, but he defended the steps Tyson took to keep workers safe during the pandemic. 

FATAL HOUSE FIRE

One person dies in New Year’s Day house fire in Waterloo

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — Fire officials say a man died in a New Year’s Day fire at a Waterloo home. Fire Chief Pat Treloar said the cause of the fire at the two-story, single-family home is still under investigation. Treloar says one person was able to escape the home when the fire broke out Saturday morning but a second person remained inside. The blaze was too intense for firefighters to enter the home for about an hour. When firefighters were able to get into the home, the victim was found dead upstairs.

VACCINE MANDATE-HEAD START PROGRAM

Judge blocks COVID vaccine mandate for Head Start program

MONROE, La. (AP) — A Louisiana federal judge has ruled that President Joe Biden cannot require teachers in the Head Start early education program to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The decision hands a victory to 24 states that had sued the federal government. U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty wrote Saturday that the Biden administration unlawfully bypassed Congress when ordering that workers in Head Start programs be vaccinated by Jan. 31. Head Start is a federally funded program that promotes education for children under the age of 6 who are from low-income families. It was not immediately clear whether the federal government would appeal the decision to the 5th Circuit in New Orleans.

PEDESTRIAN DEATH-POLK COUNTY

Authorities identify pedestrian killed in Polk County

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Polk County authorities continue to investigate a crash that killed a 77-year-old pedestrian. The sheriff’s office identified the man killed in Thursday night’s crash as Jack Waters, of Des Moines. Investigators say Waters was walking across Northeast 14th Street in northeast Des Moines Friday when he was hit by a Chevy Tahoe. He died at the scene. The sheriff’s office said the Tahoe’s driver stopped and is cooperating with authorities. 

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