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Time capsule in Sioux City reveals old items 101 years later

SIOUX CITY | In the early afternoon of July 10, 1916, a slew of Woodbury County officials made sure interesting Siouxland items from the prior 40 years were placed into a cornerstone box, as a new county courthouse was being constructed.

On Tuesday -- 101 years, four months, 11 days and two hours later -- current county officials muscled open the time capsule in a Woodbury County Courthouse ceremony, and aired the items for a crowd of interested people.

What they found was as expected, since a master list of the capsule items had been kept from 1916, just two years before the courthouse opened. That included a bunch of Sioux City newspapers, minutes from county board of supervisors meetings, foreign and domestic coins that dated from 1899 to 1915 and pamphlets from lots of men's lodge organizations, which are no longer functioning.

There were also scads of photos, including of President Woodrow Wilson, a Sioux City tuberculosis hospital, downtown businesses and Stone State Park, only four years after it opened.

There were lots of bemused looks as it took 15 minutes to pry open the cornerstone, then again as officials such as Sioux City Public Museum Archives Manager Tom Munson raved about what was pulled out.

That came on the heels of one of Munson's first statements, that he expected so many newspapers in the capsule to deteriorate.

"I think I am going to see dust, not to be pessimistic," he said.

Forty-five minutes later when the unveiling was completed, Munson noted the items, some of which dated to the 1860s, showed little wear: "It is better than dust, far better than dust."

A week ago, county crews extracted the time capsule from the cornerstone at a cost of less than $5,000. The iron box had to be drilled out of the granite from the northwest corner of the building to avoid structural problems caused by colder weather.

The public event on Tuesday was designed in part to build excitement for the 100th building commemoration, which will be held May 1-5, 2018.

Designed by famed architect William Steele, the courthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1996. It's considered the largest publicly owned Prairie School-design buildings in the world.

Woodbury County Building Services Department Director Kenny Schmitz and consultant Shane Albrecht took 15 minutes, longer than expected, to get the capsule open. They used a rotary tool, then big pliers, then eventually pounded on a screwdriver. Schmitz said the extra labor was necessary because there was an unexpected second seal of the capsule on the inside.

Woodbury County Historical Committee members are setting the centennial celebration events. Committee member Jim Jung raved about the items as they were pulled out by Munson, who was wearing gloves so not to harm the pieces.

"Pretty good shape, that is amazing," Jung said.

Those items will now go into a Sioux City Public Museum display.

About 30 people watched in the courthouse atrium, and another 10 from the County Attorney office and other court workers observed from the floor above. Committee member Jeremy Taylor noted the Tuesday unveiling of the capsule lacked the musical flourish that occurred with the 1916 cornerstone ceremony.

"We don't have the Elks Quartet with us to sing today," Taylor deadpanned.

In spite of the differing aspects of the 1916 and 2017 events, it was fantastic to watch people get excited, he added.

"It was worth it to see the excitement on historians' faces," Taylor said.

'We don't need a liberal:' Trump discounts Moore accusations

WASHINGTON — Silent for more than a week, President Donald Trump all but endorsed embattled Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore on Tuesday, discounting the sexual assault allegations against him and insisting repeatedly that voters must not support Moore's "liberal" rival.

The president said he would announce next week whether he will campaign for Moore, who faces Democrat Doug Jones in a Dec. 12 special election to fill the seat once held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Trump, who won election despite facing more than a dozen accusations of sexual misconduct himself, dismissed questions from reporters about backing a Republican accused of sexual assault over a man who is a Democrat. Trump pointed to Moore's assertions that he did nothing wrong.

"Roy Moore denies it, that's all I can say," Trump said. In fact, he repeated 10 times in a 5-minute session outside the White House that the GOP candidate has denied any wrongdoing.

Two Alabama women have accused Moore of assault or molestation — including one who says she was 14 at the time — and six others have said he pursued romantic relationships when they were teenagers and he was a deputy district attorney in his 30s.

Trump didn't explicitly say he was endorsing Moore, but he said with emphasis, "We don't need a liberal person in there. ... We don't need somebody who's soft on crime like Jones."

He also noted that the allegations came from behavior alleged to have happened decades ago.

"Forty years is a long time," Trump said, questioning why it took so long for Moore's accusers to come forward.

Former Sen. Sessions has said he has no reason to doubt the allegations against Moore, Republican leaders in Washington have called for Moore to leave the race, and the White House has repeatedly said Trump himself felt Moore would "do the right thing and step aside" if the allegations proved true.

But Trump had been publicly silent until Tuesday when he exchanged questions and answers with reporters, shouting to be heard over the noise of his Marine helicopter, waiting to take him to Air Force One, which then flew him to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, for Thanksgiving.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, both Republicans, have called on Moore to leave the race in light of the accusations. The Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee have pulled their support for his campaign.

Trump backed incumbent Sen. Luther Strange in a September Republican primary, but moved quickly to embrace Moore after he won. A White House official said Tuesday that Trump's attack on Jones did not amount to a formal endorsement of Moore, only that Trump was communicating that sending the Democrat to Washington would hamper his agenda.

Republican leaders briefly explored the possibility of seeking a write-in candidate but have determined those efforts would only increase Jones' chances by splitting the GOP vote in the Republican state. Sessions has resisted pleas to mount a last-minute campaign for his old seat.

The allegations against Moore come amid a national reckoning over misdeeds by powerful men in media, business and politics.

Just Tuesday, longtime Michigan Rep. John Conyers acknowledged that his office settled a sexual harassment complaint involving a former staffer, though he "vehemently" denied allegations in the complaint.

BuzzFeed reported that Conyers' office paid a woman more than $27,000 under a confidentiality agreement to settle a complaint in 2015 that she was fired from his Washington staff because she rejected the Democrat's sexual advances.

Trump said he was "very happy" that women are speaking out about their experiences.

"I think it's a very special time because a lot of things are coming out, and I think that's good for our society and I think it's very, very good for women," he said.

More than a dozen women came forward in the waning days of the 2016 presidential election to say that Trump had sexually assaulted or harassed them over the years. He denied it. A tape was also released catching him boasting in 2005 that he could grab women's private parts with impunity. "When you're a star, they let you do it," Trump said on the "Access Hollywood" tape.

Trump, who has said all of his accusers lied, declined to answer Tuesday when asked why he does not believe Moore's accusers.

Jones, Moore's senatorial opponent, served as a federal prosecutor in Alabama, where he brought charges against two Ku Klux Klan members over their roles in killing four girls in the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham.

Jones began airing a new ad Monday that features statements made by Sessions, Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby and first daughter Ivanka Trump responding to the allegations against Moore.

Shelby, a fellow Republican, said he will "absolutely not" vote for Moore. Ivanka Trump said there's "a special place in hell" for people who prey on children.

"I've yet to see a valid explanation, and I have no reason to doubt the victims' accounts," Ivanka Trump told the AP last week.

The ad was the first direct assault by the Jones camp against Moore on the allegations.

Moore's camp has begun firing back at the media and one of the accusers. His campaign held an afternoon news conference to vigorously question the account of Beverly Nelson, who said Moore assaulted her when she was a 16-year-old waitress.

The campaign quoted two former restaurant employees and a former customer who said they did not remember Nelson working there or Moore eating there.

Seaboard Triumph Foods hits the 1,100 employees mark

SIOUX CITY | In less than three months, Seaboard Triumph Foods has hit its target of hiring 1,100 employees for the first shift at the new Sioux City pork plant, a top company official said Tuesday.

In addition, a second shift, set to start next year, is now expected to add 950 workers, up 50 from earlier previous estimates, Chief Operating Officer Mark Porter said. The second shift will push total employment well past 2,000.

After two years of construction in the city's Bridgeport West Business Park, the 925,000-square-foot plant slaughtered its first hogs just after Labor Day weekend with several hundred workers. The workforce now includes about 900 hourly workers and around 200 in the office.

With a capacity to process about 10,500 hogs daily with a single shift, it ranks as the second-largest fresh pork plant in the world and the newest factory of its kind in the United States.

The Seaboard Triumph Foods complex, a joint partnership between Guymon, Oklahoma-based Seaboard Foods and St. Joseph, Missouri-based Triumph Foods, was built on a 251-acre site. The current structures cover 22 acres, and a large addition is under construction to accommodate a second shift. Completion is anticipated for late spring or early summer next year.

Once a second shift ramps up, Seaboard Triumph will become the largest Sioux City employer and the third largest in Siouxland, behind only Tyson Fresh Meats in Dakota City and Wells Enterprises Inc. in Le Mars.

Porter also on Tuesday laid out likely scenarios for the plant to expand in the future.

“We won’t expand in fresh pork,” he said. “Most likely, it would be case-ready or smoked meat or fully-cooked meat. We would most likely attach on to the north side or to the northwest.”

Porter updates came during a conversation with U.S. Rep Tom Emmer before the Minnesota Republican toured the plant Tuesday morning.

Ty Rushing / Ty Rushing, Sioux City Journal 

U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minnesota, talks to Seaboard Triumph Foods Chief Operating Officer Mark Porter prior to touring the new $300 million facility. Emmer said he considers himself a strong advocate for agriculture and its related industries, which prompted his visit to Siouxland.

Emmer visited multiple locations in Siouxland Tuesday but made a special point to see the pork plant because one of Triumph Foods' affiliated companies is Christensen Farms, a large Minnesota-based pork producer.

“I’m just very happy I’ve been given the opportunity to visit this great facility,” Emmer said.

The congressman said Tuesday's tours will help him relay the importance of agriculture and its role in the economy to his constituents.

"Most people — especially in the city — they think their food comes from the grocery store," he said. "It's our job to keep it real and make sure we understand where it's actually coming from."