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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.

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."