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NAIA basketball tournament assists the local economy

SIOUX CITY — Consider Aaron Larson a fan of Sneaky’s Chicken, a nearly 40-year-old Sioux City restaurant best known for its broasted chicken.

Larson is a second-year graduate assistant coach for the Olivet Nazarene University women’s basketball team. He tried Sneaky's for the first time Monday while staying at the Stoney Creek Hotel & Conference Center.

“It was fantastic,” he said.

Larson and the rest of the Tigers are in town for the 27th National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Division II Women's Basketball Championship held at the Tyson Events Center.

This marks the 21st year in a row Sioux City has held the tournament, breaking the record it set last year.

Over the years, the event has been estimated to bring in more than $300 million to the city thanks to the influx of visitors for the 32 participating teams and their supporters that travel from near and far.

Last year alone, the tournament generated about $15 million, said Erika Newton, general manager for the Tyson Events Center.

Besides ticket and concession sales at the Tyson, local hotels, gas stations, restaurants and retail establishments all stand to benefit from Sioux City playing host.

The Olivet Nazarene Tigers are just one example of that. This is the third consecutive year the team traveled from Bourbonnais, Illinois, about an hour south of Chicago, to the tournament.

Larson said they like to try local eateries when in town and visit shopping centers, although Monday’s inclement weather hindered some of those plans.

Jess Learned, a junior forward for the Tigers, said she likes to eat at places they don’t have near campus when they’re in town. Her favorites have been Pita Pit and Red Robin.

While they do get out and about when the weather cooperates, Learned said she and her teammates really enjoy just spending time together at Stoney Creek, where they’ve stayed the last few years.

“We just love to hang out and then kick some butt when it’s time for basketball,” she said.

Stoney Creek has an occupancy rate percentage in the upper 80s during tournament time, and general manager Lila Plamback suspects the story is the same with most of downtown’s hotels.

In addition to how lucrative the games are for her business, Plambeck noted seeing the same faces every year is a pretty neat experience and she thoroughly enjoys the interactions with the players.

“Oh, God, I love it,” she said. “We had a special luncheon for them today. We hosted Sneaky’s Chicken in the pub and I played a little YouTube video for them as a little motivation — it’s just like family.”

More snow falls on Siouxland
Winter storm makes travel treacherous, causes interstate closure

SIOUX CITY | Snow and high winds created treacherous travel conditions Monday throughout Siouxland, causing a few traffic snarls and leading to the overnight closure of Interstate 29 from Sioux City to the North Dakota border. 

The precipitation, which began as rain in some areas before switching over to snow Monday morning, could leave some parts of Siouxland with 5 or more inches of snow by late Tuesday.

Yankton, Clay and Union counties in South Dakota; Dixon County in Nebraska; and Plymouth and Sioux counties in Iowa are under a blizzard warning until Tuesday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls. The warning will extend until 6 p.m. for Dixon County. 

The remainder of Siouxland is under a winter weather advisory through Tuesday afternoon, with some advisories stretching into the early evening. 

Sioux City received nearly 2 inches Monday and was expected to receive 1 to 2 more inches overnight and in the early morning hours of Tuesday, said Brad Adams, observing program leader with the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls. Winds were expected to continue to be gusting from 30 to 40 mph overnight.

Southeastern South Dakota is expected to total 3 to 5 inches of snow over the two-day period, with some locally higher amounts. Areas further east will see slightly less snow.

Many area schools dismissed early Monday, and at noon, eastbound traffic out of Sioux City on U.S. Highway 20 slowed to 35 mph near Lawton and Moville. Witnesses say winds were blowing snow so substantially across the highway that white-out conditions occurred.

South Dakota state officials closed the interstate north of Sioux City at 6:30 p.m. Monday, citing high winds and heavy snow making for "nearly impossible" driving conditions on many South Dakota roadways. Winter maintenance was suspended in the early evening hours, and traffic was not advised overnight. 

Temperatures are expected to be in the low 30s through Thursday, with temperatures warming to the low 40s over the weekend. The next chance of precipitation will be Saturday. 

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Awesome Biker Nights receives approval for Fourth Street closures

SIOUX CITY | With an apparent agreement reached between event organizers and a pair of downtown businesses, the Sioux City Council voted 5-0 Monday to close portions of Fourth Street for Awesome Biker Nights this June.

The street closure approval is subject to the agreement being signed by Awesome Biker Nights leadership and the owners of M's on Fourth and SoHo Kitchen and Bar, the two businesses who had been the most vocal about the effects of the annual event on their businesses. 

Councilman Dan Moore, who was involved in discussions between the two sides, said after the meeting he believes both are in support. 

"I think we'll see a signed agreement and this event can move forward," he said. 

As reported by The Journal last week, the agreement states Awesome Biker Nights will not sell its own beer at the event and will reduce the fee for Historic Fourth businesses to vend inside its confines from $1,500 to $1,000, provided they meet the April 1 application deadline. It will also provide an entrance for non-event attendees to access the businesses more easily without paying admission. 

Awesome Biker Nights is also entering into a deal with The Marquee that will allow it to receive a portion of the proceeds from The Marquee's beer sales in order to offset its losses. 


Moore made a motion that passed 4-1 to have both sides sign a copy of the agreement and return it to the City Clerk's office. 

Mayor Bob Scott voted against including the agreement, saying he didn't believe the City Council should be involved in contract negotiations. Scott did later vote for the street closure itself.

"I think we came for a street closure and we ought to vote on a street closure," Scott said. "It's not our job to negotiate contracts, and I hope we all learned a valuable lesson about that."

Ian Richardson / Provided 


SoHo, M's on Fourth and other businesses late last year had submitted a letter asking the event to consider other locations, citing losses of revenue during previous years due to decreased access to their business and the $1,500 fee they must pay to sell food and drinks inside the event. 

Awesome Biker Nights' own beer sales also became a sticking point after the business said the event selling in direct competition cuts into their available revenue. Discussions continued last week that led to the eventual compromise. 

Monday's vote came as the council discussed the street closures for the third time in five weeks. 

The 19th annual event will be June 14 through 16. As the deal came to a close last week, the Awesome Biker Nights Board of Directors announced Grand Funk Railroad will play a Saturday night concert. The remaining acts have yet to be announced. 

Since its inception, the charity motorcycle rally has provided more than $1 million to charity. 

Sioux City Council supports cannabidiol dispensary applications

SIOUX CITY | The Sioux City Council has put its support behind entities seeking to apply with the state to open a cannabidiol dispensary in Sioux City. 

The council voted 4-1 Monday to submit a letter of support for entities applying with the state to open a proposed dispensary as one of five that would be potentially licensed statewide later this spring. The city now knows of at least three companies that have expressed interest in opening a dispensary in Sioux City. 

"I don't think it's right if it's legalized that we would not have it in Sioux City," Mayor Bob Scott said. "For me, I believe it's the right vote."

Ian Richardson / Provided 


Councilman Pete Groetken cast the dissenting vote, saying the council had only been notified of the applications a short time ago. He said he had heard from some who were not supportive and wanted more time for public input. 

"I want to make it clear that my main objection really is there isn't enough time available for everybody to weigh in and to offer input," Groetken said. 


Cannabidiol is a chemical found in cannabis plants that is used for products that help treat medical conditions. Medical cannabis cannot contain more than 3 percent of THC, which is the element in marijuana that produces the high.

Under Iowa's expanded medical marijuana law signed last year, the Iowa Department of Public Health Health has requested proposals from companies with the intent of awarding licenses for up to five medical cannabis dispensaries throughout the state. The application deadline is Thursday.

Dispensaries are locations where patients and primary caregivers with valid medical cannabidiol registration cards can obtain cannabidiol. 

Rachel Rose was among three people who stood up to support the council's decision Monday. She said her 12-year-old son Christian has epilepsy and other medical issues. She listed the many medications they had tried before trying cannabidiol and said it "has been the most life-changing thing," although it has been a struggle to get it. 

"We can't get it through mail order. We drive to Denver every few months to get this," she said. "I urge the council to look deep into this and consider getting this alternative medication option to Sioux City." 

MedPharm Iowa was the first company the city knew was interested. City manager Bob Padmore said Monday he knows of three now that want to apply to locate in Sioux City.

The City Council on Monday amended the motion from support of just MedPharm Iowa's application to more widespread support. 

Aaron Boshart, who said he was from the Des Moines-based Iowa Cannabis Company, which is also seeking to locate a dispensary in Sioux City, thanked the council for widening its scope. 

The IDPH plans to award the five licenses by April 1. The licenses must then be renewed yearly on Dec. 1.

Editor's note: The story has been updated to eliminate an incorrect reference to MedPharm Iowa's relationship to the Des Moines-based Kemin Industries. 

Tim Hynds Lee Enterprises 

Newell-Fonda's Olivia Larsen knocks over Central Decatur's Alliey Boswell while moving the ball down court during Newell-Fonda vs Central Decatur Class 1A semifinal-round action of the Iowa girls basketball championship played Friday, March 2, 2018, at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa. Lee Enterprises photo by Tim Hynds

Ian Richardson / Provided