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Govt-and-politics
Sioux City planning new parking, commercial space near Hard Rock

SIOUX CITY | Sioux City plans to partner with the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on an $11 million development project that would bring parking and commercial space to the southwest corner of Third and Pearl streets.  

The city has eyed the empty 1.2-acre lot, which sits just south of the Hard Rock, for additional parking for Tyson Events Center functions since it purchased the land in March 2015. 

City officials say the new ramp will help meet the growing need at the Hard Rock and the city's Historic Pearl Street District, as well as replace some of the spaces lost at the Tyson as part of the Interstate 29 reconstruction project.

No plans have been officially announced, but city economic development director Marty Dougherty said he expects to bring an item before the City Council in the next 30 to 60 days. 

Dougherty

"We're actively working on that project," he said. 

City manager Bob Padmore told the City Council during Saturday's budgeting session that the proposed multi-story structure would include commercial space on a portion of the lower level with parking above. 

 

Padmore

"I think it's perfect for that area," he said. "We definitely have a need for event parking when we have events. So that will serve our need as well as the day to day weekend, days and nights that Hard Rock needs as well."

The city plans to invest $5.5 million into the project for design and construction costs during the fiscal year beginning July 1, with private entities investing another $5.5 million, according to budget documents. Financing is expected to come from public and private sources, according to documents. Dougherty declined to mention private sources other than Hard Rock.

"We have been working with some prospective private entities -- and that would include the Hard Rock -- as a potential partner," he said. 

The city had purchased the lot at Third and Pearl for $1.35 million in March 2015, according to county property records. The former Liberty Bank building that stood on the property was moved later that year. Dougherty said plans for the new structure would span the length of the block facing Pearl Street. 

Dougherty said Hard Rock's growth and the growth of the Pearl Street district in general have spurred the need for additional parking. He added that changes to the area during interstate reconstruction have increased the ease of access to the project's proposed location. 

"That's a high-visibility, high-traffic corner," he said. 

The Hard Rock, which opened in August 2014, recently expanded with a $6.2 million addition to the southeast corner its gaming floor in June of last year. The expansion reduced


Local
Snowfall totals more than a foot in Monday snowstorm; Sioux City schools closed

SIOUX CITY | The first major snowstorm of the new year left Siouxland digging out from more than a foot of snow Tuesday. 

Snowplow drivers worked round-the-clock to get roads cleared as quickly as possible. While most businesses reopened after Monday's blizzard, virtually all schools in the region remained closed for a second straight day.

The storm caused other woes, including power outages in parts of Nebraska and the collapse of Briar Cliff University's dome in South Sioux City. (See related stories.)

After being shut down Monday, American Airlines flights at Sioux Gateway Airport resumed Tuesday afternoon. City buses, which also were grounded Monday, traveled along priority routes where possible Tuesday.

Sioux City's total snowfall was measured at 12.1 inches. Two cities along the Missouri River recorded even higher totals -- 18 inches in Ponca, Nebraska and 14.2 inches in Yankton, South Dakota, according to the National Weather Service.

Le Mars was hit with around 10 inches.

The heaviest snowfall was in a relatively narrow band. Cherokee, Iowa, for instance, recorded 4 inches, while Elk Point, S.D. had 5 1/2 inches.

In Sioux City, some roads had lanes divided by very large, long mounds of snow, while some others were not yet plowed. 

David Carney, director of Sioux City's public works, said the city planned to have most streets passable by Wednesday morning -- except for residential streets, known as Priority 3, which which likely won't be cleared until Wednesday afternoon. 

"Passable," in the city's definition, means a two-wheel drive vehicle should be able to make it through the street. 

Meanwhile, all major thoroughfares, Priority 1 and 2 streets, should be at least passable by Wednesday morning, though they will still have hard snow packed on them, he said.


Gallagher
GALLAGHER: Battle Creek ambulance driver delivers during blizzard

BATTLE CREEK, Iowa | Chris Wallace's pager went off Monday morning, directing him to Horn Memorial Hospital in nearby Ida Grove, Iowa, for a patient transfer.

Wallace, 37, moves dirt as a heavy equipment operator for Wallace Construction in Battle Creek. He moves patients as an ambulance driver in Battle Creek.

"In the winter, we don't work much moving dirt," said Wallace. "So, I move snow and I've driven the ambulance the past six to seven years."

Wallace was joined on this trip by two EMTs and a nurse, transporting a patient who was in need of a run termed "advanced life support."

Like all ambulance runs, this was serious. Mother Nature made it treacherous.

"We had rain and thunder during the morning at Battle Creek, which was kind of crazy," Wallace said. "We went to Ida Grove, got the patient and headed to Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City."

Wallace and his crew ran into snow on Highway 20 somewhere between Correctionville and Moville, Iowa. As they approached Sioux City, road conditions grew worse.

"We drove 40 to 45 miles per hour from Moville to Sioux City, running lights on the ambulance," he said. "But once we got into Sioux City, it was absolutely horrible with cars and trucks stuck all over the place."

Wallace navigated the 2012 Ford F-450 off Gordon Drive to Fairmount Street and then on to Sixth Street en route to the hospital. The crew dropped off the patient, whom he termed as "stable."

"Someone at Mercy had called one of the EMTs and told us that if we hadn't gotten far, we should turn around and go back," Wallace said. "But, by that time we were already past Moville, so we kept going."

The ambulance driver stayed at Mercy for 15 minutes before heading back east to Battle Creek. He and the crew then endured a harrowing 2.5-hour drive home. The trip normally takes 60 minutes.

"I went 20 miles per hour on the drive home," he said. "We had white-out conditions from Sioux City to Holstein."

Not long after departing Sioux City, a pair of semi-trucks jack-knifed across two lanes of Highway 20, thwarting westbound travelers for a period of time. Law enforcement officials urged residents to stay home.

For an ambulance driver, though, that's not often a choice.

"At times I couldn't see the lanes," Wallace said. "I tried to stay right in the middle of the road. I got out once to knock ice off the wipers."

Wallace made it back to Battle Creek around 1:30 p.m. He called it the worst weather he's experienced as an ambulance driver. It reminded him of a night he and a buddy got stranded on a rural road in the midst of a blizzard. Wallace was 19 at the time.

"I was young and dumb and didn't make it that time," he said. "Me and my buddy were stranded all night. It was terrible."

This drive ended well. Wallace heard the patient was doing good, which topped his list of concerns.

Wallace, who isn't a volunteer, made $11 for his effort during the blizzard. That comes to about $2.45 cents per hour, I figured.

Wallace would tell me I'm missing the point. He doesn't drive an ambulance for the money. Nobody does. He does it to serve the people of Battle Creek, one of the dozens, if not hundreds, of unsung heroes throughout our region who drop everything to get a friend or a stranger to the hospital in their time of need, no matter the weather.

"When you're on-call, you get 50 cents per hour," he said. "We definitely don't do this for the money. I enjoy driving the ambulance. It allows me to give something back to my community."


Tim Hynds Sioux City Journal 

Effforts to clear snow from streets have created a windrow wonderland as shown on Pierce Street in downtown Sioux City on Tuesday morning. The city is digging out from a blizzard that dumped about a foot of snow in the region.