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Two businesses say they were listed in error on letter to Awesome Biker Nights

SIOUX CITY | At least two downtown businesses say they were listed erroneously in the signature line of a letter asking Awesome Biker Nights to relocate its event away from the Historic Fourth Street District next summer.

Buffalo Alice and American National Insurance have declared their names were incorrectly listed alongside eight other Historic Fourth businesses in a letter sent last week that said the business group would not participate in the event this year and wanted it to move to a new location. 

"We would like to let all our customers know that Buffalo Alice never signed the petition to no longer have Awesome Biker Nights on 4th Street," the downtown pub posted its Facebook page Tuesday evening. "We’re not sure how we got on the list and want to make sure everyone knows we want Awesome Biker Nights to stay on 4th Street."

American National Insurance agent David Suhr likewise told the Journal American National, which sits at 1024 Fifth St., was erroneously listed after fellow American National agent Brandon Steffe had said his personal name could be included in the letter.

Suhr said since the property does not lie on Historic Fourth Street and since the event takes place mainly outside business hours, it does not affect it. 

"It has absolutely no effect whatsoever on my business," Suhr said, adding that the name was listed without corporate authorization and that Awesome Biker Nights chairman Brian Hall is a client of his.

"That's where I was pretty adamant of being removed from it," he said.

Awesome Biker Nights has recognized the two business' positions via Facebook, where it had originally posted a copy of the letter Monday evening -- a move that generated a flurry of shares, comments and reactions. 

"HERE'S ANOTHER ONE," it posted in all caps Tuesday morning with a photo of a text message bearing the name of Buffalo Alice owner Bob Nettleton. "Buffalo Alice's owner Bob Nettelton has spoken out in support of ABN on 4th Street. Will the list continue to grow?"

The businesses' letter, dated Nov. 28, said the businesses don't want their street and storefronts blocked by the event and would like the annual charity event to move elsewhere. Along with American National and Buffalo Alice, those included in the signature line included SoHo Kitchen & Bar, Rebos, Studio 427, Aalfs Manufacturing, M's on Fourth, The Diving Elk, Antiques on Fourth and Ave Med Spa. 

Awesome Biker Nights chairman Brian Hall told the Journal Wednesday he was flabbergasted when he first received a copy of the letter earlier this week. After returning to Historic Fourth Street last year for its 18th annual event, the board had been planning to continue at that location, he said. 

Hall said the board will discuss the event's location at its regularly scheduled meeting Sunday and intends to release information publicly shortly thereafter. But he said the letter has not delayed plans for the festival or for booking bands. 

"I want everyone to know that this event is for charities, period," he said, adding that the thousands of people who attend each year provide a boost to local motels, restaurants, convenience stores and other businesses. 


Brian Hall

For nearly two decades, Awesome Biker Nights has brought thousands to downtown Sioux City each summer for live music, a bike show and other events. All proceeds generated at the rally benefit charitable organizations. It has raised more than $1 million during its existence.

This story has been updated with the correct address of American National Insurance. 

Grassley stands by opposition to estate tax

Sen. Chuck Grassley is not backing away from his comment about raising the cap on the estate tax and using the federal tax system to encourage savings.

“Death should not be an incident of taxation,” the Iowa Republican said Wednesday, calling that a matter of principle.

Grassley ignited a firestorm of satire and derision with comments he made to reporters last week explaining his position that the estate tax — or death tax, as he sometimes calls it — is a form of double taxation that doesn’t recognize the value of risk-taking, saving and investment.

“I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing,” Grassley said in that weekly conference call. “As opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”

His comments have been lampooned by opinion writers and late night television hosts and prompted his detractors to leave empty liquor bottles outside his Iowa offices and design T-shirts apologizing for the senator Iowans have elected seven times.

Grassley said again Wednesday that his comments were taken out of context.

“I put out a statement, (and) I think I’ll stand by my statement of correction,” Grassley said.

In that statement, Grassley said “the government shouldn’t seize the fruits of someone’s lifetime of labor after they die.”

“The question is one of basic fairness and working to create a tax code that doesn’t penalize frugality, saving and investment,” the statement continued. “That’s as true for family farmers who have to break up their operations to pay the IRS following the death of a loved one as it is for parents saving for their children’s college education or working families investing and saving for their retirement.”

Grassley estimated the estate tax is levied on about 2 percent to 3 percent of estates, those passing on assets of more than $5.5 million for individuals and $11 million for married couples. The current tax on estates is 40 percent of an individual’s wealth at death.

Last week, the Senate approved raising that to $11 million per individual and $22 million per couple. The House tax reform plan would end the estate tax in 2024.

Grassley’s position is that income ought to be taxed just once.

“Think of the farmland bought for $1,000 and now it’s worth $10,000 an acre,” he said. “You don’t plan on selling it because you want the kid to farm it and the next grandkid to farm it.”

The estate tax, he said, doesn’t recognize the value of people who create businesses and jobs, who build something to leave to their families, who invest in their communities.

“Not having the estate tax recognizes the people who are investing,” he said.

North High student arrested for bomb threat at school

SIOUX CITY | A North High School student has been arrested in connection with a bomb threat made to the school Tuesday.

Sioux City police arrested the student, who has not been named, on a charge of false reporting, a Class D felony.

The investigation is ongoing, according to a Sioux City Police Department news release.

Police responded to the bomb threat just before 10 a.m. at the school, 4200 Cheyenne Blvd. The message, which said a bomb would detonate at 1:28 p.m., was displayed on an electronic message board on an online video game.

Approximately 1,500 students were evacuated from the school and transported to the North Middle School gymnasium nearby. After police conducted two searches of the interior and exterior of the high school and found nothing suspicious, the students were allowed back into the building at about 2 p.m.

In addition to the criminal charges, the student could face punishment, including expulsion, from the school district.

Ex-teacher accused of sexual abuse bonds out of jail

ORANGE CITY, Iowa | A former teacher charged with having sexual contact with more than a dozen children has been released from custody.

Curtis Van Dam posted 10 percent of his $150,000 bond Tuesday and bonded out of the Sioux County Jail. The bond was secured through Lederman Bail Bonds.

Van Dam, 36, of Sioux Center, Iowa, has pleaded not guilty in Sioux County District Court to 146 charges related to sexual contact with at least 13 children between August 2014 and this past October. He is scheduled to stand trial March 6.

As part of his bond release, Van Dam promises to appear for future court hearings.

District Judge Patrick Tott on Monday had continued Van Dam's bond at $150,000. As part of the order, Tott said that if Van Dam bonded out of jail he must wear an electronic monitoring device on his ankle and be supervised by the Department of Correctional Services.

Other conditions of release include:

-- He must not go within 100 yards of a child care or educational facility.

-- He may have no contact with any child under age 15 except for his own children or the children of family members if supervised by another adult.

-- He may not leave Iowa without permission of his pretrial supervision officer. He may travel to Spirit Lake, Iowa, to meet with his attorney, Edward Bjornstad.

Van Dam was arrested Oct. 23 after a complaint was filed against him for inappropriate contact with a student. Administrators at Sioux Center Christian School removed Van Dam, who taught fifth grade, from the school after the complaint was filed. As Sioux Center police investigated the complaint, they filed additional charges related to incidents with other children, and Van Dam was fired.

Police have said the incidents took place at various locations, including the school, where Van Dam taught for nine years. Court documents and police have not revealed the gender of the alleged victims.

Some or all of the children were under age 12 or 13. Van Dam is accused of sexually abusing or having inappropriate contact with some of the children on at least 24 separate occasions over several months.

Van Dam is accused of having children fully or partially undress in front of him, permitting children to touch his genitals and exposing himself to some of the children.

Ty Rushing / Provided 

The entrance to North High School in Sioux City.


Brian Hall

Justin Wan, Sioux City Journal 


Van Dam