SIOUX CITY | Sioux City Public Library leadership is eyeing several upgrades at the city's Morningside Branch to bring the facility up to date.
The library Board of Trustees on Wednesday discussed entering into a design contract with FEH Design, of Sioux City, which would result in construction documents and cost estimates for a list of recommended fixes to the nearly five-decade-old structure.
Last fall, FEH had presented a facilities study to the library board and City Council that outlined a possible $1.65 million in facility upgrades. The study deemed $1.2 million of those fixes as "critical," among them heating and cooling, plumbing and power issues.
City Council members at the time had asked the library board whether using the building, which is aging but still structurally sound, fit into the library's long-term vision. The board has since declared its intention to move forward with fixing the existing building.
"We decided that we want to stay in this building, and we know that there are certain things that have to be fixed, so we’re making progress,” board of trustees president Rick Moon said Wednesday.
The design contract with FEH, expected to cost between $60,000 and $90,000, would provide a schematic design, construction documents and a final cost opinion for the project.
The board plans to take a vote on a finalized contract next month. The design phase could be complete by the end of the year.
Library director Betsy Thompson said the fixes will likely require a mix of city dollars and fundraising. Sioux City's fiscal year 2018 capital improvement program includes $800,000 designated for the project.
In other action Wednesday, the board voted 5-1 to purchase 15 surveillance cameras to increase security indoors at the Wilbur Aalfs library for $10,788.
Thompson said the library has for about a year had off-duty police monitor activity, but that the addition of cameras will enhance security and keep behavior "appropriate."
The expansion project under construction at Methodist Manor Retirement Community in Storm Lake, Iowa, is not threatened by a reorganization of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a 21 percent reduction to the USDA budget under President Donald Trump. A $25 million loan for the project has already been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program. An A1 story in the Journal Wednesday on how the Rural Development program has benefited Methodist Manor and other projects in Iowa contained a misleading headline regarding the Storm Lake project.
SIOUX CITY | Longtime Sioux City Public Library director Betsy Thompson has announced she will retire in August.
Thompson, 64, has worked in the Sioux City Public Library system for 35 years and stood at its helm for the past 22. Thompson told the Journal Wednesday her last day will be Aug. 4.
"I have a milestone birthday coming up, and my husband has been retired for two years now, so it just feels right," she said.
Thompson began working at the Sioux City Public Library in September 1981. Her tenure has included the transition to computerized card catalogs and the movement of the library's main collection from the Sioux City Carnegie Library to the downtown Wilbur Aalfs library in 1990.
More recently, Thompson planned the observance of the library's 140th birthday in May.
Sioux City opened applications for a new director June 11. Advertisements have been posted on the Sioux City website and multiple websites throughout the region, Thompson said during Wednesday's Board of Trustees meeting.
The trustees have formed a three-member transition committee. The committee and the city's human resources department will conduct an initial review of applications July 17.
Once finalists are selected, the full board will conduct interviews and appoint the new director.
Thompson said there will likely be a period between her departure and the hiring of a new director, during which an interim director will be named.
The position for a "forward thinking, innovative library director" will pay $93,378 to $133,482, depending on qualifications, according to the posting.
Thompson made $103,864.44 in the previous fiscal year and was the city's 20th highest-paid employee.
SIOUX CITY | Swinging through Sioux City the day after he announced his candidacy for Iowa governor, Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett on Wednesday pledged to work hard in Northwest Iowa, a hot bed of Republicans who could tip the balance in next year's GOP primary against Gov. Kim Reynolds.
In an interview at the Journal office, Corbett peppered his comments with allusions to Siouxland, including his knowledge of moves by computer maker Gateway in the 1990s and his days of playing football for Morningside College for two years in the late 1970s.
"Northwest Iowa is very important to an overall strategy to victory...I plan on working Northwest Iowa and working this area a lot," Corbett said.
The 56-year-old, who is serving his eighth and final year as mayor of Cedar Rapids, the state's second-largest city, acknowledged he is better known in eastern Iowa. He is also a former 14-year Iowa House member who served through 2000, including a five-year stint as House speaker.
"I have a long resume of public service, not just as the mayor of Cedar Rapids, but also in the Legislature," he said.
Corbett's entry in the field sets up an interesting inter-party Republican battle. Last week, Reynolds began formally laying the groundwork for her first gubernatorial campaign.
Reynolds, lieutenant governor under Gov. Terry Branstad, became Iowa’s 43rd governor and the first female to hold the office in May when Branstad stepped down to become U.S. ambassador to China.
"I am the underdog in the race. This may be the old classic, Tortoise and the Hare," Corbett said. "(Reynolds) had the advantage of inheriting the office of governor."
Corbett continued, Even though Reynolds has some early commitments from key Republican leaders, Corbett said he plans on "outworking her."
The Cedar Rapids mayor said he plans to speak extensively about income tax simplification, education, water quality and health care. He noted serving as chairman of the Iowa Partnership for Clean Water, the group that supported two Northwest Iowa counties in an urban-rural legal battle with Des Moines Water Works.
"Fortunately the judge threw that (lawsuit) out last year," Corbett said.
Corbett responded to a question about whether the June 2018 Republican Party primary vote will come down to which candidate proves they are the most conservative.
"I don't necessarily believe in labels. I am a conservative Republican with an independent streak. I am not a rubber stamp Republican. I am no renegade Republican...I am a Chuck Grassley Republican," he said.