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Serving Her Country | Women in the Military
'Serving Her Country' exhibit opens with ceremony

SIOUX CITY — From her father’s arms, 1-year-old Daisy Griffin cracked a slight smile as she pointed to a photo of her mother, Molli Griffin, that was on display at the Betty Strong Encounter Center in Sioux City.

Ty Rushing, Sioux City Journal 

Geno Griffin holds up his daughter, Daisy, 1, as she points to her mother, Molli, one of 22 female veterans featured in the Journal's "Serving Her Country: Women in the Military" series. The veterans were honored Sunday during a program at the Betty Strong Encounter Center.

The elder Griffin was one of the female veterans featured in the Journal’s three-week “Serving Her Country: Women in the Military” series, which showcased the service careers of 21 Siouxland women and U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, the first female combat veteran elected to the Senate.

Molli Griffin, a teacher at Kingsley-Pierson High School, spent 15 years in the U.S. Army Reserves and was deployed to Iraq for a year and was stationed at Forward Operating Base Speicher near Tikrit.

To cap off the series, the Journal partnered with the Betty Strong Encounter Center to host an exhibit featuring all of the women’s stories and portraits.

A kick-off event was held at the facility Sunday and more than 100 people were in attendance.

Ty Rushing, Sioux City Journal 

Kristen Simon takes a picture of her mother, Lynette Kiger, as she poses next to her portrait. Kiger was part of the Journal's "Serving Her Country: Women in the Military" series, which culminated Sunday with a ceremony at the Betty Strong Encounter Center.

The "Serving Her Country" exhibit will be on display until Memorial Day and is composed of portraits by Journal photographers Tim Hynds, Jim Lee and Justin Wan. Exhibit text is drawn from stories by Journal staff writers Alex Boisjolie, Dolly Butz, Mason Dockter, Tim Gallagher, Bret Hayworth, Earl Horlyk, Nick Hytrek, Ian Richardson and Ty Rushing.

During the ceremony, Gallagher led an hour-plus program that featured excerpts from each story in the series while the women’s photos were projected onto a screen.

In his opening speech, Gallagher explained that the Journal’s veteran series originated in 2008 when Marcia Poole, a former Journal staff writer and the executive director of the Encounter Center and adjoining Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, asked if he could find and share some stories about Siouxland World War II veterans.

Gallagher accepted the challenge and wound up profiling 14 area WWII veterans, including Claire O’Brien of Sioux City, who was also featured in the "Serving Her Country" series.

After a seven-year hiatus, the series returned and the Journal profiled 50 Vietnam War veterans in 2015 and followed that up with profiles of 20 Korean War veterans in 2016.

“As that exhibit closed, (Journal) editor Bruce Miller, working with Marcia, suggested the prospect of featuring the lives of women in the military for a Journal series and photo exhibit here in 2017, which culminates today,” Gallagher told the crowd.

Just about every one of the women profiled were present Sunday and treated to a round of applause from the nearly standing-room-only crowd as Gallagher shared tidbits from their stories and their service.

Ty Rushing, Sioux City Journal 

Fifteen of the 22 women featured in the Journal's "Serving Her Country: Women in the Military" series attended a ceremony Sunday at the Betty Strong Encounter Center that served as the end of the series and kicked off an exhibit featuring the women's portraits and tidbits from their stories.

As the ceremony closed, many of the other veterans and other spectators made their way to the front row to thank O’Brien for her service and shake her hand.

The 95-year-old took it all in stride and raved about the program during a brief reprieve from the onslaught of well-wishers. 

“It was very stimulating, it was very well planned, well executed and it certainly was an honor to be part of,” she said.

Justin Wan, Sioux City Journal 

Bomgaars employees are shown at the company's corporate offices in Sioux City. Bomgaars has donated to the Journal's Goodfellow charity.

Tim Hynds Sioux City Journal 


Four state runner-up finishes for Iowa prep teams. SPORTS B1

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Steve Martin, Martin Short plan Sioux City appearance in 2018

Steve Martin will return to the Orpheum Theatre May 19 and bring comedian Martin Short with him.

Tickets for the show will go on sale Nov. 17 at the Tyson Events Center Box Office, online at or by calling 1-800-514-3849.

Last in Sioux City in 2012, when he performed bluegrass with the Steep Canyon Rangers, Martin will present a more wide-ranging show that will include film, comedy, music and, yes, an appearance by the Steep Canyon Rangers. Also on the bill: jazz pianist Jeff Babko, who is also a member of the “Jimmy Kimmel Live” band.

The show, which has been touring the country, is called “An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life.”

For Martin and Short, who appeared together in the films “Father of the Bride” and “Three Amigos,” it’s a comedy reunion enabling them to share memories from decades in all forms of media.

Martin, whose latest play, “Meteor Shower,” opens later this month on Broadway, was nominated for a Tony Award for his musical “Bright Star.” He received an honorary Academy Award as well and has garnered Grammys for comedy, bluegrass and American Roots music.

His frequent bluegrass partners, the Steep Canyon Rangers, are also Grammy winners, and appear with him on his latest release, “The Long-Awaited Album.”

“I am so excited to be playing Sioux City,” Martin said in a release. “Marty is excited, too, but I believe I’m more excited. So my applause should be just a little bit more than Marty’s.”

Not to be outdone, Short said he also was excited about the date. “There are very few people in show business that I truly admire and Steve Martin is very close to being one of them.”

In addition to starring in films and on Broadway (where he won a Tony for his performance), Short most recently was seen in the live production of “Hairspray” on NBC. He had a long run in “SCTV” (where he created many of his classic characters) and an acclaimed season of “Saturday Night Live.”

Martin and Short have been friends for years, often appearing on awards shows together. The tour, however, is their first stage collaboration.

The May 19 show will begin at 7:30 p.m.

City keeps musical notes, ditches 'Sioux City Sue' theme for water tank paint job

SIOUX CITY | Sioux City has slightly tweaked its plans to decorate a prominent city water storage tank due to copyright issues. 

A panel of city and community representatives had originally planned to adorn the Singing Hills storage tank, which sits atop a hill in Sertoma Park overlooking Interstate 29 and the Highway 75 bypass, with notes to the song "Sioux City Sue," a popular 1945 ditty by Dick Thomas and Ray Freedman that put the city on the map for many outsiders. 

The musical note idea was also meant to play on "Singing Hills," the corridor where the tank is located. 

However, special assistant to the city manager Rick Mach, a member of the original panel, said the city ran into copyright issues with reproducing the notes of the song on the tower. 

In a new design that will go before the City Council Monday, the city has now opted instead to use generic musical notes and drop any reference to "Sioux City Sue." 


"We kind of just went with whimsical notes that don’t represent any specific song," Mach said. 

The new design will include the phrases "Sioux City" and "Singing Hills" on the sides of the tank, with musical notes painted underneath. "Sioux City" will also be painted in large bold font on the top of the tank, making it visible to low-flying aircraft.

The 3-million-gallon tank, one of eight water storage facilities in Sioux City, hasn't been repainted since its construction in the mid-1990s. It would be the first to sport a city-funded painting design.

Jim Lee, Sioux City Journal file 

Musical notes will decorate the water tank in Singing Hills as early as next fall. The City Council wants the highly visible structure to draw attention to the community and its heritage. 

Sioux City in June approved a $40,700 consulting services agreement with DGR Engineering of Rock Rapids, Iowa, for design and bidding services and administration and oversight of the project.

The council will vote Monday on plans and specifications for the project. The city estimates painting costs will total around $220,000. 

Water plant superintendent Brad Puetz said the artistic design represents about $20,000 of that price tag. 


Water tower maintenance costs can vary based on the size and structure of the tank. A project to repaint a 2-million-gallon, multi-legged elevated tank in Morningside cost more than $1.7 million during the city's 2016 fiscal year. 

A painting of the 750,000-gallon multi-legged airport water tower is estimated to cost around $572,000. That project has been put on hold, according to city documents. 

Documents say a public hearing for the project will be held Nov. 27, and bids will be received Dec. 12. The project has an estimated completion date of Oct. 15, 2018.

Reinvestment district contract

In other action, the council will vote on a contract with the Iowa Economic Development Authority for the Sioux City Reinvestment District. 

Under the contract, Sioux City will receive $13.5 million in state funding to assist with the construction of four big-ticket projects. The city will then have up to 20 years to repay the money through the state's portion of hotel/motel and sales taxes generated by the new properties. 

The start date for the repayment is Oct. 1, 2019. 

The projects included in the district are the following:

-- A five-story, 150-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel that will adjoin the Sioux City Convention Center downtown. The project also includes renovations at the convention center and construction of a 140-space parking structure.

-- An ag expo center in the city's former stockyards area.

-- Redevelopment of the former Warrior Hotel and Davidson Building into a combination hotel and residential/commercial/retail complex.

-- Redevelopment of four former industrial buildings in the area of the 100 block of Virginia Street for residential and commercial use by Ho-Chunk Inc. known as Virginia Square.

The contract includes a handful of contingencies. The Ag Expo Center must reach $5 million in private fundraising by Dec. 31 and have construction documents and operational agreements in place by May 31, 2018. The Davidson/Warrior project and Virginia Square project must also have construction financing closed and a development agreement executed by May 31.