SIOUX CITY | In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Jolly Saint Nick has some brand-new digs in downtown Sioux City.
Specifically, he's holding court at Santa's House at 409 Nebraska St.
An annual fundraiser sponsored by UnityPoint Health -- St. Luke's Partners, Santa's House will be open 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays, and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays, until Dec. 21.
Children visiting Santa's House will have the chance to chat with Kris Kringle, create holiday craft projects and listen to seasonal stories from Mrs. Claus and her cadre of volunteer elves.
For a small charge, visitors will be able to pick up a sweet treat, have photos taken with Santa and pick up an affordable present at the big guy's gift shop.
UnityPoint Health -- St. Luke's volunteer manager Diane Wheeler said proceeds from Santa's House will help St. Luke's College scholarships, the Caring Clowns and Comfort Care Blanket projects, as well as UnityPoint Health -- St. Luke's Children's Miracle Network.
"Over the past 28 years, Santa's House has raised more than $298,000," she said.
A tradition for many Siouxland families, Santa's House attracted more than 4,500 visitors in 2016, and requires a minimum of 20 volunteers, per shift.
"The fun thing is seeing people who first came to Santa's House when they were kids," Wheeler said. "Now, they're all grown up and are bringing their own children.
"We're seeing plenty of second-generation Santa's House families."
Still, Wheeler admitted Santa likes to switch things up every year. Specifically, he'll have a few new craft projects for young artists.
"Children will be able to make mini-aquariums, as well as something we're calling 'Santa's Super Sparkly Slime,'" she said. "Anyone who has kids will know that slime is all the rage today."
Increasingly, live entertainment is becoming popular at Santa's House.
"We have singers, dancers, bell choirs -- everyone to put you in the holiday mood," Wheeler said. "Even after seeing Santa, we want families to stick around and enjoy Santa's House."
That's especially true this year, since the downtown space, donated by Sioux City's Community Housing Initiatives, is temperature-controlled.
"Santa's House moves around a bit," Wheeler said. "This year's location is probably the nicest one we've had yet."
Crediting corporate sponsors like CF Industries, Great Southern Bank and Guaranteed Roofing, Siding and Insulation Co. for their ongoing support, she said Santa's House remains a labor of love for the people who contribute their time, years after year.
"This is our gift to the community," Wheeler said. "The smiles we see from our visitors make it all worthwhile."
DONOR: Great Southern Bank
ABOUT THE DONOR: Great Southern Bank operates more than 100 offices in nine states, including seven full-service retail banking centers in the Siouxland area. The bank offers a complete lineup of financial services and products, giving customers more choices for managing their money. Great Southern Bank is committed to investing back into the community; our Community Matters Program serves as the foundation of our company’s philosophy of strengthening and supporting all of the communities that we call home. Our focus on what really matters to our customers and communities is essential in determining where we should invest and prioritize our resources.
COMMENT: “Mr. Goodfellow Charity has a long and inspiring tradition of supporting children in the Siouxland area and we are proud to be a part of that tradition. We wish the children and their families a very safe and happy holiday season."
SIOUX CITY | The City Council will vote Monday on a lease agreement with the Sioux City Community School District that will allow the district to re-purpose unused portions of the downtown public museum for specialty courses.
The school district in mid-July approved a purchase agreement with Museum Building Property Inc. to pay $1.5 million for 75,000 square feet of the building at 607 Fourth St.
That purchasing process is underway, according to city documents. The purchase will require a new lease agreement between the city and the district, which is what the council will vote on Monday.
The district's stated plans include constructing new rooms in a portion of the museum building that at one time housed a Delta Air Lines call center before the center closed in 2012, resulting in 165 lost jobs. The building originally served as a J.C. Penney retail store before a large portion of the space was converted into a more expansive home for the public museum.
The proposed lease with the school district includes the following terms:
-- The 50-year lease will begin Dec. 1 and cost $1 per year.
-- The museum will be responsible for all maintenance and utilities within its leased space.
-- Common area charges will be split between the museum and the school district based on the square footage used. The museum will be responsible for 45 percent of the costs.
The move is seen by the district as a more centralized way to offer Life Academy and Career Academy courses, which have previously been spread through all three high schools -- West, North and East -- as well as Western Iowa Tech Community College and the downtown Ho-Chunk Centre. The classrooms could be converted by the 2018-19 school year.
The district's growing Career Academy allows students to take specialty courses in business and marketing, family and consumer science, health science and industrial technology.
Life Academy courses have been held at Western Iowa Tech, but college officials have said they need that space for other uses. The Ho-Chunk Centre space is leased for Career Academy courses at a cost of $75,000 annually through 2024.
The Ho-Chunk and museum space is connected via the city skywalk to the school district's administrative offices.