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Up to a foot of snow expected to fall

SIOUX CITY — Several Siouxland cities, including Sioux City, declared snow emergencies this weekend in preparation for Monday’s storm, which was expected to leave up to a foot of snow in some places as it passes through the region.

Meteorologist Jim Murray of the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls said the heavier snowfall was expected to start around 3 a.m. Monday after mixtures of light drizzle and snow Sunday evening.

“Just overnight, could see 1 to 2 inches, but by tomorrow morning, snow's going to pick up and it’s going to get heavier,” Murray said Sunday afternoon. “The heavy snow will occur between 6 a.m. and noon and then you’ll see it start to taper down.”

In addition to the heavy snow, which Murray projected to drop 10 to 12 inches and possibly more in certain places, the meteorologist also noted increased amounts of wind would make things difficult for commuters.

“By tomorrow morning, as that snow starts to accumulate, we’re going to see that blowing around and causing a lot of visibility problems,” Murray said.

In response to the coming snowstorm, several area communities — including Sioux City, Storm Lake, Hinton, Moville, Rock Rapids and Sergeant Bluff in Iowa; South Sioux City, Dakota City and Wayne in Nebraska; and Elk Point and North Sioux City in South Dakota — declared snow emergencies, meaning parking isn't allowed on designated emergency snow routes in those communities.

Sioux Gateway Airport announced that it would close at 9:30 p.m. Sunday and reopen at 11:45 a.m. Monday. Additionally, some Siouxland businesses have altered operations for Monday.

Seaboard Triumph Foods canceled its production shift but maintained its normal maintenance schedule, while Tyson shut down production at its Storm Lake pork plant in Storm Lake and beef plant in Dakota City.

On a positive note, Murray said temperatures should hover around the 30s during the day Monday, which is a tremendous improvement from the drastic low temperatures the region experienced a week ago.

Construction crews keep busy
GALLAGHER: Keeping tabs on 'twin cities' housing starts in Sioux Center, Orange City

ORANGE CITY, Iowa | Housing starts had me traipsing off to Sioux County on Friday. Actually, an Ian Richardson story in the Journal just after New Year's Day pointed me there, as Richardson reported 2017 residential housing starts set a record in Sioux City for the third straight year.

Developers added 274 units in Sioux City during the past 12 months, breaking the standard of 241 set in 2016.

The "twin cities" of Northwest Iowa, Sioux Center and Orange City, have probably established local records in the past decade or so. I found that while 2017 wasn't necessarily a banner year for those communities in residential construction, the productivity likely remains the envy of just about every other small city.

Forty new units were added in Sioux Center during 2017, according to city manager Scott Wynja. That number includes 30 single-family units, two duplexes (four units), and one six-unit townhouse.

Orange City, meantime, added 24 new units in 2017, reported Mark Gaul, community development director. There were 12 single-family housing units built and 12 other units added in a mix of condos, townhouses and duplexes, resulting in a total of about $5.2 million in investment in this category.

In 2016, Sioux Center saw the construction of 55 new housing units. Wynja noted that Sioux Center has likely averaged from 25 to 40 single family units over the past few years.

Gaul shared that from 2009 to 2016, Orange City has averaged 14 dwelling units per year, spiking at 33 newly constructed residences in 2015.

Gary Cleveringa, 70, worked with his grandson, Brandon DeKock, in enjoying the great outdoors on Friday afternoon as they worked on a home for Gary's company, Cleveringa Construction, on 14th Street Southeast in Orange City. The four-bedroom home, which should be done in July, may bring around $250,000.

Just down the street, other construction crews were in the midst of building homes, probably four going up within a two-block area on the city's southeast corner. Cleveringa said there's no shortage of work in his hometown.

"I do turn away work, which is different from the 1980s," he said. "I remember one year during the farm crisis in the 1980s when Orange City had one new home built in a particular year. I can't remember which year it was, but I know there was just one home built."

As we visited, Cleveringa, who began constructing homes 53 years ago, immediately following his graduation from high school here, looked up and down the street, then glanced to the south. "All these lots are sold, so the city will develop the land south of here," he said. "And the city has also bought some acres north of town."

Eighteen years ago, Orange City was home to 5,582 residents. It's now home to about 6,200, if not more.

Up the road in Sioux Center, T. Jay Larsen put the finishing touches on his work for the day as I pulled in. Larsen, who works for his father, Tim Larsen, at Larsen Construction of Maurice, Iowa, said this winter marks the 17th straight he and his father have kept working throughout December and January. Years ago, he said, some smaller, independent home construction firms like theirs would put their hammers down for six or eight weeks.

"Business has been good," Larsen said while standing in a three-bedroom home they're building on Colonial Street, just a 9-iron from The Ridge Golf Club, the spectacular 18-hole layout on Sioux Center's southern edge, a course that took shape just one decade ago.

"We hope to have a 'For Sale' sign posted here next week," said Larsen, who estimated the home would be priced around $399,000.

"It's on the golf course, in a nice development (South Ridge Estates) and it seems similar houses do well over here," he said of a home that boasts 2,000 square feet of living space upstairs and the possibility of two bedrooms in the basement.

"We hope to have it sold by the time it's finished in April," he added.

Sioux Center barely climbed past the 6,000 mark in population in the 2000 census, counting 6,002 residents. Today, Sioux Center is home to more than 7,500 people. Wynja predicted the city could approach the 8,000-person mark by 2020.

"We're adding 100-plus people per year, or 1,000 people per decade," he said.

Of 115 residential lots surrounding The Ridge Golf Club at Sioux Center, 12 lots remain. The next phase of development there opens 50 more lots. Another development, Meadow Creek, promises another 100 lots for residential dwellings in Sioux Center.

Sioux City native who collects vintage toys to join 'Pawn Stars' team

SIOUX CITY -- Joel Magee knew his life had changed forever when he discovered a vintage G.I. Joe lunch box for sale at a flea market held at the former Sioux City Auditorium in 1982.

"I remembered owning a lunchbox just like that when I was a kid going to Crescent Park Elementary School," he explained. "My mom packed that lunchbox with her ham, cheese and mayo sandwiches for years."

After purchasing this slightly banged-up metal memento of his youth, Magee made it his mission to collect similar long-lost lunch boxes.

Eventually, he began collecting everything from Barbie dolls to Hot Wheels cars to "Star Wars" action figures, earning him the title "America's Toy Scout."

Traveling across the country for more than 20 years as the manager of the Antique Toy Road Show, the 57-year-old Magee has been featured in national publications, has appeared on network television and, at 9 p.m. Monday, will make his debut on the History Channel's "Pawn Stars" as the program's recurring vintage toy appraiser.

"I began collecting toys as a way to reclaim my own childhood but, over time, I've been able to help other people reclaim their childhood," said Magee, now of West Palm Beach, Florida. "And it all started in my hometown of Sioux City."

Like many baby boomers, Magee grew up in front of a TV screen.

"I loved shows like 'Bewitched,' 'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,' 'Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color,' and all of the popular shows of the time," he recalled.

Perhaps not too surprisingly, such kid-friendly series frequently had a tie-in with toy manufacturers. 

This fact wasn't lost on Magee.

"To me, toys represented happiness and comfort," he said. "Being from the Midwest and experiencing plenty of harsh winters, I spent plenty of time, indoors, with my toys."


A shield featuring the likeness of Snow White is one of Joel Magee's favorite acquisitions. The Sioux City native's collection of props from Anaheim, Calif.'s Disneyland has been valued at $2 million.

Growing up, Magee exhibited an entrepreneurial interest when he started his own commercial water park in Sioux City as a teenager. Around the same time, he discovered an untapped market for toys from the 1950s and onward.

"Many people develop a deep, emotional attachment to their toys," he explained. "Sometimes, they want a toy appraised in order to sell it. Other times, they have no idea how valuable an object actually is."

That's actually how Magee was able to acquire what is considered to be the largest private collection of Disney props and collectibles in the world. 

"I had to add an extra 2,000 square feet to my house but I did it," he said, of the collection that has an estimated worth of $2 million.

Included in Magee's treasure trove of memorabilia are a series of attraction posters that date back to the 1955 opening of Disneyland amusement park in Anaheim, California.

Even more fun is a shield that welcomed Disneyland visitors to a Snow White ride; one of the cars that was used in the "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" exhibit; and the three ghosts who were hitching up to the "Doombuggy" for their trip through "The Haunted Mansion."


Collector Joel Magee, a Sioux City native, acquired vintage, one-of-a-kind props from the Disneyland amusement park. The items, many of which were purchased from retired Disney employees, will be featured on the Feb. 5 episode of the History Channel's "Pawn Stars."

"We acquired many of the props from retired employees who wanted a keepsake from a discontinued exhibit," Magee said. "Other times, these items were slated to be thrown away before getting a last-minute reprieve." 

Which is good news for Magee, who considers himself to be a collector, a historian and a fan.

"When I see a prop from the early 1960s, a part of me still wonders if Walt Disney gave it his own personal stamp of approval," he said. "Old Walt was known for being a hands-on boss when it came to stuff bearing his name. It wouldn't surprise me if everything had to be OK'd by him."

Some of Magee's favorite finds may seem quirky to the discriminating eye. For instance, he'll be showing off a talking candlestick prop used on Sid & Marty Krofft's campy "H.R. Pufnstuf" TV series on Monday's "Pawn Stars."

But such items can conjure up memories from generations of kids who fondly recall Freddie the Flute, Witchiepoo and the ludicrously loquacious equipment found inside Dr. Blinky's treehouse laboratory on the live-action, 1970s-era kid show.

"The memories that we have as kids will stay with us for the rest of our lives," Magee said. 

For beginner collectors, he suggested acquiring vintage comics that do not feature superheroes.

"Years ago, parents will usually start a young child out by buying them a 'Chip 'n' Dale' comic or a 'Archie' comic because they're considered a safer choice than 'Batman' or 'Superman,'" Magee said. "These comic books are more rare and valuable to many collectors."

Even more valuable are first editions of any type of comic.

"Let me tell you a story that no collector wants to tell," Magee confided. "I was getting ready to throw away some stuff I no longer wanted. Somehow, a comic book that had Charlie Brown on the cover got mixed in with the trash. I literally had to fish the first edition of a 'Peanuts" comic book out of the garbage."

While it's hard to predict the value of future nostalgia, he thinks the inhabitants of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry might soon be worth a pretty penny.

"The kids who grew on 'Harry Potter' are now becoming adults," Magee explained. "It won't be long before they start feeling nostalgic about their childhood collectibles."