HOLSTEIN, Iowa -- Against all odds, Shirley Phillips never doubted.
On Friday, Phillips got her "wow" moment.
For years, there was no funding stream or great momentum for the quest to widen the two-lane layout of U.S. Highway 20 in the westernmost counties of Iowa. But Phillips had a chief role in pushing to modernize the highway to four lanes, in order to improve safety and spur economic growth near the thoroughfare, in leading the U.S. 20 Corridor Association members who lobbied for the project.
"Either you get bitter or you get better. We got better...We were the indefatigable association," Phillips, of Sac City, told a crowd of several hundred people at a highway ribbon cutting.
Highway 20 is now four lanes wide all the way across Iowa. Previously into the 1980s, save for 15 miles from Sioux City to Moville, only the eastern two-thirds of Iowa had four lanes. The highway still ran in Siouxland -- sometimes winding fashion, with chunks going north and south -- through a series towns such as Sac City and Lytton.
Philips in earlier years noted ambulances going to Sioux City hospitals from Sac County would take side roads rather than bouncing on aging parts of Highway 20.
“It was really getting bad. The two-lane part of it had just worn out,” said Jerry Sindt, who lives a few miles southwest of Holstein on a long-time family acreage.
In the last dozen years, 20-to-25-mile sections with four lanes were opened. First was a segment from Moorland to Rockwell City. Then came Rockwell City to Early, in a layout more to the north and bypassing most towns. That left a 40-mile section with two lanes back to Moville.
Then-Gov. Terry Branstad spoke against it in an October 2014 debate in Sioux City, but five months later the Legislature approved a 10-cent increase in the state gasoline tax to help pay for the project.
Then quickly by summer 2015, the Iowa Transportation Commission, including Sioux City member Charese Yanney, used that extra revenue to slate the completion of Highway 20 in Woodbury, Ida and Sac counties. That resulted in a three-year flurry of work, in a $215 million endeavor that finally moved all 300 miles across Iowa to four lanes, 60 years after the Sioux City to Moville section had been broadened.
“I am so glad our Republicans from Northwest Iowa voted for that gas tax, because that put us over the edge,” Yanney said.
The completed highway opened on Wednesday, and two days later a host of state department officials and current and past legislators gathered at Holstein for the ribbon cutting.
The event was held at Boulders Inn and Suites Events Center, a two-year-old, 32-room hotel adjacent to the Holstein Travel Center shaped like a barn. That was opened by owners to tap into the increased highway traffic that's been pointed to by the Iowa Department of Transportation.
For Phillips and others, October 17, 2018, marks the completion of decades of effort. State and federal lawmakers cited steps along the way that they pushed.
“I think I can sum up today in one word: finally. Finally,” Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg said.
Carrying out the work over the final 40 miles, 12 million cubic yards of dirt was hauled away. So were any doubts by Siouxlanders who thought they'd never see the project completed.
Sindt noted he’s lived 68 years in proximity to the highway. He said the new highway will improve safety, plus help many agricultural producers, including area grain producers.
“There is a lot of grain that goes up and down this road,” Sindt said.
Phillips said there was also a bittersweet feel to the day. She first started working towards a four-lane Highway 20 in 1988, after going to a meeting on the urging of Sac City Mayor Glen Morgan.
She cited other longtime hard-working highway association members, such as Buck Boekelman and Floyd Magnuson from Fort Dodge, plus Woodbury County Supervisor Mauri Welte, who have all died.
“It breaks my heart that they are not here,” Phillips said.
ORANGE CITY, Iowa | A state board on Friday awarded Vogel Paint $2.4 million in state tax incentives to help finance a $24 million expansion of its Orange City campus that will create up to 154 new jobs.
It's the second major expansion in three years for the four-generation, family business, which sells paint under the brands Diamond Vogel, Old Master and Vogel Industrial Coatings.
The company, founded in 1926, employs more than 250 in the Sioux County seat, reaching peak employment during the summer months. All told, Vogel Paint employs nearly 800 people in a 14-state region.
The latest expansion calls for expanding its sprawling campus on Orange City's southern edge. Vogel Paint plans to construct a new maintenance facility and research development center and renovate its powder coating plant, according to state documents. The project will allow Vogel to continue to service existing customers and compete in the growing markets.
Construction is expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2019, with the final phase anticipated for completion in the second quarter of 2023.
The Iowa Economic Development Authority Board, at its monthly meeting Friday in Des Moines, awarded the company investment tax credits totaling of $1.69 million and a refund of sales, use and service tax for building materials of $724,071.
The city of Orange City also plans to provide tax-increment financing with an estimated value of $1.7 million over 10 years.
In 2016, Vogel Paint embarked on a $30 million project that included construction of a a 91,000-square feet to its Peridium Powder Coatings production facility, more than doubling its capacity. The expansion called for increasing the number of from 10 to 25 over time, with the added production expected to create 49 more jobs.
The IEDA awarded $972,500 in tax incentives for that expansion.
The company began powder coating in 1998 and five years later built its powder coating plant, which measures 67,000 square feet. Six years ago, the firm completed a warehouse expansion of 13,500 square feet.