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Champions come home
Sioux City welcomes back victorious Morningside Mustangs

SIOUX CITY -- Fresh off their 35-to-28 point victory over Benedictine College in Saturday night's NAIA Football National Championship in Daytona Beach, Florida, the Morningside football team came back to a small hero's welcome on campus. 

Classes and finals ended Friday at Morningside, yet a crowd of around 50 cheered when the victorious Mustangs rolled onto campus shortly after 1 p.m., escorted by a fire truck and sheriff's vehicle. The team's plane landed at the Sioux Gateway Airport a little before 12:30 p.m.. 

Mustangs linebacker Joel Katzer and defensive back Klayton Nordeen rode atop the fire truck, carrying the trophy. 

The Mustangs sealed their NAIA victory at Daytona Stadium with 1:29 left in the game, when National Player of the Year Trent Solsma threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Connor Niles. 

Photos: Morningside's NAIA national champion football team arrives home

Nordeen and Katzer said the team was ecstatic when they arrived at their Daytona Beach hotel Saturday night, in the hours after the undefeated team's first-ever national championship victory. 

"It was a madhouse" at the hotel, Nordeen said. 

"I didn't sleep," Katzer said. 

The NAIA championship over, Katzer said team members face a new challenge back on campus. 

"We've got to study for our finals," he said. 

Morningside junior Jacob Holck, who waited patiently with the crowd for the team to arrive, said he's proud of all the team has accomplished. 

"A lot of these guys are my classmates," Holck said. "They're exceptional." 

Holck said he some moments of the game were surprising, but he never lost faith. 

"I knew that Morningside would pull through," he said. 

A football player himself in high school who wasn't able to play in college due to injuries, Holck said Morningside loves its sports. 

"Sports are a huge part of campus culture," Holck said. 

An official celebration of the team's victory will be held on campus at Morningside sometime in January. 

Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal 

Morningside football player Klayton Nordeen, left, pumps his fist as he and teammate Joel Katzer hold the team's championship trophy while standing atop a fire truck after arriving on campus Sunday. The Morningside squad defeated Benedictine College 35-28 Saturday to win the NAIA national football championship and end its season undefeated. 

Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal 

Mercy Medical Center-Sioux City officials are shown Nov. 29 at the Sioux City hospital. From left: Tim Daugherty, Tracy Larson, Diane Prieksat, Julie Anfinson, Lea Greathouse, Beth Hughes and Dr. Larry Volz. Mercy has donated to the Journal's Goodfellows charity. 

New agreements needed for Military Road Bridge project to move forward

SIOUX CITY – The Sioux City Council will be asked Monday to rescind an agreement with the city of North Sioux City to help finance construction costs for the Military Road reconstruction and bridge rehabilitation project because the cost of the bridge portion of the project came in more than 15 percent above the engineer’s estimated cost.

According to city documents, the change renders the jurisdiction transfer agreement among the South Dakota Department of Transportation, North Sioux City and Sioux City null and void. Revised versions of this agreement and a 28E agreement need to be executed for North Sioux City to provide funding for the project.

The bridge re-decking is one of two stages in a 10-month long project along Military Road. The second stage includes a full reconstruction of the road from the bridge to Riverside Boulevard. The engineer's opinion of probable construction costs for the work is $6,125,500. The South Dakota Department of Transportation and North Sioux City are contributing $1,878,000 to the project based on actual bid prices, according to the documents.

The bridge re-decking project, which the city of Sioux City had originally slotted to begin this year, was previously delayed because the permit application the city submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in February 2017 was backlogged among several other project permits from other cities and entities. The project has a late start date of May 1.

After the project gets underway, contractors will have 70 working days to complete the street reconstruction. According to city documents, Military Road will not be closed to local traffic from River Drive in North Sioux City to River Drive in Sioux City for more than 150 days.

In April 2017, the council decided to fully close the Military Road Bridge for the re-decking project rather than keep one lane open at a time, which engineers said would drive up the cost of the project. The decision came despite push-back from several nearby North Sioux City business owners who believe the bridge closure will prove detrimental to their sales by blocking incoming traffic.

Eminent domain case

At its weekly meeting, the council is also expected to vote on approving an $82,500 settlement with Sioux River Properties, LLC in an eminent domain dispute over land value.

The city opted to use eminent domain in 2017 to acquire nearly 9,000 square feet of land and more than 15,000 square feet in easements on the property of Brad Lepper for the Big Sioux River Trail project.

After the Woodbury County Compensation Commission decided $34,000 would be an appropriate purchase price for the land, the city appealed that ruling, contending it should pay less.

Lepper had agreed to take the $34,000 named by the commission prior to the city's appeal. The city had originally offered Lepper just under $16,500 for the property.

If the council rejects the settlement, the case would proceed to trial.