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Sioux City Council could further delay vote on sewage treatment agreement with neighboring cities

SIOUX CITY -- The Sioux City Council will be asked Monday to terminate the sewage treatment agreements the city has with North Sioux City, South Sioux City and Sergeant Bluff or delay a vote on the matter so that negotiations between the sister cities can continue.

In November, the sister cities received a letter from the City of Sioux City signed by Mayor Bob Scott warning that it may end the contracts that govern the amount of waste each community can send to Sioux City's regional wastewater treatment plant at 3100 S. Lewis Blvd. and the rates each city pays. The council was scheduled to vote on termination at its weekly meeting on Dec. 3, but that vote was delayed until Feb. 4. Now, council action could be postponed until March 11.


According to city documents, Scott, Sioux City Utilities Director Mark Simms and Sioux City Manager Bob Padmore continue to meet with each sister city to discuss the agreements, but more time is needed to complete the negotiation process before council action is taken.

Scott said Friday that negotiations between the sister cities are going "fine."

The South Sioux City Planning Commission will hold a public hearing Feb. 13 to consider a request to rezone property for a wastewater treatment plant. South Sioux City Administrator Lance Hedquist said Friday that the land being eyed for a plant is located on the city's south side next to the Missouri River and north of the Tyson Fresh Meats lagoons. The northeast Nebraska city considered constructing a plant a few years ago, but ultimately didn't move forward due to high costs.


"All the sister cities are trying to work out a regional concept that will benefit all of Siouxland," Hedquist said.

According to a report filed with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Sioux City's plant recently received heavy loadings from Big Ox's South Sioux City biofuels plant, which caused a decline in plant performance beginning Jan. 24 and ending Jan. 25.

The sewage treatment agreement with South Sioux City has been in place for 38 years, while the agreements with Sergeant Bluff and North Sioux City were established 39 years ago. The agreements don't provide Sioux City with any remedy when flow limits are exceeded, have no sunset dates and automatically renew unless other action is taken. Once a termination notice is issued, it becomes effective four years after receipt of the notice.

"Part of our discussion with all of them is that we need another treatment plant in the area; and part of the ongoing discussion is: 'Will it be a regional one that we'll all work together on?'" Scott said. "Right now, we're allowing (South Sioux City) to take the lead if there's going to be another plant."

Simms previously told the council that Sioux City's plant has been authorized to handle 17.6 million gallons per day of wet weather flow and 15.98 million gallons per day of dry weather flow. Under the agreements, North Sioux City has an allocated capacity of 300,000 gallons per day and has asked for an additional 400,000 gallons per day, while South Sioux City is allowed 2.289 million gallons per day and has asked for an increase of 2.89 million gallons per day. Simms said Sergeant Bluff is allotted 967,000 gallons per day of flow, but he didn't say whether Sioux City's neighbor to the south has requested an increase.

Classrooms getting more crowded
Sioux Center high school bond measure goes to voters Tuesday

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa -- Eighth-grader Angelo Barron discussed book choices with his instructor Grant Vietor.

However, they weren't talking inside of a traditional classroom. Instead, the middle school reading counts class was being held inside a section of Sioux Center Community High School's auditorium.  

According to Sioux Center Community School District Superintendent Gary McEldowney, this is becoming increasingly common.

Since there are five eighth-grade teachers and only four eighth-grade classrooms, he said teachers either double up in classrooms or utilize the auditorium's overflow.

Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal 

Aaron Schmidt, an eighth-grade teacher, center, talks with superintendent Gary McEldowney in a hallway at the Sioux Center Middle School in Sioux Center, Iowa.

"Unlike other Iowa school districts, Sioux Center's student population is increasing," McEldwoney explained. "Currently, our elementary, middle and high schools are filled to capacity."

This is why the school district is looking to add a fourth building -- a new high school -- to the three facilities they currently have.

Sioux Center residents will be going to the polls Tuesday to determine the fate of a $24.9 million bond issue that would help pay for the new facility.

"The school district isn't merely addressing a want," McEldowney said. "We're addressing a need that will benefit the district in the long term."

Currently, Sioux Center schools are adding 50 new students per year. In 2017, 57 kids were added to the student population.

If the current growth continues, Sioux Center will go from a school district that has 1,300 students to a school district of 1,800 students in 10 years.

This means issues like overcrowding and lack of available classrooms will only increase, McEldowney said.

"Even today, we have 35 percent less space per student compared to other districts our size," he said. 

Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal 

Sixth-graders Kyle Kooi, left, and Hunter Van Zee study on the floor in front of a custodian room during a study hall in the cafeteria at the Sioux Center Middle School in Sioux Center, Iowa.

Which is why the district has reached out to parents, business owners, community members, educators and students for possible solutions. 

At the present time, Sioux Center's elementary school has 572 transitional kindergarten through fourth-grade students, its middle school has 401 fifth- through eighth-grade students, and the high school has 393 ninth- through 12th-grade students.

If Sioux Center reconfigures its existing facilities while building a new high school, McEldowney said the district would alleviate capacity issues while allowing future enrollment growth in all grades. 

By 2028, the elementary school will be able to accommodate 438 transitional kindergarten through second-graders, the current middle school will accommodate 438 third- through fifth-graders, while the current high school will accommodate 438 sixth- through eighth-graders.

The proposed high school will be able to accommodate 584 ninth- through 12th-graders in 2028.

If the $24.9 million bond referendum passes, the debt service tax levy will increase by a maximum of 37 cents per $1,000 of taxable valuation. This comes out to a $40 per year cost impact for the average household and 52 cents per year cost impact per average acre.

Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal file 

The entrance to the current Sioux Center High School is shown in Sioux Center, Iowa, in January. Voters approved a $24.9 million bond issue to fund a new high school in February, and the Sioux Center City Council on Monday approved the sale of 24.85 acres to the school district for the new school site.

McEldowney acknowledged the growing pains being experienced by Sioux Center's schools are similar to those facing the Sergeant Bluff-Luton School District.

On Dec. 12, voters defeated a $62 million bond issue and property tax increase that would have included construction of a $49 million high school. It was the third time that voters rejected a major bond issue in as many years.

Despite that, McEldowney said his district has taken measures to keep community members abreast of issues.

"We've hosted work sessions and listened to ideas on what would make our district into a better educational environment for our students," he explained. "The feedback that we've received has all been positive."

Monday’s Briefing
Monday’s Briefing

Rapper 21 Savage in immigration custody

ATLANTA — Grammy-nominated rapper 21 Savage was taken into federal immigration custody early Sunday, authorities said.

The artist, whose given name is Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was arrested in a targeted operation in the Atlanta area involving local and federal law enforcement officers, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Bryan Cox said in an emailed statement. Abraham-Joseph is a British citizen who overstayed his visa and is also has a felony conviction, Cox said.

Abraham-Joseph is nominated for two awards at next week's Grammys, including record of the year for "Rockstar" alongside Post Malone. His second solo album "I Am I Was," released in December, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

Sen. Collins has best fundraising quarter

BANGOR, Maine — Maine Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins had the best fundraising quarter of her career after she delivered a pivotal vote that helped seat Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission.

The Bangor Daily News reports that after announcing her decision to vote in favor of Kavanaugh's nomination during a speech on the Senate floor in early October, Collins raised $1.8 million in the final quarter of 2018.

The records show that of the nearly $900,000 Collins received from individual donors who contributed more than $200 to her campaign, just $19,000 came from individuals with Maine addresses.

-- Associated Press

Justin Wan, Sioux City Journal 

Sioux Center's Roberto Cardenas, top, wrestles Bishop Heelan's Nick McGowan at 145 in Sioux Center, Iowa on Saturday.