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Making way for a new school
Sioux City neighborhood changing as Hunt Elementary plans advance

SIOUX CITY | A midtown neighborhood is changing in the 1900 blocks of Jackson and Nebraska streets.

Homes are being sold along both sides of the street, soon to be demolished.

That is being done in order to get rid of the more-than-century-old Hunt Elementary School in the 2000 blocks of the streets, in order to build a new one just to the south by the year 2022.

Some people living in the area are fine with the changes, even though it means they must move.

"Just on this block alone, they are displacing 20 apartments, and that doesn't include the other street," Carmen Janssen said.

Janssen, who lives in one of six apartments in the chopped-up old Victorian home at 1909 Jackson, supports the new school. Janssen has lived in the rental unit for three years, and is debating whether to stay in Sioux City or move nearer to her hometown of Sheldon, Iowa.

She said the rentals don't get great upkeep, pointing to new upstairs graffiti from Thanksgiving week, while noting there are a lot of police calls to the neighborhood. That's why Janssen said "it is a blessing" to have a new $20.5 million school to in some way freshen up the neighborhood, which is far from an affluent portion of Sioux City.

"It is a godsend, because this place needs to go. It helps improve the community, with the school," Janssen said.

The current Hunt Elementary is at 615 20th St. The school dates to 1906, making it by far the oldest in the city’s public school system.

Sioux City School District officials keep hitting early benchmarks in the planning process to construct a new Hunt Elementary School by 2022. They are nearing the quest to buy all needed 11 properties.

Also, the school board members on Monday made the decision not to add a third floor of classrooms, since there won't be enough students to warrant the $2 million cost.

District Director of Operations and Maintenance Brian Fahrendholz said plans are falling into place. A final design of the building is underway.

"We are pleased with our progress at this time...We are on schedule to open a new Hunt Elementary in the fall of 2022," Fahrendholz said.

The Sioux City School Board in August purchased the first of 11 properties needed for clearing, to have enough space to build the school. Properties have been bought on both sides of the 1900 block of Nebraska Street.

The school board on Monday approved the $170,000 purchase of a property owned by Lou and Janice Jackson at 1909 Jackson St., where Janssen lives, in a price that includes relocation and moving expenses. Others have gone for $120,000 and up, and the goal is to have all purchased by spring 2018.

Only three homes and two parking lots are left to buy to have all the land needed for the 80,000-square-foot school, which will house students from grades pre-kindergarten through fifth.

The school district is underway with one other school construction project, as the new Bryant Elementary School about nine blocks north is slated to open in August 2019.

While Hunt comes after Bryant, the details keep getting addressed with frequency. Also in the Monday school board meeting, board members followed the recommendation by the district's Building Oversight Committee to keep the school to two levels and not build a third floor.

Director of Elementary Education Brian Burnight said projected student numbers from the neighborhood did not necessitate building the school with three levels, particularly since that cost would be $2 million. He said there are 434 students now living in the Hunt attendance boundaries.

"A two-story Hunt will have the capacity for 450 students, allowing all students that reside in the neighborhood an opportunity to go to their local school. The addition of a third story would raise the capacity to 575 students, which is not warranted based on current and projected student numbers," Burnight said.

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Sioux City manager, attorney in line for 4 percent pay raises

SIOUX CITY | Sioux City's two highest-paid employees could see a 4 percent pay bump next year.  

The City Council will vote Monday whether to raise the salaries of city manager Bob Padmore and city attorney Nicole DuBois, effective Jan. 1, based on their performance evaluations. 

The increases come about one year after Padmore received an 8.7 percent pay hike and DuBois received a 2 percent pay increase



Under the new proposed salaries, Padmore -- the city's highest-paid employee -- will make an annual salary of about $182,780 next year, along with a $5,200 car allowance. Padmore's salary had previously been $175,750.

DuBois' new salary will be $137,900 next year, up from $132,596 this year.

KKaufman / Provided 


A survey of city manager salaries in Iowa conducted in April 2017 showed Padmore was the 10th-highest-paid city manager in the state under his previous salary. His new salary would put him at eighth-highest, according to the numbers in the survey. Sioux City is Iowa's fourth-largest city. 

Iowa's top-paid city manager position is Cedar Rapids manager Jeff Pomeranz, whose base salary is $292,818, according to the report.

The job responsibilities of city managers and administrators differ due to different styles of government. 

Padmore was appointed city manager in 2014 after a stint as assistant city manager. DuBois was hired by the city in November 2008 and was promoted from assistant city attorney to city attorney in October 2011.

Dubois' and Padmore's salaries are the only two directly approved by the council. Their performance reviews are also conducted by the mayor and council. 

Top 7 paid city employees

Old YMCA demolition

In other action, the council will consider the demolition of the former YMCA building at 722 Nebraska St. for the second time this year. 

The council had deferred demolition of the vacant structure in July after hearing plans from Paul Bernard -- managing member of Residential Equity Partners LLC, the Concord, California-based company that owns the building -- to invest around $3.3 million in the property to turn the structure into an office building, for which he already has two prospective tenants.

Click here to read Monday's council agenda

The building has sat vacant since 2009, when the Siouxland YMCA sold it after moving across the river into the Norm Waitt Sr. YMCA building on the South Sioux City riverfront. It has changed hands twice since then, with conditions going downhill following gutting work that landed a former owner in prison for violation of asbestos removal standards.

An earlier version of this story included an incorrect last name of a city employee. The name has been corrected.  



KKaufman / Provided