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Singing Hills water tower

Musical notes will decorate the water tank in Singing Hills as early as next fall. The City Council wants the highly visible structure to draw attention to the community and its heritage. 

SIOUX CITY | A Sioux City Council member plans to spur a private fundraising push to paint the notes to the song "Sioux City Sue" on a prominent city water storage tank. 

Councilwoman Rhonda Capron said Monday she believes she can help the city raise an estimated $30,000 needed to secure permissions and to paint notes to the famous tune on the Singing Hills tank, which sits in Sertoma Park overlooking Interstate 29 and the Highway 75 bypass. 

"I'd love to see 'Sioux City Sue' up there," Capron told reporters after Monday's council meeting. "This water tower is going to be an entrance billboard for Sioux City, so when people come in or leave Sioux City they're going to remember us. And that's what it's all about to me."

Rhonda Capron


Her comments came after the council voted 4-0 to advance plans and specifications to repaint the more-than-20-year-old tank by next fall. Councilman Dan Moore was absent from Monday's meeting. 

Monday marked another change of plans for the design of the prominent tank. 

Going into the meeting, city staff had abandoned plans to paint the words "Sioux City Sue" on the tank along with notes from the popular 1945 song by Dick Thomas and Ray Freedman, which was recorded by notable musicians including Guy Lombardo, Bing Crosby and Gene Autry, the last of which sang the song in a 1946 film of the same title.

Rick Mach, a special assistant to the city manager, told the council those involved had opted for a generic design after being quoted $3,500 as a possible cost for the legal fees and permissions necessary to use specific notes from the song on the tower. 

A generic design would still play on "Singing Hills," the name of the corridor where the tank sits.

Even without the fees, Mach told the council it will cost between $20,000 and $30,000 to put a design on the tank. The basic paint job itself, without any design, would cost $190,000 and is much-needed, he said. 

Councilman Pete Groetken said he was wary of the city covering that additional price tag.

Pete Groetken


"I have a tough time pulling the trigger with anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000 when I think the money can probably be better spent somewhere else in the overall budget," he said. Groetken later added that he doesn't have a problem if that money is privately donated. 

Sioux City resident Chris Jensen urged the council not to settle for generic notes instead of the original song, saying "Sioux City Sue" would add humor and local flavor to the area. 

"The amount of money that you're talking about is a pittance when you consider the long-term effect of it," he said. "Don't spend the money to put some fictitious notes that do nothing, don't have any words. It's just scribbles on a water tower for $26,000."

Under the council's direction, the city will again explore the cost to put notes from the song on the tank. When the city receives bids on Dec. 12, the design costs will be included as an alternate, meaning the council will look at the separate cost and can include or eliminate it from the contractor's work. 

Capron said the city had previously discussed fundraising for the project, including a potential $10,000 donation from a private party. She said even if that specific donation falls through, she plans to approach enough private donors to cover the costs. 

"I'm going to go look for six people that want to give me 5,000 bucks apiece," she said. She added that the donors' names may be placed on the tank. 

Reinvestment district

In other action, the council approved a contract with the Iowa Economic Development Authority for the Sioux City Reinvestment District.

Under the contract, Sioux City will receive $13.5 million in state funding to assist with the construction of four big-ticket projects: a 150-room hotel near the convention center, an ag expo center, Ho-Chunk's Virginia Square, and redevelopment of the Warrior Hotel and Davidson building.

The city will then have up to 20 years to repay the money through the state's portion of hotel/motel and sales taxes generated by the new properties.

Sinkhole settlement

The council also approved an $11,000 payout for partial settlement of a tort claim made by Marlus Mammen for property at 3015 Pierce St. 

According to city documents, the City experienced heavy rainfall on Aug. 26 resulting in large amounts of runoff and caused a large sinkhole to develop, which then followed utility lines to the foundation of the residence at 3015 Pierce St.


City hall reporter

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