The Exchange, The Warrior Renovation, Ponca Repatriation, Guns at the Courthouse

Feb 22, 2018

From the lobby of the Warrior Hotel

The Exchange 022118

Coming up next on The Exchange, we take a tour of the Sioux City’s beloved Warrior Hotel, which is soon to be returned to its former glory. 

Also, we talk with author a new book about her grandmother, who 100 years ago paved the way for women to play important roles in organized labor.

Also, the Woodbury County Board of Supervisor’s changes its mind about allowing guns in the courthouse, the history of homesteading in Iowa and more.  That’s coming up on The Exchange but first this news.

News/Wx

Welcome to the Exchange on Siouxland Public Media, I’m Mary Hartnett. 

The Woodbury County Board of Supervisors last night rescinded its order to allow guns at the courthouse and other county buildings.

The board voted 3-to-2 last night to restore a ban on firearms in the courthouse.  There has been a steady stream of people at county meetings and in the media asking for a ban on guns the courthouse.  Several county officials, including County Sheriff Dave Drew and County Attorney P.J. Jennings, have said people become impassioned in some heated court cases and could become deadly if they had guns in the courthouse.

Woodbury County Supervisor Jeremy Taylor

Supervisor Jeremy Taylor at one time was in favor of allowing guns in the courthouse. Taylor said it was the right way to respond to a new firearms law that allowed guns in public places.  Last night, Taylor said he changed his mind.

80636Taylor :16

“I think the practical implications of bringing guns into the courthouse with varying functions has become unfeasible, I think its impractical, it adds cost even though maybe not as much as has been purported, but is no longer tenable, considering.”

The new gun law, among other things, broadens the state’s so-called stand-your-ground provision, so a law-abiding citizen does not have a duty to retreat in a public place before using deadly force when confronted with danger to life or property.  The final 3-2 vote included Jeremy Taylor, Marty Pottebaum and Rocky De Witt voting to return to the ban on guns in the courthouse, while Matthew Ung and Keith Radig voted against the measure. 

Taylor said he wanted to make sure that people understand how important security is in the courthouse, and how much effort goes into creating a safe environment.

Taylor2 :38

“ . . . . behind the scenes.”

There have been two important supervisory orders from the Iowa Supreme Court since June on the guns in courthouse issue.

Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady issued the latest supervisory order in December, to update his weapons prohibition order of June 2017.

Jeremy Ung, Woodbury County Supervisor

Cady's more recent order from December says the other elements of the June order remain, but after consultation with chief judges, sheriffs and other county officials, there can be a way for weapons to be taken in floors without court system elements.  Board Member Mathew Ung disagreed with banning weapons once more in the courthouse, and saw the issue as one of judicial overreach.

Ung :16  “ . . . justify the means.”

Judge Duane Hoffmeyer, the Chief judge of the Third Judicial District,  was at last night’s meeting.  Hoffmeyer applauded the board’s action to rescind the order.

Judge Duane Hoffmeyer

Hoffmeyer :16

In other business, The Woodbury County supervisors announced last night that they had made enough changes to the fiscal year 2018-19 budget plan to ensure the property tax levy will drop for a fourth straight year.

In other news, the Orange City Public Library Board of Trustees heard commentary from a packed room about a petition to separate materials that deal primarily with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning -- or LGBTQ -- themes, as well as to halt any new such acquisitions without public input.   Others said they supported the library's integration of such materials, even if they don't personally endorse the content.

The board took no action yesterday,  but plans to have its policy committee review the public input and compare its current collection development policy to other libraries to see if changes are warranted. 

The Warrior

Roger Caudron gave some interested locals who were willing to brave the 15 degree temperatures in the building under renovation a look at the old, and much admired hotel.

Roger Caudron in front of the Warrior Hotel main staircase

Caudron stood in front of the dilapidated original front staircase of the building, saying the hotel had trouble from the very beginning, because it was finished at the start of the depression because it was finished right after the stock market crash of 1929.

Roger1  :10

“It struggled for its early existence, because of the Great Depression, and it was built as a hotel, a semi-Grand Hotel.”

Caudron said the lobby and the first three floors were indeed grand, but that ornamentation was necessarily found in other parts of the hotel.

Roger2 :15

“The hotel rooms where about 25 square feet, and I mean it was a single twin bed, a desk and a bathroom, that was it pretty much, we had apartments on floors nine and ten.”

Despite its YMCA like rooms, some famous folks slept at the Warrior.  Theater people, for instance Sidney Blackmer, the devil worshiper next door in Rosemary’s Baby, and the King.

Roger3 :20

“Ah Elvis has slept here, we don’t know where, we assume it was on the upper floors, but we’re hoping as we go through this, someone who’s old enough will step forward and say “I was a maid at the Warrior and Elvis stayed in room such and such.”

In the 1950s, Caudron says the Warrior turned into a motor in, with a loading area for cars, by tearing down part of the lobby.

Roger5  :

“So they tore down the corner of the building, put that little awning over the top of it, so that this was the drop off point. So we’re going to restore the full size of the building, back into, pretty much back into its original condition.”

Basement of the Warrior Hotel
Warrior Hotel, fourth floor

We went downstairs, and things got a lot darker, literally and figuratively.  The basement used to house a bar called Caesar’s Cellar, which was well known in the gay community.  When two young children were found murdered, the gay community was blamed.

Roger6 :10

“They never found out who did it, but what they did do was round up all the gay guys, and they put them in Cherokee, to try and teach them not to be gay.”

Caudron says a book was written about it called “Sex Crime Panic.”  And there has been a lot of talk about making a movie out of the book. 

Also in the basement, there is a big, dark pit.

Roger7 :36

“The pit is where the boiler and coal storage was,  on the side of the wall you can see the holes and holes went out to the alley, and the coal was dumped here and the boiler was there.  There’s a prize for the first person who can say what this is going to be in the new hotel.  A pool.  Now the pool is not going to be that big, but the hole is already dug.”

Going back up to the lobby, Caudron points out the many original moldings and decorations that still hold the magic of the original hotel.

Roger8 :

“You are in the original lobby, you can see the original Warrior emblem, this is the original emblem for the building this will all be utilized.  Front desk will be here, in the 2007 renovation, they kept as much of this stuff as they could, so that molds could be created and things could be replicated.”

A floor up, Caudron showed us the dining room, which is filled with light from huge windows.

Roger10 :28

“This was the original dining room, restaurant café.  There was also a couple of meeting rooms in here.  I had a lady, a very nice lady who was old enough to know, and said there used to be quite the killer ladies card game here.”

Caudron says the building has not been occupied in 40 years, when First National Bank spent some time here.  In 2007, using a federal grant, the building was gutted, and the asbestos removed.   

Caudron showed us the one of the floors where hotel rooms will be renovated and enlarged.  There will be 146 rooms and luxury apartments in the Warrior and Davidson Buildings.  Caudron says the developers were concerned that they would lose an important state historic tax credit when the legislature convened, but that didn’t happen.

Roger11  :31

“But there were some changes, and the changes were that the credit has to be used over a five year period, so we were able to get some transition rules put together, that if we’re under construction by June 10th, and completed within two years of that,  we have the ability to use the old rules, so we’re pushing hard towards that.”

The other option is doing the Warrior Hotel as a phase project.  But Caudron says he wants to assure the taxpayers of Sioux City that they will not bear any financial burden for the Warrior Project. 

Roger13 :23

“If you’re a taxpayer in Sioux City, unless you stay in the hotel, buy a drink buy dinner, you won’t be paying for anything from the hotel, it will be funded strictly by the user fees, the taxes on the facilities, so mom and pop citizen up on 38th and court, will not be providing financing for the project directly.”

The Warrior/Davidson project will be the city's second new Marriott hotel, joining a separate downtown project by North Liberty, Iowa-based Kinseth Hospitality to construct a Courtyard by Marriott hotel adjoining the city's convention center. 

Scott Culpepper, Professor of History, Dordt College

Scott Culpepper on Homesteading

When we think of homesteaders, we often think of pioneers that took on far flung land in the Great Plains.  However, many of these homesteaders where here in Northwestern Iowa and eastern South Dakota and Nebraska.  Dordt College professor of History Scott Culpepper will discuss homesteading this weekend at the Betty Strong Encounter Center.  

Scott

That was Scott Culpepper, professor of history at Dordt College in Sioux Center. 

The Betty Strong Encounter Center will present Culpepper’s presentation, “The Homestead Act: Creating Home Out of a Frontier” at 2 p.m. this Sunday, Feb. 25.

Immigrant Girl, Radical Woman, Mathilda Rabinowitz, Robbin Legere Henderson

Organized labor became a huge force in the united states in the early part of the 20th century.  Most of the people who championed workers were men, but a few women played big roles in the early labor movement.  One of those was Mathilda Rabinowitz.     Her granddaughter Robbin Legere Henderson celebrates her lift in the book, “Immigrant Girl, Radical Woman: A Memoir from the Early 20th Century. The book is unique in that it looks like a graphic novel, with commentary and drawings by Henderson.

Mathilda Rabinowitz

Henderson says her grandmother was unique in the labor movement.

Henderson

Robin Legere Henderson

That was Robbin Legere Henderson, the author of the book, “Immigrant Girl, Radical Woman: A Memoir from the Early 20th Century.” 

Ponca Tribe of Nebraska

This past November, the Nebraska Historical Society returned remains and artifacts to the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska.  This turned our thoughts to the meaning of place and the importance of memory.  Shannon Wright, tribal historic preservation officer, and Dwight Howe, the tribe’s cultural affairs director, joined Mark Munger in Siouxland Public Media’s studios.