As we enter the final days of 2013, many of us may be thinking ahead about our new year's resolutions and what the new year will bring, while others may be reflecting on the past.
It was a year of losses, gains, and everything in between here in Siouxland.
A late season storm brought tornados tearing through Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota in October. An EF-4 tornado with winds up to 170 miles per hour destroyed Wayne, Nebraska's business park. Another EF-4 swept through homes and farms near Pierson, Iowa.
"This whole thing is still unbelievable, you wake up every morning, and you kind of can't hardly believe you're going to come back over here and try to put your house back together," Tornado Victim Wayne Sadler said.
About a dozen twisters dropped down from the sky October 4. Despite all of the devastation, there were no fatalities.
Beloved Sioux City native, Colonel George "Bud" Day, fought in World War Two, Korea, and Vietnam. He was held as a prisoner of war for five years in Hanoi.
"Tough old bird that he was, I thought he'd outlive us all," Senator John McCain said.
After serving in three different military branches, he'd received every combat medal awarded, during his 34 years of service, and was the most decorated living war veteran. He continued to show bravery as he battled throat cancer, a fight he ultimately lost.
"Those of you who know him best can imagine that he is sitting at a table, enjoying a Twin Bing, sipping white zin, and ever the fighter pilot, sharing pointers with a few attentive angels," Siouxland Chamber of Commerce President Chris McGowan said.
Sioux City Police Officer Kevin McCormick saw his life flash before his eyes last spring, when a traffic stop turned violent. A known gang member sprayed eight bullets at his patrol car. One pierced the windshield, striking McCormick.
"You don't equate being shot in the head and living to talk about it," McCormick said.
Jamal Dean has a long rap sheet and led authorities on a five-day manhunt. He was captured in Texas and eventually pled guilty to attempted murder. He'll face a judge again next year, on federal charges of kidnapping and carjacking.
"What happened to the girls? What could have possibly happened to the girls?" Former Vermillion Police Detective Ray Hoffman said.
After 40 years of asking that question, former Vermillion, Hoffman may finally have an answer. This after a 1960 Studebaker was found upside down in a Union County Creek. Authorities identified it as the car Pam Jackson and Cheryl Miller were driving when they disappeared on their way to a party back in 1971, never to be seen again. The discovery cracked the decades old cold case wide open. Authorities ruled out foul play, but forensics experts are still working to identify the remains found inside.
Antique cars were the focus of a one-of-a-kind auction in Pierce, Nebraska. People from every state of the union and seven foreign countries bid on Chevys, Fords and Chryslers from the 50's, 60's and 70's.
And, while buying a hardly used car may have been the highlight of some people's year, Spencer, Iowa made an announcement that will change the city's future.
"Spencer is the first certified Blue Zones community in Iowa," Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Vice President Scott Kroyen said.
To reach this achievement, ten of the town's businesses had to be designated Blue Zones work sites, as well as 25-percent of the schools, restaurants, and grocery stores.
And Sioux City hit the jackpot, receiving a license for a land-based casino.
"We've got one chance to get this right for the next 50 years and I think, you know, I think this will be the project that will make a difference in the Downtown community for the next 50 year," Sioux City Mayor Bob Scott said.
But the $120,000,000 Hard Rock project lies in limbo. After losing out on the license, the parent company of Sioux City's current casino, the Argosy Riverboat, sued the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission over their decision. A court battle that started in 2013, looks to continue through the new year and beyond.
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