Thursday, August 6, 2009

Junebug about positive music

Nick Wosika wasn’t too keen on joining Junebug at first.

“It’s not the best rock band name,” he said.

Due to his love of music, however, the bass player eventually got over his complex.

“Now it’s for better or for worse,” Wosika said.

Drawing on many influences from numerous genres including psychedelic, funk, grunge, classic rock, reggae and country, high school friends Anthony Bergman, Tony Kollman and Dustin Marks formed Junebug 12 years ago in Jamestown, ND.

How the band settled on its name is a little more interesting, though.

“We were just kids, tinking around in a basement trying to think of a band name,” Kollman said. “We couldn’t come up with much — just silly names high school kids might think up.”

Bergman thought of an episode of “Full House” he had seen, where a gangster was named Junebug.

Kollman and Marks weren’t quite sure. They thought it was kind of “puff” sounding.

“About a half hour later, I said, ‘Junebug is kind of growing on me,’” Kollman said. “Anthony said, ‘On second thought, I don’t like it.’”

But, at the end of the night, the three decided to go with the name until they thought of something better.

They never did.

While Junebug was just playing for fun in Jamestown, the three later moved to Aberdeen, SD.

“Four years ago, we decided to see what we could do with it if we actually tried,” Kollman said. “So, we started putting shows together in South Dakota and just had fun with it.”

But, the trio decided they wanted to take it a step further and move to a city with a stronger music scene.

After making the move to Minneapolis, Wosika joined the band, and there has been no looking back.

Now, the four-piece band will be showcasing their love for music at Murphy’s in Arnolds Park on Friday, Aug. 14 and Saturday, Aug. 15.

“Expect high energy and expect to have a good time,” Kollman said. “We are all about having fun and being positive. People will have a great time. It should be a pretty high energy show.”

The Isles:
Joining Junebug at Murphy’s Aug. 14-15 will be fellow Minneapolis-based band The Isles.

Drawing on a group of individuals that all come from different musical backgrounds and experiences, The Isles was formed on a jam session whim and has skyrocketed into a Midwest success story.

“It’s been a blast,” said band member Todd Douglas.

While Douglas said each of The Isles’ songs has a different feel — from G Love to Dave Matthews to Incubus — the band’s overall sound could be classified as a cross between alternative rock and hip hop.

So, what should patrons of Murphy’s expect from The Isles?

“Something a little different in each song,” Douglas said. “Some might be reggae, some might be funk, some might be rock and some might be hip hop.”

And, Douglas expects all in attendance to be ready to have a very enjoyable outing.

“Be ready to dance and party,” he said. “We’re definitely a party band.”

The Bands:
Anthony Bergman, guitar; lead vocals
Tony Kollman, drums; backing vocals
Dustin Marks, guitar; backing vocals
Nick Wosika, bass

The Isles:
Chris Butts, rhyme and motion
Todd Douglas, guitar and vocals
Anna Wosika, vocals
Travis Lorentson, bass
Nimo the Hooligan, turn tables and samples
DJ Rickerd, drums

At a Glance:
What: Junebug and The Isles
Where: Murphy’s, 129 W. Broadway St., Arnolds Park
When: 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14 and Saturday, Aug. 15
Contact: (712) 332-6111
Online: or

This article appeared in the August 8, 2009 edition of DISCOVER! Magazine.

Busy band heads back home

It’s a homecoming of sorts for Pictures of Then.

Nearly two years ago, the self-described classic British rock band infused with a touch of indie flair, was formed by Joe Gamble, Joe Call and Casey Call, all natives of the Iowa Great Lakes.

A year ago, the three moved to Minneapolis, added keyboardist Tim Greenwood, and began heavily promoting their unique sound.

“Once we got up here, we really came to fruition,” Gamble said. “It’s been no looking back since.”

Originally, the Lakes natives thought it would be easy to occasionally make the three-and-a-half hour jaunt back home. But, Pictures of Then’s popularity has made that a little difficult.

“We’ve been doing over 100 shows a year, so whenever we do go home, we don’t want to go anywhere,” Gamble said. “We end up just hanging out in Minneapolis a lot.”

But, the band will be making a repeat appearance at the Green Wave Music Festival on Sunday, Aug. 16, at Kenue Park in Okoboji.

“It’s cool, because it’s kind of like a homecoming for us,” Gamble said. “It gives us a great excuse to go home, hang around Okoboji and visit our families for a few days.”

What’s more, the members of Pictures of Then are very supportive of the Green Wave message.

“What’s neat about Green Wave is that it’s clearly about the music, but at the same time, it’s promoting something larger than that. And, what’s really neat is that it’s not happening in Minneapolis, Madison or Chicago, it’s happening in Okoboji. I don’t think people really understand how neat that is. There are a lot of progressive cities that carry the green message, yet Okoboji is a small town, and it’s doing one of the coolest activist activities I’ve seen as far as getting the word out. That’s really neat.”

The Band:
Casey Call, vocals and guitar
Joe Call, drums
Joe Gamble, guitar
Tim Greenwood, keyboard and background vocals

Wicked Sea:
Check out Picture of Then’s latest album, “And the Wicked Sea,” before the band’s performance at the Green Wave Music Festival.
The album, which dropped on Tuesday, is available for purchase on iTunes or on

Minneapolis based Pictures of Then may have just released their latest album, but that isn’t the only thing the band is excited about.
“Recently, we’ve just been licensed on five or six different MTV shows,” said guitarist Joe Gamble.
Gamble expects the songs to be played this fall once the new television line-up is aired.

1-2:30 p.m. Damon Dotson
3-4:30 p.m. Driftwood Fire
5-6:30 p.m. Lonesome Traveler
7-8:30 p.m. Pictures of Then

At a Glance:
What: Green Wave Music Festival
Where: Kenue Park, 2251 County Home Rd., Okoboji
When: Noon-8:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16
Cost: Tickets, $5; parking, $10
Contact: (712) 331-1493

This article appeared in the August 8, 2009 edition of DISCOVER! Magazine.

Sioux Speedway welcomes legend

Ken Schrader has made a living out of driving in circles.

That doesn’t mean the 54-year-old gets dizzy, though.

No, for Schrader, going ’round in circles is basically second nature.

Especially considering his 20 years of successes in the NASCAR elite series.

Schrader got his start burning rubber at the young age of 3, when his father, Bill, tied a cable from his go-kart to a post in the backyard of their Missouri home. Schrader would drive around and around in circles until his go-kart would run out of gas and he would ask his dad to fill it back up so he could continue.

“I guess you could say that I’ve been dizzy ever since,” Schrader said. “I really don’t think it is an exaggeration when I say that racing is all I’ve ever known. I’ve been racing since I could walk, and it is really all I have ever wanted to do. To be honest, I would race everyday if I had the opportunity.”

After numerous top place finishes in the Nextel Cup Series, the Craftsman Truck Series, the NASCAR Grand National West Division, the NASCAR Auto Zone Elite Southwest Series and the ARCA Series, racing everyday is almost exactly what Schrader has continued to do — especially at small race tracks around the United States.

And, on Thursday, Aug. 13, the racer will be showcasing his talent in his No. 9 Modified at Sioux Speedway in Sioux Center.

Deemed Ken Schrader Night, the semi-retired NASCAR legend will start off the evening with a meet and greet.

“Fans will be able to come down and get an autograph from Ken,” said Sioux Speedway race director Darlo Mulder. “It will be open to the first 350 people that buy a ticket.”

Schrader will then race in the Modified division, but Mulder said the night will still feature Hobby Stock, B-Modified and Stock Car races.

Following the races, Mulder said those fans who weren’t present at the meet and greet can mingle with the racer in the pits — an opportunity Mulder himself will no doubt be taking advantage of.

“I’ve always been a big Kenny Schrader fan, and I’m really excited to meet him,” Mulder said. “I’m just excited to have someone that big in Sioux Center. Hopefully it will draw a big crowd and everyone else will appreciate the opportunity, too.”

“I want to spend my time racing. It’s not only my job, but it’s also my hobby. I love the time that I get to spend behind the wheel, and as long as I can, I’m going to race whenever I get the chance.”
Ken Schrader

Unique Races:
As Sioux Speedway only holds four races each season, race director Darlo Mulder tries to make each event original.
“We try to find something unique to make every night different,” he said.
Although the speedway has never featured a NASCAR legend like Ken Schrader, Mulder is quite excited for the opportunity to host such a distinguished racer.
“Usually, when tracks have a big event like this, the ticket price is pretty high, but we’re not doing that,” Mulder said. “We’re charging the normal ticket price, and that’s quite a good deal to watch someone like him race.”
What’s more, all of the proceeds from the night go towards the Sioux County Fair.

Sioux Speedway is located on the Sioux County Fairgrounds, one mile east of Hwy. 75 on Seventh Street N.E. in Sioux Center.

At a Glance:
What: Ken Schrader Night
Where: Sioux Speedway, one mile east of Hwy. 75 on Seventh Street N.E., Sioux Center
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13
Cost: $9 for adults; $5 for ages 9-12; ages 8 and under are free; $25 pit pass
Contact: (712) 441-1705
Online: or

This article appeared in the August 8, 2009 edition of DISCOVER! Magazine

Monday, July 27, 2009

Jobless rate in region below state average

REGIONAL—Despite the statewide unemployment rate pushing above 6 percent, N’West Iowa is sitting much lower than the June average.

According to figures released by Iowa Workforce Development on July 17, the state’s unemployment rate climbed to 6.2 percent in June from a revised 5.7 percent in May and 5.1 percent in April. June 2007 saw an unemployment rate of just 3.7 percent.

June’s rate is a 22-year high.

Worsening economic conditions have pushed the number of unemployed workers in Iowa to 104,100 — the highest it has been since February 1986.

N’West Iowa, on the other hand, is sitting much better, although the four-county area still saw slight increases.

For the month of June, Lyon County saw an unemployment rate of 4.3 percent, an increase from 3.6 in both May and April. O’Brien County was at 5.1 percent for June, while it saw rates of 4.6 in May and 4.2 in April. Osceola County was at 5.7 percent for June, an increase from 4.9 in May and 4.8 in April. Sioux County was at 4.5 percent for June, while it was at 3.7 for both May and April.

In June 2007, Lyon County was at 2.5 percent, O’Brien County was at 3.1, Osceola County was at 3.5 and Sioux County was at 2.9.

“Traditionally, northwest Iowa has always had a strong economic base, so the unemployment rate tends to run lower than the rest of the state,” said Kerry Koonce, a spokeswoman for Iowa Workforce Development. “That’s very positive for the area.”

She said the increase is primarily due to two instances: The combined effects of continuing layoffs and recent high school and college graduates entering the job market.

“During May and June, we always see an influx in new job seekers in the labor force,” Koonce said.

Still, the national economic situation is not helping matters.

“The June labor market numbers depict the effects of a severe and lingering recession on the Iowa economy,” said Elisabeth Buck, director of Iowa Workforce Development. “Iowa followed the national trend in June with its steepest job cuts occurring in construction, manufacturing and professional and business services.”

Koonce said it does not look like the state will be rebounding anytime soon.

State officials estimate that about 16,000 Iowans have lost the unemployment safety net since May. Most unemployed workers in Iowa receive 46 weeks of benefits — 26 weeks of standard benefits plus two federal extensions of 10 weeks each.

Koonce said on average, Iowans typically use 12 weeks of unemployment.

No matter, the statewide figures still remain lower than the national average.

The U.S. unemployment rate was 9.5 percent in June, up from 9.4 percent in May and 5.6 percent a year ago.

“Iowa is always lower than the national average because of the size of the workforce compared to the overall population,” Koonce said.

According to Iowa Workforce Development data, the nation has lost 6.5 million jobs since the recession began in December 2007.

U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) this week applauded Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis for traveling to Iowa to see innovative workforce training initiatives and announce two National Emergency Grant awards to Iowa communities suffering from recent layoffs.
Harkin chairs the appropriations subcommittee that funds labor initiatives and worked to secure additional resources in the Economic Recovery Package to assist out of work Americans.
“Rising unemployment is a growing concern for families across the U.S., but particularly here in Iowa,” Harkin said in a statement. “There is no quick fix to the economy, but we can take meaningful steps to increase resources that will help dislocated workers and give them the skills they need to re-enter the workforce. With Iowa’s unemployment once again on the rise, this funding comes in the nick of time.”
The National Emergency Grants will be awarded to the following:
Iowa Workforce Development, $664,074: To assist workers affected by layoffs resulting from the closure of RR Donnelley in Spencer. This project will provide employment-related services to dislocated workers in Buena Vista, Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, Kossuth, O’Brien and Palo Alto counties.
Iowa Workforce Development, $335,853: This project will provide access to “wrap-around” services like career counseling, assessment and job search assistance. Supportive services also will be available as needed. The project will benefit Allamakee, Bremer, Buchanan, Chickasaw, Clayton, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek counties.

This article appeared in the July 25, 2009 edition of The N'West Iowa REVIEW.

Chalk Talk: Story time includes illustration when artist Hansen is involved

HARTLEY—Picture a cool autumn day in the country.

A red barn sits near a corn field soon to be harvested.

There are no people but rather two birds flying over the horizon of the picturesque scene.

It could be anywhere — Maine, Nebraska, Oregon, even N’West Iowa.

But it’s not.

The artfully crafted landscape is a piece of LaVonne Hansen’s imagination, and the two birds are her signature.

The 80-year-old from Hartley has been honing her artistic talent since she was only 7.

“I kind of let it get away from me in high school,” she said.

But, while enrolled at Drake University in Des Moines, Hansen took an art class and re-discovered her gift.

Not for long, though, as she moved to Vermillion, SD, after graduation to work at a bank.

“After awhile, I was itching to do something, to create,” Hansen said.

She began creating small chalk drawings for the Order of the Eastern Star, the largest fraternal organization in the world to which men and women may belong, and matched her drawings to a short story she imagined about a rock and a lighthouse.

“It just developed into something fun,” Hansen said.

Before long, she was traveling to different organizations, groups, fairs, conventions, reunions, showers, churches and libraries, presenting what came to be known as “chalk talks.”

For each 20-minute presentation, Hansen comes prepared with a large metal easel, a wooden board, a large piece of newsprint and a set of soft chalk pastels. The presentation usually will have a theme, so Hansen will have time to develop a story and idea of an image.

While Hansen tells the story, she gradually draws on the newsprint.

“I always try to leave one space out while I’m drawing and fill it in later,” she said. “It’s an element of surprise.”

Hansen times her story with her chalk drawing, so they are both completed at the same time.

“You’ll know I’m done when I draw the two birds,” she said.

What results is a simple, colorful masterpiece.

“I draw very quickly,” Hansen said. “It’s very, very messy.”

After each piece is complete, she usually sprays it and takes a photograph so she can remember each drawing, then either lets the group keep the drawing or takes it home and stores it in her basement.

“I try to make each one not like the last,” she said.

This has not proven easy, as Hansen has done hundreds of chalk talks around the country and even some in Canada.

“It’s just a fun hobby I’ve gotten myself into and can’t seem to get out of,” she said.

But, Hansen’s chalk talks are not her true passion.

“I love painting and doing pen and ink drawings. I also recently took up woodcarving,” Hansen said. “As long as God lets me keep my eyesight and my right hand, I’ll be OK.”

Name: LaVonne Hansen
Age: 80
Residence: Hartley
Family: Husband, Don; two children; four grandchildren
Hobbies: Drawing, fishing, hiking in Arizona

LaVonne Hansen and her husband, Don, recently got back from a book launching party in Canada for Irvin Goodon’s autobiographical memoir “Climbing: One Pole at a Time.”
Hansen, who became acquainted with Goodon in Arizona, has more than 60 pen and ink illustrations in the book.
“We would sit by the hour together, and he would tell me stories, and I would draw what he was seeing,” she said. “I would definitely do it again if I had the opportunity.”
Hansen also has pen and ink drawings in “Walking Beans Wasn’t Something You Did with Your Dog,” an anthology of stories about growing up in and around small towns in the Midwest, published by Jean Tennant, owner of Shapato Publishing in Everly.

This article appeared in the July 25, 2009 edition of The N'West Iowa REVIEW.

Church's closing brings tears to its membership

INWOOD—Bethel United Methodist Church in Inwood may soon close its doors for good, but the eternal flame is still burning.

Members voted to discontinue services at the 125-year-old church during a congregational meeting on July 15.

“It’s very sad,” said Evelyn Brown, who has been attending Bethel United for 65 years.

For Brown, the building holds a special place in her heart, as both of her parents were members and her grandfather served as pastor during the 1930s.

“I finally just burst down and cried,” said Jan Hamann, who’s husband, the late Kenneth Hamann, served as pastor for five years.

“It’s such a shame, it’s such a beautiful little church,” said Karen Johnson, whose extended family has been attending the Inwood church most likely since its inception in 1884.

The three long-time members are not the only ones who have been disgruntled by the closure.

“Some local people who don’t even belong feel bad, but they realize it has to be done,” Brown said.

The church’s congregation, which has been comprised primarily of older community members for some time, has been facing a steady decline as members have passed on.

Coupled with a not-so-great administration a few years back, the building has reached a point of disrepair, with water leaks, ruined floors and outdated fixtures.

When current pastor Steve Swenson arrived in 2006, Hamann said Bethel United only had 10 members.

To keep the church open, congregation members held benefits, bake sales, waffle breakfasts and banquets to even pay for Swenson’s salary.

“It just reached a point where attendance was not enough to carry on or finance anything,” Hamann said. “Something had to be done.”

Which is why, although Hamann, Brown and Johnson may be saddened by the decision, they agree that the church needs to be closed.

“We don’t even have enough members to pay a minister’s salary,” Johnson said.

Hamann said only four people attended Bethel United’s final Sunday service on July 19. She, Brown and Johnson have all begun attending Doon United Methodist Church, where they will be formally welcomed into the congregation during a ceremony in August.

Besides attending the Doon church, they said members also have the option of transferring to Seeds of Faith, the United Methodist affiliated church in Lester.

To honor members and former pastors and community members who have remained dedicated to Bethel United, or simply want to say goodbye, Swenson will hold a special celebration and service at 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16, at the church, located at 311 S. Oak St. in Inwood.

“Everyone is invited,” Brown said.

The Iowa United Methodist Conference Board of Ordained Ministry will take ownership of the church and surrounding property on Aug. 1. The board has no plans for the church yet, and Johnson said it probably will not make any decision until at least September, due to the final celebration.

Brown said that Bethel United is not the only United Methodist church the board has to worry about.

At the board’s annual conference June 4-7, it voted to close five other Methodist churches in the state — Pleasant Prairie United Methodist Church in Chariton, Morrow Memorial Heights United Methodist Church in Marshall County, Capitol Heights United Methodist Church in Des Moines, Jefferson Center United Methodist Church in Stuart and South Bethel United Methodist Church in Manly.

Although the decision was expected, members still are sad to see the church, especially the intricate stained-glass windows, go.

“The town has said it’s the prettiest church in our area because of its age and its stained glass windows,” Brown said. “It would be a great historical place, but to raise money to keep it open would be too much.”

Following the Sunday celebration on Aug. 16, with the exception of the numerous memorials donated to the church by families in the congregation, all if its belongings will be turned over to the Iowa United Methodist Church, and the eternal flame will burn no more.

This article appeared in the July 25, 2009 edition of The N'West Iowa REVIEW.

Bottle or breast feeding? New mothers weigh option

REGIONAL—The newfound joy of having a baby can be quite overwhelming for some parents.

With constant decisions having to be made, how do you know if you’re making the right one?

One major decision that will need to be made as soon as the baby is born is whether to use formula or breast feed.

Cheryl Tracy, a registered nurse and international board certified lactation consultant at Orange City Area Health System, recommends the latter.

“I encourage all expectant moms to breast feed. It’s definitely a baby’s best start, and it’s a parenting style that is a special one,” Tracy said. “There is a bond between mom and baby that can’t be replicated by any other process.”

Tracy would know, she speaks from experience.

After having four children, each of whom she breast fed, Tracy said she has formed a special bond with each that would not have happened otherwise.

“It was that part of being a mom that I so thoroughly enjoyed that I decided to become a lactation consultant — to help other moms enjoy it the way I did, to educate them on the benefits of breast feeding and to be there to help them with the bumps in the road that come along during the process,” Tracy said.

Here’s a closer look at how breast feeding compares to formula:

Q: What are the benefits to breast feeding?
A: There are a lot of them, but a big thing that comes to mind are the health benefits for babies. Research says that babies who are breast fed tend to have less ear infections, less GI (gastrointestinal) infections and their immune system is boosted from breast feeding.

Q: Does breast milk contain anything formula does not?
A: Breast milk as 200-plus ingredients that formula cannot match. The white blood cells, which are the living cells in breast milk, help with immune responses.

Q: If a baby was strictly fed on formula as opposed to breast milk, would they see different effects?
A: I definitely think so. You cannot manufacture those immune properties and living cells that come in breast milk, so they would definitely be missing out on that aspect. The neat thing about breast milk is that it is specifically geared toward that baby the mom is feeding. Breast milk of a prematurely delivered baby is different than breast milk for a baby born at full term. It changes as the baby grows, and formula pretty much stays the same and doesn’t change with the needs of the baby.

Q: As the baby gets older, does breast milk provide more nutrients to aid in the growth process?
A: As the weaning process ensues as the baby gets close to a year or older, the nutrients are concentrated. So, as a baby is breast fed less frequently, it will still get those benefits.

Q: How long should a baby be breast fed?
A: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a baby is breast fed for the first year of life, but the World Health Organization recommends breast feeding a baby until their second year of life.

Q: Does breast milk taste differently than formula?
A: I’m sure babies would tell you that it does. A baby will prefer their mom’s milk and often don’t tolerate formula as well.

Q: Are there any benefits for mothers who are breast feeding? A: A mom tends to lose weight she gains during the pregnancy more quickly if she breast feeds, because it uses calories to make breast milk. There is also research out there that says moms who breast feed face a reduced risk of breast cancer and other reproductive organ cancers. Research also shows that moms who breast feed face a reduced risk of osteoporosis.

Q: Are there any specific diets a mother who is breast feeding should follow? A: There are no specific things to include or avoid. I always tell moms to eat what they want in moderation, just like all of us need to do.

Q: What about smoking or drinking alcohol while breast feeding? A: The benefits of breast milk still outweigh the exposure to nicotine, but I always counsel moms not to expose their baby to secondhand smoke and to not smoke around babies. You can time the breast feeding, where the baby is breast fed and then the mom has a cigarette, and by the time the next feeding occurs, you’re at your lowest level of nicotine. But, I always encourage moms that anytime is a great time to quit smoking, whether that’s during their pregnancy or while they are breast feeding. As for alcohol, it is present in breast milk as well as in the blood stream. Alcohol is metabolized out of breast milk as it is out of the blood stream. It is recommended for every drink a mom consumes, she wait two hours to breast feed.

This article appeared in the July 25, 2009 edition of The N'West Iowa REVIEW.

Hippe music fest growing in corn field

DUNNELL, MN-The Hudsons have plans to go out with a bang.

The bluegrass trio, comprised of Brian Hudson, Hudson Mueller and most recently, Leah Zeger, have been recording, performing and promoting their own flavor of acoustic material for the past eight years.

But, soon it will all be over.

“This is our last tour,” said Hudson.

Although the band will continue to do a few shows through November, Mueller has plans to move to New York, which will certainly leave the Austin, TX based group in limbo.

Which is why the three have plans to enjoy what could possibly be their final tour together.

“I just really want to have a good time on this tour,” Mueller said. “We’ve kind of done this tour a couple of times already, so we have a lot of friends along the way, and we’re looking forward to seeing the folks that we know out there, and I’m also looking forward to spending time with Brian and Leah. We really haven’t had any gigs over the last couple of months, and I’m about to move, so we want to get one last hurrah in before it all goes down.”

One of the last stops on The Hudsons’ tour is to Cornstalk in Dunnell, MN — a music, art and peace festival the Texas group has performed at once before.

“It’s kind of a dope festival,” Hudson said.

While Mueller said the group, which only consisted of him and Hudson at the time, had no idea what they were getting into by performing at the festival, they were pleasantly surprised.

“The first time we went up there, we really had no idea what we were getting into,” he said. “We were off in the middle of nowhere, driving through corn fields, and suddenly out popped a little oasis of hippies and joy.”

And, while the band has played at Cornstalk before, both Mueller and Hudson agreed it will be a different experience this time around, what with the addition of Zeger.

“She’s just at the top of her game, and one of the best musicians I’ve ever played with, besides Hudson, of course,” said Hudson. “It ought to change things in a significant way.”

Although Mueller and Hudson pushed their merchandise pretty heavily last time, they agreed to be a little more subdued this time around.

“We do need to get rid of all of those boxes of CDs, though,” Mueller said.

This article appeared in the July 25, 2009 edition of DISCOVER! Magazine.

Go Fish entirely about family fun

ARNOLDS PARK-Jamie Statema knew he had something special from the very beginning.

While he initially struggled between his musical aspirations and youth ministry, Statema found his calling at a concert over a decade ago when a Canadian band called The Nylons visited St. Paul, MN, where the Rock Valley native was residing.

It was the first time he had seen an a capella group perform with a pop production flair, and Statema was hooked to the sound, deciding he wanted to incorporate some of the same elements into Christian music.

In 1993, he formed Go Fish, originally a mainstream band that has transformed its sound over the years to become one of the most sought after family-oriented Christian groups in the nation.

The switch wasn’t immediately met with praise, though.

Originally signed to Nashville-based InPop Records and comprised of different band mates, Go Fish went through a reconfiguration when two members moved on to other ambitions and Jason Folmann and Andy Selness joined Statema in 1998.

Four years later, the trio began to take notice of the large amount of families with young children coming to their concerts.

“We thought it’d be fun to do a CD for kids, so we approached our record label with our idea and they thought it was the dumbest idea to do after we had built up our careers,” Statema said.

Go Fish was convinced it wouldn’t need to change its music, per say, just gear an album toward the younger generation.

“The label didn’t want any part of it, and said we’d be out of our record deal if we did it, so we decided to get out and did ‘Splash’ six years ago,” Statema said. “It went bonkers immediately, and it was very evident it was music kids and parents could enjoy together, so we pretty much quit doing everything else and now focus solely on families with young kids. It’s been amazing.”

While many of the band’s songs are fun and goofy, Statema finds songwriting inspiration from his three-year-old son combined with God’s word.

“Our mission to follow Christ and be fishers of men has always been the same, so not only do we have fun, but we teach kids about the gospel and the Bible to get inspiration for our songs,” Statema said. “Studying the Bible and seeing first-hand on a daily basis what a great book God has given us is a great inspiration in itself. I think a lot of people that maybe doubt it or don’t understand it have probably never studied it. The more I study it, I am just amazed from beginning to end how seamlessly it’s rolled together.”

Families in Northwest Iowa can gather to hear Go Fish open the Okoboji Lakes Bible and Missionary Conference at 7:15 p.m. Friday, July 31.

Statema guarantees everyone in attendance will have a great time.

“We’re going to put on a great show. Whether you know our music or you’re 5 or 55, we are entertainers and you are going to have a great time,” he said. “I love doing our concerts and seeing kids and grandparents enjoying it together. It’s a rare thing to find these days."

This article appeared in the July 25, 2009 edition of DISCOVER! Magazine.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Farm's garden to be on display

SUTHERLAND-Are you looking for a way to cut costs at the grocery store?

Iowa State University Extension may have a solution.

Through the Eight Gardens in Eight Days program, horticulturist Cindy Haynes hopes to educate Iowans on the potential to save money by growing produce at home.

Established nearly 20 years ago, the annual program is presenting home demonstration gardens developed by the Extension in eight communities, including Sutherland, throughout July and August. The other gardens are in Rock Rapids, Fruitland, Kanawha, Gilbert, Nashua, Chariton and Lewis.

Each year, Haynes chooses to incorporate different flowers and plants contingent on what the gardening trends are.

This year’s theme, mainly chosen because of the national economic crisis, deals with growing vegetables that can stretch your dollar. By incorporating the option of canning and preserving produce, Haynes chose products like winter squash, tomatoes, potatoes and onions for planting in the statewide gardens.

“They’re all easy to grow, and they keep a long time,” she said. “Tomatoes might need to be canned or frozen, but potatoes and onions can just be stored in a cool basement.”

Because Haynes always likes to incorporate something fun into the gardens, she planted white pumpkins, or “ghostly pumpkins,” this year.

“They take up a lot of space, and they are nice looking plants,” she said. “We planted a big one and a little one. That way, the pumpkin patch isn’t all orange. It’s a nice comparison of the different varieties of cultivators you might select.”

The final trend that the Extension settled on was incorporating unusual flowers and ornamental grasses.

“We always like to show the newer, unusual zinnias and marigolds that come out,” Haynes said. “We like to demonstrate how they perform in Iowa. Sometimes we see some real winners and sometimes we see some real dogs.”

On the field days, Haynes sees how each plant is handling the Iowa weather. The Sutherland field day, which is the last of the eight, will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12, at the Northwest Research and Demonstration Farm in O’Brien County, located six miles southwest of Sutherland, at 6320 500th St.

After speeches from Del Brokshus, owner of Del’s Garden Center in Spencer, and Haynes, the garden, which features five varieties of pumpkins, six varieties of squash, a wide selection of flowers, giant corn, wild grass, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, beets, beans and sweet potatoes, will be open for tours.

Research farm superintendent Ryan Rusk said complimentary root beer floats and grilled sweet corn also will be served.

“The field days are always a good interactive learning period,” Rusk said. “It’s just a good chance to relate with other gardeners and have an enjoyable evening out.”

What: Eight Gardens in Eight Days tour stop
When: 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12
Where: Iowa State University Northwest Research and Demonstration Farm in O’Brien County, 6320 500th St., Sutherland
For more info: Contact ISU horticulturist Cindy Haynes at (515) 294-4006 or

This article appeared in the July 25, 2009 edition of The South O'Brien Sun.

White: This is right fit for me

SUTHERLAND-Chris White has held many jobs over the years.

From a police officer to an insurance adjuster to retail management.

But, it’s his current gig he likes the most.

The 42-year-old White took over as nursing home administrator at Sutherland Care Center on June 15.

It was perfect timing for the Sutherland resident, as he had just completed his online master’s degree in business administration with a concentration in health care management 10 days prior.

“I was going to Salt Lake City when I was called and offered the job,” White said. “I was like, ‘Well, I’ll be back on the 13th,’ which was a Saturday, and he asked if I could start that Monday. ‘I said sure.’ The timing couldn’t have gotten any better, really.”

His interested in being involved with the geriatric population was piqued when he began volunteering at a Golden Living nursing facility in Rapid City, SD.

“I just enjoyed working with the people and decided to go back to school to get my license,” he said.

Since doing so, White has been nothing but pleased.

“This is the right fit for me. I really enjoy the residents and the business aspect of it,” he said. “And, when I need a break, I can go out and play some bingo or play cards with the guys. It’s really nice.”

As the nursing home administrator, White takes responsibility for the residents receiving high-quality care, works with department heads to make sure certain needs are being met, addresses any concerns that arise from residents or residents’ families and keeps on top of state and federal regulations to insure the facility stays in compliance.

“Overall, I’m just in charge of the entire facility and make sure we’re providing everything we need to,” White said.

Since taking over duties from Jaime Dodd, the previous nursing home administrator, White has faced nothing but high expectations at Sutherland Care Center.

“It has a good history of taking care of people and having a good staff, and I really found that to be true,” he said. “They’re very dedicated to their jobs and to the residents. Hopefully, we can maintain that. That would be a great goal.”

Other goals White has for the facility include expanding services to residents in Larrabee, Peterson and Paullina and possibly opening up the therapy department to the general public.

“I just somehow want to give back to the community, because the community of Sutherland is really involved, and that’s a great thing,” White said. “It really supports the care center with a lot of volunteers.”

Name: Chris White
Position: Nursing home administrator at Sutherland Care Center
Start date: June 15
Age: 42
Residence: Sutherland
Education: Earned bachelor of business administration degree with a concentration in health care management from American InterContinental University, an online program based in Atlanta in 2005; earned health-care administration license in 2006; earned master of business administration degree with a concentration in health-care management from Stevens Henager College, an online program based in Salt Lake City in 2009
Family: Son, Benjamin, 13
Hobbies: Playing softball, reading, doing computer work, cooking

This article appeared in the July 25, 2009 edition of The South O'Brien Sun.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hogwarts hysteria

REGIONAL—Quidditch, muggles and the never-ending magical quest to defeat You-Know-Who.


You shouldn’t be.

“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” the sixth installment in the Harry Potter film franchise, which is based on the series of eight books about a young wizard penned by British author J.K. Rowling, sold $53.38 million in movie tickets in the United States and Canada on its opening day Wednesday, according to Warner Bros.

N’West Iowa was no exception to the mania.

Children, teenagers and parents flocked to Sheldon, Orange City and Sioux Center for a chance to purchase tickets for the midnight showing of the film.

John Ihle, manager of Holland Plaza in Orange City and Main Street 3 in Sheldon, said tickets for the 12:05 a.m. showing of “Half-Blood Prince” were sold out by 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Orange City.

Muggles, or nonmagical people in Harry Potter lingo, stood in lines prior to the Sheldon showing waiting for the theatre to open at 11:30 p.m., tickets still were available at the start of the premier. They did sell out soon after.

“It’s such a good series, and there’s really a lot to it,” Ihle said, of the large turnout.

The Sheldon and Orange City movie theatres were not the only “Half-Blood Prince” premieres Potterites flocked to. The 12:01 a.m. showing of the film also sold out at Cinema 5 in Sioux Center.

The film originally was scheduled to be released on Nov. 21, but Warner Bros. decided to hold off the sixth installment until summer, hoping for a larger box office turnout.

Ihle said the company hit box office gold with its decision.

“Everybody thought when they had delayed it from November to now that it would hurt them, but it didn’t,” he said. “People just love Harry Potter.”

That may be an understatement.

Sheldon residents Joelle Brown, 17, Kristine Arnold, 18, Jackie Klein, 16, and Becky Oldenkamp, 21, proved their love for the series on multiple occasions throughout the week.

Prior to the midnight showing in Sheldon, Arnold hosted a Harry Potter-themed party at her house.

Friends of the four dressed up as characters ranging from Molly Weasley, Bill Weasley and Cho Chang to professor Sybill Trelawney, Hermoine Granger, Nymphadora Tonks, Luna Lovegood and, of course, Harry Potter.

At about 10:20 p.m., the group headed to Main Street 3 for a Harry Potter prerelease party sponsored by KIWA Radio and waited for the theatre doors to open so they could get the best seats.

Not showing the slightest bit of sleep depravity from the two-and-a-half hour movie, which released at about 2:40 a.m. Wednesday, Brown, Arnold, Oldenkamp and Klein were dressed in their Potter garb and ready to host Harry Potter Fest at 2 p.m. on Wednesday at Sheldon Public Library.

More than 30 area children attended the event, which featured scenes from the fictional Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade and the Great Hall, located within Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Prior to the festival, children’s librarian Karla Robinet, dressed as Hogwarts’ professor Minerva McGonagall, placed the sorting hat on each participant, which deemed who should be placed in each of the four houses — Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff.

After receiving their designated house badge, Klein, dressed as Nymphadora Tonks, drew marker lightning bolt scars, similar to the one Harry Potter dons, on each of the children’s foreheads. Oldenkamp, dressed as Hogwarts’ gamekeeper Rubeus Hagrid, stood at Gringotts Wizarding Bank and handed out galleons, knuts and sickles, for each participant to buy Harry Potter-themed candy and toys at each station in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.

The group also engaged in Potter-riffic Jeopardy, a Quidditch relay race and Scene It? Harry Potter Edition, a DVD-based board game.

Robinet said the library also had a celebration when “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” was released in 2007 and plans to do more when the final book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows,” is released in two movies in 2010 and 2011.

“There’s no question,” she said.


How did the movie “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” compare to the book?

“I’m fine with the movies, but I’m always slightly disappointed because I love the books so much. They missed some things, but it was OK.”
Joelle Brown, 17, Sheldon

“It was the best one so far.”
Kristine Arnold, 18, Sheldon

“It was the best of the six, but it really played up the romance.”
Jackie Klein, 16, Sheldon

The fictional Harry Potter will celebrate his birthday on July 31. As the wizard was born in 1980, he will celebrate his 29th birthday later this month.

This article appeared in the July 18, 2009 edition of The N'West Iowa REVIEW.

Corn, soybean prices slipping in last month

REGIONAL—N’West Iowa grain prices have gone into a downward spiral recently after going on a bumpy roller coaster ride.

Despite slightly fluctuating corn and soybean prices through the months of February, March and April, prices saw a somewhat steady incline in May until they peaked during the first part of June.

But, prices have been on a steady decline since.

John Hansen, grain manager at the Farmers Co-op Society in Sioux Center, said the fluctuating prices earlier in the year could be attributed to the drop in the price of petroleum.

“Part of that also has to do with the fears of inflation floating around,” he said. “The economy is not improving as much as everyone thought it was.”

As the corn and soybean prices peaked, Hansen said the livestock, dairy, poultry and ethanol industries were losing money and were depending on corn to stay afloat.

“It’s Economics 101,” Hansen said.

Grain prices bottomed out on July 10 at Ag Partners in Sheldon — with corn at $3 per bushel and soybeans at $9.96. Hansen said the decline is largely due to the national economic downturn, adding that an unseasonably cool summer and the large amount of precipitation Iowa has received as of late also are contributing factors.

“Who would have ever thought we would get 6-8 inches of rain the first 10 days in July? That’s unheard of,” he said. “I was talking to farmers that have been doing this for 50-60 years, and they said they have never seen this consistent of precipitation.”

Despite the recent weather conditions, Hansen still considers the cooler summer weather to be good for growing conditions and said farmers can expect good yields should no major weather catastrophe occur.

However, until the economy starts improving, Hansen doesn’t see grain prices increasing much, if any at all.

“I wouldn’t look for prices to stay very strong or get stronger until something changes,” he said. “We probably won’t see a huge spike up until well into 2010 or even 2011, as the economy starts to improve.”

So, what does that mean for N’West Iowa producers?

“They need to have a good business plan,” Hansen said. “When the opportunity arises, sell at a decent margin. Don’t try to hit the home run for $4-$4.50 per bushel of corn. In today’s market, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.”

This article appeared in the July 18, 2009 edition of The N'West Iowa REVIEW.

Still tearing up tracks

LEMARS—“Once you do it, it gets into you and you love it.”

So said local motocross aficionado Justin Jongerius.

He first saddled a motorcycle when he was only 5. His dad, Kelly, taught him how to ride.

“My dad was a very accomplished rider, himself. He was really all I needed,” Jongerius said. “Between him and a few people I became friends with that were really good riders, I just kind of picked it up along the way.”

The Sheldon native cites his interest in BMX — bicycle motocross — as another factor that progressed his riding ability, but he maintains the main credit goes to Kelly.

“I’ve got to give all the credit to him as far as why I’m doing it,” Jongerius said. “How I did it financially, how I did it with my equipment and how I did it as a rider was all because of him.”

While Jongerius learned to ride a motorcycle at a young age, he did not make his foray into motocross racing until later.

Racing hare scrambles, or cross country tracks, beginning at age 8, Jongerius’ talent accelerated along with his age. By the time he was 16, Jongerius was introduced to the “A” class, or pro class on the local circuit.

“I did that basically until this year,” he said.

Now 32 and living in LeMars, Jongerius has taken a step back from the sport.


To combat the volumes of necessary training and discipline, Jongerius has dropped down to the “B” class, or intermediate division.

“I’m doing this for fun now, as opposed to in the past, when I took it pretty seriously,” he said.

When Jongerius was in his prime, he would ride about three days a week.

“I would try to ride as much as I could, and race as much as I could, too,” he said.

As if he did not get his fill of the sport during the summer, Jongerius also would ride wintercross during the colder months.

“It’s basically a condensed version of the sport done inside a hockey rink,” Jongerius said. “I’ve raced everywhere from Milwaukee to Las Vegas inside arenas.”

When Jongerius was not busy competing, he was training.

“It’s been taken up in studies that motocrossers are probably right around decathletes and soccer players at the most physically fit athletes in any sport,” Jongerius said.

Jongerius cites cardiovascular training as the most important for the sport, as riders need to be able to perform while experiencing a high heart rate. Weight training also is important.

“That’s one of the hardest disciplines — disciplining yourself to maintain a proper diet and train as much as you can,” Jongerius said. “The guys who succeed are the guys who stick to that and do as much as they can.”

Since Jongerius has dropped down to the intermediate circuit, so has his training. He now only rides once a week or once every two weeks.

“I basically come off the couch to race, that’s how I refer to it,” he said. “I don’t train as much anymore. I’m busy with my job and life has taken over.”

That has not stopped Jongerius, who works as the parts manager at Glen’s Sports Center in Sheldon, from remaining a motocross fiend.

Serving as president of the Midwest Motocross Series, a tristate area of the Motocross Series, Jongerius does his best to compete at and attend all of the events at the motocross race tracks in Sheldon, LeMars and Homer, NE.

Competing in Open B Intermediate and Vet Plus 30, a division specifically for riders over the age of 30, Jongerius is able to maintain the talent he has accumulated over the years.

That’s not what he enjoys most about the sport, though.

“The thing I enjoy most about moto is the friendships and the family environment,” he said. “It truly is a family sport.”

Jongerius said moms, dads, kids and even grandparents get into the races, and rarely are there any confrontations.

“Of course, it happens,” he said. “People get competitive and it can happen from time to time, but it really is a family involved sport, and that’s probably what I like the most about it — the friendships and the camaraderie you get with the other riders.”

With motocross being so family-oriented, Jongerius’ two daughters, 9-year-old Jordyn and 7-year-old Shaylei have been around the sports and have certainly expressed interest.

“They’re starting to get their feet wet just starting to ride,” Jongerius said. “If they just want to ride for fun, I’ll be perfectly happy with that, because I know what I’ve been through.”

After more than seven concussions, two broken bones in his leg and several shoulder separations, Jongerius will not even attempt to deny how dangerous motocross is.

“There have been many times when I’ve laid there after a crash or in the hospital and said, ‘Why am I doing this?’” Jongerius said. “Every time I get back on my bike I remember why. It’s because I love it so much. I love that feeling of not knowing what’s going to happen.”

Looking to break into the sport of motocross?
Here’s a list of items former professional rider Justin Jongerius suggests you obtain:
Riding outfit, consisting of riding gear pants and a jersey.
Protective boots.
Knee braces. Although not every rider wears these, Jongerius says the protective gear is becoming more common place.
Leatt Brace. - “It’s very similar to what NASCAR and race car drivers wear,” Jongerius said. “It’s a cervical collar that is for prevention of spinal cord injuries.”
Chest protector. - “Some riders wear them, some riders don’t,” Jongerius said. “I recommend it, because not only does it protect you from debris flying off of your competitors’ bikes and when you’re not wearing one — it feels like you’re being shot at close-range with a paintball gun — but also, when you’re in a crash and your bike falls on you or you get run over, it serves as body armor. It just protects you.”

For motocross riders just beginning, Justin Jongerius of LeMars suggests starting slow.
“Start with what you know how to do and just work your way up from there,” he said. “To me, motocross is 75 percent mental and 25 percent physical. It’s definitely physically demanding, but confidence speaks volumes in this sport. If you act on fear, you’re going to crash.”

A major part of motocross racing is sponsorships, said rider Justin Jongerius.
Starting out, the local professional was sponsored by Glen’s Sports Center in Sheldon and his parents. He also is sponsored by Fox Racing now.
Jongerius said riders can either build up resumes and submit them for possible partnerships or seek out local businesses that could express an interest.
“Back when I was coming up, I was it. I was the only one racing,” Jongerius said. “Now, there are a lot more kids in this area that are starting to get into it, and there are a lot of generous people that will help.”

“I’ve seen more and more girls getting into this in the last 10 years than I’ve ever seen,” said local motocross racer Justin Jongerius. “There used to be only a few here and there, but now there’s a complete women’s division on the national level.”
Just this year, the first girl motocross racer got sponsored by a factory team, which Jongerius said is huge for women’s motocross.
The reigning women’s national champion is just 16 years old and is deaf.
“She’s an inspiration for a lot of little girls out there,” Jongerius said.

This article appeared in the Summer Sports 2009 Sports Leader magazine.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Weather not cause of crash

SHELDON—The National Transportation Safety Board has determined that engine issues, not the weather, might have caused the single-engine airplane crash that killed three Wisconsin men on Tuesday, June 23, east of Sheldon.

According to the preliminary accident report issued by the NTSB on Thursday, July 2,
the 1968 Piper PA-28 plane was “destroyed when it impacted terrain while maneuvering near Sanborn” at 10:56 a.m.

The report stated that Frank Allegretti, 63, of Cambridge, Tom Boos, 60, of Fort Atkinson and Malcom McMillan, 65, of Milton departed from the Fort Atkinson Municipal Airport in southern Wisconsin at 8 a.m.

The trio were flying the refurbished red and white four-seater, co-owned by McMillan, to a prairie dog hunting excursion in Winner, SD, when the aircraft crashed into an embankment along gravel road 310th Street between Oriole and Pierce avenues about four miles east of Sheldon and a mile north of Highway 18.

NTSB senior air safety investigator Aaron Sauer, who is in charge of the investigation, said investigators still are not certain who was flying the plane.

He said Allegretti was seated in the left front seat, McMillan was seated in the right front seat, and Boos was seated in the back seat and could be considered the passenger.

While the left front seat is commonly where the pilot is seated, Sauer said both Allegretti and McMillan each had private pilot’s licenses and were seated with controls in front of them, so either could have been piloting the aircraft.

“It will take some additional work to see if we can determine who was flying and who wasn’t,” Sauer said. “If we cannot determine that, we most often go with whoever was seated in the left front seat.”

The report states that no flight plan was filed for the personal flight, but Sauer said a hand-held global positioning system found on board the plane may help investigators determine the flight’s history, including what led the aircraft to crash, coming to rest in an inverted position.

Sauer said witnesses saw the aircraft shortly before the crash, but he has not found anyone that actually saw the plane go down.

“Two witnesses did observe the plane flying low,” the investigator said. “They heard the engine sputter and cough. The engine then quit, restarted and quit again.”

Sauer said the plane then was lost behind some trees north of the accident site.

“Others observed the plane flying low, and one witness observed the wings rocking back and forth,” he said.

Investigators found skid marks on the cornfield north of 310th Street heading in a southward direction. Measurements taken at the accident site indicate a distance of 100 feet between initial contact with the cornfield and the 180-horsepower Lycoming engine’s resting point.

Although the preliminary accident report was released, Sauer said investigators continue to look for clues for what caused the plane’s engine to malfunction.

“We’re still working on it,” he said. “We’re trying to track down fuel records and maintenance records on the airplane that we have not seen yet. We’re still trying to figure out, but we’re seeking pretty common pieces of information.”

Sauer expects a detailed factual report on the crash to be completed within six months.

“It depends on how quickly we get other information sent to us, like the autopsy reports and the toxicology reports, but I would anticipate this particular case will fall somewhere along that timeline,” he said.

The NTSB office, based in Washington, D.C., then will review the report and assign a probable cause, which will be made public.

Here is a list of fatal plane crashes that have occurred in N’West Iowa, according to the National Transportation Safety Board’s aviation accident database that dates back to 1962:

Oct. 3, 2003 — A Luscombe 8E was destroyed after impacting trees and terrain northwest of Orange City, killing the pilot, Wesley Huisman, 51, rural Orange City, and a passenger, Wayne Keizer, 51, Mesa, AZ, formerly of Sioux Center. There were no witnesses to the accident, and the aircraft was found in the northwest corner of a small field, owned by the pilot’s father, about 75 yards away from two farm buildings and a silo. The destroyed aircraft was found in a near vertical position with the wreckage contained in a small area. The NTSB determined the probable cause of the accident to the pilot’s failure to maintain obstacle clearance from the trees while maneuvering at a low altitude.

Feb. 6, 1997 — The weather reported at Sioux Falls, SD, about 15 miles from Zannger Field in Larchwood, where the Cessna 150 took off, was freezing fog with one-fourth mile of visibility and 100 feet vertical visibility, with the temperature at minus 8 degrees and the dew point at minus 8 degrees. A witness who lived at the departure airport reported she saw the aircraft start its takeoff roll. She reported that she could not believe the airplane was actually departing because of the dense fog. It impacted the ground about one-half mile east of the departure and end of runway 18, killing the pilot, Robert Forehand 41, Sioux Falls, SD. The NTSB deemed the noninstrument-rated pilot’s takeoff and the weather as probable factors.

May 4, 1984 — At about 10:50 a.m. while en route to Kansas City, ground witnesses heard a snap or boom noise, followed by a high pitch sound of a Piper PA-28-180’s engine. They then observed the aircraft spin or roll out of the overcast sky at an estimated 1,500-2,000 feet. They said the aircraft continued to spin or roll until impacting the ground near Matlock. The witnesses also reported light rain was falling. An examination of the wreckage revealed that both outer wing panels had separated during the flight and were located 3,116 and 2,376 feet from the main wreckage. Both the pilot, Robert Stamp, Madison, MN, and a passenger, his wife, Marilyn, were killed. No pre-impact part failure or malfunction was found. The non-instrument rated pilot had only five hours of simulated instrument time. The NTSB deemed aircraft handling, spatial disorientation, exceeded design stress limits of the aircraft and lack of total instrument time as probable causes, with inadequate preflight planning/preparation, clouds, rain and low ceiling weather conditions as contributing factors.

Nov. 28, 1977 — A Bellanca 8KCAB departed the Canton Municipal Airport in Canton, SD, and lost control near Larchwood, killing the pilot and passenger. The NTSB cited the pilot in command failing to obtain/maintain flying speed as the probable cause.

This article appeared in the July 11, 2009 edition of The N'West Iowa REVIEW.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Investigation continues of plane crash near Sheldon

SHELDON—The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration continue to investigate a plane crash that killed three Wisconsin men en route to a South Dakota hunting expedition on Tuesday, June 23, near Sheldon.

While a preliminary accident report was expected to be released this week, nothing was available as of press time on Thursday.

However, NTSB senior air safety investigator Aaron Sauer, who is in charge of the investigation, offered a closer look at what might have brought down the 1968 Piper PA-28 single-engine airplane, as well as the next steps the NTSB plans to take to further the investigation.

According to information released by the FAA, Frank Allegretti, 63, of Cambridge, Tom Boos, 60, of Fort Atkinson and Malcom McMillan, 65, of Milton, were flying the refurbished red and white four-seater, co-owned by McMillan, to a prairie dog hunting excursion in Winner, SD, when the aircraft crashed about 11 a.m. into an embankment along gravel road 310th Street between Oriole and Pierce avenues about four miles east of Sheldon and a mile north of Highway 18.

Sauer said investigators are not sure who was flying the plane.

He said Allegretti was seated in the left front seat, McMillan was seated in the right front seat, and Boos was seated in the back seat and could be considered a passenger.

While the left front seat is commonly where the pilot is seated, Sauer said both Allegretti and McMillan each had private pilot’s licenses and were seated with controls in front of them, so either could have been piloting the aircraft.

“It will take some additional work to see if we can determine who was flying and who wasn’t,” he said. “If we cannot determine that, we most often go with whoever was seated in the left front seat.”

Sauer said the aircraft departed from Fort Atkinson Municipal Airport on Tuesday at an unknown time.

He said no flight plan was filed, although a hand-held global positioning system was found on board the plane and may help investigators determine the flight’s history, including what led the aircraft to crash, coming to rest in an inverted position.

Sauer said witnesses saw the aircraft shortly before the crash, but he has not located anyone that actually saw the plane go down.

“Two witnesses did observe the plane flying low,” Sauer said. “They heard the engine sputter and cough. The engine then quit, restarted and quit again.”

Sauer said the plane then was lost behind some trees north of the accident site.

“Others observed the plane flying low, and one witness observed the wings rocking back and forth,” Sauer said.

Investigators found skid marks on the cornfield north of 310th Street heading in a southward direction. Measurements taken at the accident site indicate a distance of 100 feet between initial contact with the cornfield and 180-horsepower Lycoming engine’s resting point.

Mike Buss, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service station in Sioux Falls, SD, said thunderstorms rolled in the area during late morning, with 0.23 inch of rain falling and up to 45 mph wind gusts. Despite the conditions, authorities have been hesitant to speculate a cause.

“It’s way too early to speculate on a cause,” Sauer said. “We’re still in the fact-gathering stages. We have several pieces to place together before we take the time to even start thinking about a cause.”

Three such pieces Sauer said the NTSB is looking into are man, machine and environment.

The NTSB still is waiting to receive information on McMillan’s and Allegretti’s pilot training and expertise, which most often is gathered from family members. Board members also are continuing to inspect the aircraft and Sauer is working to obtain information about the weather and terrain of the accident site.

“We’re still trying to gather all of this information,” Sauer said. “It takes a while to get everything tracked down.”

The plane, which was removed from the site on Wednesday, June 24, by a recovery operation from Minneapolis, will remain in a secure location until the investigation is completed.

Sauer said autopsies were performed on all three victims at the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Ankeny, but he has not received the results. Toxicology tests also are being conducted on McMillan’s and Allegretti’s bodies by the FAA.

After the preliminary crash report is released, a detailed factual report on the crash will not be completed for six to nine months. The NTSB office, based in Washington, D.C., then will review the report and assign a probable cause, which will be made public.

“One thing that important to remember is that if there were any safety issues identified, we would address those immediately,” Sauer said. “We did not find any issues, and that is important for the public to keep in mind, that this accident has nothing specifically related to any other similar aircraft out there.”

This article appeared in the July 4, 2009 edition of The N'West Iowa REVIEW.

Three die in plane crash

SHELDON—Three Wisconsin men en route to a South Dakota hunting expedition were killed Tuesday in a plane crash near 310th Street between Sheldon and Sanborn.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration continue to investigate the crash that killed Frank Allegretti, 64, of Cambridge, Tom Boos, 60, of Fort Atkinson and Malcolm McMillan, 65, of Milton.

According to information released by the FAA, Allegretti, Boos and McMillan were flying in a 1968 Piper PA-28 single-engine airplane, co-owned by McMillan, to a prairie dog hunting excursion in Winner, SD, when the aircraft crashed into an embankment along gravel road 310th Street between Oriole and Pierce avenues about four miles east of Sheldon at about 11 a.m.

O’Brien County chief deputy Allen Schuknecht said authorities arrived on the scene shortly after they received a 911 call at 11:01 a.m. Assisting the O’Brien County Sheriff’s Department were the Sanborn Police Department, Sanborn Ambulance, Sanborn Fire and Rescue, Sheldon Community Ambulance Team, Iowa State Patrol and O’Brien County Emergency Management.

Sanborn Fire and Rescue members used the Jaws of Life to gain entry to the fuselage and removed Allegretti, Boos and McMillan.

O’Brien County medical examiner Sara Zoelle pronounced them dead at the scene. Each were transported to Sanford Sheldon Medical Center.

Authorities are referring all public questions to NTSB senior air safety investigator Aaron Sauer; however, he has not responded to repeated attempts to contact him.

Sauer has told other media that the refurbished red and white four-seater departed from Fort Atkinson Municipal Airport on Tuesday at an unknown time.

He said no flight plan was filed, although a hand-held global positioning system was found on board and may help investigators determine the flight’s history, including what led the aircraft to crash, coming to rest in an inverted position.

Sauer said there was no indication of a fuel problem, but investigators still are trying to determine the men’s route to see if they had stopped for fuel.

Investigators found skid marks on the cornfield north of 310th Street heading in a southward direction. Measurements taken at the accident site indicate a distance of 100 feet between initial contact with the cornfield and the 180-horsepower Lycoming engine’s resting point.

Mike Buss, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service station in Sioux Falls, SD, said thunderstorms rolled in the area during late morning, with 0.23 inch of rain falling and up to 45 mph wind gusts. Despite the conditions, authorities have been hesitant to speculate on a cause.

About 9 a.m. Wednesday, Dan McDonald, president of McDonald Roofing Co. of Sanborn was approached by the O’Brien County Sheriff’s Department to use his crane to remove the plane from the ditch.

McDonald’s team spent about an hour and a half setting the plane upright on 310th Street so investigators could better examine the wreckage.

The NTSB offered McDonald payment for his service, but he declined.

For much of Tuesday and Wednesday, Iowa State Patrol troopers took the responsibility to monitor and preserve the site until the plane was removed by a recovery facility from Minnesota.

Sauer said investigators are looking into the aircraft’s maintenance history, as well as the pilots’ training and experience. Autopsies will be performed on all three victims at the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Ankeny. A toxicology test also will be conducted by the FAA.

Sauer estimates the NTSB’s preliminary crash report will be available within a week. A detailed factual report on the crash will be released three to six months later.

McMillian, who served as co-chair of flight safety for the annual Experimental Aircraft Association’s fly-in and convention in Oshkosh, WI, and Allegretti each had private pilot’s licenses.

Although Boos did not have a license, he flew ultralight planes in which a pilot’s license is not required.

Name: Piper Model PA-28
Built: 1968
Engine: 180-horsepower Lycoming engine
Height: 7 feet, 3 inches
Length: 23 feet, 5 inches
Wingspan: 30 foot
Maximum speed: 148 mph
Maximum weight: 2,450 pounds
Range: 507 miles
Registration number: N7795N
Details: Fixed wing, single-engine plane with four seats
Owners: Jerome Goodger of Milton, WI, is listed as the registered owner. Malcom McMillan of Milton, WI, is listed as another owner

This article appeared in the June 27, 2009 edition of The N'West Iowa REVIEW.

New rec area to open soon in Hawarden

HAWARDEN—N’West Iowans potentially could make use of a new Hawarden-based recreation area as soon as July 1.

L.G. Everist Inc., a Sioux Falls, SD-based construction material and rail transportation company, traded the property for the Hawarden Municipal Airport in a deal that was finalized by the Sioux County Board of Supervisors after a public hearing June 16.

Negotiations for the land swap began about two years ago.

“After we determined the public interest was there, Sioux County Conservation started putting a master plan together,” said Rob Klocke, executive director of the Sioux County Conservation Board.

The plan involved trading L.G. Everist’s South Pit property for the nearly 35 acres of airport property.

The South Pit property consists of about 300 acres of recreational land and about 100 acres of surface water. The area is located in the southwest part of Hawarden and has been closed to the public except for members of the South Pit Club for the past 10 years due to liability concerns.

City and county officials, however, wanted to develop the property for more public use.

They thought the recreation area would enhance the community better than the Hawarden Municipal Airport, located north of town, has. The airport has a 2,030-foot runway, the shortest paved landing strip in Iowa, but the property is landlocked and cannot be expanded.

The Sioux County Conservation Board enacted an agreement with L.G. Everist about a month and a half ago and began cleaning up and mowing the area.

“We’re quite a ways along, but we’re not completely there yet,” Klocke said.

He hopes to have everything in place so the area can be opened to the public soon.

“As far as opening it up for picnics, boating, fishing, hunting and nature studies, we don’t think those activities will take very long to be put in place once we get the land deeded in our name,” Klocke said. “It shouldn’t take too long to get it open. We’re still hoping for July 1.”

With the economic downturn the United States has faced over the last year, Klocke thinks the recreation area, which features three small lakes, a boat ramp and a gravel road, will be an added benefit for Sioux County.

“People are looking for places a little closer to home to go to,” he said. “This way, they won’t have to drive all the way to the Lakes or Yankton for a recreational outing.”

Klocke also thinks people from other communities will be drawn to the area.

“It should draw some people from South Dakota,” he said. “Area along the Big Sioux is a little under explored.”

Especially since Sioux County Board of Supervisors vice chairman John Deger said the area is known for its strong fishing history.

“It’s just a great place to bring your kids and grandkids for some good, clean family fun,” Deger said. “That’s what we’re looking forward to.”

While L.G. Everist has plans to develop the airport property, Deger said nothing has been done at this time.

This article appeared in the June 27, 2009 edition of The N'West Iowa REVIEW.

Documentary looks to tame two unruly British teenagers

REGIONAL—Can an Iowa family transform two unruly Brits?

Producers of “World’s Strictest Parents,” a documentary-style reality series developed by the British Broadcasting Corporation’s Twenty Twenty Television certainly think so.

Each hourlong episode of the London-based show documents a 10-day stay of two British teenagers under the rules and roof of a host family.

While past episodes have sent the Brits to collide head on with the daily discipline, educational values and parental strictness in international locations like Jamaica, Ghana, India and South Africa, as well as state-side destinations like Alabama, California, Tennessee, Georgia and Arkansas, producers think it is time to bring the show to the Midwest — more specifically, to Iowa.

“We generally think Iowa would be a beautiful backdrop for any of our episodes,” said David Cheesman, assistant producer of Twenty Twenty Television. “It’s an area that we don’t have on screen that much in the UK, so it will be interesting to give it some screen time, to see what’s going on there and to get our teenagers involved in a farming community.”

One girl and one boy between the ages of 16 and 18 will travel to Iowa for the in-depth segment, to be filmed July 17-26.

“They would pretty much be taken on as an extended member of the family,” Cheesman said. “They would be expected to live under the house rules, partake in the family and farming chores and very much just embrace their new family, get involved and enjoy it, finding out what a family is all about.”

He said the teens that will embark on the journey from the United Kingdom to Iowa have lost their way with their birth families and have stopped respecting any sort of familial hierarchy.

“We just want them to go back to thinking about the opportunities that a family has to offer, and we feel that will come from an Iowa farm family,” Cheesman said. “We want kids to see how a family operates, and as a result, become better individuals.”

Although producers are not favoring any particular area in Iowa, Cheesman said mainly larger counties have been expressing interest, but that should not deter any interested families in N’West Iowa.

“We’d be more than happy with anywhere,” he said.

Cheesman expects the experience will be a culture shock for the two Brits.

“We don’t really have matters of land in the UK, certainly not land that’s used for farming, so it will be interesting for the teenagers to see the hard work that goes into farm, how families do that together and how people are often born into the farming world. It’s not a lifestyle choice,” he said. “We really feel it will be a shock for our teenagers to see what else is out there, especially in more rural areas.”

During filming, Cheesman suggests the host family be themselves, not worry about the cameras and go about general day-to-day activities.

“It would just be like having four extra hands around,” he said.

Producers will encourage the family to offer guidance to the two teenagers as they have never worked on a farm before and will undoubtedly have some complaints.

“If they’re moaning about it, just tell them to saddle up and get on with it,” Cheesman said. “Just be on hand to be a parent, because obviously, that’s what a family is all about.”

All of the expenses for the filming and the board of the two teens will be provided for by Twenty Twenty Television, and the host family also will be given an extensive reciprocation for the cost of any food, water and other expenses during the week.

“We just want them to learn to love again,” Cheesman said.

This article appeared in the June 20, 2009 edition of The N'West Iowa REVIEW.

Golden girls

REGIONAL—Girls everywhere have been meeting the Savior for 50 years.

It’s been happening a lot longer than that, but GEMS (Girls Everywhere Meeting the Savior) Girls’ Clubs have had a role for that long.

The organization, which is offered by local churches and other Christian organizations throughout the United States and Canada, was initiated in 1959 by Barb Vredevoogd, who was a member of the Christian Reformed Church in Wyoming, MI.

Vredevoogd, who had two young children, wanted a Bible program for young girls, so she took it upon herself to create Calvinettes, which over the years has morphed into GEMS Girls’ Club.

The relationship-building club created specifically for girls in grades 1-8 has its roots in the CRC denomination but now is nondenominational. GEMS is offered throughout N’West Iowa with programs in Hospers, Hull, Inwood, Ireton, Ocheyedan, Orange City, Sanborn, Sheldon, Sioux Center, Sibley, Rock Rapids and Rock Valley.

Birthday celebration
Paulette DeWeerd and Loretta Vander Streek of Rock Rapids have served as officers for the Northern Iowa coalition for three years — DeWeerd as the leadership trainer and Vander Streek as the area coordinator. Both also are counselors for the Rock Rapids chapter.

The two are ringing in the club’s birthday with a special celebration 1-4 p.m. Saturday, June 27, at the walking trails in Rock Valley.

With the theme, “Walk the Micah Road Experience,” club members will host a walkathon to collect pledges for individual chapters and to cover any expenses for putting on the event. A portion of the proceeds also will help GEMS Girls’ Clubs in Africa.

Three stations will be set up.

The first, “Doing Justice,” will shed light on poverty across the world, particularly for children in Africa who do not have the opportunity to go to school.

“Loving Mercy” will be the theme of the second station, where three plates will be set out — one with the typical American meal of steak and potatoes, one with the typical world meal of beans and rice and one with the typical poverty meal, an empty plate.

An activity also will allow participants to chose a story line for a fictional character named Sarah.

“You have to make all of her life choices for her,” DeWeerd said. “They are all really difficult questions, and the outcome turns out different each time you do it.”

The story has participants go through a series of choices, including whether Sarah should continue to stay at her job and remain below the poverty line or go back to school but have no money because she cannot work.

“It’s really an eye-opener,” Vander Streek said. “At least for me it was.”

The third station, “Walking Humbly with God,” is focused on recycling and other green-related activities.

At the station, participants also will be encouraged to paint words or encouraging pictures on a dining fly, which Vander Streek will send to the American Red Cross chapter in Sioux Falls, SD. The dining fly will be used as a place to eat under in disaster areas.

“Hopefully, they will never have to use it,” Vander Streek said.

Over the years
Vander Streek and DeWeerd have recognized changes throughout the club’s history.

When Vredevoogd formed the club in 1959, each member was required to wear a uniform consisting of a white top, blue bottoms and a badge scarf.

That has changed significantly.

“Now, we can’t get the girls to wear uniforms or their scarves,” Vander Streek said.

Instead, the Rock Rapids chapter has taken it upon itself to create its own uniforms each year by making colorful T-shirts.

“The girls have a lot more fun doing that,” Vander Streek said.

The organization still is biblical based, but DeWeerd said the club is quite a bit more exciting now — at least more so than when she was a member.

“They’ve definitely spiced it up a little bit,” she said.

While the club offers a different look at the Bible, it challenges the girls to break out of their comfort zones and try activities they normally wouldn’t. Similar to Girl Scouts, each member has the chance to earn many badges pertaining to God’s world, God’s Word and each girl’s talents and gifts.

“The badges require a lot of Bible work, but it’s not like they’re actually sitting down and reading it,” Vander Streek said. “They look up verses, and that adds a little more excitement.”

Through community and church involvement in the chapter, the girls who come from West Lyon, Central Lyon, Hull Christian and Ellsworth, MN, schools have the opportunity to express their creativity, become involved and interact with new people.

“It’s a place for them to come and feel like they belong,” DeWeerd said. “They don’t need to worry about not knowing enough about the Bible.”

23,000 GEMS Girls’ Club members in the United States and Canada.
5,200 women serving as counselors for GEMS in the United States and Canada.
800 clubs in the United States and Canada.
400 members in the Northern Iowa region.
18 clubs in the Northern Iowa region.
150 women serving as counselors in the Northern Iowa region.
15 girls who are members of the Rock Rapids GEMS Girls’ Club.
3 counselors who serve the Rock Rapids GEMS Girls’ Club

This article appeared in the June 20, 2009 edition of The N'West Iowa REVIEW.

Sioux Center man creates out of wood

SIOUX CENTER—Art Kamerman’s yard is a magnet for animals.

Each day, passers-by can observe a flock of eagles perched next to the 86-year-old retired farmer’s front porch at his home in Sioux Center.

But, that’s not the only habitat Kamerman has attracted over the years.

Not a foot away from the eagles, a skunk family makes its home surrounding the bushes adorning the front of his residence.

Kamerman doesn’t mind in the least.

In fact, he put them there.

About 20 years ago, Kamerman partially retired from farming and decided he needed something to do to occupy his downtime.

“I had always liked cars and trains,” Kamerman said.

But, he decided to scale down his interest a little bit, and decided upon the perfect hobby — woodworking.

During the winter months, Kamerman began ordering car, train, truck and animal patterns from woodworking magazines like Toys & Joys and Meisel Hardware Specialties.

Each pattern comes complete with wheels and dowels, but Kamerman constructs everything else by hand.

Typically, Kamerman uses pine wood, which he buys locally and cuts himself, but for special projects, like the medium-sized fire truck he has on display in his basement, he uses oak.

The project, which Kamerman regards as one of his favorites, took him nearly six weeks to fully complete in 2005.

“It took a lot of technical work,” he said.

It did, indeed.

From the circular swiveling ladder to the miniscule muffler and door handles, Kamerman certainly had to pay close attention to detail.

It’s not Kamerman’s only pride and joy, though.

Surrounding the small-scale truck are shelves covered with a variety of cars, trains, tractors, combines, semitrailers and even a Hummer.

Each project is scaled down from 12 inches to one, so if a full-scale car is six feet wide, Kamerman makes it six inches wide.

And, with the exception of the fire truck, each vehicle also is painted, staying true to its real-life replica.

Blue and red ribbons also grace the shelves, which Kamerman has won from years of entering his projects in the Sioux County Youth Fair.

Although Kamerman used to produce such projects on a much heavier basis, now he is more particular with the time spent creating. If he only feels like working for an hour or two a day on a winter project, he is perfectly content with that.

While the number of great-grandchildren Kamerman keeps increasing, he continues to supply them with a special gift.

“If there is a boy, I make him a pickup,” Kamerman said. “For girls, I make mini rocking chairs that they can sit in for a while and when they get too big, use them to put their dolls.”

And, throughout the years, Kamerman has continued to see the advantages of his hobby.

“It’s just a good pastime,” he said. “It’s also good for my mind.”

Don’t be concerned when passing by Kamerman’s home, though.

Although realistic looking, the animals adorning his yard also are homemade.

This article appeared in the June 20, 2009 edition of The N'West Iowa REVIEW.