Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mayberry makeover

ORANGE CITY-Madison Mayberry proved she could cook on Rachael Ray's "Hey, Can You Cook?! 3."

Now, the 21-year-old Orange City native has the tools and appliances to do so in the kitchen she grew up cooking in.

When Madison was crowned the champion of the reality cooking contest in November, she received a four-day course in French Regional Cuisine at Le Cordon Bleu International Culinary Academy in France and a stay at the Paris Marriott Rive Ganche Hotel, an appearance on "Rachael Ray" to cook her own recipe with Ray as her assistant, an original recipe published in Ray's magazine, Everyday with Rachael Ray, and a kitchen makeover with Viking appliances.

As Madison attends school at Iowa State University in Ames and lives in the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority house, she transfered the kitchen makeover to her mother, Marilyn, who lives in Orange City.

The redisign
Last month, Kristan Cunningham, a regularly featured designer on "Rachael Ray" and a lead designer and host of the HGTV series "Design on a Dime," joined local construction crews tom complete the makeover.

But, a month prior to that, Cunningham, along with Dan Hibma, owner of Vision Builders, a Sioux Center-based contractor involved in implementing Cunningham's design, met at the Mayberry home to conduct a field measure.

That was when both Marilyn and Madison told Cunningham what they did not like about their current kitchen.

While Marilyn wanted more cabinets, drawers that easily pulled out and a large, open space for entertaining, Madison was more concerned with being better able to cook in the space.

"I would like to see new appliances, more storage and definitely more space for us to just entertain," Madison told Cunningham in February. "That's the problem with our kitchen now. We have no space to entertain."

So, Cunningham started to work, choosing products, ordering everything and having it all shipped to Vision Builders.

"The guys at Vision did quality control and product checks," Cunningham said. "Some of the stuff came in broken, and they checked all of that, so we were able to get it replaced in time."

While the makeover itself took about a week and a half, Cunningham said the preparations took a couple of months.

"That's why I think it went so smooth," she said. "I've never had a job go this smoothly, ever - not this kind of makeover. I think it was just good planning."

And good help.

Vision Builders was not just randomly selected to assist Cunningham in the creation of her design.

"The producers call ahead," Cunningham said. "They screen and interview and find us the best resources that we have available to us wherever we're going to be. But, it's still a crapshoot. Sometimes, personalities don't match. Sometimes, people oversell themselves on the phone and in the interview process. Sometimes, things just happen. And sometimes, you just get really lucky and it all works out well. Luckily, Dan and I can stand each other."

But, Cunningham said all of the preparations, creative design and good craftsmanship, sometimes still is not enough if all those involved do not give it their all.

That was not the case at the Mayberry home.

"These guys had less than two weeks, and really, we had no all-nighters, no late nights even," Cunningham said. "These guys gave 185 percent all day long every single day, and there was still family time and dinner time and nobody was showing up exhausted in the morning. This is the first time I haven't had to pull an all-nighter on one of these makeovers."

While Cunningham has completed a combined 200 makeovers on "Rachael Ray" and "Design on a Dime," it is no surprise that she has worked with numerous companies, but Vision Builders still far exceeded her expectations.

"When it goes this well, and everybody is still this happy and energetic and positive about the experience at the end, it's because you have an amazing team," she said. "The reason I think Vision is so successful is because everybody is excellent at what they do, and everybody is committed to execution and quality craftsmanship and everybody really likes working together. Dan makes that really, really easy. Dan supports these guys and everybody stays motivated and feels appreciated. The challenge of doing this in a tight time frame with these kinds of constraints, and to have watched the guys sail through it so effortlessly, I think is a pretty good indication of how great of a team they've got."

For Hibma and his Vision Builders crew, the opportunity of working with Cunningham will be hard to top.

"It reiterates how blessed we've been and how good of a team we have," Hibma said. "I hope it gives the guys a sense of pride in what they do, and I hope it gets them excited. I want it to be something they can remember for the rest of their lives."

The reveal
Although the "Rachael Ray" segment of the Mayberry kitchen makeover just aired Monday, April 13, Madison and Marilyn were introduced to their new and improved space on March 27.

While Cunningham and the local building teams spent time at the Mayberry home, both Madison and Marilyn had to keep their distance.

Madison was on spring break visiting her father in Florida, but Marilyn had to stay at her mother's condominium a few blocks away from her house.

"We ran a time-lapse camera, so we had her under the impression that the camera was running all day and all night," Cunningham said. "We needed to do anything we could to insure she would not come by and look."

Marilyn obeyed, but her friends tried to get a glimpse of the action.

"They would tell me if they saw something in the Dumpster," she said.

But, Marilyn and Madison were soon introduced to their new kitchen.

Cunningham led the two inside, making sure their eyes were covered, then revealed the space.

"I was blown away when I saw my kitchen," Madison said. "I thought it was going to look basically like the old kitchen with a few upgrades. It didn't even look like the same house. They did a wonderful job."

Staying true to both Madison's and Marilyn's wishes, Cunningham incorporated walls of cupboards, plenty of drawers, all new Viking appliances and a large built-in seating area, complete with a long bench and upholstered Thomasville chairs. Cunningham's team also knocked out a wall that was separating the kitchen from Marilyn's office space, creating more room for pantries, and leaving room for a desk and built-in book case.

"I think the way they transformed the space was genius," Marilyn said.

Last weekend, Madison came home for Easter break and could not wait to start using her new kitchen.

"The minute I walked in, I started cooking and baking right away," Madison said. "I was basically in the kitchen my entire break. I cooked Easter dinner for my entire family and had a wonderful time. I'm definitely coming home much more now that I have a new kitchen."

While Marilyn was impressed with the aesthetic qualities of the kitchen, Madison preferred the cooking utensils.

"My favorite part is definitely the new appliances," Madison said. "They are amazing and they exceeded my expectations. I couldn't think of another thing I would want to put in there."

Madison and Marilyn also traveled to New York City for the taping of the April 13 episode of "Rachael Ray."

"It was fun to take the trip and not have any cooking involved," Marilyn said. "The people on the show have been incredible. The whole experience has been so enjoyable."

Didn't catch the Mayberry kitchen reveal on "Rachael Ray" Monday? Check it out online at

After graduating from Iowa State University in Ames next month, Madison Mayberry plans to attend her four-day course in French Regional Cuisine at Le Cordon Bleu International Culinary Academy in Paris in June.

She also has been looking at culinary schools in New York.

"I've just been looking around, but I'm definitely interested in the Institute of Culinary Education," Madison said.

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

South O'Brien second at state jazz event

PAULLINA-It was a great day to be a Wolverine.

At least, that's how students and staff felt during the welcome home assembly held for the South O'Brien High School Jazz Band on Wednesday afternoon in Paullina.

"For the second year in a row, we've been able to celebrate like this as a student body," superintendent Dick Nervig said at the celebration rally. "To have parents and community members here, and of course, our jazz band."

South O'Brien placed second in the Class 2A portion of the Iowa Jazz Championships on Tuesday in Des Moines. Southern Cal topped the Wolverines in the evening finals.

"Just to give you some perspective, of all the schools in the state of Iowa, there were 60 bands from 60 schools that earned the right to compete in Des Moines yesterday, and there were 15 schools in Class 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A," Nervig told the ecstatic crowd. "As I sat and listened to these bands as they performed in the first round of competition, I was just amazed at the quality of talent displayed."

When all of the bands were done performing, the group moved to the Des Moines Civic Center to hear the top eight selections in each class.

"They do this crazy process," Nervig said. "They start out, 'In ninth place,' 'in eighth place,' 'in seventh place,' 'in sixth place, fifth place, fourth place,' and they still haven't said South O'Brien."

Rolling past sixth-place finisher Roland Story, which South O'Brien defeated in the finals last year to claim the Class 2A state title, and Okoboji, which placed fourth, many South O'Brien jazz members were beginning to wonder if their ensemble even placed.

"We didn't even know if we were going to qualify this year," said senior Christine Haden.

It's no wonder they expected the worst.

After a teaching change, the jazz band program at South O'Brien was discontinued two years ago, even thought he band had earned three straight top-five finishes. Then, Ryan Rager, fresh out of college, came and resurrected the once-successful jazz band program at South O'Brien.

But, Rager resigned in October, leaving the band without a director.

Ensemble members still committed to having regular rehearsals on their own, until former Sioux City North High School director Kevin Linder was hired in November.

Despite the change in instructors amid thebeginning of the jazz band season, South O'Brien jazz members uttered gasps of shock when they still managed to make it to the finals.

"We had a lot of doubt," said senior Ashton Lansink. "When they said South O'Brien was in the finals, a huge weight lifted off our shoulders."

The ensemble members were not the only ones who were happy.

"When they announced that we had made it to the top two, the parents and fans there exploded just like you have, with enthusiasm and maturity," Nervig said. "It was fantastic. I'm very pleased, and what I want to say to this group of jazz band members is, you've really modeled something for the rest of us."

After automatically qualifying for the Iowa Jazz Championships by placing second at the Northwest Iowa District Jazz Band Festival on Feb. 3 in Sioux City, South O'Brien had 20 minutes to impress the judges Tuesday afternoon at the Polk County Convention Complex in Des Moines. The top two bands from the first round moved onto the evening finals at the Civic Center, pitting South O'Brien against Southern Cal.

Sough O'Brien was announced as the Class 2A runner-up about 11 p.m.

Even though South O'Brien did not capture the state title for the second consecutive year, Linder still was proud of the band's strong showing.

"It was just great to have the opportunity to hit that stage last night against Southern Cal," he said. "Southern Cal has won seven consecutive jazz championships, mostly in Class 1A. They moved up to Class 2A this year. The band director there is an old student of mine, and they have a great program. We were honored to be on the stage with them."

But, had South O'Brien had to compete again Wednesday, Linder said the results could have changed.

"It was a great experience yesterday, but you have to understand, it's not like football or basketball or tennis or golf, where there is a clear-cut winner," he said. "It's a very subjective thing. It is hard. If we'd go back tomorrow and do this again, who knows?"

One thing was for certain. South O'Brien could not have had such a strong showing if it was not for the dedication of Linder and the ensemble members.

"What it takes for these people to even qualify, to be in a group of this nature, you have to spend hours and hours of time just to get to the point where you might possibly have this chance," Linder said. "Just coming in and being here at 6:45, 7 a.m., three to five days a week, depending on the week, it's just beyond the call of duty, and they have never really wavered in their effort."

But, Linder said none of that would have been done without the fundamentals taught by elementary and middle school band directors like Rebecca Meyer.

"I want you to give Mrs. Meyer a huge round of applause," Linder said. "The high school band director reaps the benefits of having a great elementary and middle school teacher, and these kids were started by her. She's really the hero as far as I'm concerned."

Meyer then directed the audience's attention to bass guitar player Kaitlyn Aberson, who was named one of the top four soloists in Class 2A. Only an eighth-grader, Aberson did not even start learning how to play the bass until last April.

"It's pretty exhilirating," Aberson said. "I never expected this at all."

Sophomore flutist Kaitlin Thiel received an outstanding soloist award for the South O'Brien band.

Senior Kyle Einck also took the microphone on Wednesday, congratulating his band mates for all of their hard work and dedication.

"Throughout the course of my high school career, I have had the craziest band experience ever," he said. "We've had five teachers come, and yet, we've still had great success. I mean, there are schools that have had teachers there for 10 years and they don't even have half of what we have. It's crazy - 7 in the morning, but in the end, we still do it, and look what happens. Thanks a lot guys. Thanks for the great four years, and good luck next year."
This article appeared in the April 18, 2009 edition of The N'West Iowa REVIEW.

Lyon foundation issues grants

LITTLE ROCK-The Community Foundation of Lyon County awarded more than $97,000 in grants to local organizations at a ceremony Wednesday in Little Rock.

Community foundations in Lyon, O'Brien, Osceola and Sioux counties were formally established along with others across the state in 2005 through affiliation with the Siouxland Community Foundation.

Each of the N'West Iowa foundations is governed by a local advisory board composed of representatives from each of their communities in their respective county. For Lyon County, those communities are Alvord, Doon, George, Inwood, Larchwood, Lester, Little Rock and Rock Rapids.

The mission of the foundations is to enhance the quality of life in the communities served by encouraging permanent charitable giving to meet the needs of present and future generations.

"Obviously, our No. 1 priority is to assist each community in the completion of projects," said Carl Petersen, chairman of the Lyon County Community Foundation Advisory Board.

Funding for the grant program is a result of County Endowment Fund legislation that was passed in 2005. The act provides one-half of 1 percent of annual Iowa gambling revenues for distribution to counties that lack a gambling entity. One-fourth of the money received is placed in an endowment.

In accordance with the legislation, the foundation in Lyon County received more than $131,604 in the fall of 2008, with 75 percent allocated for the grant program and the remaining 25 percent to build the county's permanent endowment.

The date, the Community Foundation of Lyon County has received about $340,164 to be used for charitable purposes.

"We're looking forward to another year of awards," Petersen said. "We have had very good support from all of our communities. It's great, because even t hough we've gifted about $97,000, it really equals to about $250,000-$300,000 in all of the communities. That's pretty substantial."

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

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Consequences to be put on display

EVERLY—Someone dies as a result of an alcohol-related collision every 15 minutes, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

Students at Clay Central-Everly High School will have a firsthand experience of what that feels like next week when they participate in Every 15 Minutes, a nationally known program that is designed to dramatically instill teenagers with the potentially fatal consequences of drinking alcohol.

The program will begin Wednesday, April 22.

"The students will be in normal class, but there will be some publicity around the building about how many drivers are killed as a result of drunk driving crashes," said English teacher Shaley Cullen, who helped organize the event. "Some body outlines will be drawn and there will be a crime scene around the building that will hopefully pique their interest."

If that's not enough, the "Grim Reaper" will appear, calling on a different student every 15 minutes.

After the student is removed from class, a police officer will immediately enter the classroom and read an obituary and explain the circumstances of the student's death. A few minutes later, the student will return to class with his or her face covered in white face paint and wearing a coroner's tag and a black Every 15 Minutes T-shirt.

From that point, the victims will not be allowed to speak or interact with other students for the remainder of the day.

"Those students are then sequestered overnight," Cullen said. "They won't be going home to their families."

Instead, the students will stay at the school overnight and write a letter to their families as if they were dead. Their parents also will be asked to take the time to write them a letter.

"We're trying to help the students understand what it would be like, to make it real for them," Cullen said.

To make it even more real, the victimized students will visit the Clay County Jail in Spencer and undergo special training with some of the tools police officers use. They also will have a chance to wear a pair of fatal vision goggles, so they receive the full understanding of what it feels like to be impaired. 

The following day, the victims, along with some other students, will participate in a special skit for the entire student body at 1 p.m. The public is also welcome to attend.

Starting with the students together at a party, the skit culminates when four of them leave together after they have been drinking.

The skit then will cut away to a video of the students in a car crash, being taken to Spencer Hospital and one of them being arrested, taken to jail and sentenced.

The students were not the only ones involved in the production of the video.

"The parents were also involved," Cullen said. "It was obviously a very mocked up situation and the parents are not actors at all, so they were very concerned about how to portray being upset."

So, they asked Cullen, who also is the high school large group speech coach, for acting tips.

"I said, 'I don't think you'll need any help. Just think about it,'" Cullen said. "It's very shocking how the parents cried real tears and were very disturbed by it. They said it had been one of the most moving experiences they had ever had."

Cullen is hopeful the impact she and the parents experienced during the videotaping also will reach the students as they watch the video, especially as the high school prom will be held that Saturday.

"I hope they make good choices on prom night," Cullen said. "Typically, students suspend their common sense a little bit and make choices they might otherwise not make during prom. By putting on this program next week, we're really hoping students will choose not to get in the car with someone who has been drinking and certainly not get behind the wheel."

While Clay Central-Everly High School English teacher Shaley Cullen has been very involved in the making the Every 15 Minutes program a reality next week, she said much credit is due to Clay County deputy Dennis Linn, the school resource officer.

"The whole program is really his brainchild," Cullen said. "He organized all of the different entities, whether that be the fire department or the ambulance."

However, the deputy has received some flak from parents.

"He had some parents say, 'Aren't you teaching them how to be designated drivers?'" Cullen said. "He said, 'No, I'm not. I don't want them to drink at all, but the truth is, they need to know what it's like to go out on a scene of someone who has died as the result of a drunk driver.'"

While it is a situation Linn has had to experience many times, it still is painful for him, and Cullen said his hope is that if students see what it is like on the scene, they would not make the decisions they make.

"The students that have been involved have said, 'This changes how I look at drinking and driving,'" Cullen said. "They all know it's a bad idea, but we just want to bring it to the forefront of people's thought process. Hopefully, it will make a difference."

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

Celebration time

EVERLY—It's been 125 years.

A celebration must be at hand.

Everly will celebrate its Quasquicentennial July 17-19 with activities to occupy the whole family.

But, the term "celebration" might be an understatement.

Although the itinerary is still being finalized, the event will kick off Friday afternoon with opening ceremonies and a free meal of hot dogs, chips and birthday cake.

A flea market, antique tractor pull, antique machinery show, beard judging contest and performance by Everly's own, Stage Fright, also are slated for the evening.

Saturday's festivities are likely to include a 5-kilometer walk/run, parade, antique machinery show, quilt and craft show, a wool spinning demonstration from Little Sioux Spinners and Weavers, flea market, cemetery walk, chain-saw demonstrations, small rodeo, carnival and local entertainment.

Clay Central-Everly High School and the Everly Public Library will be open for tours throughout the day, and Saturday night, an all-school reunion will be held at the high school, The Rumbles will perform and chain-saw carvings will be auctioned off. The night will conclude with a fireworks display.

Sunday will feature a pancake breakfast, community worship service and closing ceremonies.

While the weekend is bound to be fun for the whole family, it has not gone without hard work.

Although Kathy Behrens, co-chairperson of the Quasquicentennial Celebration, has been donating her time organizing events and planning schedules for the past five years, she said community members have been heading p the 19 communities for the past three to four years.

"I've had some wonderful heads and wonderful help," Behrens said. "I'm really pleased. It's coming along very well."

Behrens, who serves as co-chairperson of the celebration with her husband, Leo, was chosen to head the Quasquicentennial Celebration by Everly mayor Bud Meyer.

"I was the president of the commercial club for a year and a half, so the mayor asked me if I would be willing to take the task on," Behrens said. "I really wanted to do it because I really like doing this type of stuff."

Although Behrens thinks each of the three days of the Quasquicentennial Celebration sound fun-filled, she is especially excited to see The Rumbles, an Omaha, NE-based cover band, perform Saturday night.

"I'm not originally from Everly, so it will also be exciting to see the families that grew up here come back," she said. "I've heard that there are going to be a lot of reunions that weekend. I just can't wait until it happens. If it rains the events will still go on."

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

Elementary teacher to retire after 31 years at school

ROCK VALLEY—Judy Eknes had a great experience as a fourth-grader.

"I had a very good fourth-grade teacher," said Eknes, who now teaches fourth grade at Rock Valley Elementary. "I enjoyed my fourth grade year a lot and decided that's where I'd like to be."

And, for 30 years, the 61-year-old Eknes has attempted to share that feeling with the multiple fourth-grade students she's had.

But, come May, Eknes will retire from the school system she has spent her entire career with.

Originally from Orange City, Eknes is no stranger to N'West Iowa. She attended Northwestern College in Orange City and immediately after graduation, began teaching summer school at Rock Valley.

That fall, Eknes started her career as a fourth-grade teacher, where she remained for five years, until she decided to take some time off to raise her two children.

But, after only two years, Eknes was back in the school system, subbing part time, which she did for six years, until she became a third-grade teacher.

Eknes only remained in the third-grade class room for one year before she switched back to fourth, where has been for the past 25 years.

Throughout her years at Rock Valley, the technology may have changed, but Eknes' love for children has not.

"I really enjoy the diversity of students I've had in the classroom," she said. "It's really made teaching interesting and unique every day."

That's not all Eknes will miss about her duties as a fourth grade teacher, though.

"I'm going to miss going to the Shrine Circus in Sioux Falls. I've gone every year I've taught fourth grade," she said. "I may have to get my husband to take me from now on."

Which will fit in perfectly what Eknes and her husband, Ken, have planned following her retirement.

Although the couple plans to stay in Rock Valley, they have one child who lives on the East Coast and one on the West Coast, so traveling is a definite priority.

"We love to travel, and with another grandchild on the way, I plan to spend more time with my children and grandchildren," Eknes said.

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

Longtime educators to retire at school's end

ROCK VALEY—After a combined 71 years of teaching, Dave and Susan Meylink are bidding adieu to the Rock Valley School District.

Although Dave now serves as the middle school and high school principal and Susan is a second-grade teacher at Rock Valley Elementary, both began with different roles in the school system.

As both grew up in Orange City, Dave and Susan hoped to find jobs in N'West Iowa.

Dave began his career at Rock Valley in 1973, serving his first 22 years as a junior high and high school biology and earth and life sciences teacher. Throughout those years, he also coached football, basketball, track and baseball at one point or another, until he became the junior high and high school principal in 1995.

Susan began her teaching career in LeMars and joined the Rock Valley school system in 1974 as a special education instructor. She started teaching second grade nine years later.

Both will retire from their duties at the end of this school year.

"It was really nice to be able to go out together," Dave said.

Although the Meylinks plan to stay in Rock Valley for now, being able to retire at the same time will be nice, especially since they plan to travel, among other activities that would require the couple to be together, including spending as much time in warm weather as possible.

"I also plan to spend more time with my parents and our grandchildren," Susan said.

While both will miss being with young people on a daily basis, Dave will also miss having something to do once he retires.

"I will really miss the people I work with," Dave said. "I have a great staff that has been so good over the years."

Nicole Salazar, who serves as a Spanish teacher at West Central Valley High School in Stuart, has been hired to replace Dave. A new second-grade teacher has not been hired yet.

So, what sort of advice do Dave and Susan have to offer to their successors?

"Take advantage of all the resources you have," Dave said.

Be that from the school secretaries or superintendent Dennis Mozer, whom Dave referred to as a "tremendous mentor," Dave said Salazar will be in he clear if she forms good relationships from the start.

"Of course, the staff will take care of her as long as she takes good care of them," he said.

Susan couldn't agree more.

"This is a very good school system," she said. "Whoever comes in will be very fortunate and will enjoy their job."

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

Jazzed up

ROCK VALLEY—The Rock Valley High School Jazz Band isn't used to performing at the Iowa Jazz Championships.

The group of 21 is even less used to placing, much less bring back a hefty trophy.

But, that all changed Tuesday, when the jazz band placed third in Class 1A at the state competition in Des Moines.

"I am extremely pleased," said director Jeff Robilliard. "It's the best they've played all year, and hat's all I can ask for, is that they go and play their best. After that, we don't have any control over what happens."

Robilliard, who is finishing up his first year at Rock Valley, came into a program centered around concert band, but because the students had a high understanding of the fundamentals of music, jazz came almost naturally, helping them propel to a first-place finish in Class 1A at the Northwest Iowa District Jazz Band Festival on Feb. 3 in Sioux City.

The high placing automatically qualified the band for the Iowa Jazz Championships.

"It's been a whole new experience," Robilliard said. "They went down to Des Moines not knowing what to expect or what this was all about and I think it was a really good educational experience for them. It kind of opened their eyes to what else is going on in the state as far as jazz education is concerned."

And, as always, the competition was stiff, but that did not phase the Rock Valley musicians.

Besides their strong showing, performing "Just a Minor Thing," "'Round Midnight," and "Afro Blue," senior lead alto saxophonist Chris Treinen and junior lead trumpet player Jordan Dykstra earned outstanding soloist awards. Dykstra was also selected as one of the top four outstanding performers of the day in Class 1A.

While the jazz band is done with performances this school year, Robilliard already is anticipating next season.

"I think that there's no reason this group can't be better next year," he said. "You always want to shoot to raise your expectations ever year. We're losing five strong seniors, but the whole band is strong and there's a really good freshman class coming up, so I'm optimistic that it will be a really great group again next year.

1. North Makaska
2. Rockwell City-Lytton
3. Rock Valley
4. Northern University
5. Moulton-Udell
6. Central City
7. Kinglsey-Pierson
8. Ventura

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

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Market is booming in Sanborn

SANBORN-One person's trash is another's treasure.

Members of the Sanborn Preservation Society were pleased to discover that is especially true in N'West Iowa.

Nearly a year-and-a-half ago, society president Faye Schmidt Shall heard of a church in Hartley that held a flea market fundraiser.

Shall thought it would be a good way to raise funds to help with the preservation of the old Carnegie Library in Sanborn, so she borrowed the idea.

Community members bound together to donate items they no longer needed, and the Sanborn Preservation Flea Market opened for business in the vacant Sanborn Hardware building along Main Street for one weekend in November 2007. The flea market proved to be a much larger success than the preservation society could have ever imagined, so the Sanborn Preservation Flea Market continued to stay open.

At first, the flea market only was open once a month, but as the demand and donations grew, so did the hours. It now is open the first full weekend and third weekend of each month. Preservation society members, who volunteer their time working at the flea market, are starting to wonder if there might be too much stuff.

"We don't turn anything away that's usable," member Linda Rozeboom said.

The inventory includes furniture, clothing, glassware, jewelry, pots and pans, appliances, seasonal decorations, tools, books and even toilets - if it's in good condition, they'll take it.

"We're a really good recycling center," member Glenda Visser said.

That may be an understatement.

Since the flea market has been open, Rozeboom said the preservation society has collected about $32,000. The money has been used to refurbish the lower half of the library into apartments and the main floor into a common room for town displays or family get-togethers. When the library is completed, the society members said the funds raised through the flea market will go toward the town museum.

"We thought if we received $15,000, it would be nice," Rozeboom said. "What we have received in just a little over a year has way exceeded what we ever expected."

When the society receives a donated item, it rarely is priced. Rather, community members are urged to make a reasonable donation to buy it.

"If people make an offer, we pretty much accept it," Rozeboom said, noting the only items that are priced are antiques and glassware, which are marked with a minimum donation amount.

Rozeboom said the flea market not only has attracted Sanborn residents. Volunteers have seen from surrounding counties and cities like Spencer and Storm Lake.

"It brings people to town," she said. "When we're in business, there are cars parked up and down the street. Even if they buy something little, it helps us a lot."

Rozeboom and other society members also have seen business pick up at other downtown Sanborn businesses.

"They'll stop in here, go to the other shops and maybe stay and have lunch at one of the local restaurants," Rozeboom said.

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

Dutch jazz band gets its groove back

ORANGE CITY-After failing to earn a bid in last year's Iowa Jazz Championships, the MOC-Floyd Valley High School jazz band is ore than ready to play its way to the top.

While the Dutch had earned bids for the state high school jazz contest 10 out of the last 11 years, director Mary Hulstein said their downtime last year was spent getting back to the fundamentals.

"It was a chance for us to refocus a little bit," she said.

The refocusing paid off.

The MOC-Floyd Valley jazz program not only got its flare back, but it also swept the Class 3A competition at the Northwest Iowa District Jazz Band Festival in Sioux City on Feb. 3, automatically qualifying for the Iowa Jazz Championships, which will be held Tuesday, April 14, in Des Moines.

"That was really exciting," said senior Carissa Cleveringa, who also earned an outstanding soloist award on trombone.

To Hulstein, being able to go back to the jazz championships couldn't be more rewarding.

"I'm unbelievably excited," she said. "It's a good feeling to be going there again."

That's especially true given the tough jazz competition in northwest Iowa.

"Our district is not an easy one to attend," Hulstein said. "Traditionally, some of the same groups are seen consistently placing at the top."

And that's OK, as MOC-Floyd Valley jazz members will still give it their all.

Hulstein said the jazz competition is a little different than competing at the state competition in an athletic event.

"It's a different environment at music competitions," she said. "It's more about aesthetics, putting your heart and soul into it."

Hopefully, MOC-Floyd Valley can do just that and maybe bring a piece of hardware back to add to the shiny jazz trophy collection.

"A trophy ends up being the cherry on top of the sundae," Hulstein said. "But, really, I could care less if we bring one back. I just want to go play well and give people an emotional experience."

Anyone who has ever performed in front of a group of people knows the treacherous knot that will likely form in most of MOC-Floyd Valley jazz band members' stomachs before they perform at the Iowa Jazz Championships on Tuesday.

Here's how they plan to deal with it:

"I'm going to take lots of deep breaths and talk with the others in the band. Sometimes imagining the audience isn't there helps, too," freshman drummer Jon Haverdink said.

"I'm going to think that it's not that big of deal. My solo will be over in five minutes anyway," senior trombonist Carissa Cleveringa said.

"I'm just going to have fun and try to downplay my nerves. I'll also close my eyes during my solo," sophomore trumpeter Dan Clemens said.

Earning a spot in the Iowa Jazz Championships lineup is no easy task.

While all high school jazz programs are eligible for an invitation to the event, not everyone can qualify. Automatic invitations are issued to the first- and second-place bands in each class of the six district jazz festivals in the state, making up 48 of the 60 spots.

Wild card qualifiers make up the remaining 12 spots. In order to be eligible for a wild card selection, bands must either beat a band that is an automatic qualifier at an independent jazz festival in Iowa, win an independent jazz festival in Iowa with at least two bands in that class or finish third at the district jazz festival.

The Iowa Jazz Championships Board of Directors looks at the results of all Iowa Jazz Festivals and selects the most qualified bands for wild card selections and issues invitations in March.

Four area high schools will represent N'West Iowa at the Iowa Jazz Championships in Des Moines on Tuesday, April 14:

  • 1:15 p.m. MOC-Floyd Valley, Class 3A
  • 1:45 p.m. South O'Brien, Class 2A
  • 2:15 p.m. Okoboji, Class 2A
  • 2:45 p.m. Rock Vally, Class 1A

Class 1A, 2A and 3A performances will be held at the Polk County Convention Complex. Tickets are $5 at the door. The top two bands in each class will perform in the evening finals concert beginning at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center in Des Moines. Finals tickets are $10.

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

Monday, April 13, 2009

Mock wreck gets students to think

PAULLINA-It's parents' worst nightmare: Receiving a phone call that their child has been involved in a potentially fatal car accident. Emergency medical personnel aren't certain whether their child is alive or dead.

That appeared to be a reality that the parents of South O'Brien High School seniors Grant Hibbing, Derek Fredrichsen, Megan McCauley and Sara Burmakow had to face on Friday, April 3, in a mock accident.

In the scenario, a smashed car had come to rest on its wheels on the South O'Brien High School football field in Paullina. McCauley and Burmakow had been ejected from the car and were feared dead. Fredrichsen was trapped in the back seat. Hibbing was behind the wheel with a nearly empty bottle of Jose Cuervo in his hands.

Luckily, the prom weekend crash didn't really happen. Rather, it was a demonstration to show South O'Brien students in grades 7-12 the devastating effects of drinking and driving.

"We did a mock accident seven years ago, and our goal is to do one for each student in grades 7-12," guidance counselor Connie Flynn said. "So we plan to do another in six years."

Discussions for the mock accident began in August, and meetings with area medical personnel began in September.

Seve Loshman, a volunteer member of Calumet Emergency Medical Services, gave the South O'Brien students a report of the accident as they sat in the bleachers overlooking the football field, captivated by the events unfolding.

His wife, Gina, a secretary at South O'Brien High School, served as the first witness to the scene and the person who called 911. Iowa State Patrol and O'Brien County Sheriff's Department officers responded. Paullina's fire department, emergency medical services, rescue unit and ambulance squad and the Sutherland and Primghar ambulance teams also responded to the scene.

As flashing blue and red lights and piercing sirens filled the eerily silent football stadium, Hibbing emerged from the car, bringing with him a nearly empty bottle of alcohol. Not phased at all, the teenager took another swig from his tequila bottle while Burmakow laid motionless directly to his left.

Once the emergency personnel arrived on the mock scene, they assessed the situation, realizing almost immediately that McCauley had been killed. They covered her with a blanket before inserting her into a black body bag and transporting her to Baum-Harmon Mercy Hospital in Primghar, where they pronounced her dead.

Burmakow was put on a board and in a neck brace by the Sutherland emergency workers, who took her to the Primghar hospital.

Firefighters also eliminated the risk of the vehicle bursting into flames and used the Jaws of Life to remove Fredrichsen, who was trapped in the back seat. While the roof of the car was being removed to extract Fredrichsen, Hibbing was given a field sobriety test. He then was handcuffed and put in the back seat of the sheriff's department car. The Mercy Air Care helicopter soon arrived to take Fredrichsen to Mercy Mecial Center in Sioux City.

After the helicopter took off, Steve instructed the students to file into the gymnasium. While their attitudes were aloof before arriving on the accident scene, it appeared that the event had an impact on most, as they morosely walked back to the high school.

Inside the darkened gym, five vignettes were featured, which were set up to depict the events happening after the tragedy.

"The following scenes will make some of you sad, sick to your stomachs or ache for loved ones you may have lost," Steve Loshman informed the somber audience. "We've done this for a reason, and through this, we hope to maybe save some of you."

The first scene depicted the emergency room at Baum-Harmon where Burmakow was taken. As doctors were trying to revive the 18-year-old, the body bag containing McCauley's body was wheeled in. Sobs escaped from students watching the scene, and not long after, Burmakow also was pronounced dead.

In the second scene, Hibbing was given a test to evaluate his blood-alcohol level. O'Brien County deputy Devin Van Meeteren informed him that he registered at .12, which is above the legal limit of .08 in Iowa.

"It doesn't take a 24-pack to get drunk and kill someone," Van Meeteren said.

Hibbing was charged on two felony counts of vehicular homicide and a felony count of attempted vehicular homicide. He also was slapped with a drunken driving charge.

In the next scene, Hibbing, donning a black-and-white striped inmate uniform, was arraigned, pled guilty and was sentenced to 25 years in prison for one of the vehicular homicides.

The fourth scene involved a variety of the emergency medical personnel undergoing a grief training session. The responders, doctors and nurses talked about arriving on the scene and what was going through their minds.

The final scene was the memorial service for McCauley and Burmakow. Posters with photographs of both students were featured beside two urns containing their ashes.

Following the presentation, the students were instructed to go to their homerooms where they could talk about their feelings. Additional grief counseling also was available.

For the students involved, the situation was all too real.

"The worst part was hearing your parents yelling and seeing them at your own funeral," McCauley said.

"It was so difficult," Burmakow said.

For Hibbing, he couldn't have felt worse knowing he was the cause of the mock accident.

"Seeing my parents and talking to them after I was sentenced and realizing that I wouldn't be seeing them for years at a time was really difficult," he said.

South O'Brien administrators think the event was successful.

"If we saved even one life, it's worth it," Flynn said.
This article appeared in the April 11, 2009 edition of The N'West Iowa REVIEW.

Ethanol pipeline project still in works in area

PRIMGHAR-Despite a change in partnerships, O'Brien County is still being looked at as a possible key source of ethanol for consumers on the East Coast.

The proposed Independence Pipeline Project would gather ethanol from production facilities throughout the Midwest and run 1,700 miles to the Northeast to supply motorists with more than 10 million gallons of ethanol per day.

Preliminary estimated costs for the project, which would take several years to complete, remain in excess of $3.5 billion.

On Monday, March 16, Magellan Midstream Partners and POET announced they would continue to assess the feasibility of constructing a dedicated ethanol pipeline. Magellan is a publicly-traded company based in Tulsa, OK, that focuses on the transportation, storage and distribution of refined petroleum products. POET is a Sioux Falls, SD-based leader in the biorefining industry and is the largest ethanol producer in the world.

Bruce Heine, Magellan's director of government and media affairs, and Bob Berens, POET's director of site development, addressed their intentions for the project as a press conference Thursday in the O'Brien County Courthouse in Primghar.

"Sometimes companies form partnerships for good reasons," Heine said. "This is one of them."

The plan originally was announced in February 2008 by Magellan and Buckeye Partners of Breinigsville, PA. Although Buckeye continues to believe pipelines are the most effective way to transport large volumes of liquid energy, the company recently decided to focus on other priorities and has discontinued its role in the project.

Magellan and POET have formed a tentative map of the pipeline, but Heine said it could change. The farthest west the pipeline is proposed to extend is Iowa. Three locations in Iowa - O'Brien County, Mason City and Fort Dodge - have been identified as aggregation points, basically loading places for the pipeline. The pipeline would carry ethanol through Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, with its endpoint being at the New York Harbor in New York City.

"The origin of the land could change," Heine said. "We could eventually expand to neighboring South Dakota."

He said northwest Iowa is the "honey pot" of ethanol production.

"The opportunity to transport large volumes of ethanol in a safe and cost-effective and reliable manner will benefit the ethanol industry in the future," Heine said. "It provides diversification of transportation modes in a very safe, reliable and cost-effective manner."

In some places, the pipeline will connect directly to ethanol plants. Since the location in O'Brien County would be an aggregation point, ethanol producers would truck the product into the terminals.

"It is a positive development for the ethanol industry and for consumers that will ultimately depend upon the reliability of delivering large volumes of ethanol from where it is produced to where it is consumed," Heine said.

He said federal financing is a necessity for the project.

"The best way to move forward is federal financing int he form of a loan guarantee," Heine said.

While Heine and Berens said the proposed pipeline still is four to six years from reality, they said the job creation will be well worth the wait.

"Leading economists estimated the pipeline would create as many as 25,000 jobs within the first year," Heine said.

This article was published in the April 11, 2009 edition of The N'West Iowa REVIEW.

Getting a dream home

HULL-Nicholas and Yolanda Del Angel of Hull never dreamed that they would have a new home.

"I prayed to God about it for a long time," Yolanda said.

God answered her prayers last September when Pastor Rick Walth of Daily Life Ministry in Doon was called upon to help.

Prior to Walth's involvement, Nicholas, 41, Yolanda, 36, and their nine children - Esther, 18, Nick Jr., 17, Andrea, 15, Syria, 12, Andres, 10, Jeno, 7, Preciliano, 6, Esperanza, 4, and Noah, 2 - were living in a two-story home on Fourth Street for seven years. As the Del Angel family grew, the house did not, and they were faced with overcrowding and worsening conditions.

The home only had three bedrooms, and two of them in the upper level of the house could not be used because the stairway was so steep and unstable that it was unsafe to climb. As a result, all 11 family members were sleeping in one bedroom and sharing one bathroom.

"The mornings were very hectic with nine kids all having to share the same bathroom," said Yolanda, who gave birth to the family's 10th child, Moises, on Feb. 11. "They were constantly late for school."

But, all of that changed when she began expressing her family's household problems during counseling sessions and a mentoring program that she had been participating in for the past two years at Atlas in Sioux Center.

Yolanda's mentor arranged a meeting for her with Walsh, and she described her family's living conditions to him.

"She called me originally and asked me if there was some way I could figure out how to redo the stairway and make the upstairs more secure, more stable for them," Walth said. "I came over, and I met the family, and I just fell in love with them. They're such an awesome family."

During early September 2008, Walth began thinking of ways to not only repair the stairway but to build an addition, which involved taking the roof off and increasing the size of the second floor.

"So, that's what we did," Walth said. "We helped them move two houses down so we could gut it. After we got it all out and got it to the point that I wanted it, what's left?There were only three walls left."

Walth and Harlan Van Voorst, a counselor at Atlas who helped Walth gut the house, were at a loss for what to do.

"It was really, really unstable, and we didn't know what the foundation was like. I mean, what were we really saving?" Walth said. "So we just decided to tear the house down and start over."

Three weeks after Walth met the Del Angels, he tore their house down completely.
Since that day in late September, they have been met with nothing be generosity. The Del Angels' new two-story, eight-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath home was made possible through about $50,000 worth of donations from various people, businesses and church groups across N'West Iowa.

"Every bit of it has been donations," Walth said. "It's been amazing."

Be it Vander Berg Concrete of Sioux Center, which poured the concrete; the Pizza Ranch Corporate Office in Hull, which matched financial donations it received and arranged for volunteers to install materials it purchased such as exterior sheeting and flooring; Jesse Punt, a Christian carpenter from Pipestone, MN, who helped Walth build the roof; or members of Sheldon United Methodist Church, which provided the largest supply of volunteer workers - it has all been greatly appreciated.

When Walth was preparing to paint the walls white and open the house up for the Del Angels to move into, he received an unexpected call from Jill Schut of Sioux Center, who felt called to decorate the home's interior.

"She spent time with each of the kids, really getting to know what they liked," Walth said.

The result was a baseball-themed bedroom for Andres, Spider-Man memorabilia for Jeno and Preciliano, pink from floor to ceiling in Syria and Esperanza's bedroom, and pink and white
flowers in Andrea's room.

But, Yolanda, Nicholas and their children had no idea what Schut had in store for them because she wanted it to be a surprise. After the kids arrived home on Monday, March 30, Schut had all of the Del Angels gather in their new living room and took them up to see their
specially-decorated bedrooms.

"It was pure joy," Walth said. "Some of the older kids cried, and some of the younger ones started jumping on their beds. It was a really neat thing."

Yolanda and Nicholas couldn't be more pleased with the end result.

"It's different in every way from our old home," Yolanda said.

Not only do each of the Del Angels having their own living space, the older kids now have the privacy that growing teenagers often seek. The entire family also can eat a meal together at the dining room table, instead of being forced to crowd around a small bucket and chair as they were before.

"Our kids might not look appreciative when you see them around town, but when you set them down and talk to them, they'll let their true feelings out," Yolanda said. "They are very thankful. Seeing people volunteer shows them that people care about them. I'm teaching them how to be the same way in return."

And Yolanda speaks from experience.

"I know how it feels to volunteer your time," she said. "It has to really come from your heart."
Yolanda has donated her time to community organizations like Justice for All, Head Start and Mid-Sioux Opportunity.

"I'm happy to help the community," she said. "To get that back was touching."

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

Friday, April 10, 2009

Library gets its start in log cabin

SUTHERLAND-William and Roma Woods must have really liked to read.

After all, if it wasn't for them, the Gen. N.B. Baker Library in Sutherland may not exist.

The Woods legacy
The Woodes began the first library in O'Brien County in their already crowded 16-by-18 foot log cabin during the fall of 1874.

As Sutherland did not yet exist, the cabin was located seven miles northwest of the former O'Brien County seat, Old O'Brien, which would have been situated between Sutherland and Peterson, and 14 miles southeast of Primghar.

But, before the library could be finalized, William was called away to Des Moines, where he made his vision known to an old friend whom he served under during the Civil War - Adj. Gen. Nathaniel B. Baker.

Baker was just as enthusiastic about starting a library in O'Brien County as William was, so the two worked together to form a constitution and bylaws. Within the first three weeks, the library had 39 subscribers, a meeting had been held in the cabin, officers were elected and the constitution and bylaws were adopted.

And, in turn for Baker's support and assistance to the Woods, the library was deemed the Gen. N.B. Baker Library.

Soon, the library subscribed to eight magazines: Littel's, Harper's, Schibner's, St. Nicholas, The Agriculturalist, Galaxy, Arthur's Magazine and Peterson's. Roma's friends from all over Iowa donated additional magazines and books, and patrons came from as far away as two dozen miles to check out material. Nonsubscribers could check out books for a 5-cent fee.

The next spring, a room was added onto the cabin and one wall of shelving was dedicated to the rapidly growing collection of reading material. Capital stock shares also were sold for $10, payable at 10 cents per year, which allowed for the purchase of additional books and magazines.

The library kept growing, until grasshoppers came in 1876 and only two subscribers could pay their fees. While the library did not close, it suffered until the Northwestern Railroad came through in 1880-81 and the town of Sutherland was established.

In turn, William and Roma, along with the library, moved to town, and business began to pick up once again.

As the librarians changed throughout the years, so did the location of the library, oftentimes ending up back at the Woodses' home, until it made its permanent residence at the abandoned "Little Schoolhouse" in 1924, with a bequest from the will of Roma.

The building was purchased from the Sutherland School District and was established as the Woods Memorial Building.

Present Day
Mary Draper became involved with the Gen. N.B. Baker Library 25 years ago.

But, the Sutherland native's ambitions began long before that.

"Growing up, I spent lots of time at the library," Draper said. "I always wanted to be a librarian."

So, after graduating from Sutherland High School, Draper applied for a position. While there weren't any openings at the time, Draper later was hired as an assistant and took on the role of director a couple of years later.

During her time at the library, Draper has seen many changes take place.

In 1989, the library underwent a remodeling project, adding an elevator and making it handicap accessible.

In March of the same year, the library was inducted into the State Library of Iowa's Public Library Accreditation Program, becoming the first accredited library in O'Brien County, and joining 105 others in the state.

Computers were added later, and in November 1997, the library began offering the use of free Internet to all patrons.

Although Draper said the Gen. N.B. Baker Library is used quite a bit for a small town, libraries throughout the entire country have seen an increase in number of patrons as a result of the national economic downturn.

"A lot of people have let their computer access go at home and have begun borrowing books instead of buying them," Draper said.

Regardless, she still would like to see more residents take advantage of the amenities the library has to offer.

"We provide entertainment, education, access to whatever information you need, free computers and job help," Draper said.

This article appeared in the April 11, 2009 edition of The South O'Brien Sun.

Cast tackles 'Cuckoo's Nest'

If he's crazy, what does that make you?

That's the question audience members will be attempting to answer after viewing Spencer Community Theatre's rendition of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Ken Kesey.

The story, which was popularized by the 1975 movie staring Jack Nicholson, takes place at a mental institution in the pacific northwest, upon the arrival of a strong-willed, free spirited man named R. P. McMurphy, who has been incarcerated in the institution due to his deranged behavior.

"He was working on a farm as part of a work program, and he got tired of working, so he feigned being crazy," director Curtis Dean said. "When he gets taken to the institution, he thinks it will be a vacation, but he soon finds out that he can't handle the oppressive atmosphere. He befriends the other patients, many of whom are there on their own accord, and starts to rebel against the strong-armed Nurse Ratched."

While Dean was familiar with the subject matter throughout "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," he knew immediately that he wanted to be the one to bring the SCT version to the stage.

I was really interested right away," he said. "It's been a long time since I've seen the movie, but I know we could tackle it well. I thought it would be a great play to be a part of."

And, Dean hasn't been disappointed.

"It's very funny," he said. "It's what I would call a 'dramedy.' It's a humorous look at various unhumorous situations. I think the audience will enjoy the performances they will see. I've been involved in a number of shows at SCT, and this is by far the most talented cast I've ever worked with. They're bringing the characters to life every night."

As the final main stage performance before SCT undergoes a major remodeling project, Dean encourages anyone and everyone to come out and enjoy the show.

"We want to go out with a bang," he said.

What: "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"
Where: Spencer Community Theatre, 518 First Ave., Spencer
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 17-Saturday, April 18; 2 p.m. Sunday, April 19; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 23-Saturday, April 25
Cost: $14; $13 on April 18; $12.50 for ages 62 and over on April 23
Contact: (712) 262-7336

This article appeared in the April 11, 2009 edition of DISCOVER! Magazine.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Raffle winner can be part of action

ROCK RAPIDS-Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. might not have started like this, but for those of you who lack the finances, here's a way to get a jump-start in racing.

The Heartland Racing Association is giving one lucky racing enthusiast the opportunity.

The promoter of Rapids Speedway in Rock Rapids has a new wingless sprint car it is raffling away.

"It's race ready," said Jeff Davis, vice president of Heartland Racing Association. "Just add fuel and a driver, and you're off to the races."

The never-been-raced sprint car, which is on display outside Todd's Station in Rock Rapids, has an updated Stevenson chassis, a 350 Chevy motor, Hilborn fuel injection, Vertex magneto, KSE power steering, Keizer wheels and Hoosier tires.

"If somebody new that has never driven a sprint car get it, we'll be there to help them their first night, to make sure they get off on the right foot," Davis said. "We're excited about wingless sprint car racing. It's a class that's going to bring sprint car racing back to life."

Raffle tickets for the sprint car are $20 or six for $100. Only 1,000 will be sold, and more than 600 already have been sold.

The give-away is slated for July 3, but that depends on when the 1,000 tickets are sold.

"We'll be announcing the winner as soon as 1,000 tickets are sold or on July 3, whichever comes first," Davis said.

While the sprint car itself is valued at $15,000, Heartland Racing Association wanted to have some leftover funds to directly benefit Rapids Speedway, the fans and the racers.

"We're trying to make the sport healthy again," Davis said. "Iowa is an iconic racing state. Rapids Speedway used to be pretty much iconic, but then it kind of went the other way. On a local level, the sport has suffered a bit over the past few years, and our goal is to bring it back."

If Heartland Racing Association is successful in its goal, Davis said the economies of the towns surrounding Rock Rapids could see a pickup.

"When you start having big shows like we're having this year, there's a lot of money getting left in the surrounding 50 miles," he said. "Motels, restaurants, gas stations, convenience stores, the whole ball of wax. That's our goal, to put Rapids Speedway back on the map like it was years ago. It's a unique facility. It's the oldest covered grandstand in the state of Iowa, and it's a beautiful race track."

Davis said the local promotion would not be possible without Rock Rapids-based businesses like Pizza Ranch, which is a title sponsor of Rapids Speedway, and Todd Hilbrands, owner of Todd's Beer Cave and a local Heartland Racing Association representative.

"Todd's Beer Cave is a great advocate for the city of Rock Rapids as well as the race track," Davis said. "Todd looks out for everybody's welfare. He does all of this in a very unselfish way. If he thinks we're charging too much, he's on us. He's been a real asset to the organization."

Although Heartland Racing Association is based in Sioux Falls, SD, Davis said in no way is the organization trying to bring the Sioux Falls market to Iowa.

"What we're focused on is the Iowa market - making things better for the Iowa race fan and the Iowa vendor," he said. "W're really working on the Rapid Speedway and Rock Rapids and the surrounding 75 miles."

Mainly through the raffle, Heartland Racing Association just hopes to get someone new involved in sprint car racing at an affordable price.

"We have new people calling us all the time that want to move up from another class or want to start out in a sprint car and they don't know what to buy. They're not sure about whether they have enough money," Davis said. "Historically, the people doing their first sprint car don't really know anything about it so they end up buying everything twice and it's the wrong stuff, so they have a whole garage full of stuff and still aren't ready to race. We thought if we could get one new person a year off on the right foot, and they see that it doesn't cost a fortune to get started, and that person helps out one new person, pretty soon we'll have a really full field and we will have met our goal."

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

CD to replace memory book

ROCK RAPIDS-Central Lyon Middle School students are taking pictures for a purpose.

While the school previously had memory books made for students to buy, a different idea was needed for the project to continue this year due to the greatly increased cost of the yearbook-like publications.

"It got way too expensive," said eighth-grader Jessica Roetman.

In addition, Central Lyon also experienced a shortfall of funds to enable the students to go on field trips.

So, Roetman, along with fellow eighth-grader Mikayla Miller, were approached by tech education teacher Sue Van Wyhe to put together a Central Lyon Middle School memory CD.

While any of the middle school students can take pictures for the CD, Miller is in charge of editing all of the photographs and Roetman is putting all of the pictures together in a Microsoft Office PowerPoint presentation for the CDs.

Once the CDs are finished, they will be sold for $5 each. In turn, all of the proceeds will go directly to the middle school's Pride Program, which enables students in good academic standing to take short field trips each quarter and a longer field trip at the end of the school year.

Although the middle school subsidizes most of the cost of the trip, it does not cover 100 percent, so the funds raised through the memory CD sales hopefully will provide the means for the Pride Program to continue.

While Roetman would like to have the CDs complete by the second week of May, she already has about 44 PowerPoint slides, with two to three pictures per slide, complete.

"That's not even half the pictures," she said.

While most of the pictures Roetman has encountered thus far have been of eighth-graders, she said there also are a variety of pictures from sixth- and seventh-graders.

For the middle school students to participate, Roetman said they need to check out a digital camera from Van Wyhe, and take pictures of Central Lyon student life, sporting events or other activities. The pictures then are sent to Miller, who edits each one on Picnik, a photo editing software Web site that allows her easy access to poweful photo editing tools.

One picture takes Miller about five minutes to completely edit, but she does not mind the added time.

"I've learned a lot of new techniques," she said. "I've done a lot of good things."

Although Miller and Roetman are not sure how much they would like to raise when CD sales begin in May, one thing is for certain - they are having fun along the way.

"I like looking at the pictures a lot," Roetman said. "It's really fun."

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

Penny paper publishers

ROCK RAPIDS-Penny papers are making a comeback - at least at Central Lyon Middle School.

The cheap, tabloid-style newspapers popularized during the mid-1800s can be found at the school.

Only, they look a little bit different.

Not published on newsprint, the Central Lyon papers are printed on standard, 8 1/2-by-11-inch sheets of white paper and bound together in book form.

That's OK, though. The eighth-graders involved are not exactly attempting to duplicate the 19th century papers. Rather, they are trying to become experts on the time period.

The unit involves eighth-grade students enrolled in social studies, tech education and English as they work to show an understanding of the historical events and influential figures of the mid-1800s.

"We give them two articles to write that deal with that time period, so anything from the election of 1824 to the invention of clipper ships," said middle school social studies teacher Bruce Eckenrod. "They also have to write one obituary that deals with some historical person from the mid-1800s."

Be that Andrew Jackson, Walt Whitman or Susan B. Anthony, the students are educated on how to properly write an obituary.

"We try to make it as close as we can to actually being a reporter," Eckenrod said. "They do research, take notes, organize that into some sort of outline, then write their articles from that."

And, of course, no reporter's job would be complete without deadlines.

"We tell them if they are sick of not sick, you have to meet your deadline, just like an actual reporter," Eckenrod said.

The students can either write their articles from a historical viewpoint or as if they are actually in the 1800s, but no switching back and forth between the two is allowed.

Before the eighth-graders hand their completed articles in to Eckenrod for a social studies grade, they proofread each other's articles, gaining editing experience along the way.

The edited articles then are taken to middle school language teacher Dale Jansma, who again edits each article and accordingly assigns the students a grade and finally, to tech education teacher Sue Van Wyhe, who grades the students on their organization of the two pages they are assigned to design using software they previously have learned about in tech education. In addition to their articles, Eckenrod said the students also must incorporate time-relevant pictures and advertisements.

A newspaper name is then voted on and all the pages are placed together.

"In the end, they use the newspaper as a resource to take their unit test," Eckenrod said. "I try to tell the, the better they do and the more information they incorporate, the better off they will be when they take the test."

Eckenrod and Van Wyhe first incorporated the project into the social studies and tech education curriculums 10 years ago, not adding the English aspect until five years later.

"In social studies, I have unites," Eckenrod said. "Every unit, we try to have some sort of project. So, Sue and I sat down and were looking into projects where we could use the software she has taught, so it just kind of evolved into the newspaper between the two of us."

While Eckenrod hopes the eighth-graders gain a deeper knowledge of the 1800s, prior to the Civil War, he has some other desires in mind, as well.

"I want them to learn how to organize, how to go about writing, cooperating and working together as a group," he said.

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

Hartley opens more space for new homes

HARTLEY-New housing opportunities are taking shape throughout Hartley.

Although the city previously has expanded its housing opportunities with Phase I and Phase II of the Morningside Addition, the lots were filling up and citizens wanted more options.

"We had existing homes for sale, but nothing new to build on," said city clerk/administrator Brian Pals. "Plus, with the ethanol plant being online, we felt there might be a need for new houses."

So, the city conducted a survey to see just what the citizens desired.

The result?

More lots and larger lots.

To meet the request, Hartley Economic Development Corporation, along with the city, partnered to find an ideal location for another addition.

"We looked at several different options of areas to build the subdivision," Pals said.

And the city found an ideal location in an area of land located in the southeast portion of Hartley. The new addition, deemed Pine Grove First Addition, aligns with the previous two Morningside additions and allows for the construction of larger homes as all of the lots are at least a half acre.

Of the 13 residential lots, which range in price from $15,000-$20,000, two already have been sold. As an added incentive, Hartley Economic Development Corporation is offering rebates to buyers. If construction is started this year, which is the first full year of the completed subdivision, the buyer will receive $5,000. A $4,000 rebate will be offered if construction is begun during the second year, $3,000 will be offered the third year, $2,000 will be offered the fourth year and $1,000 will be offered the fifth year.

Through the new addition, Pals and Hartley Economic Development Corporation president Steve Leng, hope to address any housing issues the city has.

"Not only will the subdivision maybe attract new people to Hartley, but also maybe open up some of those midrange houses," Leng said. "If people who already own those midrange houses in Hartley build in the new addition, they open up some additional housing in town."

And, if all goes well with the Pine Grove Addition, Leng has plans for a Phase II. Those plans will remain in the background, though, until the new addition is about 70 percent full.

"Our hope is that when the first builder starts, it will fill up as soon as possible, but economic times have been a little though," Leng said.

And, that's OK if the new addition does not fill up right away as every city needs empty lots.

"It's just part of city and economic development to have lots available," Leng said. "It'd be a good problem to have if they filled up quick, but realistically, it took probably 10 years for Morningside to fill up."

While Leng said a sign will soon be going up in the Pine Grove Addition location showing which lots are available for sale, any interested party may contact the city office to obtain more information.

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

Students are going on 'Healthy Hike'

ROCK RAPIDS-Central Lyon Elementary second-graders are exercising their bodies and their minds.

As part of the new initiative designed by Iowa Public Television to get kids across the state engaged in exercise and reading this spring, Dan Wardell, popular host of the IPTV Kids Clubhouse, is encouraging second-graders at Central Lyon Elementary to become healthy, both physically and mentally, by participating in a statewide "Healthy Hike" competition.

One elementary school classroom and one library in each county was selected for the program, which spans the month of April.

Throughout the month, second-graders in both Deb Snyders' and Louis Block's classrooms will log time spent reading and exercising.

After each week is over, Snyders and Block will record their students' hours and report the time to Wardell.

The information will be updated on the Healthy Hike Web site, and Central Lyon will be able to track its students' hours compared to the other 98 participating schools in the state.

While exercise and reading is encouraged at home, hours spent doing either at school also may be counted.

"It has to be done as a group, so they will record the same minutes," Snyders said.

Be that reading or motion, the logged reading and exercise hours can take place in the classroom or during physical education.

"We can't count recess time, though," Block said.

Throughout the month, Snyders and Block are encouraged to take pictures of their students either reading or exercising.

"We can send the pictures in and they might be featured on IPTV," Snyders said.

At the culmination of the program, the top 10 schools that have logged the most hours will be awarded Healthy Hike certificates, jump rope activity books and jump ropes for every student in the elementary school.

In addition, Wardell will come to the town library and host a special story time and celebration.

Two wild card entries also will be selected for a visit from Wardell.

"The wild cards will be selected based on the success stories each school shares with Dan," Snyders said. "It's a way to reward other towns that worked hard and have a heartwarming story, but didn't have as many minutes."

And, although the goal of the Healthy Hike program is to get kids moving and reading, Snyders said Central Lyon always encourages its students to read.

"During February, we have a reading incentive program every year," Snyders said. "This year was themed 'Reading Rocks.' The students counted minutes, were awarded small prizes at the end and got to watch 'Camp Rock' if they participated."

The second-graders will findo ut if they placed in the top 10 schools on May 4, but until then, Snyders and Block have equipped each student and their parents with tips for reading and moving at home.

"We're excited about getting family involvement going and getting kids excited about reading again," Block said.

At the culmination of the Healthy Hike, Central Lyon second-graders will get to take a special hike to the Rock Rapids Public Library for celebratory treats.

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