Author: Dean Close

Bethlehem Lutheran Church plans VBS, July 30-Aug. 2

A summer kids’ event called Maker Fun Factory VBS will be hosted at Bethlehem Lutheran Church from July 30th to August 2nd. At Maker Fun Factory, kids discover that God made them—and for a purpose! Kids participate in memorable Bible-learning activities, sing catchy songs, play teamwork-building games, make and devour yummy treats, experience one-of-a-kind Bible adventures, collect Bible Memory Buddies to remind them of God’s love, and test out some science experiements. Plus, kids will learn to look for evidence of God all around them through something called God Sightings. Each day concludes with the Funshop Finale that gets everyone involved in living what they’ve learned. Family members and friends are encouraged to join in daily for this special time. Maker Fun Factory is for kids from Preschool to 5th grade and will run Sunday, July 30th from 10:30 – 12:45 and Monday, July 31st, Tuesday, August 1st and Wednesday August 2nd from 5:30 – 7:45. For more information, email Rachel at...

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Hospital advocates meet with senators, call on Iowans to take action

From the Iowa Hospital Association Twenty advocates from all parts of Iowa met with the offices of Senators Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst to discuss the impact to Iowa hospitals that the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and a similar Senate bill released Thursday will have on hospitals, patients and communities. The current proposal will transition the Medicaid program away from a federal-state partnership to a per-capita capped financial system that will result in significant cuts. Advocates shared stories about how Medicaid expansion and other value-added programs implemented by hospitals to assist individuals on Medicaid have benefited their communities. Hospital advocates told the delegation that these legislative proposals threaten the continued viability of Iowa’s hospitals, citing that Medicaid makes up between 10 and 20 percent of revenues for Iowa hospitals and cuts to Medicaid will have a direct impact on care across the state. The bottom line is that the draft bill under discussion in the Senate does not protect and improve coverage for all of Iowa’s citizens. This bill will result in significant and steep cuts to the Medicaid program that have the potential to adversely and irreversibly impact Iowa’s hospitals and the communities they serve. Medicaid is a lifeline to Iowa’s rural communities and the individuals who rely on it. It is every bit as much a part of the fabric of how we care for Iowans...

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Grants, local fund-raising bring Gualtier documentary closer to completion; premiere expected in January

The full-length documentary on John Gualtier, the Vinton World War II medic who was among the first Americans to witness the Holocaust, is coming closer to reality, thanks to grants and the success of local fund-raisers. “The film will definitely get made,” says producer Brent Watkins. The project has just received a $10,000 Major Media grant from Humanities Iowa, and Watkins expects that it will receive another $10,000 Major Media grant later this year. Also, the Vinton VFW’s fund-raising dinner last Saturday netted $2,800 toward the project. “This means we are now working on producing the feature film,” Watkins...

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Preschool Scholarship Funding Available

Better Tomorrows Early Childhood Iowa is announcing that applications are available for preschool tuition assistance for children who reside in Benton and Tama County. In order to qualify for scholarships, children will need to attend a contracted licensed center or preschool facility. To be eligible families must show proof of income and be at or below 200% of poverty. The funds are made available through the scholarship component of the Better Tomorrows Early Childhood Iowa Area. This funding is designed to assist families who may not otherwise be able to send their children to preschool. Families should contact Heidi Schminke at 319/472-4543 regarding the application process. Parents may obtain the application form on our website or by contacting the preschool your child will be attending. Once approved for assistance, payments will be made directly to the contracted preschool facility each month. Eighty percent attendance per month is required each month in order to continue to receive scholarship assistance. A complete copy of the policies and procedures are included in the application packet. Scholarships will be awarded until October 31, 2017, if funds are available, on a first come first served basis. No scholarships will be awarded after that date. Priority funding may be given to children attending a 4-year-old preschool program. The Better Tomorrows Early Childhood Iowa Area offers services and referrals to families throughout Benton and Tama County...

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Depp returns as Jack Sparrow in latest “Pirates”

By Marcy Horst, Vinton Palace Fourteen years after the original film, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales again brings our favorite swashbuckling scallywags to the big screen! Pirates plays Friday, June 23 through Thursday, June 29 at 7 pm, and Monday, June 25 at 2 pm, with the exception of Saturday, June 24, when the Palace will be dark for Party in the Park. Our film starts out with the young son of Will Turner, Henry, searching for his father. Although Will (Orlando Bloom), is cursed to remain at the bottom of the sea on the Flying Dutchmen, only allowed to return to land once every ten years, his son is determined to set him free. We flash forward about ten years later, and the young adult Henry (Brenton Thwaites) is still determined to break the curse that binds his father. In order to do so, he has learned every pirate tale of the Caribbean Sea. Before he knows it, Henry finds himself face to face with Captain Salazar, an undead Spanish captain seeking revenge on Jack Sparrow for causing his banishment to the Devil’s Triangle years earlier. Salazar has a simple message for him: “Tell Jack Sparrow I am coming for him.”  Henry also wants to find Jack- but not to kill him. He believes that Jack can help him find Poseidon’s Trident, the only...

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Party in Pink set for Friday; runners can pick up shirts, packets tonight

The Party in Pink 5K organizers have been busy preparing the bags for the participants. Those who have pre-registered and are free tonight may pick up their items from 5-7 p.m. at Monkeytown, 305 1st Avenue or tomorrow after 4 at Riverside Park. Participants can register until race time (no shirts, though). The Kids Fun Run begins at 5:30 p.m. Friday, near the round shelter house at Riverside Park. The 5K will begin at 6 p.m. See more information...

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Party in the Park begins Thursday!

The 2017 Party in the Park Celebration will include all of the events that the weekend traditionally offers to children and adults. It all begins at 5 p.m. Thursday, in the parking lot of Farmers State Bank, where the staff will again offer free hot dogs, chips and pop. Families will then gather for the Kiddie Parade from the Farmers parking lot to the courthouse for games, refreshments and entertainment. The Kiddie Parade will begin at 6:30 p.m. Strait Run will perform again this year, at the courthouse on Thursday. The band includes Vic Schmidt and his sons Steven, Sam and Gabe. They have been singing together for more than a decade. The earliest video of what was then called the Schmidt Family Band shows a 2006 show, although the group had been singing a year or two before that. Gabe will also perform an individual set during the Saturday afternoon entertainment at Riverside Park. Friday events After the Party in Pink 5K race to raise funds for the Virginia Gay Hospital Gifts of Hope Fund, there will be more activities and entertainment at Riverside Park. Zachary Freedom will sing in the bandstand at 7 p.m., and the first of two Bar-Y Pyros fireworks show will take place at dark. Saturday’s events include the parade. Note: The Parade will begin at Tilford this year, instead of the fairgrounds, due...

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Swimming lessons and more: VPRD offers activities for children (and adults!) throughout summer and beyond

Swimming lessons continue this week at the Vinton pool, where some youngsters took their very first lessons this week. While it’s too late to sign up for the sessions, the Vinton Parks and Rec Dept. offers a variety of activities throughout the summer, as well as the rest of the year. See more photos of Tuesday’s swim lessons HERE. See more of the VPRD schedule for kids...

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VU celebrates summer with member picnic

Many VU members gathered at Celebration Park on Tuesday for one of the newer VU traditions: The annual member picnic. Burgers, brats and hot dogs, along with a relish tray, and of course, cookies were available. Members gathered in the pavilion for food and catching up, and many walked around Celebration Park, looking at the Cedar River historical display, or walking down the stone stairway to the water. For more information on VU and its activities, click HERE....

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Little things keep adding up to big wins for Viking baseball; VS sweeps Benton

It’s doing a lot of little things right that make the difference, Coach Jim Struve said to his team after they defeated Benton Community 6-1, and 5-1 Monday in Van Horne. Improving their season record to 19-2, the Vikings won twice with strong pitching. Scott Wirth held the Bobcats to five hits, striking out seven Bobcats, and giving up no earned runs to pitch a complete game to start the double-header. Nate Struve was as successful in the nightcap, giving up no earned runs and allowing just two hits while striking out five in a complete-game victory. The Vikings...

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Critter Camp: Youngsters learn where to find, how to identify bugs

A dozen or so 4- and 5-year-olds are spending a few hours each morning this week learning about bugs with Benton County Naturalist Caitlin Savage and Aaron Askelson. On Monday, the children dug for bugs in the ground, looked for them on trees, and fished for them from the creek, using nets. From the water they found dragonfly larvae and other small bugs. One child even discovered a baby fish, said Askelson, as he pointed to a tiny wriggling thing in the net. The children bravely carried their finds to place them in tubs of water for further study....

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