Author: Dean Close

Man who killed cyclist in 2004 drunk driving accident gets 90 days for Benton Co. OWI charge

A dozen years ago, Waterloo resident Jeremy Sawyer stood handcuffed in a courtroom, tearfully apologizing to the family of the 20-year-old motorcyclist he had killed while driving drunk. “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about what I’ve done,” Sawyer said in court on April 9, 2005, when he was sentenced to up to 25 years in prison on a charge of vehicular homicide. But last Thursday, Sawyer, now 38, stood in court again — this time in Benton County District Court in Vinton — after pleading to guilty of drunk driving in June of 2016. Judge Paul Miller reminded Sawyer of what he had said in 2005, and stated, “Clearly there was one day you did not think about that.” In the early morning hours of June 30, 2004, Sawyer was driving on Highway 58 when his vehicle crossed the median and headed toward a motorcycle. According to accident investigators, the cyclist, Kyle Zey, laid his bike down in an attempt to avoid the collision. Sawyer missed the cycle, but hit Zey, who died at the scene. Sawyer then drove home, later telling officers he did not know he had hit anyone. After serving more than seven years in prison, Sawyer was released. On June 4, 2016, he was heading east out of the Wildcat Bluff Park, on 57th Street Trail, when he lost...

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A Brush With Kindness: Habitat for Humanity offers residents help to repair homes

An open house has been set for 4-8 p.m. on Thursday, April 6, to allow area residents to learn more about how to participate in the Habitat for Humanity’s housing repair program called “A Brush With Kindness.” ABWK provides materials and volunteers to help low-to-moderate income families with a variety of home repair projects. The Vinton Lions Club heard a presentation last week from Habitat program director Jeff Capps, who said the organization hopes to find and help a dozen families in Benton County through this program. For more information, visit the Habitat web site...

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Speech students present top acts, receive awards as special Palace event

For the second straight year, Vinton-Shellsburg speech and drama students ended their season with a public performance of many of the presentations that earned Division 1 ratings from judges at speech contests earlier this year. Sunday’s show included the one-act play that received All-State recognition. That play features David Steele and Hannah Haisman playing the roles of two teenagers discussing life and death. Steele and Haisman also played leading roles in school plays, and were named the Actor and Actress of the Year. The group mime also performed a skit called “No Selfie Control.” Several individuals performed their Division...

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VS, Benton FFA members seeking donations to help farmers impacted by wildfires

The Vinton-Shellsburg FFA and Benton Community FFA chapters are partnering together to hold a fundraiser at Pizza Ranch in Vinton on Monday, March 27th from 5-7:30. Tips and a percentage of the proceeds and will go towards the Members Helping Neighbors campaign to raise money for the hardworking men and women to our south (Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas) to rebuild their fence lines that were destroyed in the devastating wildfires. The local FFA members are still looking for donations of fencing supplies, hay, and cornstalk bales, as well as financial contributions. For more information about specific needs in particular areas, visit; http://bentonffa.weebly.com/members-helping-neighbors.html Also, the Animal Learning Lab behind VSHS will be a drop off site for those who would like to donate supplies to help farmers/ranches in need. Contact VS FFA advisor Melissa Heeren at melissa.heeren@vscsd.org with any questions you may...

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The City of Lights, at sunset

For years, Vinton has been called The City of Lights, because of the Kersten light display that brings people from all over to see the huge display northwest of town. But today, we show you a different side of the City of Lights: Views from Vinton, and the surrounding area, at sunset. We have taken most of these photos in the past few weeks, although a couple are from from last summer. Thanks to VS teacher Marty Annis for allowing us to borrow her driveway for the unique views of the courthouse as the sun went down. See more of...

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Cedar County Cobras to perform at Garrison Farmers Mercantile, April 8

The Cedar County Cobras are Coming to Garrison. The Cobras have been described as contagious, acoustic rockabilly, dancing bluegrass, or brand new old-time country with the gritty sound of soulful blues. The band is made up of two brothers (Tom & George Speilbauer), a gal (April Dirks) and an army of string instruments to make original music that can only be found down a gravel road in rural Iowa. The blues and rock sound comes from the Spielbauer brothers who bring with them twenty years of playing boogie-woogie music in the band Porch Builder. April brings years of experience playing in traditional bluegrass circles and learning celtic mandolin to make up the signature “gypsy” sound that can be heard in the Cobra songs and she plays a hard-driving rockabilly bass. It is almost impossible to box the sound of The Cobras into one musical genre…just know that you should be prepared to bring your dancing shoes and party with this musical troupe playing true Iowa music. Find out more on the website at http://www.cedarcountycobras.com/ Please join us for an evening of lively music by the Cedar County Cobras. Refreshments will be provided by the Garrison Library (always delicious!) Saturday, April 8th 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm Admission: $8 Farmers Mercantile Hall 100 W Main St Garrison, IA...

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Redlinger shooting case comes to an end; Hines sentenced to 60 days in jail

District Judge Paul Miller sentenced William Hines, Jr., to 60 days in the Benton County jail, with another 360 days suspended, bringing to an end the two-year legal case that followed the accidental shooting of Emma Redlinger. Issuing a sentence more stringent than that which County Attorney Dave Thompson and defense attorney John Breitbach had negotiated, Judge Miller also ordered a two year probation that includes drug testing and forbids the use of alcohol or drugs by the defendant. Hines told the court before sentencing that he would do anything if he could speak to Emma Redlinger one more time, to tell her he was sorry, and that the shooting was an accident. Reading a brief statement to the court, Hines says he did not point the gun at Emma, and does not remember pulling the trigger, but conceded that he must have done so. He told the court that he and some friends were hanging out at the Winterroth residence that evening, playing video games, when someone put that gun on the table on Feb. 24, 2015. Emma, shot in the head, died four days later, never regaining consciousness. In January, Hines filed a written guilty plea to the charges of involuntary manslaughter, interference with official acts and harassment of a peace officer. Miller sentenced Hines to 30 days in the county jail on each of those simple misdemeanor...

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Prom Theme: ‘The Great Gatsby’; Post-Prom Committee still accepting donations

Vinton-Shellsburg High School juniors and seniors, and their dates, are making plans for the April 29 Prom and the overnight Post-Prom event that follows. This year, the event schedule leading up to Prom has changed. The Grand March will begin at 4 p.m. in the VSHS Auditorium. Following the March, there will be a dinner for prom-goers at Revolution Church from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. before the 8 p.m. Prom. The Post-Prom party begins at 11:30 p.m. All VSHS juniors and seniors may attend Post-Prom, even if they chose to not go to Prom. A variety of activities will take place until 3:30 a.m., and hypnotist Jim Ward will again entertain the students at 3:30 a.m. Post-Prom wil end with a light breakfast and final prizes between 4:30 and 5 p.m. The Post-Prom Committee has been working throughout the year, organizing the event and activities, and fund-raising. The group is still accepting donations of items and gift cards from area businesses to give as prizes. Also, parents of juniors are asked to sign up as volunteers for the event. To volunteer or make a donation, contact Mel Davis at 319-560-9911 or MelissaAnneD@gmail.com    ...

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Viking infielder Tanner Davis signs with Mount Mercy

Mount Mercy baseball coach Jack Dahm traveled to Vinton on Wednesday to welcome Vinton-Shellsburg senior baseball player Tanner Davis into his program. Davis, a senior, will play infield (shortstop, second or third base) for the Mustangs, who are expanding their program. In addition to a new field that is covered completed with artificial turf, the Mount Mercy program will be adding a JV team. Coach Dahm said he is impressed with Tanner’s passion for the game, his work ethic and his defensive skills. Tanner, whose parents and younger siblings joined him as he signed with Mount Mercy, said he...

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‘The Dark Side:’ Local teacher to lead only team of blind students in FIRST Robotics competition

Editor’s Note: Sara Larkin of Vinton has organized the first team of blind and visually impaired students to compete in this weekend’s First Robotics competition at the UNI-Dome this weekend. We asked Ms. Larkin to share more about the team and its story.  IT TAKES A VILLAGE! The Iowa Braille School will be competing in the FIRST Robotics Competition at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls this week March 22-25. It all started when Sara Larkin, math consultant for the school, received the Iowa STEM Scale-Up grant and Jennifer Bliss, STEM consultant for the school, received a rookie grant to...

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VS speech students to perform Division 1 routines at Palace, Sunday

The Vinton-Shellsburg High School speech team is pleased to present its 2016-2017 Speech Showcase this Sunday, March 26 at the Palace Theatre. The event will begin at 2 pm. Several State Division I group and individual performances will be presented, including the All-State One Act entitled I and You, featuring David Steele and Hannah Haisman, supported by Samuel Schmidt, Rhianna Turner, and Mady Rule. Other performers include Sarah Schminke, Gracie Horst, Allissa Hendryx, Olivia Coder, Brittany Grendler, Lindsey Miller, Baylee Bruce, and Jamie Thompson. This event is free and open to the public, and includes Free Popcorn!  Please join us for an entertaining...

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Iowans mourn death of firefighter who brought unique style to Flaughless 5K events

Friends and relatives from Vinton, as well as the rest of Iowa, are mourning the sudden death of an Ames firefighter who brought one of the most creative costumes to the annual Flaughless 5K. Steve Buser was found unresponsive after a workout at the end of his shift at the Ames fire station on Friday. A few months ago, he participated in the Fifth and Final Flaughless 5K, wearing the costume he had worn for most of the events: His firefighter’s helmet, a Flaughless 5K t-shirt and kilts. Buser’s widow, Angie, is a niece of Dr. Brian Meeker and cousin of Georgia (Meeker) Sysouchanh. “Angie and Steve participated in the race each year,” says Georgia, who organized the Flaughless 5K events. For the last few years, Steve loved to wear his fireman’s helmet and kilt — designed with a pattern created specifically for firefighters. “Although they didn’t know Dan Flaugh personally, they came to support the cause and to support me and my family,” says Sysouchanh. “We’re a tight-knit group and rally around and support one another. My extended family was also impacted by suicide when my dad’s brother, Steven Meeker, father to my cousins Angie (Meeker) Buser, Mindy Meeker, and Stori (Meeker) Thompson) took his own life during the farm crisis in the 80s, before I was born.” Everyone who knew Steve is completely heartbroken by his death,...

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