Author: Dean Close

Dysart Gorge: Main Street will have unique illusion as city plans, promotes 2023 Sesquicentennial

A street covered with tarps weighed down by concrete blocks may not seem like an artistic expression, but in Dysart it’s the beginning of what local leaders hope to turn into one of Iowa’s most unique features: A Main Street painted with an illusion. Work, interrupted by rain, continues today on the project, which leaders hope to have done for a ribbon cutting on Sunday. Union High School students are among the volunteers who are helping prepare for the painting. See a blog about the project HERE. Below is the offiical press release from the Vision Dysart Committee: The Vision Dysart Committee announces the official opening of The Great Dysart Gorge with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Sunday, May 27, from 4–6 p.m. on Main Street Dysart. After brief comments from city officials there will be photo opportunities to capture friends and family taking the plunge into the Gorge. The Great Dysart Gorge is an anamorphic illusion that intentionally distorts perspective to give the appearance of dimension. The illusion will be painted on the pavement of Main Street between Clark and Wilson Streets. The work began Friday, and will be completed Wednesday. The public is welcome to come and watch as the artwork progresses on Monday – Wednesday. This community of 1,400 has no art center or museum. “But,” said artist Mary Snyder Behrens, “we have our streets, the...

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Union eyes 2018 gridiron season in new district

Intead of having a larger district with more district games to determine post-season qualifiers, Union will have just five district games for the next two seasons. Joined by former 3A neighbors Benton and Vinton-Shellsburg, Union will play in Class 2A, District 7 for the 2018 and 2o19 seasons. Other teams in the new 6-member district include Roland-Story, West Marshall and Nevada. “The majority of the coaches I spoke with wanted nine-team districts where you would only have one non-district game,” says Union Coach Joe Hadachek. “We ended up with six-team districts and four non-district games to open the season. It’s interesting to say the least.” One similarity to last year, when Union played district foes Waukon (the 2017 State Champ), Western Dubuque and others, this year’s district will include some challenging opponents, said Hadachek. “I believe our 2A district will be extremely challenging, but we are used to that,” he said. “Last year, there were three teams from our district in the final eight 2A quarterfinals. Seven teams dropped down from 3A to 2A status last year and our district has three of them:  VS, Benton, and Nevada. In addition, Roland-Story and West Marshall will be teams that are on the rise and will challenge for a top two spot.  We will need to be ready every week of district play.” 2018 schedule 08/24 Beckman Catholic, Dyersville 08/31 @North Fayette Valley...

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Knights bring home several State Track medals

The Union Knights track team earned several medals at the State Track meet last week. Koby Alpers placed 7th in long jump, and Tate Hookham 7th in the open 400. The Sprint Medley Relay Team of Alpers, Hookham, Britton Rollison and Silver Schmitz finished in 8th place. Lake Lebahn was 7th in the 3200 and 6th in the 1600. Other Union athletes who competed at State in boys and girls included: Tate Hookham, 200M; Hailee Brown, long jump; and Audrey Powers, high jump; the 4×100 team of Alpers, Hookham, Rollison and Carter Asmussen; and Lake Lebahn, 800M. See more photots taken by Union moms Stephanie Hookham and Krystal Schmitz HERE and HERE. See complete results...

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Vikings win first post-season game, 5-0

Five different players — CJ Rickels, David Lapan-Islas, Sam Moen, Noah Hedinger and Ryan Moore — scored goals in the 5-0 win for Vinton-Shellsburg over Anamosa in a Substate soccer game Monday in Vinton. The win is the first post-season victory in Viking soccer history. Coach Kyle McAbee was honored as last week’s Ed Thomas Coach of the Week by KGAN. The 7-6 Vikings will face the challenge of playing their next game at Dyersville Beckman; the Blazers ar 10-6. See more photos HERE....

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VSHS celebrates with seniors at reception; honors two retiring teachers

VSCSD honors Class of 2018 with informal reception             For the second year in a row, Vinton-Shellsburg seniors gathered in the school’s commons at the close of their last day of classes.  The afternoon event, organized by Academic Adviser Sandy Hamilton, was an opportunity for elementary, middle school and high school staff to recognize the 2018 senior class for their academic and activity successes.             “We’re so very proud of you,” exclaimed Principal Matt Kingsbury, as he opened the celebration.  He added that the staff wanted to use this time as an informal opportunity to meet with the graduating Class of 2018 “outside the classroom.”             Miss Hamilton pointed out that the staff had talked about hosting such a reception for some time, and since last year’s event was so successful, they decided to continue it this year.  Judging by the turnout of seniors who gathered, this will likely be an annual event.             As staff mingled with the soon-to-be graduates, everyone also enjoyed punch and cake.   VSCSD administrators recognize retirees Vaughan and Mulvaney             High School staff took time this past Friday to recognize high school staff members that will be assuming teaching positions closer to home and to celebrate the retirements of English instructors Deb Vaughan and Lois Mulvaney.             Knowing that both retiring ladies share an appreciation for gardening, the...

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State Track: VS athletes earn medals, set new school records

In what one coach called a “great weekend,” VSHS athletes earned medals and set new school records at the State Track meet. Led by senior Cole Overton’s 3rd-place in the shot put, VS celebrated a new success every day of the track meet. On Thursday, Sarah Schminke set a new school record in the 200M dash. On Friday, the distance medley relay team also set a new school record. Then on Saturday, Grace Horst, who had anchored the D-Med team, set another school record, in the 800M run, Overton’s bronze medal was the best showing for VSHS in the...

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Remembering Mike Ferguson: ‘Builder of things, people and the Kingdom of God’

From a Congolese native who became an Iowa church leader, to one of the newest local 911 dispatchers, the speakers and tributes to Mike Ferguson at Saturday’s funeral were as diverse as the personality, talents and skills that the man who was a construction worker, chief deputy, jail administrator and pastor displayed throughout his life. Mike was known for his jokes and funny sermons, and yet was stern when issuing traffic citations or warning audiences of young people about the consequences of bad decisions. He was proficient with firearms at his law enforcement training, and baked the bread he...

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Rickels places 6th in high jump at State Track; Schminke sets new VS girls record in 200M

Two notable milestones left Vinton-Shellsburg fans reason to celebrate Day 1 of the 2018 State Track Meet. Freshman CJ Rickels — the only 9th grader in the field of 24 — finished in sixth place in Class 3A with a jump of 6 feet, 3 inches in the high jump. Rickel’s jump also represents a new personal best; it was two inches higher than his previous best, the 6″1″ he recorded in Decorah last week to qualify for State. It also was good enough to give him bragging rights over his brothers, Dylan and Kelyn — but not yet,...

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Housing development near high school may see the beginning of new homes by fall, says Ketchen

It’s “full speed ahead” in the process of turning land donated by two of Vinton’s most successful farmers into a new housing development, says John Ketchen. Just south Vinton-Shellsburg High School, on parcels of land either donated by John Anderson or left in the trust of the late John “J.W.” Fry, the development may see the digging and pouring of five or six basements and the beginning of framing of houses above them by this fall, says John Ketchen. Ketchen, trustee who his helping to manage the Fry property, says that is the goal of the trustees to create a three-phase subdivision that includes houses, villa-style homes, and apartments, as well as a few spaces for commercial properties. The property is currently outside city limits, but the process of voluntary annexation is under way. The Vinton-Shellsburg School Board also agreed to ask the state to annex a five-acre strip of land as well. That five acres is likely to become part of that subdivision. St. Mary’s Church is also involved in the discussion because a small, triangle-shaped piece of land owned by the church is also part of the annexation. “The board understands there is interest in the land for development,” explains Superintendent Mary Jo Hainstock. “Because they understand the need to have more houses (and thus kids) in our district, they will work to partner with John Ketchen...

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VSEA names Sarah Mathis Teacher of the Year; honors four retirees

“Relentless positivity.” That unique phrase sums up Vinton-Shellsburg first grade teacher Sarah Mathis, says VS Education Association President Mindy McClintock, as she presented Mathis the 2018 Teacher of the Year Award. McClintock praised Mathis for her “spot on lesson plans and classroom management,” the way she takes care of things and people, as demonstrated by her work with VS Sole Sisters as well as helping lead the school’s effort to raise funds  and show the school’s devotion to John Scriven, a school janitor who died of cancer five years ago. “She is always asking, ‘How can I make things...

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State Track Meet begins today; window painting tradition continues

Vinton-Shellsburg Vikette and Viking athletes and coaches planned to leave school around 9 a.m. today for the trip to Des Moines, where the first of the many VS track team members are scheduled to compete in the State Track Meet at around 2 p.m. VSHS will have athletes competing all three days of the track meet. The teams celebrated with supper at McDonald’s on Wednesday evening courtesy of Terry Ehlinger and Ehlinger’s Vinton Express. They painted their names and events on the windows of the gas station, continuing a tradition that all VSHS teams going to state have been...

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Dear Veteran: Thank you — Tilford students write to Honor Flight veterans

The tradition of teaching Vinton-Shellsburg students to honor veterans continued with Tuesday’s Honor Flight, where local vets participating in the trip to Washington, D.C.’s war memorials received many letters from Tilford Elementary students to read during their flight home. Roger Beau was one of the veterans to receive notes from Tilford Elementary students. “Thank you for being there when we needed you,” wrote one girl, who signed the letter, “Your new best friend.” Others thanked Roger for his service, and asked questions about his military life as well as the Honor Flight. Addy Ingham told him about her visit to Washington, D.C., where her grandfather is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Some students shared what they know about the history of the Vietnam War; one expressed sadness at how Vietnam veterans were treated when they returned home. See more letters...

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