Author: Dean Close

VS continues honoring veterans with student body assembly

The Vinton-Shellsburg High School Student Senate led the entire VS student body in a tribute to veterans Friday morning at the Middle School, where the entire student body gathered to honor veterans. The annual event incuded songs from all grade levels, the presentation of a Quilt of Valor to veteran Kevin Atkinson, and an interview with Toni Parizek, the Benton County Veterans Affairs Director, about the local agency that helps veterans, and her service as an MP in Iraq. Elementary students held up red, white and blue sheets of paper to form a flag during one of the high school choir’s songs; many veterans introduced themselves and received a standing ovation from everyone there. The event began as VS students escorted veterans into the gym as a military tribute version of “Hallelujah” played. See more photos...

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How Iowa Medicaid changes are affecting hospitals, including Virginia Gay

Virginia Gay Hospital and Clinics have improved the quality of care and the scope of services offered to patients. Medical decisions affecting care patients are made here, by our medical providers without interference from administrators unfamiliar with the needs of small communities and the professional skills that local, dedicated physicians, physician assistants, and nursing staff use to the benefit of their patients. Now the financial stability of small community hospitals, the quality of care provided to the elderly and those without the means to pay for their care, is being threatened by changes to Iowa’s Medicaid program. Medicaid pays for the care of children with profound disabilities; care only the wealthiest family could afford without assistance. Of the elderly in nursing homes, about 60% rely on Medicaid because they are without resources, or their savings and assets have already been spent to pay for their care. Those who are disabled and unable to work rely on Medicaid, including many who are blind, deaf, or suffer from a mental illness. Before putting management of Iowa’s Medicaid program into the hands of private companies, the State of Iowa administered payments and benefits. The Iowa program was one of the best in the U.S. for cost-containment and quality of care. When Governor Branstad put private companies in charge, it was the first time any state put its entire program completely under the...

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Celebrate Brandy Shirk’s birthday by raising money for Honor Flight, Saturday in LPC

For most of the past several years, Brandy Shirk has turned her birthday celebration into a community event that helps raise funds for an important organization. This year, the trend continues on Saturday evening, Nov. 11, when Brandy and her friends and family will celebrate her birthday at the La Porte City Golf Course, from 5 to 11 p.m. All proceeds this year will go toward the Cedar Valley Honor Flight organization based in Waterloo, which provides free trips to Washington, D.C. for veterans of WWII, Korea and Vietnam. “Every year I choose a new organization to raise money for,” Brandy explains. “I have gone on an Honor Flight and know vets that have gone on this, too.” The event includes a silent auction, live auction and other...

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Angel Tree program begins; applications/donations being accepted now

Angel Tree 2017 has begun!!! We are now accepting applications for Christmas assistance beginning through December 7. There are three ways to apply: 1-First Christian Church 1209 W. 13th St. (next to Theisen’s on Hwy. 218) Monday – Friday, 9am-11:30am 2-Harvest Christian Fellowship 1201 C Avenue Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 1pm-3:00pm 3-Call LaNette 319-521-1496 to schedule an appointment Benton County Angel Tree is always looking for businesses and/or organizations to make donations to help our children have a better Christmas this year. If you would like to adopt a child, a family or give a cash donation to help purchase gifts or if you have any questions please call LaNette,...

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Veterans Day Tribute: A Day in the Life of a Flag

As a junior at North Tama High School, LeRoy Staker wrote an article about the school’s flag for a Memorial Day. LeRoy, who now works at Van-Eschen-Strong Insurance in Vinton, shared this article again, in hopes it would honor veterans as we prepare for the annual celebrations, including tomorrow’s ceremonies in area schools. Click on the photo to read what he wrote 22 years...

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Salvation Army bell-ringing underway in Vinton: Volunteers needed

The annual Benton County Salvation Army bell-ringing is under way in Vinton, as area church groups and businesses are providing volunteers to ring the bells to make customers aware of the effort to help local residents. All money raised will go toward Benton County residents facing a variety of needs. To volunteer to be a bell-ringer, call Robert Parker at 515-240-5810. Bell-ringers will be in several locations through the holiday season, mostly on Fridays and Saturdays, says LaNette Parker. Locations include Fareway, the Casey’s in Urbana, near the 380 exit, as well as in Belle Plaine. There are also 8-10 countertop kettles scattered throughout the county in various businesses. Counter top kettles are located at Casey’s in Urbana, Casey’s and John’s Qwik Stop in Vinton, Country Foods in Belle Plaine, as well as the gas stations in Van Horne, Newhall, Atkins, Shellsburg and Norway.    ...

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VSU swimmers celebrate season at wrap-up dinner

The Vinton-Shellsburg/Union girls swimming team celebrated its many successes and thanked those who helped during its wrap-up dinner at Pizza Ranch on Tuesday. “Amanda Cardenas was voted Most Improved Swimmer and Lizzie Moore was voted Most Valuable Swimmer,” says Hesson. “Arabella Shepard was recognized for her accomplishments at State. And Rob and Nancy Levis were also recognized for their efforts in driving swimmers to and from all of meets.” Coach Hesson also presented awards to the girls for their accomplishments, along with some humorous tokens of appreciation for the unique personalities each brought to the team. The swimmers also...

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FEMA report advises moving Vinton Fire Station from flood plain; new building would cost $6.1M

In an 82-page report delivered to the City of Vinton recently, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommended building a new Vinton Fire Station away from the Cedar River. The suggestion is one of many included in the report, which also outlines the costs of permanent flood barriers to protect essential structures, including the fire station and light plant. The City Council received the report during a meeting last month, but did not take any action on it. The topic of flood mitigation and FEMA recommendations is likely to be on the agenda in future council meetings. The fire...

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VS School Board approves open enrollment, early graduation requests

Submitted By Superintendent Mary Jo Hainstock The Vinton-Shellsburg School Board met in regular session on Monday, November 6, 2017 at the Shellsburg Elementary music room. Board President Levis called the meeting to order at 6:00 PM with all board members except Bartz answering roll call. Business Manager Barkdoll and Superintendent Hainstock were in attendance as were principals Kingsbury, Murray and Islas. Under Audience Comments, Randi Walker addressed the board with her request to approve a late open enrollment out request for her daughter. Under Administrator Reports, the board reviewed the written reports that had been submitted. Matt Kingsbury provided an update and overview of our Career Technical Education program; he encouraged all to attend the Veterans’ Day program on Friday and this weekend’s musical. Tony Islas shared attendance work and statistics from the high school. Under the Superintendent’s Report, Hainstock shared routine open enrollment requests based on moving from one district to another from Jason and Anita Yessak on behalf of their daughter, Marissa, to continue with V-S; Eric and Shaun O’Dwyer to attend Cedar Rapids; and from Becky Beauchamp for her daughter and son to continue with V-S. I shared enrollment highlights that reflect we are up slightly in enrollment this year and the calendar of events. Under Board Reports and Requests, Kathy Van Steenhuyse shared she had attended our high school students’ speaking engagement at city hall and plans...

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Worth It: Vinton woman is part of distracted driving awareness campaign

United Fire Group, Inc. (UFG) has launched an educational and awareness program aimed at eliminating distracted driving. “Worth It” was created to reach and engage a range of audiences, and also takes a special look at distracted driving among commercial drivers. Proprietary research conducted for UFG highlights some alarming statistics within the commercial driving industry, including one indicating that 93% of commercial drivers think reading a text while operating their company vehicle is considered distracted driving, yet nearly half of those same drivers say they have done it. Additionally, 72% of commercial drivers acknowledge “yes” they could possibly cause an accident due to their distracted driving habits. One of the company’s main goals of the campaign is to offer resources others can use to spread the distracted driving is not worth it message, such as offering tips on what to include in a distracted driving policy. Whether a business owner wants to create a policy for his or her company, or parents want to create a pact for their family, UFG recommends including these important rules: 1. I will not use my phone to have a conversation while driving. This includes handheld phones, hands-free devices and Bluetooth® devices. 2. I will not use my phone to text while driving. 3. I will not access my phone via a vehicle dashboard system while driving. 4. I will not use my phone to...

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Edwards wins write-in campaign for 3rd Ward City Council seat

Nate Edwards, who announced a write-in campaign for the Third Ward Vinton City Council seat a couple of weeks ago, has won that race by a large margin, according to unofficial totals released this morning by the Benton County Auditor’s Office. Nate Edwards received 121 total votes, along with 4 for “Edwards” and 16 for “Nathan Edwards” and one each for N. Edwards and Nate Edward. Dakota Rundlett, the other Vinton man who had announced a write-in campaign, received a total of 43 votes, including different variations of his name. As with all other races, the results will not become official until tallied and canvassed by the Benton County Board of Supervisors next Tuesday. Below is the list of all 3rd Ward write-in votes.   Write-in Absentee Total   Nate Edwards 105 16 121   Edwards 4   4   Nathan Edwards 15 1 16   N. Edwards 1   1   Nate Edward 1   1   Dakota Rundlett 36 2 38   Rundlett 3   3   D. Rundlett 1   1   Dakota Runtlett 0 1 1   Alvin Aragon 1   1   Alex Silver 1   1   Mike LaGrange 1   1   Dixie Meyer 1   1   Rick D. Ohrt 1   1   Jen Miller 1   1   Debra Cline 1   1   Steven W. Lucas 1  ...

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“Bring It On:’ VSHS Musical set for this weekend

Bring It On the Musical was written by Jeff White, Tom Kitt, Amanda Green, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the epic hit Broadway musical Hamilton. Bring It On, inspired by the 2000 movie starring Kirsten Dunst, tells the story of Campbell, played by Gracie Horst, who gets redistricted from preppy Truman High School to rougher, edgier Jackson High School, where (gasp) THERE IS NO CHEER SQUAD! Campbell and the nerdy Bridget (Sarah Schminke), also redistricted, convince the dance crew, Danielle (Rachel Tandy), Lacey (Baylee Bruce), and Nautica (Hannah Kalous) to form a cheer squad. The crew girls, in turn, convince Cameron (Casey...

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