Author: Dean Close

Weather woes: Strange siren sounds, missing shelter key, and snow

In the course of one week, Vinton residents watched one repair project that resulted from the July 17 tornado, hunkered down for another thunderstorm with 70-90 mph winds and spent this morning shoveling more than 8 inches of snow from a storm that resulted in local schools canceling classes. Last week, during the warm dry stretch that most of Iowa has enjoyed, workers installed new lights at the Vinton-Shellsburg baseball field, where the July 17 tornado started. The fence and scoreboard of that field were also among the first casualties of that tornado. The beams supporting the scoreboard have been set up, along with the new fencing and lights. Last Monday, Benton County suffered some damage from a series of thunderstorms that quickly passed through Iowa, although there was minimal damage in Vinton. “We had all fire department spotters out at least ten minutes before the storms reached Benton county,” says Benton County Emergency Management Agency Director Scott Hansen. “The first reports were from Belle Plaine and Keystone areas with 75-90 mph winds. That’s when we activated the sirens we can control from our office and recommended to the other cities that control theirs to activate them as well. We received only scattered reports of minor damage. A few trees blocking roads, part of a roof damaged in Blairstown, scattered power outages. Of course not everything gets reported to...

Read More

Trail now includes teeter-totters, other challenges for bicyclists

Under the thick white blanket of snow, the bike trail just north of Vinton’s Riverside Park is awaiting spring. Riders who have been taking advantage of the unusually warm weather have already been exploring the trail’s features, including two teeter-totters, a wooden ramp and a “skinny” — a 6-inch wide platform that offers a challenge to experienced riders. “We love building these features for our trail,” says Matt Phippen, one of the many bicycling enthusiasts who make up the group VORC (Vinton Off-Road Cyclists). “They are challenging and add another awesome element to our trail system,” says Phippen, of the obstacles. “They can be intimidating and a littler nerve racking to try at first but once you get the confidence and ride it, you want to do it over and over again.” “It’s terrifying but exhilarating,” says VORC member Ashley Hesson, of the teeter-totter.  The most challenging obstacles are part of what VORC members are calling the Upper Trail, the more hilly, one-way route that winds toward the top of what Vinton residents traditionally call the sledding hill. On that trail, signs indicate to riders that they must go toward the right as they enter the trail head. The teeter-totters are weighted, so once the cyclist returns to the trail, the device resets so the next cyclist can try it. On the lower trails, which are wider, riders may go...

Read More

Workshop on human trafficking set for March 23

The Above the Influence Coalition of Benton County, Benton-Iowa DECAT Board & Flourishing Families CPPC and The Iowa Network Against Human Trafficking are hosting a free community wide workshop: Stop Human Trafficking, Thursday, March 23 Van Horne Community Center Registration at 8:30; Workshop from 9-12 Light refreshments will be served. See an event flyer here: human trafficking flyer — Kate West Pastor, First Congregational UCC, Belle Plaine Above the Influence Coalition, Vice President Benton-Iowa DECAT, Board...

Read More

Area residents share concerns with member of Ernst staff during Vinton visit

A representative of Senator Joni Ernst met at the Benton County Courthouse on Thursday with members of the community. A major concern expressed by residents was about the Republican house plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. Residents mentioned concern that the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association and other groups have stated that many fewer people would be covered under the plan as it currently stands. There was also concern that by making changes in the tax provisions the new plan would add significantly to the nation’s deficit. Another community member mentioned concern about the future of Americorps and NCCC in Vinton. The situation regarding the potential sale of the braille school was brought to Senator Ernst’s representative and there was concern expressed that losing these programs, which represent a very small portion of the federal budget, would have a major impact on the community. Potential changes to Medicaid and the impact that would have on many segments of the population was discussed. Several complaints were voiced about the for-profit companies managing Medicare in Iowa under changes made by Governor Branstad. The issues brought up included late payments to providers, and restrictions in coverage, and the possibility that the companies will be asking for much more money in the future. Though Medicaid at the federal level is an issue decided by Congress, Iowa’s change to managed care...

Read More

Remanding an error: Appeals court dismisses charges against Ward in 2015 case involving previous job

Vinton City Manager Chris Ward told the City Council Thursday night that his two-year legal battle with his former employer is over. “I won my case,” said Ward, who thanked the council for their support after he was charged with misconduct in office in February of 2015. The council had met with him privately after the case was filed, and expressed its unanimous support. Ward has been Vinton City Manager since May of 2014. Ward received another unanimous decision from the appeals court this week. “This was error,” wrote a three-member Appeals Court panel, in its ruling on Wednesday. The court reversed a district judge’s decision not to dismiss the case, and ordered it to be dismissed. “I’ve already moved on,” said Ward after the meeting. Case history Muscatine County Attorney Alan Ostergren had filed the felony charge in February of 2015, alleging that by ordering a West Liberty city employee to raise electrical rates without consent of the West Liberty City Council, Ward was “falsifying a public document.” Ward was never accused of stealing any of the money, and after an audit, customers received a rebate – with most residential customers receiving a rebate of $3 to $5 per month for the time period in question. In September of 2015, Ward’s attorney, Alfredo Parrish of Des Moines, filed a request for a review with the Iowa Supreme Court,...

Read More

Vikettes donate $750 to Gifts of Hope

The annual Pink Night that the Vinton-Shellsburg Vikettes basketball team organized in January raised $750 for the Virginia Gay Hospital Foundation Gifts of Hope program. The annual event has been connecting the community with breast cancer survivors and raising money to fight breast cancer since 2010. Earlier this week, Coach Aaron Zuspann and the players presented the check to VGH Foundation Director Robin Martin. The VGH Gifts of Hope program makes funds available for women’s health services to all women who have a need. For more information, click HERE....

Read More

Central Lutheran 6th graders honor law enforcement with blue lights

For almost all teachers, seeing a student end up in handcuffs, and on TV, represents a very bad day. But for Newhall Central Lutheran 6th grade teacher Dave Runge, Saturday’s interaction between students and law enforcement was totally positive. A dozen or more students spent Saturday in the Cassill Motors/Theisen’s parking lot on 16th Avenue in Cedar Rapids, passing out free blue light bulbs to all who stopped by as part of Project Blue Light Iowa. Working with Brian Waid, who founded the organization, the students handed out approximately 500 blue bulbs, and sold t-shirts and magnets. Several police...

Read More

VS 5th graders visit State Capitol

The Vinton-Shellsburg 5th grade students got on buses last week for a long ride to Des Moines, where they met their area representatives and toured many areas of the State Capitol. Four of the students even had a chance to visit Sen. Tim Kapucian in his office. ” He took those four into the Senate Chamber and showed them his desk and explained how everything works, including casting votes,” said Principal Ryan Davis. “It was a special treat for them, as I believe they were the only kids allowed on the Senate floor.” The students also toured the area,...

Read More

William ‘Bill’ Vozenilek

William “Bill” “Timber” Vozenilek, Sr., 72, of Walker, Iowa, passed away on Sunday, March 5, 2017, at his home. Visitation: 4:00 – 8:00 p.m. Thursday, March 9, 2017, at Murdoch Funeral Home & Cremation Service, Center Point, Iowa. Service: 10:30 a.m. Friday, March 10, 2017, at the funeral home. Burial: Davis Cemetery, rural Center Point, Iowa.       Survivors include his children, William (Lynette) Vozenilek, Jr. of Walker, Shelly (Mike Larson) Vozenilek of Hiawatha, Chris Vozenilek of Cedar Rapids; four grandchildren, Keegan Takes, Kinzee Vozenilek, Jesse Vozenilek and Ben Koppenhaver; step-children and their families, Lorene (Tom) Spencer of Vinton,  Mark (Jacqueline) Peters of Montana, Michael (Melissa) Lindsey of Earlham; sisters, Barbara Baughman of Cedar Rapids, Diana (Butch) Anderson of Central City and Cindy Schwarz of Cedar Rapids; step-son-in-law, Brad Holsinger; son-in-law, Cliff Koppenhaver; and many family and close friends.       He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Mary Dolores; infant son, Jonathan Vozenilek; daughter, Tracee Vozenilek; step-daughter, Deanna Holsinger; sister, Marguerite Linne; sister-in-law, Linda McArthur; and parents-in-law, Loren and Emny Johnson.      William was born on October 6, 1944, in Cedar Rapids, son of William and Darlene (Johnson) Vozenilek. He graduated from Cedar Rapids Washington High School in 1963. William married Sherry Rompot and later divorced. On December 18, 1992, William and Mary Dolores (Johnson) were united in marriage in Walker. He was a self-employed carpet installer for...

Read More

Benton County Board of Supervisors Meeting Minutes, Feb. 28/March 3

February 28, 2017 The Benton County Board of Supervisors met in regular adjourned session with Supervisors Wiley, Primmer, and Bierschenk present. The meeting was called to order at 9:00 a.m. Unless otherwise noted, all actions were approved unanimously. Bierschenk moved/ Primmer seconded: To approve the minutes of February 21, 2017. Motion carried. Bierschenk moved/Primmer seconded: To approve Class C liquor license for Tara Hills Country Club. Motion carried. Primmer moved/Bierschenk seconded: To approve Historical Preservation Annual report. Motion carried Ben Turnis, IT Director discussed printer maintenance contracts. Currently there are numerous contracts in place with different companies. Turnis is checking into combining these various department contracts all into one and hopefully save money. He will check with other counties and see how they handle similar contracts and get suggestions for an rfp. He plans to also find out how they allocate expenses per department accordingly. Jerry Petermeier, provided some feedback after checking with references from those consultants discussed last week for the Cedar Valley Ranch roof replacement. Petermeier felt confident with Shive-Hattery, and has comfort in knowing how they use the hands on approach. Primmer moved/Bierschenk seconded: To engage with the consultant agreement based on Petermeier’s recommendation to go with Shive-Hattery and start the replacement process for the roof at the Cedar Valley Ranch. Motion carried. Lacie Litton, Executive Account Manager of group sales for Wellmark and Brad Holton,...

Read More

News VSMS signs to honor Mr. Lyle, Mr. McNeill for decades of teaching

Vinton-Shellsburg Middle School students gathered in the gym, impatiently sitting as Mrs. Peterson worked her way through the list of awards and honors. They applauded their peers for making the Honor Roll, being named a Star student, or for earning other awards in academics, sports or music. But as they did all this, they were eagerly looking forward to celebrating a very special, unique award presentation. Then finally, the principal reached the end of list, the moment they had been waiting for for nearly 90 minutes: A special presentation to two of the longest-serving teachers in school history. Mrs....

Read More

Extenion Services planning Agronomy workshops for women

Agronomy in the Field is a multi-session workshop being offered to women landowners, farmers, conservationists, and other interested women who are interested in learning more about agronomy. This series of workshops will be held biweekly at locations in Iowa and Benton Counties this spring and summer. The goals of this series are to strengthen agronomic skills for women that allow for better decision-making, provide a better understanding of inputs for crop production, see and understand different conservation practices and increase confidence in communication with their spouse, farming partner, ag retailer, or tenant. One participant from a previous cohort of the group said, “I learned a great deal about many agronomic issues. I will be able to use all the information in my family and my boyfriend’s farming operations. It also allows me to have better conversations with my customers.” “We plan to cover topics on crop growth and development, pasture management, pest management principles, scouting techniques, cover crops and water quality, and additional practices and topics as they come up this spring and summer. The group really leads the topic selection and discussion,” said Meaghan Anderson, ISU Extension Field Agronomist. This series is designed to be hands-on and conducted in the field to see real-time conditions. Each session will be approximately one hour long, and interested women do not need to commit for the entire season to attend. There...

Read More