Author: Dean Close

Be nice to bike trails and they’ll be nice to you: Avoid riding in muddy conditions

By Ashley Hesson, VORC No doubt about it, this has been a weird winter. But then again, we did have record floods in September last fall. And then 50 degrees in February? Surely not! Except that day when it was. Then 4 days later we were in single digits with blustery winds. Yep. It’s Iowa. Weird weather not only wreaks havoc on moods and immune systems, it does a number on off-road trails too. A tough nugget to swallow when you’re trying to build a fantastic trail system in town! Vinton Off-Road Cyclists (or VORC) are a group of people joined by their passion for being outside and being active, particularly on bicycles. In less than a year, the group has planned, created and made open to the public about 3 miles of trails along the Cedar River near Lions Field and the bottom of the sledding hill. The trails are all dirt surface: no pavement, gravel, or cinders. This makes for a very forgiving surface, but it also creates a very fragile surface when the ground is soft…like when it freezes, then thaws…then freezes, then thaws, then freezes…and well, you get the point. It only takes one trip through a soft trail to leave an impact that will take hours to fix. When the ground isn’t dry or frozen enough to support the weight of passers-by, it leaves...

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Rural Keystone fire claims two lives; one escapes through window

Firefighters remain at a rural Keystone residence today, trying to determine the cause of a fire that claimed the lives of two adult men and forced a woman in the house to escape the smoke and flames by jumping out a window. The fire was reported after 1 a.m. at 6682 16th Avenue, northeast of Keystone. The Garrison and Van Horne fire departments assisted Keystone firefighters. The deceased are Robert Louis Michalec, age 91, and his son, Allen Lee Michalec. Margery Michalec, the sister of Allen and daughter of Robert, escaped by jumping from a window of the...

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First, the tornado, then a fire: Vinton man faces another housing challenge

A Vinton construction company owner who lost his home in the tornado last July faces another challenge now that the house he rents has caught fire. The Vinton Fire Department was sent to 316 East Ninth Street on Monday afternoon, where a fire had begun in a back entry way. Luke Pohlmann, who had been living at Imperial Apartments before the tornado, said he does not know what caused the fire. Fire Chief Gary McKenna said one possible cause was the ignition of construction chemicals in that area of the building, which is owned by Vinton Properties, LLC, a company...

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Berry ties for first; VS teams 2nd at WaMaC bowling contest

Junior Taylor Berry rolled six strikes in the first of her two games, ending up with a 256/184/440 score to tie for first among the girls at the WaMaC bowling contest Saturday in Cedar Rapids. There are currently 7 teams from the WaMaC that have bowling teams, 4 teams are class 1A and 3 are class 2A. “Overall, both our girls and boys teams bowled well,” says Coach Amber Pattee. “We had several great games and hopefully this has helped gain some confidence and channeled competitive spirit amongst the teams.  Both teams finished second overall and we had 2...

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Vikings Weeks, Betterton earn trip State Wrestling Meet

By Jeff Holmes Vinton-Shellsburg wrestlers Carter Weeks (106 pounds) and Scott Betteron (145 pounds) did well enough at the District meet on Saturday to advance to this week’s State Wrestling Meet in Des Moines. Three other area wrestlers also advanced to Des Moines: Union freshman Jack Thomsen defeated Weeks, 4-1 to win the District title at 106;  Union 285-pounder Michael Ahrendsen downed Denver-Tripoli’s Brock Farley in a rematch. Last week Ahrendsen defeted Farley for the Sectional championship, but Saturday it for all the marbles as the Knight senior pinned the Titan in 1:20 to earn a berth to State as...

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Inspiration for those rendered speechless on Valentine’s Day

Well, it’s about that time of the year again – that time when men who can normally talk incessantly about just about anything – no matter how insignificant – without pausing to find the right words to say, suddenly find themselves speechless. Valentine’s Day. Nothing seems to leave men more unable to communicate their affection to their wives or girlfriends than this impending holiday named after a man who famously died single. So to help those men like me begin to think of some inspiring words for your woman at Valentine’s Day, I want to share today my favorite Valentine’s Day poem. It’s an old one – very old. It’s 187 years old, to be exact. I first read it in an old book, about 20 years ago. Part of it had been reprinted on a Victorian Valentine’s Day card. After years of searching for this poem – which as far as I can tell, does not have a title – Google and I finally found it. This poem appeared in a section of an almost-forgotten publication known as Bells Life in London and Sporting Chronicle. In those days, along with the latest news, the publications often featured poetry or fiction features (many of Charles Dickens’ books first appeared as monthly installments in magazines; he even wrote for Bell’s Life at times). The publishers of Bell’s Life added a...

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Voyagers Spring Show set for Feb. 18

The Vinton-Shellsburg Voyagers invite everyone to attend their Spring Show this Saturday, Feb. 18, in the Vinton-Shellsburg Middle School gym. There will be a variety of dances from the team, as well as individual performances. Voyager Alumni will also perform, as will some younger dancers....

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VS students raise $1,500 for Gualtier documentary

The Vinton-Shellsburg High School Student Senate led the fund-raising effort that brought in $1,500 for the “Hero Among Us” documentary about the life of Vinton veteran and WWII medic John Gualtier. Advisor Rachelle Rammelsberg presented a $1,500 check to producer Brent Watkins, who told the students and veterans gathered that he is trying to raise $20,000 in donations, and has applied a Iowa Humanities grant which would match that amount. He is also seeking in-kind contributions, which include labor, materials and venues for filming or showing the documentary. The students raised more than $600 from Thursday’s hat and sweats...

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Community invited to join effort to help foster care graduates

By Erin Monaghan As part of our Community Partnership for Protecting Children initiative, Benton-Iowa Decat will be helping area youth in foster care celebrate their graduation from high school and assist with their transition out of foster care. We will help youth in Benton and Iowa Counties receive the things typically associated with the high school graduation that family would normally provide such as senior pictures, invitations, cakes and refreshments for their celebration, along with items needed as they transition out of foster care and head off to college or their first apartment. Businesses, churches, organizations and members of the community can help celebrate an outstanding achievement for youth who have had to beat the odds to succeed by giving a gift, a service or by making a donation. For more information, please contact Erin Monaghan at erin.bentoniowadecat@gmail.com or Heidi Schminke at Heidi.bentoniowadecat@gmail.com, P.O. Box 516, Vinton, Iowa 52349. Donations by check should be payable to Benton-Iowa Decat with Graduation Celebration written on the memo line. Receipts will be provided for all...

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Vinton Prays: Local women start prayer group, lending libraries

“Even if only one person benefits from this box, that is enough to make it worth it,” says April Hummel. The box she refers to is a prayer box/lending library that contains Bibles and other religious books and cards with inspirational quotes and Bible verses. The project includes several boxes, actually. Two boxes are going up this weekend, and April believes five will soon be scattered around Vinton, filled with items designed to inspire and allow area residents to connect and share prayer requests. April saw the idea on a social media page and took it to a small...

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Slaymaker Recognized for 30 Years of Service

The State of Iowa Judicial Branch is pleased to announce the following recipients of the Sixth Judicial District’s annual awards, to be formally presented at a reception on February 20, 2017, at 1:30 p.m. at the Linn County Courthouse. Patrick R. Grady, Chief Judge of the Sixth Judicial District, will preside over the ceremony. The public and family and friends of the award recipients are encouraged to attend. Refreshments will be provided. Exemplary Service Awards will be given to: Exemplary Service Awards Friend of the Court Award, Annie Tucker, Iowa City (Mediation Services of Eastern Iowa) Teamwork Award, Anne Ogden, Solon (Johnson County Clerk’s Office) Public Service Award, Elizabeth Roberts, Coralville (Linn County Judicial Assistant) Employee of the Year Award, Ronda Ogreen, Cedar Rapids (Linn County Clerk’s Office) Distinguished Service Award, Deb Shields, Palo (Court Reporter) Dedicated Service Awards 10 Years of Service – Brian Burroughs (Vinton), Jolene Hackert (Marion), Joyce Hite (Lisbon), Chris Wyatt (Iowa City), Michele Mason (North Liberty), Candice Blake (Cedar Rapids), Judge Russell Keast (Cedar Rapids), Magistrate Lorraine Machacek (Cedar Rapids), Magistrate Robin O’Brien-Licht (Cedar Rapids), Jaclyn Sherman (Gladbrook), Judge Fae Hoover-Grinde (Cedar Rapids) 20 Years of Service – Douglas Zanka (Cedar Rapids) 25 Years of Service – Vickie Rebelskey (North liberty), Laura Gearhart (Coggon) 30 Years of Service – Jody Klett (Walford), Christine Slaymaker (Center Point), Kerry Thomas (Anamosa), Margaret Zimmerman (Cedar Rapids), Karla...

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Burroughs to be Awarded for 10 Years of Service

The State of Iowa Judicial Branch is pleased to announce the following recipients of the Sixth Judicial District’s annual awards, to be formally presented at a reception on February 20, 2017, at 1:30 p.m. at the Linn County Courthouse. Patrick R. Grady, Chief Judge of the Sixth Judicial District, will preside over the ceremony. The public and family and friends of the award recipients are encouraged to attend. Refreshments will be provided. Exemplary Service Awards will be given to: Exemplary Service Awards Friend of the Court Award, Annie Tucker, Iowa City (Mediation Services of Eastern Iowa) Teamwork Award, Anne Ogden, Solon (Johnson County Clerk’s Office) Public Service Award, Elizabeth Roberts, Coralville (Linn County Judicial Assistant) Employee of the Year Award, Ronda Ogreen, Cedar Rapids (Linn County Clerk’s Office) Distinguished Service Award, Deb Shields, Palo (Court Reporter) Dedicated Service Awards 10 Years of Service – Brian Burroughs (Vinton), Jolene Hackert (Marion), Joyce Hite (Lisbon), Chris Wyatt (Iowa City), Michele Mason (North Liberty), Candice Blake (Cedar Rapids), Judge Russell Keast (Cedar Rapids), Magistrate Lorraine Machacek (Cedar Rapids), Magistrate Robin O’Brien-Licht (Cedar Rapids), Jaclyn Sherman (Gladbrook), Judge Fae Hoover-Grinde (Cedar Rapids) 20 Years of Service – Douglas Zanka (Cedar Rapids) 25 Years of Service – Vickie Rebelskey (North liberty), Laura Gearhart (Coggon) 30 Years of Service – Jody Klett (Walford), Christine Slaymaker (Center Point), Kerry Thomas (Anamosa), Margaret Zimmerman (Cedar Rapids), Karla...

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