Author: Dean Close

VS again seeking donations of school supplies

Once again the Vinton-Shellsburg Schools are working with area churches and local businesses to gather school supplies for students. Last year we provided supplies for over 150 students in our school district. If you would like to donate supplies, you can bring them to a collection box at the following locations: Shopko, Fareway, LaGrange Pharmacy and the Vinton Unlimited Office. If you would like to sponsor a student or make a cash donation you can get it to the VS Schools Central Office at 1502 C Ave. The cost to sponsor one student with a full set of grade level supplies is $40. Watch for more information about the distribution of school supplies to be held on August 9 and 17. We will host this event at Clickstop Cares in Urbana and families will also be able to shop for clothing and other items they may need. Based on input from parents and research into what other schools are doing, parents will be able to purchase prepackaged school supply kits for their elementary students. Details will be available with registration and is made possible through a partnership with Monkeytown. If you have questions feel free to contact Molly Noren...

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A message to America, from a flag lowered to half-staff for the very first time

Seriously? So soon? I know it’s part of an American Flag’s job to help the nation mourn. But already? Even before the folds from my months in a box have had time to disappear? I was the first thing you saw on Friday, when you arrived at the brand new baseball field in a small Iowa town which got its name from America’s beginning. Just a few days earlier, they had raised me to the top of my pole as they dedicated the new field. I barely had the chance to celebrate the Fourth of July before they came...

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Cheerleading season starts long before school begins

  Long before you see them along the sidelines, the Vinton-Shellsburg High School cheerleaders are busy working throughout the summer, at community events like Party in the Park and this weekend’s Garrison Fun Day. The 18 cheerleaders for this coming football season include 9 veterans and 9 newcomers, several of which will be freshmen when classes begin next month. Kailey Lazenby took her turn atop the pyramid as the girls practiced some routines in Garrison on Saturday....

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Raspberries after the Rain

Life ain’t always funny When the sky turns unsunny And the blue up above Turns to black The wind and the lightning Can be utterly frightening As the water Leaves its muddy tracks But when windows do rattle As rain drenches the cattle And your little kids Jump in your bed An outdoor phenomenon Keeps right on growing on Offering more proof that God is not dead While most creatures cower From the cold falling showers Below the tops of the trees The water that splattered Finds a purpose that matters And gently soaks into ripened raspberries When the rain goes away And you see the sun’s rays Follow me to the edge of the woods You will see what I mean When you look at the green And the purple that says, “It’s all good.” Even before the rain fell It was easy to tell Which of the berries were ready for eating Deep and purple and shiny Not quite huge but not tiny Are the ones most deliciously treating I still don’t know yet What makes them look wet Even days after we see rain retreating But when fresh rain begins And that moisture soaks in It in spires this poetic drumbeating And yet, you must know That you really must go To the wild to learn this yourself Because berries this fresh And rain-softened and wet...

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The meaning of the famous photo that never was, but one day may be

I have bad news for my fellow space-exploration lovers: That beautiful photo you saw this week of the Juno space probe approaching Jupiter is fake. Really. No, I am not one of those who believe that the moon landing was fake in 1969. I am sure that Juno — complete with its LEGO figurines of Jupiter, Juno and Galileo — is indeed circling the biggest planet in our solar system. But the photo of Juno with Jupiter is fake. Actually, it’s not a photo; it’s an image of the planet and probe painted by an artist for the purpose of publicizing the arrival for NASA. Juno does have a camera, but its images are not like those iconic ones we saw of other planets (especially Neptune) taken by Voyager 2 a generation ago. The real photos taken with the Juno camera show Jupiter in the distance, with its four moons circling the planet. The video that NASA released is actually a composite of countless still photos of the planet and its moons. But you wouldn’t know that by reading news reports. Every major news source I have read, along with the science sites that focus on such stories, are posting artist depictions of Juno and Jupiter and saying “This is Juno approaching Jupiter.” But, it’s not. NASA says the probe will soon start sending up-close photos of the big...

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Forget the ‘sports physical?’

Remember the olds “sports physical”? Here’s a better idea. Use the expanded health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act to take advantage of your insurance plan’s “health maintenance exam,” AND fulfill the requirement for your student to participate in sports as well. The Affordable Care Act required insurance companies to provide patients with a health maintenance exam (or yearly physical) without member cost share, such as copays, deductibles or coinsurance. Most plans provide for the free health maintenance exam but check with your insurance company to be certain. What’s different about a health maintenance exam vs. a “sports physical”? A sports physical only checks to make sure a student is ready for physical activity. A health maintenance exam is more thorough and intended to be prevent health problems before they occur. A health maintenance exam will include a health history review, lifestyle risk factors, and an exam of all major body systems. This is a great opportunity to teach your young students to develop a relationship with a health care provider to maintain good health, not just respond when illness or injury strikes. To schedule a health maintenance exam (also known as a yearly physical or “wellness exam,” call your local Virginia Gay Family Medical Clinic in Vinton, Atkins, Urbana or Van Horne. Submitted by Virginia Gay...

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Online safety tips for parents of teens

As adults we know our kids don’t always exercise great judgment. When bad judgement is on display through social media the damage is multiplied and shared with the entire world. Worse yet, there are creepy people who actively look for kids to be “friends” with. Keeping up with all the new social media sites, their dangers and privacy settings sometimes feels like an impossible task. But here are some simple fixes to help keep your kids safer on the most popular sites. Instagram: switch on “Private Account” in “options” to prevent strangers from viewing your kids’ photos. Snapchat: These messages are supposed to self-destruct, but more than one young person’s compromising thoughts or photos have shown up all over the web. Keep unkown people from contacting your children by restricting “Who Can Contact Me” to “My Friends” and be sure to block strangers. Omegle: an “anonymous” video-chatting service that isn’t at all anonymous if connected to Facebook. The recommendation is not to allow it. Facebook: As for Facebook the list of potential privacy problems is vast, but a few simple steps like blocking who can see your information can help. Click on the link Facebook Privacy for basic privacy instructions and ideas. This list was adapted from Wired Magazine, July 2016 Submitted by Virginia Gay...

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Benton County Celebrates 90% Alcohol Compliance Rating

The Benton County Above the Influence Coalition, the Area Substance Abuse Council, and the Benton County Sheriff’s Department collaborated to complete alcohol compliance checks for Benton County in February of this year. Benton County businesses had a 90% compliance rate, a respectable rate, although it remains the same as the rate in the spring of 2014. Alcohol compliance checks are a strategy used to confirm that businesses are checking IDs and refusing sales to minors. This strategy has been identified as necessary due to youth within the county reporting that alcohol can be easy to attain. Through these efforts steps are taken to ensure that retail access is not an avenue used by underage individuals to attain alcohol in our county. Deputy Dave Upah has assisted with these checks since June 2012, partnering with various youth to complete the task. The Benton County Above the Influence Coalition and the Area Substance Abuse Council would like to congratulate the businesses that passed compliance checks in February 2016, including: Blairstown Quick Stop (Blairstown), Casey’s General Stores (Belle Plaine, Urbana, and Vinton), D.J. C-Stores (Atkins, Norway, and Van Horne), Fareway Stores (Vinton), Fast Stop (Vinton), Go America (Urbana), Grieder’s Beverage Depot (Belle Plaine), John’s Qwik Stop (Vinton), Newhall First Stop (Newhall), Roy’s Foodland (Shellsburg), Shellsburg Quick Stop (Shellsburg), and Zip Mart (Belle Plaine). These businesses continue to demonstrate their commitment to ensuring...

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Darlene Elizabeth Hartwell

Darlene Elizabeth Hartwell was born on August 17, 1941 in Livermore, California to Leo and Florence (Evans) Schoonover. She grew up and attended school in different places throughout California, Colorado and Iowa until her family settled in Vinton, Iowa where she graduated from high school. After graduation she worked in the NASA Space Program at Collins Radio Company in Cedar Rapids, Iowa while pursuing her Associates Degree from Coe College. On August 17, 1969 she married her soul mate, Rev. Tom Hartwell and they began their life and ministry together. They served the Lord in traveling evangelistic work for many years throughout the Midwest and pastored congregations in Indiana, Idaho, Montana and Minnesota, including Slayton from 1991-1998 when they moved to Minneapolis. She started working as a production planner for Covidian until she retired in 2011. In 2013 she was diagnosed with cancer and fought a courageous battle until she passed away July 2, 2016 at the age of 74. Her faith, courage and ever-present smile brought joy to everyone who knew her. Darlene was a woman of many of talents and enjoyed art, cooking, sewing and flower gardening. She most enjoyed spending time with her family, especially seven cherished grandchildren. Survivors include her husband, Reverend Tom Hartwell of Minneapolis, MN; three children and their spouses, Nate (Patricia) Hartwell of Ramsey, MN; Heidi (Scott) Winter of Slayton, MN; Masa...

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Free Christian Concert!

Be sure to mark your calendar for a FREE concert with a performance by Zachary Freedom sponsored by Blessed Hope Church. There will be free refreshments and children’s activities, everyone is invited to attend. JULY 29TH @ 6:30PM at Riverside Park.  ...

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Vikings split with Benton, improve to 16-11

With two weeks left in the regular season, the Vinton-Shellsburg Vikings baseball team is 16-11 and hoping to keep improving as they seek to return to the State Tournament. Tyler Rippel, who pitched for the Vikes at State last year, held Benton Community scoreless in the first of two games on Monday. The Vikings won 9-0, as Rippel allowed four hits and three walks in pitching all seven innings. He struck out seven batters. Scottie Wirth’s two-run double gave the Vikings the lead for good in the second inning. Nathan Struve went 3-for-3 , with two runs scored and two RBI. The Vikings had 11 hits in the game. The nightcap included several errors by both teams, and only a total of five earned runs in a 7-4 Bobcat win. Viking pitchers also allowed 10 bases on balls. The Vikings host Western Dubuque tonight. New artificial turf awaits in Independence Monday also was a big night for one of the Vikings’ nearby rivals. Independence held a dedication ceremony for its new artificial field turf baseball field. The Vikings will play on that surface for the first time July 8. While the Vikings have not encountered field turf on any other high school field, they have played on it at Waverly-Shell Rock, which uses the Wartburg baseball field for its home games. Those familiar with the field turf says the...

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Thirty four high school students from across Iowa traveled to Washington, D.C.

Thirty four high school students from across Iowa traveled to Washington, D.C. on June 10-16 to join more than 1,600 other students from around the nation for the 2016 Electric Cooperative Youth Tour. The Electric Cooperative Youth Tour has been giving high school students the opportunity to tour Washington, D.C. for over 50 years. “The Youth Tour is the highlight of the summer for many students from Iowa, and we’re proud to send 34 of our best and brightest to Washington, D.C. this year to participate,” said Shelly York, Iowa Youth Tour Director. “These students gained a first-hand understanding of the legislative process and made connections with others from across the country that will last a lifetime.” Jamie Thompson and Kirstie Martin, represented and were sponsored by East-Central Iowa REC for the 2016 Youth Tour trip to D.C.Jamie attends Vinton-Shellsburg High School and is the daughter of Julie Barnes of Palo and Kirstie is an Independence High School junior and the daughter of Curt and Deb Martin of Independence. Students on the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour participated in leadership training, engaged in one-on-one conversations with elected officials, jumpstarted their national peer network, learned about electric cooperatives and toured Washington, D.C. The Electric Cooperative Youth Tour has brought high school students to Washington, D.C. for the past 50 years. Students apply and are selected for this program by their local...

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