State Champs: The Vikings won the school’s first state title in Bowling in February.

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of articles recalling the year 2016. This first segment reviews events of January and February. 

2016, for Vinton, began with a visit from Bowser.

The well-known singer from the 1970s band Sha-Na-Na came to Vinton Jan. 21, as part of the entourage following Hillary Clinton to Vinton as she made a campaign stop 10 days ahead of the Iowa Caucuses. While many gathered around the stage area to meet Clinton, several others noticed Boswer, whose real name is Jon Bauman, accompanied Clinton on several campaign stops.

Clinton’s campaign stop attracted about 500 people, including media from several national publications and networks. It was the biggest event in town leading up to Iowa’s first-in-the-nation Caucus. Much smaller crowds gathered to see Democratic candidate Martin O’Malley and GOP candidates Bobby Jindal and Scott Walker.

In local politics, Nathan Hesson and Brian Parr participated in their first city council meetings in January, after winning election the previous November. In nearby Mount Auburn, Jeffrey Whitson celebrated his 35th birthday by presiding over his first Mount Auburn City Council meeting. He won office via a write-in campaign when nobody else officially entered the race.

Jeffrey Whitson brought personality to the office of Mount Auburn Mayor after taking office in January.

Garrison celebrated the new year with the arrival of a used but fully-equipped 1994 Luverne Spartan Custom Pumper Tanker truck, the result of many Garrison Fire Department fund-raisers as well as the Garrison tax fund.

A Benton County board that rarely meets found itself in the middle of two issues that will end up in court in early 2106. First, the Board of Adjustment met in January and reversed a vote by the Benton County Supervisors to deny Dean Brown permission to operate Red Shed Auto Repair. Later the Board would be sued by the lawyer who helped negotiate that January agreement. Also affecting that neighborhood north of Vinton, the Board of Adjustment ruled it had no jurisdiction to reverse the decision by the supervisors to allow Coots Materials to build a sand pit. Both of those issues wound up in district court, with rulings not expected until later in 2017.

February brought tragedy to Benton County, as three members of the Congolese community in Iowa City died in a snowy accident on Highway 30.

On the brighter side, all Vinton-Shellsburg 5th grade students left Shellsburg elementary one sunny February morning for the first school ski trip to Sundown Mountain. A Vinton Community Foundation grant helped fund the trip.

Also, in February: VSHS celebrated its first state championship in one of the school’s newest sports: Bowling. Led by senior Nick Stein’s career-high 513, the VS boys won the Class 1A state title in Des Moines.

Barb Wittmer earned a National Mother of the Year Award from the American Mothers organization.

February ended with another event only possible during presidential election years: The celebration of the birth of a Leap Year baby. Owen Birker was born Feb. 29, to Jeff and Leah Birker, helping the family make history for having two Leap Year babies.