“Freckleface Strawberry” sounds familiar, it’s because of the ACT 1 Summer Camp kids performed this show in July. Marcy Horst was the Summer Camp director with the assistance of several older students. Performing on three separate events the kids entertained at the VSHS auditorium.

A quiet event that happens every month in Benton County, is a few hours of musical enjoyment in the small town of Garrison. In July the guests at the Farmers Mercantile were The Cedar County Cobras.

Events are usually held on Sunday afternoon, and for a small price to keep the lights on and to help the performers, and a donation for some snacks halfway through the event, you can take the family out for some enjoyable music.

Be sure to watch each month for their ads and stories. I know it’s not “news” but it really might be for some of you looking for something to break up the long winter days!

The Vinton Parks & Recreation Department announced that new playground equipment was set to be installed at Riverside Park in August. The project was made possible thanks to the generosity of ‘Play Vinton Project’ contributing donors, Local Option Sales Tax dollars (LOST funds), City of Vinton support and proceeds from the ‘Cans for Kids’ program.

July always brings the Benton County Fair to town. The many exhibits and displays, the competitions, rides and the treats that you can only get at the fair, are the highlight of every kid’s life!

The Vinton Lions Club held the new officer installation in July. Matt Johnson was installed as the new President.

Pictured from L to R:
Director Sherry Peterson, Director Nate Hesson, Director Larry Druschel, Vice President Nathan Edwards, Secretary Lynn Montgomery, Vice President Dan McCann, President Matt Johnson, Treasurer Alan Woodhouse, Vice President Robin Martin, and Tail Twister Frank VanSteenhuyse.


Vinton and Newhall Fire Departments win trophies in Vinton Contest

Dennis Bramow’s team took second place in the waterball tournament he helped organize in front of the Benton County Courthouse. Dozens came from throughout Iowa and participated in the annual local competition. The Riverdale team led by Randy Bowers was the first place winner. Third place went to Fairfax and leader Carl Svec. The Newhall team which Trent Claeys led won the 4th place trophy.


The Pink Heals Fire Truck made its debut in Vinton. A bright spot for those battling cancer, it has also been a hit with little girls who love to see the “pink fire truck.” The fire truck is there for those that are battling or for those that would like to encourage others battling cancer.

 The Palace put a fresh look on their marquees this summer. Scott Tharp and Beau Wood of Tharp Design put up new digital panels and did the painting.

The Iowa State Fair is a time for everyone across the state to compete. 13-year-old Ian Sallee of Vinton and Mount Auburn Mayor Jeffrey Whitson were among the first place winners in the 2018 Iowa Farm Bureau Cookout at the Iowa State Fair.

Ian won a Phoenix grill as the winner in the youth category. His winning recipe of bacon ranch porkburgers included greek seasoning and sesame seed buns.

Whitson’s Smoked Turkey won in the turkey division, winning the Mayor the $150 first place prize.

Meeting another need that very few of us think about unless it floods, is the need for a clean river.

In August the Cedar River R.A.T.S took to the Cedar once again, hauling garbage and waste out of the waters.

There was an overall feeling that what was out there to be collected in general, was down this year, and that felt like a little bit of success for the R.A.T.S. and this group of river enthusiasts and environmentalists. The group encourages everyone to take home with you what you take out with you. It all starts with you.


Casey’s opened at their new location this year. The new location next to Ehlingers put a new face on the old Fast Stop location.

We also had a little bit of flooding, fortunately, most of us forgot about it because it wasn’t epic enough to cause a lot of damage or hassle for us.

Efforts kicked off to make plans for Vinton’s 150th Anniversary. Vinton Unlimited is still working on plans for this event!

There was also a bit of excitement in town when one of our own fired shots at our police officers. Fortunately, in this event, no one was injured.

Homecoming and all of the fun that goes along with it lets you know that it’s officially fall. Painting banners, parking lots, store windows being adorned to welcome the team that we hope to beat.

2018 Queen Katie Noren watches as 2017 Homecoming Queen Maddie Moen helps new King Alex Pladsen with his royal robe after Katie and Alex were named Queen and King Thursday.

This was also the month that Americorp celebrated its 10th year in  Vinton.

Americorp brings hundreds of young people to our small town, then packs them up to serve across the country.

Our community has also benefitted from having them in town. In all over their 10 years, they’ve helped with over 1,000 projects across the country.


Ok, admit it. The highlight of elementary school was…riding the fire truck when you were in Kindergarten. At least that was the case almost 50 years ago. The firemen today are so impressive. All I remember about fire prevention was getting to ride the trucks. Now they take the kids down to the station, they show them what to do in case there is a fire in a room but simulating smoke and showing them how to crawl under the smoke.

They visit the classroom and explain to the children, while the fireman is in their gear what the fireman will look like when he’s looking for you. Something I think will probably save a child’s life at some point, They explain that they shouldn’t be afraid of the sight or the sound of the air tank that is on the fireman. They also showed the children how they crawl along the side of the wall to feel their way through the room so that they don’t miss anything.

I was most impressed as I followed the firemen from location to location and seeing them demonstrate and explain patiently, over and over to the kids, areas of fire safety. 

Anderson Creek Estates also started making serious headway to add housing to the southern part of town, south of the high school.

John Ketchen, a trustee who his helping to manage the Fry property, says that is the goal of the trustees to create a three-phase subdivision that includes houses, villa-style homes, and apartments, as well as a few spaces for commercial properties.


Benton County has its very own member of the Iowa State Sheriffs and Deputies Association Honor Guard in Blake Henkle. Blake is a Benton County Deputy also a member of the Vinton Fire Department and Marine. He joined the Honor Guard this year at the suggestions of Sheriff Ron Tippett.

Ron Tippett said, “I believe that to keep our Iowa State Sheriff’s And Deputy Association strong we need to participate. Blake agreeing to be an Honor Guard member is a time commitment for Blake, and the Sheriff’s Office.

The Benton County Conservation’s Nature Center northwest of Vinton is the place to be if you have preschoolers, well, really children of any age. Throughout the year Aaron Askleton and Caitlin Savage, pull out all the stops to entertain children as they educate them about wildlife and things that you will find in nature. They aren’t just in business in October, but year round, so check them out!

Throughout the year, I’m reminded over and over what a great little town Vinton is.

This month was no different as we saw a group of folks reach out to help one of our own.

A procession of several motorcycles and a few cars followed Dennis Bramow as he drove the Pink Heals truck from the Ron-Da-Voo, where every table had been full of friends of Rick and Yvonne Zimpher who had come to show their love and support. Known for welcoming many large groups of motorcycle riders over their years of owning the Ron-Da-Voo, Rick and Yvonne watched, along with some family members, as the riders approached and then lined up to give Yvonne a hug and words of encouragement.

The same happened again in November for a little baby whose mom and dad needed a hand.

Vinton definitely tries to take care of those around us that have a need.



Benton County Deputy Justin Coshow, escaped uninjured when another driver hit his parked patrol car along Highway 30 at the beginning of November.  Just a reminder, move over when there’s a police car, tow truck or other service vehicles along the side of the road. Unfortunately, the driver was never caught.

The Annual Tree Walk held at Virginia Gay Hospital offers a beautiful place to visit, especially if you need care during the Christmas season.

This year there was a donation by one of the youngest donors. Avery Kakac made this little snowman as part of the fundraising effort for the hospital.

Probably one of the proudest moments in Vinton this year has been the Blue Ribbon School, Tilford Elementary. In November, representatives went to Washington D.C. to receive the award.


We also lost former teacher and coach, Ken Stark. Stark was the Vinton boys head coach. What you may not know is that Stark had played college basketball for Taylor University in Indiana and had traveled with his college team to Asia and South America. Later, he would be inducted into the Vinton-Shellsburg Hall of Fame. He was also the guy behind the popcorn and snow cone stand that stood downtown in the 70’s for those of us young enough to remember it.

Ken wasn’t one of those guys that sat on the sidelines. Here is just a list of everything he was involved in during his time in Vinton:

He was a charter member of Blessed Hope Church and served on the Vision Committee

He was a member of the Virginia Gay Hospital Foundation and Virginia Gay Advocacy Committee

He served as the Educational Representative for Vinton Unlimited

He served as a Board member for Vinton Parks and Recreation

He founded Party in the Park with Duane Randall

Ken also served as President of the Vinton Education Association and Daybreakers Kiwanis.

One of the best things our community does is honor our veterans each Veteran’s Day. This year was no different. Each year the school provides breakfast to the vets and their spouses, then treats them to a ceremony to thank them for their service.

On the heels of Veteran’s Day, the Patriotic Christmas parade comes to town, the Christmas Open Houses happen and then Santa comes to town.


And when he’s here’s he’s all over! He visits the schools, the parades, businesses, he went to the skate center for breakfast, and even took a trip to Urbana.


When Santa is here, he has to also dodge the Tour de Lights race. Overall, Vinton is a pretty fun place to be in December. 

We also lost 41 this month as well, President George H.W. Bush.

The Floating M & M Monkeys went to State!
For those of you who don’t know, these are the Vinton-Shellsburg 5th grade ELP’s First Lego League Program,  coached by teacher Alissa Mann, traveled to Marion where they competed with several other teams from eastern Iowa in the annual robotics competition.
First Lego League teams spend a few months preparing for the contest, which includes building and programming a robot made (as the name suggests) from Legos. The robot, however, is just part of the contest. Teams also created presentations based on the theme of each year’s contest. The contest also includes interviews with judges and rewards team spirit and sportsmanship.
 When you say volunteer, you might envision lending a hand to clean up the park or some other menial task that needs to be done. But when you walk into the area school and are told that there will be a surprise birthday party for one of their volunteers you are reminded again what makes our community so great.
Harold and Cheryl Knaack volunteer at Tilford Elementary and this year they helped out on Harold’s birthday. So of course, when you are with a group of cute little children, you MUST celebrate, and they did.

Ending the year on a high note, Tilford let it be known that they were indeed, “Proud 2 Be Tilford Elementary” and received recognition from the Iowa Department of Education as Blue Ribbon School.

It was a 365 day year in length, but Vinton squeezed an awful lot into those days.
Now on to 2019 and all of the good things that it will bring!