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Cattlemen Convene for Annual Conference
Cattlemen met in Altoona this week for the Iowa Beef Industry's 41st
annual convention. Iowa Cattlemen's Association CEO Matt Deppe says the
event was designed to appeal to a diverse group of beef producers.
The three-day event began with a ten-session Cattlemen's College. Deppe
highlights a few of the topics that include heifer development,
marketing and risk management, animal health, and coming FDA regulation
on antibiotic use.
Business and policy issues were on the agenda as well.
The event also included a legislative reception where ICA members mingled with 27 state legislators and Governor Branstad.
More than 500 Iowa beef producers attended the conference.
Iowa is now the number four cattle producing state in the nation.
Living in Creston: Does Our Housing Meet Our Needs?
Regional Planner Jeremy Rounds says, “When we invest in our older
neighborhoods, the surrounding housing stock will improve.” That’s one
of the reasons why Creston’s efforts and improving its housing stock
include improving and rehabilitating existing housing. There certainly
have been many private efforts to improve Creston’s older homes, with
many shining examples of design and historic appreciation.
There are those who would like to purchase a “fixer-upper” but have
trouble obtaining the financing. Rounds says local lenders are often
confined by parent company and government regulation and thus lack the
flexibility for those types of projects.
City Manager Mike Taylor says some simply struggle with the expense of
basic maintenance. Programs like the Chamber of Commerce Paint Program
help with that. Local businesses donate paint, and through an
application process, it is distributed to local homeowners who provide
the labor to repaint their home. Taylor says the program currently
serves four to five houses per year. He would like to see that increase
to 10 or 12. He says it’s understandable that people can have problems
keeping up with home maintenance and programs like this are there to
Bit by bit, house by house, the powers that be are chipping away at
Creston’s housing situation. But despite the innovative partnering and
agreement of the issues that is taking place, real progress may depend
on greater coordination. Rounds would like to see a community meeting
to identify specific needs and develop a plan to meet them.
Taylor says it is nearing time to redraft the city’s comprehensive plan
and that will no doubt help pull various elements together.
The comprehensive plan will also help identify infrastructure needs
going forward, though Taylor says in many ways the city is already
prepared. Taylor says the city’s wastewater system is designed for
twice the current population. There is also amply water available.
All that under the umbrella of coordinated effort is crucial, as
Creston continues its roll as a population and business hub for
you talk to officials about housing for very long, you will hear the
word “infill.” Unlike creating new subdivisions, infill makes use of
existing space within the city. That effort often starts with removal
of a substandard structure. For the past several years, the city of
Creston has been involved in a Neighborhood Stabilization program to
remove blighted homes. City Manager Mike Taylor explains a change in
state law a few years ago allows for the city to take ownership of
blighted properties. In some cases the owner relinquishes ownership.
Any liens on the property are dismissed and the court re-assigns
Once the property is in the city’s hands, the structures are removed,
aided in past years by grant funding, and the lots are sold, some to
private landowners in the name of neighborhood improvement.
Those that are suitable for building have been put to use. Habitat for
Humanity has purchased lots, and constructs around one house a year.
Their current project is a two-bedroom home. Another already acquired
property is slated for a larger family dwelling. The homes are sold to
qualifying persons through an application process.
A partnership between Union County Development and SWCC is helping the
effort. SWCC Vice President of Instruction Bill Taylor explains
UCDA provides the lot and the Building Trades Program constructs the
home. UCDA then pays (at cost) for the house and puts it on the market.
The program, and South Elm Street location of the latest house, fit
UCDA’s larger mission, according to UCDA Director Wayne Pantini, who
says the program not only provides housing but enhances the visual
appeal of a primary corridor into the city.
He would like to see the program expanded. Programs like the SWCC/UCDA
partnership fill a need for-profit construction companies struggle to
provide due to low profit margins on a low square-footage structure.
The partnership also enhances SWCC’s efforts to provide the local
construction industry with a steady, trained workforce by offering
instruction in all aspects of building construction.
Taylor says Iowa Workforce Development data indicates 140 new
construction jobs will be available in the area by 2020, with a 31
percent increase in people needed for building construction and a 24
percent increase in specialty trade contractors over 2010.
It’s that kind of strong economy that keeps Creston growing.
is a place where people shop and work. It is also a place where people
live. But finding adequate housing is not always easy. There are those
trying to correct that. Local government, development agencies, and
private citizens are addressing the issue, with some results. But is it
Truth is, much of Creston’s housing stock is showing its age, as Mayor
Warren Woods explains. Many houses in Creston were built for railroad
laborers, men who worked in the depot and the roundhouse. Some, like
those on Cherry Street were built in the 1870s.
In short, there are entire neighborhoods in Creston consisting of
small, old, track houses – many of which are in poor condition. Added
to that, Creston is growing. Entities like Southwestern Community
College, Greater Regional Medical Center and a host of local industry
are bring new professional people to town. That demand for new and
improved housing at nearly all levels of the economic ladder is
creating the need for action. Union County Development Association
Director Wayne Pantini says existing business and industry says as they
recruit employees, they find a housing shortage at all levels –
professions to entry level.
The city has turned to creating housing subdivisions to alleviate the
crunch, as Creston City Manager Mike Taylor explains. James Subdivision
was designed to offer new homes, with the idea that those in older or
smaller homes would “move up” creating a ripple effect throughout the
Union County Development helped create the James addition, and Pantini
says a survey a few years ago indicated about half of the subdivision
residents followed that pattern and about half were new to town.
With only a few lots left in the James Subdivision, a new one, the
Cottonwood Subdivision, is planned on a nearby 40-acre plot. Taylor
says the hope is the Cottonwood project will help fill specific needs
as well as contribute to the overall picture. There appears to be a
demand for one-story homes for the newly, or nearly, retired; and
multi-unit housing, both owned and rented.
Housing in a town like Creston depends, in part, on good rental stock –
an element that is can be in short supply. Taylor says there is a
definite need for multi-family units that are not income-based. Nor
does senior housing, also in ample supply due to recent construction.
Jeremy Rounds, Regional Planner with the Southern Iowa Council of
Governments, or SICOG, says it is likely most of Creston’s population
growth from 2000 to 2010 could be attributed to new senior housing.
Maintaining the quality of rental properties is an ongoing concern.
Rounds outlines part of the problem saying “Students will live in
anything.” Thus, landlords have little incentive to upgrade properties.
SWCC has addressed the rental quantity problem by increasing student
housing. The school is constructing its third new dorm since 2006. When
finished, there will be dorm units for just over 200 students on
campus, but, enrollment growth is consuming those nearly as fast as
they are constructed.
The city of Creston has made attempts at improving the quality by
enacting rental housing standards, designed to ensure properties meet
basic safety standards. Taylor says many landlords who have completed
the self-inspection checklist provided have initiated improvements.
Still, more multi-family housing is needed.
Neighbors Loving Neighbors Opens in Creston
Creston Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting Wednesday for its
latest new business. It’s a unique store, with an underlying mission,
as the Reverend JoAnna Davis explains, to help those who are poor in
spirit and lift them up and help with their struggles.
Neighbors Loving Neighbors, located at 124 North Maple Street in Uptown
Creston, has a unique business plan that addresses more than spiritual
needs. Goods are taken on donation and cost whatever the “buyer” feels
compelled to give. Funds from the store will finance meals, open to
anyone, on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
There is also a youth ministry, Saved by Grace, that includes Saturday Sack Lunches at the church at 306 N. Oak Street.
Providing those programs takes lots of hands, and Davis says Neighbors
Loving Neighbors can always use an extra one. The store is open Monday,
Wednesday, and Friday from 10 to 5 and Saturday 8 to noon. They could
use volunteers on Tuesday and Thursday to process donations.
For more information call 641-278-1038.
Neighbors Loving Neighbors is affiliated with the God's Outreach and Deliverance International Church.
Paying Off the Debt
won't take long for Union County to put an unsavory piece of history
behind it. The Union County Board of Supervisors took steps Monday to
make a bond payment. Union County Auditor Sandy Hysell explains the Tax
Increment Financing certification is an annual requirement that will
allow the payment on the C.F Processing Bond to be included in the
budget. The fiscal year 2014-2015 payment is $493, 500.
And that's good news for Board Of Supervisors Chairman Ron Riley, who adds there will be only two payments left after this one.
The “bean plant” project was at the root of a lawsuit that ultimately
cost the county around $10 million. The bond will be paid off in
The board of supervisors will begin work on next year's budget later
this month, with the heavy lifting coming in January and February.
Living With Trains
road in rural Union County will get a new railroad crossing. Union
County Engineer Steve Akes says a program that partners the rail road
with the Department of Transportation is designed to make unmarked
rural crossings safer by adding crossing arms and flashing lights.
The program will add improvements to the crossing on Iris Avenue where there is currently only a sign.
Akes says the crossing enhancements will cost $190,000, with the Iowa
DOT picking up most of the cost. The railroad will pay a 10 percent
match. There is no cost to the county.
Once the crossing arms and lights are installed, the railroad will be
responsible for maintenance. Akes says it is not a simple project, and
includes running power to the site.
Union County has three rural railroad crossings. Akes says this one was
targeted because of its accident history. Priority is based on accident
history, train traffic and road traffic, with accidents weighing
Work on the crossing should start this spring and be finished by fall.
County Attorney Hires Assistant
Kenyon will be handling juvenile court cases for the Union County
Attorney’s office for the foreseeable future. Kenyon is an attorney and
daughter of County Attorney Tim Kenyon. He says it is rare to find an
available licensed attorney willing to work for a nominal fee. She
recently assisted the county attorney’s office in juvenile matters, and
Kenyon says her work met with rave revues.
Kenyon says the help is very much needed. December presents a full
calendar with extra juvenile work scheduled on top of two jury trials.
Kenyon refers to Chapter 71 of the Iowa Code for guidance on the issue,
which says for an elected official to hire a relative, it must be
approved by the Board of Supervisors. That applies only if the employee
makes more than $600 per year, a figure that will not take long to
reach. He says Elizabeth is pursuing other employment options, so her
tenure with the county will likely be temporary, but it will help with
the growing log of juvenile cases.
Kenyon says it is extremely difficult to find an attorney willing to
take on that type of part-time work, as involvement on the
prosecutorial side of the equation creates conflicts with other cases
for attorneys in private practice.
Kenyon has $12,000 in his budget for an assistant. Elizabeth Kenyon will be employed on a contract basis with no benefits.
Do Students Need to Take the ACT?
Creston High School students have taken the ACT this year. Creston
Principal Bill Messerole says their results are good.
The state average composite score is 22.1. Creston came in at 22 even.
Creston students exceeded the state average in English, falling mere
fractions of a point behind in Math, Reading and Science. Overall
scores were down slightly from 2012, with English again showing the
bright spot. Last year 43 students took the test with an average
composite score of 22.5. Messerole says it’s good to see the increased
The ACT is required by most four-year colleges, but generally not by
community colleges. Should the student decide to transfer from
community college to a four-year school, the ACT is not required if the
student has earned a degree. Messerole says the largest segment of
Creston seniors attend SWCC.
Superintendent Steve McDermott says the ACT has a role that is peculiar
to the traditional four-year institution. It serves as a “sorting
mechanism” that can determine a student’s financial aid package from
Four-year schools are no longer the only option for post high school
education. Still, Messerole says there is value in taking the test. He
adds the important thing is that students do not limit their options.
Students who truly find the cost prohibitive should discuss that with the school guidance counselor.
The Art of Teaching Art
is an important part of the curriculum for Creston students. Creativity
and the basics of art and design are taught at all levels. From
Kindergarten to High School seniors in advanced independent classes,
students are learning to express themselves while learning about the
world around them.
K-5 art instructor Shari Walters presented an overview of the Fine Arts
program to the Board of Directors at its November meeting last week.
The program is responding to changes in state curriculum requirements
and will do a complete rewrite next year.
Reading and other education staples are built into the curriculum. At
the elementary level, Walters provides a two-year rotation – one year
focuses on various artists, the second year highlights art of different
Flexibility is required at the high school level, where advanced
students are offered an independent art class. High School Art
instructor Bailey Fry-Schnormeier says independent art students have
generally taken all available art classes and are headed for a career
in the arts. They develop and present a proposal for their project at
the beginning of the year.
Walters told the board it could support the program through continued interest and investment in technology.
Sharing the Bounty
mere mention of the word Thanksgiving conjures images of gravy-laden
dinner plates, leftovers piled high on kitchen counters, and stuffed
relatives littered around the house digesting more than most humans
were designed to eat. But that's not the case in every household. For
some, just putting a meal on the table is a struggle.
Ron Ludwig, Executive Director of the MATURA Action Corporation, says
the holidays are the time of year when the local food pantry really
springs into action. They try to provide Thanksgiving and Christmas
baskets to as many families as possible.
To do all that, the food pantry depends on donations – both food and cash.
Local businesses get involved, especially at holiday time, donating
cash and turkeys for the effort. But it is still the individual
donation that can make a dent as well. Donations of non-perishable food
items or cash can be dropped off the local neighborhood center.
Ludwig says the process is just as easy for those needing help. Those
in need fill out a simple application at the MATURA office.
MATURA serves Madison, Adams, Taylor, Union, Ringgold and Adair
counties. Each Neighborhood Center uses basically the same process and
offers similar services.
The need is great, but Ludwig says the community response is good – and appreciated.
In Union County, the Neighborhood Center/MATURA office is located at 27B North Elm Street in Creston.
ALICE Can Help Keep Kids Safe
is coming to Creston. ALICE is a school emergency situation training.
Creston Activities Director Jeff Bevins explains ALICE stands for
alert-lockdown-inform-confront-evade and is an alternative to a
straight lock down situation in the event of an intruder.
Bevins is one of five Creston school staff members who attended the
training in June. They, along with a Union County Sheriff’s Deputy and
a member of the Creston Police Department are now qualified to help
teach the course, an element that Creston Superintendent Steve
McDermott says makes the program practically cost free.
McDermott says the training is intended for every level of the school
and is adjusted for age appropriateness. He says the procedures learned
will be regularly rehearsed just like fire drills.
He also adds the ALICE training is only one part of the picture.
Earlier this year, the Creston School District participated in a pilot
program through the Department of Homeland Security. Based on
information provided by district personnel, the program provided a
computer “dashboard” that scores the district before and after certain
measures are enacted to assess security progress. The program provides
a gamut of options – all at a cost.
There are many issues to be weighed, including cost, all issues for
future board discussion. The school security effort is ongoing, and
school officials stress much of the detailed information will need to
be kept confidential for obvious reasons.
The ALICE training will be held yet this fall.
Hogs and Neighbors
Swine production is a rapidly changing business, and many of those changes are controversial.
Karon Finn approached the Union County Board of Supervisors Monday with
a request. She would like to see the county notify neighbors every time
a hog confinement unit goes up. She says her interest in the issue
first started in 1996, when a distraught woman approached her and
expressed her concern about not being notified a facility was being
opened near her. She eventually moved from the area because if it, and
Finn does not want to lose population that way.
Finn submitted as example a measure passed by Poweshiek County that
requires notification of anyone living within a one-mile radius of the
proposed hog facility. Board of Supervisors Chairman Ron Riley says the
county is already doing everything required by law. The Board uses the
Master Matrix to score proposed projects, makes all public
notifications and holds public hearings required by the DNR, and makes
all submitted comments available to the public.
Units with more than 2400 hogs must get a permit from the DNR that
involves a scored Master Matrix and county input. Smaller facilities
only require DNR approval and the county often does not know about them
Union County Attorney Tim Kenyon weighs in on some of the legalities
involved. He says the board needs to be cautious about creating a
“duty.” Once that duty exists, there can be liability and consequences
if it fails to be met.
The board took no action at this time.
Those in favor of confinement units claim they are a necessary part of
modern agriculture. Those against them say they create health problems
and lower surrounding property values. Groups like the Coalition to
Support Iowa's Farmers encourage livestock producers to notify
neighbors of their intentions, but they are not required to do so by
District to Fund Teacher Supplement
Creston teachers will receive what will seem like a Christmas bonus.
The Board of Directors, at its last meeting, approved back payment of
Teacher Salary Supplement, or TSS, for 2010.
When the legislature passed TSS, but failed to fully fund the measure,
most districts went ahead and paid the funds from their general funds.
Superintendent Steve McDermott says he has searched and cannot find
another district that hasn’t.
Teachers who qualify could receive $300-400 each, for a total of around
$60,000. To qualify, a teacher must have been employed by the district
in 2010 and still be employed today.
Board member Rick Fyock expressed concern with the allocation of
dollars, citing places where that money could be spent if it’s
McDermott says he and Business Manager Roy Stroud believe it is the right thing to do.
Zumbach entertained the appropriate motion with the instruction for
board members to “Vote their conscience.” The measure passed
The funds will come from the district’s general fund.
Changes to Dropout Program Pay Off
can only teach kids if you can keep them in school. In Iowa, schools
can apply for allowable growth for dropout prevention. Elementary
Principal Scott Driskell heads the district’s dropout prevention
efforts. He says the program has undergone changes in the past year,
resulting in a budget reduction and better alignment with state
Allowable growth gives districts the option of increasing their tax
levy by a specific amount, with the additional funds specifically
targeted at the problem. In Creston, the school is allowed to increase
its revenue by $322,000, based on the number of students determined to
be at risk. The district has applied for $215,949, the amount needed to
fund four faculty positions for at risk programs. Last year’s budget
was more than $400,000.
Students are identified at all levels as at risk based on state-set
criteria. Students must meet two or four criteria: attendance; lack of
connection to school; credits and progress in accumulating credits;
test scores, specifically the Iowa Assessment.
Driskell says the district has identified 123 students in K-12 as at
risk. Added to that are six returning dropouts enrolled in the High
Lakes campus and the additional funding will serve just over 9 percent
of the student body.
He says the real challenge is dealing with students faculty instinctually feel are at risk, but do not meet the criteria.
The application was approved by the board and will be submitted to the state in December.
County Updates HR Policies
this year, the Union County Board of Supervisors hired a new Human
Resources consultant. Paul Greufe of PJ Greufe Associates was retained
to guide the county through union negotiations and contact management.
He also conducted an audit of the county's personnel policies, some of
which need attention according to Greufe. In a conference call with the
Supervisors on Monday, he outlines work that needs to be done
concerning HIPPA and the Family Medical Leave Act. He says it is not
unusual for counties to need changes in the way they handle the Family
Medical Leave Act. Most of the counties he works with have similar
Noncompliance with HR laws could leave the county open to liability.
Greufe says the fix should be a one-time shot. Once new policies are
implemented, only new-hires will need to be trained.
Greufe says the policy work and training will cost around $4500 and
could be completed in the next couple of months. That includes policies
for how the county handles I-9 forms and training in harassment.
Greufe says questions on the Affordable Care Act need to be addressed to the county's insurance carr
Council Approves Financial Reports
Creston City Council approved a set of financial reports at last
night's meeting, including acceptance of the Annual Audit Report. City
Manager Mike Taylor explains says state law requires an annual
independent audit. Draper, Snodgrass and Mikkelsen of Creston has
conducted the audit the past several years.
Taylor says there were no real issues cited and no corrective action
required. As is common in small offices, there is always concern about
separation of duties and he says measures are taken in the flow of
business to make sure there is adequate security.
The Annual Financial Report was also approved. Taylor says that is
basically the same information in a different format. It is also
required by the state.
The third piece was the Annual Urban Renewal Report that outlines how
the Urban Renewal districts are being utilized, when the bonds are due,
and any arrangements with developers, as well as jobs created by the
Taylor says the city currently has three areas that fall under the
urban renewal program. The city is still paying off bonds for the
Highway 34 improvement project a few years ago. There is still
infrastructure to complete in the James Subdivision, and the Assisted
Living housing development.
The Urban Renewal Program allows the city to borrow against future
increases in tax revenue created by improvements to build necessary
infrastructure for the development.
Once filed, the reports will be available on line or can be viewed upon request at city hall.
Local Businesses Help FFA
successful people in agriculture credit their success to their school
years in FFA. But keeping those FFA programs going takes money. That's
where local businesses come in. Creston FFA adviser Kelsey Bailey says
the Creston Chapter just received a gift through a Zoetis program that
shares a portion of animal pharmaceutical sales.
Southern Hills Veterinary Clinic recently provided Creston FFA with
more than $900 through the Zoetis program. Bailey says there are others
as well. Red Brand Fencing outlets like Farmer & Home, Farmer’s
Co-op and Advanced Ag also contribute through a similar program. She
says they are extremely appreciative of the community support.
Bailey says the extra cash, sometimes a couple thousand dollars a year,
enables students to participate in the FFA program with little
out-of-pocket expenses, an issue that could be prohibitive for some
kids. Like this past weekend's leadership conference where 24 students
attended at a cost of $25 each. Other programs like conventions and
contests can involve travel and lodging – expenses that add up fast for
students and parents. The funds also pay for medals and pins, reminders
to the students of a job well done.
Bailey says the contributions from local business allow many members to
participate and thus helps build a strong base of future leaders.
And that's why it's also important to the community, says Dr. Greg Weis
at Southern Hills Vet Clinic, who adds they are glad to offer support
and be a part of the effort. The clinic also contributes to the
Corning-Villisca FFA Chapter.
Bailey says while these types of programs can help with extra expense
of activities, student members in the FFA chapter are required to pay
annual dues and help with additional fundraising.
Ed Partnership Good for SW Iowa Students
partnership between Iowa's educational institutions is bringing greater
opportunity to Southwest Iowa students. The Southwest Iowa Educational
Services Partnership involves SWCC, Iowa Western Community College in
Council Bluffs, and Iowa's public universities; and is designed to
expand opportunities for students to obtain a four-year degree through
a center located on the Iowa Western campus. SWCC President Barb
Crittenden was one of those present for a formal ribbon cutting last
week in Council Bluffs.
She says the center will help SWCC students by increasing access to distance learning courses.
Crittenden says the partnership does not offer complete programs like
SWCC's ongoing partnership with Buena Vista, but will allow for a
greater mixture of course offerings.
There are currently no classes scheduled in Creston, but Crittenden
says that may be a possibility in the future. SWCC students will have
full access to any courses offered through the new center. She says
this is just one more way Iowa's colleges and universities are working
Union County Helps Regional Housing Project
Southern Iowa Council of Governments, SICOG, is involved in a housing
project designed to use flood recovery funds for low-income housing in
three Iowa communities – Bloomfield, Carlisle and Norwalk. And that
involves Union County as SICOG Director Tim Ostroski explains.
For convenience, SICOG designated Union County as the fiscal agent.
That means all funds pass through the county coffers and applications
are made to Union County. SICOG actually performs the administrative
duties and oversees the projects in an expanded “Super COG” area. The
money comes from flood recovery funds from the 2008 and 2010 floods.
Ostroski says seven or eight applications were received in this last
round, with the three projects approved. At Monday's meeting of the
Union County Board of Supervisors, Ostroski gave a report on the
The Carlisle and Norwalk projects are new construction; the Bloomfield
project involves the rehab of six upper story apartments in the
downtown area. The total project amount is $7 million.
The Washington Report
Tom Latham checked in this week. He says the folks in Washington are
making progress on key issues, including changes to the Affordable Care
Act that will help people in danger of losing their health plan.
Latham says he was never in favor of shutting down the government as a
strategic move, and all are focused on the budget and reaching an
agreement by mid-December.
He says work is progressing on the farm bill with regional differences
and the cost of Food Stamps providing the stumbling blocks. But those
are issues he sees as workable for all involved.
Veteran's Day has cast a spotlight on issues within the Veteran's Administration and Latham would like to see that fixed.
The entire interview with Congressman Latham can be heard through the link below.
The Washington Report is a regular monthly feature on KSIB Radio.
Complete Interview with Congressman Tom Latham: audio
It's All About Service
road traveled by this year’s Volunteer of the Year and Youth of the
Year runs through Appalachia. For more than 30 years, Becky Riley has
taken a group of Creston youth to the Appalachian Mountains through The
Appalachia Project. Both here and in the hills of Kentucky and
Tennessee, the effort is all about service – both there and at home as
the youth fundraise and help with community projects.
Riley, this year's Volunteer of the Year, came to the project at a
young age. She served on the Appalachia Project as a youth and was
inspired to serve others.
She first suggested the project to the kids while serving as youth
group sponsor at her church. And every year since she has headed a
group of kids and adults who spend a week making homes warmer, safer
and drier for residents of the poverty-stricken region. Volunteers hang
dry-wall, roof, build porches and ramps, and make other structural
changes and repairs.
Like Becky, the experience for Creston kids can be life changing. She
says they are most often amazed at how happy the people are when they
have so little.
Creston’s Youth of the Year honoree is one of those kids. Levi Eblen is
in his third year of involvement with The Appalachia Project, one of
items on his list of contributions to his community. Riley says he is
willing to do whatever is asked of him and influences others with his
calm demeanor in times of stress.
Riley is not the only person to experience Eblen’s leadership skills.
Among those to nominate him for the award is Creston High School
Business Instructor and advisor for the Future Business Leaders of
America Shannon Smith.
Smith says Eblen has earned the respect of the community through his
professionalism in organizing FBLA community service projects.
A senior at Creston High School, Eblen is active in the FBLA,
participating in competitions at the State Leadership Conference and
active in the group’s community service projects. He is class
president, has been a Student Council officer for four years, as well
as participating in sports and is a member of the National Honor
Society. He even dresses as Clifford the Big Red Dog at Library events.
But it’s his leadership skills that most impress Smith. He actively
encourages younger kids to get involved and leads by example. Smith
says Eblen is able to apply his talents and dedication to every effort
he takes on.
The Creston Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting was held Tuesday night
at the Supertel Inn and Conference Center. Denny Abel was named Citizen
of the Year.
Nominations for the Citizen of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, and
Youth of the Year come from within the community. Selections are made
by a panel of community judges.
Chamber of Commerce Names Citizen of the Year
you need help, call Denny” reads one of the stack of nomination forms
suggesting Denny Abel as Creston’s 2013 Citizen of the Year.
From the halls of Greater Regional Medical Center to the VFW, Denny
Abel is well known as a community volunteer and an advocate for
veterans. According to Abel, a Viet Nam vet, that didn’t happen
accidently. He says he does what he does because he loves his veterans,
and a good share of what he does now is to get them the due they have
coming to them.
But getting started wasn’t that easy. Like many vets of his era, being
a veteran wasn’t always popular, and in some cases respect and
appreciation wasn’t always forthcoming. When he first returned from
Viet Nam he tried to join the VFW but was rejected because it wasn’t a
“war.” He says it wasn’t until after the Gulf War that vets from Viet
Nam and Korea were acknowledged. When he was asked to join in 1992, he
jumped at the chance, and since his retirement in 2004 he has devoted
his time to helping vets.
Abel says young veterans today can be hard to reach, as they rely on
Internet social networks for support rather than their fellow veterans.
But, Abel says, the help is there if they need it, in a way only fellow
veterans can provide it. A person who has been in combat has a
different mindset than those looking in from the outside. He suffered
for year from post traumatic stress disorder and understands who vets
need help with that.
His days are spent helping fellow veterans get the medical benefits
they need, filing paperwork and driving vets to the VA in Des Moines or
Omaha. He is working with Greater Regional to bring more vet services
to the area. He also channels his efforts through the VFW, holding
state office, and is the force behind Union County’s Freedom Rock. He
has rallied volunteer forces throughout the community, amassing cash
and in kind donations, to place the rock set to be painted by Ray
Sorensen in 2015. He says while many community efforts honor fallen
vets, the Freedom Rock honors the living.
He helps with those other efforts, too, setting flags for Memorial Day
at the cemetery, and participating in Honor Guards here and at the Iowa
Veteran’s Cemetery in Van Meter – an emotional contribution for Abel,
who says he is always moved by the families of those who have given a
part of their life to their country.
As for “if you need help – call Denny” – well, Abel has an answer to
that – “I hope so. That’s what I’m here for. I hope those who need help
will call me.”
Abel also serves as an information guide at Greater Regional Medical
Center, offers support to vets in hospice, and spends time volunteering
at the Union County historical site.
Abel, along with the 2013 Volunteer of the Year and Youth of the Year,
will be honored Tuesday night at the Creston Chamber of Commerce Annual
meeting. Listen tomorrow for features on the other two recipients.
County Gets Winter-ready
may have not seen any snowflakes yet, but Union County Secondary Roads
is preparing for winter. Union County Engineer Steve Akes says overall,
the roads are in good shape. There is still some rock to be applied,
and he says crews will keep on that as long as the weather allows.
He says wash-boarding is the biggest problem on the roads right now,
but again, conditions must be right to make repairs. Roads obviously
cannot be graded when they are too muddy. But it also does not work if
it is too dry. Some moisture is needed to shape the dirt and make it
hold its shape. And repairing wash-boarding can be a two-step process.
First the area must be scarified, then graded.
Akes says brush cutters are also preparing the landscape for efficient
snow control by cutting switch grass. The grass is often planted in
fence rows, and can creep into the ditches. It can work as a snow
catcher, so crews are cutting it in areas where it could cause drifting.
Akes says aside from the brush cutting, the mowers are put away and the roadside work is done for the year.
As long as the weather holds, county crews will continue working on
individual grading agreements and replacing culverts. Akes says around
80 of the county's culverts are pegged for replacement.
Pay Those Tickets NOW
you have an outstanding parking ticket in the city of Creston, get
ready to pay up. The police department is cracking down on unpaid
tickets. On Tuesday, Chief of Police Paul VerMeer outlines the problem
to the city council. There are 170 individuals with unpaid parking
violations. One person has 24 tickets.
The list does not include people from outside of Iowa or Union County.
VerMeer says those who are on the list should be prepared for public
acknowledgment. The names will b e published in the newspaper and on
the police department’s Facebook page. Ticket holders will then have 10
days to pay up. Any tickets still unpaid at that time will be turned
over to the County Treasurer, and added to future vehicle license fees.
The total amount will have to be paid before a vehicle license will be
With more than 300 tickets outstanding at $25 each, the total amount owed to the city is over $7500.
In past years, it took department staff nearly one week to address and
mail notices. And still, many went unpaid. Some of the tickets on the
list are several years old. VerMeer is hoping this method will be more
economical and yield better results. He also has a timing motive. The
department is anxious to clear up the old tickets before they begin
enforcing the city’s snow ordinance. VerMeer says they write hundreds
of snow ordinance violation tickets each year.
The city's snow ordinance goes into effect November 15.
Lybarger Wins Council Seat
Lybarger beat out three contenders for the at-large seat on the Creston
City Council, including Paul Vandevender who was appointed to fill the
vacant seat and was facing his first time before the voters. Lybarger
received 203 votes to Vandevender's 177. Other candidates in the race
were Kevin Downey with 89 votes, and Courtney Wilson with 71 votes.
Also appointed to fill a vacancy and facing her first election is Ann Levine in Ward 3. She received 94 votes.
Dave Koets claimed the Ward 5 seat being vacated by Larry Wagner, who also did not seek re-election.
Randy White retained his seat in Ward 1. White, Koets, and Levine all ran unopposed.
John Kawa was also unopposed in his bid for the Parks and Recreation Board with 451 votes. The term is for six years.
Voter turnout in Creston was 9.1 percent.
In Afton, Michelle Burger will continue to serve as Mayor. She ran
unopposed and received xx votes. Jeff Burger and Sherry Parrott, also
unopposed incumbents, retained their council seats. Voter turnout in
Afton was 4.3 percent.
Shorty Adamson will remain Mayor of Cromwell. Amy Angell, Curt Angell,
Robert Hepp, Roger Millslagle and Rich Waddingham will serve on the
Kent Forbes and Randy Wacha will serve on the Lorimor City Council. Voter turnout there was 17.3 percent.
Write-in candidates took the prizes in Thayer and Arispe. The write-in
votes will be made official by the Union County Board of Supervisors
when they canvass the election next Tuesday. All election results are
unofficial until then.
Worker's Comp Takes Big Bite from County Coffers
County officials had a rude awakening in recent weeks, in the form of
an unexpected $25,000 worker's compensation insurance premium. Phil
Tyler of Tyler Insurance, the county's agent, says he and County
Auditor Sandy Hysell were as surprised as anyone.
The policy had allowed for around $15,000 of payroll under the steel
erection – exterior code. That’s what is used for bridge-building. The
county built two bridges last year, more than usual, accumulating
$75,000 worth of payroll. That amounted to an additional $25,000 in
worker’s comp owed.
Tyler says bridge building is pegged as one of the most dangerous
occupations, based on claims filed and paid. And while Union County has
a good record, overall payroll charged to that code carries an
extremely high rate.
Tyler says the coding system may just be the key to fixing the problem
going forward. As work in the Secondary Road department is performed,
it is charged to various codes – clearing roads, mowing, mechanical
work – or steel erection.
Union county Engineer Steve Akes says there is much work that goes into
a bridge that could be put into a different category, such as welding
beams in the shop prior to construction. Now that the problem has come
to light, he will work with Tyler to adjust the codes so the county
will only have to pay the high rates on the hours actually spent on
outdoor construction. Tyler says that should help.
In addition to the immediate situation, the national board has
determined worker's comp insurance rates in Iowa need to be increased
by 10.5 percent – an increase that will occur in two phases over the
next year or so, with another possible increase coming after the first
of the year.
Akes says the most dangerous job for secondary road crews is anytime
they are working along the edge of the road and face the risk of being
hit by motorists.
Who Owns County Roads?
owns county roads? Union County Engineer Steve Akes explains the county
purchases an easement for the road from the landowner. The Landowner
retains underlying ownership, but the easement is such that it lasts as
long as it is a road. Should it cease to be a road, the property would
then revert back to the landowner.
That’s different than the DOT that actually purchases the land.
The easement gives the county the rights to utility issues and such.
The county is responsible for signage and other safety measures on
secondary roads as specified by the Iowa DOT. The county does at times
purchase rights to additional right-of-way for specific projects, at a
rate set by the Board of Supervisors annually.
Tradition and current county policy dictate upgrades – or changing a
Level B dirt road to a Level A rock road – are to be done on a 50-50
cost share basis between the landowner and the county, and are done
only if a major improvement, like a new home, is the reason for the
change. Once the road is upgraded, the county assumes the cost of the
Rural residents pay taxes to the Rural Basic fund to help maintain secondary roads.
Funding Roads and Bridges: Looking for Options
meeting is being held in Creston today that could influence Department
of Transportation funding for area roads and bridges. Billed as a
“discussion on enhanced revenue options” the meeting involves state and
The most commonly heard approach to increasing funding is raising the
gas tax, but that is not the only idea. Other options include
increasing fees on overweight vehicle permits and new vehicle
registrations. Or applying Local Option Sales (or LOST) taxes to fuel.
One idea originated with the county engineers, according to Union
County Engineer Steve Akes. It would focus federal dollars on the
primary road system, state and federal highways, and free up state
funds for local projects. It's a move that would have an impact on
counties. The proposed change would focus federal funding on state
projects and direct state funding to the counties.
The idea is the state is better equipped to deal with the federal hoops
like archeological surveys, payroll regulations, and other additional
He says the approach has been used successfully in other states and
would not significantly change the amount of money coming into the
county. It would just enable more efficient use of the funds, as
contractors often raise their bids to accommodate the extra
The Creston meeting is one of 13 to be held around the state over the
next couple of weeks. DOT officials list goals as ensuring equity of
user fees, aligning transportation funding to a growth trajectory as
Iowa's economy strengthens, providing incentives to improve rural
bridge and road conditions, and ensuring competitive transportation
options for shipping products and moving people. Iowa's DOT and local
highway funding is estimated at $130 million, and could reach $232
million by 2019.
Property Tax Reform Costs County
change in Iowa law means a $16,000 expenditure for Union County
taxpayers. Union County Assessor Gene Haner explains says a new
software program is available that will calculate ag land assessments
according to the changes set forth by the Iowa Legislature. He says
attempting to do the calculations by hand would take months. And
Schneider, the company that produces the software currently used,
provides land assessment software for counties. Haner says the $16,000
price can be stretched out over three years. He can pay year number one
after July 1 of next year, placing it in the Fiscal Year 2014-2015
Technically the law changing the way ag and commercial properties are
valuated went into effect on July 1 of this year. Haner says the change
applies 2014 values, payable in 2015 and 2016.
The new system deducts rivers, ponds and ditches from valued land. He
says there is no way to know how that will affect land values until the
new calculations are made, but some deduction is already made for those
He says while this portion of the change, and the accompanying new
computer program, are for ag land, there is also relief for commercial
property owners on the horizon that has yet to be implemented.
Haner explains how the change is supposed to work. 2014 values will be
rolled back 5 percent and 2015 values will be rolled back 10 percent.
The Legislature has pledged funds that would have been collected by
entities such as the county, hospital and schools will be reimbursed by
At least that’s the way the statewide property tax relief, advocated by
ag producer groups and enacted by the state Legislature, is supposed to
work. Haner comments on the flaws in the process, saying the intent of
laws is often lost by the time the details are worked out by an
administrative rules committee.
And the law as it is written and implemented so far requires $16,000 of
new software that can calculate ag land valuations according to the FSA
ag use layer.
Expenses for the Assessor’s Office are covered by a levy specifically
for that purpose and the office and its funds are managed by an
independent Conference Board.
Haner says the change is not related to equalization – that requires a
county’s assessed values to maintain an acceptable level of accuracy
when compared to sale prices. Union county had no equalization
corrections this year.
Out with the Old, In with the New
Creston School District buildings claimed agenda space this week, as
the board of directors continue the April 2012 tornado cleanup. At a
special meeting Wednesday, the board accepted a bid for the site
preparation portion of the new bus garage project. The old garage was
demolished by the 2012 storm. A series of delays and false starts have
pushed the district into the second winter without quarters, but action
is finally taking place. Superintendent Steve McDermott presented bid
options to the board.
The accepted bid was by C&J Conservation for $192,680 for the dirt work and site preparation portion of the project.
The bid was accepted by unanimous vote and work is expected to begin
immediately. C&J Conservation is a local company owned and operated
by John and Cody Waltersdorf. The bid was significantly under the
engineer's projected cost of $211,445.
At Monday’s regular meeting, the board picked up conversation about
disposing of the vacated administration building at 619 N. Maple
Street. The district administration offices are now located in the
Burton R. Jones building at 801 N. Elm.
The district was set to sell the building when the storm hit. In the
immediate aftermath, Green Hill AEA utilized the space for storage.
The has now board decided to sell the building at auction with a minimum bid.
McDermott describes the building as a typical small office building
with office space near the front and storage in the rear. The school
had an exemption to the Residential zoning. No date has yet been set
for the auction.
The bids for the building portion of the bus garage project will be opened on Wednesday, October 30.
Union County Workforce is Willing and Able
The Union County Laborshed
potential labor force is 44,751 workers. Nearly 11,000 of those are
either unemployed or willing to make a change. Analyzing that segment
of the workforce is the job of the Union County Development
Association, which recently released the 2013 Union County Laborshed
Analysis, a four-page recap of facts and charts outlining the area’s
workforce for potential business and industry. Union County Development
Association Director Wayne Pantini says the Laborshed Analysis is
compiled from surveys of businesses and workers.
The showpiece of Uptown
Creston is the Restored Historic Depot. Keeping that depot in good
condition is an ongoing effort. Repairs are needed, and need to be
completed with the building’s historic integrity in mind. Creston City
Manager Mike Taylor says the city is aware any repairs or upgrades need
to be done “right” and may need to be spread over multiple years.
Of those employees who are employed, 17 percent work in manufacturing,
13 percent in education, 13 percent in healthcare and social services,
and 10.5 percent in transportation, communication and utilities.
Finance, insurance and Real Estate workers are the most willing to make
a change, 37 percent; and professional services, 26.7 percent.
The average worker willing to change employment is 48 years old and
works 43 hours per week; 16.9 percent are working more than one job.
More than 6 percent of the laborshed workers are considered
underemployed. That can be because of wages below the federal poverty
level, more desired hours, or employment that does not match the
worker’s skill level or education.
Potential workers in the Union County laborshed, the area from which
Union County businesses draw their workers, are willing to drive 26
miles one way for work. The entire laborshed stretches from Grant City
to Guthrie Center.
Pantini says there are now more people drive into Union County to work
than commute outside the county to their job.
While the Laborshed Analysis provides a valuable recruitment tool for
new business, Pantini stresses UCDA maintains its focus on serving and
growing existing companies.
The highest average non-salary wages in the Laborshed are paid to those
in the Transportation, Communication and Utilities sector, followed by
the Public Administration and Government; and Finance, Insurance and
Real Estate sectors. Those in the education sector are the most highly
The lowest wages are paid to those in the personal services industry,
72 percent of whom possess some education beyond high school.
An estimated 530 unemployed workers in the Laborshed are willing to accept work.
Creston Depot Due for a Facelift
To oversee the effort, the City Council has hired the architectural
firm of Walker-Coen-Lorentzen. Speaking for the firm is Matt Coen, a
man with Creston connections. He is one of the Creston Coens, and says
he is proud of his family ties and his Creston ties. Coen and his firm
also worked on the First National Bank/Upper Crust Building. Plans for
the depot are in the assessment stage, as Coen explains.
He and his team will inspect the building and determine what needs to
be done. This initial step will lead to a more detailed plan.
The Creston Depot has architectural significance beyond its value to
the Creston community and the Rail Road. The architects, Burnham and
Root, designed several major buildings in Chicago that are now
significant landmarks. There are few Burnham and Root buildings in
Iowa, and Creston is one of two known depots designed by the
architects. They were instrumental in rebuilding Chicago after the 1871
Coen estimates it will take around 45 days to complete this portion of the project.
School Rejects Bus Barn Bids
The saga of the Creston
Schools bus barn continues. In a special session Wednesday at 2 p.m.,
the school board rejected all bids submitted for the site preparation
and building. The rejection is primarily due to two factors – the
number and amount of bids received. Some bid packages were incomplete,
and all were well above project estimates. Site prep bids came in at
around $305,000 compared to an estimate of $230,000. Building bids
topped estimates by more than $100,000.
The bids sent the school back to the drawing board. Plan changes were
made, like eliminating planned block walls. Concrete aprons were
changed to rock. A waterless sprinkler system, where water is absent
from pipes, eliminates the need for firewalls between bus bays. Changes
were also made to the bid structure, or the way the project was divided
up for bidding. Originally the project was bid in eight separate
packages, as Superintendent Steve McDermott explains.
McDermott says there was a rationale to taking that approach. It was
hoped it would entice more local bidders and possible save some money.
But large or small, contractors need to factor in their profit, and
some contractors, who are frequent subcontractors on projects, were
reluctant to bid against those who often serve as general contractors
and thus provide them work. And so the board continues to rework the
bidding process, with an eye on overall costs. Board member Rick Fyock
reminds the board there are other considerations besides the bottom
dollar, saying over the 30-40 year life of a building, $30,000-40,000
is not that much, when compared to trimming things too close to bare
Timing of the project is also of concern. The district has been without
a bus barn since the old one was destroyed by the April 2012 tornado.
That means, given the current time of year, this is the second winter
Transportation Manager Bob Beatty and his crew will be without an
indoor home. Beatty says that is starting to take its toll on the fleet.
The solicitation of bids will be published this week and next with bids
for the site prep likely opened on Tuesday, October 22 and bids for the
building opened October 29.
While the district is without an indoor garage, Barker Implement has
loaned them a work bay at their facility.
The Ins and Outs of Title I
I is a program that frequently pops up in conversations about student
achievement, school staffing, and school finance. But just what is
Title I? Creston Middle School Principal Brad Baker explains it is a
federal program that provides funding for poverty students struggling
with reading and math. Fund allocation is based on free and reduced
lunch enrollment and provides for early interventions. Baker says
research has proven poverty students often require extra resources to
Baker has administered Creston's Title I program for several years, and
is now in the process of turning over the reigns to Elementary
Principal Scott Driskell. There are complexities to the program, as
Baker explains. Once 45-50 percent of students in any given building
receive free and reduced lunch, the school can file for building wide
Title I. At that point resources can be used building-wide and not just
for specify students. Creston Elementary filed for building-wide status
three years ago.
The Creston School district gets about $340,000 of Title I funds each
year – funds that are used to provide extra staff to reduce class size
and provide small group instruction. Now that Creston Elementary is a
building-wide Title I program, Title I instructors are free to work
with all general ed teachers in implementing teaching strategies that
benefit all students.
But in an age of No Child Left Behind, Title I funding now comes with
strings attached. Since both Title I and No Child Left Behind are
federal programs, schools receiving Title I funds that do not meet the
No Child Left Behind student proficiency benchmarks - termed
Schools in need of Assistance – can be “sanctioned.” Baker explains
that means the school is required to divert 10 percent of its funding
to professional development and 20 percent to supplemental education.
Funds that, in Creston’s case, were being used to staffing.
It was that sanction that caused the district to lose a Title I
reading teacher earlier this year – a move some saw as controversial.
But, Baker says, there really was no choice under the current law. The
program had to move $60,000 into the sanction-required areas.
And things are likely to get worse next year when The No Child Left
Behind proficiency standards hit an unobtainable 100 percent. While
some states have received a waiver, Iowa has not, in part because Iowa
has failed to develop a plan that links teacher pay to student
performance. And all that leads to a lot of public mis-perceptions.
Baker says he is not sure the public always understands that the
federal government now has more control over how funds are used, and
the district has less control.
Baker says while there are now changes in the process of utilizing the
Title I program, the intent remains the same – to use resources the
best they can to meet students’ needs.
New Agency Addresses Domestic Violence
Much of the KSIB listening area is undergoing a chance in domestic abuse service providers.
This summer, The Rural Iowa Crisis Center, which had provided domestic
violence and sexual assault victim services for the area closed its
doors. The move was the result of state directed regionalization. There
are now only six agencies serving the entire state, and services in
this area now fall under the domain of the Crisis Intervention and
Advocacy Center, based in Adel. Agency Director Johna Sullivan says as
of July 1, her agency provides services in Adair, Union, Adams,
Ringgold and Taylor counties.
Crisis Intervention and Advocacy already provides services to Dallas,
Guthrie, Madison, Clarke and Decatur counties. It is working to open
offices in throughout the new area.
In addition to the traditional services, the agency provides help for
the homeless. It does not operate a shelter, but works with people in
the community to provide emergency and transitional housing for people
on their client list.
Union County Board of Supervisors Chairman Ron Riley says he is glad to
see a new agency coming in to fill the void for much-needed services.
Sullivan is hoping she can count on the Union County Board for
financial support. Historically, the county has provided funding for
domestic violence victim’s services. The board instructed her to return
at budget time.
The Crisis Intervention and Advocacy provides a full array of services,
including a Spanish language hotline. Current clients are being
transitioned to the new agency. Those in need of emergency help can
call the 24-hour crisis line 1-800-400-4884.
CHS Hall of Fame
Creston Homecoming is Friday, and that means it is time to induct a new
class into the Creston High School Hall of Fame. This year’s inductees
are Curt Olson, Thelda Williams and Tim Kenyon.
Bender Williams was a typical high school student when she graduated
from Creston High School in 1959 – with the possible exception of
working in her parents' produce station. She never imagined she would
someday serve as council woman and mayor in the nation's fifth largest
city, Phoenix, Arizona. But she has no doubts about where and when
those seeds were planted. She says she gives Creston High School full
credit – with teachers who not only taught daily lessons, but taught
kids to take a chance. She says she learned a little about a lot of
things and that has taken her a long way.
Williams held several jobs before going to work for the Maricopa County
Sheriff's Department. There she started a drug rehabilitation program
that was known for its tough love. The program became a national model,
and Williams was entrusted with other projects – the first high school
for juveniles servicing time as adults, a pet MASH unit where prisoners
learned to care for abandoned and abused animals.
Just like much of her professional career, her entrance into politics
came from seizing an opportunity. She was working to lobby the city for
more parks and ball parks in her neighborhood when the opportunity to
run for office came up and she took it – and was elected.
That was in 1989. Since then, Williams has served on the Phoenix City
Council and was appointed Interim Mayor for a time in 1994. Along with
her array of city committees and boards, she is a frequent world
traveler as an ambassador for the city. She determined early in her
career that Phoenix needed an international airport, and has lobbied
the world over for international air service.
She says there are perks to the job. She once conducted a seminar on
democratic government in Moscow for more than 100 Russian mayors and
was given full VIP treatment, including her own performance of the
Bolshoi Ballet and a private tour of the Kremlin. Back in Phoenix, she
says it's not hard to see where to fix things if you are out in the
community. Trying to obtain the community ideal, with various factions
helping each other, is a lesson she says she learned in Creston.
Williams offers a bit of advice for current Creston High School
Students: “Learn everything you can. Continue your education throughout
your live. Have the courage to take a chance. And think big.”
In high school, Williams was a member of the original Peppers squad,
and has been married to fellow classmate Mel Williams for 54 years.
one can come to the end of life and be able to say they made a
difference, they can say they have lived a successful life. Curt Olson
was a success. Olson began his career as a teacher and a coach in 1968
and came to Creston in 1982. He died last year, just as he was about to
be inducted into the Hall of Fame, putting off the formalities of the
honor until this year. Olson’s wife Beth remembers he was surprised he
had been selected, he felt others were more deserving. She says that’s
just the kind of guy Olson was.
There are few in Creston who would argue with Beth Olson’s assessment.
Olson went to work every day determined to make a difference in kids’
lives. And make a difference he did. He worked with guidance counselors
to identify students who needed a special hand – those with drug or
emotional problems – or those who were struggling academically. Beth
says that came from battling his own health problems as a young child,
and parents who never lightened their expectations, and never failed to
Olson was a tireless coach and athletic director who saw to the
interests of his students on and off the field. He also held several
statewide Athletic Association offices and received the IHSADA Golden
Eagle Award, the NIAAA Award of Merit, and the IHSAA Administrator
award, and IHSADA State Athletic Director of the year. Olson was a big
man – in stature and in spirit. His mighty laugh was well known
throughout the community, as was his gentle heart and commitment to his
Beth says she has had several students tell her they would not have
graduated without Olson’s encouragement. Olson had started the 2012-13
school year, the same way he started every other – setting the stage
for student success. He was coaching the 8th Grade football team at the
time of his death.
For Beth, that was just life with Curt Olson: “He loved people. He
loved kids. He loves sports. He loved music. He loved the arts. And he
just thought everybody should have a chance.”
Olson was an active member of the Creston Chamber of Commerce, served
as parade master for many years, and sat on the Foster Care Review
Board. His Hall of Fame award will be accepted by his wife, Beth.
Tim Kenyon graduated from Creston High School in 1976. He has sat at
the same desk in the Union County Attorney’s office since 1983. During
that time he has amassed an impressive record, prosecuting more than
6,000 cases – more than all previous Union County Attorney’s combined.
Kenyon says that is due, in part, to the changing face of crime.
Today’s criminal activity all too often is the result of drug use,
He says his office has seen a drastic increase in juvenile cases and
makes giving kids a chance a high priority.
Working with kids is part of the reason for Kenyon’s nomination into
the Hall of Fame. In 1998 he received the Governor’s Volunteer Award
for his work with the Creston Middle School Mock trial program. He is
past president of the Creston Activities Booster Club and spent many
years involved in the Marching Band Parent’s Committee.
For Kenyon it offers a balance to the side of life he all too often
sees in his job. He enjoys the kids’ energy and positive attitude – and
says he learns a great deal from them.
His work with the band also fits with his ongoing love of music. Still
a practicing musician, he is a regular with the Waukee Big Band. He
says a highlight was playing the Surf Ballroom. Kenyon and his trumpet
are also regular guests with the Creston High School Pep Band.
He credits his success in all areas with the lessons he learned in high
school about hard work and preparation, adding “you get out of it what
you put into it.”
He says those lessons translated into what he considers the basic
elements of life – mainly keeping a positive attitude and looking for
the good in people.
He adds for most people that can be summed up by the phrase Carpe Diem – Seize the Day:
“When you get up in the morning, what are you going to do today to make
your house better, to make your family better, to make Creston better?
What are you going to do to make things better? Literally, you have to
seize the day. And sometimes it’s a little hard to get a hold of.”
Kenyon has been an adjunct professor at SWCC since 1990, teaching child
phycology and criminal justice, has served as youth group leader for
the Appalachia Service Project, and was president of the Iowa County
Attorney’s Association in 2010.
School Activities are Easy to Track
schools is using a new tool to inform parents and community members of
school activities. It’s a web-based tool called R-School, and it
provides an interactive digital calendar of events and other
Just click on “Activities” on the school’s website, crestonschools.org,
and then click on Hawkeye Ten.
From there you can navigate your way around Creston’s activity calendar
as well as many surrounding communities. Click on Creston and you’ll
get the full calendar, with daily details just another click away.
The site breaks down information by activity, by school, by date, and by conference.
If you’re a Hawkeye Ten watcher, there’s a special feature. The site
will soon have historical data and stats from throughout the conference.
Bevins says the R-school site isn’t just for sports. It covers
everything from this week’s football game to the Fifth Grade band
concert. The site even tells what time the student bus is leaving for
any given out-of-town activity.
All the information is there for people to plan ahead to support their school.
Bevin says they are no longer printing the red, full-size calendars,
but will still make the smaller tri-fold schedule available.
Stay tuned to KSIB Radio for the latest in area sports news.