Cherokee economic climate remains healthy
The nation-wide economic recession continued in 2009, but the Cherokee area again seemed to fare better than many others.
Though this success is due to many factors - not the least of which is the hard work and the cooperative community spirit of local residents - two area organizations have also had a hand in the continuing economic growth of the city and county.
The offices of Cherokee Industrial Corporation (C.I.C.) and Cherokee Area Economic Development Corporation (CAEDC) are located in the same building on West Cedar Street, and the agencies have similar goals. C.I.C. works for the economic growth of the city of Cherokee, while the CAEDC, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2009, works for the economic growth of all of the county's cities, including Cherokee.
The county once again had several new businesses open or expand in 2009. Eleven new businesses opened in the county in 2009, among them Foundation Analytical Labs, Main Street Pharmacy and S & W Auto Repair in Cherokee ; Hometown Guesthouse, Hog Slats and Topline in Marcus; and 3 Pete's in Aurelia.
Remodeling or expansion projects in the county included the $5 million Tyson Deli expansion and product shift from the Ponca City, Okla. site, which brought several new residents to the area; the $17 million Hy-Vee Distribution Center warehouse expansion; the Cherokee Regional Medical Center's $6 million expansion; the expansion of Heartland Care Center in Marcus; the opening of a new fertilizer facility at First Coop Association in Aurelia; and the expansion of the American Natural Soy facility. In addition, CML laid fiber optic to the residential homes in Larrabee, as that community joined Cleghorn in the fiber-to-home upgrades.
Pictured here are CAEDC Executive Director Mark Buschkamp,Executive Assistant Marci Brown,and Administrative Assistant Penny Pingrey ...
CAEDC Executive Assistant Marci Brown, who works with Administrative Assistant Penny Pingrey and Executive Director Mark Buschkamp in the CAEDC office, said that one of her main projects in 2009 was putting together a colorful tri-fold postcard and sending it to 4.500 alumni of Cherokee County high schools in August...
A survey was part of the CAEDC postcard, but a secondary purpose was to just remind alumni of their roots, and show a little of what's been going on around here.
CAEDC was also able to upgrade their office software and hardware this year, including a subscription to the Project Tracker program, in conjunction with the Northwest Iowa Developers. Project Tracker is software that allows CAEDC to gather and track information related to business growth and restoration opportunities. It allows CAEDC staff to make notes, create contact lists, store documents and e-mails, and update on economic development in a timely fashion.
Another highlight of the year for CAEDC and CIC staff is the Annual Recognition Banquet. This year's banquet will be held at the Western Iowa Tech Community College Conference Center on Saturday, March 13. A social hour from 5:30 - 6:30 p.m. will feature music by Charlie Leissler and a slideshow that features the growth and development of Cherokee County for the year 2009.
A buffet, featuring roast beef, herb-roasted pork, oven-roasted potatoes, green beans almandine, lettuce salad, a variety of breads, coffee, tea, bottled water courtesy of Blaine's Culligan, and an assortment of delicious fresh-baked pies, all catered by Hy-Vee Food Store, will follow the social hour, starting at 6:30 p.m.
The presentation of awards will begin after dinner. CAEDC will begin the award process by recognizing area businesses which have remodeled, expanded or started new business, and new managers and new business owners are also recognized at that time.
After these certificates have been distributed, the Award Ceremony begins. This year, presentations will be made by the Cherokee Area Economic Development Corporation, Cherokee Industrial Corporation, Cherokee Chamber of Commerce, Business and Professional Women, Aurelia Economic Development , Marcus for Progress, Cherokee County Farm Bureau, and the cities of Cleghorn, Cherokee, Quimby and Washta
Following the awards, motivational speaker Pat McGill will entertain and inspire the audience.
The cost for admission to the Recognition Banquet is $25.
In 2005, Tyson Deli in Cherokee had started its smokehouse expansion project on the east side of the plant. The project accommodated six new Alkar Smokehouses and Chillers that were up and running in 2007. Last year, the company finished phase two of that expansion project with the addition of four new slicing lines and a spiral ham line.
The new lines were in operation by July and with the result of those new lines Tyson added an estimated 225 jobs last year.
The new slicing lines are housed in an area of the plant that was previously home to the Pressed Ham Departments. Pre-formed Hams were made, cooked, taken out of molds, re-cooked and packaged in this area of the plant.
According to Plant Manager Jerry Menke, this section was remodeled with a $5 million dollar upgrade. The new slicing lines are able to slice and package various types of deli-meats.
Currently, Tyson has the west side of the plant devoted to slicing products and specialty meats, and a bulk hot dog line.
"We are very fortunate that we're in an environment that the company wants to invest in Cherokee's future," Menke added. "I'm glad we're growing and the plant is full and is utilized. We forget that we are growing when so many other are closing," said Menke
Menke also estimates that in the near future the company will still be hiring 75 to 100 more people due to retirements, turnover and increases in business.
This new remodeling is not the first out at the Tyson plant. A major remodel was completed in 1986, the Pork Cure Department added cooked hams facilities and also added two more smokehouses.
The Sausage Department was remodeled to update the machinery and installed in the smokehouse.
In 1988, the plant underwent extensive remodeling as it phased out the retail portion of the business and expanded the Food Service and Deli portion.
In 1989, work began to renovate the existing Hog Kill and Hog Cooler space to install the Deli Sausage and Sausage Specialty operations. More remodeling was completed to the Canadian Bacon area that added a continuous smokehouse in December of 1995.
In 2000, there were many changes to the plant. A new Central Grind area was added which is home to Tenderizing and Beef. The Sausage Specialty Department has been remodeled to make room for additional lines.
The largest area houses Sausage South with an Alkar J-hook Smokehouse. This addition also included new locker rooms and a cafeteria on the second floor level.
A new maintenance shop and Quality Assurance labs were built on the first floor of this addition. Health Services, Employment and a Safety Training Room are also located in this area.
As for the future, Tyson is working on a new Turkey Bacon project and plant officials estimate that it would bring in about three million pounds per year of product.
Plus, the plant has an all-natural ham product that Tyson has been working on for the last five years and getting that perfected - both signs of things to come out of Tyson in 2010.
In this photo,you get a rare glimpse of the new slicing lines at Tyson.
American Natural Soy continues to grow -
American Natural Soy is a seed processor that produces organic foods. The company has perfected an extraction procedure to separate the oil in soybeans. What makes this unique is the fact that American Natural Soy does it without chemicals.
American Natural Soy uses a process that involves heat and pressure to produce soy lecithin. With no chemicals, the oil meets requirements for organic certification.
Because of that technology the company was contacted last year by a California based firm that asked if American Natural Soy would research and develop a way to extract oil from biomass, pacifically algae. According to Company owner Mark Schuett the usage from this form of biomass could be used to make anything from jet fuel to diesel fuel. Schuett also claims that from the time the algae goes from the immaculate tank until harvest is a ten-day period. Schuett also was proud that the technology is a renewable source and could eventually but utilized or produced in any state.
Schuett also said that the first batch of this new biomass oil would be next week.
At this time last year the company was planning on developing a Canola crush section to its facility to make Canola Oil.
The summer saw the completion of that project with the construction of a three-story cooker and a new tower with a removable roof at the facility. But plans for the Canola crush were placed on hold when the company ventured into this two-year research project.
The company has been a part of the Cherokee community since 2000. At that time, Schuett was a farmer who went into organic seed processing. Schuett was hoping that a local plant would encourage smaller family farms in the area to go into organic farming. The increase of competition from large-scale farming operations continued to grow and Schuett thought that a local plant might offset this trend.
At that time the building that currently houses the business was remodeled and in 2001 the company began with its first crush. Since that time, the company has seen steady growth and has the potential to reach out of the Midwest to reach an even bigger market.
In 2007, the company was contacted by Est'Ee Lauder Company to be a supplier for the Origins Organics line of beauty products. After a couple of years looking, a researcher at Origins found American Natural Soy on the Internet. After it was determined that the soy lecithin was extracted without chemicals, American Natural Soy started to turn out four drums of soy lecithin ready to ship to an Origins production plant. In November of 2007, the Origins Organics hit store shelves in the U.S., and was launched in Europe and Asia soon after.
In 2008, the company started a major expansion to produce its soy lecithin line. New grain bins were built to hold the seed and the company finished its refinery last spring. Construction of a conveyer system and pit construction was halted for the winter but will soon be completed.
Soy is not the only seed that American Natural Soy deals with. The company buys corn and flax seeds, and both are also processed into oil. There is a lot of demand right now for flax seed oil. Flax seeds contain high levels of lignans and Omega-3 fatty acids.
Lignans may benefit the heart, possess anti-cancer properties, and studies performed on mice found reduced growth in specific types of tumors. Initial studies suggest that flax seed taken in the diet may benefit individuals with certain types of breast and prostate cancers. Flax may also lessen the severity of diabetes by stabilizing blood-sugar levels.
Working with the Cherokee Area Economic Development and the Canadian National Railroad, American Natural Soy was able to have the railroad lines coming to the plant refurbished, greatly increasing the capacity to import and export their products.
Schuett credits most of American Natural Soy success to the company employees. Over the past four years, the company has grown from eight people to 23. Employees work three 12 hours shifts, which Schuett claims works out for every one.
"Many of our employees are farmers, they come in and put in their hours and then have the rest of the week to do what ever they want. It works real well for us," said Schuett.
The company still plans to keep taking more delivery of corn and to be a major delivering point for rice, wheat and alfalfa later on down the road. The company buys seed from every state that borders Iowa, plus some seed from as far away
Cherokee School District faces a challenging year
Cherokee Superintendent of Schools Dr.John Chalstrom (pictured) characterizes the 2009-2010 school year as a "challenging" one, citing the winter weather, budget and administrative details as the primary areas of challenge.
The Iowa State Department of Education has mandated that all school districts have a "Core Curriculum" for their students in place over the next few years. This curriculum will include teaching not only the subjects that the DE has deemed essential for students in the 21st Century, but also how the students can implement this knowledge into their daily lives. Members of the Cherokee District's Core Curriculum Committee have received extensive training in Core Curriculum planning, and they are currently in the process of training the rest of the teachers. The Cherokee School District will partially implement the Core Curriculum over the coming summer, said Chalstrom, and it will take full effect in the fall of the 2010-11 school year. Over the next three years, the Core Curriculum, a state initiative, will be implemented in all grades, pre-K-12.
Chalstrom said that while he was disappointed that the Aurelia District chose to share with another district rather than Cherokee, he also feels that their decision should clear up any future decisions the Cherokee District may make.
On the economic front, the state-mandated 10% across-the-board budget cuts will result in a $492,000 loss to the Cherokee District, the school enrollment has decreased by 28 (now 972 for PK-12), and the "allowable growth" funds from the state are no longer available, Chalstrom feels that Cherokee has a sufficient cash reserve , and that the District's finances are "very healthy," adding that it "certainly could be worse."
Chalstrom said that he feels the Cherokee School Board has acted very prudently through the years, and this is one of the factors that has put the CSD in a relatively good position in these rough financial times.
One building project of note is the replacement of the lights on the football filed, which will be done this summer...
Elementary Principal Barb Radke (pictured)has had to miss a significant part of the school year due to medical problems, and Chalstrom has had to add the day-to-day overseeing of the ECLC and elementary school program to his recent duties. However, he said, the wonderful program which is in place has permitted him to spend less time in that area than he might have had to otherwise.
The free, voluntary 4-year-old program - now in its third year - continues to thrive, as do the after school, accelerated reading and math programs and the program with the Cherokee Rotary Club to provide economically challenged students with healthy food on the weekends. Chalstrom said there are "no new initiatives" in the elementary school, but said that they have hired a new Physical Education teacher this year, and that there are also two new instructors in the Early Childhood Learning Center...
... High School Principal Larry Hunecke also had hip replacement surgery earlier, so Chalstrom filled in for him for a bit as well.
Chalstrom said that Curriculum Director Beth Ebert continues to do a good job of coordinating the curriculum, while also teaching Spanish part-time...
... The Middle School, under Principal Larry Weede (pictured), also has some teachers this year, including one instructor who moved from Special Education into the mainstream classroom.
As for the weather, Dr. Chalstrom says it, too, has been a challenge. The seven days (as of this writing) which students have missed so far, as well as the five late start days and one early dismissal, present a real educational challenge for the students and staff alike, disrupting the normal routine. He hopes that it does not have any lasting significant effect on the students' education.
Marketing Cherokee remains a goal of Chamber director -
Julie Hering-Kent (pictured) put in her first full year as the Executive Director of the Cherokee Chamber of Commerce in 2009. She feels that the year went pretty smoothly, and she met a personal goal of meeting and getting to know all the Chamber members. She has an organizational goal of increasing Chamber membership. There are approximately 200 members now, but Hering-Kent said there is a potential membership of close to 400 members, so there is plenty of work to be done in that area.
One of Hering-Kent's goals from the beginning has been to do her best to make sure that the city of Cherokee does not remain "one of the best kept secrets around," as she has heard it described by others. Hering-Kent actively pursued "marketing" the city and its many attractions in 2009, and definitely intends to keep marketing as one of the main of her job.
She plans to promote not only such special events as the Jazz and Blues Festival, the Cherokee Rodeo, and the County Fair, but also local businesses, the Cherokee Symphony, Community Theatre, the Depot Renovation, local schools, churches, and other organizations, as well as the community itself, in an effort to encourage people to visit Cherokee, and perhaps even choose to relocate here.
In 2009, the Chamber received a grant through Western Iowa Tourism Region to do a new brochure for the Cherokee County Rodeo, and they also received a grant to do an advertising insert which will come out in April or May. Cherokee was not in last year's ad.
Hering-Kent said that the Chamber is also trying to partner with the U.S. Central Bureau to make sure that all to the city's residents are counted in the census this spring. Cherokee's census in 2000 was 5.369, and Hering - Kent said that a dip below 5,000 population could be costly to the city's use of grants and the city's infrastructure, so it is imperative that all residents be counted in the 2010 census.
Board of Supervisors promotes Cherokee County -
Current members of the Cherokee County Board of Supervisors include: (left to right in photo) Larry Prunty, Mark Leeds, Chairman Jeff Simonsen, Dean Schmidt(second from right)and Terry Graybill (far right) (Cherokee County Auditor Kris Glienke is also in this photo)
Recently, the Board members talked about some of the recent progress in Cherokee County.
The last two years have shown to be a good years for Cherokee County, with several county businesses announcing expansion projects. Aurelia, Washta, Cleghorn, Cherokee and Marcus have all seen projects come to fruition.
When the Board was asked what they see as a highlight of these businesses that best shows the spirit of the county, Board members were in agreement in saying that they believed it was the Expansion projects at Tyson, Hy-Vee Distribution Center, RJ Thomas and American Natural Soy, as well as the up-and- running garbage pellet plant at the Cherokee Landfill.
Another project that the Board is particularly fond of are the three new cabins at Martin's Access. "People ask themself, what's there to do? Martin's Access can provide that. It's got camping, horse trails and is a great place for a vacation destination point," said Terry Graybill.
The Board expressed a belief in having places for people to come to see what exactly Cherokee County has to offer and the parks are great tools when attracting new people to the area.
Other county project that recently re-launched is the county website. The site is a very effective interactive tool for the citizens of Cherokee County. Including maps, bulletins, election information, history, cemeteries, county census, churches, schools, department directory, county events, government links and emergency resources just to name a few. To see the website check out www.cherokeecountyiowa.com
With tough economic times happening, the conversation with the Board turned to how the county is currently setting financially. Recently the State of Iowa has announced a 10 percent budget cuts so the Board was asked how that would affect Cherokee County. Currently, the Board has been working on the 2010/2011 budget year and is currently waiting on what the state is doing with its budget, which could effect the county's budget and the Board may have to adjust its budget accordingly. "We just don't know and we're being extra cautious until the legislature adjourns," said Jeff Simonsen.
"We been trying to keep the stats quo when it comes to the budget," said Simonsen. Each county department has been asked to keep their budget the same as last year and most have kept to that request. "All the county department heads are doing a great on their budgets, we're doing good, their are a lot of counties out there a lot worse off then us," said Graybill.
As for plans for 2010, the Board is excited about this year's Cherokee County Fair. The Fair this year will have higher entertainment, bigger carnival, stunt drives, with all entertainment friendly to kids.
The Board is also looking forward to the thought of RAGBRAI possibly coming through two Cherokee County
communities (Quimby, Washta) this summer. As for major development projects, the Board stated that there would be major road work on C-38 in addition to keeping up with bridge repair and maintenance.
The City of Cherokee has made great strides in the past year updating and improving one of its vital facilities, resurfacing one of its most heavily-used roadways, and giving the Cherokee Fire & Rescue the green light fo two new equipment vehicles.
The recently completed Cherokee Municipal Wastewater Ultraviolet Project is a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) mandate that consisted of installing ultraviolet lighting systems that sterilizes bacteria and renders it harmless before the effluent is discharged into the Little Sioux River.
That project targeting the municipal wastewater treatment plant carried an engineer's estimate of $198,370, and was paid for by the City.
The second phase of the project included the Industrial Wastewater Treatment Plant that falls under the auspices of Tyson Foods. That $178,248 project as estimated by engineers, was funded by Tyson Foods.
Complying with the DNR timelines, the plans were submitted to DNR in early January 2009, bids were advertised Feb. 1, 2009, opened Feb. 19, 2009, and awarded Feb. 24, 2009 by City Council action.
The original bids came in over engineer estimates to total $443,000. Fox Engineering was then advised by the Council to negotiate with low bidder Grundman-Hicks Construction Company of Cherokee to pare that total down and, ultimately, $32,294 was cut from the original bid that then totaled $410,706.
After the Council approved the change order, the City's revised share totaled $222,088, and the industrial portion, to be paid for by Tyson Foods, Inc., totaled $188,618. The City had monies put aside to cover its portion of the project.
In the resurfacing project, the Council awarded the low bid for resurfacing the River Road in the City limits to Blacktop Service Company in the amount of $233,270. The federal stimulus grant received for the project paid for $180,000, or 77-percent of the project, with the $53,270 balance raised by local funding from local option sales tax revenues designated for street repair.
Also in 2009, the Council approved the Cherokee Fire & Rescue proposal to apply for a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Firefighters Assistance Grant in the amount of $367,463 to pay for 95-percent of a new pumper truck to replace the department's 1967 American LaFrance pumper. The City's 5-percent share totaled $18,373.
Another Cherokee PRCA Rodeo in the works -
Last year's Cherokee PRCA Rodeo brought the biggest crowd the Rodeo Board has ever seen and their goal is to have another record broken this June.
The first weekend, June 3, 4 and 5 , will have cowboys and cowgirls coming from all corners of the Midwest to show off their talents. The events will be the same this year as in the past - steer wrestling, bareback riding, tie down roping, women's barrel racing, team roping, saddle bronc riding and the ever popular bull riding.
Among the cowboys and cowgirls who will return to participate in the Cherokee PRCA Rodeo will be some of the same entertainers. Announcer Andy Seiler will be returning to the microphone again this year after his first appearance in 2009.
Barrel Man "Hippie" Engelkes will be in the ring again this year after his first appearance in 2009. Hippie will be sponsored again this year by Ag Pro.
Lucas Moore, son of Dave Moore, will be making his first appearance as the bullfighter for the 2010 rodeo. Moore is new to the bullfighting arena with his career beginning last year. Moore is an Animal Science major and in the ROTC at Iowa State University.
Kevin Yager, a winning bullfighter of the 2009 WNFR Stock Contractors Sale held in Las Vegas, will also be in the ring. Yager has been a PRCA bullfighter since 2006.
John Payne, better known as the "One Armed Bandit," will be the entertainment during the rodeo. Payne is a nine-time Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association "Specialty Act of the Year" recipient who uses buffaloes and horses during his show.
Last year stands were flooded with families bringing their children to experience the rodeo and all the excitement it holds during the annual 'kids night' on Thursday. The Cherokee Rodeo Association will once again be hosting kids night during the first evening of performances Thursday, June 3, 2010.
Hall of famer Bob Barnes and the coveted Barnes/MJM PRCA Rodeo Stock will be providing the livestock once again for the 44th annual rodeo.
Cherokee Fairgrounds sporting a new look-
Cherokee County Fair attendees will see many changes at the 87th annual fair which will be held from Thursday, July 8th through Sunday, July 11th this year.
One major item is the new chain link fence erected on the west side of the fair grounds running north and south from the main gate. Before the fence was erected, brush and trees had to be trimmed or done away with and the ground had to be landscaped for the fence to be even. Poles had to be erected firmly before the fence itself was attached. All of the work was done by volunteers.
Another wood fence has been erected on the south end of the grounds with material donated by Rusty and Doris Grashoff and their son, Dolan Grashoff. The labor was all volunteers.
Plans call for the commercial building to have some work done to the exterior of the building. The fair board had been consider painting but prefers to go with siding as opposed to painting. They may just re-side it in sections.
Another improvement has come about with donations in memory of loved ones. Two glass show cases have been purchased for the food department. One was given in memory of Phyllis Henke by her husband Cletus, and the other one in memory of Elaine Smith by her family. In the arts department, another glass case was purchased in the memory Marion Brewer by her husband George Brewer.
Much electrical work, ($20,000) has been done in the beef barn with funds raised by the Betterment Committee, along with Brittany Carlson. Other work to go forth in the barn is fencing or stalls at a cost of $3,000. Much money has been donated to this cause.
More projects are planned for this year and 2011 being developed in phases. A new $200,000 multi-purpose livestock building, 80 x 200 feet, will take shape this year. Over half of the money has been raised thus far. The building will be situated north of the arena and run east to west of the present cattle barn. Phase two will be cement and painting the interior. Phase three will be constructing wash-out stalls and chutes, plus a meeting room, kitchen and restrooms.
Also for this year, the board is pricing new bleacher seats to be placed adjacent to the go-kart track rather than move bleachers back and forth.
The board is pleased to have the Thomas D.Thomas (formerly Blue's) carnival back for the 2010 fair. This will be the third year here for them and they will have a couple more large rides and an increased number of rides.
Highlights for this years fair: Thursday, July 8th is T & C Rodeo Bull Riding and Barrel Racing with fireworks to follow; Friday, July 9th is Tommy Petersen Hell Drivers stunt show; Saturday, July 10th is the demo derby, auction of the chain saw carvings, Kid's Day on the Midway and Ladies Day with Darcy Maulsby with No stove required; on Sunday, July 11th is a tractor ride in the morning, Bill Reilly Talent show, Deal or No Deal, and Crowning of the Fair Queen.
The fair board wants everyone to know they appreciate all of the donations and labor given freely.
Go-Kart races will take place on the fairgrounds on saturday evenings beginning on May 22, June 12th, Regional races on June 19th, July 3rd, July 10th, July 24th, Aug. 28th. Mark your calendars!
Cherokee Depot group dedicated volunteers -
The Depot Renovation, Inc. of Cherokee is an energetic group of volunteers who are dedicated to preserving the historical aspects of the railroad. For the last several months the group has been acquiring (9) display cases and getting them all shiny to display their many acquisitions. These cases will have lights with the wiring being done by Tim LaFave in the museum room. Now the group is going through these acquisitions one by one, cleaning some up and getting each of them labeled. This is quite a task.
Steve Schroeder took the helm of this project with several members pitching in on the cases and antiques (now many railroad lanterns). On the committee are several individuals which includes: Ron Peterson, Wayne Nafe, Bob Goodwin, John Snapp, Jeff Walker, Roger Sleezer, Ron Peterson, and Jim Adamson. The east room will be filled with cases displaying much to do with railroading just like the center room.
The depot group was fortunate to find out from the State Historical Society of Iowa that they could acquire some help from a University of Northern Iowa student who is interested in history. The student would spend 15 hours working for the Cherokee Depot group. The group would like to see each artifact in the museum labeled and photographed. What is not on display will be stored in an organized manner. Jeff Walker is taking photos with a digital camera and has a scanner for their use until the group is ready to purchase their own.
Walker is also developing a web site for the group. It isn't complete yet but one can see what has been done by going to: www.cherokeedepot.org
More fortunately, the student is Brooke Garrison of Alta and the group appreciates her work. Right now, Garrison types in a name tag for each stating the name and year of the lantern and who has donated it. The card is laminated making it durable. As soon as the group completes one area, they move onto another. Ron Peterson is going through old railroad books and pamphlets which really paid off. One day Peterson came across two $50 bills. That was a boost for the depot group.
They always have railroad cars and track to go through and sort. For the last several years, Peterson is the guy in charge of the "Little Sioux Valley Model Railroad" room (the west room) where kids love to visit. The group named the room after the late Walter Simonsen of Sioux Rapids who had his own railroad in the basement of his home. Peterson is talented making items of interest for the display. There is much to see in that room!
A couple of members learned that another gentlemen from Primghar, William Kammerer, needed to find a permanent home for his railroad collection. The group was able to acquire his large collection not too long ago. Going over it is taking some time but they are thrilled to have it. It certainly is a way for someone to know that the collection will please many kids of all ages. Many other folks have donated to the Cherokee Central Railroad Depot and all has been appreciated.
Right now the Renovation group needs to raise more money to reshingle the building. Cost of shingling will range from $14,000-$15,000. They have much of it raised but still need $2,500. They will truly appreciate any donations to the cause.
They also would like people who enjoy seeing model trains run, to come and join the group. They need more hands and they certainly have a lot of camaraderie in the group. The group has four renters in the upper level of the building which helps with their budget but there are numerous ways to put forth funds they receive. Work night is every Wednesday beginning at 7 p.m.
Ron Peterson (photo)loves working on model railroads with all the trimmings. Note the depot building in front, a prize-winning replica of our own Cherokee Depot which Peterson constructed himself.
Cherokee Airport lands in twenty-first century
The Cherokee Airport Authority in 2009 saw the completion of a project that has been years in the development.
Two new approaches for landing at the airport were approved and published by the Federal Aviation Administration. Pilots can now use their onboard W.A.A.S. (Wide Area Augmentation System) to communicate their approach from six miles away from the runway. The two new approaches communicate to the pilot what zone the plane is in and tell the pilot when to start the plane's descent angles.
For example the Y approach brings a plane down in steps. A plane that is flying at 3000 feet hits the first zone at six miles out. When the plane reaches 3.1 miles from the airport it can now begin it's descent gradually, dropping to 2000 feet by the time the plane crosses into the next zone. The plane makes a gradual descent until it lands.
The Z approach also communicates with the plane but has less of a gradual descent. When the plan is at 3000 feet and is entering the first zone at six miles out it can begin landing at a steeper 45-degree angle when it reaches 5.4 miles out from the airport.
The two new approaches will now replace the old non-directional beacon that has been at the airport. The old system was basically an A.M. broadcast to tell pilots were the airport was. It consisted of two poles with a wire strung between them that cost the airport $15,000 a year to maintain. The new approaches have no expenses to maintain and have improved the safety of a plane's approach.
In 2008 the Cherokee Airport Authority began a project that has seen many changes for the north end of the airport.
A few years ago the FAA administration mandated new regulations for takeoff and landing.
The Cherokee Airport had to incorporate 200 feet for threshold displacement on the north end of the runway. The Airport Authority purchased land and razed the old county sheds that sat there. The demolition of the buildings took place back in November of 2008.
Work was completed last year by burying power lines that are at the north end. After the completion of the power lines there was the removal or topping off some 100 trees that were in that area. "We were blown away by all the cooperation," said Kent Wenck, the Airport Authority Chairman.
The City of Cherokee, Cherokee County, Mid-American Energy, and the Federal Government all gave a hand in helping the Airport Authority complete that project.
Funding for that project was made possible by federal money, which covered 95 percent of the cost.
Last year the Airport also installed new fuel cabinets with monies from the Iowa State Aviation that paid 80 percent of the new cabinets.
This is just the latest project the Cherokee Airport that been opened since 1946 has seen. Boasting an over 4000-foot runway that serves a variety of both jet and prop aircraft, the airport is really taking off.
In 2005, the airport installed a rotating beacon. "It's a landmark for the community. You can see it 20 miles out," commented Kent Wenck (right), the Airport Authority Chairman.
In 2004, an All-Weather Observation Service was added. This valuable service helps pilots who wish to fly in or out of the airport find out what the weather conditions are in Cherokee at any time of the day, including visibility and wind speed reports. Anybody can use this service by calling 225-1088. "The weather service is up and running and working well," said Wenck
On average, the airport has 10 operations per day. According to Brian Lauck, Airport Manager(left), the airport sees more traffic in the summer months than that of the winter months. Some of the companies that use the Cherokee airport are Hy-Vee and Tyson, along with many other businesses, plus many private planes. The airport can host any businesses that are interested in being a part of Cherokee.
Some of the services that the airport offers are aircraft rentals, chartered planes, hangar storage, and courtesy car for visitors. The airport also has a fueling station with both Jet A fuel and AV Gas that are available 24 hours and seven days a week.
Lauck is also a flight instructor and offers his services of his flight school to help others to learn to fly. The average time to obtain a private pilot certificate is about 55 hours. With the minimum cost of $4,000, it's not a bad deal at all. Last year Lauck has approximately four students who are preparing for the final exams for their private pilot license. Out of those four, three have finished their hours. If you would like more information call Lauck Aviation at 225-2810 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit his web page at www.lauckaviation.com
For 60 plus years the airport has also been home to the Cherokee Flying Club, which is one of the oldest in the state. The Cherokee Flying Club meets on the first Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. Also the Cherokee Aviation Authority meets on the second Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m.
Every May, the club also hosts the annual Flight Breakfast. This year, the event will be held on May 16 at the airport. Kids from the age of eight to 17 will be able to ride for free. Funds raised by the popular Flight Breakfast are used for scholarships for local students who are interested in learning to fly. Last year Lauck had four students from Cherokee County who spent time in the air learning to take off, navigate and to land the plane, all made possible by the Flight Club and time donated by Lauck plus the fund each student came up with.
During the week prior to the Flight Breakfast, the airport welcomes the first grade class from Roosevelt Elementary School for a field trip. Interested parties are welcomed to contacted Lauck.
According to both Wenck and Lauck, the main goal of the airport is to get people flying.
CCT heads into its 51st Year in 2010 -
The Cherokee Community Theatre had a very memorable year in 2009. First of all, the troupe presented three plays - "The Gin Game," "The Odd Couple" (featuring Rick Angell (seated) and Mark Pullen), and "Beauty and the Beast," plus a 1960s musical, "The Bee Hive."...
In addition, they presented a special 50th Anniversary Gala in April, with an evening of food and fellowship celebrating the highlights of the Cherokee Community Theater's 50-year history of quality local theater productions.
The evening included a catered meal, followed by a jaunt down memory lane, with CCT members reminiscing about memorable plays from past seasons.
... In addition, they presented a special 50th Anniversary Gala in April, with an evening of food and fellowship celebrating the highlights of the Cherokee Community Theater's 50-year history of quality local theater productions.
The evening included a catered meal, followed by a jaunt down memory lane, with CCT members reminiscing about memorable plays from past seasons.
This season promises to be just as entertaining, starting with the first play of the season, "Enter Laughing," which will be performed on March 12- 14 and March 19 - March 21.
"Enter Laughing," written by Joseph Stein and based on the book by TV comedy icon Carl Reiner, tells the story of David Kolowitz, a nice young man living with his parents in New York City in 1938. David works at a machine repair shop, and his parents want him to study to become a pharmacist. But what he really wants is to be an actor like his idol, Ronald Colman.
One day, at his friend Marvin's suggestion, David tries out for a part in a play, and gets it, despite his obvious lack of acting experience (not to mention ability). True, it's a rather small part in a low-rent production. Leading the troupe is a washed-up, alcoholic actor who hires David at the urging of his actress-daughter, who finds David "cute." To play his part, David must come up with his own costume - a tuxedo - and pay the house five dollars a week, ostensibly for tuition. But it is David's first acting job, one which calls for him to "enter laughing." And if it doesn't work out - well, there's always pharmacy school.
The play will be the first directorial effort of James Puffet, and cast members include Joe Vanatta, Janet Brown, Marci Brown, Andy Linn, Gene Galvin.
Tickets will be available when announced by phone at 225-5440, and this year, tickets can be picked up at Main Street Pharmacy in Cherokee. More details will follow soon.
The plan for the CCT's summer musical is to present "Annie." that was also the plan last year, but problems developed. This year, though, the CCT has secured the rights and it appears to be a "go."
CCT Board members include Wayne Morris, Jackie Courtright, Penny Pingrey, Gene Galvin, Tony Puffett, Noelle Puffett, Andrew Linn, Dave Zelle, Sherry Held, Jomi Anderson, Ryan Brown (shown here as the Beast in the CCT's 2009 production of "Beauty and the Beast"), Mollie Laughlin and Rick Angell.
Busy planners at the Cherokee Sanford Museum
It takes much time and thought to keep the Sanford Museum in Cherokee on the edge of new information and displays for the public to enjoy while learning about their environment. The year 2010 will be no exception.
Linda Burkhart, director of the museum, announced the purchase of a gradiometer which will be used at archaeology sites to learn about the soil composition without any digging. The gradiometer uses magnetic fields to access information. Jason Titcomb, the curator of archaeology for the museum for the last four years, will be the main guy using this $25,000 instrument. Some of the money for this came from individual donations as well as from membership money. The museum has saved money for this purpose.
Kerisa Pingle, the museum's education director, and her assistant, Michele Deiber-Kumm, are busy planning a hands-on, interaction exhibit for children of all ages to learn about the earth. With their combined experience at the museum of 30 years, they used much creativity to make the museum's exhibits as interesting as can be while they teach at the same time. This exhibit will open in late March for the spring exhibit. Long before an exhibit is up and running, the staff is busy developing it through thought and much planning. By the time it is up, they begin work on the next one.
Each year Sanford has unique programs scheduled for each month of the year. Until Feb. 12th, the museum had a gallery of photographs featuring the beauty of northwest Iowa. The winners were announced on Jan. 23rd.
On Saturday, Feb. 13th at 7:30 p.m., the museum had a program featuring Adam Timmerman talking about his playing in the NFL. The Cherokee native shared his experiences as an NFL player and life as a NFL professional football player. Timmerman gave insight on the day-to-day life as a player, his relationship to other players and the hard work it takes to play at that level.
On Saturday, March 13th, the master storytellers, Clayton and Linda Layman, along with Alan Baughman, will share their rich Iowa Heritage through stories dealing with several generations of their families who lived in Iowa. The stories are from true life experiences and their family history. Their tales will take you to tears and laughter. It starts at 7:30 p.m.
On Saturday, April 24th, again at 7:30 p.m., Barbara Lounsberry who was raised in Iowa and is a professor at the University of Northern Iowa, believes Iowa culture is as rich as it soil, With a good deal of humor, she will present (with slides) a story of Iowa"s roots of Midwestern reserve along with contemporary illustrations.
As one Midwesterner deadpanned on return from the East, "We think we are being polite; they think we are slow-witted." It will be an interesting program presented with humor.
In July, a travel exhibit featuring photos of the late Margaret Midland who died of cancer will be on display. These pictures were taken by her from the onset of her cancer and at the beginning of her treatments until she was in remission. For many who have fought the battle or not, these photos are of great interest.
On Aug. 2, Sanford will host Chuck Schoenknecht. The exhibitors, Chuck and Ward (Sanford's favorite appraisers) will share over 50 of their post card collection.Chuck will give a presentation about them at the opening. As many will agree, it is always fun with these two. It too, will begin at 7:30 p.m.
If you are a star watcher, Sanford will host a perseid meteor shower party at Cherokee Little League fields. Bring your lounge chairs, telescopes, binoculars. bug spray. blankets and be ready to party. This starts at 9 p.m. Thursday night on Aug. 12th.
Sarah Uthoff, a Midwestern girl, will bring Laura Ingalls Wilder to life as she has long been a researcher of Wilder. Uthoff brings Laura to life in a very involved manner through slides she has taken at very sites Wilder has lived at. Mark your calendar for Saturday, Sept. 16 at 7:30 p.m.
On Saturday, Oct. 9th at 7:30 p.m., the program "The Well-built Barn Quilt-All Pleasure - No Guilt" by Margo Sievers. Many quilts have been painted and hung on barns throughout a good portion of Iowa. Sievers will share the history of these barn quilts and how they were made. She will also include her own barn quilts and tell the story of the Underground Railroad quilt blocks as well. She discusses color and will do an activity with the group.
The last program of the year will be held on Nov. 13th beginning at 7:30 p.m. with Layton Zbornick who wrote and recorded Iowa's first Rock & Roll record titled "Janet," being inducted into Iowa's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.This program will recall the days of the 40s, 50s and 60s from a young man's perspective growing up in a small rural town. He experienced the changes brought to society through this music. The program will be highly entertaining---don't miss.
Human Resource Center provides treatment for the troubled -
The Cherokee Mental Health Institute (MHI) and Civil Commitment Unit for Sexual Offenders (CCUSO) continue to provide excellent treatment for their clients and also receive high marks from accrediting agencies, according to MHI Superintendent Dr.Daniel Gillette (photo) and CCUSO Superintendent Dr. Jason Smith. Performance measures from the State Department of Human Services show that the Cherokee MHI facility consistently has the lowest number of hours of patient restraint and seclusion among the four state institutions, and Cherokee recently received a national award for their success at drastically reducing the use of restraint and seclusion at the facility.
Cherokee MHI also has the lowest rate of re-admissions and the lowest median length of stay among the four MHIs in Iowa. Gillette also said that surveyors for CEMAS, an agency which certifies facilities for Medicaid and Medicare coverage, paid an unannounced visit to the MHI on Feb. 2, 2009 and announced that MHI had zero discrepancies in their records - the first instance that Gillette can recall of any hospital achieving a "perfect" mark.
Yet the biggest story out of the MHI in 2009 was the Sept. 15 visit by a State Task Force which was assigned to make a recommendation to the Department of Human Services in regards to the feasibility of closing one or more of the State MHIs. A very large crowd showed up at the MHI to support Cherokee's MHI. Following their visits to Cherokee and the other three MHIs, the Task Force recommended keeping all four institutions open.
A bill has been introduced in the state legislature to close the Mt. Pleasant facility, while another recommendation has been made to close the Clarinda MHI instead. At this time, it appears that Cherokee will remain open, and even perhaps gain some additional patients and/or services. However, nothing has been decided yet. As of this writing, all four institutions remain open...
... MHI Business Manager Tony Morris reported recently that the MHI has been struggling with financial decisions all year in light of Gov. Culver's call for an across-the-board 10% cut in state spending. Not as many employees as anticipated have chosen to participate in the Early Retirement program yet, but he also said that there 20-30 employees who can retire in the next year. Those employees have declared their intentions by April 15 and retire by the end of May. Morris also said there is a bill being discussed in the legislature which would not allow automatic re-hiring to fill vacated positions.
Dr. Jason Smith is the director of the Civil Commitment Unit for Sexual Offenders, (CCUSO) , which has been housed on the south wing of the main building on the Human Resources campus for 11 years. CCUSO houses 79 residents, at a yearly cost to the state of $70,000-$80,000 per resident. The CCUSO residents range in age from 24-77. The CCUSO unit is surrounded by a secure fence.
The criteria for release from the CCUSO program includes the determination that the client is not likely to re-offend, and only one or two residents have been released in the last 10 years.
Dr. Smith recently said that there have been changes in the law regarding the Sex Offender Registry. People can now set it up to be notified if a sex offender moves into their community or neighborhood. The clients in the CCUSO program are all on the Sex Offender Registry and in all likelihood will remain on the registry all of their lives.
(Photo - this aerial view shows the size of the sprawling campus of the Cherokee Mental Health Institute)
RJ Thomas Manufacturing determined to stay strong in 2010 -
With the nation's economic downturn weighing heavy on people's minds, one Cherokee company is maintaining an optimistic view about its future. Things have been good for RJ Thomas Manufacturing for the past several years.
"Right now we're lean, mean, and determined to keep on going," said Co-owner Steve Thomas.
Thomas reported that last year was an OK year and admitted that his company was very lucky that they didn't have to lay anyone off. "In today economy people are worried and laying off people is that last thing we want to do here," stated Thomas. Thomas also said "The new system we put in last year is starting to pay off and is making things more economical."
Last year the company installed a new powder coating line for painting many of their products.
The company produces cooking grills, picnic tables and park benches, which can be found all over the world. The company has many customers, but one of the biggest is the United States government. "We are always expanding our product line," said Thomas.
Thomas said that this year RJ Thomas would continue to produce more decorative products, including park benches, trash receptacles and other site amenities for commercial districts. RJ Thomas manufactures many different commercial outdoor park equipment products, which they market under the trade name "Pilot Rock."
"Things are going good here in Cherokee," said Thomas, "We're branching out, shipping a lot overseas." Thomas also mentioned that they are developing a European market. He described how competition with foreign business is one of the biggest challenges that his company faces for the future. "We're just trying to sell what we have to offer."
"We are truly blessed with an outstanding workforce out here. They are our greatest asset," said Thomas. Thomas hasn't forgotten what has made the company successful. "We're a very community-minded company and it's our employees who are our biggest asset. We have people who have worked here for over 35 years."
With very little turnover in personnel, the employees are the heart of the company. From designing to delivering their product, the company has 60 employees who always make work a group effort. The plant runs from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days a week.
Whatever the challenge, Thomas knows that to be efficient, the company must find out what the customers want and make it for them, so that way the company will remain competitive. The company supplies its products to the National Park Service and the US Forest Service. It even seems that the US Armed Forces has gotten use out of the RJ Thomas products.
Since 1959, the family-run enterprise of RJ Thomas Mfg. has remained in the same location, but has grown to 200,000 square feet.
The company is located two miles south of Cherokee on U.S. Highway 59.
Although RJ Thomas is a commercial company, they don't forget about the little guy. If there is an item you would like, a complete catalog is available from the company. You can stop by or check out their website at www.pilotrock.com
Thomas added that he loves being in Cherokee, is optimistic about the company's future, and is looking forward to the company's continued growth.
Cherokee Public Library is up-to-date facility
In April of 2009. Mary Jo Ruppert, the director of the Cherokee Public Library, celebrated her 25th anniversary at the Library. Ruppert has been the director since 1992.
Though books are still the most popular check-out item at the Cherokee Public Library, there are many other types of media and communication which have entered the scene in recent years. One very popular library service has been the rental of DVDs. Ruppert said the library DVD collection now numbers more than 1,200, and they had 12,000 checkouts last year. It is a wide-ranging DVD library, which includes both recent films and older, hard-to-find movie classics.
DVDs may be checked out for a one week period, and there is no charge for checkouts, if they are returned on time. The library does take reservations for specific DVDs, and makes every effort to acquire DVDs and books from other libraries, if they do not have the requested item on hand.
The Cherokee Public Library also has 16 Internet computers,which Mary Jo said are in use much of the time. In addition, the library has Wi-Fi connections available for patrons with laptop computers.
Ruppert also said that the quantity of large print materials at the library continued to increase this year.
Books-to-audio are also very popular at the Library, both on cassette and compact disc, and Ruppert feels they will eventually be able to downloaded them from the internet.
The Cherokee Public Library also has a very active program for children, and one of the changes in 2009 was the hiring of Peg Wurth to direct that program, following the untimely death of long-time Children's Librarian Mary Borgheiinck-Kranig last February. Ruppert said Wurth is doing a good job setting up programs for the children, and that she encourages parents to come in the library to share in the programs with their children.
One program coming this summer, for both children and adults, will be the Bass- Meister fishing program.
The library now has an automated system which contains a full listing of the library's catalog, in tandem with the library's former system, at the library head desk, and the library's website, www.cherokee.lib.ia.us
. , has been updated with the information from the new system. Judy Grienke-Miller is the library's director of Technical Services, and she maintains the website.
The latest technological advance at the Cherokee Public Library saw the Library joining the social networking community Facebook. The Library's Facebook page is maintained by Ruppert and Miller, and Mary Jo is very excited about it. She said that if one becomes a fan of the Facebook page, they then automatically receive updates about happenings at the library, as well as the ability to chat with the library staff.
The Cherokee Public Library receives most of its funding from the city of Cherokee, along with some annual funding from the county, Library Enrichment, the Friends of the Library, and gifts and memorials.
Library hours are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. - 8 p.m; Tuesday and Friday from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.; and Saturday from 10 a.m. -2 p.m., during the winter months.
Parks and Recreation gears up for summer -
The Cherokee Parks and Recreation Department can see what most of us cannot right now - summer.
Even with mounds of snow on the ground, Dave Ellis, Parks and Recreation director, has planning for the swimming pool, softball and disc golf under way.
"Last summer the pool was closed a lot due to the really mild, cool weather," Ellis said. "We are looking at changing our policy on how warm it has to be to have the pool open when it's cooler."
Ellis is also looking at making the pool water a warmer temp, which Ellis said was a challenge this past summer. Even though the pool does not make a profit for the city it is still a vital entity for the families of Cherokee. With summer 2009 being Ellis' first year as head of the pool he says there is a lot to learn.
"I did learn a lot this past pool season and we had a really good staff. I hope to improve upon it this year," he said.
The pool will begin taking application for employment for summer 2010 in March.
The Cherokee Softball Association will hold its first meeting on February 22, 2010 at 7 p.m. at the Community Center. Summer softball will be available again for adults in the forms of a coed league and a men's and women's league. Disc golf will also be starting up in April. The league started last year and is hoping to capitalize on its success this year. More information will be coming out about disc golf and other leagues on the city website at www.cherokeeiow.net
Snow Boot Classic Disc Golf Tournament will be taking place on Sunday, February 28, at 1:30 p.m. The cost is $10 per person and participants can register in advance on the web or at the Lions Club Shelter on the day of the event. Prizes are awarded for the top finishers at the end of the tournament.
Badmitten is also on the agenda again. The new sporting event was tried out last year and saw success with 15 participants. Badmitten will begin this year on February 18th and take place for six weeks on Thursday nights. The cost is $15 per person and is a singles event.
"It is a fun, low impact sport and is something that anyone can do," Ellis said. "We had lots of different skill levels last season. It's fun because it's competitive but not a diehard competitive game like others."
Last fall Ellis was on leave while at basic training but programs ran smoothly and were successful thanks to Sarah Nolder and Connie Ladwig who maintained them in Ellis' absence. Nolder and Ladwig helped organize and implement youth soccer this past fall and also got volleyball and youth basketball under way.
The youth basketball season took place for five weeks in November and December which also saw some help from the high school coaching staff.
"Boys head coach Bob Lee and girl's assistant coach Heath Hagberg came in and taught the kids some of the fundamentals of basketball," Ellis said. "The coaches brought in some of the high school guys and it was helpful for the youth to have them there."
Volleyball started for adults last October and is just coming into tournament time. Ellis was pleased to have eight women's teams and four coed teams sign up this past year. Women play every Wednesday night and coed takes place on Thursday.
Good Times Place is also taking place weekly at the Community Center. The seniors group holds weekly events such as shuffle board, 500, rock painting and wood carving for the community to participate in. The Good Times Place will be celebrating its one-year anniversary Thursday, February 11 with their monthly potluck.
For more information about any of these programs or if you would like to become part of the emailing list for the Parks & Recreation Department's monthly news letter, please email email@example.com
Hy-Vee's Cherokee Distribution Center expands
Hy-Vee located its Northern Division Distribution Center in Cherokee 40 years ago, and the facility has undergone three expansions since that time, due to their ever-increasing responsibilities and production.
The Cherokee Distribution Center employs 350 people, and is responsible for delivering more than 400 million pounds a year of groceries and general merchandise each week to Hy-Vee stores throughout the upper Midwest...
...In 2009, the Cherokee Distribution Center underwent its first expansion since 1991 - a $15 million, 230,000 square foot expansion to the warehouse which increased the existing warehouse space by more than one-third. The warehouse holds both dry goods and general merchandise products, providing grocery products to both existing and new Hy-Vee store locations in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota.
In addition to adding more space, Hy-Vee has been able to elevate some former part-time workers to full-time status because of the increased workload...
... The other major news at the Distribution Center in 2009 was the hiring of
Greg McQuistan as the new Assistant Vice President in October. McQuistan, who had worked for Perishable Distributors of Iowa, a subsidiary of Hy-Vee since 1991, took over when Tod Hockenson accepted a promotion and moved to Chariton.
McQuistan, 58, and his wife Jeanne have been married for 38 years, and they have two grown children. Their son Scott and his wife live in Ankeny and their daughter Michelle and her husband and 2-year-old daughter live in Iowa City.
McQuistan said the new expansion was "definitely a positive change," saying that "people were tripping over each other" prior to the expansion, with trucks having to maneuver around each other to get the pick-ups and deliveries achieved.
He said the added space has enabled the Cherokee Distribution Center to increase their efficiency, and he expects that will continue in 2010.
The Gardens - A modern home for retirement
The Gardens, Cherokee's newest Retirement facility, is getting close to two years old come July.
The occupancy is over half with 38 apartments. Thirty of those are double, apartments, which can serve either married couples, or perhaps two siblings, a parent and a sibling, or two friends, The other eight apartments are for singles. The doubles have a living room, kitchen, bedroom and bath, and residents can bring many of their personal furniture and belongings if they choose, to make more "homelike."
The Gardens opened with 11 employees and now has 18, who have become like friends to the residents. The Gardens is also available for short-term (respite stay) stays and a separate room for a resident's overnight visitor is also available, at a cost of just $30.
The Gardens, an assisted living arrangement only, has a nurse on duty during the day. All residents can eat in the main dining hall, or they can make their meals in their room - the choice is theirs to make.
Recently, a salad bar was added at the dining hall at the suggestion of the resident's council . The manager also purchased a popcorn machine for the dining hall, and it has been very popular. The basic fee covers the cot of the resident's apartment, plus meals, cleaning and laundry. Residents can do their own laundry or part of their laundry including ironing - it's up to them. They also have the choice to clean their own space or have it done for them.
A number of residents serve on the Gardens Council once a month, where Administrator Jana Happe learns what they like, or what they want added or improved upon. The Council suggests activities, such as the recent Valentine's Day celebration, where a special meal of prime rib or shrimp suited their fancy. A king and queen were selected and the residents also had a dance. Other activities include the 'Red Hats' group meeting there once a month; church circle meetings; and worship services in their chapel, provided by ministers from Cherokee and Quimby. The home also has a separate room, with a nice view, for exercise equipment
The Gardens has two living rooms for larger numbers of personal guests, plus a separate kitchen for meal preparation and eating as a family. There are many attractive rooms for individual tastes. The main dining room is restaurant- style, and the room has a fire place for that cozy atmosphere. There is also a large screen TV available for residents to share viewing special events on TV.
The home is staffed 24 hours a day, with a nurse available eight hours a day.
WITCC administrators see bright future for Cherokee Campus -
Improved communications with the community and a renewed effort to "sell" the many opportunities afforded by its Cherokee facility are the vital cogs in the wheels of Western Iowa Tech Community College and Conference Center in Cherokee as it rolls into the future.
"The opportunity is here and now to take this campus to a totally different level," said WITCC President Dr. Robert Dunker (left),who is based at WITCC's main campus in Sioux City.
"We continie to establish more and improved communication links throughout the area and are developing a real ear for the Cherokee community.
"We are focusing on marketing our products (various course offerings) and to learn just what it is this community is willing to purchase. It's always a two-way street - we provide the products and the community will tell us what it is that interests them and what they want to pursue."
Executive Vice-President Dr. Terry Murrell, along with Dr. Dunker, oversees WITCC, and he likes what he sees in Cherokee since joining WITCC two years ago as the Vice-President of Instruction and Student Services.
"All the components are in place for WITCC to help students throughout the Midwest better prepare for their future and to help guide them along their chosen career paths," said Murrell." (right)
Dunker said the WITCC Campus and Conference Center in Cherokee was designed and built years ago as an educational opportunity and also as an economic development opportunity.
Darla Struck (center), Director of the Cherokee Campus and Northern Services Area for WITCC, said one of the main focuses of WITCC is to reach out to cultivate improved communication and relationships with the business community. Course work can be tailored to suit a business's needs such as college credit courses, degree offerings, safety training/OSHA compliance, hands-on mechanical instruction, professional development, employee training, and upgrading various skills.
Three new staff members are now on board to help Struck facilitate WITCC's impact in Cherokee. They are secretaries Gigi Boothby, Erica Berding, and Leah Dagel.
"Gigi, Erica, and Leah are wonderful additions to our staff and are totally dedicated to the community and WITCC's mission here," said Struck.
Conference Center Director Nancy Brutsman, and Educational Talent Search Director Dori Claycamp are also integral cogs in the WITCC wheel.
In the past few years, WITCC in Cherokee has re-introduced its popular construction class, added a second ICN Room and a "smart" classroom used for classes, and wireless internet access was installed at the Cherokee Campus.
A renewed emphasis on various community course offerings mirroring the former "Adult Education" programs once so popular and sought after in Cherokee have also become quite popular, according to Struck.
"WITCC is the perfect platform to achieve this at the local level," explained Dunker. "We need to turn businesses on to the opportunities here and turn people on to Cherokee. This is a wonderful community with wonderful, caring people. We know that. It's why we're here. We just need to be all we can be in educating the people on all that we can offer and exciting new products that no one has even thought of yet.
"With Darla being the face of WITCC in this community, I'm confident we are only scratching the surface. She has very much to offer and It's her job to facilitate this focus. I'm confident she will take this campus to a totally different level."
Dunker and Struck also expounded on the value of the spacious WITCC Conference Center, a state-of-the-art facility that includes an 8,000 square foot banquet hall with 20-foot ceilings; banquet seating for 500; accomodations for meetings, banquets and major exhibits and displays; capability to divide into three large rooms for meetings or banquets; full kitchen; round and rectangular tables and padded chairs; complete audiovisual system containing large video projection screen, and a portable stage.
Also, large vehicle entrance; internet access; lecture and audiovisual theater with stadium seating for 176; Iowa Communications Network classrooms (ICN); large sky-lit atrium for reception/registration; event planning consultation; full catering services; handicap accessible; dedicated parking; 20-station computer room; piano and organ available.
"Just the social impact of the Conference Center is awe-inspiring," added Dunker. "The opportunities are great. Then, add all the other facilities the Center has to offer and it truly become a total community center in every sense of the word. We just need to make people learn to utilize it to the fullest."
Cherokee Symphony continues its commitment to excellence -
Entering its 54th continuous season, the renowned Cherokee Symphony is truly a crowning jewel in the Cherokee community, and its proudly designated Cultural and Entertainment District status.
Having a first-rate symphony orchestra is indeed unique and fortunate for a city of Cherokee's size, but the real story here is the type of dedicated and talented people who have worked hard to sustain the Cherokee Symphony, and who devote countless hours and energies keeping the symphony vibrant and growing by encouraging talented, young musicians eager to join the orchestra.
The Cherokee Symphony was co-founded in 1956 by Merle Robinson of Cherokee, and Della Beth Thomson of Cleghorn when "Orchestra" was first offered by the community's Adult Education Program.
The symphony now provides the community with the highest quality musical entertainment, while giving musicians in the tri-state area a semi-professional outlet for their musical talents. The 60-member Cherokee Symphony Orchestra has often been referred to as "The best kept secret in Northwest Iowa."
Skilled Maestro Lee Thorson, a former farmer from Rolfe, and now a musical instructor and noted cellist from Storm Lake, has been conductor since 1981. A long-time member of the Sioux City Symphony, Thorson currently is an adjunct faculty member at both Buena Vista University in Storm Lake and Northwestern College in Orange City. Additionally, Thorson is artistic director of the Vista Chamber Players, a string quartet which performs throughout Northwest Iowa...
The Cherokee Symphony Association has a Board of Directors that supports the Symphony, especially in providing funds through program advertising, association memberships, and ticket sales that all assure future programming.
Because of the dedication and giving of the association members and regular Cherokee Symphony Concert goers, all children, age high school and younger, are admitted free of charge to all of the concerts performed by the Cherokee Symphony each season...