Expansion throughout Cherokee County belies 'down' economy -
Everywhere one goes over the last year or two, it seems one keeps hearing about the "recession," "layoffs," and "down" economy.
While that may certainly be true elsewhere around the country and also around here to some degree, several businesses in Cherokee County have either expanded their businesses, are in the process of expansion, or have announced expansion plans.
For example, according to Cherokee Area Economic Development Director Mark Buschkamp (photo), Tyson's Cherokee plant employed a near-record 780 employees in 2010; the Cherokee Hy-Vee Distribution Center boasted a record 364 employees; Thomas Manufacturing did an expansion of their plant; the Pioneer Seed plant, located at the corner of Highway 3 and 7, has undertaken an expansion in the last three months as they ramp up for an increase in production and a possible doubling in the number of their employees; Sand Seed in Marcus has also increased the number of their employees, due in part to establishing a partnership with Pioneer.
Buschkamp also said that Marcus Lumber had a good year, despite the down economy, as they assisted customers on home remodeling projects.
First Co-Op has purchased the former Holton Signs building along the by-pass and are remodeling the building for their new corporate headquarters. Buschkamp was very glad that this organization, which has grain elevators at several locations, chose Cherokee for their new headquarters.
First Co-Op also expanded their grain storage in Larrabee recently, and they will soon be starting their second expansion at the Aurelia facility.
Although Cherokee County did not see any new industry come to town last year, there have been several new small businesses open. He said that overall retail sales have held steady in Cherokee during the recession period.
Dr. John Barlow recently sold the building that housed his former dental practice to Matthew and Valerie Royster, who will be opening a mental health counseling business at that location when they have completed remodeling.
Another big expansion going on in Cherokee is the expansion of the CCUSO facility. When completed, the unit will occupy the entire south wing of the MHI building and their capacity will have greatly increased. This, in turn, will lead to more employment. The future of the MHI itself is presently uncertain, said Mark Buschkamp. He said that state legislators are currently working on re-writing the state's mental health policy, and until this is finalized, the status of mental health treatment throughout the state is an uncertainty.
Buschkamp said the Cherokee area economy has always been dependent on agriculture, and the good year that that industry experienced has also had a big influence on the bright economic picture in Cherokee County.
He said that he is currently doing a Retail Business analysis, which will point out any viable businesses which are not currently present in Cherokee County, and Buschkamp feels that this will be a great help in "recruiting" new businesses to look at Cherokee County as a site for possible location of their business.
The Cherokee Industrial Corporation is a group of volunteers who are dedicated to improving the business and industry community of the City of Cherokee. Buschkamp said that the C.I.C. recently purchased the old Julius Cleaners building, and they are remodeling it for any current or future business who would like to move to that location.
One of the highlights of the year for CAEDC/C.I.C. is the annual recognition banquet, where both new and established businesses and individuals in Cherokee County are recognized for their accomplishments. This year's banquet will be on Saturday March 12 at the Western Iowa Tech Conference Center in Cherokee. It will be a full evening, with a social hour, meal, entertainment by Kelly Boon and of course the awards, which will be topped off with the announcement of Cherokee's Citizen of the Year...
(Story and Photo by Dan Whitney)
Marketing Cherokee remains a goal of Chamber director -
Julie Hering-Kent has been the Executive Director of the Cherokee Chamber of Commerce since 2009. One of her organizational goals has been 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.
Another one of Hering-Kent's goals from her first day on the job has been to do her best to make sure that the city of Cherokee does not remain "one of the best kept secrets around." She has actively pursued "marketing" the city and its many attractions in 2009 and 2010, and definitely intends to keep marketing as one of the main focuses of her job.
Hering-Kent actively promotes 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.
(Photo) - Pictured is the 2011 Cherokee Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, left to right, Julie Hering Kent, Executive Director, Brian Lauck, Mary Ann Miller, Scott Weber, Molly Schroeder, Justin Pritts, darla Struck, Tim Gaydo, and Lynda Oster. Not pictured are members, Ben Schuberg, Jan Morton, Jane Schmeillen, Mark Donohue, and Dan Lighter.
(Story by Dan Whitney , Photo by Rhonda Fassler)
Board of Supervisors promotes Cherokee County -
The Cherokee County Board of Supervisors is made up of (left to right) Mark Leeds,Chairman Jeff Simonsen, Terry Graybill,Larry Prunty and Dean Schmidt.
Recently, the Board sat down and talked about some of the progress issues that have developed in Cherokee County.
Recent years have shown to be a good years for Cherokee County with several county businesses announcing expansion projects. Aurelia, Washta, Cleghorn, Cherokee and Marcus all have seen projects come to fruition.
When asked what the Board sees as a highlight of these businesses that best shows the spirit of the county, The Board agrees in saying that they believed it was the Expansion project at Hy-Vee Distribution Center, RJ Thomas, American Natural Soy and the up and running garbage pellet plant at the Cherokee Landfill.
Another project that the Board has been particularly fond of are the three new cabins at Martin's Access. "People ask themselves, 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. Graybill also stated that Cherokee County has a lot for recreation including four golf courses, four swimming pools, several county parks and the Little Sioux River for residents and visitors of Cherokee County. These are some of things Cherokee County has to offer. Jeff Simonsen stated that one of the best things Cherokee County has to offer is the quality of life that you get living here. Mark Leeds also reflective that note by saying he thought the best thing about Cherokee County it is family orientated. Larry Prunty felt that the best thing about Cherokee County is the people's willingness to help others in times of need. Dean Schmidt stated he thought that the best thing about Cherokee County is a hometown atmosphere and know your neighbors.
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 the Board is proud of 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. Last year the State of Iowa has announced a 10 percent budget cuts so the Board and thing are looking tougher and it was asked how that would affect Cherokee County. Currently the Board has been working on the 2011/2012 budget year and is currently waiting on what the state is doing with its budget, which could affect 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. "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.
"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. We're kind of at the mercy of two other levels of government (state and federal), so until then, we are going to spend as little as possible and still keep the county running. We're doing our best with what we've got here to keep taxes low."
(Photo) - Members of The Board of Supervisors are pictured at the Cherokee County Courthouse during a recent presentation of copy of the U.S. Constitution ...
(Story and photo by Mike Leckband)
City Police Department opens in new quarters -
The Cherokee City Police proudly opened in spiffy new quarters in November, 2010 in the former Department of Human Services building at 239 W. Maple St.
The move was made after the City and Cherokee County reached agreement in September on relocating the Police Department out of the County Law Enforcement Center to allow for a proposed County Jail and Sheriff's Department expansion and renovation.
The County deeded the former DHS building to the City and the City deeded the dead-end alley just south of the LEC to the County to help accomodate the proposed Jail and Sheriff's Department expansion project.
The County also paid the City $25,000 for necessary renovations of the DHS building to better accomodate the Police Department.
By a long-standing contract, the Police Department was not forced to relocate and the City could have denied the County request and remained housed in the LEC; however, the City ultimately decided the County request had merit and Schuck and his Department determined that relocating had many added benefits over the two departments sharing operations and limited facilities.
Previously, the County had proposed $21,500 for the DHS renovation work, but upped it to $25,000 after the City Council balked at accepting the initial proposal after viewing the cost estimates compiled by Police Chief Steve Schuck and City Administrator Don Eikmeier.
Eikmeier, Schuck, and County Supervisor Terry Graybill and Sheriff Dave Scott handled most of the heavy lifting regarding negotiations involved in the County's proposal to move the Police out of the LEC. In fact, Schuck and Scott met one-on-one to hammer out the final details and arrive at the $25,000 figure, according to Eikmeier.
It was initially hoped the DHS renovations and the Police Department's move could be accomplished by Jan. 1, 2011, but Schuck, his officers and staff at the Police Department, poured in considerable volunteer hours of sweat equity on their off hours to do much of the DHS demolition and renovation, thereby saving the City thousands of dollars and accelerating the transition to its official Dec. 1 opening.
Preliminary estimates for the DHS remodeling gleaned by the City and Schuck totaled $29,800, plus replacing a large portion of the broken and cracked concrete sidewalk in front of the DHS building, estimated at an additional $9,000.
Those numbers were then pared down to $25,000 and the understanding that the concrete sidewalk fronting the DHS and two adjacent properties will be repaired at a later date, with the three property owners sharing in the cost.
Schuck said the City's share would be an estimated $1,400-$1,700, pending additional sweat equity from his staff and City employees. Total cost figures will be tallied by Schuck and Eikmeier in the near future.
Conversations also will continue between the City, County, and DHS regarding storage of files in the DHS building basement. The City is planning on giving the DHS 2-5 years to relocate the stored information. Schuck said the Police plan on using much of the basement for evidence storage and eventually will need the eintire basement.
The DHS renovations proposed included carpeting, interior painting, window replacement, electrical work necessary, software and computer expenses, radio replacement, and general remodeling procedures such as sheetrocking, counters, security door, insulation, shelving, and appropriate signage.
All appropriate work involving professional labor and new construction was done by local contractors, most doing the work at a discount, according to Schuck.
"It's great!" exclaimed Schuck on opening day. "We (Police Department) put a lot of volunteer work into this building, including some 13-hour days on weekends. It's going to work out fine. We're happy to be here."
(Photo - Cherokee Police Chief Steve Schuck (left) and Officer Adam Roberts stand outside the new headquarters of the Cherokee Police Department. Photo by Mike Leckband) ...
(Story by Paul Struck, Editor)
RJ Thomas Manufacturing grows stronger -
Things have been good for RJ Thomas Manufacturing for the past several years and once again the company has grown.
Last year RJ Thomas Manufacturing reinvested in its self. In April of 2010 construction began a 30,000 sq. ft. expansion. Company President Steve Thomas stated, "We're constantly adding new products and the expansion will make the plant flow more efficiently."
Another big change at RJ Thomas Manufacturing seen last year was the incorporation of Holton Signs of Cherokee, now called Pilot Rock Signs.
In July of 2010 a tornado destroyed Holton's business and in September Thomas and Holton announced that RJ Thomas Manufacturing purchased the business.
"We done a lot of business with Holton" said Steve Thomas, "with custom plaques and engraving and signage on our park products. These value added services help to sell our products. Denny has other products and services that we going to integrate well into the park industry of the company."
"The purchase is something that Steve and I have discussed several times over the last few years," said Denny Holton. "The sale provided new avenues of growth for both of us. It opens up the park industry to the sign business and it adds new product and services for R.J. Thomas Manufacturing to sell."
"We have continue Holton's services to his customer base, as well as build sales with our base,"Thomas added.
Holton has relocating his sign shop to the R.J. Thomas Manufacturing facilities south of Cherokee, both Thomas and Holton emphasized that the current products and services that Holton Signs has offered is still be available.
This lineup includes: truck signage and lettering, vinyl and magnetic vehicle graphics, digital printing, logo design, banners, store front signs, pole signs, electrical signs, plaques, engraving, murals, roadside signs, and many other forms of custom work.
"This is a natural fit for R.J. Thomas to expand the demand for our products by adding value to them. And it is the right time because of the unfortunate chain of events that struck Holton signs with the tornado on July 22," explained Thomas.
Denny Holton is an employee of R.J. Thomas and the sign shop will operate under the R.J. Thomas Manufacturing Company flag.
"Many things have changed," said Holton. "But my commitment to creative design and quality products will never change. The company motto has always been 'Fast, Friendly, Professional Service' and that will remain the same, too."
Denny Holton has been in the sign business since 1983. He started his own business in his garage and gradually expanded into his 4000 sq. ft. building on Riverview Drive in Cherokee. He has sign customers across Iowa and into other Midwestern states.
R.J. Thomas began operations in 1959. It manufactures park, street and camp site products. It's Pilot Rock brand products can be found throughout the United States and in many other countries.
In recent years the company installed a new powder coating line for painting many of their products, and future plans for the company include an expansion of the plant to incorporate a new thermal plastic system.
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. In 2009, the company is planning to add a thermal plastic system.
Thomas said that this year RJ Thomas will continue to produce more decorative products, including park benches, trash receptacles and other side 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 branched out, shipping a lot overseas."
"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 over 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.
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.
(Photo - Roger Haselhoff, left, Maintenance at R.J. Thomas, Steve Thomas, right, President of R.J. Thomas Manufacturing Company, and Matt Schleef, Maintenance and Electrical Department, are pictured at R.J. Thomas Manufacturing. Haselhoff and Schleef were part of the team that finished off the interior of the new 30,000 sq. ft. expansion at R.J. Thomas Manufacturing Company...
(Story and Photo by Mike Leckband)
Cherokee MHI and CCUSO -
It has been a busy year at the Cherokee MHI. Seven of the 39 positions that were vacated by the State's Early Retirement Incentive Plan have now been filled, and another 10 positions had been approved when budget cuts were announced. The budget for Cherokee MHI was reduced a significant amount which had not been anticipated, but new MHI Business Manager Chris Tofteberg felt that newly elected Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds are supportive of the state's social programs, and he said that Branstad is working to find funds to keep MHI at the standing they were on Jan. 1, 2011 through the fiscal year.
Tofteberg said the 2012 budget has been released, and that Cherokee MHI "looks good," and is at a sustainable level. CCUSO is a little short on their budget, but resources can be shared with the MHI side, according to Tofteberg.
MHI intends to maintain their current staffing and bed count, and rumors of a mandatory layoff for probationary hires are not true, he said.
The Department Heads at Cherokee MHI began meeting in late 2010 to discuss how changes can be implemented to improve the efficiency in how things are done, and these meetings brought about many changes, examples of creative, "out of the box" thinking. Some examples of this include revamping the system for admitting patients; changing the hours at the switchboard and sharing resources with CCUSO in that area; cross training with current personnel; and sharing more resources with CCUSO.
Dr, Daniel Gillette, the MHI Superintendent, resigned in 2010, and Dr. Jason Smith(pictured) was appointed as Superintendent of the MHI side. Smith also has the title of Administrator at CCUSO, allowing for a shared cost savings.
Director of Nursing Jane Campbell reports that the nursing department has been working short - staffed for several months and she has had to do some "creative scheduling" at times to maintain adequate staffing, but she praised the nursing staff for their hard work and their willingness to adjust their schedules. Campbell also noted, however, that this has impacted the staff's daily lives for seven months, and is that this is "not a sustainable solution."
One solution tried has been to hire "temps." MHI has hired three temps so far, and they are awaiting approval for hiring three more.
Campbell also noted that transporting patients has become an issue, as Cherokee MHI requires two staff to be present on every patient transport. This creates another staff shortage, but they are working with CCUSO and its staff to help out in this area.
Admission standards have also been changed. Nursing now takes calls to make sure admissions are appropriate for hospitalization, and this pre-screening process will continue.
Campbell said a meeting with law enforcement officials, representatives from local hospitals and counties was held concerning bed availability at MHI, but the news of budget issues prevented any solutions from surfacing. The lack of beds at MHI affects many others in the community, and she gave these examples : A proposed ward of six beds was not opened due to the lack of staffing; Some beds aren't opening up because there is no place to transfer some hard-to-place patients, which in turn creates a shortage of beds for potential new patients at MHI; the staff shortage at MHI may also delay some MHI discharges which require staff transportation.
On a more positive note, Campbell said that law enforcement officials and jailers have been very cooperative working with the MHI in the cases of patients who need to be jailed.
Campbell noted that MHI continues to be a strong training facility, offering ongoing training programs for nursing, pharmacy, paramedic, social work and Physician's Assistants students.
Senate File 209, a bill restoring funding to Iowa Mental Health Institutes, passed in the Iowa Senate on Feb. 17, 2011, effectively providing the Cherokee MHI with $784,607 in necessary funding.
Iowa Senator Bill Anderson said he was pleased with the passage of the bill,
saying that thanks to this funding ,there will not be a disruption in services.
"Governor Branstad and I remain committed to caring for Iowa's most vulnerable population, "said Anderson, " and restoring this funding will have a positive impact on the entire community."
MHI Superintendent Smith was also very pleased, saying, "We're pleased that we're not looking at a reduction of staff. If things don't change, and stay where they are, there will not be any layoffs," he said.
"We currently have 24 adult beds here at the MHI and six adolescent beds. We' are looking forward to maintaining those numbers, and we would like to see those numbers increase over the next year," said Smith.
Brad Wittrock, the Deputy Superintendent of CCUSO, recently provided an update on the third stage of construction at CCUSO. Wittrock said that when CCUSO opened several years ago, they had 50 patients, living on two wards of the south wing of the building. Following some remodeling, CCUSO now has 81 patients on three wards.
When this third and final stage is completed, hopefully by the end of the summer, CCUSO will occupy all three wings on the South side. Capacity will be increased to 150, including one ward of apartment-like settings for up to 25 transitional residents.
When finished, CCUSO will have a handicap-accessible design. All existing electrical and plumbing will be replaced, new heating and air conditioning systems will be installed, as will new finished flooring. The unit will have a file room and conference room and security throughout the CCUSO building will contain CCTV and digital video recording equipment, intercom and door controls, as well as expanded security barriers, secure windows, and a secure outer fence. Photo by Mike Leckband
(Story by Dan Whitney)
Plans shaping up for 45th Cherokee Rodeo -
Plans are shaping up for this year's Cherokee PRCA Rodeo, which will be held the weekend on June 2, 3 and 4 which the committee hopes will attract an even larger crowd. There are 20 rodeo board members of which some are new to their task while others are veterans at the task. Hall of famer Bob Barnes will make sure there is plenty of quality rodeo stock ready to go such as bulls which give their riders a test ride into the ozone and plenty of beautiful horses.
A new announcer, Travis Scheda of Broken Bow, Nebraska, is coming this year...
(Story by Nancy Hohbach, correspondent)
... Many families like to attend this exciting family event and thus, the board will sponsor Thursday night, June 2, as annual kids night. After Saturday evening's performance, there will be spectacular fire works. Other details will be announced prior to the event and prices set. One can look forward to a quality performance as always with around 250 contestants expected.
Barnes Rodeo has traveled across the nation since 1950 providing much entertainment for folks. In 2010, they were invited to take part in making a movie entitled "Real Steel," which will be released this coming fall. In April, the Barnes Rodeo will attend the press conference announcing a PCRA rodeo in Atlantic City, New Jersey. All of the casinos have joined together to support this event.
(Photo - Bob and Donita Barnes were recently honored by the esteemed Rodeo Historical Society, which named Bob to its Hall of Fame and awarded Donita with the Tad Lucas Award.
New programs planned at Sanford Museum -
Linda Burkhart, director of Cherokee's Tiel Sanford Museum, and her crew ,have really given much thought to the activities planned for 2011. They constantly provide programs of interest for all ages to keep up with the times. This year's programs are filled with adventure.
In recent years, a Northwest Iowa Photography contest and exhibit kicks the year off with much interest. It is a delight to many to see the beauty of Northwest Iowa through their lenses. The display lasted through January.
In February, Dr. Jessica deVega, an Assistant Professor of Religion at Morningside college, discussed the basics of Islam, misconceptions which pervade the media and popular culture. Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in the world. a faith which shares much with Judaism and Christianity.
On March 19, Jim Christensen of NEA will speak on his experiences promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics career fields with students through his association with the Space Settlement Design competition program. as a part of SSDC, Christensen has traveled twice to India, worked with students around the world , and has brought Pakistani students to Northwest Iowa. The program will begin at 7:30 p.m.
'The Art of Western Leather' will be presented at the museum on April 9th at 7:30 p.m., by Bob Leach and Clint Fraley . Although this may be considered as an early American craft, the art of leather working is still popular today. Craftsmen are still creating high quality handmade leather crafts both in custom shops and in home workshops, Leach and Fraley will discuss, demonstrate, and display items such as belts, holsters, wallets and chaps to advance saddle making. Have your questions ready and enjoy the feel and smell of leather. These are two talented gentlemen who will amaze you.
On May 7th, Dave Appleby and Craig Wiese will take you on a trip to the Grand Canyon, as they share their adventure of hiking the South Kaibab Trail of the Grand Canyon. You will see spectacular views of Pipe Creek Canyon, Cremation Canyon, the North Rim and Inner Gorge on the way down the Colorado river. The two men crossed the river via the new suspension bridge. The trip back includes the ancient Anasazi Ruins, swimming holes, and unforgettable vistas. Mark your calendars for this one!
On August 13, the 'Trash or Treasure' program will be presented by Ward and Chuck at 1:30 p.m. Bring your favorite treasure or two for an appraisal. Chuck and Ward are professional appraisers who come each year to the Sanford as a fundraising event for the Sanford Museum. This year's events will cost $5 for an appraisal. It is always a fun and interesting afternoon.
On September 10, Nancy Hier of Marcus will present her program about Marcus, "A Remarkable Town,"at 7:30 p.m . She begins with John Insley Blair shooing away prairie chickens, driving in a stake, and naming the location for his son, Marcus in May of 1869. The Iowa Falls and Sioux City Railroad was coursing its way through the prairie at that time, and it wasn't until the following fall that a tiny depot graced the horizon. Two lonely years lapsed before the first domicile was constructed and the town platted. However, northwest of said stake, in that May of 1869, W.E. Rose took up a homestead claim and enjoyed the deer and elk following him home as he worked the land. A St. Bernard dog helped fend off the wolves at night . The following October, the brothers P. Adam and John Dorr homesteaded 80 acres southwest of the future town. Sod provided their first shelter, and later a wooden structure was covered with tar paper-the coverings to be consumed by grasshoppers in the mid seventies. Thus Nancy Hier desribes the infancy of the area labeled Marcus. Come and hear the rest of the story as only Hier can share it in a meaningful way.
The month of October is really full of excitement. On October 22, the Haunted House Program and Haunted Theater event will thrill all ages. The American Theater Ghostly tour begins at 10 a.m. and is limited to 50 people. The doors will open at 10 a.m with snacks and an episode of the Paranormal Generation TV show at the American Theater. At 10:30 , the ghost hunting seminar begins. Guests will tour the theater first and then attempt to meet the spirits who allegedly live in the theater. Curl Strutz has visited haunted locations throughout the country , and he comes equipped with special equipment to monitor any ghostly activity. This is a fund-raising activity for the museum. If you are a member, the cost is $15; non-members will be charged $20 per person. Mark your calendars!
That evening at 7:30 p.m. at the Sanford, Curt Dtrutz will present his haunted house program. Strutz loves haunted houses---real homes, not at a carnival-- and visits every one that he can. He brings those stories along to share with the audience. The houses he visits are on a national register of haunted homes throughout the country. He brings proof of their existence back on film to take the audience through the experience with him. He has visited battlefields, deserted asylums, historic locations and known residences around the U.S. Photos, videos and testimonies will be reviewed as well as the history behind each location. His presentations are not only interesting for those interested in ghosts but for historical value as well. Time is also spent on ghost hunting tools and ghost theories. The presentations are done in full powerpoint presentation format.
The last program of the year will be on Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m. The subject will be bats, presented by Cherokee County Conservation Officer Ginger Walker. Bats are often the subject of myths and fear, but they can also be benefical. In Cherokee County, there are at least seven kinds of bats found in trees, barns and homes. Whether your bat problem consists of too many bats or too few, bat foe or friend, this program is designed for you.
(Photo - students enjoy a fun outdoor program at the Sanford Museum)
(Story by Nancy Hohbach, Correspondent)
CRMC continues to enhance facilities, staff and equipment -
A hospital is an asset to any community or region. It provides communities with easy access to the broad spectrum of essential health care services ˝ primary care, surgery, laboratory services, emergency care, hospice and technology like CT scanning and magnetic resonance imaging.
Community hospitals also offer community benefits in the form of charity care and free and reduced-cost services like immunizations, health screenings and counseling. Many of these programs and services simply would not exist without hospital resources and leadership. Hospitals as health care providers are clearly irreplaceable, but hospitals are also essential in another way ˝ as economic engines.
Cherokee Regional Medical Center not only provides quality health care services to the area, it plays a significant role in the continued economic development of Cherokee and the surrounding communities. As the 4th largest employer in Cherokee, CRMC employs approximately 240 individuals providing more than $10 million in worker salaries.
Following are some of the notable achievements and strides taken by CRMC in the past two years:
*Major Construction Project Completed in Spring / Summer 2009
The Majority of the $6 Million Construction Project completed May of 2009. Departments of focus were Radiology and Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation. Other areas that were expanded or improved wereÍSpecialty Clinic now houses a modern Oncology Chemotherapy Infusion area, updated Specialty Clinic waiting area, a new conference room in which CRMC has utilized for educational outreach events such as health seminars, lunch and learn events, etc. that have been free and open to the public.
*Late 2009 Equipment Purchases
Major Pharmacy Equipment Purchase- Omnicell Automated Pharmacy Dispensing System at cost of about $250,000. Dispensing Cabinets were purchased and placed in the inpatient Medical ˝Surgical Unit and in the Emergency Room. Automated dispensing cabinets have been shown to improve the safety of medication distribution within hospitals and to improve the capture of charges for medication within the hospital. Automated Dispensing cabinets are linked via computer to the pharmacy to maintain records for the inventory and charges associated with all medication therapies. System is very secure as caregivers are provided with individual access codes and a thumbprint scan of the caregiver is required for the system to dispense medication.
High Tech Infant security system was installed in the OB Department to provide a safer more secure environment. Cost of about $22,000.
*OB EMail Service
Cherokee Regional Clinics also implemented an OB email service. Emails are sent to expectant parents who opt to receive the service on a weekly basis with information corresponding to their stage of pregnancy. The emails continue through age 1 year with information pertinent to the baby's age during the first year of infancy. The service also allows CRC to send additional email reminders about immunization schedules, pre-natal classes, etc.
Slightly over $1.1 million was spent on new equipment and improvements at CRMC in 2010. While various departments had equipment purchases including the Surgery, ER and the Lab areas, the majority of this total was spent in Radiology. In the summer of 2010, the CRMC Radiology Department installed a state of the art Hologic "!
(Story by Paul Struck; File photo by Mike Leckband)
Cherokee School District faces, overcomes challenges -
With more cooperative weather this winter, and an administrative team experiencing better physical health than last year, the educational needs of students in the Cherokee School District are being met as well - if not better - than ever this year.
Barb Radke, Principal of the Early Childhood Learning Center and Roosevelt Elementary School, said that guided reading and reading recovery programs have been initiated in the last year and they have been very helpful to young readers who have had difficulty. Radke said they have also gotten a lot more technology into the classroom now, which has also been a boost. Radke also cited the after-school program, which has now been extended to Kindergarten and first grade students. She said that the students in the after- school program have not only met the benchmarks which had been established for them, but in many cases exceeded those benchmarks.
Middle School Principal Larry Weede said that the CMS had been given a Smart Board from Hy-Vee and that has been a great addition. The "Second Chance" Reading Program has also benefitted many students,
Middle School Students have also been encouraged to get involved in community service and, among other things, picked up pop cans around the community. The students have also gotten more in touch with world events by skyping a soldier who was serving in Afghanistan on Veteran's Day, and they have sent 22 boxes of supplies to the soldiers over there since learning more about the soldiers' needs.
Washington High School Principal Larry Hunecke said that the school's graduation rate increased last year. The school also purchased software which allows students to get high school and college credits on line, and Washington High students are pursuing that more than ever before.
Hunecke said that Washington High School students' proficiency scores on standardized tests in the areas of reading, math and other areas are the highest they have been in three years.
High School students have also been more involved than ever in community service, through the Silver Cord program, which honors participants at the time of their graduation.
In the Fine Arts area, the Washington High School jazz band has earned the right to go to the State Jazz Festival for the fourth year in a row and the 6th time in eight years.
Curriculum Director Beth Ebert and the teachers have been working diligently, training to learn the State of Iowa's Core Curriculum Program, which deals with living in the 21st Century and how students can best apply the things they learn in the lives they lead. The Core Curriculum needs to be implemented in all grades by the 2014-2015 school year.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Chalstrom said that the major challenges facing the Cherokee School District in the last year included dealing with flood damage at the Roosevelt school and tornado damage at both the Roosevelt and Washington schools. Chalstrom said that one positive thing that came out of the experience was the positive relationship that developed between the School District and the City of Cherokee, as City workers and community volunteers helped out in the cleanup after the storms.
Another positive thing was the installation of a new lighting system at George Hicks Field at Washington High School. This had already been planned, but had to be expedited because of July's storm. The Cherokee Boosters Club was a big help financially in allowing the school to go ahead. The Cherokee School District continues to have a healthy financial picture, though Dr. Chalstrom said that enrollment continues to decline in the Cherokee District (as it has in most other Iowa school districts), resulting in a corresponding decrease in available funding from the state. This situation results in a continued challenge for all districts to ensure that they provide their students with all of the courses which have been mandated by the State Department of Education.
(Photo - CSD Administrators -
left to right, Middle School Principal Larry Weede, Curriculum Director Beth Ebert, High School Principal Larry Hunecke, Elementary/ECLC Principal Barb Radke, Superintendent Dr. John Chalstrom. Photo by Dan Whitney)
(Stories and Photo by Dan Whitney, Staff Writer)
Hy-Vee Distribution Center has good - and 'interesting'- year -
Greg McQuistan (pictured), who has been the Assistant Vice President of the Cherokee Hy-Vee Distribution Center since October 2009, says that the Cherokee Center had a very good year in 2010, following the third expansion of the facility in 2009.
McQuistan said that 17 additional Hy-Vee stores from around the area have joined the stores which had already been getting their grocery and general merchandise items at the Cherokee Distribution Center in the last year, and that the Cherokee Center now employs 360-370 employees - the largest number of employees in its 40-plus year history.
McQuistan also termed 2010 an "interesting" year, as the Distribution Center had to deal with something with which it had never had to deal before - weather...
(Story by Dan Whitney, Staff Writer)
Last winter, one of the Distribution Center's buildings had been weakened by the heavy snow that had fallen, and it needed to be replaced. Then, in July, the Distribution Center was hit by the same tornado-like storm that wreaked havoc with its neighbors in the former Holton Signs building.
(Photo - Several trucks were overturned at the Hy-Vee Distribution Center during the strong winds in July. Photo contributed) ...
... Another building at the Distribution Center was hit by the storm, and the entire roof of that building had to be replaced.
Despite those setbacks, McQuistan said he has really enjoyed his 16 months in Cherokee. After living in a hotel for several months, he purchased a home from another Hy-Vee employee who had been transferred and is certainly enjoying living in an actual house again.
(Photo - The July 2010 storm took a piece off the roof of this building at the Hy-Vee Distribution Center, leaving a gaping hole and disturbing things inside as well) ...
... He has also been very impressed with the people in the community of Cherokee, saying that they are very friendly people with a very caring nature. He has also been impressed by the work ethic displayed by the employees at the Distribution Center, saying that the employees not only work hard at their jobs all the time, but have been very willing to pitch in when anything "above and beyond" is called for.
McQuistan is also very proud of the drivers at the Distribution Center and their One Million Mile "Road of Gold" program. For those of you who may not know, the Hy-Vee Corporation awards drivers who have successfully completed 1 million miles of safe driving (i.e., no accidents of any kind) by presenting the driver with a special gold cab, inscribed with the driver's name, for his trailer. McQuistan said that 25% of the drivers at the Cherokee Distribution Center are now members of the "One Million Mile Road of Gold" 'club.'
The Distribution Center certainly appreciates its drivers, and the feeling is reciprocated. At a recent banquet, driver Rick Stevenson of Quimby sang the praises of the Cherokee Center, saying they "always rise to the occasion" when problems develop.
So things are good and business is booming at the Hy-Vee Cherokee Distribution Center, and the prediction is for continued good news.
(Photo -There are literally racks and racks of general merchandise stored at the Hy-Vee Distribution Center in Cherokee).
(File Photo by Dan Whitney)
Cherokee Airport redoes terminal
The Cherokee Airport recently completed a restoration of its terminal. The terminal's east wall was in dire need of repair.
So the whole was taken out and replace along the way the terminal got all new windows and new carpet and tiled flooring.
A kitchenette was also added along the east wall as well as a new paint job. In 2009 the airport 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 its 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.
Two years ago 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, 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, 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 15 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. Lauck has had several 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.
(Story and Photo by Mike Leckband)
88th Annual Cherokee County is Aiming for Adventure -
2011's edition of the Cherokee County Fair will be held on July 7-11 at the Cherokee County Fairgrounds. The biggest 4-H attraction this year is again the Cherokee County 4-H Expo Center. There has been so much work put into this building by the Betterment Committee that you have to come see it to believe it. It will be a multipurpose building when finished. 4-Her's will practice with their animals for improving their expertise. Hopefully at some point everyone will enjoy all sorts of animal related events in this enclosed arena.
The cattle barn/beef barn is also part of this project. A plan to revitalize the present barn and create a more user friendly environment for the animals and 4-Her's is the ultimate goal. The Betterment Committee has been working non-stop to organize fundraising events in order to finalize all the details to make the building a perfect addition to Cherokee County.
A few of the improvements to the fairgrounds is a new set of bleachers that were bought to use at the Go Kart Race track plus a set of barricades that were used for safety purposes inside the main arena during the demolition derby. Another major project still in the works is trying to refinish the commercial building. This project is in the beginning stages of weighing all sorts of options to try and refinish the outside of the building as well. To cool down the inside of this building during those hot summer fair days is also on the list.
A smaller improvement is the memory garden that was created around the Fair entrance sign along highway 59. This memory garden has been planted with perennials that were donated by family members of fair board members that have passed.
Last year's fair was a booming success and the board hopes that this year will be just as successful. Scheduled for 2011's fair is Thomas D. Thomas Amusements, Kay Rosaire's Big Cat Encounter Tiger Show, T & C Rodeo Bull Riding and Barrel racing with fireworks to follow on Thursday. Friday's scheduled entertainment includes "Redhead Express" which is a family from the wilds of Alaska coming to perform a variety of music. Also on Friday's schedule are 3X wrestling which will set up on the south end of the fairgrounds. 3X wrestling is similar to WWE or WWF wrestling except they are a Des Moines based company that presents wrestling events the whole family can enjoy. Saturday is, of course, kid's day. Again, there will be arcade games set up and a movie in the afternoon. The photo booth that was a big hit last year will be back. Ladies day will be in the morning with Darcy Maulsby and she will be talking about what all ladies love...chocolate.
Saturday's main event is the demolition derby and after that there will be Karaoke in the activity building for everyone to enjoy. On Sunday, those who love their tractors will again be makin' Traccs -- with the Tractor Ride Around Cherokee County. Those who love quilts will be invited to come and listen to the new Quilt turning event in the Family Crafts building. There will also be Go Kart Races, Bill Reilly Talent Show, Wheel of Fortune and the crowning of the Fair Queen.
The Fair Board wants to extend an invitation to everyone to come and enjoy the Cherokee County Fair and also, they want everyone to know that all donations whether it be labor or monetary is greatly appreciated. Please visit www.cherokeecountyfair.org
for further details of this year's 2011 Cherokee County Fair.
(Story by Nancy Hohbach, Correspondent)
CCT heads into its 52nd Year -
The Cherokee Community Theatre presented several delightful offerings in 2010, its 51st year of existence.
The comic play "Enter Laughing," based on a book by Carl Reiner, was the CCT's 2010 spring offering, while summer brought the delightful musical "Annie" to the stage at the Cherokee Community Center.
The 2011 season got underway in November with another comedy, "Christmas Belles," a thigh-slapping look at life in the small town of Fayro, Texas that sent the crowds home smiling.
The season continued with a special children's theater presentation of the musical "Honk Jr." over the weekend of January 28-30, 2011 when a cast of 40-plus local children gave a sparkling performance of the musical adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson's classic tale "The Ugly Duckling," to delighed audiences.
The CCT's next two scheduled plays present a stark contrast from each other.
The spring play will be Tennessee Williams' four - person drama, 'The Glass Menagerie,' scheduled to be performed on April 15, 16,17 and 21, 22, 23, and
the summer musical will be 'Seussical, the Musical,' featuring a cast of characters which includes The Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant and Yertle the Turtle - all from the children's books of Dr. Seuss.The exact performance dates for 'Seussical the Musical" have not yet been determined, but we will let you know here in the pages of the Chronicle Times when we find out - in plenty of time to get your tickets.
The Cherokee Community Theatre's offerings are performed by talented people of all ages from the local and area communities, selected through try-outs. Though many people appear in plays year-after-year, they have certainly not worn out their welcome - and newcomers are always encouraged to sign on and join in the fun experience of live theatre.
CCT Board members include Wayne Morris (president), Jackie Courtright, Penny Pingrey, Gene Galvin, Andrew Linn, Dave Zelle, Sherry Held, Jomi Anderson, Ryan Brown, Mollie Laughlin, Rick Angell and Joe Vannatta, and the Board is looking to perhaps add another member.
If you love the theatre, and are interested in maintaining the proud tradition of the Cherokee Community Theatre, sign up today to become a patron of the Cherokee Community Theatre - and let the Board members know if you would also be interested in serving on the Board of Directors or helping out in any way.
(Story by Dan Whitney, Staff Writer)
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, 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 likes what he sees in Cherokee after joining WITCC three years ago as former 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.
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, 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 staff members are now on board to help Struck facilitate WITCC's impact in Cherokee. They are secretaries Gigi Boothby, Erica Berding, and Donna Lewallen
"Gigi, Erica, and Donna 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; accommodations 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.
New to the local WITCC facility is a high-tech, computerized satellite weather station.
"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."
The Western Iowa Tech Community College TRIO-Student Support Services Program, now in its 13th year at Sioux City's WITCC , has been expanded with offices now staffed in Cherokee and Denison WITCC campuses.
The program, funded through a five-year grant by the U.S. Department of Education, assists eligible students who are accepted for enrollment at WITCC, and who plan to graduate with an associate's degree within four years, or who plan to transfer to a four-year college or university after completing theit WITCC coursework.
In Cherokee, the Student Support Services staff consists of Program Director Sara Klatt, who will be housed on the Cherokee WITCC Campus.
To be accepted into the program, students must meet at least one of these criteria - 1. You are a first generation college student, meaning neither parent has a four-year degree; 2. You meet the federal income guidelines based on family size; 3. You have a documented physical, mental, or learning disability.
Interested students are highly encouraged to visit the reception area in Cherokee or Denison to pick up an application. Students also can call to set up an appointment to meet with Klatt. Call 712-225-0238 to contact WITCC in Cherokee, or call 1-800-352-4649, extension 2499 for Klatt.
"This is a great opportunity for our students," said Darla Struck. "They can apply through Sara at no charge. A majority of our students would qualify for this needs-based program. It's designed to encourage students to go on and get their four-year degree. We're hoping the program will attract more students to WITCC and it's for adults, too."
Klatt said the program has a ceiling of 140 students total for both the Cherokee and Denison campuses, and after that total is reached, prospective students would be put on a waiting list.
Klatt explained that eligible students accepted into the program must maintain a certain GPA and they would be monitored as they proceed regarding academic needs.
As part of the program, Klatt will provide academic advising, financial aid guidance, scholarship opportunities, leadership opportunities, transfer assistance, campus visits, cultural activities, informational workshops, career exploration, free tutoring, peer mentoring, and one-on-one attention focused on an individual's needs.
"Many of the activities, social events and services we will provide are geared at connecting the students to our campus," said Klatt. "The benefit for Cherokee and Denison students is that they won't have to go to Sioux City for the program. We brought it to them!"
Klatt, who recently relocated to Cherokee from Sioux City where she formerly served at a WITCC Housing Supervisor, said her office hours here will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Struck said she and Klatt have begin visiting with area businesses, civic groups and schools to share information about the program that will begin in the Spring 2011 Semester.
"We need to introduce Sara to the community and to show all that WITCC has to offer, including all our other programs, and meetings space for the Auditorium, and Conference Center," added Struck.
(Photo - Western Iowa Tech Community College Advisory Board meeting in Cherokee in December by WITCC officials and various community leaders. Some of those present included, left to right, Tim Haupert, Hy-Vee Store Director; Nancy Brutsman, WITCC Conference Center Director; Dr. Robert Dunker, WITCC President; Darla Struck, WITCC Director of Cherokee Campus and Northern Services Area; Dr. Terry Murrell, WITCC Executive Vice President; Janet Gill, WITCC Dean of Enrollment; and Mark Buschkamp, Cherokee Area Economic Development Corporation Director) ...
(Story and Photos by Paul Struck, Editor)
Parks and Recreation provides entertainment for everyone -
The Cherokee Parks and Recreation Department is responsible for overseeing how many Cherokee County residents occupy their "spare time, " be it on an individual, family, or group basis.
Among the many activities administered by the Recreation Department are the fall and winter activities of basketball and volleyball, where adult teams actively participate in men's, women's and co-ed leagues. Badminton has been another indoor team sport which has been offered in recent years.
Softball is offered for adults in the forms of coed, men's and women's leagues in the summer, but the main focus of the Recreation Department in the summer is the Bacon Aquatic Center. This facility, the "swimming pool" for the city of Cherokee, will be in its third year of operation this summer, and it has been a welcome addition to summertime recreation for youth and adults alike.
Another spring/summer activity is the Hershey Track Meet, in which area youth compete to go on to state and possibly national competitions.
In the fall, youth soccer is available, and Parks and Rec. also offers youth basketball in November / December , with Cherokee Washington varsity coaches Heath Hagberg and Bob Lee teaching kids some of the fundamentals of basketball. The coaches have also brought some of the high school players along in the past, and this was very helpful for the youth ...
(Story by Dan Whitney, Staff Writer)
The Rec. Department is involved with citizens of all ages. Rec. Dept. director Dave Ellis serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the "Good Times Place," a group of citizens over the age of 50, who regularly participate in such activities as shuffle board, 500, painting, yoga, wood carving, walking, and more at the Good Times Place, which is located on the lower level of the Cherokee Community Center. The group has a monthly potluck lunch, and they occasionally hold special events such as a New Year's Eve party. The Good Times Place recently celebrated their second anniversary, and the group is going strong, with an ever-increasing number of activities available for participants.
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
... Dave Ellis (pictured) can also be reached at his office in the Community Center, phone number 225-2715.
The other part of "Parks and Rec." is, of course, Parks. Duane Mummert serves as the Superintendent of Parks for the city of Cherokee, and he and his crew are responsible for maintaining the upkeep of all of the city parks.
The main city park is Koser Spring Lake Park, where citizens may enjoy a picnic lunch on the lawn, in the open shelter, or in the enclosed shelter house. Fishing is another possibility, as is walking, jogging, or biking around the lake on the provided path. Softball and volleyball matches have also been staged many times at Spring Lake Park...
... Cherokee has other parks, too, and they are also maintained by the Parks Department. These parks include Central Park and Gillette Park.
Duane Mummert and his department do a great job of keeping Cherokee's city parks in tip-top condition, but there is at least area in which you can help. If you are walking your dog in one of the parks, please take care of disposing their waste in one of the containers which is present for this purpose. They will take care of the contents of the waste containers.
(Photo - The fountain at Koser Spring Lake Park) ...
Cherokee Depot on track -
The historic Cherokee Illinois Central Depot has a faithful enthusiasts to keep it alive and healthy. A group of 15 gentlemen and four gals see to it things are getting done to preserve the heritage of the area. Much work has been done on the building to preserve it such as replacing a number of shingles that didn't hold up. They also had to do some work on the building next to the gutters. Mick Samsel had done some 20 feet of the work on the east side of the depot several years ago where some fabric was applied and then painted to seal it. It has stayed in wonderful shape. Several men went ahead and did the west (track)side of the building this past year which included Samsel, John Snapp, Steve Schroeder, Tim LaFave, Roger Sleezer, Jim Adamson (pictured) and Ron Peterson. Duane Mummert lent his scaffolding to the group.
Another improvement to the building was adding shelves for storage by Wayne Nafe. Shelves were built in one large closet area off the south room as well as in the basement. It was explained that the group wanted to get everything that belonged to the depot was stored on site rather than other outlaying facilities.
Also in this past year, the depot was able to take advantage of a program through the University of Northern Iowa where groups could have an under-graduate assist a group with a project. It was a hands-on learning experience involved with history. Thus UNI student Brooke Garrison of Alta spent many hours cleaning lanterns and typing name tags for individual pieces, laminating and attaching them to each item. The group wants to process each piece and have proper record of each, It is an on-going process. Thes pieces are displayed in cases, two oak cases made by Jimmey Davis, which have lights to embellish each case. The wiring was done by Tim McFave.
The depot group raises funds by doing various activities through the year such as holding a western cookout on Cherokee rodeo weekend with a shoot-out. They also host an annual Fall Family Fest in September and periodic bake sales. The food endeavor responsibility falls on the shoulders of Dollie Morton. Beth James, Janet Sleezer and Shirley Peterson.
The depot presently has three renters of rooms on the second floor such as the DAR, Ryan Ryan Rosentrater and the AFSCME. The "Great Hall", a large room on the second floor may be rented for meetings, banquets or dining for an event. The south room on the main floor may also be rented by the day as some wanted it for a one day sale event of their products.
Back in 1990, a meeting was held at the community center to discuss the needs of Cherokee. In addition to beautifying Cherokee and building a wellness center, the preservation of the depot was among the list of "to do's". from a small core of volunteers, Jim Adamson and the above mention took hold. Yes, they could use some new blood with some energy to burn.
Tours are given to school children to their delight as well as the volunteers.
(Story by Nancy Hohbach, Correspondent)
Cherokee Public Library keeps up-to-date-
While books continue to provide a large part of a library's circulation, in 2011, libraries can offer so much more.
Mary Jo Ruppert, the head librarian at the Cherokee Public Library, says that books for adults are the number one item of circulation at the CPL, but a close number two - and steadily growing - are DVDs.
Mary Jo said that the Cherokee Public Library now owns more than 2000 DVDs and they are a varied lot. In addition to children's programs and recent hit movies, the library has added many classic films from the '30s - '90s to their collection this year, as well as several classic television series. Ruppert is also hoping to add classic TV mini-series like "The Thorn Birds" to the library's collection in the future ...
(Photo - Bonnie Spicer of the Cherokee Public Library staff helps patron Linda Oster select a DVD to view at home. DVDs may be checked out for a week )
(Story and Photos by Dan Whitney, Staff Writer)
... Other ways in which the Cherokee Public Library continues to serve their patrons in the 21st Century include the recent purchase of a color copier. Clients who wish to have color copies made may now have this done by library staff at a cost of $.50 a copy. Ruppert notes that if customers wish to have their copies done on photo paper, they must provide that paper themselves.
The Cherokee Public Library updated their computers in the Children's Department last year and they plan to do upgrading of the first floor computers this year...
... As of June 1, 2011, a new service will be available at the Cherokee Public Library. That service is downloading books and e-books. The service will be provided by WILBOR, which stands for West/Central Iowa Libraries Building On-line Resources, and several libraries throughout the state are already providing the service to their patrons. WILBOR currently has 3500 audio titles and 1500 e-book titles in their library, with many more to come.
Ruppert and other library staff will be attending WILBOR workshops the week of February 14 to learn more about this exciting service. Ruppert did caution hat the WILBOR system is not compatible with Kindle readers, though it is compatible with some other readers.
Other valuable services available at the Cherokee Public Library include the Children's Reading Program, which Peg Wurth directs. Peg has initiated several special programs for the youngsters, most recently an "Evening With Dad" special Valentine's activity night for youngsters and their dads (or other adults)...
Another valuable asset at the Cherokee Public Library is the Cherokee Archives, where information from Cherokee's past can be found, often with the assistance of members of the Archives group. This group has been very helpful to Chronicle Times staff and they are very willing to assist anyone who is "looking into the past."
So whether you are interested in the past, present or future in knowledge or entertainment, the Cherokee Public Library is the place to look.
Cherokee Symphony a community marvel -
Maestro Lee Thorson now in his 30th year
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 adjunt faculty member at 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 performing 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 the 3-4 concerts performed by the Cherokee Symphony each season.
Usually, three concerts are performed each season - a Pops Concert in the Fall, the Mid-Winter Concert in February, and the Young Artists' Concert in March or April.
Concerts are held at 4 p.m. Sundays at the Cherokee Community Center.
For more information, write the Cherokee Symphony Association, P.O. Box 25, Cherokee, Iowa 51012. Or, contact Donna M. Hicks at 225-5216. Or, visit the web site at www.ncn.net/~lthorson
(Story by Paul Struck, Editor)
American Natural Soy continues to grow -
American Natural Soy is a leader in providing innovative organic processing of oils, flour and meal.
They process soybeans, canola, sunflower, safflower and flax seeds while supplying its customers with unsurpassed quality, satisfaction and expertise.
The company is committed to finding solutions and building long-term strategic relationships giving its customers an advantage with superior and unique products.
They're a contract manufacturer of 100 percent certified organic soy lecithin available through Clarkson Soy Products, LLC. This is the only plant in the world manufacturing 100 percent certified organic soy lecithin for retail sale.
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.
Last year 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.
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 over 20 people. 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 as Texas.
(Story and Photo by Mike Leckband)
The Gardens-growing with loving care -
The Gardens Assisted Living Complex has been around for not quite three years , but is enjoying occupancy of 90 percent of its apartments. Thirty of those are double in size for not only married couples but two siblings or friends can share that space. The larger apartments provide living-room space, kitchen, bedroom and bath. The other apartments are singles. Residents may bring their own furniture to make it seem more like home.
The Gardens now has 17 employees who have become well acquainted with the residents. The Gardens provides respite care. Several residents come to live there through the winter months or when they need a help through a short term. There is a nurse on duty eight hours through the day.
All residents may eat meals prepared for them in the main dining hall or they can make their meal in their own kitchen. The main dining room is quite attractive with it's beautiful fireplace to make a cozy atmosphere. A large screen TV is there for sharing events together. The residents enjoy a salad bar that is always available to them. A new food manager has been recently hired who prepares a wider array of food. There is always a soups to select plus residents enjoy having fresh baked goods to nibble on. In fact, the residents who want to participate in baking activities may do so each week. Another activity added was a men's breakfast on the last Tuesday of the month.
Valentine's Day activities always means residents may devour prime rib or shrimp along with a dance. A king and queen are also crowned ...
(Photo -Left to right, Doris Dunn, Rhoda Grauer, Angie Agnitsch and Kassy Gontjens made valentine remembrances at the Gardens.)
(By Nancy Hohbach Correspondent)
... At Christmas time, the residents enjoy a "Garden of Christmas trees" , 2 ft. trees decorated with an individual theme and auctioned off. It really has become a fun activity. each year, new ideas come forth to add to the atmosphere for the residents.
The Red Hats ladies visit there once a month, church circles visit and worship services are conducted regularly in their new chapel. Many residents make use of their exercise room with a lovely view. The Gardens have two extra living rooms for personal guests plus a separate large kitchen for preparation and eating with family.
The home is staffed with friendly care givers who make it a point to look after the residents needs. It is a new facility the community can be quite proud of.
(Photo - Vernon "Bingo" Peterson loves playing bingo and with this photo, you can see it was a day for wearing hats of one's choice.)
The First Cooperative Association, with grain elevators and related facilities in 17 area towns in seven Iowa counties, last fall purchased the former Holton Custom Signs building at 960 Riverview Drive (photo) ,just off the Iowa Highway 3 By-Pass north of Cherokee and will relocate its Corporate Office there later this spring.
The First Cooperative Association purchased the building last fall after the building's roof was severely damaged in the July tornado that struck portions of Cherokee and rousted five tenants from the facility, including Holton Custom Signs which now operates with R.J. Thomas Manufacturing as Pilot Rock Signs.
"We bought it last fall and had to get it enclosed before the winter hit," explained Jim Carlson, General Manager of First Cooperative Association in Cherokee, from the current Corporate Offices on Iowa Highway 3 north of the City.
Carlson said the Association is now in the process of remodeling the building's interior to better suit the Cooperative's needs for the large, commercial building that formerly housed Holton Custom Signs, River View Chiropractic, Fireice Firearms, Nelson Electric, and the United Food & Commercial Workers Union, Local 179. The affected businesses have since all relocated.
Carlson said he expects the remodeling and move to be done by June. The Corporate Office currently employs 13, but Carlson said that number will grow as the company continues to expand and grow.
"We've expanded considerably in the past few years and we see the trend continuing," noted Carlson.
"We are continually seeking ways to be of better service to our farmers. We've been cramped in our present location and the new building will almost double our office space to help us meet our current and future needs."
Carlson said First Cooperative Association currently employs 120 full-time and 40 part-time employees at its 17 locations, and he sees that number expanding as the company continues to grow.
The First Cooperative Association did $265 million in business in 2010 and Carlson said he expects that number to grow considerably as the Coop grows its markets in the future.
The First Cooperative Association has facilities in Cherokee, Aurelia, Marcus, Alta, Holstein, Larrabee, Cleghorn, Laurens, Linn Grove, Marathon, Meriden, Paullina, Peterson, Schaller, Sioux Rapids, Truesdale, and Webb.
All locations will be served by the Corporate Office headquartered in Cherokee.
(Story by Paul Struck, Editor)