North Iowa Times

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Tue
15
Aug

Hager advocating for lease of Luster Heights as faith-based, nonprofit, transitional living center

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Six months after budget cuts forced the closure of Luster Heights Correctional Facility, located outside Harpers Ferry, District 56 State Rep. Kristi Hager is hoping to put the dormant facility to use.

Hager, as part of “Citizens for Luster Heights,” has authored a petition asking the state of Iowa to lease the facility for use as a faith-based, nonprofit, transitional living center for individuals coming out of jail/prison or struggling with homelessness or substance abuse issues.

“I am one who believes, when one door closes, another opens,” Hager noted in the petition narrative. 

Tue
15
Aug

Nationally-known motivational speaker coming to MFL MarMac

Community members encouraged to attend

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

On Wednesday, Aug. 23—the first day of school—MFL MarMac students, staff and even community members won’t just embark on a new year. They’ll hopefully gain a new mindset and perspective on life, too.

Nationally-recognized motivational speaker Trevor Ragan will lead several sessions at the district that day, including an evening session for the community, highlighting the importance of growth mindset.

People all too often have a fixed mindset, said Brent Pape, a middle school teacher and also one of MFL MarMac’s TLC instructional coaches.

Tue
08
Aug

Benzings share stories from Cuban adventure


Ila and Ric Benzing in front of the harbor at Cienfuegos, wearing hats purchased from the local street market.

The Malecon (sea wall) in Havana protects the city from the sea and provides a walkway for residents and tourists.

A view of the coast of Cuba from San Pedro de la Rocco Castle, near Santiago de Cuba.

A view of the Cuban capitol building, which is modeled after the U.S. capitol building. It is currently being renovated.

The view from the 30th floor of Restaurante la Torre, looking out across Havana, with the Hotel Nacional, visited by movie stars and celebrities in the 1940s and 1950s, in the foreground.

The second course of the meal at the Restaurante la Torre, which consisted of lobster, rice, yams and root vegetables. This is pretty typical of the meals the Benzings were served in Cuba.

Classic cars waiting to be hired by tourists.

A mural at Havana's Casa Cultural Comunitaria, a community center which provides classes in art, dance and music to children and adults in the neighborhood. It was previously a water tank filled with junk.

The Tropicana Night Club was the model for show rooms of Las Vegas. The open air club has a fast-paced, two-hour show filled with singers, dancers and acrobatic acts in dazzling costumes.

Spanish cathedral in one of the four main plazas in Havana

Christ of Havana stands guard across the harbor from old Havana. It was completed shortly before Castro took power.

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Ila Benzing describes Cuba as a land of contrast.

“You would walk past a dilapidated building, then come to a beautiful mosaic,” she said of the island nation located just south of Florida. “You never knew what you were going to see around the next corner.”

Cuba, Ila admitted, was never a travel destination on she and husband, Ric’s, radar. But, in February, the Monona couple joined around 26 others from the area on a trip to the country, which they said was both historically and culturally interesting.

Tue
08
Aug

Committee forming to determine best use for Restore McGregor funds


Standing in front of the McGregor Public Library, McGregor City Administrator Lynette Sander and Duane Boelman, the city’s deputy clerk and economic development lead, review a stack of checks recently received from donors to the Restore McGregor charitable fund. (Submitted photo)

Just a few weeks after an EF-1 tornado tore through the historic McGregor, the community is rebuilding. Antique and gift shops are open. Bricks and rubble from the most heavily damaged buildings are cleared away.

“We were very lucky,” said McGregor’s City Administrator, Lynette Sander. “No one was injured. Within hours, citizens had pulled their trees and brush to the curb and volunteers with chainsaws were there to help. Currently, our residents are all in safe housing and have food and basic needs fully met. Those immediate most-concerning needs of our people are met.”

In the days immediately after the storm, the community received direct support from Clayton County Emergency Services, the Salvation Army, volunteers and a crew of campers from an outdoor ministry in Minnesota. 

Tue
08
Aug

Free or reduced school meals are an option for local families

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

The new school year will begin at MFL MarMac on Wednesday, Aug. 23, bringing with it new schedules, new teachers and new supplies. But for some parents, it also brings a sense of worry, as they consider whether they’ll be able to afford their child’s school meals.

Fortunately, through the district’s participation in the National School Lunch Program, eligible families who are unable to pay the full price of meals can sign up for free or reduced-price breakfasts and lunches.

Tue
01
Aug

Emergency management asking residents, business owners to report tornado damage


Two weeks after an EF-1 tornado ripped through McGregor, leaving a path of destruction in fallen trees and damaged or destroyed homes and buildings, Clayton County Emergency Management continues to seek residents’ and business owners’ help in compiling a comprehensive list of damages in the community. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Two weeks after an EF-1 tornado ripped through McGregor, leaving a path of destruction in fallen trees and damaged or destroyed homes and buildings, Clayton County Emergency Management continues to seek residents’ and business owners’ help in compiling a comprehensive list of damages in the community.

Those with damage to their homes, businesses or other properties during the July 19 tornado, as well as others in Clayton County who suffered damage from torrential rains and flooding July 21-22, are asked to call Great River 211, by dialing 211.

Tue
01
Aug

Restore McGregor Fund has raised $14,000


The McGregor Achievement Club plans to sell T-shirts like this to raise money for tornado recovery.

The Restore McGregor 2017 Tornado Fund, which was established by the Clayton County Foundation for the Future to help victims and their families affected by the July 19 tornado, has already raised over $14,000, according to MJ Smith, director of affiliate foundations for the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque.

This fund is still accepting contributions from individuals and corporations, and will allocate those funds to the city of McGregor and area non-profits whose efforts actively address the most critical community needs and provide assistance to households impacted by the tornado.

To make a contribution, people can do so

Tue
01
Aug

James resurrects skills from high school class for her Silver & Stones jewelry


Joy James shows off one of the silver disks—a key component of many of her earrings—that she recently formed with special tools. Her jewelry is available at The Left Bank Shop and Gallery, in McGregor. (Photos by Audrey Posten)

Joy fashions her jewelry in her McGregor apartment.

Each of her tools helps her do something different when creating jewelry, Joy said.

Joy makes a bit of everything—earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings—typically using silver. Earrings are her favorite.

When making jewelry, James said she has a variety of stones, beads and pieces of silver from which to choose.

“I try to never make two of the same thing,” Joy noted. “If someone buys something, there’s not another one like it.”

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Joy James was first exposed to jewelry-making in high school, when she learned how to solder (joining metal) jewelry in a class. Like many people, though, she left the skill behind, going on to pursue other interests.

“After high school, I didn’t do it again for many years,” said Joy, a mental health specialist for 25 years who moved to McGregor from Seattle in November, to live with her boyfriend, Dan.

The skill was always in the back of her mind, however. When Joy began beading 15 years ago, she thought, “I wonder if I can still solder?”

Tue
01
Aug

New swine/sheep complex in the works for Clayton County Fairgrounds


The new swine and sheep complex at the Clayton County Fairgrounds is expected to be more functional and versatile.

By Rachel Mergen, North Iowa Times Intern

“This is an exciting time for the Clayton County Fair,” the Clayton County Fair Board stated in a letter to residents of the county. “After a year of planning and knowing something had to be done to replace the old swine barn that was built in the 1930s, the fair board has decided to construct a new swine and sheep complex before the 2018 fair, if we receive enough funding.” 

Tue
01
Aug

Three Bulldog softball players receive all-conference recognition


Kyleigh Picha (Photo by Grant Langhus)

Jordan Schubert (Photo by Audrey Posten)

Hannah Schutte (Photo by Grant Langhus)

Three MFL MarMac softball players have received Upper Iowa Conference all-conference honors. Sophomore Kyleigh Picha was named to the first team, while freshman Jordan Schubert and sophomore Hannah Schutte earned honorable mention status.

Picha, an outfielder, played in 29 games this season, amassing a .337 batting average and .392 on-base percentage. She picked up 30 hits and walked 5 times, scored 33 runs and had 9 RBIs. Picha also tore up the base paths, swiping 43 bags in 44 attempts.

Schubert played in 29 games for MFL MarMac, starting 18 of those on the mound, where she had a 9-11 record with a 3.78 ERA. She held opponents to a .232 batting average, racking up 91 strikeouts and allowing 47 walks. 

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