News

Wed
06
Dec

Iowa DOT promoting standing-corn fences

 

oel Monroe, Iowa Department of Transportation highway maintenance supervisor, points out one of the local standing-corn snow fences utilized throughout northeast Iowa to minimize blowing and drifting snow on adjacent roadways. (Zakary Kriener photo)

 

Iowa DOT promoting standing-corn fences

 

 

Zakary Kriener

News Writer
zkriener@fayettepublishing.com

 

 

 

It comes as no surprise to anyone who lives in or travels through northeast Iowa – or anywhere in the Midwest – that snow and wind can create difficult and/or hazardous driving conditions. While there is no way to stop snow from blowing, there are ways to influence the wind and the snow it carries to help make Iowa roadways safer for the public.

While snow fences have been used in Iowa for decades, a more recent promotion by the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) has put to good use one of the state’s most well-known resources, corn, by using it to help make roadways safer.

Wed
06
Dec

A 'Wish' of a lifetime for Kyle Busch's biggest fan

 

Jonathan Oakland (left) stands by his new friend, NASCAR driver Kyle Busch, as his Make-A-Wish desire was granted, and he was able to attend a race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November. Oakland was diagnosed at the age of 4 with Chiari malformation, a structural defect in the cerebellum. (submitted photo)

 

A "Wish' of a lifetime for Kyle Busch's biggest fan

 

Zakary Kriener

News Writer
zkriener@fayettepublishing.com

 

 

 

For 8-year-old Jonathan Oakland of Elgin, it’s no secret who his favorite NASCAR driver is. The young racing fan wears his No. 18 Kyle Busch racing gear at home, to school, and everywhere in between. Recently, however, Oakland got an opportunity to not just support his favorite driver at the racetrack, but to actually meet one of the top drivers in the NASCAR circuit, thanks to the Make-A-Wish program.

“Jonathan was diagnosed with Chiari malformation at the age of 4,” explained Jonathan’s mother, Niki Oakland. “It is a condition in which brain tissue extends into the spinal canal and occurs when part of the skull is abnormally small or misshapen, pressing in the brain and forcing it downward.”

Prior to Jonathan’s two brain surgeries, for which he had to travel to New York City in 2015, Jonathan experienced chronic neck pain, weakness, and headaches.

“Since having his surgeries, Jonathan has been doing amazing!” continued Niki. “In fact, after his first surgery, Jonathan was able to watch Kyle (Busch) win the championship from his hospital bed.”

Earlier this year, Jonathan’s specialist, Dr. Jeffrey Greenfield from the Weill Cornell Brain and Spine Center in New York, helped get Jonathan’s Make-A-Wish experience started.

“I had a few wishes that I had to decide between,” said Jonathan. “It was between meeting Kyle Busch, going to a (Chicago) Blackhawks game, and going to Disney World.”

In the end, Jonathan’s love for the sport of auto racing prevailed.

On Thursday, Nov. 16, Jonathan and his family, including Mom, Dad (Kevin), and siblings Kylie, Lexi, and Aubrey, flew to Miami to experience Jonathan’s wish as a family.

“On Friday, we were able to go to the beach together before heading to Homestead-Miami Speedway to check out the track that would be the final race on the 2017 NASCAR schedule,” said Niki. “We met with a track worker who gave us our VIP passes and brought us to the personal RV of Kyle’s crew chief, Adam Stevens.”

Jonathan got to meet all of Kyle’s crew members and hang out with the individuals who get Busch’s car ready to race on a weekly basis throughout the season.

While in the RV, Jonathan’s racing idol stepped in and met his No. 1 fan for the first time.

Wed
06
Dec

Big efforts to preserve a Fayette County treasure

 

David Goldsmith (right), the son of a former pastor at the Wesleyan Church in West Union, spearheaded the efforts to move the now-empty church to Heritage Farm Park near Clermont nearly a year ago.  Goldsmith, who now resides in Loveland, Colo., recently made a visit to his childhood church home while accompanied by his assistant, Linda Wehr (left). (Megan Molseed photo)

 

Big efforts to preserve a Fayette County treasure

 

 

Megan Molseed

Contributing Writer

 

 

 

Clermont’s Heritage Farm Park invites anyone and everyone to put on their dancing shoes and come on out for the Soup and Sandwich “Church Move” Fundraiser on Saturday, Dec. 10.  

All proceeds from the event will go to the move and restoration of West Union’s 140-year-old Wesleyan Church to the Heritage Farm Park grounds.

“This church is such a valuable piece of the past,” park volunteer Arnold Guyer said of the little white church.

“If we do not move the church, the other option will be demolition. That is not an option for us,” he stated with conviction. “We will move it and preserve it.”

Wed
06
Dec

Pentagon upgrades WWI medal for Schmitt

Aloysius Schmitt

 

 

Pentagon upgrades WWII medal for Schmitt

 

 

 

(AP) The Pentagon has approved a Silver Star medal of heroism for a Navy chaplain from Iowa who's been credited with helping sailors escape a battleship during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

Station KDTH in Dubuque reports that Pentagon staffers will travel to Dubuque next week and present the nation's third-highest medal to the family of Aloysius Schmitt. He was born in St. Lucas and attended what is now Loras College in Dubuque.

Wed
06
Dec

Dollar General Rezoning issue dies

Dollar General Rezoning issue dies

 

 

A Dollar General developer spoke to the Fayette City Council during a work session held at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 4, in the ICN Room at Fayette Community Library. Although the Fayette City Zoning Board had previously voted against rezoning the residential property at 503 W. Water Street to commercial, the City Council still had to consider the issue.  

Dave Stoffer told the council that the company was willing to do everything possible to minimize the impact of neighboring residences—things such as shielding the lights, erecting a privacy fence, planting fast-growing trees, etc.

Nevertheless, neighbors spoke against the lights, noise and traffic a Dollar General store would create.  All stated that they are not against Dollar General per se, but they do not want to see residential property converted.  

Wed
06
Dec

Annual performance of 'Messiah' Dec. 10

Annual performance of 'Messiah' Dec. 10

 

 

By Chris Deback
cdeback@thefayettecountyunion.com

 

 

Annual performance of ‘Messiah’ Dec. 10 

 

Chris DeBack

 

The 76th annual local performance of George Handel's “Messiah” will be presented at 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10, at United Methodist Church in West Union. 

Since the beginning of November, local performers from around the area have been gathering at the church on the weekend to practice for the performance. 

This year, the performance will have a number of newcomers, including Doris Pfister Thompson, Margaret Yackel-Juleen, Mark Pittman, Kara Bushman, Lisa Leuth, Steve Carlson, Tom Strauss, Jeremiah Bicknese, and Jon Thompson, among others. 

Wed
06
Dec

Substitute-teacher shortages

 

Rural school districts have had many challenges to face in 2017, including a shortage of substitute teachers to choose from when a teacher comes down with a sudden illness. There are plenty of days when Travis Elliott, West Union Elementary principal, needs to “flex” his staff around to cover a teacher’s classroom when a sub can’t be found. However, Elliott is quick to point out that all the substitute teachers he does have are “incredible.” One of those incredible substitutes, Sally Boie (right), works with West Union Elementary student Jimmy Duffey on a classroom project before the Thanksgiving holiday break.  Chris DeBack photo

 

Substitute-teacher shortages

 

 

By Chris Deback
cdeback@thefayettecountyunion.com

 

 

 

 

Rural school districts have faced a lot of issues in 2017, from rising transportation costs to declining enrollment and shrinking budgets. 

North Fayette and Valley are no exception. In fact, it’s why the two districts will officially merge on July 1, 2018. 

Another large issue that rural school districts face on a daily basis is a substitute-teacher shortage. It can often be a challenge for local school principals to find a substitute teacher when a sudden illness creeps up on a teacher. 

This article isn’t designed to highlight an issue with teachers coming to work, because that simply isn’t the case. Teachers get sick like the rest of us. Children can carry a lot of germs, spreading them quite rampantly, which undoubtedly leads to other children and the teacher getting sick. 

The article will take a look at what has played into the shortage of substitute teachers in rural areas and how one school, West Union Elementary, handles day-to-day school operations when a substitute can’t be found to cover a teacher's classroom. 

While agreeing to do the interview, Duane Willhite, North Fayette and Valley shared superintendent, and Travis Elliott, West Union Elementary principal, wanted to make one thing quite clear, emphasizing “Parents should know that their child is taken care of, and that is of the utmost importance to us as administrators and educators. When we can’t find a substitute, we cover from within to make it all work. Some days are easier than others and some days are harder than others, but with the flexibility with our staff, we work through and make it happen. We make sure every classroom is taken care of and every child has their educational and health needs met every single day, and that is all that matters.”

 

Where have the subs gone?

A person can be a substitute teacher by either having any kind of four-year degree and earning the substitute authorization through an Area Education Agency (AEA); by having a valid teaching license, which allows the person to be a long-term substitute; or by being a certified paraprofessional, who can only sub in the classroom in which he or she is already a paraprofessional. 

So, why is there a shortage of substitutes in rural districts?

Wed
06
Dec

The spirit of giving

 

Interacting with the Filipino people, especially the children, was what Joe Biver's self-determined mission was all about. Here, a little girl raises a peace sign behind him, so Joe had some fun and took a "selfie” with her.

 

The spirit of giving

 

 

Vicki Rowland

Contributing Writer

 

 

“Poverty is manmade and, hence, can be unmade.” 

This is a statement on the website of Gawad Kalinga, or GK, a nonprofit community development foundation in the Philippines. It is the mission of GK to end poverty for 5 million families by 2024. 

Its stated vision:  “Gawad Kalinga is building a nation empowered by people with faith and patriotism, a nation made up of caring and sharing communities dedicated to eradicate poverty and restore human dignity.”

One example of manmade poverty is Cebu City in the Philippines. First, it was heavily bombed by the Japanese in WWII. Then it was bombed by the Americans when they retook the island.  After the war, people moved back and the city grew in a totally unorganized fashion and, combined with the constant migration of Filipinos from the rural areas to cities like Cebu City, caused areas of extreme poverty and homelessness.

As part of its mission, GK built a community in Lorega for people who had settled in an old graveyard. Where once they had slept on top of the nitsos, or coffin vaults, they now reside in a three-story blue and white condominium they built themselves, surrounded by a compound wall that is guarded against the crime in the neighboring slums. The structure houses 59 480-square-foot studio-type housing units. An estimated 350-400 people live in the compound.

But it is about much more than housing.  The emphasis is on building a community, on becoming one’s brother’s keeper. People work together to build, maintain and clean their community. They take classes to learn values formation and how to support one another. Having a home gives them an address, which is a matter of dignity, and is essential for receiving mail or obtaining a loan. It is a safe place for them to be able to maintain their possessions and build a life.

All of this is very far away from the lives we know here in Fayette County. But thanks to one adventurous man, we have the opportunity to learn about being our brother’s keeper.  

Joe Biver of West Union, Fayette County GIS (geographic information systems) coordinator, wanted to live his faith by quietly lending a hand to his fellow man. He wanted to go solo, or “blind” — he did not want to be part of a structure or group – and he wanted to help in ways that he felt spirit-moved.

Wed
29
Nov

Tieskoetter home part of the 'Magic'

 

The Kyle and Erin Tieskoetter family of Ossian will be one of four local families to have their home on display for “The Magic of Christmas” home tour Friday, Dec. 1, through Sunday, Dec. 3. Sitting in front of their beautifully decorated fireplace are (l-r) Erin (holding daughter Reese) and Kyle (holding daughter Quinn). (Zakary Kriener photo)

 

Tieskoetter home part of the 'Magic'

 

 

Zakary Kriener

News Writer
zkriener@fayettepublishing.com

 

 

 

“The Magic of Christmas” in Ossian has developed into an annual holiday celebration that brings the community together to help spread holiday cheer. The celebration features beautifully decorated Christmas trees, table settings, collections on display throughout the weekend of Friday, Dec. 1, through Sunday, Dec. 3, as well as a home tour that puts the holiday decorations of four area families on display.

Among the home tours that will be on display this holiday season is that of Kyle and Erin Tieskoetter.

“Being able to see family and friends is one of our favorite parts of the holiday season,” said Erin. “We also enjoy driving around to see all of the decorations around town, so we are really looking forward to not just seeing all of the other beautifully decorated homes around town, but also being able to share our own holiday spirit.”

The young family, including 3-year-old daughter Reese and 1-year-old daughter Quinn, began decorating for “The Magic of Christmas” just after Thanksgiving, turning their Ossian home into a holiday wonderland in less than a week.

Wed
29
Nov

Christmas in Calmar ahead

Christmas in Calmar ahead

 

 

 

The Christmas season is nearly here! What better way to ring in the holiday season than by partaking in the “Christmas in Calmar” activities from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7?

The following activities, which are sponsored by the Calmar Community Club, will be available in downtown Calmar:

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