Category Archives: Community Insights

How to Get the Love You Want

Love is in the air.  We’re rapidly approaching Valentine’s Day.  Most of us are either pining for a partner, head-over-heels in love or struggling to keep the love alive with our partner.  I have experienced all those states of being.  Also, having been a United Methodist pastor for over 20 years, I have observed countless other’s heartache, joy and pain in their quest to find and keep love.

I am happy to report that it is possible to find and have a committed, long-term loving relationship that both deepens over time and has the same hot spark of those first few weeks of falling in love.  I know this because I have it!  My wife, Winter and I have been together more than seventeen years now and people still ask us, “Are you newly-weds?”  I am amazed that I still fall more in love with her every day and she tells me she feels the same way.

“How can this be?” I would have asked 20 years ago.  My marriage to my first wife had been on the rocks almost from the day we said, “I do.”  We loved each other but after 7 years of struggling to make it work, we decided the best way to honor our commitment “to love and to cherish” was to let each other go.

What I have discovered was that the best advice my father gave me was “spot on.”  He advised, “Marry your best friend.”  What I wish he would have followed up that advice with was, “There is a big difference between very, very good and best.”  The difference is that with your best friend, the two foundation stones of a relationship are easy.  These foundation stones are not ‘hot sex’ and shared hobbies.  Instead, they are trust and communication.  Not very sexy.  But, within a short period of time without trust and communication, you aren’t going to be doing anything considered sexy.

When you marry your best friend, trust is a given and communication is easy.  Your best friend likes/loves you for who you are and vice versa.  You can spend countless hours together and not get bored.  You bring out each other’s best. You are able to call out the misses because you know you have each other’s best interest at heart.  And, when trust and communication are firing on all cylinders, you will be enjoying all kinds of things that are very sexy indeed!

My life purpose has always been to grow health, wellness and joy in life.  When pondering the most effective place to start working on this purpose, I remembered the poem written by an unknown monk around 1100 AD,

“When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family. Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.”

So, I wrote my first book, “After Ever After: Finding and Keeping the Love of a Lifetime” with that in mind.  It begins with me and ends with my greatest hope that everyone is able to have the love they most desire.  If you are interested in exploring further how trust and communication can strengthen your relationships, I invite you to join me on Saturday, February 10 at 10:00 AM at the Francis Banta Waggoner Community Library for my workshop, “50 Ways to Love Your Lover.”  I’ll be signing copies of “After Ever After” at the end of the workshop. You can also find the book for purchase at my blog at www.tomboomershine.com or you can purchase a copy at THE CROSSROADS Inspired Living & Garden Cafe.

Peace,

Tom Boomershine – DeWitt United Methodist Church Pastor &  Founder of EcoSphere Coaching

The Rock Valley team at Autumn Fest

Making Better Lives

It was on May 7, 2007, when I saw my very first patient at Rock Valley Physical Therapy in our then new DeWitt location.  Having been a physical therapist for exactly 10 years at that point, I had the experience and confidence needed, in addition to the support and trust from Rock Valley owners and my colleagues to be successful, but…I was scared!  I was leaving the comforts of a clinic with several coworkers and loving what I was doing every single day.  I was moving on to a clinic with only one coworker and very few patients to start with in a community that I knew very little about, despite growing up just down the road.  It was change, and a big change in my life, and as we all know, change is hard!!

I grew up in Park View, Iowa and graduated from North Scott High School.  I knew of DeWitt growing up, especially when it came to going to see a movie and getting ice cream with my family.  It was in my later high school years and early college years that I knew I wanted to do something in the area of health care.  It was after a day spent doing a job shadow with a physical therapist, that I was able to solidify my decision to choose this as my future career.  I knew I had a passion for “making better lives” even before it had become the official tag line that I now live and practice by along with all of my colleagues at Rock Valley Physical Therapy.  I attended St. Ambrose University and graduated with my Master in Physical Therapy degree in May of 1997.  Before I started working for Rock Valley in 2001, I began my career in physical therapy with Genesis and even spent a few months working for Genesis Medical Center right here in DeWitt.  Little did I know at that time what my future had in store for me in this amazing community!

Twenty years into my career as a physical therapist and 10 years into my time working here in DeWitt, I still absolutely love working as a physical therapist and I love “making better lives”.  Physical therapy is such a rewarding career.  On a daily basis I am able to help and witness people’s lives improving by decreasing their pain, helping them return to work, play in a sport again or to be helping them return to the activities they are passionate about.  Another thing to love about my career is we have fun!  Every day is different and every person is different but we make the physical therapy process as enjoyable as possible as we help make their lives better.  Finally, I enjoy the relationships I have made with all of my clients and their families.  I have the opportunity to know that I cannot always completely resolve every problem in every person, but I am certain that I can make at least something better in the life of every person that is under my care.

I couldn’t be happier with my decision to leave the comforts of my clinic in Davenport to make that difficult change and take on the professional opportunity I was given to open a clinic for Rock Valley in Dewitt.  The DeWitt community as a whole has also played a role in our ability to “make better lives”.  I have felt welcomed into this community from day one and have developed so many wonderful friendships through the lives I interact with in the clinic and from my involvement in the DeWitt Noon Lions and the DCDC.  I am happy to say we are now busting at the seams in our clinic located adjacent to the Dewitt Fitness Center with our amazing team of four full time, two part time and two per diem employees who are all extremely passionate about “making better lives” for every client who walks through our doors.   I am overjoyed to be able to “make better lives” for such wonderful people in such a fantastic community.

Kerri Hanna – Physical Therapist & Clinic Manager at Rock Valley Physical Therapy DeWitt Location

Feeling Blessed and Welcomed this Christmas Season

My family just celebrated our first anniversary as DeWitt residents on Sept 18th.  That was a special day to be finally living in the community where we planted Cornerstone Baptist Church DeWitt three years previously.

It has been a great year.  We are very thankful for the transition our two youngest children have experienced from North Scott to Central DeWitt schools.  Teachers, administration, parents and students went out of their way to welcome our kids and help them to get connected.  That “outreach” has helped our family feel even more accepted and welcome.  We all know that when people bless our kids they are also blessing the parents.   

Going out of our way to welcome new people is really one of the most important things we all can do, whether it be to guests coming to your church for the first time or customers walking into your business or new families moving into the community.  Being good at welcoming others translates into new church members or returning customers or families that will choose to raise their kids and grand-kids here.

My family’s transition wasn’t as difficult as others that move into our community.  Some are coming from out of state.  Some are coming from different socioeconomic situations.  Some are coming from more dangerous environments where it wasn’t safe walking down main street. For some it will take time for them to lower their guard and feel comfortable in this safer environment.  May we continue to excel at welcoming new people into our wonderful community so they can experience all that DeWitt has to offer.  

May you and yours have a wonderful Christmas and a blessed 2018.

Mark Zevenbergen- Campus Pastor, Cornerstone Baptist Church Dewitt

It was Meant To Be!

In January of 2014, my husband Kevin and I purchased the established business of Meant To Be in downtown DeWitt.  At that time we added fresh flowers to the store, which was the reason for the name change to Meant To Be With Flowers.  I completed Floral Design Schooling in West Palm Beach from South Florida Center for Floral studies in 2013.  It had always been a passion for me to become a floral designer and I truly enjoy decorating and searching for new, unique ideas!

I grew up in a small town in Northeastern Iowa on a dairy farm, and I have always had a passion to work hard, play hard, be kind and pray!  I feel very fortunate to own a small business in DeWitt and to be a part of this thriving community!  I realize that owning a small business takes lots of hard work, commitment, and a dedication to make every customer that comes in the door feel like they are special.  Our main focus at Meant To Be With Flowers is for people to feel welcome and regardless if they purchase anything or not, that they feel at home! I enjoy hearing our customers call this their “happy place”, or when they say they would like to “bottle our smell up and take home”!  We have a special candle always burning, butter maple syrup is our signature scent.  One of our hometown customer service details is every customer that comes in the door is greeted with a delicious chocolate mint.

DeWitt is becoming a “destination small town” and I am honored to be part of the retail businesses.  I feel we do our best to direct people to other shops in town if they are looking for something that we do not offer.  When customers realize that the retail businesses are working together it makes their shopping experience even more rewarding.  As a businesses owners I really enjoy the DCDC’s Look Local First Campaign we have lots of customers, local and visitors to the community, talking about the program and the Chamber Bucks drawings.  It is exciting to hear customers for miles away talking so highly of DeWitt!

My husband Kevin and I are blessed with four wonderful children, Jenna 25, Krista 23, Colin 20, and Kara 16.  I enjoy golfing, exercising, spending time with family and the long hours of being a small business owner.  I feel my reward for the long hours and commitment to the business is helping people find those unique gift items, decorating for hours for each holiday, which our entire store is now Christmas!  And of course I love to visit with customer and listen to their likes in home décor! Have a Happy Holiday Season and stop by to view our decorated LIVE Window during the upcoming Hometown Christmas Window Walk, on December 2nd!

Lisa Duffy – Owner of Meant to Be With Flowers

Small Town Business Serving a World-Wide Racing Industry

For a little over a year, Grothus Dragbikes (GDB) has been proud to call the welcoming and  flourishing town of DeWitt its new home for both our motorcycle dragbike product manufacturing & sales as well as our professional race team headquarters. With involvement in the motorcycle drag racing industry for well over twenty-five years, we at GDB are proud to be an industry leading manufacturer of 200+ mph motorcycles built in the Crossroads (to Opportunity) Business Park.

A vision of a motorcycle drag racing team that started in the 1980’s has now grown into a world-wide business serving customers from all across North America to as far as Greece and Saudi Arabia. With a desire to pursue our manufacturing interests, we are constantly innovating and engineering products to take motorcycle drag racing to newer and safer heights. While doing so, we are able to put our STEM skills to use day in and day out as we build drag racing components and a knowledge database that helps ourselves and our customers win on race day. Grothus Dragbikes allows us to combine two things we are passionate about – first and most obviously, Drag Racing – secondly, manufacturing. Merging both of our passions allows us to be a unique business as we truly “race what we sell”. This means that we are able to rigorously test our products at both the shop and racetracks across the nation in order to make beneficial changes to them prior to their official release to the consumer.

Many of our high quality components, now all manufactured in DeWitt, were on display as part of Manufacturing/STEM Fest presented by the DeWitt Chamber & Development Company and the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council earlier this month. We were proud to exemplify our exciting contributions to manufacturing with over 1,000 engaged students from rural Clinton County School Districts, including the Central DeWitt Community School DistrictSt. Joseph Catholic School & Calamus-Wheatland Community School. From the Science behind rotating mass and enhancing combustion, to the Technology we use with CAD CAM software in the designing, testing and machining product phases, to the Engineering of lighter, stronger components, to the Math of calculations of weight distributions and forces, STEM is very much a part of the racing industry. STEM Fest was an incredible opportunity to help showcase the varied and exciting industries where manufacturing plays a pivotal role. Speaking to students about their interests and what excites them about manufacturing made for a successful event indeed! 

Bradley Grothus – Grothus Drag Bikes

Thankful I “Was Born In a Small Town” with BIG Opportunities

I am a Central DeWitt Alumni double majoring in Marketing and Event Management at Iowa State University. I proudly tout my I <3 DeWitt koozie with me around Ames and I love having my friends visit my hometown. Although DeWitt is a small town, we have so much to offer! After working at various places in DeWitt, and as Marketing and Events Intern at First Central State Bank this summer, I have had the opportunity to experience many different roles within the community.

When I look back, growing up in DeWitt was perfect. I wouldn’t change ANYTHING. I attended St. Joes K-8th and learned so much about community, being a friend, and being a productive student. As a kid, there were so many ways to be active in DeWitt. Although sports weren’t always my thing, in a small community they were a way to learn how to be a team mate and see community members support each other. 4-H taught me how to work hard, apply myself, and give back to my community.

In high school, I found my passion for business. Mr. Petsche encouraged me to join Future Business Leaders of America and enroll in various business courses. He was an amazing mentor and opened my eyes to all the opportunities DeWitt has for young professionals. Once I reached my senior year of high school, I became the Dewitt Chamber and Development Company’s very first intern. The DCDC now hosts an intern each year and continues to give them the tools necessary to be successful.

Although I have been a Cyclone my entire life, it became real the fall of 2015 when I packed up my belongings and made the trip to Ames to embark on my college journey at Iowa State University. I realized how fortunate I was that my hometown school, Central DeWitt Community School District, provided so many amazing duel credit opportunities.   Because of this I began my college career with a plethora of credits and could jump right into my core business classes and continue on pursuing my dreams. Freshmen are typically told it is hard to get an internship, not impossible but uncommon. I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I had seen various Facebook posts about the Ohnward Leadership Program and was eager to apply.  What’s better than being able to come back to your hometown AND have an adult job?

Guess What?  I got the job! The Ohnward Leadership Program helped me find my strengths and nurture my passion for social media marketing, design, and event planning. Learning about community banks only strengthened my dedication to my hometown and my views of pursuing a career within a small community. I was able to attend many different community based committee meetings for the Central DeWitt Performing Arts Center, DeWitt Chamber & Development Company, LincolnWay Foundation of Greater Dubuque and the DeWitt Crossroads Triathlon. Sitting in on these committee meetings gave me a new perspective on community involvement and a great appreciation for everyone who continues to volunteer their time to make our community thrive.

Fast-forward to THIS year! You may have seen me out and about representing First Central State Bank!  Throughout the summer months I served as a Marketing and Events intern. Aside from managing First Central’s various social media platforms, I assist in the planning and implementation of various events that we sponsor throughout the year.  Having the opportunity to donate my time and efforts into making events like the Clinton County Fair successful and exciting, is extremely rewarding. For example, this year I designed and implemented fun Snapchat filters to use at the fair! This was something outside of the box for First Central.  Piloting this idea at First Central and seeing the results was very exciting and rewarding.  First Central State Bank has been receptive to new ideas, continues to offer opportunities to put ones passion, and interests to work.  This in turn continues to benefit our local communities in various ways.

I have determined through the years that, without exceptional teachers, parents, mentors, and employers I would not be the young professional that I am today. My education and these various local opportunities have shaped my knowledge and experience, but my mentors have encouraged my passions and interests. Ultimately, Central DeWitt Community School District, First Central State Bank, Ohnward Bancshares, Inc., Iowa State University, my friends and family and the DeWitt Community provided me with opportunities for growth.  I will be forever thankful that I was born in a SMALL town with BIG opportunities.

Thank you, DeWitt!

Madeleine Blandin –  Central DeWitt Alumni, Class of 2015                                                                 Junior Double Majoring in Marketing and Event Management at Iowa State University

A Celebration 40 Years in the Making!

The Central Community Historical Society was organized in 1977 after DeWitt celebrated its Bicentennial in 1976. There was $2,200 left from the Bicentennial funds and Marvin Doescher, who was the town historian, wanted to start a small museum and historical society in DeWitt. The interested group met at his home and by March, 1977 “The Central Community Historical Society” had its beginning. Ann Soenksen, was elected President, Vice President:  Ed Green, Secretary:  Linda Jasper, Treasurer: Eleanor Arey. Board members : Coral Hesse, Virginia Templeton, Genevieve Endries, and Marvin Doescher.

For the next ten years the Central Community Historical Society held monthly meetings at The DeWitt Community Center. Numerous programs were held during this time including Historical Tours throughout the county for a number of years. Programs on dolls, toys, quilts, aprons, a style show and local artists along with others were presented. The Society also participated in local events in the area. In addition during March the society featured a special “Old Fashioned Day” presentation at the 4-H grounds.

Marvin Doescher passed away in 1983. He had stored all the items that were donated and collected by the Historical Society at his produce business in DeWitt. A year or so after his death the business was sold and the items were taken to the Doescher home and to Floyd and Ann Soenksen’s home. Well the donations kept coming and in 1987 the Society was in dire need of a building as space was running out at the two homes.

Fortunately the Krukow family, who owned the building at 628 6th Ave knew the Historical Society was looking for a building to open as a museum. The society had built up about half the purchase price that the Krukow family was asking for their building. President Ann Soenksen then went to the DeWitt City Council for assistance and got the other half of the purchase price. This was to be received in increments over the next five years.

The Society immediately began restoration of the building which involved many hours and the help of volunteers as there was a great deal of clean-up and hard work to complete the project. The museum doors opened with a dedication on June 14, 1987. Donations kept coming in and soon the original building wasn’t large enough to display all the items. The Society applied for and received a grant from the Gaming Commission and built a metal building to the south of the original museum building

The Society has been the recipient of two estate donations which help tremendously in making it possible for the Society to purchase a third building directly east of the original building and also to allow the building of another metal building to the southeast. The society continues to receive donations and is very grateful to all the donors, members and especially to the volunteers, who have helped to make The Historical Society Museum a great asset to the community of DeWitt and its surrounding area.

I would like to say that spending the last 40 years seeing the Central Community Historical Society grown from $2,200 to the four buildings on a quarter of a city block  museum has been very rewarding. I feel it is very important to save our past for the future generations. To understand how the old phones, cameras, books, toys, clothes, dishes and furniture work and looked like.

My own personal interest in the museum is our genealogy area. I have been doing genealogy since 1963 when my paternal grandmother passed away. I feel that it is very important to know where we came from and the struggles and lives that our ancestors lived. I want to invite everyone to stop in for our open house on Aug. 20th from 1-4 and visit the museum.  We also encourage people who are looking for a volunteer opportunity to let us know.  We can always use help with the many tasks that it takes to keep the museum available for the public to enjoy. Also, think of donating to the Society if you come across things that might be a good fit for our collections and displays.

Ann Soenksen, President: Central Community Historical Society

Fresh Food & Friendly Conversations

At the core of community is the sharing of food.  A farmer’s market is a shared space wherein folks meet face to face and talk about food.  Perhaps this explains why the number of farmer’s markets nationwide have increased from 1755 in 1996 to 8,144 in 2013.  A farmer’s market connects people together.  A farmer’s market provides space for friendly conversations with folks who actually have grown, harvested and prepared food.  Folks at a farmer’s market share not only the food itself, but also information about how the food is grown and prepared.  Shoppers  at a farmer’s market can ask questions and express their preferences in face to face conversations with vendors.

‘Walkable space’ is a term used by city planners and developers to refer to a shared space within community that is accessible on foot.  There’s really nothing new about this concept—in plain English, we call this space a “park”.  Such shared spaces seem to connect people together and enhance the quality of life in a community. Here in DeWitt our farmer’s market is centrally located on the east side of Lincoln Park Thursday afternoons (between 3:30-6:30PM) from May thru October.  Although we struggle from time to time with unpleasant weather, on good days many folks seem to enjoy a walk to the market from their homes.  There is grass, shade, benches, and picnic tables, and a playground nearby.  The DeWitt Farmer’s Market is a relaxing way to get some exercise on a summer afternoon and to visit with neighbors.  It doesn’t cost as much money as some other outdoor entertainment.   It’s truly a nice walk in the park.

John Ivens, Farmers Market Manager

Community Gallery is a Labor of Love

The DeWitt Operahouse Theatre was built in 1876 and underwent a renovation/restoration in 1979-1982.  The DeWitt Theater Company bought the building next door and began the second renovation and expansion that included a larger lobby, handicapped accessibility, main floor restrooms along with gallery space for display of artist’s work.  The project had been a labor of love for the DeWitt Theater Company, many of whose members had been involved in the first renovation.  After 3 years of planning, fundraising, and finally construction, the Operahouse Theater was ready to reopen! Interest in building a gallery based on the John Bloom legacy, the Grant Wood byway corridor, and nationally known DeWitt artist, Ellen Wagner, became a reality.  With the generous contributions and the major sponsor, First Central State Bank, the new First Central Art Gallery resulted.

As former art teachers and members of the DeWitt Area Fine Arts Foundation Gallery Committee, we arrange for area artists to exhibit their work in the gallery.  The goal is to enrich the quality of life in our community by encouraging, supporting and promoting the fine arts.  Our mission is to provide and coordinate fine art exhibits for the community.  The committee acquires lists of artists by attending area art events, visiting specific artist’s exhibits or by recommendations of other artists.  We also communicate with Central DeWitt art teachers to schedule displays of student’s work.  Each exhibit has a 2 month slot in our bi-yearly schedule. Photos and information about the artist is also published in The Observer to help promote the works.

We have been fortunate to show a variety of mediums (watercolor, acrylic/oil on canvas, pastels, pencil drawings, graphics, collages, photographs) and genres (nature, abstract, wildlife, portraits, cityscapes, landscapes, whimsical, and calligraphy).  This year we are including the old American art form of quilting, running between July 3rd and August 1st in the gallery.

We are privileged to use time and talent to serve on the Gallery Committee and encourage everyone to enjoy and support this cultural and educational addition to our great community!

Carol Beck and Elaina Lomsdalen – DeWitt Area Fine Arts Foundation Gallery Committee Members

It’s Not Just A Day Off: The Meaning of Memorial Day

What does Memorial Day mean to you? Brats, burgers, beverages, and time spent with friends and family. We look forward to the long weekend, shorts, and flip flops, but the reason behind the celebration may often be overlooked.

My grandfather would wake up each morning and raise his flag. He would pull on the rope, and the pulley would squeak like a trapped field mouse. His eyes were fixed on Old Glory as the stripes waived, and the stars appeared and disappeared in the gentle breeze. With a few quick flips of his wrist, the hoist rope would be secured to the cleat. Melvin would take two large steps back, and again fix his gaze on our country’s flag. I remember counting in my head just to see how long his stare would last. One one-thousand, two-one thousand, three one-thousand. Often, his mental journey would be cut short when my grandmother’s voice would echo from inside the house soliciting his assistance with breakfast. He’d drop his head, square his shoulders, and return to his husbandly duties.

Melvin Swiderski served in World War II. As an infantryman, he would often tell me comedic stories about waking up intoxicated on a bus bench in Italy, and branding himself with nothing but his field knife and ink pen. My mom would quickly chastise him for filling my head with tales of crazy antics. Melvin would look at her, and then look back at me, and issue a playful wink. He didn’t speak of death, sorrow, loss, and anger, but, if you paid attention, you would catch a glimpse of anchored memories in the corner of his brown eyes.

I’ll never know the details of Melvin’s experience. He passed away in 2008, and was given a funeral with military honors. He was preceded in death by his wife Laura, so I had the privilege of presenting the flag to my Aunt Pat. I was wearing my dress blues, with my own combat ribbons pinned to my chest. She cried. I cried.

I served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Because of my service, I now have the privilege of telling my own tales of inebriated pit stops and youthful shenanigans. When the laughter begins to fade, my thoughts always drift toward memories that will forever tattoo my soul with appreciation, and deep-rooted respect for those who offered the ultimate sacrifice.

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for every soldier, airman, seamen, and Marine who has died serving in the American armed forces. My charge to you is to take a moment on May 29th to reflect on the importance of their actions. Memorial Day is to be celebrated, but never let the celebration over shadow the sacrifice.

Written by Andy Sokolovich, Clinton, IA, in honor and remembrance of Melvin Swiderski (Pop-Pop). Birth: 07/02/1920, Death: 09/13/2008, Veteran, United States Army