Category Archives: Look Local First

Supporting DeWitt, Growing A Business

In the DeWitt community, Krieger’s has been a longstanding community leader helping to raise tens of thousands of dollars for various projects in DeWitt. Currently, the dealership has raised nearly $20,000 for the Frances Banta Waggoner Community Library.  We also do a yearly drawing on prom night, giving some lucky student their first vehicle.  Other projects that we are proud to be part of are the yearly cake auction and the annual golf tournament sponsored by the Lions club. Krieger’s through the years has been a donor to many other silent auctions and private fundraisers.  We do this because we love being part of DeWitt and know that a strong community supports its local businesses.

Krieger Auto started way back in the 1920’s when two young automobile mechanics worked together at the local Ford dealer in Muscatine, Horst and Strieter. Joseph Krieger and Charles Henderson were the mechanics. Charles opened his own garage in 1931, known as Henderson’s Garage in downtown Muscatine. Joe joined Charles in 1932 and they became equal partners in the garage. Soon after, Chevrolet stopped by the garage and asked them to take on Chevrolet, and as time went along during the 30’s, the two partners acquired numerous other franchises, including Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Cadillac. The original dealership operated out of a 3 story building, with service on the first floor, the second story was the showroom, and a body shop utilized the third floor.

In 1951, General Motors wanted to separate the Pontiac – Cadillac franchise from Chevrolet and Oldsmobile. Marvin Krieger then designed a new building at the corner of Sycamore and Mississippi Drive that would house Henderson’s Chevrolet – Oldsmobile. After a few tough years running the two garages together, they decided to go their separate ways. Henderson’s Chevy Olds continued to run out of the new building and Krieger’s Pontiac Cadillac out of the three-story garage.

The beginnings of Krieger’s in 1956 were a tough going. A young Marvin Krieger struggled to operate the business. Marvin invested in hiring quality employees to help run the operation. Hiring great folks like Warren Tutt, Carson Schwandke, John Sprouse and Evie Lange, the business started to flourish. This started the principles of the “Krieger Way” of doing business.

Hiring Quality employees and treating them as such, providing exceptional Customer Service, and staying true to our small town values will add up to a bright future for everyone.

You will find a breath of fresh air blowing through every Krieger’s location. It is a new spirit of service that starts with a good neighbor approach and a renewed dedication to listening. Krieger Auto Group has been serving customers since 1956. Selling and servicing new and pre-owned Buick, Chevrolet, GMC, Ford, Lincoln, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, and Ram vehicles. Hiring quality employees and treating them as such, providing excellent customer service, and staying true to our small town values will add up to a bright future for everyone.

We are excited to work with the DCDC in strengthening our ties to the community.  This summer we plan to sponsor one of the outdoor movie nights and other events to give back to the community that has given so much to us.

Whether you are looking for a new or a high quality used car, truck or SUV Cross-Over, quality mechanical service or repair, an experienced detail department to clean and freshen up your vehicle, you can depend on the decades of experience at Krieger’s of DeWitt. Krieger’s Auto Group, a proud partner in the Muscatine and DeWitt communities.  “Shop us once you are Family for life”.

~Mark Christenson, Sales Manager at Krieger’s DeWitt 

A Sunny Outlook For Business!

In January of 2018, my husband Larry and I purchased Sun Central Tanning Salon in DeWitt.  At
that time we really didn’t know much about the tanning industry but we were excited to be a part of a small business venture in DeWitt.

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 Sun Central is for people to feel welcome, comfortable and take care of their needs. I enjoy being told on a daily basis that “I am the best part of their day”. People are always so happy to be here and their smiles are contagious, bringing sunshine in with them no matter what the weather is! 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 business owner, 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 see all the ways that the Chamber is there to help out all small businesses.

Soon we will be moving to our new location 606 9th Street (the old police station) where we are
excited to offer 2 different levels of UV tanning, Airbrush Spray Tanning, Red Light Therapy, Retail Items, Custom Clothing, Vinyl Graphics, CBD Oil and Lotus Energy Drinks. We will also have 4 house stylists running their own business inside our Salon. Without all the support from our wonderful customers, The DCDC and the community this move may not have happened! So Thank YOU to all!

My husband Larry and I are blessed with 3 wonderful children, Kadi 28, Joshua 26 and Noah 14. We also are blessed with 2 grandchildren Elliana 11 and Boston 2, with grandbaby #3 due at the end of March named Delilah.  We also have 4 wonderful fur babies Maci, Shelbi, Molli, and Gunner. I enjoy hunting, camping, baseball and spending time with family. When I am not at the Salon you will most likely find me at either one of my son’s sporting events or my grandkids. They keep me on my toes for sure! My husband and I are very excited to have our own business in DeWitt as well as having great family memories!

Crossroads Triathlon Step One: Sign Up!!

The DeWitt, Iowa Crossroads Triathlon has been part of my annual “to do list” for more than a decade.  The event is beginner friendly with lots of community spirit and always a challenge no matter how many triathlons you have completed.

For me the idea of having a physical challenge bucket list is a must.  I have learned since I was 10 years old that saying yes by signing up is a good way to motivate the mind and body.  I have been picking out annual endurance sporting challenges for about as long as I can remember.  Triathlons first captured my attention when I was in high school.  What has been important to me is that the events I pick be achievable but also challenging.  How far can I go and what might I get to experience? How fast can I complete the event relative to my current fitness?

My first triathlon was the Quad City Triathlon in the late 1980s.  I had read about and saw pictures of pro triathletes that were very inspiring.  I was working as a lifeguard at Scott County Park Pool and enjoyed running and biking.  Swimming competitively was far different than the fitness and skill necessary to lifeguard.  My weakness would definitely be the open water swim.  What helped me say yes to the challenge and sign up for the event was a new life guarding friend.  He was a competitive swimmer and strong biker.  His worry was the run which I convinced him was no big deal.  My friend and I both finished despite struggling so much on our weaknesses during the event.  We were filled with a sense of accomplishment and a sense of euphoria that can’t be purchased.  We both were hooked and continued to pursue rewarding experiences through endurance sports.

30 years later there are many more triathlons to pick from in Eastern Iowa.  Jeff and Amy Castro started the Crossroads Triathlon and it is now continued by the DeWitt community with the support of DeWitt Parks and Rec and First Central State Bank.  The triathlon has a less crowded time trial start with self seeding and a challenging yet accessible course.  My goals each year have changed.  I was able to be part of a team with my wife and oldest son in 2017 which was a lot of fun.  I also get excited to encourage new participants to complete their first triathlon; whether as leg for a team or individual.  2018 will also offer a youth triathlon which has my 3 kids excited to see if they can complete the swim, bike, run challenge.

The first step to experiencing the sense of accomplishment and triathlete euphoria is to sign up.  Regardless of your current fitness level, registering will motivate you to physically prepare and feel great doing so.  Check out this great event and I am sure you too can make endurance sports part of your yearly experiences!

Ron Zimmer, DeWitt Resident and Triathlete 

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

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

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

Found My Way Back to the Farm

In 2002, I graduated from Central DeWitt.  I earned an engineering degree from Iowa State and utilized that degree working at a manufacturer in Central Iowa for 6 years.  After 10 years of being away, I moved back to my hometown of DeWitt with my fiancé, Erin. Our decision to move back was rooted in the value of family and opportunity.

Family…there is no better support than family and friends!  When asked where we wanted to raise a family, the answer was fairly simple, “DeWitt“!  It took some time to get here, but it was easy to say that if we were blessed with being parents,  that DeWitt was where we wanted to raise our children.  For us, DeWitt is within a matter of minutes of parents, grandparents, siblings, and cousins.  Having two children, the proximity to this loving network of family and friends, not to mention last-minute babysitters, is great!

DeWitt is a community that has all of the core pillars we believe in: excellent schools, active churches, great local businesses, these are areas we believe to be important.  Some may have changed face in the last decade, but the solid foundation of people and places still remain.  This is home and this community always feel like family.

Opportunity… I grew up on a family farm a few miles east of DeWitt.  Learning the value of hard Mae and Callie SkySharework was easy to grasp when following in the footsteps of my grandfather, father, and older brother.  I learned a much greater appreciation for this lifestyle after moving away and experiencing another shake of life.  The opportunity for me to be able to come back and be a part of the farm operation is something I do not take for granted.  I am blessed to be able to jump on this fast moving train of row-crop agriculture.  Who am I to pass up on such an opportunity?  It has been one of the most humbling experiences of my life.  Three years of conversation and planning took place before coming back to the family farm.  My wife and I farm our own corn and soybean crops within the Niemann family farming operation.  We also own and manage SkyShare, LLC which is an aerial application business that provides custom application of crop care products via aircraft. My family and I have enjoyed the challenge of it all and I am glad to once again call DeWitt home.

Matthew Niemann, DeWitt Family Farmer & owner of SkyShare, LLC