Category Archives: Look Local First

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

 

With So Many Choices, Why Look Local First?

No one business can be all things to all people.  And the number of options available to shoppers is greater than ever.  Online vendors, big box stores and franchise businesses offer many advantages. Small Businesses have distinct attributes and advantages as well, and hopefully, give you reasons to Look Local First.

Small Businesses represent community, an interdependence among its residents, neighbors and city leaders.  They offer personalized service and unique finds, but more importantly – a slower pace, and an experience to be enjoyed with family and friends.  They know, enjoy and appreciate their customers, and they cannot exist without local support.

THE CROSSROADS Inspired Living & Garden Cafe opened its doors on June 20, 2011 after a nine month renovation of the former Martha’s Café.  The name recognizes in part, the historical crossroads of two transnational highways 30 & 61 at DeWitt’s downtown intersection of 6th Avenue & 10th Street. DeWitt’s many quality of life amenities along with its nice downtown and music along 6th Avenue, its proximity to the Quad City area and surrounding communities, made it seem like a good location to open a new business.

This was truly a family endeavor and partnership.  As such, it was not only an investment in DeWitt, but a time of making memories and rejuvenation following a period of ill health.  Indeed, it was the beginning of a new and adventuresome journey that still continues to this day.  Having celebrated our 5th Anniversary this past June, we can say that “It is good to be here.” For truly, the best part of this journey so far has been sharing ‘Inspiration’ and ‘Experiences’ with so many people along the way.

That’s what Small Businesses are about:  Personal Connections and integrating what we do into everyday life.  Just one of many reasons to Look Local FirstDo enjoy all that DeWitt has to offer.  Experience Your Hometown….  And Meet Us at THE CROSSROADS.  Be Inspired!

Linda Snyder – Owner of THE CROSSROADS Inspired Living & Garden Cafe 

Get Inspired & Give Locally

 

There are so many ways to give back in the DeWitt community, especially during the holidays! What will inspire you to give or volunteer this season?

Toys For Tots – Three years ago I was asked to help with the Clinton County Toys For Tots Campaign. The Marines needed our help! So, I asked my brothers at the DeWitt Fire Department if they would be willing to assist with this great program for our local kids. Since that time, we have given out almost 1000 toys and served over 90 families in Dewitt alone. This year will be no different, over 45 children will receive 6-7 toys from our 2016 drive. We can’t do this without your help. Help support this program and drop an unwrapped, unopened toy for a child ages 6 months to 12 years at any of the drop off location listed below. The drive will go until December 14th.  Box Locations: IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union & 1ST Gateway Credit Union, First Central State BankDewitt United Methodist Church, Grace Lutheran Church, Dewitt Fire Department, Scott Drug, St. Joseph School, MJ’s East, Ekstrand Elementary, Central DeWitt Intermediate School, DeWitt City Hall, Theisen’s, and Frances Banta Waggoner Library   .

Garey Chrones – Toys For Tots volunteer

The Giving Tree Program  This program is initiated by DeWitt’s Referral Center to help local children receive a gift for Christmas.  The Referral Center prepares ornaments and DeWitt Junior Women picks the ornament tags up and delivers them to be displayed on trees at DeWitt Bank & Trust and First Central State Bank.  There are several tags that have ages of the children, gender, and needed/wanted items on the tags.  You don’t have to purchase each item listed and you can spend as much or as little as you wish. This program is an excellent way to give back to the local community.  I feel this is also a educational opportunity, by involving your children in the giving, it is a great reminder to all what the true meaning of Christmas really is.  Last week, I took my two children to Theisen’s to purchase the Giving Tree gifts and they had a great time picking out gifts for another child.  Next time you are in DeWitt Bank & Trust or First Central State Bank, take a look at the Giving Tree and get  inspired to grab a tag for a local child in need!

Amber Ernst – DeWitt Junior Women

DeWitt Referral Center The Referral Center assists those in need in the Central DeWitt School District. The needs are many and varied including food, housing assistance, clothing, gas for traveling to a job, Christmas toys and more.  The Referral Center is a non-profit organization that is governed by a Board of Directors.

At this time the 2016 Referral Center Holiday Food Box & Gift Drive is underway. Last year 173 children receive gifts, and 145 Families received Holiday Food Boxes. Volunteers are still needed to assist with the drive setup at the DeWitt Community Center on Dec. 12th & 13th between 8am – 5pm and on Dec. 14th from 8am – Noon to distribute items.  Please call the Referral Center at 563-659-9612 if you would like to volunteer and help ensure that this year’s drive will be the best yet!

The Referral Center also operates a resale shop year round that is open to the public,  where individuals may donate or purchase items. Donations of clothing, furnishings, food and cash donations are always appreciated. All donations are tax deductible. 

Michelle Ehlinger – Referral Center Director & Jan Nelson – Referral Center Board Member

From Cover to Cover – We are a non-profit agency co-founded by two graduates of Central DeWitt, Christina Kitchen and Gina Ryan Schlicksup. We began our mission 3 years ago by starting a “Snuggle Up and Read” campaign, to advocate literacy through the donation of homemade fleece tie blankets with a brand new book to at-risk children in the community. To date, there has been over 1,000 blanket sets and 5,000 books donated.

The From Cover to Cover Clinton County chapter was launched in October 2016 and is in the infancy stage. Our first project is one hefty undertaking, but as the chapter chair I know it can be done when living in a community as supportive as DeWitt! The project, “Book Angel Program” is in full-swing. You will see Christmas trees lined with bookmarks at Thiel Motors, Flowers on the Side, First Central State Bank, Snap Fitness and St. Joseph Church. To participate in the program simply visit one of the locations mentioned and choose a bookmark from the tree. The bookmark indicates the reading level and gender of a book you can purchase to be given to local children (ages range from pre-K to 8th Grade). Books, with the bookmark inside, are brought back to the location the bookmark was picked up at and dropped in the donation bins marked “From Cover to Cover”. The goal of the program is to provide every child at Ekstrand Elementary and St. Joe’s Catholic School (that is over 700 students), a brand new book at Christmas time. Monetary donations are also greatly appreciated and donations can be made at First Central State Bank to: From Cover to Cover Clinton County.

Our mission may be to promote literacy, but we have quickly learned that the journey is about so much more. It is about showing kindness and compassion. It is about providing a comforting gift and encouraging the next generation to be the best they can be. There is much work to be done here but with the help of our wonderful community, we can continue to make a difference one book and blanket at a time!

Christina Kitchen, From Cover to Cover co-founder

Shop with a Cop – The DeWitt Police Department is committed to the philosophy of community policing. Our goal is to implement programs that prevent crime and increase the public’s trust in the quality and professionalism of our service, while building lasting relationships in our community. Through a partnership with a group of caring citizens, the DeWitt Police Foundation, a non-profit organization was established to promote crime prevention, public safety, and education to the community. This foundation works to promote the quality of life in DeWitt by providing a charitable organization that can fund public safety initiatives that tax dollars may not always be able to fund.

One example of how the DeWitt Police Department works to accomplish this goal is the “Shop with a Cop” program.  Created five years ago, the program’s initial intent was to address the image officers sometime leave children with after they are forced to take action during certain situations.  For example, an arrest of a parent/guardian in a domestic violence case.  Due to this, the purpose became not only to repair the image of the officer, but to be proactive and build a stronger rapport with the youth in our community before negative situations occurred.

The DeWitt Police Department believes that in order to break the cycle that leads youths to criminal behavior; it requires an active effort from all by being positive role models for our youth.  The “Shop with a Cop” program has helped accomplish this by building trust and friendship while teaching respect and instilling values.  During the event, participating children are paired with a police officer who will give the children a ride in a police car ride to Theisen’s where they will purchase gifts for themselves and their family. After shopping the children are transported by police car to the community center where they are met by Citizen Police Academy (CPA) alumni.  The CPA alumni help the child/officer wrap gifts and many times there is a visit from Santa who bring stockings full of goodies for them. The children have pizza and watch a Christmas movie to finish the day. The smiling faces and positive energy the children display when their parent/guardian picks them up greatly benefits all of the participants and volunteers.

This type of program would not be possible without the kindness and willingness of volunteers and the business community that devote time, energy and economic resources to make this event a successful. For more information about how to become involved in the DeWitt Police Foundation or the Citizen Police Academy please contact the DeWitt Police Department at (563)-659-3145.

Chief David Porter – DeWitt Police Department

Made in DeWitt

October is National Manufacturing Month and in this month dedicated to manufacturing I encourage people to learn more about manufacturing in DeWitt. I began my career in this field twenty-two years ago. My journey started with an opportunity to work part-time at a company named JRB located in DeWitt’s Industrial Park.  JRB was a manufacturer of construction attachments for John Deere and other Original Equipment Manufacturer’s.  At the time I had no idea where the Crossroads Business Park (DeWitt’s Industrial Park) was, what companies were located in it, nor the goods they produced.  What I did recognize was an opportunity to work outside of the typical part-time high school job.  Like many other high school students, I hadn’t made up my mind what I wanted to do for a career. I did know that I wasn’t looking forward to four years of college and viewed this job as a way to see what else was out there.  

So, I found myself in a completely new environment, where people were welding, operating lathes, burn tables, boring machines and painting.  We were literally taking raw steel and processing it into loader buckets, forks, booms, and couplers.  I grew to love the various processes, people and new opportunities that presented themselves.  I got a deep sense of satisfaction when I saw a bucket on a Deere wheel loader that our team in DeWitt had proudly made, as a matter of fact, the bucket on the City of DeWitt’s 544 was made at the DeWitt facility.  

Just like any industry, construction equipment has its ups and downs.  I saw plant expansion and contraction, selling and acquiring businesses, new product lines and phasing out legacy products.  Through it all, I was able to turn hard work and dedication into opportunities for growth.  I worked my way through different departments and increased roles of responsibility culminating in a leadership role as a plant supervisor.  Unfortunately, in 2009, due to the biggest recession since the great depression, JRB was shuttered and production was moved to sister sites in other states.  I was fortunate to stay on with the company that owned JRB and traveled between Davenport and Dubuque to manage a small division called CustomWorks.

Then three years later in 2012 I saw an article in The Observer that a Canadian company called Black Cat Blades was purchasing the old JRB building in the Industrial Park.  I stopped by the plant one day that October which led to a four month interview process where I was given the opportunity to get to know Black Cat and the culture that is very important to our business model.  A large part of what attracted Black Cat to DeWitt was not just the fact that the Industrial Park was less than 20 minutes north of Deere Davenport Works or 50 minutes south of Deere Dubuque Works, it was the people from the area they were meeting which started with the DCDC and DCDC members.  

The thought has always been that the community of DeWitt was a good fit for Black Cat’s culture and guiding principles, and that continued through the use of local contractors like Jansen ElectricHolst Construction and Dorhman during start up.  We believe in building relationships in the community we operate in and over the last four years I feel we have been successful in becoming part of the community.  We now employee 16 team members and in 2014 we started manufacturing wear blades in addition to our warehousing activities. DeWitt is very fortunate to have a successful Industrial Park and the jobs and opportunities that exist within it.  

So the next time you have a few minutes take a drive through the Crossroads Business Park and you will see all kinds of different manufacturing companies making anything from air fresheners, glass, testing products, wear components, pumps and valves, and ground engaging tools.  These companies come from all around the United States and other countries like Canada, Italy, and Sweden and truly demonstrate that DeWitt is part of a global economy.  

Josh Daniel, Black Cat Blades – DeWitt Plant Manager

See more about how DeWitt Delivers manufacturing and more!

 

 

The Logic of Looking Local First

Options by the numbers.  Thirteen companies offer insurance services in DeWitt which cover home, auto, life and health look local logo color (1)needs. Over ten financial institutions present a variety of services such as banking, investing, and accounting; and six of them offer tax service, which is important to note during tax season. If you are wanting to change your look, try one of the five hair salons like Touch of Bliss Salon Spa or the two barber shops in town. Four printing and signage companies like Custom Art and Signs offer many different custom services for your business or personal needs. With all those options and competitive prices, you don’t have to look out of town.

Reliable problem solvers right around the corner. You don’t have to call an 800 number and be put on hold. Not only are there many options and quality service, there’s a bounty of highly trained professionals right here in DeWitt. Frustrated with spreadsheets at work? Hasenmiller Spreadsheet Solutions specializes in optimizing your time by customizing spreadsheets. Need some advice on a house addition?  Consult with one of the three highly experienced construction companies, three electrical contractors or two plumbing and heating companies in town. Does your car need a tune up? Take advice from the three long-standing mechanic shops right around the corner. Three attorney offices offer legal expertise to business and individual clients, which saves a trip to larger cities when dealing with legal matters.

Welcoming community equals business growth. While offering services locally, many companies stretch their territory to a large part of Midwest zip codes. Sandry Fire Supply not only provides gear and equipment to many surrounding states’ fire departments, but also provides emergency car-cutting training to places in South Africa and Europe. Kirby Water Conditioning and Jansen Electric both service a 60-mile radius from DeWitt, offering their expertise to many communities. On the other hand, Grace Lutheran Camp and the Clinton County Fairgrounds literally keep themselves local; however, they service people from all over the region with their extensive community rental facilities.

Giving back. Locally owned businesses build strong communities by supporting local causes. Evidence is in the long list of contributors at a local fundraiser. Title sponsors at a charity event. It’s visible at the Veterans Memorial, a collaboration of companies such as Holst Construction, Hansen Monuments, Jansen Electric and others, who brought their quality of work to a meaningful project.

Rooted in DeWitt, these professional service companies provide us with the advantage of their expertise every day. Reliable problem-solvers with dependable service, highly trained and price competitive. Look Local First. It’s all here, right around the corner.