Tag Archives: Community

OPPORTUNITY – Iowa Small Business Owners

What I’m about to tell you will all sound “too good to be true” and you’ll keep waiting for the “catch” when you learn that this Small Business Program will cost you $0. It is my belief that the intention is to simply help small businesses grow.

We are fortunate to live in a town that fosters great connections to the people and businesses in it. We are able to share our successes and work together to find ways to help small businesses grow in DeWitt. The DeWitt Chamber & Development Company is one of the organizations that supports and encourages those business and personal connections. That’s why I reached out to them to help me share this opportunity with our small business, with the hope that a few of our small businesses become even better, which would impact the overall vibrancy of our DeWitt economy.

I am Mary Sandry, co-owner of Sandry Fire Supply in DeWitt. Last year I participated in a program called 10,000 Small Businesses (10KSB), a collaborative training program sponsored by Goldman Sachs.  The goal is to put existing small businesses through a business education program which fosters business growth.  I am excited to share that this program is now going to be available to up to 60 small businesses in Iowa through a “state-wide” collaboration between Iowa Community Colleges.  It will cost nothing for these businesses to participate.

I learned about 10KSB when I was looking for someone/something to help Bob and I evaluate our business and assist us with planning for its future. My experience was without a doubt, the best thing I’ve ever done for myself and our business.

Although I will admit that I was completely skeptical and particularly cautious, it turned out to be a great decision.  The program consists of a combination of online and in-person sessions, along with training in such things as financial statements, hiring practices, marketing, negotiations, etc., I ended up gaining so much more. The networking opportunities and the shared experience with like-minded business owners were invaluable.

The opportunity to work side by side with business owners who experience the same challenges with business operation and growth was incredible.  I have established what I hope to be life-long relationships with contacts who truly want to help me grow my business.

We have used the guidance from the program to develop a new marketing plan for Sandry Fire which gives us the reach we needed to establish new connections and ultimately grow.  We have enhanced numerous in-house processes and software programs that allow for continued growth and improved customer support. Best of all, 10KSB has given me the confidence and courage to take the steps to grow and develop ourselves into the company that supports our core values.

Since completing the program in November 2017, our business has experienced an almost 50% growth.  Although we cannot attribute all of that to this program, I do believe that it has made a difference in the future of Sandry Fire Supply.  We have the knowledge and resources to continue to grow.

Participation in this program will be a significant commitment of your time.  Time to learn and grow – while continuing to operate your business.  But the opportunity to make your business better is truly one you shouldn’t pass up.

Please consider applying for this opportunity.  If you have any questions or would like to hear more about 10KSB, feel free to contact me (mary@sandryfire.com) or check out the 10KSB Iowa website (www.10KSBapply.com/iowa) to learn more about their mission and what other businesses have gained through this opportunity.

Good Luck – and “Let’s Make Small Big” in Iowa!

 

Mary Sandry

Sandry Fire Supply LLC

Serving Those Who Serve Our Communities

I Love My Library

Books have always been an important part of my life. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit The Old Library. Just stepping inside immediately transported me back to the hours I spent in the children’s section as a young girl. I can still remember the shelf where I could find the latest installment of The Boxcar Children. However, what surprised me most was how small it felt. The shelves are long gone, but it is truly amazing how the staff was able to provide such a wealth of information and services in such a small environment. In the late 1980’s, citizens recognized the need to improve the library and designed it to better meet the needs of the community. Just like in 1989, the time has come again to improve the library in order to fulfill library patrons’ needs.

The libraries of the 21st century are not just about books. Although I will be the first to admit that books are still important in a library. It is also about providing residents with WiFi, computers, meeting spaces, diverse programs, makerspaces, and so much more. The staff at the Frances Banta Waggoner Community Library has done a tremendous job over the years with providing many of these opportunities to its patrons. However, so many people are taking advantage of what the library has to offer that more space is needed. So again, we have come to a crossroads. It is time to improve and expand our current facility.

Expanding the current library will allow for more access to technology. Last year alone, the library’s computers had over 12,000 login sessions. In today’s digital world many of us forget that not everyone has WiFi readily available. Libraries work to lessen the digital divide to make sure that all citizens have the ability to use technology and have access to information. Library patrons will continue to be able to use the library’s WiFi and also have access to more than just the current six computers.

An expanded facility will also allow for more flexible and adaptable seating. People can connect with others who have similar interests. The meeting spaces in our current facility were reserved nearly 800 times last year alone. There have been instances when the current space would not hold enough people, so businesses had to look elsewhere for meetings or training sessions. A library’s goal is to provide a community gathering space for all. More space is needed to ensure this goal is being met.

I have lived in DeWitt nearly all my life. My family and I use the library on a regular basis. I love my library, and I am proud to live in a community which recognizes the need to expand and improve the facility to better meet the needs of the people it serves. Libraries transform lives and create lifelong learners. My life was transformed at that small library on the corner of 6th Avenue and 9th Street. Now, I am beyond overjoyed to realize that once again I have the possibility of using and enjoying an expanded facility which will provide even more benefits for this town and its residents.

-Jen Kizer, Enthusiastic Library Expansion Supporter and Patron

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 

Paul Skeffington Memorial Race: More Than Just A Road Race

The first running of the Paul Skeffington Memorial Race took place on June 11th, 1988. It was started by the family of Paul Skeffington, a popular local businessman, who passed away in January of 1988. At that time, I was the Director of the DeWitt Chamber of Commerce Chamber so when the family asked for ideas for a memorial we proposed a race/run/walk with proceeds to go towards community projects.  Paul had been an avid walker and huge supporter of the community, so this seemed like a natural fit.  So how did we “run a race”?  Well, with the help of a group of runners, along with the Skeffington family, other volunteers, and business sponsors we put on a race that had 330 participants…but who would have thought that 31 years later the race would still be running!!!  Over the years, this race, under the direction of a hardworking group of volunteers, has grown in popularity.  The postrace party has evolved into a community, family friendly event.  In fact, this will be the first time our postrace party will be listed on the Tunes in Town schedule and promoted as the only Saturday night concert with music by Wild Oatz, food by the DeWitt Nite Lions, and a beer garden sponsored by Hall of Fame Pizza & Wings & Scott Drug. You can find additional information on our web site http://skeffrace.com/

And true to its original mission, the Paul Skeffington Memorial Race continues to support improvement projects for our community. The race annually provides two $500 scholarships to Central DeWitt High School seniors. The race has also made significant contributions to DeWitt Parks and Recreation projects that include a $30,000 donation towards the new bridge at Westbrook Park and $25,000 for the Paul Skeffington Memorial Trail expansion that will be part of this year’s race course.  I was actively involved with the race for the first 10 years.  At that point in time, I felt it was time for new leadership and stepped back.  Three years ago, I was approached to serve as the race director – Thinking back to the legacy of Paul, his commitment and support of the community and to fitness, I found myself saying yes…And I also found that some things haven’t changed.  The race is still organized by an excellent group of volunteers.  The Fun Run is still FREE and we’ve gone back to having a bike give away for the youngsters who take part.  And the cost of the race has stayed the same since the first one which is due to the phenomenal sponsorship support we get from area businesses!  And post party keeps evolving into a community gathering of runners, walkers, spectators, with family friendly events, food, and FREE entertainment!

I moved to DeWitt in 1977 as a newlywed and I’ve never looked back.  DeWitt has Delivered my hometown…it’s where my 3 kids were all born and raised. It’s where I had the opportunity to  help DeWitt grow while serving as the first full time Executive Director of the DeWitt Chamber and Development Corporation.  I’ve served on numerous local, state, and national boards that helped keep DeWitt in the spotlight. I’ve traveled the world but always look forward to coming back to DeWitt, my home.

Ilene Deckert – Paul Skeffington Memorial Race Director 

 

 

 

DeWitt is More Than a Place to Live, It’s Home

Florida girls really seems to “have it all.” Flawless tan skin, 24/7 access to the beach, and a countless number of things to do. This “have it all” Florida girl was me—until about three years ago. Today, I live in DeWitt, Iowa.

Moving to DeWitt was initially a culture shock, everything was completely different from the big city of Fort Lauderdale. However, throughout my time here I have managed to get involved in soccer, cheerleading, Future Business Leaders of America, Student council, and gain an internship at the DeWitt Chamber & Development Company, that has greatly expanded my knowledge of the real world.  On top of all this, I worked two jobs during my senior year; waitressing at Sunrise Café and teaching at a local daycare. Through it all, I’ve found my passion for writing, which I plan to further pursue, majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Iowa next fall. A decision made possible by moving to DeWitt.

I have found that living in a small town is a unique experience. Previously living in the big city of Fort Lauderdale, Friday Night Lights was just a movie to me. Once I moved to DeWitt, it became a lifestyle. The way the town comes together under the stadium lights every Friday night in the fall is something uniquely special.  I believe it’s an experience that many people who’ve lived here their entire life forget to cherish. An entire community with members from every generation coming together decorated in our purple and gold attire, displays the tight knit community we live in, something that is not experienced in every town. I was also able to become involved with many quirky traditions, like spelling out the phrase, “Go Sabers” with purple paint across the chests of eight, over-excited boys on Football game days, and “seniorizing” the freshmen by taking them to Walmart at 5 AM. Both of which, are memories that will last a lifetime.

With help from members of the community, I’ve found a home through Sunday morning breakfasts with regulars at Sunrise, through taking the scenic route at Westbrook with my two petite puppies, and, most importantly, through my friends becoming a family.

Overall, since arriving here I’ve learned many things: The terrible two’s prefer to be called terrific, no one moves faster than a busy waitress, and making a goal in soccer is much more complicated than the human eye can make it out to be (at least for me). Most importantly,  I’ve learned it doesn’t matter where you are as long as you have people who support you by your side, and that DeWitt is much more than just a place to live, it’s a home.

Brianna Jorge, Central DeWitt High School Senior & DCDC Intern   

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

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

Salute to Volunteers

Each year, thousands of volunteers in Iowa donate their time and energy to make their communities a better place to live. Thirty-three percent (33%) of Iowans volunteer, ranking Iowa tenth among the 50 states (Source Corporation for National Community Service). These volunteers will be among the millions across the country who will be spotlighted during National Volunteer Week, April 23-29, 2017.

Clinton County and DeWitt volunteers pay it forward by dedicating their time and talents to the next generation – an investment that cycles back into our community while building relationships that nourish future generations.  Look around and you’ll see the impact our volunteers make – through the smiles and successes of our youth.  They are rewarded by sharing their experiences, learning new things, and building partnerships, not to mention the fun and fulfillment that volunteering brings to their life.

One group that relies heavily on volunteer support is the 4-H Youth Development Program. Last year in Clinton County, 112 volunteers serve in many roles including 4-H and Clover Kids club leaders, project leaders, and committee members for the 4-H Youth Development Program. 4-H volunteers serve as caring adults who help young people develop communication, citizenship, and leadership skills through 4-H projects and community service opportunities. Volunteers create safe environments for youth to learn, thrive, and grow.

I am truly impressed by the work of the 4-H Club Leaders, many who have been volunteering for over ten years, some over 40 years!  They meet individually with youth to help them with projects, in addition to providing guidance at monthly club meetings.  It is a requirement that 4-H volunteers who work directly with youth attend annual trainings, to network and learn new skills in positive youth development and risk management.

The 4-H program has helped many youth in Clinton County to achieve goals outside of the classroom, while working with a caring adult.  Volunteers in the 4-H program help youth to become engaged in their community, make new friends, and accomplish their goals, which ultimately can deter at-risk youth from making a bad decision.

With an ever-changing world, the 4-H Youth Development program is adapting and offering more opportunities for youth and volunteers in areas such as Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math; Communications and the Arts; Citizenship and Leadership; and Healthy Living. The expanding programming reflects new opportunities for youth and volunteers alike.

The Clinton County Club Show at the fair is a showcase of what projects youth have completed throughout the year  and you will see many animals being showcased during the fair.  Animals are just one of over 150 project areas that youth may participate in.  In every 4-H project you see exhibited at the fair, there is most often an adult volunteer that has mentored the youth along the way with the project — paying it forward to the next generation!

Celebrate National Volunteer Week with us and I encourage you to explore more about Clinton County 4-H Program and volunteer opportunities!

Brianne Johnson – Clinton County 4-H Program Manager with the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach –Clinton County

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