Tag Archives: DeWitt Chamber & Development Company

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

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

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!

 

 

Finding Purpose in Pink

While breast cancer is a very serious issue, let me share my story of some amazing women and men that I have met in my position at the DeWitt Community Hospital Foundation, the local fundraising organization that supports Genesis Medical Center – DeWitt. Laughter is the best medicine according to them!  I have been with the foundation for 10 months, but after meeting Sherry Stauffer, the woman who started the entire month of local breast cancer awareness, her passion soon inspired me too!  I am graciously aware of my surroundings when I sit around a table of 13 amazingly kind, courageous and very humorous individuals on our Pink for the Cure Committee.  Six members of this committee are breast cancer survivors.  The rest of us have either had or know someone affected by this crazy disease.  Yet, at every meeting there is one common goal . . .  get the word out to everyone about getting annual mammograms to help with early detection. There is not a meeting where we don’t laugh or think of something joyful.  If you’re lucky enough to meet one of these inspiring women be prepared to laugh; they may tell you a prosthesis story or a good one about a wig!

Let me give you a glimpse of what the month holds.  A Community Challenge of lighting up the whole town of DeWitt in Pink; Movie and Mammo night . . . and no, you don’t get a mammogram, it’s just a fun night at DeWitt Operahouse Theatre watching a chick flick and drinking some TYCOGA wine; Community Pink Out, where you are encouraged to wear pink on October 7 (Men this includes you too!); The Pink Stronger Than You Think Event at Springbrook Country Club featuring former television personality Carolyn Wettstone, speaking about how she kicked the cancer fairy’s butt (now tell me, who wouldn’t want to learn about that?), and lastly our very own Joan Reynolds, teaching us how to paint at TYCOGA.

Feel the passion!  Get your pink on for the month of October as we celebrate our fifth anniversary of these great events (Five years is a big number for survivors of breast cancer as a milestone in their journey).

Robin Krogman – Director, DeWitt Community Hospital Foundation

Facts about Breast Cancer in the United States

  • One in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.
  • Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.
  • Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women.
  • Each year it is estimated that over 246,660 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and more than 40,000 will die of the disease.
  • Although breast cancer in men is rare, each year an estimated 2,600 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 440 of them will die.
  • On average, every 2 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, and one woman dies of breast cancer every 13 minutes.
  • Over 2.8 million breast cancer survivors are alive in the United States today. This remarkable number is directly related to early detection and treatment,

Our Community, Our Home

I love to volunteer for activities that allow me to interact with kids in my community.  Whether it is at my church, or our community library, it’s rewarding to provide an activity that teach or entertain our community’s youth.  Volunteering at DeWitt’s Autumn Fest is a great opportunity to see the children I may already know from other community events and to meet the rest of their families.  But more importantly, it is an opportunity to build bridges with the next generation.  Someday, they will be the leaders of our community, and if I can help nurture them in some way, I feel that it is time well spent.

DeWitt is a lovely community and a great place to live and to raise children.  I want the children to be exposed to the many great aspects of the community and maybe raise their family here. Hopefully, some of them will become the leaders that help our community stay strong, safe and thriving.

It is important as adults, as parents, as churches, as business owners and as community leaders; to do everything we can to help our children have positive things to do with their time and energy.  Autumn Fest is an event that provides an opportunity to be involved in kid’s lives and to help our community stay strong.  Events like Autumn Fest connect people with their hometown and help them build relationships with one another.  “Home” is a very special place, we should do everything we can to continue to make DeWitt “home” for our kids and their families.

Cindy Nees, Director of Children’s Ministries, DeWitt Evangelical Free Church

Lincoln Park in Bloom

I have always liked DeWitt’s Lincoln Park.  It is a favorite playground of our grandchildren.  We often take a picnic lunch to the park when they visit.  I enjoy the summer community band concerts, Tunes in Town and the Farmers’ Market.  Our family watches parades and races from the shade of the trees in Lincoln Park.

The DeWitt Area Fine Arts Foundation invites you to spend some time in Lincoln Park on Saturday, September 17, at the John Bloom Arts Festival.  This is the 14th annual arts festival.  The foundation started the event to give local artists an opportunity to display and sell their creations.  It is just one of the many projects that the foundation has to promote fine arts activities in DeWitt.

Twenty local vendors will have their creations for sale at the arts festival between 10am- 3pm on the 17th.  All items are hand crafted.  Those creations include art work, yard art, woven baskets, doll clothes, loomed rugs, jewelry and pottery.  The Nite Lions provide lunch and the Central Community Historical Society serves pie.  Andrew Vickers is the musical entertainment throughout the day.  The Central DeWitt art teachers have make-and-take crafts for children.   It is not only an opportunity to see the creativity of others, but to enjoy time in the park and meet your neighbors!

The name of the John Bloom Arts Festival honors artist and native son, John Bloom.  John was a contemporary of Grant Wood, one of my favorite artists.  I think the story of John’s mural located in DeWitt’s City Hall is fascinating.  DeWitt is fortunate to have John Bloom prints on permanent display in the First Central Gallery located in the Operahouse Theatre.  There is also a large collection of John’s work at the Central Historical Society.  John Bloom may have lived in DeWitt many years ago, but the spirit of the town he depicted in his paintings still lives!

Marsha Witte – DeWitt Area Fine Arts Foundation board member

Taking The Road Less Traveled To DeWitt

My wife Sandy and I will take any excuse for a road trip that gives us an opportunity to see new parts of the country.  And when we do, we like to get off the main roads to enjoy the real America, not just the “highway America.”  We enjoy the slower pace, the opportunity to see the great beauty and many attractions and curiosities this country offers, and the chance conversations and experiences one can only have if you take the road less traveled.  In all these respects, DeWitt definitely delivered.

Last month, Sandy and I had an opportunity to travel from northern Virginia to Vinton, Iowa to attend our son’s end-of-service ceremony with FEMA Corps, a national service program focused on disaster response and disaster mitigation.  We came up through central Ohio and stopped off to visit friends and family, wound our way through Indiana hill country and Illinois croplands and crossed the Mississippi north of Davenport heading to Vinton.  Thus it was that we found ourselves passing through DeWitt on Route 30 on a fine spring day around lunchtime.  So we stopped off at the Garden Café for some mighty fine soup and sandwiches.

While enjoying the hospitality of the nice folks at the Garden Cafe, we read a bit about native son and noted artist John Bloom and a mural he had painted, “Shucking Corn,” installed in the old DeWitt post office, now City Hall.  With a little time on our hands, and always keen to take advantage of local attractions, we decided to have a peek.  We wandered over to the post office and inquired about the mural and the very helpful postmistress informed us that we had found the new post office, and that the mural was located in the “old post office,” now serving as the City Hall.   Entering City Hall, we were invited by the folks in the front offices to enjoy Bloom’s work located above the Mayor’s office door.  It was well worth the time—a wonderful artistic representation of the American experience we leave the city and highway to enjoy.  The enthusiastic folks there pointed us to some additional Bloom sketches mounted in the Council chambers.  We had an enjoyable conversation about the growth and development around DeWitt.

Heading back to the car we crossed the intersection of 10th Street and 6th Avenue, and we were diverted by a sign identifying the intersection as the crossroads of the old Lincoln Highway and the historic Blues Road.  I’m a great blues fan and it is my ambition on a future road trip to follow the Blues from New Orleans northward.  As we were enjoying that discovery, we turned around to see a thatched roof building in Lincoln Park, something you just don’t see every day in this country!  Further intrigued by the German “Hausbarn” museum sign, we poked our German Hausbarn, DeWitt Iowaheads into the Chamber of Commerce offices to inquire about it.  We met the DCDC staff, who couldn’t have been more gracious representatives of DeWitt—opening up the museum for us and letting us know about the various happenings in the DeWitt environs, including Tunes in Town located in Lincoln Park.  We greatly enjoyed our conversation with them and their willingness to show us the well-organized displays relating to the German migration to America.

As we had an event to get to in Vinton, we reluctantly took our leave of the good folks of DeWitt.  But we have abiding memories of a town with great local attractions and of warm, embracing residents who have an obvious sense of civic pride, and who have a predisposition to offer a helping hand, even to out-of-town folks just passing through.  We look forward with great anticipation to our Blues Road travels in the next year or so, now not just because of the draw of the music, but because it will provide us the opportunity to travel up 6th Avenue on our return to one of our new favorite American towns.

With fond memories – Rob and Sandy Fountain

 

Childhood Experience Sparks Volunteerism

As a 39 year old native of DeWitt,  I grew here doing the same things that kids today do – school and sports.  I think I was 5 or 6 years old when we had a chimney fire at our house one evening.  My sister and I were sent across the street to our neighbor’s house.  I remember watching out the window in amazement at all the fire trucks and firefighters working to put out the fire and making sure things were safe for us again.  Not long after that my father decided to become a member of the DeWitt Volunteer Fire Department, where he is still a member of 33 years.

Fast forward to 2006.  My wife Jodee and I had our first girl, Hannah.  It was then that I decided it was time for me to give back to the community that had taken care of me so well.  I became a member of the DeWitt Volunteer Fire Department as well in October of 2006.  In addition to Hannah, we have Hailee who is 7 and Jack who is 3.  Our kids love the fact that I am a volunteer firefighter.  They get to do things that a lot of other kids don’t get a chance to do like ride in the fire trucks during parades and going up to the fire station at any time.  Sometimes they want to bring their friends along! Each summer there is a family picnic at Westbrook Park that our kids look forward to just as I did when I was young.

My wife and I have had the pleasure of getting to know a whole new “family” with the fire department.  Most of the people we probably would not have even met and become so close had I not decided to join.

We are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Let me put that into perspective; we don’t get a day off.  When that pager goes off, you react and respond.  It may be at night when we are sleeping, during the day while at work or even while attending Church.  We don’t get to choose when it goes off.   I  have missed family dinners, birthday parties, weddings and work.  But it is all worth it.  When you see that look of terror in a stranger’s eye when you show up and the relief when you leave, that’s when it hits you.  We made a difference.  We made a positive impact on that person’s life.

During the first year of membership a new firefighter is required to be FireFighter 1 certified.  That is a 120 hour course and a passing grade on a written and hands on exam to get the certification.  Firefighter 1 teaches the basic firefighting fundamentals that are essential to the job.  The state of Iowa also requires 24 hours of training each year for volunteer firefighters.  Our department has 2 1/2 trainings each month on the 4th Monday of the month.  There are times when it is hard to find that balance of being a good father, husband and have a full time job, but with great support from my wife and kids, we manage.

Being a member of the DeWitt Volunteer Fire Department makes me feel like I can give back to my community.  It gives me great pride that I am a small part of our 30 person department.  We all feel like we can be positive roll models for our own kids as well as all the kids in our community.  We are very fortunate to have the support that everyone provides.  We have awesome equipment, a great group of firefighters and the best community around!

I would encourage everyone to not hesitate to volunteer for anything you feel passionate about, whether it be coaching youth sports or a 4H volunteer, there is always room for more volunteers.  Without volunteers our community could not deliver the opportunities that we offer!  If anyone has any interest in becoming part of the DeWitt Volunteer Fire Department you may talk to me or any of the other 29 members.

Jeff Peters, DeWitt Resident & Proud Volunteer for the DeWitt Fire Department