Tag Archives: DeWitt Delivers

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

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   

How to Get the Love You Want

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace,

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

The Rock Valley team at Autumn Fest

Making Better Lives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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