Tag Archives: DeWitt Delivers

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 

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!

 

 

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