Tag Archives: DeWitt Iowa

Bringing Health and Wellness to DeWitt

I want to say thank you for such a warm welcome to the community! My Vital Force Wellness Center opened our doors in downtown DeWitt in April and we have had such a good time getting everything up and running.

I am Dr. Kari Rene, a Holistic Naturopath, moved here from Colorado. I have had a vision to have a wellness center that offers several services and products that help people on their wellness journey. My daughter, Emily also moved here from Colorado to finish her Health Coaching and to be the store manager. When we came to Iowa and started looking for a location, we loved the feel of DeWitt and the community right away.

My story began in Natural Health Alternatives back in 2002 when my mother passed away from a massive heart attack when she was only 49 years old. I knew my family history of heart disease was not good. My maternal grandfather had passed at age 37 from a heart attack, my father had a heart attack, and my paternal grandfather had several heart attacks and bypass surgeries.  I quickly realized I wanted to do something different for my health and didn’t want my children to experience losing a parent so young. So, I went back to school and that lead into a passion to encourage and teach others to become healthier too. Health is a journey we all have to start somewhere!

Health and wellness are becoming more and more popular these days. So many people are tired of being sick and tired! As individuals and as a community we want to be healthier and have more vitality. Many people are learning that preventative health care is something they want to learn more about, and that there are more natural approaches to taking care of our health.

At My Vital Force Wellness Center I do consultations and health assessments to help people create a plan for better health. I also love to do consultations for stress management and emotional healing. I love talking about ways that we can Regain and Retain Health.  

Dr. Bonnie Bauer of DeWitt Chiropractic and massage therapist Teresa Martens of The Country LMT learned about my vision of opening the Wellness Center and it was no doubt they wanted to bring their collective knowledge and practices together for the community at the Wellness Center. Together we have numerous therapies and wellness packages available to help people become healthier.

Come by to see the new Wellness Center, ask questions and look around. Everyone here at the Wellness Center is honored to be part of our wonderful community and we look forward to better health for everyone!

Dr. Kari Rene, Holistic Naturopath

Frances Banta Waggoner Library – Growing in Size and Resources!

If you’ve stopped by the library over the last few years and have seen a tall woman typing away at a very disorganized desk behind the circulation counter, that would be me—my name is Jillian Aschliman, and I am your local librarian. I’ll be celebrating my third anniversary of working for the Frances Banta Waggoner Community Library this coming July, and I’ve truly enjoyed the time I’ve spent here in DeWitt over the last few years. In fact, if someone had told me back when I was graduating from my Master’s program that I’d be the director of a library in a great town like DeWitt in just a few years, I wouldn’t have believed it. Because my journey here wasn’t exactly smooth sailing.

After I graduated from the University of Wisconsin- Madison with my MLIS, I was enthusiastic, armed with new knowledge about the library world, and ready to jump right into my new career field. It didn’t take long to be hit with the cold-hard reality of the library job market. Library jobs were few and far between, even in a place like the Quad Cities where there are libraries almost within a 10-15 mile radius of one another. I worked multiple odd jobs for almost a year before I was able to find a full-time position and I still consider myself very, very lucky. Not all job seekers have the same experience when making the transition to a new career.   

Those who have recently been on an active job search know that it is almost a full-time job in itself. Plus, if you’re in an over-saturated job market like I was back in 2012, a simple misstep on your resume or cover letter can make or break your chances to get your foot in the door for an interview.  Not only are job seekers searching for the right position, but crafting a well-rounded, eye-catching resume and cover letter is time-consuming—and overwhelming at times. Hopefully, a new resource at the library can help local job seekers get an extra boost to improve their application materials and interviewing skills.

Earlier this year, the State Library of Iowa provided each library in the state with a subscription to BrainFuse JobNow, a suite of online resources that provide job seekers with the capability of searching for job openings in the area as well as a wealth of career resources that includes life resume and interviewing skills coaching, personalized resume and cover letter advice, and more. Looking to possibly change careers? Take the eParachute quiz (based on the popular job-hunting series What’s Your Parachute?) to see what career fields are best suited to your skills and interests. Don’t have the time to set up a live appointment with a career coach to go over your resume or cover letter? Simply upload your document in their Resume Lab, and one of the BrainFuse experts will review and return it to you with suggestions in one business day.

In addition to the job seeking features, BrainFuse has free resources for veterans, students, and adult learners:

  • BrainFuse LearnNow: a library of self-study lessons, videos, practice tests and the option to connect with a live tutor.
  • BrainFuse Adult Learning Center: provides academic assistance designed for adult learners including GED practice tests, Microsoft Office Help, skills building for numerous academic topics, and more.
  • BrainFuse VetNow: provides support to veterans and their families in locating eligible benefits, employment transition assistance, and more.

The BrainFuse JobNow and VetNow resources are available to the entire community. Unlike other library database subscriptions, a library card is not required to access any of the site, and can be easily accessed from home. Simply visit the library’s website, scroll to the bottom of the homepage, and click on the BrainFuse JobNow and VetNow logo. Still need help? Stop on by the library—we’d love to help you get started on the right path.

Jillian Aschliman, Frances Banta Waggoner Library Director

A Sunny Outlook For Business!

In January of 2018, my husband Larry and I purchased Sun Central Tanning Salon in DeWitt.  At
that time we really didn’t know much about the tanning industry but we were excited to be a part of a small business venture in DeWitt.

I feel very fortunate to own a small business in DeWitt and to be a part of this thriving community!  I realize that owning a small business takes lots of hard work, commitment, and a dedication to make every customer that comes in the door feel like they are special.  Our main focus at Sun Central is for people to feel welcome, comfortable and take care of their needs. I enjoy being told on a daily basis that “I am the best part of their day”. People are always so happy to be here and their smiles are contagious, bringing sunshine in with them no matter what the weather is! DeWitt is becoming a “destination small town” and I am honored to be part of the retail businesses.  I feel we do our best to direct people to other shops in town if they are looking for something that we do not offer.  When customers realize that the retail businesses are working together it makes their shopping experience even more rewarding.  As a business owner, I really enjoy the DCDC’s Look Local First Campaign we have lots of customers, local and visitors to the community, talking about the program and the Chamber Bucks drawings.  It is exciting to see all the ways that the Chamber is there to help out all small businesses.

Soon we will be moving to our new location 606 9th Street (the old police station) where we are
excited to offer 2 different levels of UV tanning, Airbrush Spray Tanning, Red Light Therapy, Retail Items, Custom Clothing, Vinyl Graphics, CBD Oil and Lotus Energy Drinks. We will also have 4 house stylists running their own business inside our Salon. Without all the support from our wonderful customers, The DCDC and the community this move may not have happened! So Thank YOU to all!

My husband Larry and I are blessed with 3 wonderful children, Kadi 28, Joshua 26 and Noah 14. We also are blessed with 2 grandchildren Elliana 11 and Boston 2, with grandbaby #3 due at the end of March named Delilah.  We also have 4 wonderful fur babies Maci, Shelbi, Molli, and Gunner. I enjoy hunting, camping, baseball and spending time with family. When I am not at the Salon you will most likely find me at either one of my son’s sporting events or my grandkids. They keep me on my toes for sure! My husband and I are very excited to have our own business in DeWitt as well as having great family memories!

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   

Feeling Blessed and Welcomed this Christmas Season

My family just celebrated our first anniversary as DeWitt residents on Sept 18th.  That was a special day to be finally living in the community where we planted Cornerstone Baptist Church DeWitt three years previously.

It has been a great year.  We are very thankful for the transition our two youngest children have experienced from North Scott to Central DeWitt schools.  Teachers, administration, parents and students went out of their way to welcome our kids and help them to get connected.  That “outreach” has helped our family feel even more accepted and welcome.  We all know that when people bless our kids they are also blessing the parents.   

Going out of our way to welcome new people is really one of the most important things we all can do, whether it be to guests coming to your church for the first time or customers walking into your business or new families moving into the community.  Being good at welcoming others translates into new church members or returning customers or families that will choose to raise their kids and grand-kids here.

My family’s transition wasn’t as difficult as others that move into our community.  Some are coming from out of state.  Some are coming from different socioeconomic situations.  Some are coming from more dangerous environments where it wasn’t safe walking down main street. For some it will take time for them to lower their guard and feel comfortable in this safer environment.  May we continue to excel at welcoming new people into our wonderful community so they can experience all that DeWitt has to offer.  

May you and yours have a wonderful Christmas and a blessed 2018.

Mark Zevenbergen- Campus Pastor, Cornerstone Baptist Church Dewitt

Thankful I “Was Born In a Small Town” with BIG Opportunities

I am a Central DeWitt Alumni double majoring in Marketing and Event Management at Iowa State University. I proudly tout my I <3 DeWitt koozie with me around Ames and I love having my friends visit my hometown. Although DeWitt is a small town, we have so much to offer! After working at various places in DeWitt, and as Marketing and Events Intern at First Central State Bank this summer, I have had the opportunity to experience many different roles within the community.

When I look back, growing up in DeWitt was perfect. I wouldn’t change ANYTHING. I attended St. Joes K-8th and learned so much about community, being a friend, and being a productive student. As a kid, there were so many ways to be active in DeWitt. Although sports weren’t always my thing, in a small community they were a way to learn how to be a team mate and see community members support each other. 4-H taught me how to work hard, apply myself, and give back to my community.

In high school, I found my passion for business. Mr. Petsche encouraged me to join Future Business Leaders of America and enroll in various business courses. He was an amazing mentor and opened my eyes to all the opportunities DeWitt has for young professionals. Once I reached my senior year of high school, I became the Dewitt Chamber and Development Company’s very first intern. The DCDC now hosts an intern each year and continues to give them the tools necessary to be successful.

Although I have been a Cyclone my entire life, it became real the fall of 2015 when I packed up my belongings and made the trip to Ames to embark on my college journey at Iowa State University. I realized how fortunate I was that my hometown school, Central DeWitt Community School District, provided so many amazing duel credit opportunities.   Because of this I began my college career with a plethora of credits and could jump right into my core business classes and continue on pursuing my dreams. Freshmen are typically told it is hard to get an internship, not impossible but uncommon. I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I had seen various Facebook posts about the Ohnward Leadership Program and was eager to apply.  What’s better than being able to come back to your hometown AND have an adult job?

Guess What?  I got the job! The Ohnward Leadership Program helped me find my strengths and nurture my passion for social media marketing, design, and event planning. Learning about community banks only strengthened my dedication to my hometown and my views of pursuing a career within a small community. I was able to attend many different community based committee meetings for the Central DeWitt Performing Arts Center, DeWitt Chamber & Development Company, LincolnWay Foundation of Greater Dubuque and the DeWitt Crossroads Triathlon. Sitting in on these committee meetings gave me a new perspective on community involvement and a great appreciation for everyone who continues to volunteer their time to make our community thrive.

Fast-forward to THIS year! You may have seen me out and about representing First Central State Bank!  Throughout the summer months I served as a Marketing and Events intern. Aside from managing First Central’s various social media platforms, I assist in the planning and implementation of various events that we sponsor throughout the year.  Having the opportunity to donate my time and efforts into making events like the Clinton County Fair successful and exciting, is extremely rewarding. For example, this year I designed and implemented fun Snapchat filters to use at the fair! This was something outside of the box for First Central.  Piloting this idea at First Central and seeing the results was very exciting and rewarding.  First Central State Bank has been receptive to new ideas, continues to offer opportunities to put ones passion, and interests to work.  This in turn continues to benefit our local communities in various ways.

I have determined through the years that, without exceptional teachers, parents, mentors, and employers I would not be the young professional that I am today. My education and these various local opportunities have shaped my knowledge and experience, but my mentors have encouraged my passions and interests. Ultimately, Central DeWitt Community School District, First Central State Bank, Ohnward Bancshares, Inc., Iowa State University, my friends and family and the DeWitt Community provided me with opportunities for growth.  I will be forever thankful that I was born in a SMALL town with BIG opportunities.

Thank you, DeWitt!

Madeleine Blandin –  Central DeWitt Alumni, Class of 2015                                                                 Junior Double Majoring in Marketing and Event Management at Iowa State University

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

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