News

Wed
11
Oct

Old-time technique used to preserve Gilbertson's sawmill

 

An old sawmill located at Gilbertson Park in Elgin has a new roof over its head after Fayette County Conservation worked with Dale Kittleson, owner of Wild Rose Timberworks in Decorah, to build a timber-frame shelter for the mill. (Chris DeBack photo)

 

Old-time technique used to preserve Gilbertson's sawmill

 

 

By Chris Deback
cdeback@thefayettecountyunion.com

 

 

 

 

An old sawmill located in Gilbertson Park in Elgin recently recieved a new roof over its head. 

The mill belonged to Millard Gilbertson, after whom Gilbertson Park was named. It had an older structure around it to protect it from the elements, but over the years the structure withered and crumbled. It sits just up the road from the Gilbertson Nature Center. 

Rod Marlatt, Fayette County Conservation executive director, noted that the sawmill was still in good shape, despite it not being operational. With the possibility of someday restoring it to use for educational purposes, Fayette County Conservation wanted to get it back out of the elements. 

As a homage to the types of buildings for which the sawmill would have cut lumber, Fayette County Conservation partnered with Dale Kittleson, owner of Wild Rose Timberworks in Decorah, to construct a timber-frame building to preserve the old sawmill.

“[Dale Kittleson] grew up in a house down the road from the sawmill,” Marlatt explained. “He got in touch with us and told us what he does, and he asked if it would be cool to put a [timber-frame] building over the top of that sawmill.”

Kittleson has been in the construction business for quite a while. Having spent time on construction crews building homes in Minneapolis, he looked at his work one day and couldn't figure out which home he had just worked on. He got bored of building the same cookie-cutter homes and spent a couple years looking for a new challenge. 

“I started looking for any and all different kinds of building techniques,” he said. “I worked on log homes, dome homes, underground homes, anything that was just out of the ordinary, because it was so much more interesting.”

It wasn’t until he moved to Decorah that he discovered the timber-frame building style. He spoke with a man who was going to use Amish workers to build this style of barn for him. The Amish got too busy, so the guy asked Kittleson if he wanted to help him build it himself. 

“[My friend and I] went around to some auctions, bought some tools, bought some books and talked to some Amish guys we knew and had a great summer building this timber-frame shop,” Kittleson recalled. “While we were building it, people started hearing about it and asking for one. They asked if we could put them on our list, and we would say, “Sure.” Well, after the third or fourth time, we thought, ‘Well, maybe we should make a list.’ We made a list, and we started building timber frames and have been doing it ever since.” 

Wed
11
Oct

McTaggart enjoys interning at Homeland Security

 

Alisha McTaggart earned an internship with the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in the Department of Homeland Security. The semester-long internship involves handling complaints brought against the department when a civilian feels Homeland Security or an employee of the department has violated his or her civil rights.  submitted photos

 

McTaggart enjoys interning at Homeland Security

 

 

By Chris Deback
cdeback@thefayettecountyunion.com

 

While the wheels of government may turn slowly, they wouldn’t turn at all without dedicated men and women providing support behind the scenes. 

Interns to high-ranking government officials all have one goal in mind: the betterment of the American people. While every corporation has its bad apples, and the United States government is no different, the majority of the men and women who call the federal government home truly dedicate themselves to the American citizens. 

One of those individuals is Elgin resident Alisha McTaggart, who interns with the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) within the United States Department of Homeland Security in Washington, D.C. 

A political science major at the University of Iowa, it was actually her experience attending Iowa Girls State that propelled her toward a career in public service. Iowa Girls State is an annual statewide program in which female high school juniors come together to learn about the political process at the local and state level. It is sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary. The attendee is nominated for the program by her local Auxiliary unit.

Wed
11
Oct

School lunches are not what they used to be

 

School lunches aren’t what they used to be. A lot of regulations have changed in the last decade to make school lunches healthier for the students who consume them. With October 9-13 as National School Lunch Week its people like (l-r) Connie Benjegertes, Jennifer “Toots” Myers, and Carol Stanbrough, NFV food service director, and the other cooks in the North Fayette and Valley school districts, who make the hot meals for the students everyday.  Chris DeBack photo

 

School lunches are not what they used to be . . .

 

 

By Chris Deback
cdeback@thefayettecountyunion.com

 

 

 

 

 

The school lunches students eat today aren’t the same as what was served to their parents 30 years ago. 

October 9-13 is National School Lunch Week, so Fayette County Newspapers sat down with Carol Stanbrough, North Fayette Valley Food Service director, to talk about the changes that have occurred. 

Stanbrough has been a cook at North Fayette and now North Fayette Valley for 18 years, and has held her current position for the last nine. 

She noted that many of the changes to school lunches came from former First Lady Michelle Obama through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that was signed into law on Dec. 13, 2010. It went into effect during the 2012-2013 school year. 

The act appropriated $4.5 billion in new funding for the following programs through Sept. 15. 2015: the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), the Summer Food Service Program, the Afterschool Meal Program and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed). 

According to the School Nutrition Association website, some of the new nutrition standards put on school lunches through the law were that all grains needed to be at least 51 percent whole grain;l schools must offer fruits and vegetables with every lunch and increase the portion size; the breakfast and lunch program meals must meet a specific calorie count based on grade; schools have until July 1, 2022, to reduce sodium in meals to a certain amount based on grade level.

Wed
11
Oct

Ernst learns about TCLC in visit to WU

 

Stacie Schroeder (right), TigerHawk Connections Learning Center program director, speaks with U.S. Senator Joni Ernst about the after school program that is funded by a federal grant, and the different ways the program supports children learning after school.  Chris DeBack photos

 

Ernst learns about TCLC in visit to WU

 

 

By Chris Deback
cdeback@thefayettecountyunion.com

 

 

 

 

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst visited with staff from Helping Services for Youth and Families at its West Union office on Monday, Oct. 9. 

The visit was Ernst’s official visit to Fayette County as part of her 99-county tour. Ernst makes it a point to visit each county in the state at least once a year, a practice that was started by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley. 

Wed
11
Oct

Sergeant Tobin place on administrative leave

 

Sergeant Tobin place on  administrative leave

 

 

By Chris Deback
cdeback@thefayettecountyunion.com

 

 

West Union Police Sergeant Mike Tobin was recently placed on administrative leave by West Union Police Chief Paul Becthold. 

Details as to why he was placed on the leave are not being disclosed at this moment. Becthold and West Union Mayor Kent Halverson declined to comment on the situation. 

Tobin notified the public about the action through a post of his personal Facebook page. 

Wed
11
Oct

A night never to be forgotten

 

Bryan Vagts (right), a native of Eldorado, and his girlfriend Morgan Slechta stand near the stage of the Route 91 Concert in Las Vegas, Nev., just hours before the most deadly mass shooting in U.S. history. The couple, along with Slechta’s mother, are thankful to have survived the tragic night which was supposed to be a relaxing evening of music and entertainment. (submitted photo)

 

A night never to be forgotten

 

 

Zakary Kriener

News Writer
zkriener@fayettepublishing.com

 

 

 

What started as a weekend full of good friends, country music, and fun for Eldorado native Bryan Vagts, quickly turned into a night he will never forget.

“We got tickets for the Route 91 Harvest in Las Vegas a few months back,” recalled the 2012 North Fayette graduate. “My girlfriend, Morgan (Slechta), and her mom had been looking forward to the weekend for a long time.”

The young couple and Slechta’s mother departed from Florida, where they currently reside, just weeks after they endured Hurricane Irma. They arrived in Las Vegas and started to take in the many sites and attractions of the city on Friday, Sept. 29, before attending the first night of the three-day music festival.

“We went to the concert all three nights, seeing Eric Church and Sam Hunt on Friday and Saturday night, before heading to Sunday night’s show to see the headliner, Jason Aldean,” said Vagts. “Everyone was happy and having a good time as Jake Owen played first Sunday night. Little did everyone know, everything was about to change.”

After Owen went off stage, Vagts and Slechta walked toward the back of the concert area to take a break and found Morgan’s mom, who was sitting in the bleacher and lawn chair area. They sat down and rested as they conversed and sang along to the DJ that was on stage during the intermission.

“When it got close to the time for Jason Aldean to come on stage, I decided to go back up and get as close as I could to the stage while Morgan and her mom stayed back to watch from their lawn chairs,” explained Vagts. “I walked up and got about 30 rows back from the front of the main stage, then he started playing his opening songs.”

He went on to say that as Aldean played one of his hit songs, “When She Says Baby,” the first rounds of gunfire went off from the Mandalay Bay area, which was not far from the concert.

“Another magazine unloaded as the shooter shot aimlessly into the crowd. The lights flickered, and Jason stormed off the stage,” said Vagts. “At that moment, I looked to my left and there was a girl that had been shot in her left arm. I froze for a second, then reacted.”

He recalled tending to the side of the 20-something-year-old girl as she lay on the floor next to her boyfriend and another guy.

“I screamed, get a tourniquet! Get a tourniquet!” remembered Vagts, who is a six-year veteran of the National Guard. “One of the guys grabbed his belt and wrapped it around her arm to help stop the pressure while I put pressure on the wound. The girl’s eyes started to close as she was going into shock, then another round of shots burst out. Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop! They were very fast and loud.”

Wed
04
Oct

Ossian Pavilion dedication

 

 

A special ceremony was held Saturday afternoon as Ossian and dozens of community members gathered in Carey’s Park for the dedication of the Ossian Educational and Performance Pavilion. (Zakary Kriener photo)

 

Ossian Pavilion dedication

 

 

 

Wed
04
Oct

3 chase Elgin City Council seats

3 chase Elgin City Council seats

 

 

By Chris Deback
cdeback@thefayettecountyunion.com

 

 

 

 

Elgin residents will have three candidates, including two incumbents and one newcomer, from which to choose to fill the two Elgin City Council seats up for election. 

Aimee Hilgerson and incumbents Sara Strong and Jim Knobloch all seek to earn your vote on Tuesday, Nov. 7. 

Wed
04
Oct

Valley cheers 25-point increase in reading

 

Valley Elementary reading comprehension scores soared during the 2016-2017 school year, with a 25-point increase from fall to spring, even exceeding the state average. Valley Elementary Principal Micah Gearhart credits the hard work of his staff and the students, who practice reading in a variety of situations from large- or small-group reading to individual reading time. Here, Valley fourth- and fifth-grade students (l-r) Kenny Kerr, Mattison Goddard, Bethany Buitenwerf, Carter Marcks and Alexis Oakland (at desk) devote time to reading in Kim Lau’s class.  

 

Valley cheers 25-point increase in reading

 

 

Megan Molseed

Contributing Writer

 

 

“Whoo-hoo!” was the first thing that Micah Gearhart, Valley Elementary and North Fayette Valley Middle School principal, said when asked about Valley Elementary’s 25-point increase in reading proficiency during the 2016-2017 school year. 

That victory cheer was immediately followed with a tender salute to his students.

“It truly is the kids; it’s their hard work we’re seeing here,” he praised with a grin.

“Well, the students and our teachers,” he was quick to add. “They are the ones who made this accomplishment a reality.”

The increase in proficiency was measured by the nationwide assessment test known as FAST (Formative Assessment System for Teachers) that is given to the students in the beginning of the year and then again at the end of the school year

Wed
04
Oct

Fayette native buys former First Baptist Church

 

Steve Torson of Cedar Rapids purchased the former First Baptist Church of Elgin. He took ownership of the building on Wednesday, Sept. 27. Chris DeBack photo

 

Fayette native buys former First Baptist Church

 

 

By Chris Deback
cdeback@fayettepublishing.com

 

 

 

 

The former First Baptist Church building in Elgin has been sold to Steve Torson of Cedar Rapids. 

Torson is a native of Fayette. After graduating from Fayette High School in 1969, he joined the Army. He was a military policeman while in the Army and served in Vietnam. He received his honorable discharge in 1972 after attaining the rank of E-4. 

After the Army, Torson spent some time in the construction field and had a brief stint as an officer with the Fayette Police Department. He then got a job with the railroad, where he worked until his recent retirement as a railroad yard manager. 

Steve and his late wife, Shirley, were foster parents for 19 years. Both attended church regularly. 

Torson has always desired to own a church, so the Cedar Rapids man jumped at the opportunity to purchase the former First Baptist Church. He plans to keep it as a place of worship in Elgin; however, it more than likely won’t host a certain denomination. 

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