News

Wed
13
May

SW Class of 2020 speakers set to make address to class

 

SW Class of 2020 speakers set to make address to class

 

Zakary Kriener

News Writer
zkriener@fayettepublishing.com

When students in the South Winneshiek Class of 2020 walk across the stage and accept their diplomas this year, things will be a bit different than they have been traditionally. Despite a different process, class Valedictorian Abraham Schmitt and Salutatorian Carson Brincks will still make their messages heard.

“I think the biggest letdown (to the end of their senior year) is not being able to spend time with our friends that we’ve made throughout all of high school. For most of us, this might’ve been the last few months we’d ever see each other on a regular basis and it was stripped from us,” explained Schmitt, who plans to attend the University of Northern Iowa next year to study education and geography. “Obviously, sports, musical activities, and classes - or at least the fun ones - were missed, but just finishing out what we’ve worked for basically our whole lives this far is very disheartening.”

Despite the challenges that the Class of 2020 has faced, Schmitt and Brincks are determined to make sure they go out on a high note.

Wed
13
May

Hawkeye Stages to rally in D.C.

Hawkeye Stages drivers Leon Griebenow (left) of Elgin and Jake Hildebrand will take part in the Motorcoaches Rolling for Awareness Rally along with over 1,000 other motorcoaches from around the United States on Wednesday morning. The rally aims to raise awareness for the motorcoach industry, which has not been supported by the Federal Government amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Hawkeye Stages to rally in D.C.

 

Zakary Kriener

News Writer
zkriener@fayettepublishing.com

 

Earlier this week, a pair of area Hawkeye Stages employees embarked on a journey to the nation’s capitol to show support in the Motorcoaches Rolling for Awareness Rally in Washington, D.C.

“The current health crisis began to affect everyone, including the motorcoach industry, in mid-March,” explained Leon Griebenow, who will be joined by fellow driver Jake Hildebrand on the trip. “Other groups, such as airlines, rail, and some cruise lines have been getting funding by the Federal Government. The motorcoach industry has not gotten that same support.”

On Wednesday, Leon and Jake will bring Hawkeye Stage Motorcoach 156 to the peaceful rally that will follow a specific route around D.C. and bring awareness to everyone about the importance of the industry.

Wed
13
May

UIU grad says virtual graduation won't scar him

Upper Iowa University graduate Nick Baumler of West Union, watches the virtual graduation ceremony, Saturday, May 9. 

 

UIU grad says virtual graduation won't scar him

 

By Jack Swanson
jswanson@fayettecountynewspapers.com

 

Nick Baumler said he’s really not upset that he didn’t get to walk across the stage as part of the graduation experience at Upper Iowa University. He’s not even terribly upset because he didn’t get the chance to wrestle in the national tournament that he qualified for. 

“It doesn’t take away from the things you accomplished. Most students know that,” the West Union native said, keeping his mind on the positives he attained during his four years at UIU.

Baumler was one of 1,275 students who completed their associate, bachelor's or master's degree requirements at UIU. Of those, 203 including Baumler, graduated from the Fayette Campus. This year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony was conducted virtually, Saturday, May 9. The honorees names were read and submitted photos of graduates were shown on screen.

Baumler, now living in Cedar Falls, said he is definitely disappointed about having the graduation ceremony and the national tournament cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns but to him, it is what it is.

“Obviously everyone wants to walk across the stage but it’s not the end of the world. I just think it was nice that they put something together to somewhat replace it,” said the Accounting and Financial Management degree holder.

Baumler wrestled for UIU for four years so that was also a big part of his university experience. His senior year he was ranked number 2 in the nation for his division.

“The day before the tournament it was cancelled. It was disappointing, a tough way to end your senior year. That still doesn’t take away from my experience. You can only control what you can control,” said the accomplished wrestler.

Now Baumler says he’s got his sights set on the future.

“It’s time to move forward. I’ve got a lot of other things going for me and my health is still in check,” he said.

 

 

Wed
13
May

Thoms celebrates virtual graduation at Iowa State

2016 North Fayette Valley graduate, Derek Thoms was in his final semester of college at Iowa State when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.  Since then, Derek has completed his degree and celebrated with a virtual graduation ceremony last weekend.  (submitted photo) 

 

Thoms celebrates virtual graduation at Iowa State

 

By Megan Molseed
mmolseed@thefayettecountyunion.com

 

 

When Derek Thoms started his career as a student at Iowa State University, he had no idea how unusual his final semester as a college student would be, especially the graduation ceremony.

More than 5,000 students were estimated to be completing their Iowa State degrees this month. Although the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the students from celebrating with each other on campus, university leaders have invited them, and their families, to enjoy one of three commencement ceremonies prerecorded to honor them on Saturday, May 9.

  “A lot of things changed with Covid-19,” said Thoms, a 2016 North Fayette Valley high school graduate.  “I had to take all of my classes online and it was hard to juggle work and school.”

Wed
13
May

Gundersen Palmer resumes limited in-person care

Gundersen Palmer resumes limited in-person care

 

 

By Jack Swanson
jswanson@fayettecountynewspapers.com

 

Gundersen Palmer Lutheran Hospital & Clinics, in conjunction with Gundersen Health System, is resuming limited in-person care.

GPLHC Public Information Officer and Fayette County Health representative Jamie Hoey said the focus will be on low-risk, high-priority patients. 

Hoey said the initial visits will be a kind of testing ground to see if the hospital will be able to open more fully in the future.

Wed
13
May

Future Fayette County Assessor will be joining that office on Tuesday, May 26

Vicky Halstead

 

Future Fayette County Assessor will be joining that office on Tuesday, May 26

 

By Jack Swanson
jswanson@fayettecountynewspapers.com

 

Vicky Halstead will be the new Fayette County Assessor once she gets the proper paper work in place. She is currently the chief deputy assessor in Benton County. She has a total of 18 years experience, joining the Benton County Assessor’s Office in 2001. She became a deputy assessor in 2012 and  the chief deputy in 2017.

Working in the Assessor’s office, her responsibilities included real estate appraisal, assisting the assessor with abstracts, scheduling assessor review appointments and Board of Review appointments, processing splits and subdivisions. She was recently interviewed separately by both the Fayette County Examining Board, and the Conference Board and was a unanimous choice.

Wed
13
May

More local businesses open

More local businesses open

 

By Megan Molseed
mmolseed@thefayettecountyunion.com

By Jack Swanson

jswanson@fayettecountynewspapers.com

 “It will feel pretty amazing to click on our ‘Open’ sign again,” smiled Mike Roach of reopening his store, Dessel-Roach Furniture and Floorsafter Iowa Governor, Kim Reynolds made a declaration allowing some businesses, including furniture and flooring stores, to reopen in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Of course, we are going to take every step that we possibly can to make sure our customers feel safe and comfortable when shopping here,” continued Roach, adding that, even though the store may be reopening, the local business will be dedicated to practicing smart methods regarding disinfecting and maintaining social distance during the hours of operation.  

Wed
06
May

SW High School will go ahead with Commencement, May 17

SW High School will go ahead with Commencement May 17

 

South Winneshiek High School is planning on holding commencement, Sunday, May 17, at 1 p.m., as originally scheduled, however it will be at the high school football field.  

Students will be placed 10-feet apart on the football field.  Only the senior parents will be allowed to attend.  They will be socially distanced in the grandstands on the home side of the football field.  

Superintendent Kris Einck and Connie Euans will be on the track with a podium directing the program.  Board members can attend and be spaced to follow the social distancing guidelines.  The commencement program will be recorded and put on the school website and social media for people to view.

“I will be closely monitoring the weather forecast to arrange for a backup plan in case of inclement weather.  We will make a decision about postponing if necessary once we get closer to the day of the event,” Einck said.

Wed
06
May

Ossian restaurants opt to not open

Shooter’s Bar and Grill owner Chris Topel said she doesn’t plan on opening to the public anytime soon despite the Governor’s permission for restaurants to open now in Winneshiek County, with certain stipulations. She still has questions about safety and finds some of the restrictions too prohibitive. (Jack Swanson photo)

 

Ossian restaurants opt to not open

 

By Jack Swanson
jswanson@fayettecountynewspapers.com

 

They have the option to open but they’re not going to risk it.

The restaurants in Ossian are in agreement that it’s too early to open to the public despite the Governor’s consent that restaurants in Winneshiek and 76 other counties across the state could open May 1 with certain restrictions.

The added restrictions and overall safety of their staff and customers were the main reasons given by the restaurants for not wanting to open at this time.

“We are continuing with carry-out only. First of all I am not sure that legally we can open. It says nobody can sit at your bar area and the people dining-in need to be spaced six feet apart unless they are family. Then no more than six to a table. If you are opening, they want you to have disposable menus, no salt and pepper shakers on the tables, and major disinfecting procedures in place, so I am not comfortable with all the stipulations,” said Sue Lienau. She and her husband are the owners of Bambinos Bar and Restaurant.

Wed
06
May

Retiring amid a pandemic, Hart says goodbye to teaching after 31 years

Longtime teacher, Zetta Hart notes that one of her favorite memories of teaching kindergarten at the Valley elementary is being able to teach her granddaughters Zoë and Zaya (pictured).  (submitted photo) 

 

Retiring amid a pandemic, Hart says goodbye to teaching after 31 year

 

By Megan Molseed

mmolseed@thefayettecountyunion.com

 

 

“The day Governor Reynolds told all of us that we would not be able to return to school this school year, I just felt numb,” said Valley elementary kindergarten teacher, Zetta Hart.  “The next couple of days were very emotional for me, as I’m sure they were for all of us.” 

For Hart, this announcement came with an extra sense of sadness, as the 31-year teaching veteran is set to retire at the end of this school year.  

“On March 15th, I thought, well maybe just a couple of weeks,” she said quietly as she remembered of the night North Fayette Valley Schools first closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I am a positive person.  Always hopeful, yet in my heart I predicted we would not be able to return to school this school year.”

For Hart, it was the swiftness of the changes that made it all a little bit harder.  

“It was so, so hard not to have had a bit of time to talk about our needing to stay home with my sweet kindergarteners,” said Hart.  “I had no idea it would affect our lives as it has.” 

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