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A Place to Play
Rotarians Lead Charge to Create, Upgrade City Parks
Relaying for Life
Annual American Cancer Society Event Raises Money for Cancer Research
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5 Trip Abroad Leads to Full-time
Cause for Goose Lake Woman
Renee Farwell continues quest to provide education to Ghana’s children
8 Women’s Expo Photo Page 9 Spreading the Message of Love for All
Allow Abundant Love helps organizations fighting inhumane behaviors through support, advocacy and financial contributions
13 Red Cross Luau Photo Page 15 A Place to Play
Rotarians lead charge to create, upgrade city parks
19 Home & Garden Show and
Cabin Fever Auction Photo Page
21 Relaying for Life
Annual American Cancer Society event raises money for cancer research
26 Thomson Facts 27 A Changing Tide
Northeast School District Grows in the Times
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Welcome to our Summer 2013 edition of Bridges! It’s great to see the flowers blooming and feel the temperatures start to rise after such a long winter. Keeping to the idea that summer means the time to be outdoors is upon us, we have a special feature about the work being done to create and update Clinton’s parks. The Rotary Club has spearheaded that project, first completing Rotary Park near Riverview Drive and now making plans for Emma Young Park. Other stories we are bringing to you include a feature about the upcoming Relay for Life and its honorary chairman, DeWitt Mayor Don Thiltgen. Jewelry made in Africa for fundraising purposes as well as a local group that raises awareness about human trafficking and human rights issues also are in the spotlight. We also are taking a look at the growth in the Northeast School District, where a new tornado shelter has been built and more improvements are on the way. In each edition, we include photo pages of activities and special events that have taken place during the previous months. This time around, we will be featuring the Gateway Area Chapter of the American Red Cross luau, the Clinton Herald’s Home Show and Cabin Fever Auction, and the Ultimate Women’s Expo. Charlene Bielema Bridges editor
Vol. 6 Issue 2 Editor
Charlene Bielema Associate Editor Scott Levine
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Trip Abroad Leads to Full-time Cause for Goose Lake Woman ues Quest to Provide Education to Ghana’s Chi n i t n o C l l e w r a F ldren Renee By Katie Dahlstrom Bridges Staff Writer
CLINTON — Goose Lake native Renee Farwell didn’t plan to build a school in the African nation of Ghana; she says it simply was meant to be. The 24-year-old first visited Ghana during a study abroad to the University of Ghana when she was a student at Roosevelt University in Chicago. She started teaching children in the nearby village of Kissemah after meeting Kwame Agoe, now 32, a Kissemah resident who had been educating children on his porch. Farwell started volunteering to help Agoe with the 15 children who attended his class and soon found herself more involved than
Photo: Above: Students in Mawuvio’s Outreach Programme pose for a photo with founders Rene Farwell and Kwame Agoe. Submitted Photo
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she planned. “I just fell in love with the kids and the program,” she said. Because public school in Ghana costs $200 to $300, not many children can afford to attend. Agoe stopped attending school when he was around 10 or 11 because his father died and he didn’t have the means to pay for his own education. Based on his own experiences with education in Ghana, Agoe established the school on his porch for children like himself, who would not otherwise have the opportunity. “We weren’t thinking about how much of an impact everything we were doing would have,” Farwell said of the work done to create Mawuvio’s Outreach Programme, which provides free education
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Photos: Left: Rene Farwell and Traci Trenkamp paint the mural at the school site in December 2012 while Sara Karner paints the Mawuvio’s Outreach Programme logo by the door. Below: The outside walls of the Mawuvio’s Outreach Programme school is decorated with a mural depicting all the potential futures students have. Submitted Photos
and developmental services to orphans and disadvantaged Ghanian children. “At the time we weren’t really thinking about it, we were just doing it.” Since 2009 the program has grown from 15 kids to 60 with 200 inquiring about the school, which was licensed by Ghana as an official preschool through sixthgrade school in 2011. Mawuvio’s employs five Ghanian teachers who instruct children from 4 to 15 in English, math, science, religious moral education, information communication technology, citizenship education and creative arts. Because many of them don’t come from a stable living environment, the school also provides children lunch as some may only see a meal when they attend class. “We felt we needed to be the ones to provide them at least one meal a day,” Farwell said. These costs add up to about $1,000 in operating expenses a month. Students make clay bead bracelets two days a week, which are sold to help fund the program. The program also accepts donations and has a child sponsorship program. For $30 a month, one child’s food, schooling and housing is covered. Sponsorships of $10 or $20 a month are also available. In order to give the school a more permanent home, Farwell and Agoe planned to build a school and started working toward their goal in 2010. What turned into
a semester abroad in Ghana for Farwell, who was then 21, became a full year in order to get the school established. Construction on the school building started in spring 2010 with $11,000 Farwell raised to purchase 2 to 3 acres of land. The foundation was placed that fall for the school that will hold six classrooms, two dormitories to house first- through sixth-grade students, an office, a kitchen and a room for volunteers. The school is registered as a nongovernmental organization, and Farwell has obtained a social welfare certificate so she can legally house and feed students in the planned building. In April 2012, an additional plot was purchased to expand the school to include a playing field and a dining/assembly hall. Farwell and others raised between $75,000 and $90,000 to build the school. Mawuvio’s treasurer and Farwell’s mother, Barb, also completed murals on the outside and inside of the school. Directors are now focused on completing the inside of the building.
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Farwell estimates they will need another $75,000 to plaster over bricks on the inside, install wiring, put in plumbing, furnish the building and complete other inside tasks. If enough funds can be raised, Farwell said she expects the school to be open by September. Farwell, who earned her degree in sociology, isn’t paid for the work she does in Ghana. It’s not something she’s seriously considered, given the condition of the school. “We’ve been working so hard to build this school, how do you take a wage when the school isn’t finished?” she said. She earns a living as a teacher in Chicago, but someday plans to make the program her full-time
career. Farwell visits Ghana for months at a time every year. She had planned to move there, but the cultural differences and a case of homesickness compelled her to return to the Midwest. Farwell lives and works in Chicago now, but often travels back to the Gateway area to promote her organization and speak to groups about the work she has done. She hopes to expand Mawuvio’s Outreach Programme to have a Chicago branch that will serve female middle and high school students on the west side. Farwell will then split her time between Ghana and Chicago. What started as a trip abroad turned into what Farwell now
Photo: Above: Renee Farwell and Kwame Agoe smile with some of their students outside the school in 2011. Submitted Photo
views as her calling. For her, life without Mawuvio’s Outreach Programme is something of the past and something she never plans to know again. “There is no after Mawuvio’s Outreach Programme,” she said. “It’s meant to be.” n
Photo Page 2
1. Sheralyn Bartels of Don’s Jewelry arranges jewelry for the viewing and purchasing pleasure of the more than 300 people who attended the Ultimate Women’s Expo on April 2, 2013 at Wild Rose Casino. 2. Joni Dolan of the Origami Owl clasps a necklace around Juanita Millhouse’s neck during the Ultimate Women’s Expo.
3. Shaley Maher of Women’s Health Services and Sheralyn Bartels of Don’s Jewelry present door prizes at the end of the Ultimate Women’s Expo that was held at Wild Rose Casino. 4. Kay Scott, left, Katera Scott and Mel Rose admire some of the many pieces of jewelry Don’s Jewelry had on display during the Ultimate Women’s Expo.
5. Rori Koepfler of Ryde Studio explains her new business to Rita Mulholland during the Ultimate Women’s Expo. 6. Stephanie Heid with the Heirloom Market talks to Joyce Bussie of Deanna’s Java Station during the Ultimate Women’s Expo.
Photos by Katie Dahlstrom
7. Carissa Evans of BeautiControl talks to Sharon Ketelsen and Sherri Naeve about the products her company has to offer during the Ultimate Women’s Expo.
D a y O n T h e T o w n
Spreading the Message of L ve for All Allow Abundant Love helps organizations fighting inhumane behaviors through support, advocacy and financial contributions By Katie Dahlstrom Bridges Staff Writer
CLINTON — Shelley Adkins is creating a movement that will make a difference to people who are treated inhumanely and the non-profit agencies that serve them. The Clinton resident started her movement under the name Allow Abundant Love, L.L.C.,
in November 2012 after asking herself what she could do to make a difference for people suffering at the hands of others. “My movement, mission, is for the power of love to make a difference,” Adkins said. Allow Abundant Love helps other organizations fighting against inhumane behaviors through support, advocacy and financial contributions.
“When you say ‘love,’ that actually can hurt some people. Because some people have been hurt by people that tell them they love them. When I talk about love, I’m talking about respect and compassion. Love is the most powerful, intelligent force,” she said. The inspiration for Allow Abundant Love came from a plethora of sources over the course of several months. The company name has roots in a song that captured Adkins’ attention. “It was called ‘Abundance for All,’ and I just remember thinking ‘Wow. Now there’s a concept.’ That’s kind of what prompted my heart to start,” Adkins said. Following the name, Adkins thought about the best way to spread her message. Images of the Nike swoosh, the pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness and other recognizable symbols pointed her to creating her own symbol that would be discernible throughout the world. “I need a logo that is going to represent change and awakening to a new consciousness,” Adkins said. “We need to change our thinking. If we don’t change our thinking, we’re not going to change our behaviors.” After realizing how she wanted to represent her message, Adkins found herself drawing the logo, what she now calls the “golden heart of indigo.” The logo is an amalgamation of several symbols that exemplify her message. What looks like two ribbons, one gold and one indigo, form a heart with an opening at the top and a cross at the bottom. An “at” sign from the right set of ribbons completes
the symbol. Together, the elements of the logo mean the power of love to create change, the mission that Adkins promotes through Allow Abundant Love. “Human beings are exceptionally valuable. We are worthy to be treated with honor and dignity. Every single human being is. If they’re not being treated that way, we should step up as a humanity and do something about it,” Adkins said. The logo appears on the clothing line that Adkins uses as a means to raise money for the organizations
Photo: Above: Shelley Adkins shows off a matching pants and jacket set embroidered with the Allow Abundant Love logo.
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she aims to support. She offers a variety of pieces that range from around $20 up to $75. People could sport a T-shirt with a logo on it or don a Nike polo shirt to create what Adkins calls unified giving — people coming together to build up humanity. While she wrestled with being a non-profit or a business, Adkins said she chose the latter because she did not want to seem like a
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Photo: Above: Shelley Adkins, owner of Allow Abundant Love, proudly poses with some of the clothing she uses to spread her message of respect and compassion. Photos by Katie Dahlstrom
threat to other non-profits that she would like to support. By choosing to operate as what she calls a “company with a conscious,”
Adkins can still donate the money that would be profit from an item of clothing. If Adkins has a $10 markup on a T-shirt, that money will be donated to a charity. “Yes, you’re buying the clothing, but we’re giving donations away,” she said. By selling the clothing and donating the profits, Adkins hopes to support other organizations while simultaneously spreading the logo and, with it, the message of change-stimulating love. “What better way to come together than if people are wearing this shirt in Clinton, Iowa and someone’s wearing it an California and people in Europe are wearing it? Is that not unifying? That message is getting out,” she said. Adkins is trying to get her items into department stores and other shops in order to reach people beyond her website at aalove.org.
She is also working with a friend to develop a line of scrubs that will help her message permeate the medical community. By spreading her message, Adkins not only hopes to increase people’s compassion and respect for other human beings; she wants people to realize they can develop themselves and improve their own lives in the fashion of the proverb, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Although she’s still in the beginning phases of spreading her message, Adkins bursts with optimism for what the future holds. “No matter what, I can say when it’s all said and done, I made an effort,” she said. “I have no control over what everyone else is going to do with it, but I can live with what I did.” n
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The Gateway Area Chapter of the American Red Cross held its Ninth Annual Luau on April 12 at Rastrelli’s Tuscany Special Events Center. Doors opened at 6 p.m., with cocktails and heavy hors d’oeuvres served after 6:30 p.m. The event featured a silent auction, cake auction and 50/50 raffle. The Coupe De Ville played from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.
In These Photos
1. Server Tristan Kao removes meet off of a pig during the Ninth Annual Red Cross Luau in the Rasterlli’s Tuscany Special Events Center
2. Julie Brown (right) places a lei around Barb Suehl-Janis’ neck as she enters the luau.
3. Andy Crook from Coupe De Ville sings during the luau.
4. Mike Wolf picks out his cake after participating in the cake auction.
5. Gene and Virginia Eggers slow dance along to the music of Coupe De Ville.
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6. Jim Clark from Coupe De Ville sings lead for one on the many songs the band played during the luau.
7. Chris Streets measures out 50/50 raffle tickets during the Ninth Annual Red Cross Luau in the Rasterlli’s Tuscany Special Events Center.
Photos by Samantha Pidde Bridges Staff Writer
A Place to Play Rotarians Lead Charge to Create, Upgrade City Parks By Samantha Pidde Herald Staff Writer
CLINTON — In fall 2005, the Clinton Rotary Club had an idea to create a playground along Clinton’s Riverview Drive. The group voted on creating Rotary Park Playground at Riverview Park in August 2007. And with the help of volunteers throughout the community, the club’s $50,000 investment as well as revenue from grants and donations, the park became a reality, reaching completion a few years later.
“If we don’t invest in our kids, what do we invest in,” Rotarian Cheryl Frey asked. At Rotary Park, that investment can be seen in many areas. There is a large activity area that children can play on, swings and a slide. A $23,000 climbing stone stands on one end of the area. The strange shape offers grips to allow children to scale its surface. At one time, the playground was set in sand. However, a few years ago, Frey and her husband were visiting an outof-town park and saw a soft rubber surface. She brought the idea back to the Rotary Club.
Clinton Rotary President Norlan Hinke said the current surface, made out of reused tires, is safer for children. He added that it is also much cleaner than sand. The new surface was installed in June 2010 and in September 2010, benches on the bike path were replaced. Rotarian Gary Foster added that the cost of the new restrooms was $60,000 and constructing a shelter cost $40,000. For the past five years, Rotary has held an auction event to help pay for the area parks. Frey said the auction has grown a little each year. As people see the work that Rotary
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does for the area, they are more likely to donate and attend. “Only with the support of our Sponsors, auction items donors, and those who attended our auctions and purchased items, we have been able to raise the funds to support our Parks For Children projects for the past five years.“ Rotarian Francie Hill said. “These joint efforts have given our community’s girls and boys safe, maintenance-free playgrounds that might not have been possible to fund with city tax dollars.” Foster and Hinke agreed that a big supporter of the playground projects is the city. Parks Superintendent Tom Krogman has worked with the organization to create Rotary Park. Foster was thankful for all the labor that the parks department provided for the project. “I think we ended up with the best playground in Clinton down in
Photo: Left: Violet Jurgerson, 14 months, enjoys the playground at Rotary Park by Riverview Drive. Right: Chase (left) and Dasie (far right) Jurgerson push their 14-month-old twins, Violet (center left) and Levi, (center right) on the swings at Rotary Park by Riverview Drive. Photos by Samantha Pidde
Riverview Park,” Krogman said. Mary Swanson, from Rotary, said many area day cares and programs use Rotary park. YWCA Youth Director Jana Linville brings the children to the park in the summer. She said the summer campers are fortunate to have access to the facilities at the park. “The equipment is amazing, the facilities are well maintained, and it’s one of our favorite destinations,” Linville said. Many families even travel to Photo: Below: Rotarians Norlan Hinke (left), Mary Swanson, Gary Foster and Cheryl Frey look out over Rotary Park from atop the large playground structure. Photos by Samantha Pidde
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Clinton for its great parks. Swanson sees a lot of families during the weekends. In late April, Dasie and Chase Jurgerson were visiting family in Clinton for a few weeks. They brought their 14-month-old twins, Levi and
Violet to the park. Violet really enjoyed playing on the swings. Now the club is turning its attention to other areas in Clinton that could benefit from a park. With the work at Rotary park complete, the club has moved on to plans for Emma Young Park. Krogman has commented previously that once there was an old wooden structure at the park. However, that equipment has long
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since rotted away and was taken down. At the time, the equipment was not replaced due to the nice playground at Harding Elementary School. With the school gone, Krogman said the area needs a playground. The club has been able to afford the new equipment with grants, including a $50,000 Clinton County Development Association grant. Rotary also was able to put in $25,000 from what it raised last year. Kompan saleswoman Vibeke Larson visited the Rotary Club in February to show the group just what kind of playground the Emma Young Park will feature. The proposed playground will includes Kompan’s Gym 2, best for children ages 2 to 5. This unit features a rock climbing wall, slides and a climbing net. The gym also has a play counter, and a basin, binoculars, megaphone and hammock also are offered. Swings and spinner bowls will also be featured in the park, as well as a zip line. The equipment has been ordered by Krogman and will be installed this spring or summer as weather allows. After the Emma Young playground is complete, Rotary hopes to turn its attention to Rainbow Park near Garfield Street. Hinke was amazed by the great deal of study that goes into choosing playground equipment. Frey said she now understands that playgrounds not only allow children to play, but also help children develop. “I think it just proves that if you have a vision, look what you can do,” Frey said of the Rotary Club and community’s work. n
Home & Garden Show and
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D a y O n T h e
The Clinton Herald held its annual Cabin Fever Auction and Home & Outdoor Show on March 2 at the Wild Rose Casino & Resort. This was the first time that the two events were held on the same day. The live auction began at 10 a.m. and the home show ran from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
1. People milled around the various vendor tables during the home show.
2. Auctioneer Jon Kavanaugh leads bidding on a refrigerator. 3. Madisen (left) and Caiden Davids (right) played on a John Deere tractor from Maloney Equipment, Inc. at the Home & Outdoor Show.
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4. Lucy Harrison smells a fresh herb at the Home & Outdoor Show. She was one of many who attended a presentation by Rose Graves, owner of R&R Farms and The Unicorn restaurant, on planting and using fresh herbs. 5. Dale Day bids on a yearâ€™s membership at the Prairie Ridge golf course. Day won the membership with a bid of $200.
6. Bill Espey (left), of Clinton, is shown a large shed from Clinton Custom Sheds Owner Corey Council during the home show. 7. Dave Determan from Cadogan Chiropractic straightens his table at the home show.
Photos by Samantha Pidde
Relaying for Life
Annual American Caner Society Event Raises Money for Cancer Research
By Charlene Bielema Herald Editor
DEWITT — From the pen on his desk that with just a squeeze quacks like a duck to the stuffed animal that plays an accordion while perched on his office’s windowsill, it’s easy to see Don Thiltgen likes to have fun. As mayor of DeWitt for the past 13 years, he’s even been known to
offer candy to children when mom or dad pays the family’s utility bill at DeWitt City Hall – pending parent approval, of course. But as quick as his smiles appear, they also fade away just as fast when he talks about a cause near and dear to his heart — his involvement in Clinton County’s Relay for Life and the hope it provides to those battling the disease. Thiltgen is the honorary chairman
of the 18th annual Clinton County Relay for Life, which will be from noon to midnight Aug. 2 at the Camanche High School track. It has been eight years since Thiltgen learned he had colon cancer, an aggressive form that was diagnosed in 2005 and led to the removal of 4 inches of his colon just three weeks after he received a call on his cell phone from his doctor following a routine checkup.
“You have a very aggressive form of cancer,” he remembers his doctor saying. “You have to make a decision right now.” That call came on a Thursday, he remembers, and after a few days of trying to process it, he decided it was time to share the news with his city hall staff members. “You just feel you’re going to die,” he said, adding he felt it was important to talk about his cancer right away because he was an elected official. He remembers the tears he shed at home, which were followed by even more tears at city hall. His family gathered at the holidays and had one large family photo taken; he said they all came home because they thought he was going to die. Seated in that same city hall office where he remembers telling his co-workers — with that large family photo staring back at him from the left side of his desk, — Thiltgen, 66, said being a cancer survivor is what ultimately led to his involvement in the Relay, something he began to do a couple years after being diagnosed. He remembers being at a Clinton County Relay for Life event, serving in his mayoral capacity, when he told another mayor that he was a cancer survivor. Word spread and soon he found himself assisting with the event. Last year, he was co-chairman with Jan Thompson, her first year at leading the event. He said the duo strengthened the organizational structure and this year, Thompson, a nurse at Mercy Medical Center who has been involved throughout the years going back to the very first local Relay, is leading it solo while he serves as
the honorary chairman. Clinton County’s Relay for Life began in 1995, a little more than a dozen years after the very first Relay, which actually got its start in the mid-1980s when Dr. Gordy Klatt, a Tacoma colorectal surgeon, wanted to enhance the income of his local American Cancer Society office. He decided to personally raise money for the fight against cancer by running marathons. According to the American Cancer Society web site, it was in May 1985 that Klatt spent a grueling 24 hours circling the track at Baker Stadium at the Universi-
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Photo: Above: Don Thiltgen is shown at his desk at DeWitt City Hall. He has served as the city’s mayor for 13 years. Just to the right is a family photo framed in black. The photo was taken shortly after he learned he had cancer eight years ago. Photos by Charlene Bielema/Clinton Herald
ty of Puget Sound in Tacoma for more than 83 miles. Throughout the night, friends donated $25 to run or walk 30 minutes with him. He raised $27,000 to fight cancer. That first year, nearly 300 of Klatt’s friends, family, and patients watched as he ran and walked the course. While he circled the track those 24 hours, he thought about how others could take part. He envisioned a 24-hour team re-
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lay event that could raise more Photo: money to fight cancer. Months Right: Luminarias surround Camanche High School’s track during the 2012 Clinton later he pulled together a small County’s Relay for Life. committee to plan the first team Clinton Herald file photo relay event known as the City offering programs such as of Destiny Classic 24-Hour Run Reach for Recovery, and asAgainst Cancer. sisting with travel and other In 1986, 19 teams took part in the needs that arise in the course first team relay event on the track of a patient’s cancer jourat the colorful, historical Stadiney. It also helps fund the um Bowl and raised $33,000. The Hope Lodge, which provides vision turned into more than 5,200 a place to stay for cancer Relay For Life events across the patients and their families — United States today and more than free of charge — while they $4.5 billion in fundraising to save undergo treatment at the lives from cancer, ACS officials University of Iowa Hospitals said. and Clinics in Iowa City. It is that same message that rings It all adds up to a program that true today, Thompson said. helps carry out the American “The idea is that cancer never Cancer Society’s mission — more sleeps, so why should we,” she birthdays for patients — and messaid, adding that Relay for Life’s sages of hope. fund-raising assists local residents Thiltgen’s message, he said, will be by getting information to patients, to show support for the children
and teens in the area who battle cancer. As he speaks of them, his eyes well up with tears. “These young people, they are just getting started in life,” he said. “And they are so upbeat and carry themselves so well.” He said the months and weeks
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Photo: Above: Kristin and Jeff Huisenga, of Fulton, Ill., and their son, Lucas, walk the track at Camanche High School during the 2012 Relay For Life. Clinton Herald file photo
Right: Allen Schmid, part of Trinity Lutheran Church’s Relay For Life team, fixes decorated luminaries surrounding the Camanche High School track during the 2012 Clinton County Relay for Life. Clinton Herald file photo
leading up to the event are filled with committee meetings, team recruitment and sign-up. He said those who help are very committed to the event due to their own runins with cancer, either as a patient or someone who has lost a loved one to cancer. “There is a common denominator,” he said.
Getting involved is as easy as forming a team, signing up online and collecting pledges, he said. Last year, the event’s 27 teams raised more than $117,000, according to figures from the American Cancer Society’s Dubuque Office, which is part of the Midwest Division. “That’s the heart of what this is all about,” he said. People also can donate time by becoming a member of one of the planning committees. All of their Photo: Below: Participants walk around the Camanche High School track during each Relay for Life event. This year’s Relay will be Aug. 2 from noon to midnight.
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hard work will culminate in the one-day event, which will include a dinner for survivors and caregivers, a survivors’ lap and caregivers’ lap and luminaria ceremony along with walking the track. He said an emotionally moving part of the event will be when the survivors are called down from the
crowd to walk their lap. He said those new to the cancer fight will be called to the field first, then those who have battled five, 10, or 15 years. Once on the track, those just beginning their life with cancer are asked to turn around and look at the others who are still living years after their diagnosis.
“It shows there is hope,” he said. And it is that hope he intends to share for many years to come through Relay for Life. “It just impacts me,” he said. “If there is one thing I really want to do it is to be a part of this organization.” n
How does Relay for Life work?
The American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life of Clinton County is a unique celebration of life in honor and in memory of those whose lives have been touched by cancer. It has been described as a “huge compassionate support group” — a place where friends, family and loved ones join to celebrate survivorship and to honor those who have lost the battle. Relay For Life involves teams of eight to 15 people who take turns walking or running around a track. A party-like atmosphere prevails as team members camp out on the surrounding grounds for the duration of the event to enjoy music, food, fun, entertainment and activities while building camaraderie with fellow teammates and participants. Money is raised through team commitment fees and an individual goal of $100 in donations secured from family, friends, companies or corporations To sign up a team for the Clinton County Relay for Life or to get involved, contact Jan Thompson at 242-1450. Since 2001, which is as far back as online records go, the Clinton County Relay for Life has raised a total of $1,289,363 for the American Cancer Society.
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5 Things About Thomson, IL
1. The village of Thomson was an outgrowth of the Western Union
Railroad. The village site was laid off by Mr. Thomson and Mr. Smith of the railroad company in 1864. The first regular train of cars passed the village in 1865.
2. The Thomson Masonic Lodge, Number 559, was chartered in
1868 -1869. The first officers were: Peter Holman, Noah Green, R. D. Smith, John A. Melendy, D. T. Hobart, John Green, H. E. Osgood and James Green.
3. Approximately 1,500 people visit the Ingersoll Wetland Learning
Center, built in 2000. This center offers a variety of activities to people in the area.
4. Thomson’s first school was taught in 1865 by Miss Brown. The building was constructed in 1865.
5. Thomson’s Melon Days began in the 1920s. While the celebration
has not been held for the past few years, the community is still known for the event.
Did you know?
Goose Lake was incorporated in 1908, but was there earlier under the name “O’Brian’s.” It was renamed in 1889. Low Moor was named when the railroad was going through about 1857. The rails were made at the Low Moor Iron Works in England.
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A Changing Tide
Northeast School District Grows with the Times “The reason we do these things is for improving the quality of Bridges Staff Writer education for the kids so when they go out to colleges and universities GOOSE LAKE — In the past 20 years the Northeast School District they have a leg up,” Superintendent Jim Cox said. “That is my dream.” has experienced exponential Cox, who has been in his current growth in both its student role since 1994, said the district’s population and facilities. first major change came in 1995 From the new elementary school being built in the mid-1990s, to the with the construction of the elementary school. Fine Arts Center and safe room and now to the high school/middle “I think that was the first step school addition, the district’s focus for the district moving into the new century. It was a bold move. has been enhancing the education It was a difficult move because of its students. there were a lot of opinions on what the district should do. In the end, I think they made the right decision,” Cox said. In 1995, voters approved a referendum for $4.1 million in bonds needed to complete the three-section school.
By Katie Dahlstrom
Photo: Left: Northeast Superintendent Jim Cox is proud of the changes that have occurred in his district that he says have improved the educational experience for students. Photos by Katie Dahlstrom
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Photo: Above: Northeast Elementary School students use Ipads to help them learn in the classroom.. Photos by Katie Dahlstrom
Before the new elementary school was built, the younger elementary grades attended class in the former Goose Lake Elementary building while the older grades went to Elvira, requiring a lot of busing back and forth. Students attending classes in the same building and on the same campus is more efficient for the district, Cox said. Student safety was also a major factor in building the new elementary school. One year after the students were in the new elementary building, the former elementary building was destroyed in a fire that happened overnight. “It happened at night, but let’s just suppose it started burning • Counseling for individuals, couples or families • Medication management/assistance • Child and adolescent therapy • Community support for individuals with serious persistent mental illness • Various therapy and support groups • Consultation and education to community agencies, businesses and schools • Psychiatric and psychological evaluations • Co-occuring disorder treatment group • Sexual abuse treatment
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and kids would have been in there. We would have lost some kids and some teachers. Perish the thought that anything like that would happen. Environmentally and safety wise it was a wise choice for the district to build the elementary,” Cox said. The next major project the district undertook was the Fine Arts Center and safe room addition to the high school and middle school. The project cost $6.5 million, which was funded with $2.7 from FEMA, $3.2 in stimulus money and the rest by the one cent sales
tax. Up to 600 people can now attend a musical or other performance in the fine arts center auditorium. It’s not just the space available, but the comfort of the seats that draws more people to attend school events in the fine arts center. The community could also use the addition in the event of a major storm. Northeast was awarded the FEMA grant in order to complete a safe room. Using the FEMA funds, the district was able to complete a safe room that can withstand 250 mph winds. The area
Photo: Below: Members of the Northeast choir exercise their vocal chords in the fine arts center. Photos by Katie Dahlstrom
can shield up to 900 people in the event of an F-5 tornado. Although the fine arts center and safety room benefit the community, the benefit to students is paramount, Cox said. “It was a lot of work, but it has been a godsend to the kids,” Cox said. More than 150 students take part in choir. Northeast Choir Director
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Photo: Above: Northeast Elementary School English and college-bound composition teacher Marcy Rickords teaches a class in one of the classrooms that was part of the district’s fine arts center addition. Photos by Katie Dahlstrom
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Laura Horst said between the different school choirs and other musical programs, students have a bevy of options to exercise their artistic inclinations. “This auditorium is unbelievable. Every child has the opportunity to be in music now,” Horst said. Not only do students have the opportunities to pursue music and arts, but they take advantage of those opportunities, according to guidance counselor and Athletic Director Gregg Mohl. “Our fine arts program has just exploded. The amount of kids, the amount of things we’re able to do. We get a lot of use out of the auditorium,” Mohl said. With more than $10 million in improvements completed in the past two decades, the district will complete another $7.5 million to build a new gym and science wing at the high school that will be open by the end of 2014. “Our science classrooms are restrictive to say the least. We need
new science rooms that are more state-of-the-art,” Cox said. Voters in April approved a referendum that will allow the district to construct a new science wing holding four new science rooms, a 1,500- to 1,800-capacity gymnasium capable of dividing into three courts, a new regulation baseball field, parking areas, new concession area and restrooms, a new community fitness area, and an addition to and remodeling of the weight room. All of the improvements the district has made and will make come from the vision of district leadership to provide a better learning environment to its expanding student body. Cox said in 1995 the district enrolled 600 students. Next year, due in part to increasing open enrollments, Cox predicts the district will enroll approximately 850 students. “I think it comes down to — and this is true of any school district or any organization — what is your vision? To this community, education of the kids has been very important. This district has had a vision for that,” Cox said. n
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