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April 11, 2012 • Volume 4



The Valley News • Wednesday, April 11, 2012

PERFORM... The cast of Putnum County Spelling Bee, which was performed by the SWITG a couple years ago.

SWITG still going strong By TESS GRUBER NELSON Managing Editor

Established 55 years ago, the Southwest Iowa Theatre Group, headquartered in Shenandoah, just might be the oldest continuously running, non-profit community theatre group in the state of Iowa According to long-time theatre director and actor Stan Orton, the first play presented by the group was “Kind Lady” in 1957. In those early years, Orton said there was a fall, winter and spring production per theatre season. However, in 1997, a summer production was included. Orton added the typical theatre season includes a comedy, drama and two musical productions. Prior to having its own theatre, Orton said productions took place a various locations, including schools and a small community building, referred to as the Rose Garden located in Sportsmans Park. Orton said the facility was small and simple, consisting of a large open room and two tiny restrooms. Productions held in the Rose Garden, recalled Orton, were performed on the floor with portable bleachers for the audience.

Fortunately in 1967, the City of Shenandoah permitted the group permission to build an addition, which included a stage and small auditorium, to the Rose Garden. This addition allowed seating for 150 patrons, as well as an enclosed light and sound booth at the rear of the facility. Later on, Orton said a workshop, two dressing rooms, a storage facility, restrooms and lobby were also added on to make the facility even more convenient and userfriendly. A member of the Theatre Arts Guild and the Iowa Community Theatre Association, the Rose Garden is under the management of the theatre group and is also used for family reunions, wedding receptions, graduation parties, craft fairs, fundraisers, business meetings and the Wabash Arts Camp. Upcoming productions include Send Me No Flowers April 20-22, 2729; The Championship Season, May 25-27, June 1-3; Cheaper By The Dozen, June 22-24, 29-July 1; and Shanon’s Last Folly, Aug. 17-19. For more information about the Southwest Iowa Theatre Group, visit

RODEO...The Sidney Iowa Championship Rodeo has been thrilling fans for more than 80 years.

Sidney rodeo thrills, entertains fans from across U.S. By TESS GRUBER NELSON Managing Editor

For 89 years the Sidney Iowa Rodeo has been providing thrills and chills to thousands of people, and if Sidney Rodeo Board President David Magel has his way, it’ll continue for many years to come. “I hope we can do it for another 89 years,” said Magel. “We’ll work our hardest to see this thing keeps going – that’s everybody’s goal.” It was brothers Henry and Earl Tackett that started the rodeo tradition in Sidney in 1923 during the annual Old Threshers Reunion. The duo decided to entertain those in attendance with a rodeo after constructing a temporary arena by using Model T cars and buggies. The wild horses in the area were rounded up and ridden by the Tacketts, who were paid $50 for their performance. Veterans returning from World War I in 1924 organized the Williams-Jobe-Gibson American Legion Post #128 and decided to become the producers of the Sidney Iowa Championship Rodeo. “This is the only rodeo I’m aware of run by an American Legion Post,” said Magel. “The Rodeo Board is comprised of five American Legion members and two Sons of the

American Legion.” The Post built a small grandstand and purchased bulls from Texas and horses from South Dakota. They also bought a few quarter horses that were kept year-round on the Post’s small farm. By the late 1920s, attendance was growing rapidly. The grandstand was expanded, as well as the arena, and a small admission charged. Regular performers at the rodeo included professional cowboys, trick riders and Native American tribesman, usually from the South Dakota located Rosebud Reservation. In 1931, electricity was added, which made night performances possible and in 1934, additional grandstands were constructed. Sixty-six acres of land just west of the Sidney City Park was purchased by the Post for cattle and horses and in 1940, 30 acres south of the park and 52 acres west of where the parking lot is located today were also purchased. Due to World War II, the rodeo was cancelled from 1943-46, but following the war, the membership of the Post doubled, leading to more Legion members being able to help produce the event.

see RODEO, Page 6C


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In 1954, the Legion members decided to no longer supply their own livestock for the event and began having livestock contractors take over. The grandstands, chutes and pens were completely rebuilt beginning in 1965 and completed in 1972. Additional renovations and improvements continue to be made. “A few years ago we built VIP seating above the bucking shoots, where our sponsors are seated at selected performances,” said Magel. “There’s always something that needs to be done.” During the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s television stars and singers, such as Jim Nabors, Jimmy Dean, Jerry Reed, Marty Robbins and Michael Landon, all made an appearance during rodeo performances. The current covered grandstand seats 8,000, and also protects spectators from the elements of an Iowa summer. “The outdoor facility we have is pretty unique,” said Magel. There is also plenty of free parking, a tram service, hospital facilities and camping facilities on the grounds. The Sidney Rodeo is sanctioned

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WIRED...Tabor has offered its citizens wireless internet since 2003.

Tabor a pioneer town of wireless internet possibilities By JASON GLENN Staff Writer

If you’ve traveled through Tabor on Highway 275, you’ve probably seen the signs. And if you’ve driven the streets, you’ve no doubt noticed those strange little tubular transmitters mounted strategically on power poles throughout the town. Tabor is one big hotspot. While cutting-edge technology has gradually inched its way into many area communities over the last few years, the small town that straddles the Fremont and Mills County line has offered some form of wireless internet service to its residents for almost a decade. Starting in 2003 with the installation of a line-of-sight transmitter on the top of Tabor’s water tower, locals could opt for a city-managed internet plan that would allow them untethered access in their homes, yards and all around town. In 2008, the City Council approved a contract with a different company that expanded the options even further, putting up those radio transmitters and creating a wireless “mesh” network over the town for more reliable and faster wireless connections. “We’ve just got internet service everywhere over here,” laughed City Clerk Pat Weldon. Weldon said Tabor’s progressive attitude toward technology was born from watching the boom of bedroom communities along Highway 34 and

wondering how they could convince potential new residents to consider looking another 10 miles down the road. “They wanted to provide a service, the council did, thinking they’d draw people to town that could work from their homes and maybe get some more people moving into Tabor. Then gas went to $4 a gallon and nobody wanted to drive. But it’s still good, people have enjoyed having that wifi service,” Weldon said. That service has grown and, between the town-based radio and farther reaching line-of-sight transmitters, become a valuable feature for area residents both within and around the city limits. Soon, with the town moving to a new provider in late May, the service will expand even further, offering wireless internet to anyone passing through or visiting the town. “In Tabor, you should be able to stop on Main Street and use your laptop or whatever, anybody could. And also in the park, you’d be able to go there and access the internet,” Weldon said. The main reason for making the switch, though, Weldon said, was not that the current company, eFanz, wasn’t providing good service, but that the city wanted to get out of the middle. While eFanz set up the equipment and maintained the network for the city, it was the city’s job to communicate and process billing for residents who were Tabor wifi cus-

tomers. Weldon said switching to new provider Spiral Communications, who are based in Glenwood, should provide a more direct link between the customers and the company, reduce the city’s workload and continue to offer the same reliable broadband internet speed everyone’s grown accustomed to. “It won’t be a city-run internet service. They’re going to do their own billing and service, it’ll still be high-speed wireless, but it’ll be a different company,” she said of Spiral. “They’ve got the City of Glenwood, the Glenwood Police Department, Mills County Sheriff’s Office, the school, so they’ve got a really good start in Glenwood and they’ve been around for about six years. They’re not afraid to put up a tower and offer this service.” And though it remains Tabor’s ambition to attract new residents who are looking for the technological amenities of a big city in a welcoming small town environment, Weldon said it’s been most gratifying to see current residents, some of whom remember the horse and buggy days, able to enjoy the most modern of conveniences in the comfort of their own community. “They’re happy to have high-speed internet and not have to have a land line, it’s just freed them up quite a bit,” Weldon said. “And competition is good, so people have had a choice between DSL, satellite and our wifi service and it’s been good.”

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Operated by volunteers, Grand Theatre is indeed grand By TESS GRUBER NELSON Managing Editor

In June 2009, the doors of the Red Oak movie theatre closed. However, thanks to numerous dedicated citizens, the theatre is back, and better than ever. Darrel Steven Carlyle, Executive Director of the Red Oak Chamber and Industry Association explained once the theatre closed, a non-profit organization was created to reopen the theatre. In September 2010, the doors were reopened, providing moviegoers an affordable and entertaining experience. The non-profit organization that now operates the theatre is called the Red Oak Grand Theatre Inc. Carlyle said the group is comprised of all volunteers, and all work is volunteer, which keeps the operating costs down. “I’m not convinced that citizens of Davenport, West Des Moines, or Cedar Rapids would participate in doing such as thing as the citizens of Red Oak did,” said Carlyle. “That is something I’m very proud of. On top of that, how many communities can continue to operate on a volunteer basis?” Almost 5,000 hours are volunteered each year in order to run the theatre, and that doesn’t include things like marketing. “There are so many of us

that have a passion for that theatre,” Carlyle said. “You know what excites me most, is seeing a family of five or six walk in and it doesn’t take a mortgage for them to enjoy a movie – and then to see them walk out smiling.” Movies are shown every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night at 7 p.m. and there is also a Sunday afternoon matinee at 2 p.m. Admission for all shows is $2. “The largest popcorn we have is $3,” Carlyle added. “I remember not too long ago I took my sister and niece to a movie in Bellevue and with snacks, it was a $65 adventure. In our economy, people in this area can’t afford that.” Although the movies aren’t shown as they are first released. Carlyle said they are still fairly new. “They’re considered to be second run, so there’s approximately a four to six week delay from the grand opening,” he said. In addition to showing movies at affordable prices, Carlyle said they also give back to the community through fundraising. “Anybody that is nonprofit can use the theatre as a fundraiser. A while back we did a special Saturday afternoon showing with all proceeds going to the food pantry.” On top of that, Carlyle said around Christmas

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time, the theatre was opened a couple weekday afternoons to local schools. “I’m proud of the ways we can give back to our community.” However, as with most things, it’s difficult to keep up with inflating costs. Carlyle said a problem the theatre is currently facing is that all theatres have to go digital by the end of the year, or go dark. The theatre has already purchased the $12,000 digital sound system, and the new screen, which cost $3,500 to keep going. But, a new digital projector runs

$69,000. “It’s a challenge, but we’ve started a capital campaign and will try to get a couple grants as well.” The Grand Theatre is located at 410 East Coolbaugh Street in Red Oak. If interested in volunteering, contact Carlyle at (712) 623-4821. Donations, which as taxexempt, can be made to the Red Oak Grand Theatre, Inc., at the Red Oak Chamber and Industry Association in Red Oak.



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The Valley News • Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Area museums offer complementary palettes of local history and tradition By JASON GLENN Staff Writer

Though southwest Iowa has never been densely populated, Fremont and Page counties have rich and full histories that simply can’t be told, or contained, in just one museum. Luckily, there are three such facilities between Shenandoah and Sidney – the Greater Shenandoah Historical Museum, the Shenandoah Veterans Memorial Museum and the Fremont County Historical Museum - that collectively tell the story of who we are and how our communities came to be. In addition to housing and displaying unique and representative items and antiquities, each of the museums serve in their own ways as invaluable resources for people looking to learn not only about their communities but also about their families and genealogies. Sallie Brownlee, director of the Greater Shenandoah Historical Museum, said while local museums try to maintain that complementary relationship and not to overlap each others’ offerings, it does happen, but they all have a wonderful, collaborative mindset. “If somebody’s looking for something specific and we don’t have it, we might send them to Clarinda or Sidney or even Red Oak and we do a lot of genealogy work and we send them to the library or to the courthouse in Clarinda,” Brownlee said. “It’s a mutual agreement, unwritten I guess. If somebody brings something in and they donate it to the museum and we find out it doesn’t belong in our museum, we’ll send it over to the other ones.” With displays and artifacts ranging from prehistoric fossils to pioneer implements and dwellings to prominent individuals to prosperous members of the business community, the Shenandoah museum covers not just the town but the western half of Page and eastern third of Fremont County, Brownlee said. Among their impressive displays are archeological artifacts discovered in the area like a Mammoth skull and castings of a Ground Sloth claw, an authentic replica of an early Mormon cabin that would have been built by residents of Manti, photos, memorabilia and equipment used by radio pioneers such as KMA, and tributes to local musical artists such as the Everly Brothers and Bill Leacox, drummer for the band America. Brownlee said many visitors are drawn to the museum by the broad sweep and history of local personalities, particularly those that were featured on radio shows that reached far beyond the city limits. “It’s amazing the talent that’s come through here. A lot of people are still coming in to hear about Kitchen Klatter, that was a very big thing back in the day, the recipes and the chit-chat even, people became part of a family,” she said. “I have a lot of people come in and want to know what to do with grandma’s Kitchen Klatter magazines.” Just a few blocks away, housed in the town’s old Armory Building, the Shenandoah Veterans Memorial Museum is the newest addition to the local

VETS...The Veterans Memorial Museum is housed in the Memorial Armory in Shenandoah.

museum community. Having opened its doors just over two years ago, the museum was the brainchild of Army veteran George Gibson, who wanted to pay tribute to the men and women of the surrounding area who served, fought and died for their country. What was once just a storage room and the upper deck overlooking the old high school basketball court, Gibson has transformed into a showcase of uniforms, photographs, paintings, weapons and memorabilia used and collected by area veterans and their families. As one of five brothers who served in the armed forces, Gibson said he was inspired by his family legacy to create the museum. After getting the go-ahead from the Memorial Armory Board a few years back, Gibson said he started cleaning and painting the storage room and asking around if anyone had military items they’d like to donate or loan. It didn’t take long to get a response, he said. “The word got out and more and more stuff started coming in. It has really bloomed in two years,” he said. “This is more than what I envisioned. When I first started I didn’t think I was going to get enough to cover one wall.” Donations have been so frequent and generous, he said, that he has had to find his own storage space, a closet filled with uniforms that he plans to rotate into the exhibit on a regular basis. But that doesn’t mean he’s done. Gibson said he still wants any items people are willing to donate, or even just loan for a while, so the museum can be a dynamic and dignified home for local military history, whether it’s Shenandoah, Essex, Imogene or any of the surrounding communities. “Anytime anybody wants to donate, it would be greatly appreciated. I don’t care what it is, if it’s military items, money, whatever, it really helps us out a lot because that’s what we run on,” he said. Beyond that, Gibson said though the regular museum hours are limited to Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., he wants people, especially veterans themselves, to know they are always wel-

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come. “If somebody wants to come down other than those hours, all they’ve got to do is give me a call and I’ll come down and open it up,” Gibson said. “If they want to come and see it, I’ll make it possible.” One local museum attraction people will have to wait just a bit longer to see is the Fremont County Historical Society’s Rodeo Museum in Sidney. With construction underway for the last couple of years, the new building will honor the history and ongoing legacy of the Sidney Rodeo. The museum most likely would have opened by now, but last summer’s devastating windstorm wreaked havoc not only on the new structure but also the existing county museum on the courthouse square. Slowing the progress of larger plan to transform the entire block, including an old church converted into a performing arts and community center called The Gathering Place, the storms were certainly a setback, said Fremont County Historical Society President Lona Lewis, but not a knockout. “We have suffered through the adversity of the August 18 storms and we’re repairing from that and on the first of May we will set the grand opening date which we think will be somewhere in the fall of 2012,” Lewis said. “We’re to the point that we’re beginning exhibit preparation. That’s a big, big step.” Because of the damage to the original museum building and ongoing struggles with insurance settlements, Lewis said all attention is being focused on getting the new building open. When it is, she said, it will temporarily contain both the county museum’s items and artifacts upstairs and the rodeo memorabilia downstairs. Of the county museum’s displays, which include a Civil War sword and local uniforms, Indian points and arrowheads found in the area and one of a handful of pioneer-era wagon train traveling pantries still in existence, Lewis said a lot of work is being done to organize their extensive collection of photographs by community so they can be more readily identified and to highlight items of county history that also played a part in the nation’s history as well.

HISTORY...The Greater Shenandoah Historical Museum is located in downtown Shenandoah.

COMING SOON... If all goes well, the rodeo museum in Sidney will open in the fall of 2012.

“There are a lot of things in Fremont County that were part of the national story, Lewis and Clark is the most obvious, so we’re working towards identifying in our collection those kinds of things that apply to those stories,” Lewis said. “As we reopen the museum, there will be a lot of county information but there will also a lot of stories about how we have impacted the rest of the country.” By far the most anticipated addition to the local museum community, though, is the rodeo museum, which will house all manner of equipment, mementos and documentation about the historic Sidney Rodeo as well as displaying treasures of the sport itself, such as one of five championship saddles won by legendary cowboy Jim Shoulders, who was known as “the Babe Ruth of Rodeo.” Lewis said the museum board, working with the Iowa State Historical Society, had hired a professional designer to lay out the exhibits and develop the themes so that the museum would provide a deeper insight into rodeo than just looking at items behind glass. “He basically views this rodeo museum as telling the story of a culture so he’s going to be talking about all the aspects of rodeo – the cowboys, the animals, the equipment – it’s not going to be just looking at saddles and look-

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ing at pictures, it’s also going to be learning about the whole culture of rodeo,” she said. And, on a personal note, she added that with all the calamities along the winding, dusty trail of the museum project, to even be discussing final preparations seems like something of a miracle. “It’s beyond exciting. We started this the fall of 2000 and we’ve had everything in the book go wrong. To be at this point is just incredible,” Lewis said. The Greater Shenandoah Historical Museum is located at 800 W. Sheridan Ave. in Shenandoah and is open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. with tours available for groups by request. For more information, call (712) 246-1669, e-mail or visit The Shenandoah Veterans Memorial Museum is located in the Old Armory at 423 W. Thomas Ave. in Shenandoah. For more information or to schedule a tour, call (712) 246-3464. The Fremont County Historical Society is located at 801 Indiana St. in Sidney and the Rodeo Museum will be located just a half block away on Cass Street. For more information, call (712) 374-3248 or visit www.fremontcountyhistorical.or g.

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The Valley News • Wednesday, April 11, 2012 PAGE


HUB...Veronica Keasling has been writing the Imogene Hub for more than 20 years.

Imogene Hub delivers entertaining, local stories

FAMILY... Jeff Penn, Bill Penn and Jane Buck are ready to serve you at Penn Drug in Sidney.

Penn Drug’s been in Sidney for 5 generations


By JASON GLENN Staff Writer

As a kid, when I would come to Sidney every summer to stay with my grandma, the greatest treat of the day was walking across the courthouse square from her accounting office to Penn Drug at lunchtime. I had the same thing every time – a chocolate malt and toast – and it’s as vivid a memory of childhood for me as any birthday party or bicycle ride. The fact that I could walk through those doors the other day, a woeful decade after my last visit and more than 30 years removed from chocolate malts with grandma, and see virtually the same scene – kids laughing at the soda fountain counter, prescriptions being filled at the pharmacy, folks visiting over sandwiches and tea – is a testament to the longevity and vitality of the oldest continually operated business of its kind in Iowa. Spanning five generations of the Penn family to current owners Bill Penn and his son, Jeff, and including since 1999 the co-ownership of pharmacist Jane Buck, Penn Drug Co. is as much a part of Sidney as the town charter, which only predates it by a few years. Keeping up to date with sundries and especially the everevolving practices and regulations of pharmacology are doubtless keys to

the business’ continued success, but retaining a family ethic of service to the community is what has made Penn Drug a local fixture for almost 150 years. It’s an idea and an environment that first attracted Buck to the store after she went back to school to become a pharmacist and one that led her eventually to become a part of its legacy. “It’s a slower pace and it’s just nice. You know every customer,” Buck said. “Some, their insurance companies have tried to force them to go mail order and some pay extra by staying with us because they want that one-on-one. We personally know them and we try to do the best we can for them.” While those aspects of Penn Drug will never change, should another 150 years come and go, the reality of small town economic struggles is still something that has to be vigilantly warded off. As populations age and diminish, businesses have to find new and progressive ways to attract not only customers but also other businesses to town. Jeff Penn, who manages the soda fountain and retail end of the store, said while they have been doing well, a new city project to improve the sidewalks, sewers and water lines would go a long way toward revitalizing Sidney’s entire commercial community.

“Business is pretty good. We had a little downturn because of the economy and the flood caused a few problems, but then the flood also gained us some new customers when people moved in from flooded areas like Hamburg and Percival,” he said. “And they’re about to start their plan to improve our business district, both the infrastructure and the appearance of the square.” Longtime pharmacist, proprietor and patriarch Bill Penn, who transitioned into retirement while Buck came on as a full partner but still helps out in many ways on a pretty regular basis, said two of the immutable ingredients of long-term success were to do a good job and try to be competitive. Sage words from someone well versed in knowing how to keep customers coming back for generations and preserving a piece of living history, to be sure. But talking about the coming construction projects, Penn seemed just as excited about unexplored frontiers and the possibility of the new. “We hope it improves business, maybe makes somebody come in and builds a new building,” he said. “Who knows?” All I know is that it’s been too long since my last chocolate malt and it’s time to introduce my new generation to the timeless wonder of Penn Drug.

With quirky, clever, funny, and mostly true stories, the Imogene Hub has become one of the more popular newspapers in southwest Iowa, if not the most popular. Matter of fact, the way the newspaper came to be could be included as one of the stories pertained within the four page rag. The Imogene Hub CEO, CFO, Publisher, Editor, and Staff Writer Veronica Keasling explained in the late 1970 and early 1980s she worked part-time at the former Friendly Tavern in Imogene as a cook and bartender. Some of the local guys would come in to play cribbage with her in the afternoons after the lunch rush. In 1981, two Imogene businessmen came to Keasling with the idea for the Hub. “Sam McGargill had Sam’s Tractor Repair down the street and George Whistler had the elevator across the street. One day Sam moseys in and said he and George were talking that if they had a little newsletter from Imogene to





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see HUB, Page 6C



Time to Get

put in with their bills, it might encourage people to open the bills,” said Keasling. “I said, ‘I can’t write, and they said, ‘Yes you can. Nothing fancy, just a little something to make them want to open the envelope.” Keasling said when they first asked her, she thought the venture would last six months at most – now it’s been more than 30 years. It was also McGargill who came up with the name, The Imogene Hub, since Imogene is the ‘Hub of the Universe’ – meaning you can’t go anywhere in the universe without running into someone from Imogene. The first issue of the Hub was a one-sheet mimeographed paper. Today, it is a stylish four-page newsprint tabloid with numerous retail sponsors and 200 subscribers from coast to coast. Some subscribers have never even stepped foot in Iowa said Keasling. “I did the first one, and then after that, the tavern said they wanted one to put on the counter for their customers. Then, the next

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The Valley News • Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Labor Day Celebration a century-plus tradition in Essex By JASON GLENN Staff Writer

If it’s Labor Day, there’s only one place to be in southwest Iowa and that’s in Essex at the town’s annual community celebration. Now in its 102nd year, the Labor Day Celebration has retained its historic focus on small town pride and community involvement while also growing to accommodate modern times and interests. Actually, Labor Day itself is just the culmination of what has become a three-day extravaganza of activities – from a queen contest to a golf tournament to a poker run to a demolition derby to the signature main street parade – that attract new visitors and returning families alike. Dana Wenstrand, executive director of the celebration sponsor Essex Community Club, said the Labor Day events have grown from what was once just a way for residents in the very immediate area to forge relationships to a reason for people from thousands of miles away to make an annual pilgrimage to the tiny

RODEO Continued from Page 2C

as a Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) rodeo and is rated in the top 12 percent of the more than 700 rodeos approved by the PRCA. In 1996, the rodeo was declared an official Iowa Sesquicentennial in celebration of 150 years of statehood. A year later it was named the PRCA National Finals, Small Outdoor Rodeo of the Year. In 2008 it became a Heartland Series PRCA sanctioned rodeo. “We knew joining the Heartland Series was going to be a benefit,” said Magel. Last year, massive flooding along the Missouri River kept fans and participants alike for enjoying the event. However, Magel said they thought long and hard about the situation, but felt it was important that the event be held regardless of the plight many friends and neighbors were going through at the time. “It was to the point where we had one foot in a hole and the

BAND...The Essex High School marching band performs during the Labor Day parade.

town. “Originally, it was called Market Days and it was held as kind of a rural city business networking event when the area had more farmers and downtown business people. That was what founded the Essex Community Club. After about 10 years they decided to move it into September and landed on Labor

other on a banana peel, and we just couldn’t cancel,” Magel said. “We just have to go ahead no matter what and hope for the best.” Magel said more than 300 cowboys and cowgirls make the trek to Sidney in order to compete, making it one of the more notable rodeos sanctioned by the PRCA. Well-known cowboys that have competed in Sidney include Bill Linderman, Bill Huber, Jim Shoulders, Larry Mahan, Donny Gay, Fred Whitfield, Garret Nokes, and Blair Burk. Performances this year will be held nightly at 8 p.m. from Tuesday, July 31 through August 4, and include the TwoCounty Dusters, bareback riding, steer wrestling, bull riding, barrel racing, mutton busting, calf roping, saddlebronc riding and the Wrangler bull fights. Also, Magel said don’t forget that Friday night’s performance is pink and purple night, where spectators and contestants are to wear pink or purple in support of the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life.

Day,” Wenstrand said. In 1970, Essex’s centennial, the Labor Day celebration grew from a one-day event to the full weekend blowout it is now, adding such popular features as the antique and collectibles market and Grand Marshal of the parade. Other activities added over the years include children’s attractions and contests like a

Additionally, buckets are passed throughout the stands to collect money that goes toward Relay For Life. In fact, over the past five years the rodeo has been working with the West Page/Fremont County Relay For Life passing the buckets through the stands has raised more than $4,500. “It’s a good organization and we are happy to help,” said Magel of working with RFL. “It’s hard to find anybody not affected by cancer in one way or another.” New this year, said Magel, is the addition of Rockin’ Robbie Hodges. Magel said Hodges is one of the most entertaining and talented barrelmen/bullfighters in the United States. He will be joining Cory Wall and Andy Burelle, who has been bullfighting at the rodeo for several years. Iowa’s oldest continuous outdoor rodeo will surely please people of all ages. “You won’t leave Sidney Iowa being ashamed you took your kids to this event,” said Magel. “It’s something you can bring your whole family to.”

pedal tractor pull, carnival, water fights and beautiful baby contest and adult diversions like a beverage garden, street dance, antique tractor pull and show, fun run and ever-popular bathtub races. And, of course, food and dessert stands and the delectable offering of Babe’s Café are a constant the entire time. Wenstrand said one of the most wonderful aspects of the weekend is that it has always been a prime opportunity for those who call Essex home, regardless of where they currently live, to come back and see familiar faces. “It has been, for several generations now, an annual reunion for families. In fact, I was just at an event this last weekend and a person who lives quite a ways away in a big city said very joyfully, ‘Labor Day, we’re always here for Labor Day.’ And that was the spouse of the person who had lived here and grew up here,” she said. Putting on the celebration and sustaining it into a second century requires a tremendous amount of work and dedication,

HUB Continued from Page 5C

month Johnson Grocery and Johnson Locker in Essex wanted to be a sponsor and give them to their customers, then Bill Hillman was just opening The Depot Deli and he wanted in,” said Keasling. Next, people started asking to advertise in the publication. “It snowballed for sure and kind of developed itself.” The appeal of the paper, said Keasling, is that people feel good after reading it. “The only sad news in there is when I have to report a death, otherwise it’s funny stuff.” The news that appears in the Hub most of the time finds its way to Keasling. She said she rarely has to go fishing for stories. She added however, there are times someone will tell her a funny story, but ask it not be put in the paper, which she doesn’t. “People are really good about calling me and telling me stories. It’s also gotten easier for people to let me know with Facebook and email. However, you have to know which people can take it and which ones can’t.” One of the stories that stands out to Keasling over the 30 years is the

Wenstrand said, and credited the prolonged success to hundreds of enthusiastic people giving whatever they could for the community good. With more than 25 businesses and 20 local non-profit organizations active and involved and volunteers both big and small, every ounce of help is needed and appreciated, she said. “Sometimes people feel like, ‘Oh, they don’t need me,’ but we really try to foster an environment of even if you help us for half an hour here, it’s great,” Wenstrand said. Above all, she added, they try to make it fun for everyone involved, from participants to spectators to volunteers alike, and try to always maintain a balance between the tradition Labor Day has come to represent in Essex and the allure of new and exciting activities that bring the community, far and wide, together again. “A lot of people choose to travel on that weekend,” Wenstrand said. “We’re just grateful that a lot of people choose to travel home to Essex for the celebration.”

same story that wound up in the Readers Digest in the 1990s. The headline read, “Imogene Zoo Closes” followed by a sentence that read, “The chicken died.” She added she especially enjoys January’s edition, in which she goes back 20 years. “Reading through those things, I’m howling because I’ve forgotten some of that stuff.” It was when the paper went from two pages to four pages that Keasling began to write about the infamous club everyone wants to belong to, the PMS Club. “I’m thinking, ‘How am I going to get that much news’ and that’s when I thought that other newspapers report club news, but I don’t belong to a club, so I made one up. That has turned into be a fun thing.” Keasling said she has no plans to stop producing the Hub anytime soon and more than likely won’t run out of stories. In addition to being published in the Readers Digest, in 1993, Chuck Offenburger named Keasling as one of the Top 10 Small Business People In Iowa. She also wrote as “Iowa Girl” on the Essence of Imogene in The Des Moines Register once while Offenburger was on vacation.

Why Wait, Just Do It

Why wait, just do it! That is the advice M a r j Schierkolk has for anyone thinking about losing weight or wanting to be healthier. It was on December 20, 2010 that Marj Schierkolk reached a weight she Marj Schierkolk says she never wanted to see. She made up her mind right then to lose weight, get in better shape, and be healthier. Friends told her, "It's almost New Year's. Just wait until January." To which Marj replied, "Why should I wait?" So Marj set out to do just that. She started making changes in her life that she could sustain and continue towards her goal of being healthier. By making small changes in her daily habits she made a huge impact on her life. She wanted a fitness center with easy, flexible hours to fit her schedule working nights, but she knew accountability would have to be a part of her commitment to getting healthy. She knew before long it would be easy to skip a day here and there, then a few, and pretty soon just stop going. She chose to see the personal trainers at Shenandoah Medical Center (SMC) who would hold her accountable for her progress and help her along the way. Heather Grebert, Personal Trainer at SMC, met with Marj to design a program just for her. Heather learned Marj had her own rules. No running, no counting calories, and she wasn't going to give up Dr.

Pepper. No problem. The personal trainers at SMC ask everyone they work with about their lifestyle, health history, and goals when designing a program. "The staff adapts programs to the individual. It's a cooperative plan," says Schierkolk. Marj learned that she needed to eat at least three times a day, not two meals a day like before, which surprised her. She does not eat within three hours of going to bed any more either. Marj started eating more sensibly. She learned to make lower caloric choices, watch her portion sizes, and limit the number of times she eats out. When co-workers brought fudge and other goodies to work at Christmas time, she had one piece instead of three. She still drinks Dr. Pepper, just not as much. She switched to Propel flavored water and now drinks plain water to stay hydrated. Instead of going to the vending machine for a snack at work, she brings her own snacks. Marj prepares more of her own food and eats less processed foods. "I don't keep Hot Pockets and frozen pizza on hand anymore" she says. Ironically, Marj doesn't own a scale. She weighs herself once or twice a week at the SMC fitness center where she is held accountable. She says you have to set realistic goals, like losing a small amount of weight with a tentative date to reach it. "It's a target," Marj says. Her personal trainer, Heather, monitors her body fat and inches, not just weight, and keeps the focus on getting healthy. According to Heather, the majority of clients come for weight loss and then they learn it is all about making healthy lifestyle choices. The fitness center at Shenandoah Medical Center has a "fun atmosphere" says Marj, and they "don't get in your face. Everyone is pleasant and encouraging." She likes the fact that the program changes about every 6-8 weeks. Heather changes a client's program

more often when she sees someone's commitment starting to fade. She commends Marj for being very disciplined and committed. "Marj stuck with it" says Heather. A personal trainer's job is not only to design exercise programs but to work with the ever changing, roller coaster levels of enthusiasm and emotions clients experience. As people reach their goals and as their priorities change, the personal trainers continue to change clients' programs and challenge them in new aspects. What has been the biggest surprise to Marj after losing 70 pounds and 46 inches and 10.4 percent body fat? "That I could do this!" she exclaims. When she went shopping for new clothes, she surprised herself by fitting into smaller sizes than she expected. She has dropped 4 clothing sizes so far. "Nothing is more rewarding for me than helping people succeed," says Heather. Sometimes Heather gets more excited than the client! Marj has created a chart to follow her progress and milestones. Heather even found an app for her phone to conveniently track the food she eats. Marj is reading food labels now and even goes for a jog sometimes, which doesn't seem so daunting anymore. She still eats what she wants, just less. She rewards herself with a massage now and then and recently bought herself a digital camera. Marj stays active by participating in Boy Scouts of America with her extended family. Hiking up the bluff at Little Sioux Boy Scout Camp has become much easier and she doesn't need to stop and rest along the way. Giving someone a piggyback ride recently reminded her of how much weight she used to carry around all the time. Her advice to others who want to lose weight is to eat healthy, exercise, find what motivates you, and just do it. "This was not a New Year's resolution" says Marj. "It's a lifelong adjustment."

Let SMC be a par t of your success! SMC Personal Trainer Department - 712-246-7325 300 Pershing Avenue • Shenandoah, IA • 712-246-1230 120412-45757

Progress - Community  

Progress - Community

Progress - Community  

Progress - Community