City Scene pg. 14
shows off her digital green thumb
E N W on O E YE ns O PL tio EM da en
Iowa State University Extension Horticulturist,
ourhometownwebstercity.com | APRIL 2018
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V.4 ISSUE 10 APRIL ‘18 -Our Hometown photo illustration by Hans Madsen
On the Cover:
Yvonne McCormick, Iowa State University Extension Horticulturist, shows off her digital green thumb recently.
4 YVONNE’S GREEN THUMB by Hans Madsen
1 8 MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE by Billie Shelton
8 1 0 1 1 1 2 1 4 2 2 2 5 2 6
Savvy Senior Let’s Eat Featured Libations Landmarks City Scene Tidbits by Tiff Picture Perfect Pets Parting Shot
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Direct inquiries to: 720 Second Street, Webster City, Iowa 50595 • 832-4350 Our Hometown is published monthly by The Daily Freeman-Journal, with all rights reserved, Copyright, 2018.
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GREEN THUMB By Hans Madsen
To say that Iowa State University Extension and Outreach horticulturist Yvonne McCormick has a green thumb might be a bit of an understatement. Not only does she indeed have digits good at growing things, she also enjoys sharing her passion and knowledge with others who enjoy the process of seeing life sprout from the soil. 4 WWW.OURHOMETOWNWEBSTERCITY.COM APRIL 2018
-Photo by Hans Madsen
She discovered her passion for gardening early in life.
She loves growing both flowers and vegetables.
She was active in 4-H as a youth and entered things in the fair.
“With a garden you can cook with what you grow,” she said.
Her first projects were a bit, unusual.
You can also, when you grow both, decorate the table with the flowers.
“I always wanted a horse,” she said. “What I got instead was chinchilla and a garden. Those were my ag entries.” At the time, chinchilla were thought to be the next big money making thing. “They were my dads idea,” she said. McCormick earned her masters degree in Horticulture with a minor in Adult Education in 2002. She joined the Extension Service 14 years ago. “This was my passion,” she said.
One aspect of her work that McCormick really enjoys is helping out fellow gardeners, she offers them some basic advice for starting out. “Location, location, location,” she said. “The site is very important to success. You need the correct amount of sunlight, well drained soil and most importantly, enough time so don’t start out too big. The weeds will catch up.” McCormick is very much a people person.
Location, location, location. The site is very important to success. You need the correct amount of sunlight, well drained soil and most importantly, enough time so don’t start out too big. The weeds will catch up.” - Yvonne McCormick
APRIL 2018 WWW.OURHOMETOWNWEBSTERCITY.COM
“What I enjoy the most are the people,” she said. “I’ve met so many people, it’s amazing.” She also writes a weekly column called “Horticulture Hints.” “People will come to me in the store and say I read your article.” she said. While she writes on a variety of topics, she tries to tailor her column to topics that are timely and that people have been asking about. She’s also available every week to answer questions, look at plants that may be brown instead of green and to share knowledge. “I have Horticulture Monday from 10 to 3 in the office for people to stop by.” she said. One thing that McCormick takes great pride in is that the Extension Service offers information that’s the result of careful and controlled research. “We’re not trying to sell a product.” she said. There is plenty of bad information out there. “The internet is a dangerous place,” she said. “We have facts to back us up. It makes me comfortable giving advice.”
Iowa State University Extension Service horticulturist Yvonne McCormick, allong with office manager Stacie Iles look over a potted plant that didn’t fare too well in their office. Iles is often the first person to greet gardeners who bring in plants to have McCormick look at. Like many gardeners, regardless of whether they’re growing vegetables or flowers, McCormick has experienced that special moment when a flower or vegetable has grown to be picture perfect.
“It’s your choice,” she said. “We don’t advocate one way or the other.”
“As a fair exhibitor,” she said. “You’re always into looking for that. If it’s not fair time, you take it inside to enjoy or better yet, share it with it a friend.”
The late onset of Spring has also been a concern for gardeners this year.
Gardeners can also share their vegetables through a program called Sharing the Bounty.
“We have to be aware of the weather,” she said. “We have a 10 percent chance of frost on May 14th. Watch the weather reports, cover if needed.”
“People grow an extra row to share with their local food pantry,” she said. “Extension can connect them with where it’s needed. For those able to, sharing is a highlight.”
The also don’t take sides. For example, organic versus chemical.
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‘‘ -Photo by Hans Madsen
“What I enjoy the most are the people. I’ve met so many people, it’s amazing.” - Yvonne McCormick
-Photo by Hans Madsen
Iowa State University Extension horticulturist Yvonne McCormick looks over a brochure with master gardener Carol Main, of Webster City in McCormick’s Webster City office. The sack of potatoes are for a growing contest. McCormick also has something unusual in her office. An old fashioned burlap bag - of potatoes. She’s giving them away for those who wish to try growing the largest potato. They’ll be available during Extension Week April 16-20th.
Her own preference leans toward flowers and landscaping but she does grow a few vegetables too. As master gardeners, both McCormick and Main enjoy teaching others.
“The winners will be exhibited at the Hamilton County Fair.” she said.
Main, by showing.
One of McCormick’s recent Horticulture Monday visitors was master gardener Carol Main, of Webster City.
“We train them to be trainers,” McCormick said.
She’s anxious for Spring to be sprung. “Oh man. I’m ready,” she said. “I’ve been starting seeds in my greenhouse. I’m trying to make this winter shorter.” She has a helper - her husband Roger Main. “I have a great husband.” she said. “He does a lot of the garden building.”
“I’m more the hands on digging in the dirt,” she said.
McCormick has scores of upcoming events coming up in Hamilton, Webster and Humboldt Counties. She’s also encouraging gardeners to take an interest in helping the bee population through the Boone River Beekeepers.
Contact information Hamilton County ISU Extension 311 Bank St. Webster City 515-832-9597 Humboldt County ISU Extension 727 Sumner, Humboldt 515-332-2201 Webster County ISU Extension 217 S. 25th St., Fort Dodge ( Southeast entrance of the Crossroads Mall) 515-576-2119
They meet the third Saturday of most months from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Hamilton County ISU Extension office at 311 Bank St. in Webster City.
APRIL 2018 WWW.OURHOMETOWNWEBSTERCITY.COM
New Medicare Cards
SAVVY SENIOR by Jim Miller NEW MEDICARE CARDS
Starting this month (April 2018), Medicare will be removing Social Security numbers from their new Medicare cards, and begin mailing them out to everyone who gets Medicare benefits. The reason for this change is to help protect your identity and reduce medical and financial fraud. The new cards will have a randomly generated 11-character Medicare Number. This will happen automatically. You don’t need to do anything or pay anyone to get your new card. Medicare will mail your card, at no cost, to the address you have on file with the Social Security Administration. If you need to update your official mailing address, visit your online Social Security account at SSA.gov/myaccount, or call 800-772-1213. When you get your new card, your Medicare coverage and benefits will stay the same.
Dear Savvy Senior,
What can you tell me about the new Medicare cards? I’ve heard there are a lot of scams associated with these new cards and I want to make sure I protect myself.
The government will soon be sending out brand new Medicare cards to 59 million Medicare beneficiaries. Here’s what you should know about your new card along with some tips to help you guard against potential scams.
8 WWW.OURHOMETOWNWEBSTERCITY.COM APRIL 2018
If you have a relative or friend who lives in another state and gets their card before you, don’t fret. The cards will be mailed in waves, to various parts of the country over a 12-month period starting in April 2018, and ending next April 2019. Medicare beneficiaries in Alaska, California, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia will be the first to receive the mailings, between April and June. The last wave of states will be Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee, along with Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. When you get your new Medicare card, don’t throw your old one in the trash. Instead, put it through a shredder or cut it up with a pair of scissors and make sure the part showing your Social Security number is destroyed. If you have a separate Medicare Advantage card, keep it because you’ll still need it for treatment.
WATCH OUT FOR SCAMS
As the new Medicare cards start being mailed, be on the lookout for Medicare scams. Here are some tips: • Don’t pay for your new card. It’s yours for free. If anyone calls and says you need to pay for it, that’s a scam. • Don’t give personal information to get your card. If someone calls claiming to be from Medicare, asking for your Social Security number or bank information, that’s a scam. Hang up. Medicare will never ask you to give personal information to get your new number and card. • Guard your card. When you get your new card, safeguard it like you would any other health insurance or credit card. While removing the Social Security number cuts down on many types of identity theft, you’ll still want to protect your new card because identity thieves could use it to get medical services. For more information about changes to your Medicare card go to Go.medicare.gov/newcard. And if you suspect fraud, report it to the FTC (FTCcomplaintassistant.gov), AARP’s fraud help line, 877-908-3360, or your local Senior Medicare Patrol program. Go to SMPresource.org for contact information.
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For more information on diabetes or to find help, join a lifestyle change program recognized by the CDC (see CDC.gov/diabetes/prevention) that offers in-person and online programs in more than 1,400 locations throughout the U.S. Over the course of a year, a coach will help you eat healthy, increase your physical activity and develop new habits.
Send your senior ns questio to
Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.
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Our Hometown Recipe Corner
Can Popcorn Get Any Healthier? Healthy snacks are a great way to quell hunger pangs without feeling guilty. The following recipe for “Cauliflower Popcorn” from Bob Blumer’s “Surreal Gourmet Bites” (Chronicle Books) is a sweet-tasting alternative to unhealthy snacks. LU# 1098
Webster City Hy-Vee, Inc.
Yields 12 bites
1 head cauliflower 4 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon salt (or, for a salt-free alternative, Mrs. Dash table blend) 1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
2. Cut out and discard cauliflower core and thick stems. Trim remaining cauliflower into florets the size of golf balls. In a large bowl, add cauliflower, olive oil and salt. Toss thoroughly.
3. Spread cauliflower on a baking sheet (line with parchment paper, if available, for easy cleanup). Roast for 1 hour, or until much of the floret has become golden brown. (That’s the caramelization process converting the dormant natural sugars into sweetness. The browner the florets, the sweeter they will taste.) Turn 3 or 4 times during roasting.
4. Use crumpled up aluminum foil or paper towels to create a false bottom in your popcorn container, fill it with cauliflower, and serve immediately. Note: Raw cauliflower can be precut and refrigerated for up to 2 days in an airtight bag or a bowl of water. With minimal sacrifice, cauliflower can be cooked earlier in the day and reheated in a 450 F oven for 10 minutes.
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LANDMARKS Look at the photos and see if you can identify these local landmarks.
Submit AN ENTRY
Correct answers will be entered into a drawing for 2 MOVIE PASSES to the Webster Theater!! Please include the name of the building icon on which the Landmark is located, your name & phone number. Submit your entry at www.ourhometownwebstercity. com or deliver to Daily Freeman Journal at 720 Second St., Webster City, IA 12 WWW.OURHOMETOWNWEBSTERCITY.COM APRIL 2018
610 Second St. • Webster City
MARCH 2018 ISSUE ANSWERS:
Photo #1 Scoreboard at Nokomis Park Photo #2 Jefferson Gym at the Webster City Middle School Winner, Jodi Clabaugh, Webster City
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Scene Webster City
Examples include, but not limited to, abandoned vehicles, blocking public and private ways, garbage or trash, junk, offensive smells, tall grass, and weeds. TIME FOR CLEAN UP AND REPAIRS Upon determination that a nuisance exists, the Building Inspector will issue a letter to the property owner stating what the nuisance consists of and a timeframe in which to have the issue resolved. See samples of Upon determination that a nuisance exists, the Building Inspector will issue a letter nuisances below. With Spring comes the awareness of nuisances and unsafe buildings that existed throughout the winter
to the property owner stating what the nuisance consists of and a timeframe in
but were covered with snow. It is time to think about cleaning up your property helping to showcase our which to have the issue resolved. See samples of nuisances below. community as one that emulates pride! Below we address the most common nuisances in our community. UNSAFE BUILDINGS: TIME FOR CLEAN UP AND REPAIRS When a building or structure is structurally unsafe or does not provide adequate egress, constitutes a fire hazard, is dangerous to human life or in relation to existing use constitutes a hazard to safety or health or public welfare, by reason of inadequate maintenance, dilapidation, obsolescence, or abandonment, it is With Spring comes the awareness of nuisances and unsafe buildings that existed throughout the winter deemed to be an unsafe building. All unsafe buildings are considered nuisances and are required to be but were covered with snow. It is time to think about cleaning up your property helping to showcase our abated by repair, rehabilitation, or demolition. See samples of unsafe buildings below. community as one that emulates pride!
TIME FOR CLEAN UP & REPAIRS
Below we address the most common nuisances in our community. With Spring comes the awareness of nuisances and unsafe buildings that existed throughout the winter but were covered with snow. It is UNSAFE BUILDINGS: time to think about cleaning up your property helping to showcase our community as one that emulates pride! When a building or structure is structurally unsafe or does not provide adequate egress, constitutes a fire hazard, is dangerous to human life or in relation to existing use constitutes a hazard to safety or health or
Below we address the most common nuisances public in our welfare, community. by reason of inadequate maintenance, dilapidation, obsolescence, or abandonment, it is TIME FOR CLEAN UP AND REPAIRS
to be City an unsafe All unsafe buildings are considered nuisances and are required to be The City deemed of Webster has abuilding. loan UNSAFE BUILDINGS: program that you may qualify for to help When a building or structure is abated by repair, rehabilitation, or demolition. See samples of unsafe buildings below. with structural repairs to your home. structurally unsafe or does not With Spring comes the awareness of nuisances and unsafe buildings that existed throughout the winter It is the Owner-Occupied Housing provide adequate egress, constitutes but were covered with snow. It is time to think about cleaning up your property helping to showcase our Rehabilitation Loan. Households whose community as one that emulates pride! a fire hazard, is dangerous to human gross annual income is at or below 80% life or in relation to existing use Below we address the most common nuisances in our community. of the median family income of Hamilton constitutes a hazard to safety or County can participate. All projects health or public welfare, by reason UNSAFE of BUILDINGS: must meet Section 8 Housing Quality The Building Inspector will examine a building reported as dangerous or unsafe. If determined to be inadequate maintenance, dilapidation, or structure is structurally unsafe or does not provide egress, constitutes a firea letter will be sent to the property or structurally unsound, deficiencies andrelated a If a owner property fails abate the is a critical issue in Notice, Standards after rehabilitation. Call City unsafeadequate obsolescence, or abandonment, When it a building If a property ownerstating failsowner tothe abate the to nuisance toNuisance an Unsafeabatement Building Notice or a Nuisance hazard, is dangerous to human life or in relation to existing use constitutes a hazard to safety or health or Hall (832-9151) and ask for the Planning time frame in which to repair or demolish said structure. nuisance related to an Unsafe Building our efforts to build and maintain vibrant owner is deemed to be an unsafe building. the City Council will decide if the City will abate the nuisance and assess the costs to the property public welfare, by reason of inadequate maintenance, dilapidation, obsolescence, or abandonment, it is Director to see if you qualify. All unsafe buildings are considered Notice or a Nuisance Notice, the City neighborhoods. It is also important deemed to be an unsafe building. All unsafe buildings are considered nuisances and are required to be or file a Municipal Infraction which involves taking the property owner to Court resulting in a fine of The City of Webster for to help with structural to nuisances and are required to be abated Council will decide if the Cityrepairs will abate when recruiting new businesses and abated by repair, rehabilitation, or demolition. See samples of unsafe buildings below. City has a loan program that you may qualify $750.00, first offense, and $1,000.00 for each repeat offense thereafter. Each day that a violation occurs NUISANCES: by repair, rehabilitation, or demolition. nuisance and whose assessgross the annual costs to industries. If you have questions about your home. It is the Owner-Occupied Housing Rehabilitation the Loan. Households A “nuisance” means whatever is or is permitted to exist owner constitutes a repeat offense. See samples of unsafe buildings to the the property or file a Municipal a property, please feel free to contact the injurious to health, indecent, or offensive income is at or below 80% of the median family income of Hamilton County can participate. All projects right. Infraction which involves taking the Inspection Department at 832-9139. Call City Hall (832-9151) andefforts ask to build to the senses, or an obstruction to the must meet Section 8 Housing Quality Standards after rehabilitation. Nuisanceproperty abatement is ato critical issue in our and maintain vibrant neighborhoods. It is owner Court resulting in a fine free use of property so as essentially to for the Planning Director to see if you qualify. The Building Inspector will examine also important whenfirst recruiting If you haveinquestions aboutand a property, Let’s take pride our homes the of $750.00, offense,new andbusinesses $1,000.00 and for industries. interfere with the comfortable enjoyment a building reported as dangerous or property we own making our community please feel free to contact the Inspection Department at 832-9139. each repeat offense thereafter. Each day NUISANCES: of life or property. unsafe. If determined to be unsafe or The Building Inspector will examine a building reported as dangerous or unsafe. If determined to be a better place to live, work and play. that a violation occurs or is permitted to structurally unsound, a letter will be unsafe or structurally unsound, a letter will be sent to the property owner stating the deficiencies and a Let’s take pride in our homes and the property we own making our community a better place to live, work Examples include, but not limited to, A “nuisance” means whatever is injurious to health, indecent, exist constitutes repeator offense. or offensive to theasenses, an obstruction sent to the property owner stating the From April 2017 to date, the Inspection time frame in which to repair or demolish said structure. abandoned vehicles, blocking public to the free use of property so as essentially to interfereand deficiencies and a time frame in which withplay. the comfortable enjoyment of life or property. Department has addressed 359 property and private ways, garbage or trash, junk, to repair or demolish said structure. nuisances of which 306 have been resolved. Citytall of grass, Webster has a loan program that you may qualify for to help with structural repairs to offensive The smells, andCity weeds. _______ your home. It is the Owner-Occupied Housing Rehabilitation Loan. Households whose gross annual income is at or below 80% of the median family income of Hamilton County can participate. All 2017 projects From April to date, the Inspection Department has addressed 359 property nuisances of which 306 TheAPRIL Building Inspector will examine a building reported as dangerous or unsafe. If determined to be APRIL 2018 14 14WWW.OURHOMETOWNWEBSTERCITY.COM 2018 APRIL 2018WWW.OURHOMETOWNWEBSTERCITY.COM WWW.OURHOMETOWNWEBSTERCITY.COM 15 15 WWW.OURHOMETOWNWEBSTERCITY.COM APRIL 2018 must meet Section 8 Housing Quality Standards after rehabilitation. Call City Hall (832-9151) and ask unsafe or structurally unsound, a letter will be sent to the property owner stating the deficiencies and a have been resolved. time frame in which tofor repair demolish said structure. theorPlanning Director to see if you qualify.
THIN BLUE LINE
pril showers bring May flowers” is an old saying from my long ago youth. We all know spring is the time for new plant and animal life. This year I would encourage all of the folks in Webster City to go to our parks and swimming pool. Check with Fuller Hall for summer time activities for kids. The City of Webster City has many different departments and employs some outstanding people. The department that I wish to recognize and compliment is the Webster City Police Department. The “THIN BLUE LINE” is made up of some very dedicated men and women who work tirelessly to ensure the safety and protection of our citizens. I had the opportunity to spend some time with Chief Shiloh Mork and we discussed many different aspects of how the department operates. The police department officers working 12 hour shifts, currently includes the Chief, and nine officers. Community Based Policing is a focus of this department, by developing relationships with community members, local agencies and school children. The goal is to create partnerships to decrease crime in our community and put a face to the department.
The “THIN BLUE LINE” is made up of some very dedicated men and women who work tirelessly to ensure the safety and protection of
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As mentioned above, the operational day for the police consist of two 12 hour shifts beginning at 0400 and 1600 hours. The police cars are equipped with the latest computer systems. These computers have the ability to access and transmit information to local and state data files and enable duty officers to receive and download needed information. The system also has the ability to check license plates and “wants and warrants”. Last year, our officers received body cams, which record police-citizen interactions that will ensure that our officers and citizens are protected. The video from the cameras can be downloaded for supervisors to review, for training purposes and to provide the court with a clear understanding if there are any questions. The day in the life of an officer in the WCPD is never the same: from patrolling around our schools to provide a blue presence for safety and assistance if needed, to helping with emergency medical situations, accidents and fires. The WCPD works collaboratively with the Hamilton County Sheriff Office and keeps in communication with the State Police as well as surrounding areas to provide protection to all of us. Behind the blue line, is the administrative staff led by Peggy Arends, who is the administrative assistant/ telecommunications supervisor. She has the responsibility of maintaining all of the files generated by the PD and day to day activity of the department.
There are five full-time and two part time telecommunicators that staff the department 365 days a year. They not only monitor the activity of the police department, they page out other city departments after normal business hours. Please join me in recognizing the following staff: Chief Shiloh Mork, Senior Patrolman Phil Queen, Senior Patrolman Clint Houge, Senior Patrolman Sam Long, Senior Patrolman Brandon Pritchard, Senior Patrolman Dylan Rose, Senior Patrolman Ryan Basinger, Sgt. Ed Wardell, Sgt. Eric McKinley and Sgt. Adam Petersen. Administrative Assistant/Communication Supervisor, Peggy Arends. Full time Telecommunicators: Rhonda Schulz, Joan Windschitl, Kayce Durnell, Tanner Nowell, and Alissa Aronson. Part Time Telecommunicators: Heather Malloy and Linda Conaway. During our conversation, I have asked the Chief what were some of the needs the Department has. On the personnel side, they are still short of officers and are currently in the interviewing/testing process. There is a current need for a Narcotics Officer, whose main job is to focus primarily on this issue.
Please take some time and say thank you to these people. Remember, The Thin Blue Line is there 24 hours daily, 7 days weekly and 365 days a year to serve and protect! The training budget for the department is only $20,000 annually. Out of this, comes marksmanship training including ammunition, as well as for training new officers, which alone is $15,000 per police officer candidate at the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy. Please take some time and say thank you to these people. Remember, The Thin Blue Line is there 24 hours daily, 7 days weekly and 365 days a year to serve and protect! Boone Valley Izaak Walton League, has many activities this year that will bring visitors to Webster City area. The Junior State College Trap Shoot is April 7th, and a National bench rest shoot August 7-10, 2018.
Check with the Chamber office for all the date for activities. Please support our local businesses and buy American made products!!!! Support all of our law enforcement officers, Military members and First responders!!!!!!!
Jim Talbot, Councilman
Volunteer Opportunities City and Community opportunities that are available and in need of volunteers Boards and Commissions openings Applications due May 11 @ 5 PM
Park and Recreation Advisory Commission Airport Commission Zoning Board of Adjustment City Planning and Zoning Commission (2) Wilson Brewer Historic Park Committee Traffic Study Committee (2) Senior Citizens Advisory Board (2) Airport Zoning Board of Adjustment Youth Advisory Commission (3 High School), (3 Middle School)
CleanUp/DropOff Event at Middle School parking lot - June 8th 12 Noon-4pm and June 9th 8 am-2 pm Boone River Cleanup â€“ August 4 Community Betterment Group Projects City & University of Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities program For above listings Contact - City Hall 832-9151 Tree Planting Day - April 27 - Contact Fuller Hall 832-9193 Chamber JunqueFest - May 25- 27 - Contact Chamber Office 832-2564
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Making the world
a better place Whoever it was who said that “service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth” must have had Bruce and Marie Johnson in mind. The Jewell couple has been serving their community in a myriad of ways for so long that their rent must be paid up way in advance. The Johnsons moved to Jewell in 1974, when Marie took a job in the special education department at South Hamilton Schools. She and Bruce, married in 1973, planned to live in Jewell for only a few years and then move on. Well, those “few years” turned into a long career before Marie retired from South Hamilton in 2006.
And thanks to their commitment and that from other folks in town, “the community is much better now than when we moved here,” Bruce points out. After a stint in the lab at the hospital in Story City, he retired in 2012 as Director of Laboratory Services at the McFarland Clinic in Ames after 28 years there.
Along the way, they put into action their philosophy, according to Bruce, that “if we’re going to live somewhere, we wouldn’t want to just exist. We want to help make it a better place.”
Much of Bruce’s volunteer hours have gone to improving the business community in Jewell. In addition to serving on the Jewell city council since 1999, he has been a member of JADE (Jewell Area Development Enterprise) for 25 years now and currently serves as president of the JADE Foundation.
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Johnsons share time and talents as volunteers “I was asked to serve on JADE, and I said sure, I can do that for a while. I’ve been on it ever since,” he recalls with a chuckle. “Lots of the downtown was rundown at the time, so that’s what we’ve been working on ever since. It’s worked out very well. And we have saved lots of buildings, one building at a time.”
Bruce and Marie Johnson at their home in Jewell, where the couple has lived for 38 years.
Even so, he notes, on every building the group has purchased, rehabilitated, and sold to a new business owner, “We’ve lost money. But we have successful businesses now, so it’s a success. You can’t always get a perfect look at intangibles. “We have a good relationship with the city council, and we’re really lucky to have that partnership,” points out Bruce, who grew up in Chicago. “It’s worked out very well.” Recently preliminary renovation has started on the former Gem Café building on Main Street.
Bruce can’t help sounding a little proud when he says “all Main Street businesses are stabilized. Now JADE is shifting our focus to retention of businesses, to help them through grants and promotions.” Also on the docket of Jewell projects for Bruce is helping to establish a local museum in a former church building, one of a handful of folks involved with that. Numerous infrastructure improvements on the property are now complete, and the board is accepting donations for the museum.
If we’re going to live somewhere, we wouldn’t want to just exist. We want to help make it a better place.
- Bruce Johnson APRIL 2018 WWW.OURHOMETOWNWEBSTERCITY.COM
Bruce Johnson stands outside their home in Jewell.
I was raised that’s what you do: you help your neighbors, you volunteer, and you have a garden - Marie Johnson
“Oh, I’ve had my fingers in lots of little things over the years,” Bruce recounts about his other volunteer endeavors. Because of his seat on the city council, he was appointed to the Ellsworth-Jewell-Stanhope police board and is also Jewell’s representative to the board of Hamilton Hometowns. And Bruce serves on the board of Youth and Shelter Services.
She even took her turn serving as president of the board for one year, the first woman to do so at the school. “But I didn’t like it. I’m a good committee member,” she says with one of her frequent chuckles. “I was on the board at a good time, when things were pretty stable and we had a good administration.” Marie did not seek re-election to the school board in last fall’s election.
In addition, Bruce is a trained volunteer with SHIIP, where he counsels people on Medicare and insurance issues. “This one is very rewarding, because people are so grateful,” he notes.
For what she terms “a while” Marie also served on the board for Building Families. And she has worked the polls on election day for years, Bruce reminds her.
Marie, who is 68 and a native of Ames, has done some time serving on boards, too. The fall after retiring from her long teaching career, she ran for the South Hamilton school board and was elected. “I didn’t know if teachers ever did that,” she explains, “but I liked staying involved. I put in lots of years at that school and still know many teachers there.”
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Have they made a difference in their community? “We like to think we have,” Bruce answers. “We haven’t made it any worse, and we’ve gotten a lot out of it, too.” Like others have found, when you give, you get. “It’s personally satisfying to me,” Bruce adds. “It may sound crazy, but volunteering makes for a better community, a better place for everyone to live.” Marie sums it up with, “I was raised that’s what you do: you help your neighbors, you volunteer, and you have a garden.”
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