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INSIDE THIS EDITION Mike Smith Page 2 Jane Brown 3 Mike Linch 4 Margaret Wilkins 6 Kevin Klommhaus 8 Darwin West 9 Elaine Bohling 11 Zach Gunsolley 13 Terri Higgins 14 Danielle Newton-Grace 15 Richard Wenzig 16


Creston News Advertiser Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lenox assistant fire chief gives to community, community gives back ■

By BAILEY POOLMAN CNA staff reporter

LENOX — For Mike Smith, time can go by fast, and especially so when it comes to donating his time to his community. Smith, 45, is assistant fire chief of Lenox Fire Department, as well as scout master for Boy Scouts and leader for Cub Scouts. He spent the past 17 years with Lenox Fire. Fire department Smith joined Lenox Fire

Department as a volunteer firefighter, certified in Firefighter 1, a firefighting training class. He was a volunteer firefighter for 12 years before being appointed assistant fire chief. “I wanted to help out with the community,” Smith said. “I knew probably half the guys on it (the department).” Kirk O’Riley was appointed Lenox fire chief five years ago, and Smith became assistant fire chief that same year. Smith isn’t alone. He has other family members, about six, on the department with him. “My whole family is supportive about it,” Smith said. “Actually, my little girl wants to be a firefighter. She’s five.” Smith and the Lenox Fire Department train once a

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month. Trainings add up to a minimum of 24 hours a year, if not more, for the volunteers. “We’ve done the same training as other firemen,” Smith said. While training is only part of a firefighter’s repertoire, Smith has even more responsibility being assistant fire chief. “It’s more responsibility,” Smith said. “When the chief is gone, questions get directed to me.” Other responsibilities include having control of a fire or accident scene. However, sometimes training and responsibility isn’t enough preparation. “The worst part about being on the fire department during a call, most likely you know the person in that car,” Smith said. “I mean, every call it is nice to help

CNA file photo

Mike Smith, Lenox volunteer firefighter, stands while another Lenox firefighter sits after a fire at Dalton Ag Products caused severe damage to the building.

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people out, save their house, get them out of the car.” It doesn’t stop the firefighters from being physically prepared, though. “We have really good people, really good firefighters,” Smith said. “And, we know pretty much everybody’s job. ... Once a fireman, always a fireman.” But, firefighting isn’t an individual job. “The community really supports us,” Smith said. “The community backs us 100 percent.” Fundraising Community support for the firefighters has helped the department purchase new equipment for fire and accident prevention. Several fundraisers include water fights for kids during the Lenox rodeo and Lenox Fire Department’s annual smoke-off (see box). “It’s fun to be a part of it,” Smith said. Lenox Fire Department purchased a new truck five Contributed photo years ago, and recently pur- Mike Smith, Lenox volunteer firefighter, sprays water at chased a rescue trailer. an object during a water fight near Lenox’s saddle club “We’ve had several good in 2010. donations,” Smith said. “We got a nice grant to help pay for our new truck, our big been thanks to grants and sas City, Mo., moved to fundraisers. Lenox when he was 9. He truck.” Scouts graduated from Lenox The rescue trailer, shared Smith has been Boy Community School in 1987 between Lenox and BedScouts scout master for five before earning certification ford departments, will help years, and a leader of Cub in automotive from Univerthe county during ice and Scouts for eight. He was sal Tech in Omaha, Neb. grain bin rescues. formerly a cub master. “I worked at Martin Lenox Fire Department Smith was in Boy Scouts Brothers Dodge dealeralso recently purchased as a child, and his oldest son ship in Creston for a couple new wet suits to help with is also in the organization. years,” said Smith, “then I ice and water rescues be“I think it’s a good orworked at Sweeney Repair cause a new housing develganization,” said Smith. “I in Lenox for 16 years.” opment by Lenox Lake will love to go camping, so that’s Now, Smith works for be built. something that me and my Martin Brothers, a food dis“We started getting the older boy does, and now my tributing company in Cedar basics for water rescue,” younger boy. It’s something Falls. Smith said. Smith is married to his The purchases the fire we all do together.” Background wife, Becky, and together department has made have Smith, formerly of Kan- they have three children.

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Creston News Advertiser Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Brown has 20 years on Creston Parks Board By KYLE WILSON

CNA managing editor

McKinley Park has become a centerpiece for the Creston community. It’s something Crestonians are proud of and use frequently, either for recreation and entertainment, almost every week of the year. The park has seen significant upgrades, especially over the past decade. Primarily, those upgrades are courtesy of the hard work done by three volunteer board members including John Kawa, Gary Borcherding and Jane Brown — none of which received any compensation for their time on the board. Kawa and Borcherding even received Creston Citizens of the Year in 2012 because of their work on McKinley Park. But, they both agree Jane Brown has been just as instrumental to the success of the park. “She’s so level-headed,” Borcherding said. “She’s good for John and I because we need someone evenkeeled like her. She brings a lot of hidden assets to our board. She brings a lot of experience and we all share similar views on what needs done at the park.” Brown is the longest standing member on the Creston Park and Recreation Board, filling a vacancy in the early 1990s, then getting elected in 1999. She’s served more than 20 years on the board. “I’m not from Creston, but when I moved here more than 40 years ago, I couldn’t help but notice there was significant history at McKinley Park that meant a lot to people,” Brown said. “I’m excited today that we’ve completed some of the renovations in our 10-year plan. It’s become a place that you take new people in town to whether it be family members or people you are inter-

CNA file photo

Jane Brown, right, and Mary Jo Borcherding, middle, hold up auction items for auctioneer Todd Crill during the third annual McKinley Park comedy night held in February 2014 at Eagles Lodge in Creston.


From left, Creston Park Board members John Kawa, Jane Brown and Gary Borcherding stand in front of a Civil War soldier statue at the memorial garden in McKinley Park in Creston.

viewing for a job. It’s nice to drive out there in the daytime and see people sitting in their cars near the lake or walking the trails.” Brown said none of the renovations could have been done without the help of lots of volunteers and generous donations from the public. Memorial garden One of Brown’s favorite projects while on the board is the memorial garden at McKinley Park constructed for veterans and their families from Union and surrounding counties in southwest Iowa. The project was completed three years ago. “Seven years ago, when we started the memorial garden project, all that was there was the Civil War soldier statue,” Borcherding said. “Since then, we put in new concrete, shrubbery and plantings, memorial bricks and lighting. It’s been a nice project for the park and for

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the veterans.” Brown said now all military flags, plus the POW MIA and United States flags fly year-round at the memorial garden. To-do list Brown also has two other renovation projects she’d like seen done at the park. One is replacing the trees that have been destroyed in the past couple of years because of violent storms, including an EF2 tornado that swept through Creston in April 2012. “We have some old ponderosa pines at McKinley Park that are nearly 100 years old,” Brown said. “They were probably there when I was lifeguarding at the pool when I was in college. Those pines have either been destroyed or are really aging. We’ve got plans of doing some replanting out there.” Brown said she’d also like to see renovations done at the McKinley Park swim-

ming pool. She mentioned filling in the grassy area at the pool with concrete to allow for more leisure seating. “We know people are going out of town to other pools like Corning and Winterset,” Brown said, “so we are looking at making some renovations to make our pool more welcoming to the public.” Crown jewel Brown said the top priority and “crown jewel” of the 10-year plan of the Creston Park and Recreation Board is dredging McKinley Lake. But, that project won’t happen for a while. First, the board must construct a proposed threepond filtration system in the “swamp area” on the north side of Adams Street. That filtration system will reduce silt sedimentation which will result in cleaner water flowing into McKinley Lake. The board did recently receive a Watershed Improvement Review Board (WIRB)

grant worth $300,000 for the McKinley Park Restoration project to be used toward the filtration system. The first phase of that filtration system project is constructing the filtration ponds in the watershed leading to McKinley Lake. The second phase is rehabilitating the existing wetland area “where all the cattails are now.” These two phases are expected to improve water quality to 85 percent clean by the time it reaches McKinley Lake. The board is hopeful both phases of the filtration system project will be completed within two years so the board can then start applying for funding to dredge or begin drying out McKinley Lake. “We want to restore that lake to the way it used to be,” Brown said. “People used to ski on that lake with small boats. It was a main location for fishing. It’s the crown jewel in our plans. We will get it done.”

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Creston News Advertiser Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Motor man on the go

Auto supply manager drives local organizations ■

By LARRY PETERSON CNA sports writer •

If it’s a day ending in “Y,” then Mike Linch is probably serving the community in some capacity after his work day ends as manager of Creston’s Arnold Motor Supply. The 43-year-old former Central College track runner decided long ago to give something back to his hometown. He was an 18-year member of Creston Kiwanis Club, serving as president in 2010. He and wife Raquel, front desk supervisor at Southern Prairie YMCA, are active in the affairs of Salem Lutheran Church. In fact, Mike was treasurer for the church for a decade. Linch, a multi-sport athlete at Creston High School in the late 1980s, turns to youth athletics for the lion’s share of his community service now. He’s involved in several activities that 14-year-old son Dylan and 12-year-old daughter Brittany participate in. Linch not only coaches in the Creston Baseball/Softball Association, he’s been on the board for seven years and has been the organization’s president for the past five years. And, this year, Linch is taking on a new sports venture as a coach of the U12 age group in the Wildfire soccer club. Those matches are held on Sundays in the spring. Combine practices and games for softball and baseball teams he coaches, often with the assistance of his father, John Linch, and there aren’t many “free” evenings


Mike Linch stays busy as manager of the Arnold Motor Supply store in Creston, while volunteering as president and coach for Creston Baseball/Softball Association.

through the spring and early summer. “It’s a good thing I like baseball!” Linch said. “But you know, there were a lot of adults who did the same thing when I was a kid. Coming back to the community, it was one of the things I wanted to continue to

make sure is still thriving. I still coach both baseball and softball. My dad has helped me for about three years.” Leadership qualities Ed Ritter, a longtime associate in Creston Kiwanis, says it’s no surprise that Linch quickly rose to the rank of president in the lo-

cal little league. “My goodness, I was surprised with how he took ahold of things and did things,” said Ritter, who nominated Linch for the Creston Chamber of Commerce 2010 Volunteer of the Year award he won in 2010. “He got involved in

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projects and did things, he wasn’t just there. He moved projects.” Todd Nielsen concurs. The Creston attorney, another selfless Creston native who returned home to serve the community in many capacities, worked side-byside with Linch on many facility improvements for the youths in Creston Softball/ Baseball Association. A new storage shed was built at Bill Sears Memorial Complex, batting cages were erected there and the infield at McKinley Field was completely replaced. As president, Linch didn’t sit back and direct others to do the work. “Without him, I’m not sure all of that stuff gets done,” Nielsen said. “He’s not one of those guys who delegates. He actually gets in there and works. We were in that old shed sweating and going through all of the old stuff. He always kept us so organized, and he’s so easy to get along with. He keeps things moving in the right direction. It’s nice to have someone like that.” Linch was solicited early in his days working with his father in the family’s business by the late Ed Jungst, who talked to him in 1994

about joining Kiwanis. It’s been a valuable experience, he said. “The biggest thing is that you get to know a lot of different people in the community, from a lot of different areas and backgrounds,” Linch said. Ritter mentioned Linch’s work behind the scenes at the annual Fly-in Breakfast held several years at Creston Municipal Airport; the annual pork chop dinner coordinated by Kiwanis, Creston Lions Club and Creston Rotary Club; the annual Kiwanis Pancake Day dinner; and several years heading up judges and set-up for the flags lining the route of the Fourth of July parade. He served as chairman of Kiwanis Youth Services Committee for several years. When he became a local manager for Arnold Motor Supply in August 2012, Linch didn’t have quite the time flexibility he had as a local owner with his father, so he regretfully stepped away from Kiwanis Club, at least for the time being. Club member Roger Lanning said his contributions were always significant. Please see LINCH, Page 5A

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LINCH: Continued from Page 4A

“It’s unfortunate Mike isn’t in the club right now, because he was an excellent worker,” Lanning said. “The Fourth of July parade, he was our club rep on that and was always on top of it. He started a Christmas wreath project as a fundraiser for the club, and we still do that. He was just always someone you could count on being there.” “I have a hard time saying no,” Linch said, smiling. “Once I get involved, I like to be active in it. If I hadn’t changed with the

new company, I’d still be in Kiwanis. It’s a very worthwhile service organization in town.” Facility projects Meanwhile, Linch isn’t done thinking of ways to enhance the experience of

local softball and baseball youths. There’s more to be done with the city at the Bill Sears Complex. “Because of the batting cages up now, we need to open up some of the ends for warmup areas, because

the kids don’t really have a place for that anymore,” Linch said. And when that work begins, it would be a good bet that Mike Linch will be one of those on the scene, working up a sweat.

CNA file photo by LARRY PETERSON

Mike Linch leads a Creston Kiwanis Club meeting as president in 2010. He’s since stepped down from the club because of additional duties at work as part of the Arnold Motor Supply chain of stores, but was active for several years in the organization.


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Above, Mike Linch (left) and his father, John Linch, huddle with the baseball team they coached last summer, including Dylan, son of Mike and Raquel Linch. Left, Linch coaches third base as his daughter Brittany runs toward home plate during a softball game in the local league. Linch has coached both baseball and softball and serves as the organization’s president.

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Creston News Advertiser Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Walk a mile in her shoes

By STEPHANI FINLEY CNA managing editor (retired)

Crop Walk doesn’t mean walking beans. Margaret Wilkins should know. She has been doing the local CROP Walk for a lot of years. Wilkins, 78, was the coordinator of the local CROP Walk for 10 years. She stopped in 2010. “Now I recruit for our church,” Wilkins said. CROP stands for communities resolving to overcome poverty. “It used to be Christian rural overseas program,” she said. “There aren’t many of the walks that you have that you get to have 25 percent to come back to use locally. To me that’s a big thing. That comes back to the crisis fund — the ministerial association. That’s an important aspect. It isn’t only the hungry, but CROP is under the auspices of Church World Service and, it’s not just this country, that’s all over the world.” Wilkins said CROP is more than just providing funds to foreign countries. “One thing they work on, and this is really, really a big need, is digging wells,” she said. “They might have to walk six, eight miles to get drinking water. Another thing that’s really sad about that is girls don’t get much education, because that’s their job to help go get that water.” Wilkins said CROP also provides livestock, such as chickens and goats. “It gives them something to eat, but also something to sell,”’ she said. “The idea is to help people be self-sustaining.” Wilkins said Church World Services also helped after hurricane Sandy struck the eastern United States. “It’s quite a worldwide

organization,” she said. “It’s local and national and worldwide.” Wilkins’ husband Merlin was a minister in Ringgold County for many years. They lived in rural Tingley for 30 years and Shannon City 10 years. Merlin retired from the area churches, and they moved to Creston in 1993. Always volunteering Wilkins has volunteered with various organizations over the years. She is on the board of the Union County Christmas Basket Fund. “The one I’m most active with now is Christmas Basket,” she said. “When they had the Scouts thing, I helped sort, then helped put the baskets together.” A consummate gardener, Wilkns has also helped with the flowers on the Greater Regional Medical Center campus. “They aren’t using the volunteers as much. I would help plant,” she said. “On the west side they had a huge bed out there, and when they first began, people were to take, like a month. They were to do all of it. That kind of went by the wayside, then it got to be just the planters. Then when they were building — there used to be some trees there on the north side of the hospital — those came out to add the surgery wing, so there’s been so much (change).” First Christian Church “I’m not really involved in a lot of organizations, but a few years ago, (at First Christian Church) we have what we call a shepherding group, so I had about — I’m not sure of the exact number of people we had — but I visit people,” said Wilkins. “A lot of them are shut-ins or remember them on their anniversaries, their birthdays or sometimes take food.”


Margaret Wilkins give directions during the annual CROP Walk.

She teaches a Sunday school class each Sunday and coordinated landscaping at the church. “I recruit people in the spring to cut down the sedum and that sort of thing, then I go out,” Wilkins said. More Wilkins can also be found playing piano at Creston Nursing and Rehab on occasions, and she walks in the Alzheimer’s Walk. “There’s so much difference in the amount of people you get to a walk,” she said. “Someone said to me, ‘hunger is really something you can’t see’ and it’s a hard sell. But, like your heart organizations, people die from heart disease or they have it, or cancer or Alzheimer’s, they can relate to those.” Wilkins is modest about the volunteer work she does. “There are people who do a lot more in the community than what I’m doing,” she said. “The reason I do, is I actually enjoy it.”


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Creston News Advertiser Wednesday, March 26, 2014

It’s not always easy


CNA staff reporter

Whether he is helping Santa Claus sack candy for children during the holidays, inspiring young athletes to play their best, coordinating and assisting during community events or responding to emergency situations — Kevin Klommhaus, 46, of Mount Ayr is ready and willing. “I’m just here to help,” said Klommhaus. Klommhaus said, he volunteers because it makes him feel good to know he’s d o i n g something good for Klommhaus his community, friends and neighbors. However, it’s not always easy. Life as a first responder In the early hours one September morning, Klommhaus’ pager went off for a vehicle crash near Mount Ayr. “It was almost 2 a.m.,” he said. “I knew by the address that it was someone I knew.” Klommhaus said when he arrived at the accident, the sheriff did not let him on to the scene. Soon after arrival, Klommhaus learned his nephew had been involved in a fatal wreck. “It’s every first responder’s worst nightmare,” said Klommhaus, who is a Mount Ayr volunteer firefighter. Despite the difficulty of hearing the news, Klommhaus stayed on scene to support his brother. To this day, it is difficult for Klommhaus to talk about it, but it is his emotional strength and dedication to the community that make him an ideal first-responder.

“When you live in a community as small as what we are. the chances of you knowing the person is very high,” he said. “I have responded to other instances where I know the people very well. You never get used to that pager going off. It’s part of the job, but you pray it’s nothing major.” However, with the bad, comes the good. Klommhaus recalled an incident where a woman went missing in Red Oak. Klommhaus, who was listening to his scanner, responded. “She was kind of like a second mom to me,” said Klommhaus. Klommhaus assisted Afton Police Chief John Coulter and Ringgold County Sheriff Mike Sobotka at the incident command station to manage more than 700 search volunteers. After a search that lasted 21 hours, the woman was found “cold, but alive.” “Being an EMS responder, especially in a small community, 80 percent of the time you are going to know them,” said Klommhaus. “When you are called out to respond, you are called out to your neighbors.” Always working to improve Klommhaus’ first responder training started more than 16 years ago as a volunteer fighterfigher for Diagonal and Mount Ayr fire departments. Since then, he has become a trained emergency medical technician (EMT) and certified emergency diver for the Ringgold Community Water Emergency Team. “I thought, ‘if I just had that training I could do more,’ and a class opened up,” said Klommhaus. Upon completion of a 14week EMT program, Klommhaus began driving the ambulance in 2009 for Ringgold County Hospital, where he

Contributed photo

Kevin Klommhaus takes part in a number of trainings as an emergency medical technician. As a first responder and previous volunteer with Ringgold County Water Emergency Team, Klommhaus, back right, learned techniques to conduct ice water rescues.

continues to volunteer. As a certified emergency medical service (EMS) volunteer, Klommhaus never leaves home without his EMS bag, which holds all of his supplies. “I will be at a place and someone will say, ‘Kevin, can you come over here and take a look at this?’ he chuckled.

Lions Klommhaus is also active in the Diagonal Lions service club. Diagonal Lions is a local chapter of Lions Club International. The mission of Lions Club International is to empower volunteers to serve their communities, meet humani-


tarian needs, encourage peace and promote international understanding. Currently, Klommhaus is the Diagonal Lions secretary. In this role, Klommhaus helps the club by taking meeting minutes, organizing community projects and working hands-on with other members to complete community improvement projects. Most recently, Diagonal Lions helped secure grants to update public restrooms, improve the city park and play equipment and install new lights on Broadway Street in Diagonal. “We’ve put in permanent bleachers, food shack and built a special area for our grill,” said Klommhaus. When asked what he likes most about being involved with the Lions Club, Klommhaus said, “It’s the whole community.” In his experience as a community volunteer, Klommhaus said he’s learned to have a lot of patience. “There’s a reason why these positions are volun-

teer,” he said. “Not everyone wants to do them.” Being a leader Klommhaus — a consumer safety officer and the state of Iowa liason for the United States Food and Drug Administration — hopes to be an inspiration to his children, Kaitlyn, Kasydi and Kade. “I think my kids have seen what I do. Hopefully it will carry on and they will be volunteers.” Klommhaus said his children are already following in his footsteps. “They have been officers in 4-H and active in H.E.L.P. pod,” he said. As a man with a full-time job in Des Moines, three children and volunteer commitments, Klommhaus said his wife Shellie Klommhaus is understanding because it is important to him. “Volunteering can take time away from tending to the family and be exhausting after an already full week of work,” said Klommhaus. “But it doesn’t feel like work when everyone is involved.”

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Creston News Advertiser Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Beloved auctioneer dedicated to Creston By KYLE WILSON

CNA managing editor

How many different hats can a person wear at any one time? Ask Darwin West. He has one of every color. West’s normal day is jampacked. He’s a paid bus driver for Creston School District. His day starts each morning at 5:30 and one hour later he’s firing up the big yellow bus to start his regular bus route northeast of Creston. His first stop is at 7 a.m. The 70-year-old West spends the middle of the day working as an auctioneer with his business partner Tom Frey — managing auctions at the salebarn or out and about in the community. Then, at 2:30 p.m. each weekday, he’s back on the big yellow bus to reverse the same bus route he took in the morning. “Everybody asks me when I’m going to retire, and I say as long as I’m feeling good, I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing,” West said. West also drives the bus for out-of-town school activities. But, it’s not the paid jobs that have made West one

CNA file photo

Above, Darwin West auctions off a decorative sled held up by Southwestern Community College student Madellyn Wagler during Southwestern’s athletics fundraiser event in November 2013. This is one of several auctions West volunteers his services for each year. Left, West has been master of ceremonies for Creston High School prom for more than 20 years. West said he continues to accept the MC duties each year because he likes being around the kids. “They keep me young,” West said.

Please see WEST, Page 10A

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Creston News Advertiser Wednesday, March 26, 2014

WEST: Continued from Page 9A

of the most beloved Crestonians. He’s been an auctioneer for 34 years and there hasn’t been one year West hasn’t volunteered his free services at benefit auctions. The benefit auctions vary from a family medical crisis to nonprofit groups in the community. “I haven’t turned one down yet,” West said. “If anything ever happened to me or my family, I’d want someone to help me out. I do it because we’re all supposed to help those out in need. I’m just paying it up front.” It’s estimated West does

anywhere from 10 to 20 benefit auctions each year for the past 34 years. “They feed me,” West said. “That’s all I ask. And if they can’t feed me, that’s fine. I’ll do it anyway.” West most recently volunteered to auctioneer at a benefit for Jeff Bierle of Creston. Bierle — who has a daughter Shannon— has pancreatic and liver cancer. The auction was held at Pine Valley and West and the Creston community helped raise about $30,000 to help Jeff pay for medical bills. “Darwin doesn’t even think twice about these benefit auctions,” said Frey.

CNA file photo

Darwin West reviews the guest list with Bill and Penny Oetken prior to Creston High School prom in 2010.

“If someone needs h e l p , Darwin is there to do the auction. We live in a giving Frey community and people like him are what make this community so great. Nobody has bigger heart than Darwin.” West also volunteers his auctioneer services for the High Lakes Outdoor Alliance banquet held each year at Three Mile Lodge. The banquet hosts about 300 people and raises anywhere from $20,000 to $35,000. All proceeds from the banquet are used to promote and enhance outdoor activities in Union County. “That one has a prime rib dinner,” West said. “You can’t beat that.” Earlier this month, West again volunteered his auctioneering service at St. Malachy’s 21st annual dinner and fundraiser auction. Sheri Finken, event organizer, said the auction items sold topped $57,000. “Darwin never says no,” Finken said. “He hasn’t said no in 21 years. There was even one year he had another auction that he was volunteering for that ran late, so he had to come late to ours. But, he auctioneer services for the High Lakes Outdoor Alliance banquet held each year at Three Mile Lodge. The banquet hosts about 300 people and raises anywhere from $20,000 to $35,000. All proceeds from the banquet are used to promote and enhance outdoor activities in Union County. “That one has a prime rib dinner,” West said. “You can’t beat that.”

Earlier this month, West again volunteered his auctioneering service at St. Malachy’s 21st annual dinner and fundraiser auction. Sheri Finken, event organizer, said the auction items sold topped $57,000. “Darwin never says no,” Finken said. “He hasn’t said no in 21 years. There was even one year he had another auction that he was volunteering for that ran late, so he had to come late to ours. But, he still came. He’s always been a great supporter of St. Malachy. We had another great year (in 2014) and we couldn’t have done it without him and Tom.” Prom king West has volunteered to be master of ceremonies for Creston High School prom for more than 20 years. West said he continues to accept the MC duties each year because he likes being

around the kids. “They keep me young,” West said. The students drive up in front of the school each April, get their date out of their vehicle and Darwin announces the students once they give them their notecard. But, not all of them escape without being teased. “Sometimes I’ll ask them silly questions or ones that will make them blush,” West said. “And, sometimes I don’t. If it’s chilly that night, I just announce their name and let them go inside.” Tracey Lauer, alternative school director for Creston School District, has helped organize prom and after prom for the past 10 years at Creston High School. “He calls them yardbirds,” Lauer said, “or will tease them about other things. Because he’s a bus

©Copyright 2014

driver for the school district, he’s either driven the kids home or to activities. So, he knows 98 percent of them that walk down the red carpet for prom. They never leave the red carpet without a big grin on their face.” West — named Creston Citizen of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce in 2010 — is also MC for the county fair’s celebrity steer show held each summer. Family is also important to West. Given a free weekend, he and his wife June might spend time with their daughter and son-in-law Rachael and Brian Tucker and two grandchildren in Creston or visit their son and daughter-in-law Rod and Stacy (Hightshoe) West and other two grandchildren in Bondurant. (Former CNA Editor Stephani Finley contributed to this story)

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Creston News Advertiser Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A sweet contribution


Adair County Fair volunteers manage concession stand responsibilities ■


CNA associate editor

GREENFIELD — Amid all the work and sightseeing by 4-H members, family and area visitors during the Adair County Fair, the Bohling family offers fairgoers a chance to take a break and grab a snack. The pop stand — located on the south side of the fairground show ring — is run by 4-H club members. Elaine Bohling’s 15-yearold son Hank is the lead organizer of the stand’s merchandise and schedule. “Lynn (Hank’s father) and I are his support team,” Elaine Bohling said. “We clean the pop stand prior to the county fair, purchase items to stock, work with the Extension office to order the pop and Gatorade, figure the price based on cost and anticipated profit, make signs, re-stock each evening of the fair and train the 4-H members that help with the pop stand.” Bohling and her husband started their involvement in 4-H at an early age. She

Contributed photos

From left, Hank, Natalie, DeEtta Bohling are active volunteers with the 4-H community with the help of their parents Lynn and Elaine Bohling. On the right is a picture of a 4-H shirt with a club motto.

was part of a demonstration called “The Miracle of Measuring” that advanced to the Iowa State Fair in the 1970s. Her husband was active showing cattle. “4-H is an awesome organization that you just really don’t outgrow,” Bohling said. “You can start as a member and as you age, you can become a leaser, volunteer, mentor and a supporter.” Hank has done a variety of projects in the exhibit building involving animal science, electricity, nutri-


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tion and woodworking. He also shows rabbits and poultry. Her daughters Natalie and DeEtta — 24- and 26-years-old respectively — were active all through h i g h school in 4-H and still participate in open classes for photography and E. Bohling art. “We can see the growth in young people, not only

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our own, but others that participate in the 4-H program,” Bohling said. Bohling said the variety of projects youths can participate in helps develop a wide variety of life skills. She said it is a great chance for “education, growth, decision making, encouragement, life skills and selfevaluation.” Through the Blue Ribbon Foundation, Bohling volunteers at fundraising events to renovate the state fairgrounds. “Elaine is a wonderful volunteer always willing

to help other 4-Her’s in need of guidance and encouragement,” said Donna Wallace, Iowa State University Extension administrative assistant in Adair County. Other projects Bohling and her family are active members in the 4-H community all year. Together, the family has volunteered hours at the state 4-H office as well as provide transportation to 4-H events. Please see BOHLING, Page 12A

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Creston News Advertiser Wednesday, March 26, 2014

BOHLING: Continued from Page 11A

This past summer, Bohling helped mentor nine middle school students to help renovate and resurface a basketball slab in Fontanelle. “We helped with the Blooming in Fontanelle project, which included planning, planting and watering the plants around the town square and in the Fontanelle Park,” Bohling said. Each month, Bohling helps organize activities for the St. John’s High School Faith Formation. In February, Bohling and her family decorated for a Valentine party for the residents at Good Samaritan center in Fontanelle. In late February, Bohling volunteered at the Brides Against Breast Cancer Nationwide Tour of Gowns.

“We often volunteer as a family,” Bohling said. “We experienced the joy of assisting a new bride as she was choosing her dream gown.” A lot of Bohling’s volunteer efforts involve her skills with food preparation. During special events at Living History Farms and Iowa Egg Council, Bohling cooks and helps serve food. With so many volunteer projects going on, Bohling and her family have experienced the high points and challenges of different projects, but they never get discouraged. “Sure, sometimes things don’t turn out like a person thinks or wants, but if you learn in the process, it is not a failure, it is an experience,” Bohling said. To see the Bohling family in action, stop by the pop stand at the Adair County Fair slated for July 16 to 20.

Contributed photo

On the left side of the table, Hank, Lynn and DeEtta Bohling prepare packages for Meals from the Heartland.

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Contributed photo

Hank and Lynn Bohling assist with the “Blooming in Fontanelle” planting project.

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Creston News Advertiser Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Gunsolley follows in father’s footsteps By SARAH BROWN

CNA staff reporter

DIAGONAL — Diagonal Lions Club Treasurer Zach Gunsolley’s passion for volunteerism began when he was a young child. Gunsolley, 34, of Diagonal said his community involvement started in Boy Scouts of America and t h r o u g h Gunsolley his youth group at United Church of Diagonal, participating in drives, where he collected clothing and nonperishable

food for people in need. At Iowa State University, Gunsolley’s efforts continued with the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, where he helped coordinate blood drives and participated in projects such as community clean-ups and painting. Upon receiving his degree in civil engineering in 2003, Gunsolley moved back to his hometown and searched for an organization to become involved with. Gunsolley’s passion for community service may be attributed to his environment. “I was raised in Diagonal and my dad has been a lifelong member of the Lions,” said Gunsolley. Gunsolley said he saw

the effort his father Frank Gunsolley put into the Lions Club and wanted to give back to the community that helped raise him. In addition to serving as the Diagonal Lions Club treasurer, Zach volunteered with Creston’s Kiwanis Club; served as a navigator, or adult mentor, for Ringgold County Youth Pod, also known as Helping Enrich the Lives of People Everywhere (H.E.L.P.), a youthdriven service organization for middle and high school students; currently serves on the Diagonal Community School Foundation and recently joined Southwestern Community College’s board of trustees. When asked what his

personal philosophy on volunteerism is, Gunsolley responded, “united we stand, divided we fall.” “Diagonal is growing, the school is growing strong and it boils down to community support,” said Gunsolley. Diagonal, which hosts one of the largest Labor Day festivals in southwest Iowa, is made possible by the residents who join in the collective effort. “When you come to one of our events, it’s a true testament to what kind of community we are,” Gunsolley said. Gunsolley said giving back to the community gives him a great sense of personal fulfillment and inspires him to keep going. Gunsolley is married to fellow Iowa State alumna Sarah Gunsolley, with whom he has two children with — 2-year-old Jackson and 6-month-old Elizabeth. He said his wife is supportive of his volunteer efforts and “knows how important it is” to him. “I enjoy giving back to the area and knowing that I can contribute,” said Gunsolley. “It takes a community to make it thrive.”

CNA file photo

Zach Gunsolley, left, listens during his first board meeting at Southwestern Community College. Gunsolley was voted onto the board in September.


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Creston News Advertiser Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Home is where the heart is

Diagonal Community School alumna reconnects with her small town school ■


CNA staff reporter

For Terri Higgins, 43, of Creston, home is where the heart is. Diagonal Higgins began volunteering with Diagonal Community School Foundation one year ago after she was contacted by fellow alumni. “When they first contacted me, I said, ‘Gosh, I’m so busy with kids’,” said Higgins.

“But, they are open and don’t give anyone more than they can handle.” Higgins said one of the best parts of volunteering with her alma mater’s foundation is reconnecting with community members from the town in which she was raised. “I’ve really enjoy having a connection to my alma mater,” She said. “I don’t get home as often, so I’ve really enjoyed getting to know other alumni from Diagonal even though I live somewhere else.” Higgins, who is the director of marketing and enrollment management at Southwestern Community College said she felt like a good match for the foundation because of her experience in communications and grant writing. “I always look to get in-

volved that way,” said Higgins. Creston Higgins moved to Creston in 1995, where she has raised her children Alyssa and Cole with her husband Matt. In Creston, Higgins has also served on volunteer committees at First Christian Church, Creston parent teacher organization (PTO) and school functions with Creston middle and high schools. Higgins also hosts visiting college volleyball players in her home. During their stay, she prepares meals for her “extended family” and volunteers in the concession stands. Getting involved Despite having a busy schedule with family and work commitments, Higgins said she has never regretted saying yes to the volunteer

requests she’s received or the volunteer work she has done. For Higgins, donating time or talent to help her community is just something that’s inherent. “As a child, I was involved in 4-H, every sport, class plays,” said Higgins. “Coming from a small school gave us an opportunity to be involved in everything.” Higgins also credited her parents for her altruistic nature. “I come from a family that likes to get involved,” said Higgins. “It’s how we were raised.” To avoid burnout, Higgins prioritizes her commitments to choose what organization or cause to get involved with. Contributed photo “If a family or friend rec- As director of marketing and enrollment management at ommends them it comes in Southwestern Community College, Terri Higgins volunas a priority,” said Higgins. “I teers in on-campus activities, such as campus cleanup. evaluate the cause itself, and if it’s something I believe in, I’ll try to do it.” Higgins said volunteerism isn’t something that should feel like work, but, rather something that should come from the heart. “I want to see the community progress, which takes a lot of work from a lot of people.”


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Small town graced by big heart By SARAH BROWN

CNA staff reporter

DIAGONAL — Danielle Newton-Grace, 28, of Diagonal said volunteerism never feels like work, instead, she describes her volunteer work as hanging out with friends she grew up with. “It’s just enjoyable,” said Newton-Grace. Aside from being a busy mother to 2-year-old Claire and working full-time at Iowa State Savings Bank in Diagonal, Newton-Grace volunteers with the Diagonal Community School Foundation and Diagonal Community Center Board of Trustees. Newton-Grace was also active in raising funds for the Ringgold County Freedom Rock, which now sits on the corner of Broadway and West Third streets in Diagonal, and she is currently working on plans to roll out Dollars for Scholars. The community of Diagonal, which depends on

its residents to enhance and modernize the small, former railroad town, remains strong because of those who live, work and play there. “It’s a way of life,” she said. What inspires NewtonGrace to volunteer? “You just see everyone in your community pulling together and you want to be part of it,” she said. “If we didn’t do that we would fall apart.” Newton-Grace also said she is inspired by her friend Gina Knox and the elders in her community. “Gina is so active in everything,” said Newton-Grace. “I thought, if she can do that, I can do that.” Like the generations before her, Newton-Grace stays involved to keep the community activities going and the town moving forward. “If the young people don’t get involved, it’s going to stop,” she said. “Young people need to get involved.” Like many volunteers, Newton-Grace, who gradu-

ated from Buena Vista University with bachelor degrees in business and accounting, uses her knowledge and skills to help the organizations she works with. “I work at a bank, so I took responsibility of the money,” she said. “I balance the checkbook, pay the bills and order supplies.” The most rewarding part of the volunteer work she does is watching the community come together. “Everyone just knows what they need to do, and it’s something that just happens,” she said. “If one person needs something, we are all there, ... I am so proud of them.” Contributed photos

Diagonal Alumni Danielle Newton-Grace, right, volunteers, in part to make her community a better place for her 2 year old daughter Claire. Below, participants slide toward the finish of Spoke, Stroke and Slide triathlon fundraising event sponsored by Diagonal Community School Foundation.

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Creston News Advertiser Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Keeping the wheels turning

Wenzig organizes area antique tractor pulls and rides

doesn’t put on a tractor ride,” Wenzig said. “Dave said, ‘Well, we can, but you’re going to have to ramrod it.’” Wenzig has traveled the country to participate in By JAKE similar tractor rides. WADDINGHAM He has spent hours in CNA associate editor 108 degree heat through jwaddingham@crestonthe plains of South kota, joined the WHO ride in Iowa and journeyed out Area riders are gearing to Colorado to ride with up for the third annual friends and others who KSIB tractor ride slated love older tractors. for June 7. “It’s just like anybody The ride — which had with any hobby,” Wenzig 277 tractors registered said. “Whether it is show in 2013 — is planning on cattle, pull tractors, play taking a northern route golf or boat. It’s what peothrough some of the radio ple like to do. I’ve always station’s coverage area. It liked to fool around with is typically a 60- to 70-mile motors.” route. He added that KSIB and The rapid growth and fellow volunteer Carolyn support of the event is Huff do a great job getting something Richard Wen- sponsors for the event to zig of Creston did not plan keep it free for the riders. Wenzig Construction After his time in the ser“It’s just like vice ended in 1969, Wenzig anybody with went to work in construction. In 1973, Wenzig startany hobby. ed his own business with Whether it is the help of his business show cattle, pull partner Bill Klinginsmith. “My main work is in soil tractors, play conservation work buildgolf or boat. It’s ing ponds and terraces,” said. what people like Wenzig A majority of his work to do.” is in rural Union and Adams County. Wenzig said — Richard Wenzig he used to demolish homes Wenzig Construction in the city, but the stress of disposing the material and damaging neighboring on happening so quickly property was not worth the when he discussed the idea risk. of holding a ride that start“I didn’t need that headed in Union County with ache,” Wenzig said. “I can KSIB Owner Dave Reick, stay busy out in the counwho is a fellow antique try. I don’t need to come to tractor enthusiast. town to do stuff.” “I had talked to Dave Wenzig has donated and asked why KSIB ■

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Richard Wenzig competes with his John Deere tractor, nicknamed the Albino Deer.

his time and equipment to multiple projects. He helped level the pad for the shelter house and parking lot at Taylor Park. He also helped clean up the wooded area directly behind the Girl Scout cabin at McKinley Park. “You never could hardly mow that area, it was like a swamp,” Creston Parks and Recreation B o a r d Chairman John K a w a s a i d . “Rich put a creek Kawa through it

to drain it out.” In addition to the work Wenzig did cleaning up the wooded area, he also helped put in a bridge that allowed the second phase of the walking trail to be completed. “That bridge connects the historical complex to the campground and the campground to the park,” Kawa said. “He has done a lot of good out there for us.” Tractor pulls Wenzig’s clearing work at McKinley Park created enough space to put in Please see WENZIG, Page 17A

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Creston News Advertiser Wednesday, March 26, 2014


WENZIG: Continued from Page 16A

a track to improve Creston’s antique tractor pull during the Fourth of July celebration. “I belong to the Old Time Power Club,” Wenzig said. “Years ago, we used to have the pull at the park down by the ball fields.We would tear up the ground and they would have to seed it back (every year).” The permanent track has added to the appeal for sponsors to contribute to the event, making it more inviting for the competitors as they compete for prize money. Every year the group makes homemade ice cream and sandwiches to sell to spectators. “Everybody that belongs to to the club brings their tractor and garden tractors and puts them on display,” Wenzig said. Wenzig served as the Old Time Power Club’s president for 15 years and still helps put on the Cres-

ton pull. The group is now based out of Red Oak. He has represented the club on the national stage for multiple years, participating in pulls across the Midwest and winter pulls in Texas and Florida. The three-time national antique tractor pull champion said the most important thing to a winning run is knowing how to balance the tractor. “You have to get the weight in the right place,” Wenzig said. “Some (weight) sleds will pick up your front end more than others. When you pick up your front end, your draw bar goes down. When your draw bar goes down, you spin out and you’re done.” As part of the National Antique Tractor Pullers Association for 10 years, Wenzig headed up the tech committee to make sure all entries had legal equipment for their class. Wenzig has sold a majority of his tractors and semiretired from competition, but still loves to travel

with his wife Ann to various pulls and rides to see friends. “What is most fun about both sports, tractor pulling and tractor riding, is the nice people you meet,” Wenzig said. One worry Wenzig has is the longevity of his hobby with future generations. As modern tractor pulls focus on speed, size and money, few pullers are willing to put the time into the antique models. “The trouble with this Old Time Power Club, everybody is getting old in it,” Wenzig said. “A lot of Contributed photo these old people are dy- Richard Wenzig participates in a tractor ride near Wiota on his Ford tractor. ing off and there are no younger people to come in and take it over, so I don’t know how much longer it is going to last.” But just like in the pulls, Wenzig is keeping his wheels turning in his volunteer efforts to keep the antique tractor pull tradition alive in Creston and donate his time and equipment to the beautification of the area parks.

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Richard Wenzig pulls a friend’s John Deere tractor at a competition in Ocala, Fla. Wenzig has won three national championships in antique tractor pulls. He helps organize Creston’s antique tractor pull and the KSIB tractor ride scheduled for June 7.

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