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Tue
08
Aug

Committee forming to determine best use for Restore McGregor funds


Standing in front of the McGregor Public Library, McGregor City Administrator Lynette Sander and Duane Boelman, the city’s deputy clerk and economic development lead, review a stack of checks recently received from donors to the Restore McGregor charitable fund. (Submitted photo)

Just a few weeks after an EF-1 tornado tore through the historic McGregor, the community is rebuilding. Antique and gift shops are open. Bricks and rubble from the most heavily damaged buildings are cleared away.

“We were very lucky,” said McGregor’s City Administrator, Lynette Sander. “No one was injured. Within hours, citizens had pulled their trees and brush to the curb and volunteers with chainsaws were there to help. Currently, our residents are all in safe housing and have food and basic needs fully met. Those immediate most-concerning needs of our people are met.”

In the days immediately after the storm, the community received direct support from Clayton County Emergency Services, the Salvation Army, volunteers and a crew of campers from an outdoor ministry in Minnesota. 

Tue
08
Aug

Free or reduced school meals are an option for local families

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

The new school year will begin at MFL MarMac on Wednesday, Aug. 23, bringing with it new schedules, new teachers and new supplies. But for some parents, it also brings a sense of worry, as they consider whether they’ll be able to afford their child’s school meals.

Fortunately, through the district’s participation in the National School Lunch Program, eligible families who are unable to pay the full price of meals can sign up for free or reduced-price breakfasts and lunches.

Tue
01
Aug

Emergency management asking residents, business owners to report tornado damage


Two weeks after an EF-1 tornado ripped through McGregor, leaving a path of destruction in fallen trees and damaged or destroyed homes and buildings, Clayton County Emergency Management continues to seek residents’ and business owners’ help in compiling a comprehensive list of damages in the community. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Two weeks after an EF-1 tornado ripped through McGregor, leaving a path of destruction in fallen trees and damaged or destroyed homes and buildings, Clayton County Emergency Management continues to seek residents’ and business owners’ help in compiling a comprehensive list of damages in the community.

Those with damage to their homes, businesses or other properties during the July 19 tornado, as well as others in Clayton County who suffered damage from torrential rains and flooding July 21-22, are asked to call Great River 211, by dialing 211.

Tue
01
Aug

Restore McGregor Fund has raised $14,000


The McGregor Achievement Club plans to sell T-shirts like this to raise money for tornado recovery.

The Restore McGregor 2017 Tornado Fund, which was established by the Clayton County Foundation for the Future to help victims and their families affected by the July 19 tornado, has already raised over $14,000, according to MJ Smith, director of affiliate foundations for the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque.

This fund is still accepting contributions from individuals and corporations, and will allocate those funds to the city of McGregor and area non-profits whose efforts actively address the most critical community needs and provide assistance to households impacted by the tornado.

To make a contribution, people can do so

Tue
01
Aug

James resurrects skills from high school class for her Silver & Stones jewelry


Joy James shows off one of the silver disks—a key component of many of her earrings—that she recently formed with special tools. Her jewelry is available at The Left Bank Shop and Gallery, in McGregor. (Photos by Audrey Posten)

Joy fashions her jewelry in her McGregor apartment.

Each of her tools helps her do something different when creating jewelry, Joy said.

Joy makes a bit of everything—earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings—typically using silver. Earrings are her favorite.

When making jewelry, James said she has a variety of stones, beads and pieces of silver from which to choose.

“I try to never make two of the same thing,” Joy noted. “If someone buys something, there’s not another one like it.”

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Joy James was first exposed to jewelry-making in high school, when she learned how to solder (joining metal) jewelry in a class. Like many people, though, she left the skill behind, going on to pursue other interests.

“After high school, I didn’t do it again for many years,” said Joy, a mental health specialist for 25 years who moved to McGregor from Seattle in November, to live with her boyfriend, Dan.

The skill was always in the back of her mind, however. When Joy began beading 15 years ago, she thought, “I wonder if I can still solder?”

Tue
01
Aug

New swine/sheep complex in the works for Clayton County Fairgrounds


The new swine and sheep complex at the Clayton County Fairgrounds is expected to be more functional and versatile.

By Rachel Mergen, North Iowa Times Intern

“This is an exciting time for the Clayton County Fair,” the Clayton County Fair Board stated in a letter to residents of the county. “After a year of planning and knowing something had to be done to replace the old swine barn that was built in the 1930s, the fair board has decided to construct a new swine and sheep complex before the 2018 fair, if we receive enough funding.” 

Tue
25
Jul

Spirit of McGregor’s people on full display

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

The clock said 6:18. My windshield wipers beat furiously, no match for the sheets of rain blowing sideways against my car as I drove across the Marquette/Joliet Bridge, toward Iowa, last Wednesday, July 19. Everything around me was white, my only bearings the taillights of the truck in front of me and my memory of the road, having driven over it nearly daily for the past four years.

Tue
25
Jul

'Dented, but not broken'


The top level of the building that housed INKspiration Tattoo was completely obliterated, as was much of the level below it, which was INKspiration owner Crystal Scarff’s apartment. Scarff was working in the tattoo shop at the time the tornado hit, but no one was injured.

The Main Street Mall Antiques building, once the Goedert Meat Market, collapsed as a result of the EF-1 tornado that swept through McGregor on July 19.

McGregor’s Main Street was hardest hit by the tornado. Countless trees were down and many buildings and homes were severely damaged or destroyed.

This large tree toppled onto the Lamp Post Inn and Gallery.

Cannon Park (shown here) and Gazebo Park lost several trees between the two.

McGregor’s city hall had noticeable damage to its roof. One of the columns framing the front door fell atop a car next door.

The tornado left behind mangled trees and damaged homes and buildings at the corner of A and Ann Streets.

The iconic tooth from Jim Arvidson’s dental office hung precariously following the tornado.

McGregor Pharmacy owner Dennis Alcorn (right) and Larry Brummel (left, middle), the former pharmacist who still owns the building, were among those who examined the pharmacy’s iconic mortar and pestle last Thursday morning, the day after an EF-1 tornado tore through McGregor.

This graphic from the National Weather Service’s La Crosse office shows the EF-1 tornado’s path, from Highway 18, through McGregor, to the riverfront.

McGregor recovering from strong EF-1 tornado

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

It was something mayor Harold Brooks admitted he’d never seen the likes of in his 50 years of living in McGregor—something many residents said they never thought could happen. 

A tornado.

Yet, just after 6:15 p.m., on Wednesday, July 19, that’s exactly what occurred, as an upper-end EF-1 tornado, with winds of 110 miles per hour, ripped through the historic river community. No one was injured, but the twister left a path of destruction in fallen trees and damaged or destroyed homes and buildings that will forever be felt in McGregor.

— — —

Tue
25
Jul

Pikes Peak and Effigy Mounds now open, but some trails remain closed


Point Ann Trail, in the north part of Pikes Peak State Park, was heavily damaged July 19. Park manager Matt Tschirgi said it’s unlikely the trail will be open the rest of the year.

The Effigy Mounds visitor center, as well as some of the park’s main hiking trails, reopened to the public on Friday. Until further notice, the entire Hanging Rock trail and all trails in the South Unit are closed to public access.

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Two of northeast Iowa’s most well-known natural and recreational sites—Pikes Peak State Park and Effigy Mounds National Monument—are open again after a tornado ripped through the area Wednesday, July 19, but some trails remain closed.

Pikes Peak sustained considerable tree damage from the storm, said park manager Matt Tschirgi.

“We got everyone into the shower building before the storm and there were no injuries,” he said, “but some trees fell on vehicles and lots of trees were down in the picnic areas and trails.”

Tue
25
Jul

Mindset training a key component in youth program


Tera Mathis works with Jacob Schellhorn, one of the kids she coaches through her 365 Strong Youth Program. Through the program, Mathis helps kids become stronger and better conditioned for sports, learn proper movement mechanics and create foundational movement patterns, develop a dynamic growth mindset and practice better nutritional habits. (Photos by Audrey Posten)

Here, Abby Schellhorn works on some conditioning exercises. The program is offered three days each week, with Mondays focusing on strength, Wednesdays on conditioning and Fridays on speed, agility and hand-eye coordination. At the start of each class, participants also devote 10 minutes to mindset training and nutrition work.

Jacob Schellhorn said his time training with Tera Mathis has improved his mindset, especially in baseball, where he is a pitcher.

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Everyone has encountered a Negative Nancy or Debbie Downer in their life—someone whose pessimism hinders positive thinking. But what do you do when that negativity, anger or even frustration resides inside yourself, threatening to impact sports, school or other aspects of your daily life?

For the past year, Tera Mathis, a personal trainer who leads mindset, movement and nutrition coaching sessions each week in a space at the school, in Monona, has helped area kids try to figure that out.

Mathis, who predominantly coaches adults, said she’s worked with kids on and off over the years, but never formed a specific youth coaching program until last summer. The idea had always been at the back of her mind, however.

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