North Iowa Times

Tue
06
Jan

Corn, grain bin lost in New Year’s fire at Northern Ag Services


Smoke can be seen rising from a grain bin at Northern Ag Services, outside McGregor, on New Year’s Day, Jan. 1. The fire, which started after a corn dryer malfunctioned, ruined 1,500 bushels of corn at the facility. (Photo by Al Anderson)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

A New Year’s Day grain bin fire at Northern Ag Services, outside McGregor, resulted in the loss of 1,500 bushels of corn.

According to McGregor Fire Chief Dan Bickel, McGregor Hook and Ladder responded to the scene at 7 a.m. with 15 men and five pieces of equipment after a corn dryer malfunctioned, setting fire to an industrial-sized grain bin.

The fire department, assisted by the Monona Volunteer Fire Department, spent five hours on scene. Bickel said firefighters had to saw into the dryer to put the fire out.

The bin had to be unloaded by hand, as corn was shoveled and washed out the back. The bin, dryer and corn were all a total loss.

Tue
06
Jan

Monona discusses annexation possibilities

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

For several months, the Monona Council has familiarized itself with the process of land annexation, or expanding its municipal boundaries into areas not currently within the city. As the city looks ahead to phase II of its sanitary sewer project, City Administrator Dan Canton said Monona wants to know if its planned upgrades will work for possible future development. While areas to the west of town, as well as the area where the Birdnow Dealership is located and across the highway where Kwik Star and TJ’s Pizza reside, have been targeted for potential annexation, the council agreed Monday night not to move forward until gather more information and consulting with the sewer project engineer.

Tue
30
Dec

Sherman Swift Tower 100th anniversary swiftly approaches


The 100th anniversary of the original Sherman Swift Tower in National will take place in 2015. Designed by local, self-taught ornithologist Althea Sherman, the original tower (and the current replica constructed from 2008-2009) was 28 feet tall, with a 14-foot wooden chimney, which is a swift’s favorite place to nest. (Submitted photo)

These young chimney swifts, born in the tower in 2014, almost overtake the nest, which is adhered to the wall of the faux chimney with the birds’ saliva. (Submitted photo)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Chimney swifts are a small bird. At birth, they are no larger than the end of a pinky finger. Gray-brown in color, they are most recognizable for their long, curved wings. But to Deanna Krambeer, nothing compares to their eyes.

“They’re so beautiful,” she said. “They have these deep brown eyes you could just fall into.”

Krambeer admitted she didn’t know much about chimney swifts until she and her husband, Harold, got involved with the Friends of the Sherman Swift Tower, an organization that, from 2008-2009, worked to recreate the Sherman Swift Tower in National. Designed by local, self-taught ornithologist Althea Sherman, the original tower (and the replica) was 28 feet tall, with a 14-foot wooden chimney, which is a swift’s favorite place to nest.

Tue
30
Dec

Wetlands Centre offers variety of activities to combat cabin fever

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

With the holidays over and colder weather setting in, everyone’s on the look-out for ways to ward off the dreaded cabin fever. The Driftless Area Wetlands Centre in Marquette has some ways to help.

The Centre’s 2015 programming kicks off Wednesday, Jan. 7, with an introduction to the Driftless Ambassadors Program.

“Our goal is to get kids and adults to be ambassadors of the area where they live,” said Wetlands Centre Director Katrina Moyna, “to learn about the birds, fish and mammals in their backyard. We want people to say, ‘I know that plant, what it does and why it’s important.’”

Tue
23
Dec

Casino marks 20-year anniversary in Marquette


Things looked a bit different in Marquette before the casino opened on Dec. 26, 1994. Lady Luck executive chef Robert Weaver recalled working at the Captain’s Reef Restaurant and Banquet Hall, which was located at the site prior to the casino. “Some guy came in and said he was going to buy it and turn it into a casino,” Weaver said. “We all said, ‘Yeah right,’ but it actually happened.” (Submitted photo)

The casino’s name has changed over time, as the Miss Marquette became the Caribbean-themed Isle of Capri in 2000. In 2010, still owned by Isle of Capri, it was re-branded as Lady Luck, the parent company’s small-town brand. (Submitted photo)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

When she was a girl, Amy Ankerson remembers when the Lady Luck Casino, then the Miss Marquette, opened in Marquette 20 years ago, on Dec. 26, 1994.

“We saw the lights driving home from La Crosse,” she recalled. “I thought it was a UFO. It was the talk of the communities.”

Now Lady Luck’s Director of Marketing Operations, Ankerson explained how, when the casino first opened for business, there were so many visitors, casino team members couldn’t even park in the lot.

“People waited to get on the [Miss Marquette] when it cruised,” added executive chef Robert Weaver, who’s worked at the casino since day one, when he started as a sous chef. Weaver remembered working 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. shifts all week. “It was non-stop, just crazy,” he said.

Tue
23
Dec

Love of reading prompts friends to start club


Looking for a club to serve as an outlet for their love of reading, MFL MarMac eighth graders and friends Shelby Martin and Emma Ammons formed the Bookworms. Members of the Bookworms are (front, left to right) organizers Martin and Ammons, Tim Henkels, Colyan Nelson; (middle) Hannah Genz, Katelyn Lawson, Amy Pagaza, Megan Budde, Breanna Knickerbocker, Hope Guyer, Hannah Rose, Alexis Roott, Taylor Gerndt, Laney Gardner and (back) Tyler Moreland. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

For MFL MarMac eighth graders and friends Shelby Martin and Emma Ammons, it all started with an idea. One day, earlier in the year, they were discussing a book when they noted the school didn’t have a good outlet for kids interested in reading.

“There was no club to be in for book lovers,” Emma explained. “We wanted something for people like us.”

So, they started their own club—The Bookworms.

After deciding to give it a go, Shelby said she and Emma approached guidance counselor Marnie Carlson, who helped them spread the word. The girls then gave presentations to teachers, librarians and other school staff, explaining the benefits of the club and what they planned to do.

Tue
23
Dec

Mason misses pre-casino Marquette

Dear Editor,
The “Plastic House of Greed”  has been operating in my ancestral hometown of Marquette now for 20 years. Two decades ago, and after losing  a couple earlier referendums, the gambling industry threw tens of thousands of dollars at TV, radio and print ads. That was way too much influence peddling for our small group, Clayton County Citizens Against Gambling. The powerful gambling developers were so rightfully confident that they would win the upcoming referendum, they built the casino before election day even arrived.

Tue
16
Dec

Live stream broadcast offers MFL MarMac students a fun learning experience


Brandon Martin (left), Chris Larson and Kelsi Davis were a few of the 20 MFL MarMac middle and high school students who got the opportunity to write scripts, handle the cameras and equipment, produce play-by-play analysis and commentary and conduct sideline interviews Dec. 2 during a live stream broadcast of the basketball games against Clayton Ridge. (Submitted photos)

Dakota Weaver interviews MFL MarMac basketball player Tristen Kautman before the Bulldogs took on Clayton Ridge.

MFL MarMac student Austin Bernhard works a camera during the Dec. 2. Knight Vision live stream broadcast.

Fresh off playing the Clayton Ridge girls, Chaun'te Drahn (left) and Hayley Vogt took the commentary reins during the boys game.

Tyson Dolan (left) and Peyton Meisner share a laugh as they prepare to cover the girls game.

Students learn how to operate one of the Knight Vision Cameras.

Dillon Pitzer operates one of the cameras.

MFL MarMac students (pictured with the Wartburg Knight Vision team, instructors Angie Killian and Melissa Haberichter and Clayton Ridge students) participating in the live stream event Dec. 2 included (front, left to right) Emma Ammons, Hayley Vogt, Chaun’te Drahn, Amy Pagaza, Chloe Diehl, Brenna Boland; (middle) Victoria Van Wey, Dakota Weaver, Kelsi Davis, Bailey Boland, Dillon Pitzer, Isaac Greener; (back) Peyton Meisner, Tyson Dolan, Bryce Burke, Chris Larson, Austin Bernhard, Jordan Weaver and Brandon Martin.

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

On Dec. 2, 20 MFL MarMac middle and high school students got the opportunity to learn in one day what some students in Wartburg College’s Department of Journalism and Communications learn in four years of undergraduate work. That opportunity involved live streaming that evening’s basketball games against Clayton Ridge through Wartburg’s Knight Vision online sports streaming network.

With the help of Wartburg instructor Travis Bockenstedt and several of his students, who provided both knowledge and $60,000 worth of equipment, the MFL MarMac students, along with three from Clayton Ridge, got the opportunity to write scripts, handle the cameras and equipment, produce play-by-play analysis and commentary and conduct sideline interviews.

Tue
16
Dec

Monona Chamber and Economic Development lays out plans


New Monona Chamber and Economic Development director Rogeta Halvorson recently laid out plans to promote the community and encourage economic and business growth. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Now a few months into her position as Monona’s Chamber and Economic Development (MCED) director, Rogeta Halvorson said she and the MCED Board have laid out a variety of plans to promote the community and encourage economic and business growth.

“Chambers are a funnel of information,” Halvorson said, noting that, through an updated website, along with email and Facebook, she can get the word out about community events, business promotions or even job listings. “I’m here to help Monona grow and support its social and civic aspects.”

Tue
16
Dec

Marquette Council opts to re-bid overlook project

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

The Marquette Council chose at its Dec. 10 meeting to send the city’s overlook project back to bid after the one bid received came back 79 percent over the engineer’s opinion of probable cost, which was just over $600,000.

The bid, admitted engineer Tim Cutsforth with HR Green, was not completely unsurprising. All season long, contractors have been busy, he explained, noting that prices were rising by at least 50 or 60 percent.

“We’ve seen this in other projects,” he said. “That’s the climate we’re dealing with.”

However, by bidding out the project this fall through a DOT letting, Cutsforth said he hoped there would have been fewer issues, so they proceeded with the originally-anticipated cost, rather than upping it.

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