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I spent the first two August weekends in western Iowa. The first weekend I rode with Lynn and Donna Merck to Council Bluffs to attend the Iowa District Optimist State Convention. We were joined by Carl and Deanna Poe, Alvin and Julia Kramer, and Dennis Phares.
This was the convention in which Dennis Phares was recognized for serving the last 20 months as state governor. His brother and two sisters were there to support Dennis. Unfortunately Dennis had a bad sore throat and was enable to enjoy the event as much as he should have. He will be serving as governor of the Optimist until October when Don Pfeiffer of Washington will assume the governor’s duties.
Besides being there to support Phares, the Kalona Optimists were in charge of the hospitality room for two nights. Kalona Optimists along with other Zone 12 clubs (Washington Township, Washington, Fort Madison and Burlington-West Burlington) are hosting the next district Optimist convention at the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort on Aug. 3, 4 and 5, 2018. We picked up some ideas on how to handle the convention while we were in Council Bluffs.
We are inviting the Optimist to make a trip over to Kalona on Aug. 3, 2018, so they can discover what Kalona has to offer.
You sometimes don’t appreciate the beauty of the Iowa countryside, especially in the summertime. The Iowa landscape ranges from land flatten by the ice age glaciers in central Iowa to rolling hills in eastern and western Iowa. Some people complain about the endless rows of corn as they cross Iowa, but there is even beauty in those fields of corn and soybeans. Over the years, trees and other vegetation have grown up along the interstate highways that were carved out of farm fields.
The countryside gets really hilly north and west of Denison and just a little farther west are the Loess Hills which were created by deposits of wind-blown loess soil.
Iowa has a large variety of scenic areas that many people don’t appreciate.
The second weekend of August we traveled to Denison to attend the 55th anniversary reunion of the Class of 1962. It was fun renewing acquaintances with classmates, some of whom hadn’t been to any of the previous reunions. I was the oldest member of the class, but some of my classmates appeared to have surpassed me in age or at least looked older.
There are still about 80 percent of the class of 104 living and just over half of those attended the reunion which included a picnic on Aug. 11 and a buffet meal on Aug. 12.
We stayed with my brother, Darrell, and his wife Karen in Schleswig located north of Denison on Highway 59. Darrell is a retired masonry contractor and their oldest son, Todd, is doing a good job of running Slechta Masonry now.
Their youngest son, Mark, 51, learned the masonry trade, but has branched out into the communications field. He was recently promoted to general manager of Monarc Technologies, a division of Arcadia Telephone Company. Monarc is a company very similar to Kalona Coop Technologies Company in that they provide fiber optic broadband services for telephone, Internet and television service to Arcadia and the Denison and Arcadia area.
On weekends he helps his older brother Todd with masonry projects for Slechta Masonry. Both of my brother’s sons learned the masonry business well from their father. Mark, however, wanted the additional challenge in the telephone and broadband business.
The “sidewalks to schools” project is completed. They are nice wide 7-footwide sidewalks that add to partial walkability of Kalona, but there are still many areas of the city that do not have sidewalks, resulting in people continuing to walk in the streets.
It is unfortunate that the city did not allow for installing sod along the sidewalks. Many well established yards were torn up, leaving stripes of soil between the sidewalks and the established yards.
The construction firm apparently used fill dirt that was not the same quality of dirt that was removed from the yards as it was loaded with pebbles and rocks along the edges of the sidewalks. That dirt also had a lot of weed seeds in it as that is what is growing on either side of the sidewalks of many of the yards. Most of the homeowners are going to have to work hard to get their yards back in good shape.
Some have added sod, but not everyone can afford that. The city should have restored the yards to their previous condition. Getting the yards back to their original condition is going to take a lot of work.