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Chris Umscheid

Faith, hope, and COVID-19

How ministers and congregants cope with virus-mandated restrictions

NORTH LIBERTY– Last Easter, the congregation of the North Liberty Baptist Church celebrated the completion of a major renovation project and the first service in their church after five weeks of meeting at the North Liberty Community Center. This Easter, Sunday, March 12, the sanctuary will be empty with the congregants celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the safety of their homes as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

The gym is gone, but the memories live on

Work begins on new gym for Clear Creek Elementary in Oxford

OXFORD– A big piece of Oxford’s history was reduced to rubble last week.
The gym at Clear Creek Elementary fell victim to a large yellow Caterpillar track hoe excavator, and was hauled off one truckload of debris at a time. The gym, built in 1936, had become outdated, and too small. In its place, a new and larger gym will be built at a cost of $4,359,000, one of the final projects for the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) Community School District to be funded by a voter approved bond issue in 2017.

The longest-serving council member in Swisher

Mary Gudenkauf has helped shape her community since 2008

SWISHER– During the March meeting of the Swisher City Council, Mayor Chris Taylor offered congratulations to council member Mary Gudenkauf, who he said “just set a new record for Swisher’s longest-serving council member in at least 40 years!” Gudenkauf was elected to the council in 2008 and is serving a term which expires in 2023.
When asked about the distinction, she initially and jokingly called it a “rumor,” but added since Taylor is a Conflict of Interest Research Application Analyst with the University of Iowa, “I’m inclined to believe he fact-checked his own statement.”

A birthday to remember

Tiffin twins get their own parade

TIFFIN– Ashton and Stella Welch were happily playing in their garage when told to put on their coats and come outside. In the driveway of their Tiffin home, chairs and blankets, to cut the chill of a strong breeze, were waiting. Minutes later, several units from the Tiffin and Oxford Fire Departments slowly turned the corner from Redbird Run onto West Goldfinch Drive with all of the emergency lights flashing.
With their eyes wide in excitement, the twins heard “Happy Birthday Ashton and Stella!” from a loudspeaker on one of the trucks.

Strength and Hope

Area firefighters raise the doors and light up the trucks as a show of support in the war against COVID-19

OXFORD– “The doors are down, all is quiet, but we still stand ready.”
So said Solon firefighter Greg Morris in a Facebook post announcing a special response for Wednesday, March 25. At 7 p.m., the Solon Tri-Township Fire Department was going to raise the doors of the apparatus bays and turn on the emergency lights on the trucks as a sign of strength and hope for all during the ongoing war against the COVID-19 virus.

Another piece of the GuideLink funding puzzle falls into place

NL City Council approves 28E agreement with Johnson County for the Access Center

NORTH LIBERTY– The North Liberty City Council approved a 28E agreement with Johnson County for funding the GuideLink Center, also known as the Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center (BHUCC), or access center. The council, meeting online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, voted 5-0 in favor of the agreement, which provides a $500,000 contribution for construction of the facility. Payments by the city will be made at various points throughout the project, which was scheduled to resume construction the week of March 2, with a November completion and December opening anticipated.

They’re still making house calls

South Slope techs take COVID-19 precautions while continuing to provide service

NORTH LIBERTY– As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, businesses have had to adjust how they deliver service to their customers out of an abundance of caution.
For South Slope Cooperative Communications, headquartered in North Liberty, precautions against spreading the virus have led to several changes in-house, as well as how their technicians operate in customers’ houses.

COVID-19 forces Amana Refrigeration shutdowns

Infected employee triggers closures and cleaning

AMANA– Whirlpool’s Amana refrigeration plant was shut down on Tuesday, March 24, after an employee had been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus.
According to Whirlpool spokesman Chad Parks, the individual had not been in the plant since Tuesday, March 17, but did report close contact with one other employee, who was subsequently sent home.
“We are working closely with local health authorities to provide the necessary support for our colleagues and we are wishing them well,” Parks said in response to an email inquiry.

School budgets afflicted, too

CCA board discusses how COVID-19 may impact district funding

OXFORD– The Clear Creek Amana (CCA) Community School District, like districts across the state, has been directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools were recommended to close for four weeks on March 15 by Gov. Kim Reynolds, and are tentatively scheduled to reopen on Monday, April 13. While the district cannot, under Iowa law, force its students to participate in online learning, many teachers are providing lessons as the district provides tablets and Internet connectivity.

Going home

CCA bids farewell and following seas to its exchange students

TIFFIN– In addition to shutting down until April 13, and the putting on-hold of all activities, the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) Community School District has seen another impact from the coronavirus pandemic as five high school exchange students have been sent back to their home countries.

Riding out the COVID-19 storm

CCA rolls out meals and learning opportunities for homebound students

OXFORD– With classes cancelled until at least Monday, April 13, due to the ongoing COVID-19 threat, the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) Community School District rolled out a variety of programs to continue serving its students.

Helping hands in a time of need

Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery brews up hand sanitizer in response to COVID-19 crisis

SWISHER– The COVID-19 pandemic has led to store shelves being emptied as worried shoppers grab supplies they think they need in case of being quarantined or ordered to remain at home.
Among the items being hoarded is hand sanitizer.
While not a replacement for soap and water, it is a product recommended to help minimize the spread of illnesses, including COVID-19, and recently people most at-risk have had great difficulty in finding hand sanitizer to purchase.