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Top stories of 2013

Published: Monday, Dec. 30, 2013 11:56 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Dec. 30, 2013 12:15 p.m. CDT

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Marlin wins fourth-state wrestling championship
Feb. 16

Creston/Orient-Macksburg senior wrestler Jake Marlin capped his 204-6 high school career Feb. 16 winning his fourth state championship. Marlin and Denver-Tripoli’s Brandon Sorensen became the 22nd and 23rd four-time high school champs in Iowa.

Marlin is the first from southwest Iowa.

Marlin set a state pin record while earning the crown jewel of his four state wrestling championships, with a fall in 2:55 against fifth-ranked Adam Staudt of Charles City Feb. 16 in the Class 2A 138-pound finals.

Marlin had only lost to two Iowans in his entire high school career — Dallas Houchins of Interstate 35 in the second match of his freshman year, and Matt White of Albia in the Central Decatur Tournament his sophomore year. He had not been taken down by anyone in an Iowa match all season. (His lone loss was by fall to Daniel Lewis of Blue Springs, Mo., at the Kansas City Stampede.)

Marlin — who graduated from CHS in spring 2013 — now wrestles at the University of Iowa.

McDermott hired as new superintendent of Creston Schools Feb. 28

Steve McDermott — former superintendent of Newton School District — accepted an offer from the Creston School Board Feb. 28 to become the new superintendent of Creston Schools. His start date was July 1 at a salary of $143,000.

“I was just thrilled,” said McDermott about when he was offered the position. “I was just so excited about the opportunity ... I learned so much more (about Creston) going through the interview and just became more and more enthused about the opportunity.”

McDermott replaces interim superintendent Chuck Scott who spent one school year with the Creston School District.

Creston Water Board terminates Steve Green’s contractJune 21

Creston Water Board members voted unanimously to terminate Steve Green’s contract June 21 after a special report by the state auditor’s office revealed he was paid $90,000 in improper and unsupported disbursements between July 2005 and November 2012.

The majority of that $90,000 came from Green being improperly paid for performing inspections or attending meetings on two major projects including the Creston Water Plant expansion and Summit Lake project. Those inspections happened between 2007 and November 2012 when Green was put on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the auditor’s report.

For those two projects, Green claimed an extra 962 hours of inspection and meeting time — totaling $49,720.42 in additional compensation and retirement contributions.

The problem though, according to the report, is those funds were dispersed improperly because both projects had separate inspectors. Therefore, there was no reason to pay Green for inspecting the project.

Green was the general manager of Creston Water Works for more than 30 years.

Green has since filed a civil lawsuit against the city of Creston and Water Works Board of Trustees. He is suing the water board for violation of wage payment collection and breach of contract.

Green and his lawyer strongly disagree with the auditor’s report, stating in the lawsuit that it “is filled with conclusions unsupported by facts, inferences without basis, and incorrect conclusions about each of the alleged improper and unsupported disbursements.”

In Green’s lawsuit, he’s asking to be paid wages due under his contract including accrued vacation and sick leave. Green said the breach of contract has caused him financial harm. In the lawsuit, Green asks for a trial by jury to settle this matter.

Still, no decision has been made yet whether criminal charges against Green will be filed. Assistant Attorney General Scott Brown has been assigned to the Green case, but he has not filed his decision yet with Union County Attorney Tim Kenyon.

Crestonian Barb Coenen donates kidney so fellow Crestonian can received transplantAug. 6

Two Crestonians made Iowa history in August.

The morning of Aug. 6, Barb Coenen of Creston laid on a surgical table for three hours at Iowa Methodist Hospital. Surgeons cut her open, removed her kidney and shipped it to a complete stranger in New Jersey.

Why you ask?

Coenen, 51, co-owner of Maple Street Memories in Creston, made that sacrifice so someone in New Jersey would send a healthy kidney to Minnesota and then another person would send one from Minnesota to Iowa — where it could be implanted in Coenen’s friend and fellow Crestonian Allison Danilovich by Tuesday evening.

Danilovich is well known in Creston. She celebrated her 25th anniversary working in the Union County Clerk of Court’s office in August.

In December 2011, Danilovich became Union County Clerk of Court. But, not everyone knows for the past 14 years she’s been living with polycystic kidney disease — an inherited disease that has damaged her kidneys to the point where they no longer functioned.

Polycystic kidney disease had damaged Danilovich’s kidney’s to the point where they no longer function. So, for the past decade Danilovich has had to hook her self up to a dialysis machine for nine hours each day.

Coenen’s kidney was removed at 7 a.m. Aug. 6. Her kidney was immediately shipped by commercial aircraft to New Jersey. Her kidney set the carousel in motion and a kidney from Minnesota arrived for Danilovich at Iowa Methodist Hospital about 2:30 p.m.

The 54-year-old Danilovich was prepped for surgery at 2:45 p.m. and her new kidney was transplanted by Dr. Qasim Chaudhry by 6:30 p.m. Aug. 6.

Later that week, the surgeon was confident her organ was working properly.

“There are no words for what Barb did for me,” Danilovich said. “Thank you isn’t enough. She’s God’s miracle. She is a special person, and I hope she inspires people who are considering being a donor of any kind to check it out because there are so many people out there like me.”

Doctors said Danilovich and Coenen made Iowa history as they were part of the first ever three-state kidney transplant successfully completed in the state of Iowa.

Gits Manufacturing plant in Creston closes
Sept. 16

It’s official.

Gits Manufacturing plant in Creston — an employment fixture in Creston for just shy of 70 years — is permanently closing. The company made the closure official Sept. 16 when they informed Creston Mayor Warren Woods via letter.

In all, 78 local jobs will be lost because of the closure. The first round of terminations is expected on or about Nov. 18. The entire business site is expected to be “lights out” and closed by the summer of 2014.

“It’s absolutely disappointing,” said Wayne Pantini, Union County Development Association executive director. “Anytime people lose employment it becomes a difficult situation for them and their family. Also, a closure like this is also tough on the community, especially when you lose a pillar industry like Gits Manufacturing who has been here since 1945.”

Gits employees in Creston primarily manufacture airflow valves for diesel engines and turbo charger applications.

However, production for those products will now be made by employees in plants in Juarez, Mexico, and Taicang, China.

“It’s certainly upsetting,” said Woods. “It’s a tough deal for the employees and for the city of Creston, because Gits is a long-standing fixture in our community and always been a good partner for the city. But, unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do about it. Them moving these jobs out of the country is a sign of the times. Hopefully, someday, those jobs can stay here (in the United States.)”

Terminations at Gits Manufacturing plant in Creston will be done in five stages. Those terminations are expected to be in November, December, January and March. The final terminations are expected in June 2014 with the lights being turned off that day.

Answering the call: Roll-over cattle auction draws more than $53,000 for Frey Memorial
Dec. 4

A roll-over calf sale to benefit the T.J. and Nathan Frey Fund was held Dec. 4 at Creston Livestock Auction.

Brothers T.J. Frey, 11, and Nathan Frey, 9, died Nov. 30 after falling through the ice and drowning in a farm pond in Adams County.

The roll-over calf sale raised more than $53,000 for Frey Memorial. Auctioneers, cattle owners and members of the Creston community and around the nation came to donate their time and support to owners Tom and Leisa Frey.

“It was a very humbling experience for Tom and Leisa,” said Corey Schultz, Livestock Marketing Association regional executive officer. “The community of Creston and livestock associations from across the state of Iowa stepped up to support the Frey family.”

To date, more than $60,000 was raised for the memorial fund which has all be donated to St. Malachy School. Details of what the fund will be used for have not been finalized.

A candlelight vigil in memory of the boys was later held at Creston Livestock Auction. A balloon release was also held for the boys and Frey family at St. Malachy School in December.

Honorable mention

ORIENT RESTAURANT: Kramer’s Cafe, 101 E. 1st St., Orient, opened early in 2013. Their menu currently consists of cheeseburger, loin and chicken sandwiches, chicken strips and fish sandwich. Additionally, they have lunch specials during the work week.

Kramer’s Cafe has sides/appetizers, including french fries and sweet potato fries, cheeseballs, mozzarella sticks, hot wings, gizzards, clam strips and onion rings.

DRISKELL RETIRES: Dave Driskell retired in February after 37 years at Iowa State Savings Bank in Creston, including 20 as bank president. Kevin L. Stewart replaced Driskell as president of the bank.

MAURICES FIRE: A four-alarm fire at Maurices, 808 Laurel St., Creston, occurred around 9 a.m. March 15 and was contained at 10:15 a.m.

“The fire marshal stated it was electrical in nature, but likely we’ll not know the exact cause,” said Monica Hendrickson, marketing manager at Maurices home office in Duluth, Minn.

The store opened a temporary location at 602 Sheldon St. in mid-April. Renovations to their old building — located just north of Wal-Mart — were made in the spring. It was completely remodeled and the store owner had a grand reopening Aug. 29

BEST BURGER: Also in March, Elm’s Club — owned by Mike, Donna and Gus King — was named a top 10 finalist in Iowa’s Best Burger contest hosted by Iowa Beef Industry Council and Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. They did not win the “crown” for Iowa’s Best Burger in 2013, however. That honor went to 61 Chop House Grille in Mediapolis.

AFTON’S NEW RESTAURANTS: Two new restaurants in Afton opened last week.

Up in Smoke Barbecue — owned by Afton native Brad Jones — began serving in September. The restaurant is located on the northwest side of the square, 302 N. Douglas St., in Afton. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Up in Smoke Barbecue specializes in smoked meats like ribs, brisket, pulled pork and chicken. Those meats can be served with cheesy potatoes, baked beans, coleslaw and/or pasta or potato salad.

El Ranchito — a small restaurant owned by brothers Alex Mandujano and Roger Lopez — also opened in Afton in 2013.

Mandujano said they are primarily a Mexican restaurant serving traditional dishes like fajitas, enchiladas, chimichangas and tacos. Mandujano said they take pride in making made-to-order dishes with fresh ingredients.

RVTV VISITS CRESTON: In September, Creston was selected as the first stop on WHO-TV Channel 13’s RVTV tour — a weeklong event leading up to the CyHawk rivalry game between Iowa and Iowa State scheduled Saturday evening.

WHO13 RVTV — hosted by WHO13 sports directors Andy Fales and Keith Murphy — had live broadcasts from Creston at 5, 6 and 10 p.m. The family-friendly tailgating party was at the restored Creston Depot. A wide range of events were scheduled including a best dressed contest, victory trucks contest, facepainting and more.

WALLACE DIES: Marcia Wallace, an Emmy-award winning actress and Creston native, died Sept. 25 at the age of 70. Wallace graduated from Creston High School in 1960 and then moved out to Hollywood.

On the big screen, she kept her coworkers on their toes as the slightly sarcastic and witty secretary Carol Kester on “The Bob Newhart Show.”

Wallace eventually won an Emmy for her work as Ms. Edna Krabappel on the popular Fox animated series “The Simpsons.” Her iconic laugh — a single and sharp “Ha!” — became the character’s trademark on the show that started in 1990.

NEW DIAGONAL RESTAURANT: A new restaurant in Diagonal opened in October. Fireside Grill — owned by Mark and Sue Steffenhagen — is located on 209 Broadway St. in Diagonal.

The restaurant has two floors that total 9,000 square feet. The main floor dining and bar area seats 125 people. The porch seats 24 guests. The basement is a reception room with accommodations for 185 people.

Fireside Grill is a casual dining restaurant with a full menu including steaks, ribs, chicken alfredo, shrimp scampi and more. All entrees come with a dinner salad and two homemade sides.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD: A major shift in the operating structure in December caused a change in the services provided at Planned Parenthood of the Heartland in Creston and Red Oak.

There is no longer be an on-site provider at either location. Planned Parenthood will still offer limited health services by appointment through the telemedicine delivery system for birth control consultations, birth control method changes, sexually transmitted infection testing and medication abortion.

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