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Prairie students learning a lot in pursuing rain garden project

This is the area near the Performing Arts Center that will become the first rain garden at Prairie du Chien High School. (Photos by Ted Pennekamp)

Gavin Knapp and Collin Kober stand next to the ebb and flow tank in the high school greenhouse that will be used to grow some of the plants for the rain garden.


By Ted Pennekamp


Teacher Diane Colburn gave a presentation to the Prairie du Chien School Board Monday night saying that the rain garden project at the high school is proceeding nicely and she continues to seek funding.


Biden makes Elkader Stop

Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden was accompanied on his Elkader stop by former Secretary of State John Kerry, who recently endorsed BIden.

     About 200 people turned out last Friday to hear Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden at Johnson’s Reception Hall, Elkader. The rally, which started more than an hour late, began with a big surprise: Accompanying Biden on his No Mularkey Tour was former Secretary of State John Kerry, who recently endorsed Biden to the nation’s top job.

            Sounding like a candidate himself, Kerry took 20 minutes to introduce Biden. Kerry talked about the time he spent in Iowa during his own bid for the presidency and also mentioned that he carried the state in the 2004 primary. He then touted his long working relationship with Biden, even using it as a punchline for a stab at Donald Trump.

            “The only team that’s worked more closely than us, is Trump and Putin,” he said.

            Kerry went on to say that he wasn’t endorsing Biden because he’s known him so long but because he knows him so well.


Elkader woman Celebrates 100 years

     1919 was a very good year.

      The Treaty of Versailles was signed, bringing World War I to an end. Congress passed the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote. Babe Ruth was traded to the New York Yankees for $125,000, the largest sum ever paid for a player at that time.

      And just as importantly but a lot closer to home, Marjorie “Marge” Witt was born in Elkader to William and Virginia Witt, descendants of one of the town’s pioneering families.

     Last Saturday, Marge, who became Marge Costigan following her marriage to Clark Costigan in 1945, celebrated her 100th birthday. Her four children—Heidi, John, Colleen and Dan—threw a party in her honor. Dozens of other family members and friends attended.

     “I’m not sure what the fuss is about,” Marge said in an interview in her home a few days before the event. “I sort of expected to make it to 100. After I passed 95, it was pretty easy.”


Holiday show at Elkader Opera House features young cast

The Elkader Opera House's holiday production, "Fruitcakes," features a young cast. Of the 23 performers in the show, 15 are kids. See the full story in the Clayton County Register.

The next production of the Elkader Opera House Players is a holiday comedy titled Fruitcakes. This family-friendly play is just the recipe for a fun-filled and touching evening of holiday cheer. It’s the story of Jamie, a kid who has run away from home, who at first thinks the town's inhabitants are nuttier than fruitcakes. However, he he comes to admire, appreciate and adore this quirky little town. It's a moving story of alienation, understanding and reconciliation.

The cast of 23 people is made up of eight adults and 15 kids. Eight of the youngsters—who come from Edgewood, McGregor, Garnavillo, Elkader, Prairie du Chien and Strawberry Point—are making their Opera House Player debut. The kids range from age 5 to 15. 

The show features Cary Kann as Mack, a grandfather who befriends Jamie, played by Ed-Co 6th grader Christopher Lange.


Support local busnesses: shop "small"

An Archive gift certificate is perfect for a hard-to-shop-for person. While you pick one up, let Michelle Gifford show you the store's large selection of clothing, decor items and wine.

As one of the busiest shopping weekends of the season approaches, consumers are again asked to “shop small” and support their local community by patronizing small, locally owned businesses.

Small Business Saturday November 30, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The national initiative began in 2010 with a single effort in Roslindale Village, MA. It has since grown into a massive nationwide movement to support small businesses.  In 2011, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution in support of the day.


Junior High girls' wrestling meet

Central's Noel Steenhard went 1-1 for the day, including a major decision over a Waverly-Shellrock opponent.

Olivia Stevenson won her first match by fall.

November 19 saw Central host one of the first, if not the first, junior high girls’ wrestling meets in the state. A total of eight girls are out for junior high wrestling at Central. Besides Central, teams from Postville, Fennimore, Waverly-Shellrock Waukon, East Buchanan and MFL-Mar-Mac participated.  The Central girls’ finished with these results:

    Reese Berns went 2-1. She lost by major decision to Destiny Krum, East Buchanan, 16-8; won by decision against Kalysta Kerner, Waukon 6-4, and won by decision over Ayda Cook, East Buchanan, 8-5.

    Alyssa Schmitt went 1-1, winning by fall over Ayda Cook, East Buchanan, in 0:47 seconds but later losing by major decision to Destiny Krum, East Buchanan, 17-7.

    Kimberly Suhr went 0-3. She lost by fall to Olivia Marti, Waukon, in 1:30; lost by fall to Kysa Klein, Waverly Shellrock, in 1:59; and lost by fall to Emily Hendrickson-Troester, MFL, in 1:16.


Making holidays brighter for kids

There’s a lot more than stretching and stepping going on at a local fitness class. Several members are also involved in service project designed to brighten the holiday season for kids in need.

The Fit and Flex group, which meets weekday mornings at the Elkader Fitness Center, has embraced projects launched by two of its members. The first is an effort led by Debbie Crane to make kids’ pajamas.

“I went to a garage sale in Cedar Rapids and there was a table with a stack of new flannel on it, probably 15 or 20 yards,” Debbie said. “I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it but I knew I had to buy it.”


Renovation project is completed

The kitchen and cafeteria - now known as the Commons - have been moved to the main floor. The former kitchen is now a fitness area. Pictured is Central superintendent Nick Trenkamp.

The middle and high school media center moved from the main floor to the second floor. Prior to the $6 million capital project, this part of the school didn't exist.

The $6.8 million renovation project at Central Schools, Elkader, is complete.

Central Superintendent Nick Trenkamp did a final walk-through with contractors last week noting some minor cosmetic work that needed to be addressed. The really “big stuff,” however—like the new middle/high school media center, science classroom, fitness area, commons and other spaces—have been finished for some time.

“We haven’t seen much of a crew in here for a while,” said Trenkamp. “It’s been a long, exhausting process—and I can’t say enough about how the staff and students dealt with the reality of the construction work—but everyone is in agreement that the end results are worth it.”

And it’s not just students and staff who are impressed with the results. Trenkamp has heard from parents, Central alumni and visitors. An open house in late September drew a large crowd and many took time at the end of the tour to share their favorable impressions.


Museum gets ready for holiday season

Cathryn Chancellor hangs ornaments created by area artists on one of several trees at the Carter House Museum.

The calendar might say November 20th but inside the Carter House Museum, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

The museum is being readied for the annual holiday open house Friday, November 22, from 5 to 8 p.m., and each room—plus the Annex—will reflect this year’s theme: Gifts.

“This year’s theme has come together beautifully, and I think our guests will enjoy the house and how each room celebrates a gift—from music to nature, food, friendship, poetry, pets, humor, and community service,” said Carter House board member LaVonne Augustson.


Chef offers extra serving of gratitude

Michael Ellison, far right, owner of Dotzy’s Restaurant and Saloon, Elgin, is shown with some of the veterans who attended his appreciation breakfast last week. They are, back row, left to right: Ralph Clausen, Bob Rothlisberger, Dave Christen, Mark Benson, and Ron Soppe; and front row: Duane Strong and Don Sutter

No immediate member of Michael Ellison’s family has served in the armed forces and yet as Veterans Day approached, Ellison felt compelled to do something to say “thanks” to those who have served. Since feeding people is what he’s does best, Chef Mike, as he’s better known, decided to offer breakfast at his Elgin business, Dotzy’s Restaurant and Saloon. Veterans and their spouses enjoyed a free buffet Monday morning, a time when Chef Mike and his staff are usually recovering from a hectic weekend. Non-veterans were welcomed, as well. They could make a freewill offering, which was given to the Elgin American Legion. “I’ve had friends in the military and I really appreciate those who serve,” Chef Mike said. “I feel a debt to them, and this seemed like a good what to repay a bit of that.” Chef Mike admitted he wanted to do an appreciation breakfast last year, but the thought occurred to him too late. This year, planning started earlier, and he got some help.