A tiny church in northeast Iowa’s Chickasaw County, known around the globe for being a wedding spot, is marking its 150th anniversary. The Little Brown Church in the Vale has been the setting for more than 72,000 weddings, with 60,000 tourists visiting the Nashua landmark each year. Reverend Linda Myren says she’s expecting many couples to return this weekend (Aug 6-7) as part of the church’s marriage reunion. Couples will renew their wedding vows. Usually couples who’ve been married 50 years or more can sit inside the church in the air conditioning but they ran out of room last year. This year, those married at least 55 years can sit inside. Myren says they’re looking for small photos of any couple married at the church. They’re creating a big collage and so far have gotten pictures from as far back as 1917 and as recently as last week. Myren says the number of weddings performed each year at the church has dropped off somewhat. Myren says people from all over the world still come to Nashua to get married at the Little Brown Church. She says a couple coming in soon is from California. The bride’s grandparents were married in the church 65 years ago and they’ll be attending the wedding — and ringing the bell afterwards as they did back in 1940. She’s had couples fly in from as far away as Germany and Australia too. The church was made famous by the song “The Church in the Wildwood” by William Pitts. The Weatherwax Brothers made the song popular in the early 1900s. The tiny church still has many of its original features, including pews made of pine and walnut, brass lamps that once burned oil and an organ with a worn-out pedal. For more information, surf to “www.littlebrownchurch.org” or call 641-435-2027.
Archives for July 2005
This week the U-S-D-A announced that tests seem to indicate a third case of Mad Cow disease in the U.S., and Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says it’s clear the agency must do more to demonstrate it’s following a “clear protocol” for its Mad Cow testing program. “The sample in question was collected in April, yet the USDA just found out about it last week,” Harkin says. “USDA must ensure that there’s adequate education and training for veterinarians so they know what is expected of them out in the field, especially since the USDA’s surveillance plan is totally voluntary.” Harkin has talked personally with U.S. Ag Secretary Mike Johanns and written Johanns a letter, urging the USDA improve its testing so there aren’t delays like this in the future. The latest suspect animal, which died giving birth, was reportedly 12 years old.
Without the guidance of wiser adults, kids can go astray. The Big Brothers/Big Sisters programs in Iowa are searching for mentors to help keep young people on the right path. Nicole Hinton, spokeswoman for the group’s central Iowa chapter, says they’ve launched a summer program trying to find 100 mentors for 100 kids in 100 days. Hinton says the waiting list for mentors of up to 140 kids is about 85 to 90-percent boys and some have been on the list for up to three years. She says people are always concerned about the time they’d have to commit. Hinton says there are two programs being offered and both involve volunteering a total of four hours a month.Under the community-based program, you’ll spend two hours every other week with the child, picking the child up at their home and taking them out to community-based events, often on free tickets. With school-based mentoring, you spend one hour a week at the child’s school and it runs for nine months out of the year, when school’s in session. Hinton says the mentors make a significant difference in the lives of Iowa’s children. She says children enrolled in Big Brothers Big Sisters Mentoring Programs are more self confident, see improved relationships with peers and family, have an improved academic performance and are better at avoiding delinquency. For more information, surf to the Big Brothers-Big Sisters America website at “www.bbbsa.org.”
Members of an Iowa group for sexual-abuse survivors say the Dubuque Catholic diocese isn’t playing fair in its defense of lawsuits by alleged victims. Steve Theisen is a co-founder of SNAP, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests Theisen says Dubuque Archbishop Honus hasn’t followed through with a promise to have an open discussion and dialogue, and would “be transparent” about allegations of clergy sexual abuse. The archbishop has sent a list of names of priests to the Vatican, requesting that they be defrocked because of unacceptable behavior — but won’t make that list public. Once you release the names of all those who have credible accusations against them, he says it allows victims to find the strength to report them, and begin their own journey of healing. “It’s not just the victims that need to be healed,” Theisen says, “it’s the people in the pews that want to hear the truth — and so far, the Archdiocese has been circumventing the truth.” A man now living in Texas says he was abused by a priest when he was 17 years old. This week SNAP held a news conference to declare the diocese is unfairly “blaming the victim” by claiming he wasn’t a child at seventeen when the alleged abuse took place.
The college savings plan run by the state is getting more national recognition. State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald oversees the College Savings Iowa plan. He says “Money” magazine rated five plans they would recommend to anyone in the U.S. and he says the Iowa plan was one of them. Fitzgerald says that comes on the heels of recommendations from Kiplinger financial magazine and Morningstar. Ftizgerald says Money liked the Iowa plan because it allows parents aged-based investments. He says if you have a new-born, you want your money in aggressive stock plans. When the child gets older, you want it in more conservative bond plans. He says the Iowa plan was also lauded for its low management costs.He says some plans charge five-point-seven-five percent per year, while the Iowa plan charges less than one percent. The College Savings Iowa plan also provides you with a deduction on your state income tax. For more information, contact the State Treasurer’s office or surf to: www.collegesavingsiowa.com.
The annual bike ride across the state takes off for its final day today (Saturday) in West Union and winds up in Guttenberg on the eastern edge of Iowa. Nancy McClellan, one of the co-chairs of the Guttenberg RAGBRAI committee, says the last leg of the cyclists’ ride will be downhill — a very steep downhill run. She says they come on the Great River Road from Garnavillo on through town to the boat landing on the south end of Guttenberg. McClellan expects the riders and support vehicles to hit town by mid-morning. She says they expect the first riders to hit town by around nine in the morning with the last riders in by 3:30 or four in the afternoon. She says Guttenberg residents have been getting ready for some time. She says they’ve been working about seven months, recruiting volunteers for the hospitality crew, the housing crew and the parking and traffic controls. This is not the first time Guttenberg has been the final stop on the ride. She says this is the third time they’ve come into town and the last time was nine years ago. The final act of the ride includes the tradition of dipping the front tires of the bikes in the Mississippi River.
The city clerk in Swaledale has been arrested by the Cerro Gordo County Sheriff’s Department and charged with first-degree theft. 26-year-old Stacy Marie Highley is suspected of trying to use 13-thousand dollars of the city’s money. Last week Highley appeared in court on charges of first-degree theft after taking 13-thousand dollars from her former employer, First Citizens National Bank in Mason City. She was given a deferred judgment after she repaid the money when she showed up for court. But Swaledale Mayor Susan Lyles says the city’s banker got suspicious after reading this week in the paper about Highley’s case. She says Highley had 13-thousand-dollars from the city’s accounts put into a couple of money orders. Highley’s been employed as Swaledale City Clerk since January. Monday the City Council will address the issue at its regular meeting on Monday night. Highley was released from jail after posting bond.
A man jailed for molesting his stepdaughter at their home in Griswold now faces more charges. When a fire at the family home killed two children, investigators zeroed in on 17-year-old Tracey Dyess. She admitted setting the fatal blaze, and told them she’d hoped to kill her mother’s husband, Brian Street. She directed police to a safe in the burned-out home where they reportedly found sexually explicit photographs of her. Those pictures were the evidence used to charge her stepfather Brian Street with child pornography. His trial was set to begin Monday but this week a federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment and the added charges against Street include travel with intent to engage in sex with a juvenile, and enticing another minor to pose for porn.
Iowa’s farmers are entering one of their busiest times of year, with fair season and the harvest coming up. The Iowa Beef Industry Council just wrapped up its summer series of training seminars and the council’s Brian Waddingham says the training’s taking a break too, till fall arrives. He points out checkoff money pays for the Beef Quality Assurance Program, and will continue after a Supreme Court Ruling earlier this year declared the checkoff will continue. There’s also an Iowa checkoff that assesses 50-cents a head, so even if the national checkoff had been struck down there’d have been some funding. He says the group’s promotion work gets a lot of the credit for raising beef demand by 25-percent since 1998. Waddingham says there are lots of state programs in place to help keep their beef promotion work from ending. The Council’s still looking ahead to the future, he says, and continues to update the program as need be to suit producers. There are about four-thousand cattle producers around Iowa now who are “BQA Certified.” Waddingham says the Beef Industry Council plans for now to resume the seminars in September.
This week the USDA announced that tests seem to indicate a third case of Mad Cow disease in the U-S, and Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says it’s clear the agency must do more to demonstrate it’s following a “clear protocol” for its Mad Cow testing program. “The sample in question was collected in April, yet the USDA just found out about it last week,” Harkin says. “USDA must ensure that there’s adequate education and training for veterinarians so they know what is expected of them out in the field, especially since the USDA’s surveillance plan is totally voluntary.”Harkin has talked personally with U-S Ag Secretary Mike Johanns and written Johanns a letter, urging the USDA improve its testing so there aren’t delays like this in the future. The latest suspect animal, which died giving birth, was reportedly 12 years old.