Hiawatha Fire Fighters Keep Community Safe

Hiawatha’s annual “Battery Up” day will be held Saturday, Oct. 21 from 9 am to 12 pm. The Battery Up program is open to anyone in Hiawatha. 

According to Hiawatha Fire Chief, Mike Nesslage, firefighters will branch out across Hiawatha to help residents replace smoke detector batteries.

 “We provide assistance to those who can’t reach their smoke detectors. We also check the detectors and do a quick safety check. Approximately 2,000 people die in fires every year; most of them in homes without working smoke detectors.”

It’s important to have a working smoke detector on each level of your home, and in every bedroom, said Nesslage.

“A working smoke detector, along with an escape plan, drastically improves your chance of surviving a fire.”

Smoke detectors should be tested monthly, the battery replaced annually, and detectors should be replaced every 10 years.

“It’s important to have an exit, or escape plan for your home and to communicate it with the people you live with. That plan should have two ways out and should account for helping young children that may live with you. 

Nesslage said a closed door can slow a fire spread and protect you if there is a fire. 

“We encourage people to close their doors at night.  Should a fire occur, the closed door will separate you from the smoke giving you time to wake and think before acting.  If trapped, a closed door can separate you from the fire.”

Hiawatha Firefighters will also be busy visiting Hiawatha and Nixon Elementary schools, where they teach the kids about smoke detectors and escape plans. 

“Dozens of kids will visit the fire station, and we will be out in the community doing fire extinguisher demonstrations for local businesses.”

According to Nesslage, the Hiawatha Fire Department was recently presented with a Life Safety Award for their fire prevention accomplishments in 2016 by the National Association of State Fire Marshals Fire Research and Education Foundation in partnership with Grinnell Mutual.

“The Life Safety Award has recognizes local fire prevention efforts that have contributed to reducing the number of lives lost in residential fires.” He said. “We are one of 160 departments from across the United States that received the award for 2016. In most cases it was presented to departments that reduced fire deaths by 10%. In our case, we were recognized for our active and effective fire prevention programs as well and a clear commitment to reducing the number of house fires in the community.

“The award would not be possible without the strong support of the members who support programs ranging from Touch-a-Truck and library story time, to smoke detector checks and home visits.  We touch well over 1,000 people through our events every year.”

Sign-ups for the Battery Up program can be done by email to Chief Mike Nesslage at mnesslage@hiawatha-iowa.com, or calling 319-393-4180.

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Tanda Naturals Makes Being Healthy Affordable

Tana Studt believes being healthy shouldn’t have to be expensive. That is why she offers her health and beauty products at a price everyone can afford, while taking care of the environment, too.

Tana and her sister-in-law started Tanda Naturals in 2014. They were helping with her mother-in-law with her business, when they decided to go into business for themselves.

“We both knew a lot about natural products from helping my mother-in-law, and I thought it would be a great way to make extra money,” said Tana.

The two women started out selling their products at the Hiawatha Farmer’s Market, and branched out to the Cedar Rapids Downtown Market.

“I was hesitant to try it, because it was intimidating, with so many people, but I decided to just go ahead and do it,” she said. “We signed up that first year in April, which is considered a little late, but were lucky because a few people vendors backed out. We’ve been doing the farmers market every weekend during the summer since.”

Tana, who lives in Hiawatha with her husband, Alex, and two children, said that though Tanda Naturals offers a variety of products, two particular items seem to take turns at being the most popular.

“Our magnesium lotion and deodorant are the best-sellers,” she said. “Of course, everything we sell is 100% natural and does not contain any synthetic ingredients or fragrances.  We have a lot of other items that are popular, but those are the two biggest selling items.”

Tana started Tanda Naturals with just a few products, and now covers several shelves in her kiosk at the farmers market with her essential oils and sprays, bath bombs, natural cleaning products, magnesium lotion, all-natural lotion bars, natural eye and face creams, Ouchie Salve, Burn Out! Sunburn spray, Quit Buggin’ Me – natural bug spray and much more.

When Tana isn’t helping her customers at the farmers market, she is helping her clients at Benefits Solutions in downtown Cedar Rapids.

“I enjoy helping people,” she said. “Whether it’s at work, or helping people stay healthy, it’s what I love to do.”

Tana said the markets can be a lot of work, but said she can always count on her husband and daughter, Brooklynn, to help out.

“Alex is instrumental in helping with all of the market and vendor shows, along with making several of the products, and Brooklynn helps man the booth at every market, so I get a lot of help,” she said.

The last three Downtown Farmers Markets will be held Aug. 26, Sept 2 and 16.

For more information, call Tana at (319) 431-254 or email her at tandanaturals@gmail.com. A complete list of products can be found on Tanda Naturals’ website.

 

Little Free Pantry Helps Ease Food Insecurity

“Take a book, leave a book,” is the premise behind the Little Free Library concept.

But one little girl, who was returning a book she borrowed to a local Little Free Library, saw an even greater possibility.

“Wouldn’t it be great if there were things like this with food in them?” Annabelle, 7, told her mom.

Annabelle’s mom, Heather Spangler, got to work right away to see her daughter’s vision become a reality.

With the help of the Hiawatha Public Library, Home Depot, Hy-Vee, the University of Iowa Community Credit Union, and the Northeast Cedar Rapids Mom’s Club, four Little Free Pantries recently opened, with the intent to ease food security in those communities.

But this was not the first time Annabelle had come up with an idea to help others in need.

Annabelle was only 4 when she opened her Christmas presents and observed, “Mom, we have so many toys and there are kids who don’t have enough.”

Annabelle reached out to her friends, gathered the toys they no longer played with, and then donated to kids in need.

Heather saw the joy helping others brought to her little girl, and her friends, and created Kid-Powered Kindness, a Facebook page dedicated to spreading acts of kindness. Every year since, Heather, Annabelle, and their friends have completed a new project that benefits the community in some way.

According to Heather, Kid Powered Kindness is driven by the philosophy that kids can make the world a better place.

“The kids are the ones who come up with the projects,” said Heather. “I just help them figure out how to do it.”

Projects Kid Powered Kindness has completed include collecting books to promote literacy and collecting items that help the Humane Society care for animals in need of adoption.

According to Hy-Vee’s communications director, Kristy Stake, Hy-Vee donates $5 million annual to help those with food insecurity, and plans on continuing to help stock the pantries at their locations.

Hiawatha’s mayor, Bill Bennett, who was also on hand to help dedicate the Little Free Pantry, said he was amazed that a little girl can make such a difference in her community.

“She saw a need in the community and did something about it,” he said. “We could all learn something from her. “Every step we take is a step closer to making things better, for everyone.”

Donations for the Little Free Pantry are always welcome and appreciated.

Hiawatha Offering Free Fitness Classes

Fitness enthusiasts take advantage of the free Zumba class March 9 at the Hiawatha Community Center. Photo by Cynthia Petersen

Time is running out to try Zumba for free at the Hiawatha Community Center.

April 13 is the last time Zumba, an aerobic fitness program inspired by various styles of Latin American dance, will be offered at the center, 101 Emmons Street in Hiawatha. The last Zumba class will be held Thursday, April 13 at 5:30 pm.

According to several Zumba enthusiasts, the great thing about Zumba is that you don’t have to know how to dance to join in. “The important thing is to keep moving and have fun.”

Hiawatha Parks and Recreation director, Kelly Willadsen, said the city has been offering a variety of fitness activities to the community the past year, including yoga and Zumba, which the community can try for free.

“Not many people know what Zumba is so we thought why not give people the opportunity to see what it is about free of charge and maybe they will continue after our classes here,” said Willadsen. “Brooke Lentz does a great job and we have been impressed by the numbers we have seen over the last two months. We definitely hope to have her back next year.”

Brooke Lentz, Public Relations and Event Coordinator for Pat McGrath, is a certified Zumba instructor and leads the 30-minute class at the center. She became certified during a 1-day training session in Indianola last year, she said, simply because she loves to dance.

“I was in dance classes and show choir in middle school and high school. I was on the dance team my freshman year in college and the cheerleading squad my junior year at Wartburg College, as well. During the training we learned basic steps for four different rhythms: merengue, salsa, cumbia and reggaeton. My favorite is the reggae! The music is unbeatable. Zumba creates a community and make fitness exciting.”

Lentz said she was approached by Willadsen to lead a Zumba class once a month for the first four months of the year.

“I could not turn the opportunity down because city officials wanted to provide free fitness to the community. Amazing!”

Lentz also leads a weekly class for employees at the McGrath Fitness Center.

For more information, visit the city’s website at Hiawatha-iowa.com or the Hiawatha Parks & Recreation Facebook page.

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

By Cynthia Petersen

The winter months can seem much longer than they really are. Instead of three months, winters in Iowa can feel like six.

And though our instinct is to hibernate until spring, one of the ways we can pass the time is to stay active and have fun. Fortunately, our community has plenty of opportunities for both.

AirFx Trampoline Park, 1100 N. 18th Ave., Hiawatha has great deals that include Twofer Tuesdays & Thursdays (buy one hour of jump time for $10 and get one hour for you or for someone else for free) and Wednesday Family Night, which includes 1 hour of jump time for 4 people; 8 Lazer Frenzy tokens, 1 pizza, and 4 Icees or fountain drinks, all for $39.

SkyZone, 5515 Council St NE, Cedar Rapids, offers similar deals, including Jumpapalooza Friday and Saturday nights from 8 to 10 pm. You can also get a two-hour, all-access pass to everything Saturday nights. Try out the Open Jump, SkySlam, Ultimate Dodgeball, and much more.

Potters’ Obsession, 1941 51st Street NE, is a great place to let your creativity run wild. Pick out a piece of unfinished pottery to design and paint it any way you’d like. There is a modest charge for use of materials, as well as the pottery piece. It is great for birthdays and other group activities.

Hiawatha Parks & Recreation is hosting several upcoming activities at the Hiawatha Community Center, 101 Emmons Street, including cooking and exercise classes, crafts, and movies. (See upcoming activities in this issue)
The community center also offers activities for seniors, including dancing, Bingo, and a book club.

There is more to the Hiawatha Public Library, 150 W. Willman Street, than just books! They also offer programs for children and adults. Events for the entire family include Family Fort Night, Roll Over and Read, and Yoga Story Time, among many others. Visit the library’s Facebook page for more information.

Twisters Gymnastics, 4625 Tower Terrace Road, has an open gym where kids can play on the trampolines, balance beams, ropes and vaults. The open gym is held Sundays 12-2 pm for kids 5 and older for $8 each. An open gym for toddlers and their parents is available Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 am to 12 pm for $5. All who participate are required to complete a waiver before attending.

Turn back time and watch a movie Tuesdays at the Galaxy 16 Theatres, 5340 Council St NE, for just $5! Become an exclusive member and get a free popcorn! However, special events and 3D movies are not included.

Beat the mid-week blahs with a fun game of Bingo at the American Legion Post 735, 207 Robins Road. Doors open every Wednesday at 5 pm, with the games beginning at 6:30. Drinks and snacks are available for purchase.

The Play Station, 200 Collins Road NE, Cedar Rapids, offers a Family Fun Night Thursday Nights with a $5 admission, as well as a deal on tokens and dinner. Deals include 40 tokens for $5 and a pizza package for $19.99, which feeds a family of 4.

Planet X Fun Center is fun anytime, but even better when it’s for a good cause! Planet X is hosting a fundraiser that will benefit Nixon Elementary School Feb. 9 from 5-8 pm.

The admission price of $10 per person includes unlimited pizza, soda, miniature golf, rock climbing, indoor playground, Space Ball, Jump Shot, and bumper cars, as well as 1 round of laser tag. Half of all ticket sales for the evening will go to Nixon Elementary.

Adults need to lift their spirits during the winter months, too, which is why Prairiewoods Franciscan Spiritual Center is conducting a Winter Film Series. The movie, Samsara, will be held Sunday, Jan. 29, from 2-4 pm. This non-verbal film will take you on a visual journey through the interconnection of all life. Filmed over a period of almost five years and in twenty-five countries, Samsara explores sacred grounds, industrial sites and natural wonders.

A free-will offering to help establish permaculture landscaping at Prairiewoods will be accepted at the door.

The February movie will be Divided We Fall, a story of combating hate with love and unyielding optimism. In the aftermath of Sept. 11, a college student journeyed across America with a camera and captured stories of hate and healing in the Sikh American community. The movie will be held Feb. 26 at 2 pm.
A variety of workshops and retreats are also available and more information can be found at prairiewoods.org.

With so many fun things to do this winter, you won’t have time to think about how cold it is. And who knows? Maybe the groundhog won’t see his shadow, which means we can plan on an early spring.

That’s What Friends Are For

By Cynthia Petersen

What would the world be like if we didn’t have friends to support and encourage us to do our best? Fortunately, it’s a question the Hiawatha community doesn’t have to spend too much time thinking about.

Hiawatha resident, Phyllis Jones, who is a member of the Friends of the Hiawatha Public Library group, operates the Book Sale Room at the library, as well as an online book sale on their Facebook page.

The majority of the books are gently used and are from the most popular authors, but magazines, DVDs, music CDS, and magazines can be found in the room, as well.

“We carry magazines from the past few months and sell them for a quarter. If there is a particular magazine you love, we probably have it.”

Books in the book room are .50 for paperbacks and $1 for hard copy; children’s paperbacks are .25 and .50 for hard copy.

The price for items online vary, which also includes games and puzzles.

“I do my best to keep the Facebook page up-to-date,” said Jones. “The items are not kept at the library, but are stored elsewhere. I usually meet the buyers at the library to conduct business.”

“The Book Room is open when the library is open, and you pay at the front desk. We also accept donations at the front desk, as well.”

The books are donated by the library and from the public, as well as from area book stores that have too much inventory.

The group has even received old used books, such as an autographed copy of, In Cold Blood, signed by Truman Capote.

Diana Flander, president of the group, said the book sales fill in the gaps and purchases items the library’s budget isn’t able to, such as the Summer Reading Program.

“We give $2,000 a year to both the adult and the children’s programs for any items the librarians need to use outside of their budget,” said Flander. “We have also pledged $4,000 for the upcoming library expansion. We give our time, as well, and help acquire items sometimes without spending a dime.”

The group recently donated a puppet theater that one of the friends board members neighbor made.

“The children love it.”

The group meets monthly to keep tuned-in with requests that the library did not anticipate when it made up its budget, or perhaps did not have the funds for. The group also brainstorms ideas to help out the staff.

Flander said anyone who wants to learn more about the Friends of the Hiawatha Public Library are welcome to attend any of the meetings. Meetings are held the Third Tuesday of the month at 6:30 pm at the library. The next meeting will be held Feb. 21 at the library.

“We love to see new people attend,” she said.

You can join the group’s Facebook page by going to Book Friends 52233, Friends of the Hiawatha Library Books for Sale. Notifications are sent out whenever a new item is added.

Friends of Hiawatha Parks and Recreation Foundation

If you live in or near Hiawatha, chances are you have attended one of the many friendscommunity events that often take place in one of the parks or at the community center.

What you may not know is that the events are made possible, in part, thanks to the Friends of Hiawatha Parks and Recreation Foundation. The Foundation supports and promotes diversity and inclusiveness through a wide variety of programs and services in the Hiawatha community.

A variety of fundraisers throughout the year help support the Hiawatha Adventure Camp, as well as other recreation programs and park projects.
Hiawatha Adventure Camp is held for kids during the summer months and offers creative and structured play opportunities that serve as a tool to build new relationships, expose children to new experiences, and encourage fitness. These programs are available for children in Kindergarten through 8th grade.

Participants have the opportunity to go on field trips, make crafts, listen and learn from exciting speakers; participate in community service projects and various other fun activities.

The Friends of the Parks Foundation sponsors a variety of activities in Hiawatha, including Movies under the Moon, HiBRAI, 5K runs/walks, and several others.
HiBRAI, Hiawatha’s annual bike ride to Riverside, is held in August and will celebrate its 15th ride this year. The overnight excursion includes a stay at the Riverside casino, along with all the amenities the hotel has to offer.

Watch a movie in the Guthridge Park during the summer, courtesy of the Friends of the Park. Movies under the Moon will be held July 21 and Aug. 25.

New this year is a bus trip Aug. 16 to the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. Also new in 2017 is Santa’s Reindeer Run/Walk, which will be held Dec. 2 in Guthridge Park. Enjoy hot chocolate and coffee before dashing your way through the snow!

An annual membership drive will be held in February or March. For more information, visit the Hiawatha Parks & Recreation or Hiawatha Friends of the Parks Facebook pages.

Retired Linn-Mar Teacher Explores New Venture

 

You’re never too old to do something you’ve always wanted to do. Suanne Huffman of Marion is proof of that. At 74 years young, Suanne, a retired English teacher from Linn-Mar High School, has decided to begin a  new venture; making, printing, and distributing greeting cards nationwide.

“I just love making things, and people seem to like the things I create,” she said. “I don’t like to sit around much. Working on my projects keeps me active.”

Suanne uses clothing and other items to make upcycled art, altered books, and greeting cards. She also paints and restores shabby chic furniture, repurposes children and adults’ clothing, makes purses, pillows, jewelry, vintage linens, and “unique crafty projects of all kinds.”

“I love making the cards,” said Suanne. “I use fun little objects to decorate the outside. I add a quote, and leave the inside blank for a handwritten note. I think it’s really important to write what you feel inside to make it more personal.”

cards
Suanne hopes to market her greeting cards nationwide.

Suanne grew up in Marion and graduated from Marion High School. She attended Iowa State Teachers College, which is now UNI.  She went on to earn her BA from Upper Iowa University in English Education, and her M.A. in English Education from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA.

“I think I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, but I wasn’t sure what kind,” she said. “I thought I might like to be a German teacher, but they didn’t offer it Upper Iowa. And then English teacher popped into my head. That’s when I realized it’s what I really wanted to do all along. It just made perfect sense. I don’t know why it took me so long to see that.”

She and her husband, Max, lived in California for seven years.  Suanne’s first teaching job was at Edgewood High School, a Los Angeles suburb.   The couple moved back to Marion, where she taught English at Linn-Mar, retiring 15 years ago.

“Both of my kids (Julie and Mace) were in my English class, and they both did fine. They didn’t get any special treatment, of course, even though my son joked about it sometimes,” she said with a chuckle.

After teaching for 30 years, Suanne decided it was time to retire. “I was getting a little burned out, I think, and I loved doing crafts, so I started making things for my friends and family.”

One day she was working on a project for her friend, Mary Campbell, when Mary suggested they open a store together.

Suanne creates art out of books; altered books
Suanne creates art out of books; altered books

The two ladies rented several rooms on the 2nd floor of The Perfect Blend in Mt. Vernon. But three years later, Suanne decided the hours were too much for her and opted to stay home and work on her projects.

She started a half-time position at The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art as a Museum Educator, which involved training docents (tour guides), developing programs and tours for schools.

Since then, Suanne has taken part in the McGowan House Artisans, Serendipity, Next Page Bookstore, the Cedar Rapids Art Museum, as well as Iowa Artisans Gallery.  Suanne also attends artisan shows in the area, including at Prairiewoods events, as well as out-of-state.

Crafting isn’t Suanne’s only interest; she is also very active in the community. She has served on several boards, including the Marion Arts Festival. She also works periodically supervising events at Lowe Park, and she and Max are both members of the Friends of the Marion Parks. 

The next few months, however, will be spent producing, marketing, and distributing the greeting cards.

“I am already talking to a printer to try to get prints of the cards sold nationally. We have also stopped at several little shops during our travels to see our daughter in California. I give them a few cards to try out and my contact information. I keep hearing, ‘I’ll let you know after the holidays,’ so I guess we’ll just wait and see.”

Suanne said she wants to keep the cards affordable, so she has decided to reprint them, rather than producing each handmade card individually. “It takes a long time to make just one card, so I would have to charge more.”

Suanne came up with the name of her business ‘Goody Two Shoes,’ in honor of a fable that explained where the term came from.

“As a variation of the Cinderella story, the fable tells of a poor orphan girl who goes through childhood with only one shoe. When she is given a complete pair by a rich gentleman, she is so happy that she tells everyone she now has two shoes … she tries to greet all she meets with a joyful heart.”

“While it might be difficult today for us to follow such a path, it emphasizes that each of us can make a contribution. In an effort to promote the true spirit of caring for others, a portion of the profits from Goody Two Shoes products are given to charity.”

The complete story can be found on Goody Two Shoe’s Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/pg/whimsicalwares, as well as on the back of each card.

Though Suanne enjoys traveling, displaying her artwork at bazaars, and getting out in the community, she said her crafting tends to take over, and uses much of her downstairs to store all of her creations.

“I have always had a passion for crafts and to create things,” she said. “This is just something I want to do. And despite what some people think, you’re never too old to start something new.”

Suanne’s greeting cards can be found at Next Page books, The Cedar Rapids Museum Gift Store, The Perfect Blend, and Iowa Artisans Gallery.

For more information, contact Suanne at suannehuffman@gmail.com.