Hiawatha City Administrator honored as ‘Woman of Influence’

Kim Downs, Hiawatha City Administrator

Hiawatha City Administrator Kim Downs does her best to make a difference in her community, and it shows. Downs was chosen as one of the Corridor Business Journal’s Women of Influence for 2018. downs and nine other women were honored at a banquet at the Hotel at Kirkwood April 12.

Downs was nominated for the honor by her coworkers, Kelly Kornegor, Patrick Parsley and John Bender.

Parsley, Hiawatha’s Community Development Director, said it was a team decision to nominate Downs for the honor. “Kim’s ability to create and develop a team approach in Hiawatha has been inspirational,” he said.

“Her enthusiasm and encouragement make her one of the best ‘coaches’ many of us have ever worked for. This attitude invades all aspects of her work day and her relationships, creating an amazing atmosphere in which goals are accomplished and people are appreciated!

It would be a rare day when we do not hear her infectious laughter at least once, and her great attitude is only surpassed by her strong work ethic.”
Kornegor, the City Clerk for Hiawatha, added that Downs’ positive attitude drives the entire team’s efforts to do their best.

“I fully believe in supporting and lifting up other women, and celebrating their successes,” she said. “Seeing Kim achieve this award encourages me to be my best and not to let anything get in the way of accomplishing my own goals and desires. It is always a great motivator to watch others be celebrated for their achievements. Kim deserves this recognition for being very dedicated to her profession, showing a strong sense of leadership and inspiring others with her positive attitude.”

Downs said she is humbled by the honor. “I have always tried to be positive and make a difference in my community. It makes me feel good that I make an impact in the lives of my coworkers, as well.”

Bender, Hiawatha’s City Engineer, said Downs is a worthy recipient of the CBJ Women of Influence Award, as she has displayed great leadership qualities.

“She works very hard to build consensus and maintain focus on established goals. This award is well deserved.”

Downs began her career as the city clerk in the town of Ryan 18 years ago, accepting a position as Hiawatha’s deputy clerk in 2005.

“I still thank Linda Dixon every time I see her for giving me the support I needed to succeed in my chosen career,” she said. “She encouraged me to go back to school and fulfill my dreams.”

Kim became the city clerk of Hiawatha in 2007, and accepted the city administration position in 2014.

“We hadn’t had a city administrator for a few years, and I was already doing a lot of the work associated with that position,” she said. “(Former Mayor) Tom Theis asked me if I would accept the position if he offered it to me, and I knew it was something I would have to think about. I asked my husband, Kyle, and my children, if they would be okay with the long hours I would have to put in, if I were to accept the city administrator’s position. They told me to ‘go for it!’”

Downs said she and her co-workers have accomplished a lot in the past 10 years, with much of the focus on improving streets, attracting businesses to the city, and creation of the Town Village Center.

“I have always been someone who does what is needed to get the job done,” said Downs. “When I became City Clerk of Hiawatha, the mayor trusted me, and gave me the freedom I needed to make things happen for the Hiawatha community. My co-workers have stood beside me as we worked together toward a common goal. They are the reason we have accomplished so much in just a short time.”


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.

Hiawatha Celebrates Fall

Peck’s Flower & Garden Shop, 3990 Blairs Ferry Road NE, celebrated fall in style Oct. 16, during its annual festival, which included free hayrack rides and popcorn, games, and of course, trick-or-treating.

A Hiawatha firefighter hands out tattoos at Peck’s Fall Fun Days Oct. 16.

The Hiawatha fire and police departments were also on hand to show off their cool vehicles and pass out treats.

More fall events are planned in Hiawatha, including a free dance for the special population Friday, Oct. 21, at the Hiawatha Community Center, 101 Emmons Street. The dance is sponsored by Barbers, Ect.

Hiawatha’s last farmers market of the year coincides with the city’s fall festival Sunday, Oct. 23, 11 am to 2 pm in the Guthridge Park parking lot.

This free event will feature pumpkin decorating, a costume contest for the kids (sponsored by the HiCREW Kiwanis), trick-or-treating, and other fun activities.

(For a list of area Halloween activities, visit tributecr.com)

Kid’s Movie Night will be held Friday, Nov. 11 at the Hiawatha Community Center at 6:30 pm. This free event includes juice and popcorn. Kids are encouraged to bring their pillows and blankets, and even their favorite stuffed animal snuggle with during the featured movie, “The Angry Birds.”

The movie night is sponsored by the University of Iowa Credit Union and Hiawatha Parks & Recreation.

Fore more Hiawatha events, visit the city’s website.

Hiawatha FunFest Photos 2016

Hiawatha held its first-ever FunFest Aug. 26-27, 2016 with activities for the entire family, including a Movie under the Moon and concert in the park; a 5K Run/Walk and breakfast; bouncy houses and other fun activities! Watch the video on Hiawatha Today’s Facebook page! 

Your Chance to Be Heard

The consulting Firm MSA Professional Services Inc. has been hired by the City of hiawathaHiawatha to gather data on a comprehensive plan update. MSA will hold a public meeting at City Hall in the Multi-Purpose Room on the lower level on April 27 at 7 p.m.

In addition to holding meetings, the Project Team is also using a new tool to help gather the data it needs to formulate a plan.

Crowdsource Mapping allows you to propose ideas for changes to the community and share your vision for the future of Hiawatha.  This tool can be used on your desktop, laptop, tablet, or cell phone. The Project Team will use this data, as well as other community input, to form goals to help move the plan forward.

To use the map, click on the mapping link, which can also be found on the plan’s page. Click on the pen tool (top left corner of the map) if the icons are not showing. The icons shown can be placed on the map to pinpoint where you think something needs improvement, areas you think are eyesores, or landmarks you think are assets to the community.

To map your ideas, simply click on the icon and then click on the spot you want to “drop” it. Once it is in place, you can click on it and add a note to why you chose that icon. You can scroll up or down to zoom in or out, or use the + and – icons to the left.

I put a heart icon (community asset) on the Hiawatha Library, the trail head on Boyson, and Tucker Park, because I believe those places are assets to the community. (There were already hearts on the other two parks.)

I put the “pedestrian improvement” icon on N. Center Point Road, because I think something more needs to be done to warn drivers that bikers don’t always stop as they are crossing W. Willman Street (even though the bikers have a stop sign). The drivers turning right might not see them in time.

I also put the same icon on Emmons St. and N. Center Point Road because there are always bikers crossing in the middle of the road and drivers can’t always see them, either.

I put a transportation icon on Boyson Road because I believe the traffic moves too fast on that road. The speed limit is 35, but many people drive 5 over. With so much traffic on the narrow 2 lane road, it can be a bit frustrating for those who are trying to cross or turn onto Boyson.

I care about Hiawatha and like the direction it is going.  With the help of this mapping tool, even if I can’t attend the meetings, I still have the opportunity to be heard.

For more information go to www.hiawathaplan.com or visit the City’s website.

New Kaffein in Hiawatha bloodstream

By Cole Swanson

Still feeling the effects of the shift to Daylight Savings Time, I order my iced white chocolate latte with an extra shot of espresso. Jeremy Aldrich, manager at Kaffein, 1725 Boyson Road in Hiawatha, starts mixing and measuring for the drink, while passing along my sandwich order (a half Hunter S. Thompson) to owner, Nick Bata, in the kitchen.

While the duo are working, I get to walk around the coffee shop and get a closer look at the art lining the walls. There are painted portraits, abstract pieces, photography and more — all done by local artists. The decor and comfortable seating options create a laid-back atmosphere, while still keeping the space contemporary.

I’m visiting the shop after the noon hour, but a few patrons in polos and khakis drop by during my visit for a late sandwich or early afternoon caffeine rush. With a number of businesses nearby, the four members of Kaffein’s staff don’t have any problems staying busy during the six or seven hours they’re open every day. Add the fact that they’re now open on Saturdays, and I realize the passion these individuals have for what they do.

If the hours weren’t already an indicator, Jeremy and Nick pitch me some of their future plans for the shop with the same energy and excitement I’ve seen over and over in proud small business owners.

It’s inspiring and infectious as they talk about potential collaborations with new restaurants nearby or their existing partnership with places like Kettel House in Marion, which bakes the cinnamon rolls and scones that are sold at Kaffein.

I find it hard to leave the story-telling and brainstorming behind when it’s time to go, but I look forward to seeing how this new shop (barely two months old) grows and finds its niche in one of Hiawatha’s busiest areas.