With all the talk about the Carson and Macedonia façade projects starting in March, you can’t help but also be excited to learn that Amy Spiering is the new Main Street Coordinator for Carson!
Thanks to a discussion held a few years ago between city clerk, Brianne Duede, and the Pottawattamie County Planning and Zoning Commission, Carson is piloting a program in which Amy will oversee the façade project and help market Carson to new businesses. Amy envisions that “every store front will have a business and the Carson Business District will offer a fun atmosphere.” She truly believes that Carson is packed with potential and we couldn’t agree more! As new studies come out, it points to more metro area citizens moving to rural Pottawattamie with the ability to work remotely supported by the promise of fiber and broadband.
For those of you who don’t know Amy, she and her late husband actually moved here approximately 10 years ago to raise their son, Trent, who is now a 7th grader. They needed to be within 30 minutes of Union Pacific for her husband’s job but wanted Trent to grow up in a small community and school district. Amy has a Business Management degree from Bellevue University and is the owner of Amy’s Attic on Broadway in Carson, a cute little shop where she does custom painting of furniture, as well as offer décor, candles, and furniture pieces for sale. Because of that, Amy has a vested interest in the success of Carson’s Business District. Not only will it benefit her shop, but she says Carson is her home and she wants the best for it.
Mrs. Spiering’s job as the Main Street Coordinator will be approximately 20 hours a week and she will work out of her office at the Carson Fire Department on Monday-Wednesday from 8 to 3pm except when attending training/meetings. She looks forward to checking out a few of the successful town models she’s heard about in Southwest Iowa with the ultimate goal of getting Carson in the Main Street Iowa Program. Amy’s job will entail being a point of contact for Carson businesses. She will build relationships with all the businesses in Carson as well as be the voice of said businesses. Furthermore, she will be expected to market Carson and draw on resources to help Carson prosper.
Amy mentioned her motto for Carson is “new perspective, new objective.” Amy, we can’t wait to see what it produces!
At a time when many 20-somethings are looking to step out into the unknown, Josie Cable knew she was meant to be back home in Walnut! After leaving her hometown to attend Ellsworth for Equine Management and being a jack-of-all trades along the way with jobs like a 911-dispatcher and a postal worker, Josie knew she wanted to be home. She wanted to move back to her family, her way-of-life, and a permanent home. She ended up getting a vet tech degree from Iowa Western and in August, 2019, Josie took a leap of faith and started Josie’s Riding Experience. In January, 2020, she made it official by becoming an LLC.
All of it started a long time ago when Josie got her first horse at age 5 from her grandpa. She grew up in Walnut and spent her time in the world of agriculture. Although some may know her for her postal job that takes her on the Avoca, Shelby, and Walnut routes, she is most well-known for her training skills with horses and kids. Josie had always been an outdoorsy type and horse-riding was her happy place. She’d been giving lessons, training horses, and even driving horses since she was a kid, but in August, 2019, she decided to go big. She put it out on Facebook that she was starting lessons and was shocked at the response. Her Facebook page blew up!
A little over a year in and Ms. Cable has 30 weekly riders and 60 regulars with a wait list to get in! She’s also very excited to be offering a Little Buckaroos summer program this year in June and July hoping to reach a few more kids. Plus, she trains and boards horses, too! Needless to say, Josie Cable is full of energy! And personality, too! So it was no surprise to me why she was chosen to be part of the Farm Bureau Grow your Future Award Pitch-off!
I asked Josie how she got involved in the Farm Bureau contest and she told me an ad for it kept popping up for it when she was on Facebook. It seemed like it was just meant to be! She submitted her video and not long after that she got a call that she’d made it to the voting round. So Josie rallied friends, family, and clients. Thanks to a loyal fan-base, she made it into the top 6 which means she will present “at” the 2021 Farm Bureau Young Farmers Convention! She even got to have practice sessions with the FB farm business development manager, Amanda Van Steenwyk, to prep for the big event. Basically, the conference goers will see a 5-minute presentation done by Cable, have a 5-minute Q&A session with her, and then the judges will have 80% of the say with the other 20% going to the conference viewers. So if you are a Farm Bureau member between 18 and 35 attending the conference via Zoom, Josie is counting on you! If she wins, she can receive up to $7500!
I asked Josie if she won, what would be next on the agenda and she told me she’d like to convert her tack room into an office and build a new shed for tack and kids. Yes, part of Josie’s dream is to offer a place for kids to meet up with other kids and have her place be one big barn family. COVID sure hasn’t helped in that capacity, but ultimately, Josie (and boyfriend, Kevin) want it to be a farm with goats, hogs, chickens, cattle, and of course, horses that can be a home-away-from-home for younger versions of horse-loving Josies!
Listen, all I have to say is if you can vote, vote Josie’s Riding Experience on January 30th! And for the rest of you, well, let’s all be thankful that Ms. Josie Cable didn’t forget where she came from!
Pottawattamie is happy to welcome Josie’s Riding Experience to our county!
Possibly my favorite post of the whole year is announcing the WIDA Awards! I love celebrating our amazing businesses and recreational facilities and people! It’s also exciting because I always learn something I had no knowledge of. I could be embarrassed by that, but I think it just shows what a big, fabulous county we have! Another exciting part is that we had 7 times the number of votes this year than we had last year for our first set of awards! Thank you all for voting!
So let’s get to it!
Best New Business
This category was rich in businesses despite COVID. What a county where businesses can still make it even in a pandemic! That being said, we all need to shop local, folks! Who topped the category? It was a tough race but here were your top 3:
*Destination Coffee and Cuisine in Oakland
*Tillie’s Hair Salon and Boutique in Avoca
*Casa Mexicana in Avoca
Best Place to get Exercise in Rural Pott. County
Again, there was an enormous list of options for this category. In fact, we found out about a few we were unaware existed, but there was no question about the winners! Your top 3 were:
*Botna Bend in Hancock
*Hitchcock Nature Center in Honey Creek/Crescent
*Walnut Community Center (Walnut)
Hidden Gem or Best Kept Secret of Rural Pott. Co.
Wow! I am in love with this category! So I found out about the Aeroplane Inn through this question and believe me, you’ll be seeing my blog about it sometime soon! And it’s always interesting to see what people come up with when this could be a roadside park, a place to eat, a landmark, or a store. So who got thought of? We had a tie for 3rd place so we have a top 4 in this category!
*Stanley’s Snack Shack in Honey Creek/Crescent
*The Dew Drop Inn in McClelland
*Dreamland Theatre in Carson
*El Sol Mexican Restaurant in Oakland
Friendliest Staff in Rural Pott. Co.
We all know that the most successful, long-time businesses are those that make customer service a priority and with employees so hard to come by these days, it’s a labor of love to make it happen! Who was recognized for doing just that?
*El Sol in Oakland
*Avoca Flower Shop (Avoca)
*Garcia’s Family Mexican Restaurant in Underwood
*Shelby Vet Clinic (Shelby)
Best Long-Time Business (25 years or older) in Rural Pott. Co.
Let me just say that we are blessed with a treasure trove of businesses that could be included in this category. It’s easy to lose track of just how long they’ve been around and each one is special. This category warms my heart. I don’t know that we did it justice with all those that could be added, but we had a lot of ties in this category, and I couldn’t leave them out! Here are your top 6:
*Gress Locker in Hancock
*Embers in Avoca
*Olesen Auto in Avoca
*Hotze Tree Service in Carson
*Rubacks Grocery Store in Oakland
*Shear Designs by Mischa in Oakland
Best Place to take the Family during COVID
What a category! I actually was quite surprised by this one. I was expecting a lot of outdoor, recreational facility answers and what showed up was an interesting combination of outdoor places and businesses that handled the hard times with the best of them. Winners included:
*Edgington Memorial Park in Avoca
*Dairy Queen in Oakland
*Botna Bend in Hancock
*Walnut Splash Pad (Walnut)
*El Sol in Oakland
Best Ambience in Rural Pott. Co.
Décor counts according to this list! Here are your top 3:
*B Restored in Walnut
*Buck Snort in Oakland and Neola
*The Bar’N and Grill in Carson
Best Pivot due to COVID by a Rural Pott. Co. Business, Person, or Organization
I have to say I learned a whole lot of things that happened through the write-in section on this category! I would have loved to have broadcast a few of them like Treynor setting up little mini food pantries like the little libraries all over town! What a great plan!
I can’t say enough about all the ones that came up in this category. 2020 was a rough year and Pott. Co. rose to the occasion! So proud of all that put their efforts into helping us get through a pandemic!
We also had a tie for 2nd place on this one, so here are the top 4:
*Vicki Palmer of Oakland sewed 5200 masks to give away to medical staff, school staff, and residents
*The Exchange in Avoca did take-out pizzas
*The Back Forty in Macedonia did Meals on Wheels for patrons in the Henderson and Riverside Area
*Silos in Treynor did Friday Night Pizza Takeout Nights with $1 donations to a nonprofit each week
It makes me so happy to see our county doing its best! These were the best of the best this year! There’s always next year! So thank you all for voting and making Pott. Co. the place to be! This year definitely make it obvious that we should shop local because they were there for us in 2020.
PS – A shout-out to Kim Wise! She is the winner of The Dew Drop Inn gift card for participating in the survey!
Miriah Snyder has made her new home on Old Lincoln Highway in Crescent. Willa Hair Salon and Designs landed in the strip mall at 728 Old Lincoln Hwy in June of 2020. The new business offers hair services, waxing, spray tans, make-up (Miriah is certified in air brush), and small gifts like tees, onesies, and earrings! If it sounds like her shop has everything, it’s because Miriah seems to be a woman of many talents!
After being certified in both cosmetology and as a dental surgical assistant with an Associates Degree in Anatomy, Miriah was trying to balance both hair and teeth, along with doing weddings each weekend including traveling for weddings each weekend from August to October! It seemed to be a lot! So thanks to her hubby who was driving by on his way home to Honey Creek, they found this location right on the main street in Crescent in a town where there were no hair stylists with brick and mortar businesses. With the location having previously been a feed store complete with live chickens, the duo had a lot to clean up and re-do. It might have been a labor of love for the owners and for the couple, but what a beautiful job they’ve done! Miriah even created the mirrors herself and they designed the spray tan room together! Many of the accessories were décor at their wedding, and she uses her downtime to make tees with her Cricut. She is a self-proclaimed crafter and definitely a gunner!
Snyder is also very thankful for family and community. Her shop is actually named for her family that’s originally from Logan. The name Willa is the feminine version of Willard, her maiden name, and means graceful, beauty, and strength. It is a true reflection of all that Miriah wants to provide for her customers in her venture. She said she was nervous to open during COVID but it ended up benefitting her as people weren’t interested in heading to the Metro so new clients poured in and have stayed! Her goal is to be full Monday thru Friday as she only works by appointments on the weekends due to her wedding route. Her clientele continues to grow through Facebook and Instagram connections and those finding her through the Crescent Connection, as well. She says that her job is to really listen to what people want done with their hair and then make it happen. She even added another hair stylist, Natalie, to keep up with customers. I think we can all be rest assured that Willa Hair Salon and Designs will be around for a long time!
Welcome to Pott. Co., Miriah! We’re glad you chose Crescent!
Post sponsored by Western Ventures, Inc.
Praxidyn owner, Doug Applegate of Oakland, Iowa, has started his own YouTube channel, Inventive Farmer! Thanks to some advice from family friend, Cole the Cornstar and encouragement from Welker Farms, the Applegate channel has already kicked off strong! With only one video post thus far, Doug is already over 300 subscribers and 1000+ views. Not bad for a first post! But if you know the Applegates, you know they can make anything happen. Plus, they always put time and dedication into everything they do right down to the YouTube channel logo that they had made specially for them on 99 Designs. Definitely check it out - it has an intricate amount of detail!
Of course, Doug and Kathy Applegate will tell you that they were farmers just finding ways to make their operation more efficient when they designed their first pieces of equipment. The Applegates give credit to 4-H and FFA for being the catalyst that started their family journey of seeing a project to fruition. Each year, the projects built by Brent and Luke (Doug and Kathy’s sons) grew as their knowledge base grew. In 2004, Brent and Luke designed, engineered, and built a seed tender to accommodate the operation’s new planter. The technology developed with the seed tender led to their product, Mixmate. So fast forward to 2021, and Doug knew that starting The Inventive Farmer was a way to give back. The channel will focus on helping people understand agriculture, providing a learning venue for kids and adults alike, and lifting up youth towards new career paths.
The YouTube channel is a companion to their Praxidyn manufacturing company that builds Mixmate. The Mixmate system automatically mixes chemicals and records each mix used for spraying crops which improves speed and financial efficiency. Doug said that although it started out for farmers, Mixmate is now becoming popular with coops and turf management companies. The family has put every effort into making their vision a reality. They gave me a tour of their operations and you can’t even begin to imagine the technology and detail that goes into each product. The business actually employs 7 with 12 dealers in the United States and one in Canada at this time. In fact, Doug shared that they are going global after selling their first machine in 2017! So The World Bank has identified the Mixmate system as a product that could provide technology to agriculture in struggling countries like Uzbekistan. Doug was also just completing an email to Russia when I arrived and Kathy was finishing up corn cob jelly as their hospitality is second to none! Every visitor goes home with a taste of the Applegate kitchen and an appreciation for farm families. They believe their business is an act of faith. If you know the Applegates, you know the one place you’ll find them besides the family farm is at their church. With business cards quoting Proverbs 3:6, it’s no surprise they give credit to their Christian roots.
If you get a chance, be sure to check out the Inventive Farmer channel. I guarantee you’ll learn something new! And don’t be afraid to reach out - I happen to know they will be more than happy to show you what they’ve been doing!
For me, the YouTube channel, the Mixmate, the attitude, and the entire set-up once again proves the amazing talent we have right here in Pottawattamie!
We’re cheering for your global success, Applegates!
It’s a Road Rally Scavenger Hunt 3-day Weekend in Pott. Co.! You heard me right! The big family functions might be called off but WIDA won’t let you down! We have just the thing for your Martin Luther King weekend! You can fill your time seeing the most amazing and biggest county in Iowa!
If you are like the rest of the world, you are happy to see 2020 gone and hoping to make 2021 a little brighter! At WIDA, we want to make sure you have a little good luck on your side rolling into the next 12 months! So this is our road rally good luck tour! Each spot has some tie to luck, happiness, and fortitude which we all need in 2021!
So get your sleuth hats on and prepare for your trek! One winner (family, couple, individual) will be chosen to receive a Pottawattamie County Park pass, a gift card to Gress Locker, and a gift basket with local goodies!
All you have to do is follow the clues, take photos in each location, and post to Facebook or Instagram by midnight on January 21st with the hashtag #WIDAPottCoRoadRally21!
Here are your not-so-subtle hints to help you on your trail!
Stop 1 -
In ‘Donia, they say “come on over”
If good luck is what you seek
Just find that 4-leaf clover
Welcoming you to their Main Street.
Stop 2 -
Perhaps 2020 was a blessing in disguise
Yet, let this Carson theater speak
To all that the name implies
For all to have a lucky streak
Stop 3 -
You’ll find this landmark
In Treynor’s city park
A symbol of pioneer’s brilliance
And a sign of 2021 resilience!
Stop 4 -
Some may say 2020 flew
And some called it a giant pain
Either way, it’s “time” to start a-new
So “Clock” your miles to McClelland’s Main
Stop 5 -
When on this trek you embark
To find that better “path” you’ve sought
Find yourself that Underwood park
Which hints to a fresh, new starting spot
Stop 6 -
In Crescent, it is there for you to see
Just rub the sign and say your prayers
At the Shiny and Newest local DG
In hopes that ’21 does not compare!
Stop 7 -
In Minden, you can create a turn of events
By engaging in legendary rumor
Standing amidst all the triangle represents
Your past, your present, and your future.
Stop 8 -
They say all great works of art
Come from the strongest at heart
So let’s all give ours a fresh new start
By embracing this Shelby Convenience Mart
Stop 9 -
For our 2021, just look a-top
This Avoca Main Stay and keep thinkin’
Journey would say “Don’t Stop…”
While Fred’s would say “Drinkin’”
Stop 10 -
The “signs” we often search
With a dove that has soared
We hunt the Walnut church
To seek hope, calm, and accord
Stop 11 -
To Hancock we shall go
You and the buffalo statue in the snow
To Native Americans, a sign of definite substance
For a chance at life in abundance!
Last Stop 12 -
It’s noticed very seldom
But when you get to Oakland
Find the Centennial welcome
For a super lucky token!
Our wish for you:
When all is said and done
may you have had a little fun
And found your sense of hope
for a peaceful, happy 2021!
We can’t wait to see your fun photos to keep those January blahs at bay!
Happy MLK Weekend!
Pottawattamie County, meet Emily Hugen! She is the new East and West Pottawattamie Conservation Education Coordinator!
Emily grew up in Monroe, Iowa and attended Iowa State where she got a degree in Agronomy and Agriculture and Society. While in college, not only did she spend a lot of time traveling (see photo below of Emily in Argentina studying glaciers), but she worked in the USDA National lab for Ag and Environment so she has quite a background in research and laboratory work. Because of that, Ms. Hugen was ready to take on a job that involved working with more people! Well, she found the right job here in Pott. Co. Emily’s job will consist of educating K-6 graders (and families) about soil, water, and conservation.
Pottawattamie County Soil and Water Conservation District is actually the 1st county to have such a position with other counties looking to follow.
Emily was drawn to Pottawattamie because of the interesting events the former educationalists got to take part in like Farm Safety Day and Soil Judging Pits. Plus, she’s thrilled with the fact that it’s all based in conservation, a topic close to her heart.
Although COVID is making things a litter harder, her first goal is to reach out to the Pottawattamie Schools and develop curriculum tied to topics like Earth Day, recycling, pollination, biodiversity, watershed, and erosion. She’s also looking forward to checking out, and being a part of, the fairs, STEM festivals, and all the other activities Pottawattamie has to offer.
Emily, Pottawattamie is excited to have you on board!
To contact Emily, email her at EMILY.HUGEN@ia.nacdnet.net.
Photos courtesy of Emily Hugen.
One of my favorite posts of the year: the 2020 WIDA Awards! Yes, our hindsight is officially 20/20 and there’s no better way to shake the January blahs than to celebrate others!
This is the 2nd Annual WIDA Awards all about rural Pottawattamie County! The purpose is to recognize people, places, and businesses in rural Pott. Co. because let’s face it: it’s easy to take people and things for granted! With that in mind, we ask you to vote for your faves! Yes, they have to be in rural Pott. Co. but that’s the only rule! The lists are not comprehensive, we just used names mentioned last year. If there’s a better answer, give it! We are always looking for new information!
All category winners will receive big shout-outs in our upcoming WIDA newsletter and on social media!
By voting (that means completing the survey), you are entered for the $25 gift card to The Dew Drop Inn in McClelland! One lucky winner will get $25 to grab burgers and beers at The Dew Drop! Just fill out the survey by midnight Tuesday, January 12th!
We’ve changed up some of the categories to fit the crazy year we had! We hope it brings you a little happiness to think through your favorites and the good cheer lets our businesses know that we support local!
Here are the categories you’ll be voting on:
Best Place to Take the Family during COVID
Best Place to Get Exercise in rural Pott. Co.
Best New Business (that opened in 2020 – if we missed one, be sure to write it in!)
Best Long-Time Business (any business that’s been in business 25 years or more)
Place with the Friendliest Staff
Best COVID Pivot
Best Kept Secret/Hidden Gem of Pott. Co.
Not sure which WIDA towns are rural Pott. Co. – let me help you!
Go VOTE here!
And thanks for helping us celebrate all that Pott. Co. has to offer!
Thanks to Canva for help with the photo. This post is sponsored by Avoca Main St.
Reflecting on 2020 almost seems dangerous, but as a writer, it’s what we do. It was a year I'm pretty sure none of us will forget...
It was a year in which we shared memes about toilet paper and words like “new normal,” “pivot,” and “pandemic” became everyday words. It became a year where less people wanted to be on social media but online became our best form of communication. For WIDA, it meant we got to make promotional videos about each town for towns to use for grants, for realtors to use with clients, and families to share with friends. (If you haven’t seen them, go to www.WIDAIowa.org and click on your hometown.)
It was a year where podcasts and Netflix were binge-watched/listened to and reading books happened again. Lol. At WIDA, we did a few snaps and over 100 blog posts about couples for Valentine’s Day, businesses that were opening, shopping guides for important holidays, places to go during COVID, respected veterans for Patriot’s Day and Veteran’s Day, and quite an array of Pott. Co. volunteers! Shining a light on deserving people in Pott. Co. is the easy part! Getting to all of them is the hard part! Lol.
It was a year in which people who could give gave more than ever! Crescent’s Toy Drive was the biggest ever! Impact Hill hit their goal on their shoe drive! Giving Tuesday brought in the most it ever has! WIDA actually got to partner with amazing groups like SHARE Omaha to make that possible. We got to co-host with TS Bank, Golden Hills RC&D, and SWIPCO on the first ever Southwest Iowa Community & Economic Development Forum before COVID hit. We also got to work with TS Bank to do cash mobs for Silos in Treynor and The Painted Camel in Macedonia.
It was a year where shopping local seemed more important than ever. Some people did it for the first time. Our grocery stores fed us and our shops found us toilet paper and Clorox Wipes. In fact, in the midst of chaos, WIDA brought you a comprehensive list of food establishments in rural Pott. Co. which even inspired us to go bigger in 2021 with an online directory!
It was a year when events were few, but finding good people that go above and beyond became the focus instead. When we couldn’t go to games, we learned to embrace the trails and parks and plan staycation days instead. It was a year where closets were cleaned out and donations were made to the Pott. Co. Recycling Center.
It was a year where the focus really was on our little piece of the world…
As we barrel into 2021 with the promise of vaccines and normality, let us rejoice in the fact that we live in a place where family is still first, jobs are still plentiful, and helping your neighbor is still the right thing to do. So let us shop local (trends show one-of-a-kind, hand-made items are in). Let us appreciate when an event happens and the volunteers that make it. Let us find the hidden gems in our county.
Let us continue to be the light!
Happy 2021 from all of us at WIDA!
Keep current with Southwest Iowa happenings here.