In Wake Of Primghar Suicide, Representatives Propose Bullying Hotline

(Des Moines, Iowa)The suicide death of a Primghar boy a week ago has served as a catalyst for two lawmakers to make plans for a bullying hotline in Iowa.

Democrats Representative Mary Mascher of Iowa City and Representative Beth Wessel-Kroeschell of Ames say the tragic death of Kenneth Wieshuhn Jr. of Primghar highlights the importance of setting up the line before the end of the legislative session.

The 14-year-old Wieshuhn took his own life last weekend, and family and friends say it was because he was bullied and teased after he acknowledged he was gay.

The legislators have their work cut out for them as the legislative session could end as early as next week.

The measure could have support from Republican Governor Branstad, as he has been an advocate of programs to combat bullying, especially bullying about sexual preference.

Sanford Sheldon Unveils New Imaging Suite During Ribbon Cutting Friday

Sheldon, Iowa — A ribbon cutting took place on Friday morning for the new imaging suite at Sanford Sheldon.

Sanford Sheldon has installed an MRI and remodeled their Radiology Department, and so there was some celebration on Friday. Scott Wynja, representing the City of Sheldon congratulated Sanford Sheldon CEO Rick Nordahl.


On behalf of the Sheldon Chamber and Development, Mark Klienwolterink said the project shows Sanford’s dedication to the community and told them that it is much appreciated.

On behalf of the Sheldon Ambassadors, Shanelle Matus presented the hospital with a plaque.


Sanford Sheldon CEO Rick Nordahl told those gathered that Sanford Sheldon was glad they could offer these services to the community.


The hospital also had a chance to show off their new MRI machine, which is a state-of-the-art magnetic resonance imaging unit. The MRI has already started serving patients at Sanford Sheldon.

Dordt College Appoints New President

Sioux Center, Iowa – Dordt College Provost Dr. Erik Hoekstra has been named the fourth president of Dordt College. Dr. Hoekstra’s appointment was announced to the campus community Friday after the Dordt College Board of Trustees endorsed the Presidential Search Committee’s unanimous recommendation.

Dordt College Board of Trustees Chair Lloyd Vander Kwaak says that Dr. Hoekstra is very passionate about the college and has a deep-hearted commitment to what Dordt is all about.

Vander Kwaak says the Presidential Search Committee, made up of Trustees and college faculty and staff, balanced many factors as it examined candidates. He says the Board was keenly interested in ensuring that a new president would help Dordt College sustain its strengths in several areas: maintaining a vibrant mission; providing strong leadership; cultivating excellent, mission-oriented faculty members; and overseeing the college’s ongoing financial stability.


“Under Dr. Carl Zylstra’s leadership, Dordt is in a wonderful place now,” Dr. Hoekstra says. “The core of our educational mission will always be to glorify God as a distinctively Christian, operationally excellent college that attracts quality faculty members, eager students, and enthusiastic supporters.”


While a commitment to Dordt’s historical roots and an understanding of current strengths was important, the board was also looking for innovation. Vander Kwaak noted, “Dr. Hoekstra’s track record of leading organizations with a blend of excellence and creativity—in both education and business—made him a compelling choice.”


The Search Committee, aided by a professional search firm, led listening sessions and surveys of the college’s constituency groups.


In a letter to the Board of Trustees unanimously recommending Dr. Hoekstra for president, Search Committee Chair Randy Kroll wrote, “In the final deliberations, the committee concluded that Dr. Hoekstra’s well-developed and deep passion for the college’s vision and mission, his effective and engaging leadership record at the college in both teaching and academic administration, his knowledge of the college’s positions, strengths, and challenges, and his personal faith and mature understanding of spiritual leadership put him in the best position to lead as the fourth president of Dordt College.”


Dr. Hoekstra is excited to take on a new leadership role, and he says that seeing firsthand the challenges, joys, and responsibilities of serving in such a role has helped prepare him for it.


“It is exciting for me to serve at a Christian college that has an equal passion for programs in Agriculture and English,” Dr. Hoekstra said. “It is good that we encourage some students to consider graduate school and that we prepare them well, but it is equally good that we do not put such a calling ‘above’ others for our graduates. We are called to work toward Christ-centered renewal in every sphere of God’s creation.”

As provost for the past four years, Dr. Hoekstra has overseen the reshaping of the academic structure of the college. In addition, he chaired the Enrollment Management Team and worked closely with the advancement office and president on the recent Beyond Jubilee: Vision 2020 Campaign.


In Dr. Hoekstra’s time as provost, programs in nursing, engineering, and agriculture have grown substantially, and new programs in worship arts, construction management, and actuarial science have begun. Dordt athletic programs have grown in size and quality, as have international programs and international student enrollment. Dr. Hoekstra played a key partnership role with Student Services to design and build Kuyper Apartments, an award-winning student residence hall opened in 2010.


Search Committee member and senior engineering major Mark Van Weelden says Dr. Hoekstra is both intense and approachable as an administrator. “He’s visible on campus, and he’ll say hi when he sees you in the Commons,” he said. “He has a genuine passion for Dordt’s mission – just being around him calls you to action and brings out the best in you. He loves this community, and along with his leadership skills, that gives us confidence.”


Dr. Hoekstra holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history and philosophy from Trinity Christian College, a Master’s Degree in international management from The Rotterdam School of Management of Erasmus University in the Netherlands, and a Ph.D. in organizational learning and human resource development from Iowa State University. He is passionate about bringing joy and meaning to places of work, saying that good leadership is “about creating an environment where those who are being led are being served.”


Comparing his experience as a student and board member at other Christian colleges, Dr. Hoekstra says Dordt is unique. “The size and the climate of the campus in which we can know each other well is a wonderful expression of Christian community,” he says.


Dr. Hoekstra has co-authored several publications on coaching, delegation, servant leadership, and change management, and his professional background includes roles in leadership development, executive coaching, organizational consulting, industrial construction, wholesale distribution and retail management, as well as teaching business courses at Dordt College.


Dr. Hoekstra is married to Dr. Barb Hoekstra, an education professor at Dordt College with a Bachelor’s degree from Trinity, a Master’s from Western Michigan University, and an Ed.D. from the University of South Dakota. Their family is a blend of biological and adopted children and includes Arie, 16; Max, 15; Karl, 15; and Zoe, 12.


Dr. Erik Hoekstra will succeed Dr. Carl E. Zylstra, the third president of Dordt College. Associated with the Christian Reformed Church, Dordt College welcomes all students who are interested in an academically excellent, Christ-centered education. Dordt College is recognized annually for being one of the best colleges in the Midwest by the U.S. News & World Report,, the Princeton Review, and Washington Monthly.

District Judge To Retire From The Bench

Storm Lake, Iowa — A longtime area judge is retiring from the bench.

The Honorable Judge John P. Duffy of Storm Lake has served as a district court judge in sub-district 3A since 1994. He went to undergraduate school at Buena Vista and graduated from the Drake University Law School.

Duffy has been appointed by the Iowa Supreme Court as a senior judge.

He will continue to serve the district by working 13 weeks per year until May first of 2014.

A reception in Judge Duffy’s honor will be held this Friday at the courthouse in Storm Lake.

Building Projects Continue In Orange City: Performing Arts Center Groundbreaking Scheduled For Tuesday

Orange City, Iowa — Building projects continue in Orange City.

Unity Christian High School has been sponsoring a fundraising campaign that has raised over $3.6 million in 12 months for the new Performing Arts Center, that is to be shared with the city.

The estimated $4.2 million project will hold its ground breaking at Unity on Tuesday, April 24 at 10:00 AM.

Orange City Mayor Les Douma says that the City of Orange City is excited and privileged to partner with Unity in the quest to plan, fund, and construct a performing arts center. He says that the recent success of the fundraising efforts affirms the reality of this project and QUOTE, “supports the community’s broad vision for an enhanced quality of life in Orange City for generations to come.”

The 21,600 sq ft Performing Arts Center will be located on the Unity campus. The City has committed $750,000 towards the new facility which will feature a 750-seat capacity that will host a number of entertainment events throughout the year and the Tulip Festival’s annual musical production. The City and Unity are forming an Administrative Board to oversee the management and event scheduling responsibilities in cooperation with a joint oversight board.

The Performing Arts Center is the third and final phase of the Orange City Phoenix Project. Phase one was the new Hawkeye Center downtown and phase two is the Events Center, scheduled to open in June of this year.

Sheldon Using More Water From Deep Wells

Sheldon, Iowa — The Sheldon Community Garden has been an instant success, with all 33 plots already taken. Larry Van Meeteran, a member of the Community Garden committee reported to the city council last night they have experienced a lot of support from the community. One concern he brought to the council was the need for a convenient source of water. Their proposal was to install a hydrant at the garden site. He said the hydrant would be paid for with Garden Committee Funds. The council agreed to pay for an underground shutoff and donate the water. The community garden is located on Tenth Avenue, South of the water tower.

The Council also voted to install a sidewalk connecting the Recreational Trail near Fantasia to the sidewalk being installed in front of the new Village Treasure Chest Building and Hy-Vee at a cost of $6,300. The cost of the new sidewalk along the vacant lot West of the Treasure Chest will be added to the cost of that lot when it is sold by the City.

The Council also heard a report from Public Works Director Todd Uhl on the City water situation. Normally Sheldon relies on the city’s shallow wells, but with the dry conditions these wells have not been able to keep up with the demand. Because of this the city had been running the deep well about four to five hours a day. The deep well has an abundant supply of available water, but it has a higher degree of ‘hardness’. Uhl said that they are now running all the wells thirteen to fifteen hours per day which assures a consistent quality of water at all times. He told the council that most people do not mind hard water as long as they know what to expect. Currently Sheldon water is forty grains hard compared to 24 grains when they were using the shallow wells only. He also noted that there has been some improvement in the shallow wells since our recent rains.

Uhl also answered questions concerning street improvements and the condition of the railroad track crossings at Washington Avenue, Tenth Avenue and Eighth Avenue. He said he did not have a list of the street work planned for this summer, but would have it later. In answer to a question about work that is needed on a section of Pine Street he commented that this will be a very costly project, and that will have to wait until the council budgets the necessary dollars.

As far as the railroad crossings are concerned, he reported that Sheldon has applied for a grant to repair four of those crossings. The railroad is supposed to repair three of those this year. Twenty percent of the cost will be paid for by the city, another twenty percent by the railroad and sixty percent by the Department of Transportation. City manager Scott Wynja said they are at the mercy of the railroad as to when the work will be done.