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Schickel offers 'new beginning' in state-of-the-city message

MASON CITY | Citing "a new beginning" for Mason City, Mayor Bill Schickel struck a consistently positive tone in his state-of-the-city message Tuesday night.

He asked residents to work together on things that matter, even if they disagreed at one time, and used the River City Renaissance Project as an example.

"As you know, I advocated for the Gatehouse plan," he told the City Council. "I know all the arguments for that plan because I have made them myself.

"But the plan I supported didn't have the votes on the council to pass. The current G8 plan did. That's our process, which means I am now 110 percent behind it because I support the overall project," said Schickel.

Mason City Council approval of G8 follows emotional meeting

MASON CITY | The Mason City Council's approval Monday night of G8 Development for the downtown hotel project came after a three-hour meeting filled with emotional pleas, podium pounding, two recesses, and in the end, a surprise turn of events.

"My commitment is to keep it on track, on time and on budget."

Schickel said new faces in city government are also a part of the new beginning as he welcomed At-Large Councilman Tom Thoma, Second Ward Councilman Will Symonds and Fourth Ward Councilman John Jaszewski.

Taking a cue from recent national State of the Union messages, Schickel singled out people in the audience for their contributions to the new beginning.

He said the "Mason City Says Yes" campaign in support of two public issues in the Nov. 7 election drew 75 percent voter approval and was "a totally positive campaign." He asked Loni Dirksen, campaign chairwoman and members of the campaign to stand up and be recognized.

Schickel said the new beginning is also shown in the 1,000 jobs, ranging from minimum wage to six figures, available now in Mason City. Also, he said, Chad Schreck, head of the North Iowa Corridor EDC, and his team are working on 24 leads that could result in 600 more jobs and a capital investment of $250 million.

"Our challenge is to make sure we have the workers with the skills to fill them," said Schickel.

He said the Vision North Iowa project, which started a year ago, had a goal of using community input into putting together a five-year plan for economic prosperity.

"Preliminary recommendations center on bolstering entrepreneurship, supporting existing businesses and effective workforce development," said Schickel.

He said the opportunity for a new beginning is already attracting families to Mason City, including 50 from Puerto Rico.

Others coming into the city, he said, are former Mason City residents who have returned. He cited Todd Leet, his wife Jennifer, and their three children who recently moved back to Mason City from Tampa, Florida. 

Leet, who works for Thrivent Financial, and his family were in the audience and Schickel invited them to stand and be recognized.

He cited recent clean-up efforts along the Winnebago River and challenged residents to make Mason City the cleanest city in Iowa.

He closed with one more challenge: "Let's become the first community in America to finally overcome the national modern-day epidemic of non-stop denunciation," said Schickel.

"Denunciation is easy," he said. "But in all seriousness, is it making anything better? Is it solving any problems? Mason City is better than that.

"Vigorous civil debate makes things better. Non-stop mutual denunciation makes things worse. Let us resolve right here tonight to always be doing our part to make things better." 


Mary Pieper / MARY PIEPER Of the Summit  

Rayne Goins, 6, of Forest City, who is undergoing chemotherapy treatment for a brain tumor, received a bedroom makeover from My Happy Place.

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Forest City girl with brain tumor gets bedroom makeover

FOREST CITY | Six-year-old Rayne Goins of Forest City, who is receiving chemotherapy for a brain tumor, now has a bedroom fit for a princess.

My Happy Place, a Mason City-based non-profit organization that provides free bedroom makeovers for children affected by illness or emotional distress, recently redecorated Rayne’s room and added new furniture.

Rayne, the daughter of Jon and Nicole Goins, likes princesses. Her favorite colors are pink, purple and teal.

My Happy Place kept all that in mind when working on her room.

There's a large crown on the wall over Rayne’s new bed with white curtains hanging from it.

"She says it makes her sleep like a princess," Nicole said.

It's very different from nearly a year ago, when Rayne had severe migraines that made her scream in her sleep.

She had an MRI done in Mason City. By the time the family got back to Forest City, they received a call saying Rayne needed to have brain surgery.

The next day the Goins took the little girl to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, for the procedure.

Nicole said they had a choice of going to Rochester or Iowa City, but chose Rochester because "most of my family is up there."

Rayne has a golf-ball sized tumor. Nicole said the surgeons removed as much of it as they could without damaging her facial nerves.

In March Rayne had another MRI that showed the remains of the tumor were already showing growth.

Her parents decided to start her on chemotherapy.

Rayne recently started the fifth of a possible eight cycles of chemo.

During each cycle, which lasts for six weeks, she goes to Rochester every Friday for chemo. She gets a two-week break at the end of each cycle.

Nicole said they take her to the Mayo Clinic Health Center in Albert Lea, Minnesota, when she has a fever, which usually happens the day after she has chemo.

Her parents hope she will be finished with chemo by summer.

Rayne is in first grade at Forest City Elementary. She's been able to make it to school every day except on the Fridays she has chemo or on the few days when she's not been well enough.

"The school has been phenomenal," Nicole said. "They make sure she stays on track."

The school also did several fundraisers for the family.

Rayne has to have an MRI every 12 weeks.

"She's super-brave and does her MRI without sedation," Nicole said, noting the MRI techs say they can't do that and stay still enough.

Nicole said she'd never heard of My Happy Place until Kim Nessett, a friend from Mason City, mentioned it.

Nessett is the one who nominated Rayne for a My Happy Place bedroom makeover.

The walls of Rayne's room were repainted. The makeover included a new dresser, a toy box, a wooden dollhouse, and a nightstand with a starlight lamp.

She also received new bedding and pillows, including one with Disney princesses on it.

"I like the window curtains," Rayne said.

The large ball on each end of the curtain rods is "almost like a snow globe," Jon added.

A number of businesses and individuals made the bedroom makeover possible.

"She practically lives up there now," Nicole said as she and Jon sat in the kitchen while Rayne could be heard jumping around to a Kidz Bop record in her room upstairs.

"Can you hear me down there?" she called out.

Rayne has remained her energetic, talkative self during her treatment.

But when she first saw the results of the bedroom makeover, "she was actually speechless," her mom said. "She's never that quiet."

The work My Happy Place did was amazing, according to Nicole.

"It's a wonderful group of people," she said.

Mason City receives reports of frozen water lines

MASON CITY | City Engineer Mark Rahm said Tuesday the city has received several reports of frozen water lines and asked residents to take precautions.

"We have received reports of frozen water service lines at several residential and business locations," Rahm said in a press release. "At this time the reports are scattered and involve water lines freezing inside the building."

But Rahm said the reports are a reminder of last winter when several private water service lines froze under ground between the water main and a dwelling.

They were caused primarily by unusually deep frost resulting from prolonged extreme cold temperatures and little snow cover early on and continuing through that winter season," he said.

Rahm said residents should monitor water coming into their dwellings by measuring the water temperature from an inside cold faucet nearest to the meter. He said to allow water to flow from the faucet a minute or two before checking in order to get a good measured temperature.

"If it is below 40 degrees you should monitor more frequently. If it continues to drop, consider opening a cold water faucet to allow a slow continuous stream of water, about the size of a pencil, to flow," said Rahm. "That should prevent the line from freezing."

People with questions are encouraged to call the Engineering Department at 641-421-3605 or the Water Department at 641-421-3683 to report water related concerns.


Forest City man charged with breaking into homes, stealing guns

Alternate side

parking suspended

MASON CITY — Effectively immediately, alternate side parking is no longer in effect.

Arrest made for firearm thefts

FOREST CITY — A Forest City man faces felony charges in connection with a series of home burglaries in which he allegedly stole guns.

Jordan Lee Meier, 18, was arrested Dec. 29 on a warrant.

He is accused of breaking into six residences in September and October and stealing a rifle, a shotgun, a handgun, medication and cigarettes, according to Forest City Police Department criminal complaints.

The residences were in the 300 block of East K Street, the 200 block of East L Street, the 200 block of North Central Street and the 400 block of West N. Street.

Meier is charged with two counts of second-degree burglary and three counts of third-degree burglary.

He has been released on bond. A preliminary hearing is set for Jan. 8 in Winnebago County District Court.

At the time of his arrest, Meier was on probation for convictions of failure to affix a drug tax stamp, unlawful possession of a prescription drug, operating a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent, and three counts of third-degree burglary.

— Mary Pieper

Mitchell County approves raises

OSAGE — The Mitchell County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved 2 to 8 percent salary increases for elected officials in 2018-19.

In addition, the board of supervisors approved a 2.75 percent pay increase for all hourly county employees, with a minimum raise of 55 cents.

The Mitchell County Compensation Board proposed the raises during its meeting in December.

Auditor Lowell Tesch, Recorder Pat Skuster and Treasurer Shannon Paulus will receive a 3 percent raise of $1,695, for total salaries each of $58,207.

County Attorney Mark Walk will receive an 8 percent increase in pay of $5,190, for an annual salary of $70,062.

Sheriff Greg Beaver will receive a 4 percent raise of $3,141, which increases his annual salary to $81,678.

Each supervisor — Joel Voaklander, Stan Walk — will receive a 2.02 percent raise of $790, for an annual salary each of $39,877.

The chairperson, elected annually, will receive an additional $100 per month, for a total of $1,200.

— Jim Cross

Foundation opens 2018 grant cycle

MASON CITY — Grant applications can now be submitted to the Cerro Gordo County Community Foundation for its 2018 grant cycle. The deadline is 11:59 p.m. April 1.

Grants are awarded to projects in the following areas: art and culture, community betterment, education, environment, health, historic preservation and human service.

The online grant application is on the Community Foundation’s website at Grant recipients will be announced in June.

First-time grant applicants should contact Dotti Thompson, program manager, at 319-243-1358 prior to submitting an application. Applicants must be a 501©(3) designated organization (or government entity) serving Cerro Gordo County.

More information is available at 319-287-9106.