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Senior Jadyn Anderson is averaging 14.8 points and 5.8 rebounds for the Saints this season. 

Mason City, Clear Lake students rock at own Winter Dance Party

CLEAR LAKE | The Surf Ballroom & Museum dance floor was rockin’ Friday morning in Clear Lake.

That’s thanks to the Surf Ballroom Rockin’ Kids Show, where more than 400 students in kindergarten through third grade from Clear Creek Elementary, Clear Lake Classical and Jefferson Elementary, sang and danced the morning away.

“It’s an opportunity for the kids to get involved in the Winter Dance Party,” said Mallory Huffman, Surf Ballroom education coordinator. “It’s something special for them.”

The Rockin’ Kids Show is part of the Winter Dance Party, which runs from Wednesday through Saturday.

The two-hour program was among a full slate of offerings, including movies, music and events, like the annual British Buddy Holly Society Luncheon and the wedding and vow renewal ceremony, Friday.

It featured a Buddy Holly-inspired speed-painting routine by Grace Haugland of Clear Lake, a welcome from Ritchie Valens’ sisters Irma Norton and Connie Lemos, a student music video premiere, a sing-along and a live performance from the Killer Vees with a sock hop.

“I just think it’s a great community-based experience for our kids. They get to learn about the history of Winter Dance Party, the Surf and they get to experience the dancing of the era,” said Sally Duesenberg, Clear Creek Elementary School principal.

The Winter Dance Party was started in 1979 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson’s last performance at the Surf Ballroom.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the infamous Winter Dance Party concert tour and the Feb. 3, 1959, plane crash that killed the three rock ‘n’ roll legends — and pilot Roger Peterson — near Clear Lake.

While the Killer Vees performed classic ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll hits beneath the stage lights, students wearing poodle skirts, saddle shoes, leather jackets, blazers and other decade-appropriate attire occupied the dance floor with moves, like the floss and the monkey.

Cousins and Clear Creek Elementary students Ella Schmitt, 7, and Wynn Schmitt, 6, said their favorite part of the program was the dancing, but when asked their favorite move, they giggled, smiled at each other and shrugged before returning to the dance floor holding hands.

“It’s a very special, unique opportunity for our kids here in Clear Lake,” Duesenberg said, noting the fourth- and fifth-grade students will have a different learning experience on Tuesday because of the past week’s weather and subsequent school cancellations.

Huffman visited the classrooms in Clear Lake and Mason City ahead of the program to teach them the history of rock ‘n’ roll and the Surf.

The history was also incorporated by teachers in various ways leading up to the event. For example, the students learned ‘50s-style dance steps during their physical education classes.

Similar things were done at Mason City Schools for the third-graders.

This year was the first time Mason City students attended the program, and Sheryl Mariner, a third-grade teacher at Jefferson Elementary, said she hopes it’s something the school continues.

“It’s a great way for our kids to first of all have some connection to music of the past, second of all go to a historic place that most of them have never been to before and to meet kids from other schools,” she said.

Betsy Kirby, a music teacher at Mason City Schools, said she and the students had “a blast getting ready for this.”

The students learned about the event’s history, listened to popular ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll music, practiced their dance moves and prepared their costumes in hopes of making it “fun and exciting.”

“I really wanted them to know how much this place means to the world of rock ‘n’ roll and music history,” Kirby said. “As a musician myself, I feel like it’s hallowed ground whenever I step on this floor, so these are very lucky kids to be a part of this.”

Photos: 2019 Winter Dance Party at Surf Ballroom (Updated Friday)

Photos: 2019 Winter Dance Party at Surf Ballroom (Updated Friday)

Iowa in 2020: U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown cheers new nonprofit during Mason City stop (with photos)

MASON CITY | U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, visited Mason City Friday as a cheerleader for an Iowa nonprofit organization raising awareness of the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Sioux City Democrat J.D. Scholten held a roundtable discussion about Working Hero Iowa and the Earned Income Tax Credit with Brown, State Sen. Amanda Ragan and Rep. Sharon Steckman at Hy-Vee East.

“Thank you for your activism,” Brown said to the crowded room.

About 35 people attended the event.

He noted that Iowa and his home state Ohio have similarities and some of the same needs.

Scholten is the state director for Working Hero Iowa, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about Earned Income Tax Credits and help as many Iowans as possible receive the cash refund.

“This is not a partisan issue,” Ragan said.

Brown said expanding the tax credit to include single people without children is a long-term goal and that’s a bill he is working on.

“There’s a hole in this law,” he said. “We tax some people into poverty.”

Brown discussed the tragedies of the government shutdown with families not having income for weeks. He noted that many employees working for the government are contracted and will not receive back pay. The tax credit could help them.

When asked about the possibility of a 2020 presidential run, he said it is a personal decision and is not decided.

“Most of my colleagues that are running have thought about this for five, 10, 20 years,” Brown said. “I’ve become increasingly concerned that the government, in both parties, don’t talk to workers, don’t understand the importance of workers.”

Scholten and progressive entrepreneur Joe Sanberg, of California, announced the launch of Working Hero Iowa in January.

Brown praised Scholten’s efforts with the organization.

“No one else is doing this in the country,” he said.

The tax credit is designed to encourage and reward work by supplementing the earnings of low-wage workers.

Ragan said there was time when she used the credit as a single mom.

Scholten calls the tax credit “the most effective anti-poverty policy in America.”

The 2018 election loss to U.S. Rep. Steve King has not kept Scholten out of politics and activism. He lost to King by 3 percentage points, in his first campaign. It was King’s closest re-election victory.

“We’ll be running this thing much like a campaign, advertising” Scholten told the Globe Gazette. “One area which I suggested, we haven't done it yet but I think they’ll take it up, is dating websites. There’s a lot of single parents on dating websites.”

Scholten said 63 percent of Americans cannot financially handle a $500 emergency. The tax credit could help.

He said he’ll be traveling across Iowa to reach people and will employ an advertising campaign.

Scholten said his organization wants to partner with others to spread awareness.

Photos: Sen. Sharrod Brown visits Mason City

Photos: Sen. Sherrod Brown visits Mason City

Alta Vista baby trial: Harris told cops she should have checked on her baby more (with photos)

LE MARS -- Jurors on Friday heard the account Cheyanne Harris gave to authorities after her 4-month-old son was found dead in a maggot-infested diaper on Aug. 30, 2017.

Harris, 21, of Alta Vista, is charged with first-degree murder and child endangerment causing death, and testimony in her trial began Wednesday. Authorities said Sterling Koehn died of malnutrition, dehydration and a diaper rash infection, and the defense said postpartum depression played a role in his death.

Harris told Agent Chris Callaway with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation that she last fed and changed Sterling on Aug. 29, 2017, around the time the child's father, Zachary Koehn, left for his third-shift trucking job. She said when she was done, she was summoned by her almost-2-year-old daughter knocking on the bedroom door.

"I put him back in the swing and gave him the bottle. And turned it on and went to see what she wanted," Harris told Callaway. She wasn't able to put a time to it.

Harris explained that she kept the children separated so the daughter wouldn't disturb Sterling and because Sterling got cold easy.

She said she fed her daughter and recalled having difficulty getting the toddler to sleep. Koehn returned home around 4 or 5 a.m. on Aug. 30, 2017. They ate grilled cheese and then went to sleep, she said. She said the daughter woke her around noon, and she discovered Sterling dead when she went to check on him.

Harris told Callaway that Koehn suspected Sudden Infant Death Syndrome was behind Sterling's death, and Callaway asked is she was concerned that she had done something wrong.

"I can't help but feel that I (unintelligible) him differently. Or I should have checked on him more," Harris told the agent.

She also told Callaway that Koehn rarely helped out with caring for the infant. He didn't change diapers because it made him sick, and during feeding, he was always worried he wasn't doing it right, she said.

UPDATE: Zachary Koehn sentenced in infant son's death

NEW HAMPTON — Clad in jail stripes and a ballistics vest, Zachary Paul Koehn remained silent Tuesday when given the chance to comment moments before he was sentenced to life in prison for his son’s death from neglect.

Prosecutors allege that the development of the maggot larva in Sterling's diaper showed it hadn't been changed in up to 14 days.

Although Sterling died in Chickasaw County, Harris is being tried in Plymouth County on a change of venue.

Koehn was convicted of first-degree murder and child endangerment during a trial in the falls of 2018.

Photos: Cheyanne Harris murder case