In the early mornings before heading out for my "coffee rounds," it is common for me to take a short walk in our yard to check out the weather and to enjoy the beauty of summer flowers, green grass and singing birds.

The last several mornings I have been reminded of early October weather with cool crisp air so it becomes pretty easy to realize fall is on the way and our young people will soon be going back to school or on to college and that the football season is about to begin.

I have formed friendships (with a little mentoring thrown in) with a number of our high school and college age young people, primarily young men. It is pretty common place to see me at Sally's, Cabin Coffee or Shooterz sharing breakfast or lunch or perhaps just a coffee break with one of them. This includes those who will be departing shortly for their first year of college.

I have no doubt that these guys (as well as their female classmates) are ready and prepared for this next chapter in their lives but at the same time I remember feeling pretty stressed and anxious as my parents drove off after depositing me at Iowa State University many years ago.

I encourage these guys and tell them that they will do fine and that the college years will be some of the best of their life. I also tell them that there is no need for concern about whether or not they are academically prepared because my observations over a number of years have convinced me that Forest City graduates are indeed prepared.

I stay in touch with many of or young people after they have gone off to college and there are common themes that emerge when we talk: we have a strong and very caring group of teachers at Forest City High School and our graduates are very complementary of the education they received here, they tell me time and time again that the courses they were able to take at Waldorf University and NIACC during their junior and senior years give them a definite "leg up" because many end up with at or near a full year of college credits and perhaps more importantly, they have experienced a college classroom while still in high school with probably a majority of their peer group at college not having that experience.

A significant number of our graduates are named to Dean's Lists and/or receive other academic honors. We have a great school system, a lot of great young people, a lot of great parents, the Forest City Education Foundation which provides more scholarships to our young people every year and a very supportive community.

This has been a banner year for Waldorf University. The university received a ten year reaffirmation of accreditation following a visit and close scrutiny of the reviewing officials. Permission was received from the Higher Learning Commission to launch two new MA programs: the Master of Arts in Education: Effective Teacher, will launch in September of this year, and the Master of Arts in Healthcare Management, will launch in August, 2018.

As a new academic year begins, total enrollment is expected to approach 3,500 online and residential students with another year of double digit enrollment gains expected.

How truly blessed our community is to have this wonderful university, students, professors and staff in our midst! Be a good host and go out of your way to greet and encourage the Waldorf students.

How exciting it is to drive past the new Hanson Family Fine Arts Center! As the walls seemingly reaching to the sky appear, we realize what an awesome facility it will be. This causes me to reflect on what an amazing impact the generosity of the late John K. And Luise V. Hanson, their family and the Hanson Foundation have had on the community and its residents over so many years.

They have been the largest benefactor of the Forest City Education Foundation which has helped so many of our great young people attend college and I recall there were years when John K. and Luise literally "kept the doors open" at Waldorf College and their foundation continues to support the Waldorf Foundation.

Then there are the YMCA, the Hanson Fieldhouse, the Hanson Family Life Center, the new Hanson Family Fine Arts Center and I could go on and on. I worked closely with John K. for many years and witnessed the parade of organizations and individuals who came to him seeking support and they seldom left empty handed!

It is 48 years ago this month that Joan and. I arrived in Forest City with all of six weeks of marriage under our belts. And what an adventure it has been and continues to be. What is it they say about time going fast when you are having fun?