Club Information
Welcome to our club!

Service Above Self

We meet In Person
Tuesdays at 6:00 PM
West Side Family Restaurant
229 West Sixth Avenue
Grinnell, IA 50112
United States of America
(The Power of Giving)
            GRINNELL, IA (Sept. 28) – By happenstance the theme of the Grinnell Rotary Club’s meeting on Tues., Sept. 28, centered on the power of giving.
            Keir Johnson, president, thanked members for a successful Kites Over Grinnell held last Sat., Sept. 25. Run by all volunteers, the entire event, including venue, kites, supplies, lunch, games, and music, was free. The professional kite fliers donated their time to entertain the crowd with their spectacular kites. The prizes for the hourly drawing and the games were donated by businesses.  Thus, volunteers pooled their time and effort to give families, especially young children, a perfect September day to fly a kite.
            The Club presented Valerie Steinbach, the director of the Grinnell Community Early Learning Center with a check for $2250, representing a Community Service Grant, a matching grant of both the Grinnell Rotary Club and Rotary’s District 6000. The gift will purchase much needed supplies for the day care center, including cot carriers, cot clips, cot sheets, and tricycles.  
            Finally, the guest speakers were Julie Gosselink, president of the Claude W. & Dolly Ahrens Foundation, and Nicole Brua-Behrens, executive director of the Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation (GPCF). The duo traced the growth of their foundations’ partnership that began in 2006 and has led to a dynamic synergy.
Sharing office space and a staff of ten has saved on administrative cost and has given both entities flexibility and ability to respond to community needs in a timely manner.
            A case in point is the Grinnell Food Coalition created to respond to food insecurity brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. Since its inception the fund has raised $350,000 that continues to be distributed through food vouchers for those in need.
            Since 2006, the assets of GPCF have grown from $500,000 to $11 million – a growth that signifies the increase in the number of donor funds now managed by GPCF and that support numerous community projects and causes.
            When asked what pressing need must still be funded in Poweshiek County, both Gosselink and Brua-Behrens said, “mental health services.”
The Grinnell Rotary Club meets every Tuesday at 6 p.m. at West Side Dining on 6th Ave., Grinnell.
Kites, Prizes, food at Sept. 25 Rotary kite festival
The Grinnell Rotary Club will honor the memory of Rev. Dr. Duane Arthur "Dewey" Meyer at the fourth annual "Kites Over Grinnell" festival to be held on Sept. 25, from 10a.m to 4p.m. in Ahrens Park on Penrose.  Kites of all sizes, shapes and colors will fill the skies, with a free picnic lunch sponsored by the Rotary Club, consisting of hotdogs, chips and water to be served while they last.
A highlight of the event will be the colorful kites that 28 professional kite flyers will bring to Grinnell and fly all day.  These professional kite flyers, all members of the American Kite Fliers Association (AKA), are coming in from states throughout the Midwest. 
Kites Over Grinnell is a community-wide event that encourages young people to fly kites.  To this end a total of 850 kite kits have been distributed to middle school and all three elementary schools. Students will decorate their kites over the next two weeks during their art classes.  Keir Johnson, Rotary President is extremely grateful to art teachers, Farren Johnson and Josh Wardenburg for leading this effort. Various Rotarians are set up to assist students with kit assembly.  Kier encourages kids to bring their decorated kites to Ahrens Park to fly during the kite festival.   In addition, the public is invited to bring their own kites and participate in the fun.
During the festival a limited number of kite kits will be available for those wanting to participate in the flying activity.  A kite clinic (hospital) operated by Rotarians and Grinnell College Swim Team will assist in the assemble of new kites, along with minor repair of existing kites when necessary.
Dave Crawford will provide music throughout the event with Jolene Jorgenson singing  the "Stars Spangle Banner" during the American Flag raising ceremony.  Various games will be going on simultaneously with the Kite Flying event.   Spectators are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and/or blankets.
Rotary President Johnson will be handing out prizes for the following 8 judged kite contest categories: Biggest Smile, Smallest Kit, Rotary Presidents Choice, Best Colored; Funniest, Highest Flying, Most Unusual, Best Homemade. 
Whether you come to the September 25th, "Kites Over Grinnell" festival to watch kids, friends, and professionals fly their kites throughout the skies or just want to enjoy the outdoors, Rotary Club of Grinnell wants all to have fun.
For more information about Kites Over Grinnell, call Bruce Blankenfeld (641)236-5939.
Dewey was born in 1930 in Ackley, Iowa.  He  graduated from  Elmhurst College and then on to Eden to finish seminary. Some years later, he received his Doctorate of Divinity at Eden Seminary. 
Dewey was a long-time Rotarian, first in California where he joined Rotary in 1989,and immediately developed a passion to serve in whatever capacity benefited the greater good. He became a faithful giver to the Rotary International Paul Harris Foundation.   He was often heard telling individuals, along with various groups "Rotary does as much for Good in the World as the Church Missions do", said his wife Jo. 
On his 65th birthday, Dewey retired from the ministry and became an employee of his wife Jo who had started a software company and immediately made him Business Manager.  Dewey believed in women's rights within the professional world thus continually sought ways to build them up.  The beauty in Dewey was while he had his opinions – he valued and respected other people's opinions. His love was strong, his faith was even stronger.  He  recognized the  differences in Rotary Clubs, along with people in general, thus you never ever heard him criticize one or the other.  His love for people was genuine.  
Dewey with his wife Jo moved back to Grinnell in 2006 at which time he became a member of the Grinnell Rotary, and held several positions which included Presidency.   He loved people, parties and conversations. Dewey will always be known by his fellow Rotarians, friends and family for his gregarious nature, variety of opinions, sparkly eyes, powerful voice and heartfelt laugh.   Dewey passed away in October 2015 serving over 26 years in Rotary and prided himself of never missing a meeting.  
Rotarian Scholarships
Rotary Club of Grinnell invests in our future leaders by funding $500 scholarships to Six Grinnell High School Seniors to put towards their undergraduate study.   At the beginning of school year 2020-21, Dr. Stutz, Rotarian Scholarship Chair, met with 12 students who expressed an interest in learning more about Rotary.  Throughout the year they have attended a minimum of three club meetings and have had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with various Rotarians. Each one of our members has a unique perspective shaped by their experiences, skills, interests, and culture. This is what personalizes their Rotary experience and with time crafts their personnel Rotary story in which they were able to share.
Dr. Stutz serving as their Rotarian Mentor, has met with them on a regular basis.   During this time, the students were introduced to Rotary’s core values which are: Service Above Self; Developing leadership skills and using those skills to do good in the world; Fellowship brings together people who are inspired by their desire to give back and make a difference. In doing so, they form lasting friendships.  
During the next three weeks, the remaining nine seniors will present their Rotary Club Story.  Specifically, what have they learned about the Rotary Club of Grinnell, what service means to them, what are their plans in the future?    
Karla Sandell Author
GRINNELL, IA (March 24) – Marilyn Kennett, director of the Drake Community Library, said that the library will resume browsing by appointment on April 5th.  If all goes well, she hopes that the library will fully open on May 1st, observing summer hours.
Kennett spoke at the weekly Grinnell Rotary Club meeting on Tues., March 23.
Among the library’s new programs will be Book Connection that will pair at least two people who want to discuss a book but do not want to participate in a book discussion.  
Bookin’ It, a book discussion group that met virtually during the pandemic, will continue to meet the 2nd Thurs. every other month.
She anticipates that the library will continue to host the Bucket Course. Kennett says the staff will have to come up with a new adult program to replace the Seed program likely not to be resumed by Grinnell Regional Medical Center.
A new online service that she highly recommends is Weiss Financial, a financial literacy tool.  The pandemic has been challenging for Kennett and her staff but it taught them flexibility.  “It has been interesting. It freed us up to think of new ways to reach out to new people,” she said. While normal circulation decreased by 60 percent during the pandemic, electronic downloading was up 40 percent. Likewise, the usage of the genealogy service Ancestry Library Edition increased.
Read2, a virtual summer reading program for young people, was highly successful.  Other services they offered were the use of the computers by appt., extending wireless capability just outside of the library, and making available five hotspots that people could borrow overnight.
The library auctioned off donated quilts that raised $2000 for the Powesheik Housing Authority. Another service was to help Central Iowa Community Services count how many homeless there are in the county.  She said that a tabulation came up with about 20-25 people.
Finally, during the pandemic the library served as venue for distribution of Farm-to-Table produce, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, and Powesheik County Extension Babysitter program.
Effie Hall, Editor
Mayor Dan Agnew Presents Program to Grinnell Rotarians
     Grinnell Rotary met for their weekly meeting on Tuesday, March 16, 2021, at 6:00 p.m.  The guest speaker for the evening was Grinnell Mayor Dan Agnew.  Agnew, formerly President of Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance, now serves the city of Grinnell as its mayor.  He stated that prior to work beginning on city projects, the funding for the work needs to be determined.  There will be a lot of changes in different streets, but Reed Street between 5th and 6th will need repairs in the near future.  An upgrade is planned for the city water plant.  On 11th Avenue, Hubbell Construction will tear down the old General Telephone Company building, and then convert a portion of the property to new apartment buildings.  Grinnell has a new police chief, Mike McClelland.  He became chief at the beginning of 2021.  They are in the process of hiring three new police officers, who will bring diversity to the Grinnell police force.  The topic that closed out Agnew’s presentation was a discussion about the repair of city sidewalks.  Members noted that city officials address a variety of issues, as well as a large number of issues.  Thank you, Mayor Agnew for your informative program.
Dennis Conway
On Tuesday March 2, 2021 the Grinnell Rotary Club gathered via zoom for their weekly meeting.   The Rotary Club's guest speaker was Dr. Christopher Peters, Iowa State Volunteer Coordinator for Braver Angles.   This organization was started shortly after the presidential election in 2016.  Their goal is to bring people together from both the red/blue political parties with the goal of depolarizing of our country.   
Dr. Peters shared that this organization works to depolarize groups through workshops that create opportunities for dialogue that will aide in the healing of the political divide.  He shared the history of political polarization in our country since 1879.  This organization works with community groups to re-build public trust in government.  Dr. Peters explained that the organization is a grassroots effort to afford opportunities from both sides of politics to get to know each other and try to understand each other points of view even if there is no agreement.   “It is a lesson in civility and they hope to assist in the healing of our country”.  Activities for group participation include workshops, book reviews, and discussions in local community settings.   The gathering is purposeful.  A trained mediator facilitates the workshops and events that may entail difficult conversations about various views with the hope of bridging the political divide through discussions, active listening and understanding.  For more information on how you can participate in an event or learn more you can go to  
Janet M. Stutz



GRINNELL, IA (Feb. 24, 2021) – The positivity rate for COVID-19 in Poweshiek County has been one percent over the last two weeks, one of the lowest in Iowa, according to Shauna Calloway, director of the county’s public health department, who spoke to Rotarians during their weekly meeting on Tues., Feb.23.

The county has had 1,459 positive cases since the start of the pandemic and 29 deaths.

Vaccination in the county started Christmas week and has continued weekly propelled by the number of doses it gets, currently at about 400 doses a week.  Calloway expects this allotment to increase in the next few weeks.

She likewise anticipates that some people will be vaccinated at Hy-Vee and in March, by their healthcare providers.

Since Feb. 1st, the county has been vaccinating tier 1B composed of 65 and older and those in critical frontline roles such as police officers, firefighters, child social workers, PK-12 and early childhood educators, and childcare workers.  

After one dose, people who are vaccinated have 75 percent immunity after two weeks.  This rate climbs to 95 percent two weeks after the second dose.  This immunity lasts for at least three months and may, in time, extend to six months as the country gains more medical data.

If a person who has been vaccinated contracts COVID-19, the person is likely to experience only mild symptoms.

A disappointing statistic is that about 50 to 60 percent of people who qualify for the vaccine decline to be vaccinated.

On the other hand, the good news is that there has been hardly any flu this season.

She advises people to continue “to mask up, keep social distance, and wash hands often.”

Calloway said that dealing with coronavirus has been challenging but she and her staff have learned a great deal from this experience.  “We’ve learned to be flexible, to be open, to accept both praise and criticism because everyone wants to help.”  

Grinnell Rotary Club meets via Zoom every Tuesday at 6 p.m.


Health and Wellness
On Tuesday February 9, 2021 the Grinnell Rotary Club’s guest speaker was Holly Pettlon who is a Health Wellness Specialist Supervisor at the Paul W Ahrens (PWA) Fitness Center.   Pettlon holds a bachelors degree in Health Wellness from Luther College, along with having a vast knowledge, skills and abilities in providing individual and group fitness training sessions.  Pettlon provided Rotarians an overview on the critical need for individuals to keep moving and changes that have been made in order to keep the Fitness Center safe and operational during COVID. 
The mandate of mask wearing was difficult at first for both staff and trainees but everyone soon adapted.  Workout equipment has a spacing distance of 6-12 ft.  Hospital Grade Wipes are available throughout the Center for wiping equipment down prior and after each use.  Deep cleaning of all areas is accomplished daily.   The Fitness Center hours were modified in order to meet cleaning protocols.  Open Hours are 5a.m -10p.m. Monday – Friday with weekend hours 6a.m-2p.m.
Wellness/Fitness Training is being provided in person or virtually through the use of a computer.  You now are able to work out while at home and still have your personal trainer coaching you.   Group training sessions are also available via computer. 
February is recognized as “Heart Health Month”.  In order to maintain a Healthy Heart it is recommended to do moderate exercise 150 minutes a day.  This can be attained by walking 30 minutes 5 times, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise.   For additional information call 641-236-2999 or email,
Karla K.  Sandell
On Tuesday February 2, 2021 the Grinnell Rotary Club gathered via zoom for their weekly meeting.   The Rotary Club's guest speaker was Amy Blanchard who is the director of JUMP ECI program.  This program focuses on early childhood education programming in Jasper, Marion and Poweshiek Counties.   This organization was formed in 1998 to support children in pre-school and their parents to ensure that cost is not a barrier for attending pre-school.   The Early Childhood Initiative was born from a state-legislated initiative that seeks to achieve “healthy children that are ready to succeed in school and live in a safe and supportive communities, in secure and nurturing families, and equal access to nurturing early learning environments”.
Amy explained that “JUMP supported 64 children preschool scholarships during the FY 20 year.   They offer guidance and help for parents via a 146 home visits, assisted 777 children with dental screenings and referrals, and ensured that 30 childcare professionals received WAGE supplements in order to sustain child care services in these three counties.  They also support 22 children attending Grinnell Community Early Learning Center.  One feature that was highlighted was that the JUMP organization serves any new parent with support of a newborn.  Last year they assisted parents of 18 newborns to offer support during post-partum and nursing.   The JUMP board consists of a 9-member board from Jasper Marion and Poweshiek Counties.   We are fortunate that Amy, who shared many wonderful experiences from this energetic board, is here to serve our youngest learnings. 
GRINNELL, IA (Jan. 27, 2021) – Common Good Iowa is a newly-formed nonpartisan, non-profit organization that informs policymaking to turn Iowa values into concrete solutions that advance opportunity for all Iowans.
That was the message of Anne Discher, executive director, who spoke via Zoom to the Grinnell Rotary Club on Tues., Jan. 26.
Formed in December by merging Child and Family Policy Center of Des Moines and Iowa Policy Project of Iowa City, Common Good Iowa has 50 years of combined experience in research on policy issue, data collection and analysis about “the well-being of Iowans,” and lobbying, according to Discher.
Discher mentioned that Janet Carl of Grinnell is the vice-chair of their board of directors.
Four areas of focus for Common Good Iowa are the well-being of children and families, childcare, K-12, and public pre-school.
Among the state issues that Common Good Iowa is closely monitoring are mental health for children, broadband, and the school choice bill currently on fast track at the Iowa Legislature.
Discher said that the governor’s inclusion of $15 million in the Iowa budget for children’s mental health is promising, “given everything else that is going on.” The funds are coming from general funding, not from general sales tax, she said.  Although there are not a lot of details at the moment and while the money may not be enough to meet all the needs, it is a start, she said.
Discher cited broadband as another area with broad bi-partisan support across the state.  She said that the lack of bandwidth in rural areas hampers the delivery of many services, including affordable healthcare through telehealth.
A third issue of broad concern is the school choice bill that would allow spending public funds for private schooling.  She commented that the “bill is bad for racial equity and bad for small towns.”
Grinnell Rotary Club meets via Zoom every Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Matt Blankenfeld Presents Program to Rotary Members
     Grinnell Rotary met via ZOOM on Tuesday, January 19, 2021, at 6:00 p.m.  Five high school students were guests at the ZOOM meeting, and each one explained a little about his or her background, and plans for the future.
     During the short business meeting, Chairman Brent Nickle reported on information affecting the club members.
     Matt Blankenfeld was introduced as speaker for the evening.  His topic was his new storage business, adjacent to the West Side Family Restaurant.  Seventy-one units are available, with remote access twenty-four hours a day.  If you want to rent a storage unit, you can sign up on-line for one at  You can also contact Matt Blankenfeld at 641-990-6439 for information.    Different sizes of the units dictate the monthly rental amount.  Unit sizes are 5’ X 5’,   5’ X 10’, and 10’ X 10’, and are climate controlled.  There are also spaces available outside for rent.  These spaces vary in size and rental amount, and can be used to park boats, motor homes, etc.
     Grinnell Rotary meets every Tuesday at 6:00 p.m.
Dennis Conway
Michael "Mac" McClelland, Grinnell's newly sworn- in police chief, spoke at  the Rotary Club's virtual meeting held Tues., Jan. 12.  McClelland provided Rotarians, along with five high school senior students,  an overview of his professional career paths.  
An Iowa native, McClelland was born in Des Moines, where he graduated from East High School in 1986.  Immediately following graduation, he enlisted in the United States Army and served as a military police officer for the next three years at Fort Dix US Army Base, New Jersey.   In 1990, McClelland returned to Iowa and joined the Iowa Army National Guard at which time he was quickly deployed to support combat operations for Operation Desert Storm.  Upon his release from active duty status,  McClelland decided to go back to school.  He earn his four-year degree in criminal justice at Grand View University, completed the Drake University R.O.T.C program and received his commission as  Army Reserve Officer in 1996.
After applying for numerous police officer positions in Iowa, McClelland accepted a job offer with the Aurora Police Department, Colorado.   With an overall law enforcement force of 744 officers, he was afforded many opportunities to grow in his profession.  Over the past  24 years he has held the following positions; Patrol Officer, Field Training Officer, Traffic Officer, Patrol Sergeant, Police Area Representative/Foot Patrol Sergeant, Traffic Investigations Sergeant, Lieutenant/Watch Commander, Traffic Section Commander,  Honor Guard Commander, Awards Board Chairman, Training Section Commander, Investigative Support Section Commander, along with being an active member on the Law Enforcement Review Board.
In addition to his extremely successful civilian career, McClelland continued his military service by transferring to the Colorado Army National Guard, deploying  to combat a second time in 2003-04 for Operation Iraqi Freedom, and again in 2010-11 to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom.  He retired from military service in 2012 at the rank of Major. 
McClelland and family were very happy living in Colorado.   However. a lot of changes were being made due to the various police incidences that were occurring throughout the country including his state.  Nationwide police officers were feeling a lot of support was gone.  Throughout his precinct, including himself, the issues were weighing heavy on them.  Somewhere online an application for chief of police for Grinnell appeared.   McClelland talked it over with his wife and family, applied for it, and presto a dream came true!   
McClelland reiterated, "It is great to be here, great to see the support of the leadership of Grinnell, great personnel who love their jobs, Dennis left a great police department, his shoes will be hard to fill."  He mentioned the department is short a couple of officer positions and are currently reviewing applications.
McClelland provided a quick snapshot of his family.  He has been married to his wife Mindy, also an Iowa native from Charles City, Iowa, since 1997. They have three children Mikey, Max and Mackenzie.  His oldest boy stayed in Colorado and is attending college, his 17- year old boy is finishing his senior year online and will graduate from high school early, targeted for March 2021.  His 14-year old daughter has settled into Middle School, loves it here, has made friends already, and loves volleyball. McClelland is looking forward to the day he can come home from work and all the moving/getting settled stuff have been completed.
When asked, "What change or changes he plans to implement, he replied with the following:
  • Property crimes is of concern;
  • Sexual Assault appears to be an issue when school is in session;
  • Community policing-What is currently in place, provide training to community and officers.  This kind of training can be accomplished online or Zoom;
  • Provide officer training on new methods/ways in communicating with the public;
  • Ensure all officers feel supported by leadership and the community.
McClelland thanked the Rotary for inviting him to the meeting and he looks forward to working with various groups throughout community. 
Karla Sandell
Learning Under COVID-19 Was Topic of Grinnell Rotary Club Meeting on  Jan. 5, 2021:
Brian Conway, principal of Grinnell Davis Elementary School and Middle School, briefed Rotarians on the impact that COVID-19 has had on the way education is delivered to students in these schools.  Over the past three to four years distance learning has become more popular in college and company training. The new methods developed in these settings became models as educators faced the challenging task of rethinking how learning could continue and/or be maintained at the onset of COVID 19 in the spring of 2019 as the Grinnell/Newburg School District completely shutdown.
Conway said the remaining weeks of 2019-20 school year were highly stressful and extremely challenging for educators, students, and parents.  The entire summer was spent putting together a comprehensive "Return to Learn Plan."  The plan outlined goals for students K-8 that could be achieved through in-person learning or a distance learning platform commonly referred to as "online learning," or a combination of methods while keeping safety as a top priority.  The plan ensured that the social and emotional needs of students were as equally important as content, knowledge, and skills. 
Several technical and training needs were identified during plan development that had to be met in order  to achieve the educational goals.  The school district partnered with the community to obtain all the hardware, including laptops, and software resources necessary for the plan. Hot spots were identified to ensure internet access was available for all students.   
In Sept. 2020,  the "Return to Learn Plan" was approved and executed.  A hundred percent in-person class room was offered, with online learning as an alternative option. The model for in-person learning consisted of a self-contained classroom with no intermixing of students. This protocol was also followed during recess and outdoor activities.   Contact tracing was implemented to track/identify students potentially exposed to COVID-19.
Virtual learning utilizes the software platform called ZOOM. Training in the use of Zoom, including etiquette practices, was extremely important.    Both in-person and virtual students receive in-classroom instructional teaching at the same time.  Virtual learning students work on their classroom written assignments offline, uploading finished assignments to a Virtual Library that teachers are able to access to review, grade, and provide feedback as necessary. Virtual students on an average participate in online activities two to three hours a day.  Homerooms are utilized by both in-person and virtual students.  These joint participation time periods are valuable  for distance learning students  to feel connected with their friends.  Maintaining a homeroom class room setting will hopefully assist in adjusting back to an in-person classroom.
The mandatory two-week in-person class room shut down that occurred in Nov. 2020 provided valuable feedback regarding the success of the "Return to Learn Plan."  During this time all students were challenged with being educated through the use of Internet.  Students, parents, and educators became more confident with the distance learning methodology.  Data transmission was resilient.  All students had the hardware and software to effectively learn outside the classroom. Special needs students had to be taught the new technology and asked to participate whenever possible.
Although the summer months were tough, all teachers felt they had grown as educators and were not afraid to experiment with new learning methods through the process of  trial and error. They had  met their over arching goal,  which was to be able to serve/teach students in a variety of circumstances.  January will be a month of testing the students's English and Math progress using the Grade Level Standards.  These tests will be one tool to evaluate the effectiveness of the "Return to Learn Plan." So far, teachers and administrators are very pleased with the accomplishments that have been demonstrated thus far during the 2020-21 school year.  
As Brian Conway mentioned, "There are many reasons to celebrate!"  Our teachers and staff are commended for a JOB WELL DONE!
On behalf of the Rotary Club of Grinnell, we want to say "THANK YOU!" to Brian Conway and staff for the outstanding work that has been accomplished in the midst of uncertainty.
Karla Kay Sandell 


     Grinnell Rotarians met March 10, 2020, for a meal, business meeting, and program.

     The focus of the short business meeting was hearing a report on the Shults and Company performances, recently held in February.  Members of the Shults and Company group will be hosted by the Rotarians at West Side Family Restaurant for a thank you meal.

     Speaker for the evening was Marta Hrybechavo, a foreign exchange student from the Ukraine.  She has been attending school at HLV in Victor, and she has been hosted by Robert and Lynette Lender.  She was invited to speak by club member, Doug Cameron. Hrybechavo gave an overview of what it is like to live in the Ukraine.  Most Ukrainian citizens are Catholics. The economy is very poor. Marta’s parents live and work in a different country because jobs are very hard to find.  Because of this, Marta lives with her grandmother. Ukrainians celebrate eleven holidays. A tradition on Christmas Eve, is not to eat meat. Especially around the Easter season, you can see exquisitely decorated eggs (a tradition supplied by Ukrainian artists).  They are known for vodka and for borscht, a beet soup usually served with sour cream. If you are a student, you do not have a choice of classes. You are told which classes you will attend. School rules are very strict. Unlike students in the USA, Ukrainian students do not participate in school sports.  Annually, a National Event is held where students are tested in Math and English. If you do not pass, you work at home rather than furthering your education in college or some other setting. Marta announced that she will be furthering her education in Canada.

     Thank you, Marta, for the wonderful program.

     Grinnell Rotary meets every Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. at West Side Family Restaurant.  If you would like to attend a Rotary meeting, contact any Rotarian.


Dennis Conway


Grinnell School Superintendent Janet Stutz highlighted four unique and different challenges that education faces today during the weekly meeting of the Rotary Club held Tues., March 3.

Foremost among this is safety and security, she said.  Coincidentally, Stutz faced a lock-down situation at the Grinnell High School and Bailey Park Elementary School that same morning when a suspicious-looking man dressed in a trench coat and carrying heavy bags was spotted near the area.  Her first instinct was to make sure that the students were safe. She immediately ordered a lock-down. The police came right away, checked every room, and determined there was no intruder. “It was a kind of situation when one has to make 30 decisions in the first six minutes,” she said.

Stutz sent out timely communication via the school website, text, FB, and media to combat the rumor mills and assure parents and the community that there was no danger.  Stutz said that she “was extremely proud of the way the teachers, staff, and students acted today. We plan (for situations like this), review constantly, share info, debrief, and learn.”  

A second challenge that schools face today is the “high mental health needs of students,” Stutz said.  She said that trauma affects about 20 percent of the student population. Grinnell, like the rest of Iowa, employs a “trauma-informed care” approach.  Instead of asking, “what is wrong with this child,” teachers are trained to ask, “what happened to this child.” A determination is made whether a child has suffered an “acute” or “chronic” trauma. Knowing the specific situation of a child helps pave the way to helping the child.

A new approach to deal with students exhibiting violent behavior is “room clear.” Stutz explains that this would involve creating therapeutic rooms for these students. Grinnell will have a therapeutic room in the high school and in Bailey Park with trained teachers and social workers. A current bill in the Iowa legislature is being considered to fund these therapeutic rooms in school districts.

A third challenge is teacher shortage.  Stutz cited that in the past, there would be 800 applications for one teaching position.  “Now, we are lucky if we get five applications for one position,” she said. Today, Iowa needs 75 special education teachers.  There are no applicants. Schools districts resort to incentives such as sign-up bonus.

Finally, Stutz cited the need for high schools to provide career technical education.  “College is not for everyone. We have a great need for plumbers, electricians, welders, auto mechanics,” she said.  Thus, Stutz has established partnerships with businesses to provide high school students experience in these technical fields.  

The Grinnell Rotary Club meets every Tuesday at 6 p.m. at West Side Dining on 6th Ave., Grinnell.

Grinnell Rotary met Tuesday, February 25, 2020, for a meal, meeting, and program.

     The speakers for the evening were Sara Hegg-Dunne and Karen Phillips, and their topic for the evening was the passage of the 19th Amendment granting women in the United States the right to vote.  Hegg-Dunne and Phillips were representing the Grinnell League of Women Voters.  This year, 2020, marks the 100 year anniversary of the passage of the Amendment.  The Iowa League of Women Voters has coined the phrase “Hard Won, Not Done” to commemorate the centennial.  Amendment XIX notes that the rights of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.  Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. At first, the constitution placed the question of the right to vote into the hands of the individual legislatures, and this led to chaos around this basic right.  The Seneca Falls convention of 1848 is often described as the birthplace of the suffragist movement. During the Civil War, the suffragist movement went quiet, probably because the abolitionist movement and suffragist movement attracted many of the same people, and the people’s attention was on the war.  Meanwhile, in 1850, Carrie Clinton Lane Chapman Catt was born in Wisconsin, and she later moved with her family to Charles City, Iowa. She later became an important figure in the Iowa movement. After the Civil War, three important Amendments to the U.S. Constitution were passed. In 1865, the 13th amendment which abolishes slavery and involuntary servitude; in 1867, the 14th amendment which grants citizenship for freed slaves and equal protection under the law; and in 1869, the 15th amendment which grants African American men the right to vote, however, none of these amendments addressed the question of women’s rights.  In the 1870’s, Iowa suffragist groups petitioned the legislature for a suffrage amendment. Later in that decade, the Women’s Suffrage Amendment was presented to the Congress.  The House of Representatives approved the 19th Amendment, but the Senate later rejected it.  It wasn’t until a year later, in 1920, that Congress finally passed the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.  Iowa actually ratified the amendment in June 1919, the 10th state to do so.  The last state to ratify the 19th amendment was Mississippi in 1984.  Carrie Chapman Catt went on to found the League of Women Voters.  There is a center in her name at Iowa State University, where she was the only woman in her class, and the valedictorian. 

     Rotary meets every Tuesday at West Side Family Restaurant.

Dennis Conway



   Grinnell Rotary met on Tuesday, February 18, 2020, at 6:00 p.m., for a meal, meeting, and program.

     The main topic of discussion at the business meeting was the upcoming Shults and Company performances for February 20, 21, and 22.  Rotarian Jim White will be “head of the house”, and other Rotarian members will serve as ushers for the three performances. The performances will benefit our first responders.

     Guest speaker for the evening was Margaret Christensen, RN (ret), PhD.  She is Clinical Director of Renfrow Senior Care in Grinnell, Iowa. She moved to Grinnell from NW Arkansas, with plans to establish a geriatric medical practice with her husband Bob and niece Marjorie Renfrow.  Margaret attended Iowa State University, received her nursing diploma from St. Francis School of Nursing in Wichita, KS, a Bachelor degree from Wichita State University, Master of Education from University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond OK, and Doctorate from Oklahoma State University.  She has post graduate hours in gerontology from the University of Southern California and is also certified as a Dementia Practitioner. Christensen’s topic was Living with Dementia. People suffering from dementia can’t learn new things, and they can’t change their behavior. Three things that they can remember are Happy Birthday, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the Lord’s Prayer.  People with dementia have difficulty finding correct words, and they are not able to do complex things. To them, their feelings are most important. If you are working with someone who is living with dementia, try to follow these rules: agree, never argue; divert, never reason; distract, never shame; reassure, never lecture; reminisce, never say “remember”; repeat, never say “I told you”;  do what they can do, never say “you can’t”; ask, never demand; encourage, never condescend; and reinforce, never force. Christensen presented a very informative program on a topic that affects an aging population, either as patient or caregiver.

     Grinnell Rotary meets every Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. at West Side Family Restaurant.  If you are interested in attending a meeting, contact any Rotarian for meeting information.


Dennis Conway

GRINNELL, IA (Jan. 8, 2020) – Wind turbines have now become a familiar sight in Iowa.  Last year Poweshiek County became the home of the English Farms Wind Farm, Alliant Energy’s newest wind farm.  

    Located between Montezuma and Deep River, the new wind farm has 69 wind turbines that will generate enough electricity to power 60,000 Iowa homes annually.  This is according to Matt Hansen, manager of customer relations at Alliant Energy, who spoke at the Grinnell Rotary Club meeting on Tues., Jan. 7.

    Hansen emphasized “Iowa homes,” to correct any misconception that electricity generated by wind turbines in Iowa goes out of state. “It stays in the state,” he said.

    When asked if these turbines pose any environmental danger to birds, Hansen said that, “it is a concern but is really not a problem” as they have not observed any increase in bird fatalities in the area. If it does occur, they document every incident.  Likewise, they have not observed any change in bird migration patterns because of the presence of wind turbines.

    To date, Alliant Energy has four wind farms serving Iowa customers, with three more planned in 2020.

    Hansen also spoke about the installation of a new battery storage facility in Wellman, Iowa, Alliant’s first large scale battery storage capability in the state.  It will store 2.7 megawatts hours enough to power 650 homes for four hours. 

    He explained that “Wellman has a lot of solar panels but when it gets cloudy, the grid has to kick in right away, which is hard on equipment.”  A battery storage facility nearby can store power generated by solar panels that can be used when needed. He said that “battery technology is getting better.”

    Hansen anticipates that Alliant will be able to provide solar energy to Grinnell soon.

    Alliant also has recently combined its Grinnell and Newton operations in one building on Pinder Ave.  They are also increasingly going digital which maximizes the efficiency of technicians while working on the road. 

The Grinnell Rotary Club meets every Tuesday at 6 p.m. at West Side Dining on 6th Ave., Grinnell.

On December 3, 2019, the Grinnell Rotary Club gathered at the Westside Family Restaurant for their weekly meeting. The Rotary Club's guest speaker was Duane Neff, Building and Planning Director of Public Services for the City of Grinnell who shared with the club the current recycling Grinnell Program, provided updates on 16th avenue retaining wall construction, shared that the automated garbage pickup is going much more smoothly, and provided other public service updates. 

Neff explained that the current recycling changes in the community were based costs per pound increases for the city to recycle, as well as the current costs that have escalated due to items in bins that are contaminated, or items identified as not recyclable; such as glass or other plastics not labeled a 1 or 2. He expressed, “it is important for community members to know that if they make the trip to the recycling center off of East street, to place mixed recycles in the appropriate containers and corrugated cardboard into the appropriate containers”. He also noted that the city will have designated times for drop off of recycling materials in the near future, much like what is done at the brush dump. Please note that you will have to have a driver’s license or documentation that shows you are a resident of Grinnell. The public who do not live in the city of Grinnell will be charged for recycling. 

Rotary will meet on January 7, 2020 at Westside following the winter break. 

Janet M. Stutz


   Grinnell Rotary met Tuesday, October 29, 2019, for a meal, meeting, and program.

     The focus of the short business meeting was the Shults & Company performances scheduled for February 2020.  The proceeds of this project will benefit the local fire department.

     The speaker for the evening was Valerie Steinbach, Executive Director of Grinnell Community Daycare and Preschool.  Steinbach is a resident of Newton, Iowa, and has five children. She reported that the daycare center is now fifty years old, and can accommodate one hundred ninety-five children.  Children, ages ten weeks through ten years, may be enrolled at the center, and presently one hundred fifty children are enrolled. Forty-one staff members care for the children. The new name of the organization is Grinnell Community Early Learning Center, and it is a non-profit organization.   It is located at the Ahrens Center, a building now twenty-six years old. The center applies for grants to assist families who qualify, for monthly fees.

     Grinnell Rotary meets every Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. at West Side Family Restaurant.

Dennis Conway



Eleven percent of Poweshiek County residents are food insecure.

Thirty-six percent are one emergency away from slipping into poverty.

Thirty-five percent of students in the school district are on reduced lunch.

These were some of the sobering statistics that Jennifer Cogley, AmeriCorps VISTA project coordinator for Imagine Grinnell, shared with Grinnell Rotarians during their weekly meeting on Nov. 5.

Cogley learned of these statistics while researching food insecurity in Poweshiek County this summer.   Her efforts led to the development of a resource guide to finding food in Grinnell.

Rich in information, the guide has sections on food pantries, food distribution, and access to fresh produce.

Most residents know that Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA) operates a food pantry.  But there is also a food pantry in Montezuma, at Grinnell High School and Grinnell Middle School.

Hot food is distributed on various days at different sites –  at First Presbyterian Church at noon three times a week through the Food Recovery Network while Grinnell College is in session; the Community Meal on Tuesdays at 5:45 p.m. at Davis Elementary School; and Blessed Community Meal at United Methodist Church on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. All these are free and open to the public.  

In addition, Meals and Wheels provides meals to homebound seniors and Tiger Packs or backpacks with food are distributed to some school children on Fridays.

Fresh produce is likewise available in several ways.  Fareway and Farmers’ Market provides coupons to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) recipients who purchase fresh produce up to $10 that they can spend on more fresh items. Food Connection provides weekly food boxes with fresh vegetables courtesy of local farmers participating in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).  Finally, Giving Gardens are planted and maintained by volunteers in nine locations during summer. Any resident can pick the vegetables; the rest are brought to MICA.

The food resource guide is available in print.  The information will likewise be put on Imagine Grinnell’s website soon. More importantly, it will be a basis for developing more effective ways to coordinate and expand on the efforts of volunteers and local organizations to address food insecurity in Poweshiek County.  

The Grinnell Rotary Club meets every Tuesday at 6 p.m. at West Side Dining on 6th Ave., Grinnell.


Grinnell Rotary Club met Tuesday, October 22, 2019, at 6:00 p.m., for a meal, meeting, and program.  

     During the business meeting, a discussion was held on the recently completed event, Kites Over Grinnell.  All agreed that it was a very successful event, and a fun, family-oriented activity. The weather was great, and the community was well represented.  Next, the club members discussed the upcoming project, the Shults and Company Program. This is a musical performance, scheduled at Hotel Grinnell for February 20, 21, and 22, at 7:30 p.m.  Proceeds from the Shults and Company performances will benefit Grinnell’s local fire department.

     Rotarian Brent Nickel introduced the speaker for the evening, Mike O’Conner, with the Boy Scouts of America.  Boy Scouts originated in London, England, in 1908. Girl Scouts began in 1910. The programs are not co-ed, but at the present time, there is litigation pending to bring the two organizations together.  Grinnell has both Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops. The scouting organizations are working toward building up their memberships.

     Rotary meets every Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. at West Side Family Restaurant.

 Grinnell Rotary met Tuesday, August 27th, for a meal, meeting, and program.  

     During the short business meeting, the main topic of discussion was the upcoming event, Kites Over Grinnell.  Kites Over Grinnell will be held on Saturday, September 28, 2019, from 10:00 a.m. through 4:00 p.m., at Ahrens Park.  Rotarians are providing kite kits to Grinnell elementary students in grades K - 4, and the kits will be assembled in art classes.   At Kites Over Grinnell, there will be open flying (so bring your kites and join in), performing kites, kites flying to music, and a free lunch . Best of all, the watching is FREE!  Mark your calendars and plan to join in on Saturday, September 28th.

     Speaker for the evening was Shane Estes, who spoke of his trip to the United Kingdom.  He and his traveling buddy, Jim Ahrens (Rotarian, now deceased), planned and took the trip together.  Estes played a video, which highlighted the many sites that they saw, and he added his comments as the program progressed.  Estes and Ahrens did research on World War II during their time in the UK. The two saw a lot and enjoyed their trip so much that they became traveling buddies for trips scheduled later.

     Grinnell Rotary meets every Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. at West Side Family Restaurant.   


Dennis Conway


Service dogs can help veterans resume normal lives, according to Travis Thomson, a veteran who spoke at the Grinnell Rotary Club meeting held Tues., Aug. 6.

Travis Thomson, formerly of Boulder, CO., and now of Grinnell, IA, served in the army from 2010 to 2019.  Soon after his basic training, he was deployed to Iraq in April 2011 as part of the last battery to eventually leave Iraq later that year.  While there he encountered heavy indirect fire, mostly from mortars and improvised explosive devices or IED’s.

Never hit directly, he came home in time for Thanksgiving that year. However, his behavior was not normal.  Walking through a department store one day, he reacted quite violently to a noisy battery-operated toy dog. “I punched that toy clear across the floor,” said Thomson.  He realized it was an abnormal reaction to “a benign situation.”

Thomson had a heightened sense of awareness, always on alert, conditioned to identify threats. “Imagine if you thought you might always be in danger,” he said. “It was exhausting.”  He was suffering from sensory overload. The worst was when he would sleep and get nightmares that made him violent.

Yet he soldiered on. After leaving active duty in 2013, he joined the Army Reserve while trying to resume civilian life.  He taught fifth grade in Colorado and enjoyed it. 

In 2014 he helped an army buddy in Grinnell recover from surgery.  He found Grinnell to be “so quiet and peaceful” unlike the noise and bustle of the big city.  He called his wife Katelyn and said, “I think I found Mayberry.” He moved his family, got a job at Jeld-Wen as group manager, and his wife was hired by Wal-mart.

The year 2016 was a bad year.  A couple of his army buddies committed suicide followed by two more soon thereafter. He said, “It is one thing to lose someone to suicide; it is another to know someone who seemed so strong on the outside yet take his life.”

Thomson reached a breaking point.  He sought help from the Veterans Administration Hospital in Iowa City. Diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), he was put on medication and underwent treatment like prolonged exposure therapy.  But none of the treatments worked. His doctor suggested having a service dog.

Thomson’s first service dog was Major, a beautiful Lab.  When Major died, he got Sadie, a Red Heeler, also known as Australian Cattle Dog. Trained by the American Kennel Club, Sadie is quite intelligent and knows about 150 words.  A steady companion, Sadie stays with Thomson as long as he is up and wakes him up when he is having a violent nightmare. Sadie goes wherever Thomson goes, including to his job as owner of Major Home Improvement, LLC., a business he started two years ago.  Thomson says that people can tell his mood depending on how Sadie looks. “If she is laying on the floor, relaxed, then people know I’m having a good day.” Sadie has definitely been a calming influence in Thomson’s life and a welcomed addition to the family.

Thomson and his wife and family are happy in Grinnell.  Thomson is taking one day at a time. He enjoys his job and is looking forward when school starts for his three children, all named after US presidents – Jackson, 7; Carter, 4; and Pierce, 2.

Thomson has a message for other Veterans: if you need help, go to the nearest VA.  They’ve done wonders for him and knows they will, too, for any veteran needing help

The Grinnell Rotary Club meets every Tuesday at 6 p.m. at West Side Dining on 6th Ave., Grinnell.



Club Executives & Directors
President Elect
Rotary Foundation and Director
Immediate Past President
International/community Grants Chair
Scholarship Chair
Communication Chair
Rotary Foundation Director