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Top Stories of 2014

January 2, 2015
Compiled by Estherville News Staff , Estherville News

Another year has gone its way as the Estherville News celebrates the top stories of 2014. Yes, it had its share of triumphs and tragedies as well as just everyday life.

Take a look at what our staff considered the most important stories of the year. A few of these stories also earned the most hits on our website:

Please turn to Page 3A as we give a breakdown of the top stories of 2014.

Jordan murder

shakes Estherville

The Wednesday, Feb. 26 murder of a young mother in Estherville shook the peaceful community.

Estherville police arrested and charged Scott Anthony Sudbeck, 35, of Estherville with 1st degree murder after the apparent homicide of Michaela Lynne Jordan, 30, also of Estherville.

The apparent homicide happened at 2302 Third Ave. S. Lot 108. Jordan died of a single gunshot wound.

Sudbeck faces trial in another case.

A Jan. 16 complaint showed that Sudbeck was arrested, and charged, with "third-degree sexual abuse", "lascivious acts with a child", and two counts of "indecent contact with a child".

He was released from jail the next day on bond, but the judge in the case issued a no-contact order for shooting victim Michaela Jordan and her four young children.

Sudbeck pleaded not guilty to the charges. His trial in that case is set to begin Feb. 17.

Estherville sees

business changes

A number of Estherville businesses - for different reasons - changed hands or closed or made plans to close their doors in 2014.

Probably two of the most visible businesses to make plans to shutter their doors were Shopko which closed last year and Alco which decided to close late last year and has been heavily discounting its merchandise before closing. The decisions to close both stores were made at the corporate level.

Another business that changed hands was Racine's for Him & Her, a 614 Central Ave. mainstay for 37 years. Owners John and Linda Racine decided to retire and sell the building to Elaine Quastad who is relocating Q Custom Designs to the location, ensuring that a local business remains in the highly visible Central Avenue location.

Racine reserved his highest praise for his wife, Linda, and praised long-time employee Jean Horner, who had prior experience in the shoe business.

"I've been really blessed to work with Linda and Jean," Racine said. "Jean helped with our purchasing and helped Linda and me with sales on both the men's and women's sides. When you think of a business and how it thrives, it's not just the owner. It's all of the people who work there who make it successful."

Election changes board

The face of the Emmet County Board of Supervisors changed dramatically when Jeff Quastad, an independent, and John Pluth, a Republican, were the top vote-getters in the Tuesday, Nov. 4 general election.

The seeds of that change began when Jon Martyr, one of two Republicans on the five-member board, resigned when he moved to Dickinson County. Martyr, an incumbent who made a strong showing in the Republican primary, had sharply challenged the rest of the board's position in firing former engineer Roger Patocka, stirring up a public firestorm about the board's decision.

Martyr's departure from the ballot led Emmet County Republicans to meet in convention to choose Pluth for the second Republican candidate for the two supervisor seats. That left Pluth and Melanie Summers Bauler on the Republican Ticket, incumbent Ron Smith and John Wittneben for the Democrats and Ron Beaver and Quastad as independents.

Without the nod of either party, Quastad grabbed 1,495 votes as top vote-getter, with Pluth taking second with 1,278.

With 7,369 county registered voters, 3,637, nearly 50 percent, cast ballots Tuesday. That compares with 4,714 in the 2012 Presidential election which always has a higher turnout.

In the same election, incumbant Dist. 7 Representative Tedd Gassman of Scarville defeated Democrat Dave Grussing of Armstrong 1,863-1,588.

Friends group takes on summer projects

The summer of 2014 was the biggest yet for major projects by the Friends of Fort Defiance.

After completing surfacing of Whitetail Ridge Interpretive Trail with crushed limestone in 2013, the group this past spring completed the trailhead of the Spring Creek Trail at the native prairie area. The group also did similar surfacing of several access points of the multiple use prairie trail area on the south side of the park. Completion of all the trail projects was made possible through grants from the Emmet County Community Foundation.

The group also removed and replaced shingles of the park picnic shelter and stained the shelter uprights, bringing it to nearly new condition.

Memberships in the Friends are $10 for individuals or families and may be sent to: Friends of Fort Defiance, P.O. Box 314, Estherville, IA 51334.

Neighbor Helping Neighbor

When a bunch of combines, semis, grain wagons and other harvesting equipment show up at your door, you're immediately thankful for the friends and neighbors who came to help.

But you also know they came because they are needed.

That's what happened one October morning when farmers showed up to help David and Judy Gosch with their harvest.

The reason for the gathering was David Gosch. A couple weeks ago when his grandson showed up at the farm and asked where the four-wheeler, David didn't know.

When his wife Judy asked if he knew he who she was, he didn't know.

A trip to the hospital followed by tests revealed a brain tumor.

Harvest help came for both places farmed by the Gosch family-one just south and west of Gruver. The other along A17 a few miles west of Dolliver.

Help arrived before 9 a.m. with at least eight combines and accompanying semi-trucks and grain wagons on the south place with four combines and a count of 12 semi-trucks on the north property. A crew of farm wives also provided food for the workers.

With all the help, the harvest was completed by noon.

Less than a week later more friends and neighbors helped in the harvest of Darryl Hansen, who also has cancer.

ELC Board approves school financing,


The Estherville Lincoln Central Board of Education Dec. 15 approved financing and a timeline and to put out to bids the Demoney Elementary expansion and renovation project.

The project, Phase II that follows the middle-school project, would bring students from third and fourth grades from Roosevelt to Demoney, bringing to fruition a long-term plan to consolidate all students on one central campus. The project will be paid with the 1-cent sales tax.

Travis Squires of Piper Jaffray investments said project bids would be due Jan. 28 and the district would receive them the next day. At a special board meeting Feb. 3, the board would approve construction bids.

The board also heard from Mark Allen of Shive-Hattery architects and engineers who asked the board to give permission to issue drawings for bidding which the board approved.

Allen said the project is scheduled for completion Aug.1, 2016.

Allen said the project would be done in two phases - first the new space then remodeling of the existing building.

Iowa Lakes dedicates S.E.R.T. building

With a 72-ton nacelle looming in the background, a host of dignitaries dedicated the Iowa Lakes Community College Sustainable Energy Resources & Technologies (S.E.R.T.) building Thursday, Aug. 28.

The building, itself a world-class model of ecological construction and sustainable energy, will host a number of new college programs geared toward 21st century energy solutions. The building will house the electrical technology, water quality and HVAC programs and also serve as a center for training wind energy and turbine technology students in addition to industrial training. WindTest, a German-based company, will test prototype turbines built by manufacturers from all around the world - all within 25 miles of Estherville.

"What a great day this is," said board of trustees president Jan Lund, thanking her fellow trustees for their support of the facility. She also recognized former trustees Mike Prior and George Shadle.

Gary Phillips, professor and coordinator of the environmental studies program and water quality and sustainable aquatic resources, said "we make things happen" at the college.

"With change comes the opportunity to move forward," said Phillips, adding that the S.E.R.T. building is "envisioned to meet the changes that are taking place in the world around us."

"This really is one of a few facilities like in the world," said Dan Lutat, director of wind energy and turbine technology and sustainable energy resources. "Thank you just doesn't begin to say how we feel about having this facility."

Lutat turned emotional as he recognized students on the mezzanine observing the event. "The students are the reason we're here," Lutat said.

Lutat recognized industry partners, including Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative, Vestas, Edison Mission, Iberdrola and WindTest. He also recognized staff.

Student speaker Ryan Steinkamp said his passion for wind energy started when he was in eighth grade and that his ultimate goal is to become an electrical engineer.

"I will bring product knowledge of what works and what doesn't to my engineering studies," Steinkamp said. Steinkamp has already been hired by WindTest.

Dr. Brad Buck, director of the Iowa Department of Education, said of Iowa's community colleges, "There's always this vibrancy around."

"Thank you very much for this great opportunity," said Monika Kramer, managing director of WindTest North American, Inc., which is locating in the S.E.R.T. facility.

WindTest locates in Estherville

Estherville hit the map globabally when the German wind energy company WindTest announced in June it was locating its North American headquarters here.

Windtest CEO Monika Kraemer said she and Jasmin Holzinger, who is heading the Estherville location, had been preparing for their Estherville location, which moved into the SERT building at Iowa Lakes Community College late this past summer.

Kramer said the company had begun taking care of some of the details-opening a bank account, getting liability insurance and looking for places for staff to rent.

Kramer said officials from Estherville and the Iowa Lakes Corridor have been very supporting of Windtest the past two years.

"They've convinced us and we have trust in this area," she said. "This is a good place for us, our company and our test facility that we want to open in the next year."

The nearness of Iowa Lakes Community College and its wind turbine program was a major reason for the location of Windtest North America headquarters.

"We hope to find employees that the college has educated," said Kraemer. "I think this is a good combination."

While initially, the company will have just a handful of employees, Kraemer said they eventually plan to employ 10-15 people.

"We want to become an attractive operation for American employees and want to find people who want to stay with the company for many years," said Kramer.

So far the experience in the U.S. has been good.

"It' amazing to see how many hours and days people have put in," Kraemer said. "We really feel welcome here."

Taste of Home comes to Estherville

A crowd filled the Regional Wellness Center/National Guard gym as Taste of Home came to Estherville in November.

Culinary Specialist Guy Klinzing prepared 10 recipes while sharing other recipes and techniques that can be used at home. Klinzing also proved an entertainer, keeping the audience enthralled with stories and jokes.

Klinzing's visit marked the first time a Taste of Home Show was held in Estherville.

Why Dee mattered

On July 5, Estherville lost a living icon with the passing of Dee McDonald whose tireless dedication to the elderly and to her Christian music ministry inspired the entire community. The following story is reprinted from our July 12 edition.

By Michael Tidemann

Staff Writer

I was absolutely stunned when a good friend, Dr. Jim Roberts, called me a week ago Friday and told me Dee McDonald was in the hospital in Sioux Falls, S.D. and that things weren't looking good for her.

Dee had always been in such good health, so when Jim said she had fallen in her home, I was dumbfounded. And when Jim called me the next day (I was without Internet access over the weekend) and said Dee had passed on, it was as though the floor had been jerked out from under me and I was freefalling with no earth in site.

Dee was a dear friend. In fact, Dee was a dear friend to everyone who knew her. A good case could likely be made that if someone didn't like Dee, then that person wasn't worth knowing.

As activities director at Rosewood Manor, Dee put her Christian beliefs into action every day she went to work. I've had some pretty strenuous and dangerous jobs in my lifetime, but I think I'd have to say that Dee's job was probably tougher than anything I've ever done. Imagine making friends with the residents only to see them pass away on a regular basis. But there Dee was, showing them the way and the light.

For several years, Dee gathered together residents once a week and our newspaper staff interviewed them for the Rosewood Memory. It was usually about old businesses but sometimes it was about such topics as threshing or living through the Great Depression. It was a wonderful way for Rosewood residents to relive the past and share things from their youth.

For several years, Dee collected the Rosewood Memories into a bound volume, the proceeds of which went for improvements at Rosewood. Dee did this in addition to her demanding job of activities director.

An extremely talented musician, Dee put her music ministry to work admirably. She didn't merely claim the Christian life - she lived it, through every fiber of her being. She had an aura about her - a glow - of something very powerful and not of this world.

Without a doubt, Dee was probably the least judgmental person I've ever known. While I've never known a person with fewer faults, She never - absolutely never - pointed out the faults of others.

Dee's husband Greg and their children are by no means alone in their grief. Many people in Estherville and far beyond are devastated. When we lose a person like Dee, in the prime of her life, it makes us reexamine our own lives.

Are we living our lives the way we should? Are we setting an example for others? Can we honestly say we're doing our best? Can we say that we're living our lives as Jesus lived his?

For Dee, the answer to every one of those questions would have been a resounding yes.



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