Remsen Chamber honors citizen/employee and business of the year on Feb. 11
By: Megan Sabin The Remsen Chamber of Commerce held their annual meeting and dinner on Sat., February 11, 2017 at the Avalon Ballroom in Remsen with 125 people in attendance, according to Chamber board member Karen Harnack. A social hour was held from 6:00 - 7:00 p.m. A delicious meal followed, served by Timmy's Catering of Le Mars. After eating, Chamber President, Stephanie Loutsch (WesTel Systems) introduced the board members: Vice President, Shane Bork (Smith Insurance); Secretary, Karen Harnack (Thompson, Phipps, & Thompson, LLP); Treasurer, Katrina Homan (American Bank, N.A.); and Directors, Michael Matgen (Matgen Insurance), Pastor Dennis Martens (Christ Lutheran Church), Stacey Schroeder (Floyd Valley Clinic - Remsen), Tammy Portz (Furnishings On Second At Muller's), Alicia Hoffman (Mid-Sioux Opportunity, Inc.), and Kurtis Kroeger (Christ Lutheran Church). The terms of directors Loutsch, Martens, and Kroeger were up for this year on February 1, 2017. Loutsch and Kroeger agreed to serve another term, while one new board member for 2017 was announced as Nick Andresen (Iowa State Bank) to take over Marten's position. Bork then gave a brief presentation of the events the Remsen Chamber had sponsored over the past year. The Remsen Chamber of Commerce chose to honor the Remsen Public Library as the "Business of the Year", as this year marks the 50th year the library is in its current building. A Powerpoint presentation along with the following information was presented about the history of the Library. Janeene Klein read the following, "Dr. William Remsen Smith, for whom the town of Remsen was named, was a man of vision and one interested in the cultural aspects of this community. Dr. Smith bequeathed $300 to the town to be used for purchasing books for a library. In 1938, the Remsen Women's Club began their work of organizing the Remsen Public Library. In 1940, the library opened in the council chambers in the Municipal Building with approx. 700 books. The library soon outgrew these quarters and moved into a basement room in the same building where it was housed for the next twenty-five years. In 1956, a bequest of $500 was received from the Anna Kallsen estate and construction for a new library building began in September, 1966 with completion in the summer of 1967. The first books were circulated from the current library building on July 17, 1967 and most furnishings in the library are still the originals that were purchased fifty years ago! In 1999, the Board of Trustees adopted the following mission statement, "The Remsen Public Library (RPL) shall provide equal access to technology and print for the education, enjoyment and enlightenment of all people of the community". In honoring this mission statement, the RPL offers a large selection of materials, technology and services. We have three public computers with internet access, free Wi-Fi, audio books, e-books subscription, DVD's, fax/copy/scan services, proctoring college students, 54 magazine and three newspaper subscriptions, along with all seven Remsen newspapers from 1887 that have been digitized and are available on the library website (these newspapers, one in German are used worldwide), an extensive large print collection, Outreach services with book delivery to homebound residents, Bavarian Meadows and Happy Siesta, puzzles and board games. The library currently owns 13,000 material titles and has 1,100 registered patrons. Along with print materials, technology and services, the library currently provides many seasonal programs throughout the year. Other programs include Lego Club, Remsen Chamber coffee during National Library Week, Summer Reading Program, Children's Book Club and Adult Coloring and Painting. In May, 2015, the library and the Remsen VFW/American Legion sponsored a very special week-long exhibit called "Remembering Our Fallen". This emotional traveling memorial was well attended by the "Legion Riders" and over 400 visitors. The library employs three staff members, Peg Arens, Alicia Hoffman and Janeene Klein. The library has a nine member volunteer board of trustees, President Stacey Galles, Vice-President Jeremy Homan, Secretary Sandi Tritz, Jane Bork, Pat Wingert, Clint Leonard, Sharyn Ahmann, Mary Kane and Jim Miller. A special recognition to our Mayor Joel Fisch who devoted 38 years to the library board before accepting mayorship in 2016. On behalf of the RPL Board of Trustees and Staff, our heartfelt thank you to the Remsen Chamber of Commerce for honoring the Library as "2017 Business of the Year". We would also like to thank the Remsen city council and all city employees as well as the Plymouth County Board of Supervisors for their continued support. Most of all, we thank our loyal patrons and welcome ALL to stop by anytime and see what is going on at YOUR library! The library is a very special gem in our community and Remsen is extremely fortunate to have a public library. In conclusion, I will share a passage from a speech given at the 9/24/1967 RPL dedication program by Mr. Arie Verrips, Iowa State Traveling Library Board, "From this day forward, let it never be said that a Remsen, Iowa youngster or adult was deprived of a full life because of the lack of library facilities. With your enthusiasm however: I have no doubts about the future of the Remsen community."" The "Citizen/Employee of the Year" award was presented next. Alicia Hoffman and Stacey Galles both read their nomination letters for the Citizen/Employee of the Year, which was awarded to a very surprised Janeene Klein. Alicia Hoffman read her nomination letter for the Citizen of the Year, which is as follows, "How does one choose a Citizen of the Year? The one chosen must be an example of unselfishness- the willingness to put the needs or wishes of others before one's own. This individual must be concerned with the future of Remsen, and put forth the effort to help in any way possible. It should come to no surprise that the nominee is one who presents these skills and is determined to make our community a great place to live. The Remsen Public Library is a wonderful asset to the community of Remsen; however, we feel that this reason is because of the compassion and dedication displayed by a certain individual. Since 1989, she has been part of the Remsen Public Library. She served six years as a library board member and the past three years as the current library director. Her love to help others allows her to go above and beyond the duties as the Director. She holds an open heart to each and every person that has walked through the library doors. These gestures have brought many back to library again and again. She displays generosity in many ways and is able to connect with each patron, from her book suggestions, reading to children, assistance in looking for research, proctoring exam, or just simply by conversation. Her loyalty is not only demonstrated at the library, but also throughout Remsen by subbing in the library at the elementary school or delivering meals to the elderly. She presents an avid display of devotion to the community. It is obvious that she will go the extra mile and help in any way possible. As a daughter, wife, sister, mother, and an "adopted grandmother" to many children that come visit the library, she still finds time to take online classes to complete her personal goal of receiving her associate's degree. Education is important to her and it is clear that she is truly a great role model that shows everyone that setting a personal goal and achieving it is possible! She will able to fulfill this goal on July 28, which is also her birthday, as she walks across the stage at Iowa Lakes Community College. Her smile is contagious, as well as her love for the library, Remsen, and others-- for these reasons, Janeene Klein should be named 'Remsen's Citizen of the Year!'" Stacey Galles, library board president, also read her nomination letter for Janeene Klein, "Janeene Klein... I can't say enough good things about her. She has been a wonderful asset to the Remsen Public Library. I have known Janeene Klein for many years. I know that she has made it her own personal goal to complete her library science degree. She is and has been, always willing to go the extra mile to complete any task that is brought to her. Janeene has a passion for education and the Remsen community. This is seen on a daily basis at her job as the Library Director at the Remsen Public Library. She is always assisting wherever she is needed and has a great attitude while doing that. I have seen Janeene assist students in looking for various types of research and she proctors college exams for many age levels. Janeene is always willing to get new books that are recommended by the patrons. If she doesn't have the book in the library she always says "I can order it for you!". That to me shows that Janeene wants that patron to feel comfortable and eager to come back into the library. My family loves coming into the library to check out books but most importantly to see and visit with Janeene. Janeene has always stopped what she is doing to visit with my kids whenever we come into the library. She will sit down and read with them, play legos or listen to a puppet show with my kids. Janeene has shown anyone who walks into the library that they have her full attention. Janeene has the highest respect towards others and she has the same respect for herself. I would highly recommend Janeene Klein for the Remsen Employee of the Year!" After the awards portion of the evening, the tremendously talented ventriloquist, James Wedgewood provided entertainment for the crowd. Congratulations to Janeene Klein and the Remsen Public Library on receiving their respective prestigious honors.