2019 Remsen Bell-Enterprise Year in Review: November - December

Thursday, January 23, 2020


As part of the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council initiative to bring teachers and industry professionals together to help prepare students for STEM careers, MMCRU High School was selected to be a 2019 STEM BEST (Businesses Engaging Students and Teachers) Program Partner. There are five new or expanded partnerships that were selected to receive up to $25,000 each. The MMCRU High School Industrial Technology program will utilize these STEM funds to enhance hands-on student learning in the advanced manufacturing field. Specifically, the MMCRU program will focus on robotic welding and CNC machining.

The 46th Annual Remsen Oktoberfest on Saturday, October 26 was a beautiful day to celebrate the Remsen tradition. The polka entertainment this year included The Wendinger Band, who entertained guests from 3 - 6 p.m., and the Jim Kucera Band, who took to the stage from 6 - 9 p.m.

Many different costumed characters were seen up and down the streets collecting many different types of sweets during the Remsen Chamber's Trick or Treating Event on October 31.

The Remsen Catholic Order of Foresters will be hosting their annual Fall Breakfast and Bake Sale on Sunday, November 10th, 2019 at St. Mary’s Cafeteria. Serving will be from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. Menu will be pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, coffee, milk and juice. The public is invited to join in for a great breakfast.

When starting quarterback Blaine Harpenau left the game with an injury less than five minutes into Friday’s (November 1) playoff opening round game against East Mills, Remsen St. Mary’s had to find a way to win without him. It took a few drives for the Hawks to adjust and find their groove once again, but when they did, the offense hardly skipped a beat as they scored their second-most points of the season, pulling away from a 20-20 tie for a 66-28 victory. The next opponent the Hawks (10-0) will face is Fremont-Mills (7-1). Those two teams last met at the UNI-Dome in the 2017 semifinal round which the Hawks won 51-6.

The Hope Angels will be sponsoring a nine-pin tournament on Sat., November 23, 2019 at Maple Lanes Bowl. Bowling times available for the nine-pin four-person tournament will be 5:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

There will be some new faces on city councils and school boards across Plymouth County following Tuesday’s (November 5) city/school election. In Plymouth County, a total of 2,526 ballots were cast, according to the Plymouth County Auditor’s Office. That represents 14.28 percent of the total 17,683 registered voters in the county. The final canvass of the votes will be done by Plymouth County Supervisors on Wednesday, Nov. 13. Absentee ballots postmarked no later than Nov. 4 and received at the auditor’s office by Nov. 12 will be counted, so votes counts may change. The unofficial totals represent the voting precincts and the absentee ballots as received by Nov. 5. A complete list of each election follows with the position, name and votes received: Oyens: Mayor - Donna Poulsen, 13; write-in, 2. Council, vote for 2 - Kyle Thoms, 16; Jackie Benstead, 11; write-in, 3. Remsen: Mayor - Joel Fisch, 146; write-in, 4. Council, vote for 2 - Kendra Rensink, 128; Mindy Klein, 100; write-in, 9. Remsen-Union School Board: At-Large, vote for 2 - Sara Krier, 193; Travis J. Tentinger, 182; write-in, 2. Remsen-Union School Board Vacancy, vote for 2 - Jason Loutsch, 190; Talon Penning, 188. Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn School District: (Plymouth County votes only) Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn School Director at Large, vote for 3 – Karla Prunty, 25; Laura Staab, 21; Christopher Ruskamp, 18; Danae Dreckman, 15; write-in, 7. Public Measure DY - Yes, 20; No 18. Public Measure DZ - No 23; Yes, 15. Public Measure EA - No 22; Yes 16.

The Remsen Heritage Museum held a Chamber Coffee on Wed., November 6 from 8:30 - 10:30 a.m., serving guests coffee, juice, donuts, and many kinds of tasty treats. Patrons young and old noticed some of the progress taking place, including the back room and the train display up in the front of the building. Some of the different displays were also featured.

MMCRU Schools hosted a Chamber Coffee on Thurs., October 10, 2019 from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the Media Center in Remsen. Community members enjoyed many tasty treats together.

Remsen St. Mary’s secured their second trip to the UNI-Dome in the last three years with a 34-20 victory over Fremont-Mills in 8-player state quarterfinal action Friday, November 8. The two teams previously met in the climate-controlled confines of the UNI-Dome in the state semifinals two years ago, but this time the teams had to weather a cold, breezy night in November for the chance to get back there. Fremont-Mills finishes the season with a 7-2 record. Their two losses came to the teams which make up one half of the 8-player semifinals as Remsen St. Mary’s (11-0) will next play Audubon (11-1) in Thursday’s (November 14) state semifinal round with a noon kickoff at the UNI-Dome.

The MMCRU Forensics Team of Damien Baker, Isaac Goeken, Leilani Meade, and Nicole Specht won first place at the annual SCI@BVU (Buena Vista University) Forensics Competition, which was held on Friday, October 18, 2019, in Storm Lake. Members of the team pictured from left: Isaac Goeken, Leilani Meade, Nicole Specht, and Damien Baker.

Remsen St. Mary’s had Fall Service Day on November 5 to help the community, especially those who may need help raking leaves. Staff and students in seventh through twelfth grade gathered together for prayer and a quick breakfast before beginning their day.

MMCRU Schools had the honor of hosting a Veterans Day Program at the Middle School in Remsen, with guest speaker Mr. Michael E. Sparr on Monday, November 11. Beginning at 9 a.m., MMCRU offered coffee and rolls in the Media Center at the MMCRU Middle School in Remsen. The program then started at 10 a.m. with the Remsen Piper Post #220, the Remsen VFW #3225 Post, and the F.I. Goodburn Post #517 of Marcus Color Guards presenting the colors.

Remsen St. Mary’s Schools held a Veterans Day Recognition Program on Monday, November 11 at 2:15 p.m., in the Jim and Lou Arens Memorial Gym. The program commenced with a welcome by Spencer Schorg, followed by the advancement of colors by the Color Guard and the high school band playing the National Anthem and an invocation by Patty Lansink.

Audubon let a win slip right through their fingers in the final seconds of their first meeting with Remsen St. Mary’s back in August, but they didn’t let the same thing happen in the rematch which came in Thursday’s (November 14) 8-player state semifinal at the UNI-Dome. The Wheelers built up a three-score advantage in the second half and ran out the clock on the Hawks for a 39-28 win in what was the Wheelers’ first trip to the UNI-Dome since 1977 when they faced Emmetsburg in the Class 3A state championship. The 2019 RSM Football team takes a picture with the State Trophy at the welcome home celebrations. Front row, from left: Isaiah Gerrietts, Jeremy Koenck, Nathan Britt, Sean Cronin, Tate Tentinger, Alex Schroeder, Kadden Groepper, and Cael Ortmann. Middle row, from left: Coach Michael Koenck, Sam Medina, Dawson Harpenau, Jacob Britt, Seth Nelson, Wes Galles, Noah Schroeder, Brenden Fisch, Levi Waldschmitt, Brody Schorg, Coach Ryan Galles, and Coach Tim Osterman. Back row, from left: Coach Zach Arnold, Blaine Harpenau, Wesley Smart, Brady Homan, Skyler Waldschmitt, Xavier Galles, Damen Brownmiller, Austin Jensen, Jaxon Bunkers, Ryan Willman, and Nathan Fisch.

dministrators at Marcus-Meridan-Cleghorn will head back to the drawing board following the Nov. 5 election that left the district’s needs unsupported by voters. The MMC School District had three measures on the ballot — educational needs, community needs, and a change to the tax rate levy — which each required a 60 percent supermajority to proceed. “My reaction is one of disappointment,” said MMC Superintendent Dan Barkel. “We feel it is a good plan for the district and community, but we were unable to secure a supermajority on any of the measures.” On the first measure, Projects for Educational Needs, voters in Cherokee County supported the proposal with 59 percent of the vote, however in Plymouth County, only 41 percent of voters recognized the need. The first measure would have authorized the district to contract indebtedness and issue General Obligation Bonds in an amount not to exceed $14,255,000, to provide funds to construct, build, furnish, and equip a new elementary building and improve the site; and to remodel, repair, renovate, improve, furnish, and equip the existing high school, as well as improve the site. The second measure, Projects for Community Needs, would have contracted indebtedness and the issuance of General Obligation Bonds not to exceed $5,645,000, to provide funds to construct, build, furnish, and equip a daycare addition to the new elementary building, and to construct, build, furnish, and equip a competition gymnasium as an addition to the existing high school, as well as related remodeling. In Cherokee and Plymouth counties, voters supported this measure with 50 percent of the votes. Change to the Tax Levy Rate, measure three, would have authorized to levy annually a tax exceeding $2.70 per $1,000, but not exceeding $4.05 per $1,000, of the assessed value. Only 52 percent of the vote showed support for that measure in Cherokee County, while Plymouth County voters was a mere 48 percent. “My take on the numbers is that most persons see a need for upgrading our PK-12 school facilities, but are not as certain about the need to build an attached daycare or new competition gymnasium,” Barkel stated. “I think many older patrons are still unaware of the critical need for daycare in our community and how it hampers economic development in our districts. I also believe many are unaware of the positive impact of wind turbines and how their emergence makes this project very affordable to our district.” With the votes not there to move ahead with the district’s needs, Barkel said they are left with no other option then to muddle through. “Our students will soldier on with the facilities we currently have, which means uneven heat and no air conditioning in the elementary, a lack of gym space making for late practices with youth sports, and a dated and expensive to maintain high school and elementary that has little appeal for attracting new students and families to our community,” Barkel stated. Barkel said the issue of where to go next will go back before the school board.

Competing in the state dance competition in Newton on Saturday, November 2, was MMCRU sophomore Asya Miller.

The Remsen city and utility crew cut down and placed the beautiful Christmas tree in the center square of downtown Remsen (Washington and Second St. intersection) on Monday morning, Nov. 25. Pictured above, the crew work together to make sure the tree is placed just right and standing up straight and tall. Then they put on the lights and decorations, including the star on top. The Community Christmas tree in the center square has been an annual event since the Olde Fashioned Christmas celebration was started sixteen years ago. This year's tree was donated by Bob & Vicky Heidesch.

The Remsen Chamber of Commerce held their annual Thanksgiving drawing for three gifts of $50 Chamber Bucks. Chad Gravenish, Jeanne Harpeanu, and Jason Loutsch were the lucky winners!

Unlike Le Mars Community Schools who saw a significant decrease in certified enrollment, three of the other four public school districts in Plymouth County saw an uptick for the 2019-2020 school year. With everyone reporting to the state by Oct. 1, district officials in the area were happy to see where this year’s numbers landed. The Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn District boasted the largest enrollment increase with 23 students, while their counterpart, the Remsen Union District netted three more students.

Enrollment figures for this year at MMC are 444.10, while RU has 321.66.

Community members made sure to go to St. Paul Lutheran Church on Saturday, November 23 to enjoy the Fall Festival. Guest were served will soup, sandwiches and pie from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. There was also a bake sale.

This year's Olde Fashioned Christmas celebration will take place on Monday, December 2, offering many festive activities for the public to enjoy. Looking at the community Christmas tree lit up, riding the horse drawn wagon rides, enjoying some marshmallows by the fire pits, partaking in what downtown businesses have to offer, visiting with Santa, and shopping at "Kids Korner", are just a few of the many activities the public can look forward to.


Ron and Rose Krier celebrated their 40th Wedding Anniversary on November 2, 2019. Ron Krier and Rose Ruba were married on November 2, 1979, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Remsen. There will be a celebration in their honor at the Avalon Ballroom in Remsen on Friday, November 29, at 7 p.m., featuring a rock n' roll band. The couple requests no gifts, but encourages family and friends to attend and enjoy an evening of music and fun.


A girl, Laurel Kay Mohning, born October 14, 2019, to Mark and Maggie Mohning of Burnsville, Minn.

A girl, Tori Reese Novotny, born October 16, 2019, to Nathan and Rebecca Novotny of Wahoo, Neb.

A girl, Ashley Mae Roling, born October 28, 2019, to Andy and Jenny Roling of Remsen.


Jim Braun, 62, of Marcus died on Oct. 31, 2019 at Heartland Care Center in Marcus.

Reverend Lee Mentink, 86, of Le Mars, passed away Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, at the Good Samaritan Society in Le Mars.

Marcel “Jinx” Matgen, 95, of Remsen passed away Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019 at Floyd Valley Health Care in Le Mars.

Kevin Randall Ortmann, 40, of Remsen passed away from Glioblastoma on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, at Happy Siesta Health Care Center in Remsen.

Lorraine Miller, 89, of Remsen, passed away Friday, Nov. 15, 2019 at Heartland Care Center in Marcus.


In December 2019, Leanne's Styles & More will be celebrating 20 years of business. This hair care salon, located at 101 S. Washington Street in downtown Remsen, is owned and operated by Leanne West. Over the course of 20 years, West has seen many changes to her salon, both physical and spiritual. To celebrate her 20 years of business, Leanne's Styles & More held a Chamber of Commerce Open House on Monday, December 2 from 2:00-4:30 p.m. with door prizes, specials, and refreshments. Then that night from 5:30-8:00 p.m., she took part in the Olde Fashioned Christmas Celebration.

Iowa State Bank donated $1,300.00 to the Remsen Police Department for equipment. The money will be used to purchase two new guns. Pictured from left: Scott Allen and Mike Sparr of the Remsen Police Department receive the donation from Scott Jones, Iowa State Bank Branch Manager.

The 2019 Heisman High School local award has been earned by senior Faith Olson. This award is given to high school seniors by recognizing and rewarding outstanding scholar-athletes who understand that the most important victories are not only on the field but in their schools and communities. These leaders set the example and make game changing differences every day.

Remsen St. Mary’s students have begun to enjoy the updated Ken Goecke Health and Wellness Center. Although the school is still looking for monetary donations to finalize phase one renovations of the weight room, most of the work has been completed. The weight room equipment was in need of replacement as students and athletes were using outdated and broken equipment. Most of the old pieces were either homemade, were very used when donated to the school, or not meant to be used in a school or high frequency environment. Most of the benches were ripped and paint was peeling off the weights.“ A Modern and state of the art weight room equipment will give our students the opportunity to advance themselves physically," said football coach Tim Osterman. "Weight training is vital to successful development of athletes and this new equipment coupled with PLT4M and a strong work ethic gives St. Mary’s a bright outlook for the future.”

At MMCRU, one lucky student was selected for the Voice of Democracy Scholarship program, which is a program for students from 9th-12th grade where they write an essay and send in a 3-5 minute recording of the student reading their essay. The lucky MMCRU student who was selected to have a chance to win the Voice of Democracy Scholarship was Taylor Galles.

All students in grades PK-12 participated in the Thanksgiving Collection Mass, each class bought different items including soups, tomato sauce, pasta noodles, different kinds of beans, peanut butter, jelly, ketchup, and applesauce. The seniors, along with their second grade prayer partners, delivered these items to the Carmelites on Monday morning, November 25.

The Remsen Fire Deparment, the Ortmann Family, and Santa take a picture in front of the Community Christmas Tree. This year's Olde Fashioned Christmas Event was in honor of Kevin Ortmann for all he had done for the event over the years. The red lights on the tips of the star were in honor of Kevin's service to the Remsen Fire Department and Remsen EMTs. John Hansen said a few words about Kevin Ortmann as well during the festivities. This year's event took place on Monday, December 2 from 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.

WesTel Systems held a Chamber Coffee on Wed., December 4 from 8:30 - 10:30 a.m., serving guests decorated cookies, meat and cheese on crackers, and hot beverages.

Remsen St. Mary’s claimed their largest margin of victory in three years with a 51-14 win over Harris-Lake Park on Friday, December 6. The 37-point spread was the largest since the Hawks won by the same margin against Gehlen Catholic on December 9, 2016. Lady Hawks Head Coach Scott Willman was especially pleased with the defensive effort as his team held the Wolves to just 14 points. No RSM team in at least the past 14 years has allowed fewer points in a game with the next fewest coming in 2016 when they held Trinity Christian to 16.

Advent Calendar of Events: Christ Lutheran Church: Sun., December 22 - 9:00 a.m. Children's Christmas Program. Tues., December 24 - 6:00 p.m. Christmas Eve Candlelight Service. St. Paul Lutheran Church: Tues., December 24 - 5:00 p.m. Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship Service with Holy Communion. St. Mary’s, Holy Name, and St. Catherine’s Catholic Churches: Tues., December 24 - 4:00 p.m. Children’s Mass at Remsen St. Mary’s. Tues., December 24 - 5:00 p.m. Christmas Eve Mass at Marcus Holy Name. Wed., December 25 - 8:00 a.m. Christmas Mass at St. Catherine’s in Oyens. Wed., December 25 - 9:00 a.m. Christmas Mass at Marcus Holy Name. Wed., December 25 - 10:00 a.m. Christmas Mass at Remsen St. Mary’s. Trinity Lutheran Church (Rural Marcus): Tues., December 24 - 5:30 p.m. Children’s Christmas Program. Wed., December 25 - 10:00 a.m. Christmas Day Service with Communion.

American Bank held a Chamber Coffee and Holiday Open House on Tuesday, December 10 from 8:30 a.m - 1:00 p.m., as the public was invited to partake in the festivities. Sandwiches, cookies, lots of treats, and different drink options were served to hungry guests.

The Interfaith Community Choir of Marcus and Remsen performed the Christmas portion of Handel’s “Messiah” at 7:30 p.m. on December 7 at St. Mary’s Church in Remsen and at 3 p.m. on December 8 at Holy Name Church in Marcus. “Messiah” is an oratorio (large musical composition featuring orchestra, choir, and soloists) composed by George Friderice Handel. Community members from Marcus and Remsen that took part in the Chorus were Sopranos: Emily Adamson, Bev Alesch, Ann Barkel, Annalise Caldwell, Abby Grace Caldwell, Barb Cullison, Joyce Draayer, Elaine Leavitt, Lorna Leavitt, Carolyn Niehus, Brielle Stauffer, and Jeralyn Volkert; Altos: Miranda Ball, Jane Busch, Faye Dengler, Becky Easton, Margie Erdman, Mary Erdman, Deb Jorgensen, Belinda Leavitt, Tara Meinen, Becky Meyer, Gayleen Meyer, Andrea Orthmann, Audra Penning, Kimberly Peterson, Caryn Riedemann, Margaret Rohwer, Tonia Schmillen, Marcia Weiler, and LeAnn Wiederholt; Tenors: Blaine Adamson, Jonathan Caldwell, Matt Dengler, Joel Orthmann, John Schneider, and GayLynn Strub; and Basses: David Brown, Ross Peterson, Bruce French, Mark Wilcox, Matt Botkin, Harold Klassen, and Torray Wilson. Members of the Instrumental Ensemble were Lisa Miedeman, Violin I; Jennifer Frens, Violin II; Shari Boone, Viola; Lennea Olson, Cello; Trevor Carlson, String Bass; and Andrew Wotherspoon, Continuo. Soloists featured throughout the excerpt were Soprano, Brielle Stauffer from Meriden; Bass, Sean Burton from Sioux City; Alto, Katie Pacza from Holstein; and Soprano, Rachel Barkel from Minneapolis, Minn. Mr. Dan Barkel was the conductor for the performances.

The Holiday Tour of Homes, hosted by Mid-Sioux Opportunity, Inc., took place on Sunday, December 8, 2019. Guests visited the homes of Patty Bindner, Don & Shelly Kass, Justin & Stacy Pick, and Pete & Ruth Staab.All funds raised will be used for direct services to families. Assistance may be in the form of clothing items, food, rental assistance or utility assistance.

The LifeServe Blood Center in Sioux City sends out a huge thank you to the donors who stepped up on Wednesday, Dec. 11, to give the gift of life this holiday season, said LifeServe Blood Center territory representative Rebekah Derochie. "Remsen Community has been helping out Life Serve Blood Center collect units to ensure the blood supply to our local hospitals. We had 39 donors register, collected 37 products, and saved 111 lives," she said. Congratulations to all the donors who came out and donated and hit any milestones hit at this blood drive.

Christ Lutheran Church held their Winter Festival and Seventh Annual Candy Walk on Saturday, December 7 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Besides all of the homemade baked goods for the Candy Walk, there were many vendors selling goods as well. Shelly Thomson, one of the event organizers stated, “We had a very successful Candy Walk. The weather cooperated this year and the community really came out and supported us. Thank you to everyone that donated the candy and baked goods. A special thanks to Hy-Vee, Fareway and Walmart for their donations.”

Iowa State Bank held a Chamber Coffee and Holiday Open House on Tuesday, December 17 from 8:30 - 10:30 a.m. Coffee, cider, rolls, and fruit were offered to the public to enjoy.

The winning displays of the Remsen Chamber Christmas Lighting Contest were, pictured above: John and Shannon Fiedler (top left), Wanda Medina (top right), Mike and Kim Sparr (bottom left), and Randy and Jane Vaske (bottom right).

ictured above, on Wednesday, December 18, Barry Thompson (left) swore in City Officials Mindy Klein, Joel Fisch and Kendra Rensink at the Remsen City Council Meeting. Kendra Rensink and Incumbents Mayor Joel Fisch and City Councilwoman Mindy Klein were elected to a four-year term in the November 5, 2019 City Election. Current Remsen City Councilman Dick Sievers did not seek re-election. He has served on the Remsen City Council for four-terms (sixteen years). Thank you for your service! Rensink will take office on January 2, 2020 and join City Councilmembers Dave Sonnichsen, Josh Hill, Ann Cole-Nelson, and Mindy Klein.

The Remsen Chamber of Commerce will be holding their annual meeting and dinner on Mon., January 6, 2020, at the Golden Pheasant in Remsen.

The following were winners of the drawing for Remsen Chamber Bucks held on December 20, 2019:

$100.00 - Fred Frederes. $50.00 - Ellen Hatz, Dick Gengler, Judy Pottebaum, Rob Schorg, Kayla Schroeder. $25.00 - Pat Schiltz, Melany Roling, Mike Delperdang, Sharon K. Poeckes, Sue Sitzmann, Denny Slota. Winners may pick up their Chamber Bucks from Stephanie Loutsch at WesTel Systems.

The Remsen Oktoberfest Committee held their after-event meeting on December 8, 2019, and decided who the proceeds from the 46th Annual Oktoberfest would be given to. Oktoberfest Committee chairperson Mike Matgen reported the following, “We ended up serving 1070 people throughout the 46th Annual Event, down about 120 from the previous year. We were able to turn a little bit of a profit from this year’s event and able to donate some of those proceeds to four organizations. We donated $500 each to St. Paul Lutheran Church, Remsen St. Mary’s Weight Room Remodel, Remsen VFW, and the Remsen Golf Course. Next year’s event will be held on October 31, 2020.”


Eileen Ortmann, 92, of Le Mars, passed away on Wednesday, December 4, 2019 at her home.

Florence Schroeder, 96, of Remsen, Iowa, passed away on Sunday, December 8, 2019 at MercyOne in Sioux City, Iowa.

Robert Raymond Meyer, 90, of Remsen, passed away Friday, December 6, 2019 in Greenville, South Carolina, surrounded by family at Rolling Green Village Skilled Nursing in Greenville, S.C.

Mary Ann Garvin passed away on Thursday, December 5, 2019, at her home in Worthington, Minn., at the age of 89.