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My granddaughters, the Presidential speech writers

By Dean Close · 1:03pm January 21st, 2015
Everyone who knows me knows how ridiculously seriously I take my role as grandfather. We have four granddaughters, three of whom live in Vinton and I have seen every week at least (and often most every day) since the first one entered our lives five years ago. It's no secret how much those precocious girls teach me and how they showed me a new way to look at the world, much like their mama did a quarter-century ago.

Thoughts on Martin Luther King Day, from the whitest part of America

By Dean Close · 5:54pm January 19th, 2015
Throughout my 22 or so years in this job, I have written about almost every holiday: Christmas. New Year’s Day. Memorial Day. Veterans Day. Mother’s Day. Father’s Day. Thanksgiving. Even holidays we as a nation have forgotten, like the original Patriot’s Day (April 19, 1775) and holidays most of us have never heard of have appeared in my columns.

The best winter driving safety advice: Don't

By Dean Close · 8:20pm January 4th, 2015
I once had the enlightening experience of working with a teenage girl who had already wrecked her car two or three times. She did not seem to make the connection between driving decisions and unpleasant results. One a day when the weather was very similar to what will soon cover the Vinton area, this girl was driving to Cedar Rapids on Highway 30.

2014: The Year of the Wounded Angel

By Dean Close · 7:14pm December 31st, 2014
We all learned so much in 2014 – and many of last year’s lessons were from paint, and paintings – and pain. I learned that I could mix one gallon of an impossibly ugly bright green paint with a few ounces of equally ugly of “wet cement grey” paint and a gallon of “historically pale yellow” to create a unique medium-light green that works well in our living room.

Pastor's Blog - “That’s Impressive”

By Zach Zajicek · 6:26am December 12th, 2014
A couple years ago, I read an article that caught my attention: “IBM supercomputers simulate 4.5% of the human brain, and all of the cat brain.” Reading further, the article revealed a paramount level of human ingenuity required to partially, yes I said partially, replicate our roughly 20 billion neurons and more than 200 trillion synapses that make up the ‘gray matter‘ responsible for our thoughts and body control systems.

Local Pearl Harbor memorial ceremony deserves large audience

By Dean Close · 6:00pm December 2nd, 2014
"This is amazing, but we should have had a lot more people here." I didn't catch his name, but the grey-haired veteran who stood up at the end of the very first annual Pearl Harbor memorial service at Vinton-Shellsburg Middle School was adamant that more people should have been there to learn about the history behind Dec.

It's the little things that matter

By Valerie Close · 11:42am December 1st, 2014
Yesterday was our day to visit the local homes for our elderly folks. It's always a highlight for me, and I try to remember that as I rush home from church, grab some lunch and head out the door again. There is never an audience more thrilled to see you, more willing to talk your ear off, and more appreciative of the effort you put into being there for them.

Media, reality TV and the Akhoond of Swat

By Dean Close · 10:55am November 28th, 2014
As writers, we often approach a topic knowing what we want to say, but feeling that something is missing. So in our writing, we do some research, hoping to stumble upon the information that will help us clarify what it is we are thinking or feeling. For me, today, it's the Ahkoond of Swat. I can hear you now, all of you: The Who? Of Where? No, you baseball fans, I did not mean to write "The Sultan of Swat," although I now understand the historical background of the Middle Eastern character who lent babe Ru...

How media mediocrity (or malfeasance?) helped fan the flames of Ferguson

By Dean Close · 12:18am November 25th, 2014
I was sitting with about a dozen local residents a while ago, when someone asked us to tell what local news station we prefer. Most mentioned the local ABC or NBC affiliates, and a couple confessed to preferring CBS’ local station. Not me. I briefly thought about going along and saying ‘7’ or ‘9,’ but I didn’t.

Letter to the Editor: Senate's Failure to allow Keystone pipeline

By John Stiegelmeyer · 6:59pm November 19th, 2014
The Senate failed to pass legislation to allow the building of the Keystone XL pipeline by only one vote. There is no question that a pipeline to transport Crude Oil is safer for the environment than shipment by rail or truck. Our government will miss out on income taxes on wages earned by manufactures, fabricators, builders and pipeline owners.

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