Upcoming exhibit captures everyday life in rural Iowa

Arlene and Wayne Nolting of rural Preston get their first glance at a 2002 book of photos that includes Wayne’s family and friends in the late 1950s.
Arlene and Wayne Nolting of rural Preston get their first glance at a 2002 book of photos that includes Wayne’s family and friends in the late 1950s.

By KELLY GERLACH

News Editor

kgerlach@mspress.net

Memories flooded back as Wayne Nolting of rural Preston stared at a photograph in a book. 

The photo was a familiar scene he’d lived many times: his father and brother sitting around the dining room table at the neighboring Grant farm, eating an afternoon lunch of sandwiches, soup and cake after a day of hard labor threshing in the fields.

Nolting knew every face in the photo – his father, brother, close neighbors.

“We were there a lot,” Nolting said, remembering the many summers when neighbors shared resources and labor to harvest crops.

“You look like you needed some more meat on your bones,” said his wife Arlene, nudging her shoulder against his.

But almost 70 years after the photo was taken, Nolting, the only person in the photo who is still alive, did not remember seeing the stranger who took that photo in the Grant dining room.

The photographer was Arthur Melville “Pete” Wettach. And he might not have been a total stranger. He worked for what was then the Farm Security Administration, helping tenant farmers to buy land of their own.

Wettach was also a self-taught photographer, and his photographs capture a glimpse of rural Iowa life in the Great Depression and afterward.

Thirty of his photographs, including that of the Noltings and Grants, are on display at Maquoketa Art Experience through May 15. Two receptions are 

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New middle school dance team has the moves

Carah Morehead thrusts her poms to the side and smiles big during the new Maquoketa Middle School Dance Team’s first performance at the high school.
Carah Morehead thrusts her poms to the side and smiles big during the new Maquoketa Middle School Dance Team’s first performance at the high school.

By KELLY GERLACH

 

News Editor

 

kgerlach@mspress.net

 

Fierce looks of concentration reflected from 42 silver poms clutched in the hands of 21 girls.

 

Then one girl’s hand twitched, waving her pom as she discreetly worked out a nervous kink in her hand.

 

All eyes were on the girls.

 

Then smiles spread across their faces as the music started and they – and their poms – danced for the first time. 

 

The group is the first Maquoketa Middle School Dance Team, and the performance was the girls’ first in front of a sizable crowd – at halftime of a Maquoketa Cardinals boys varsity basketball game last week.

 

The new team formed from interest and need, according to coaches Ashley Wing and Mandi Lemke of Tempo Dance Studio in Maquoketa.

 

“We started because when you get to high school, you start fresh” with no experience to get on the dance team, Wing said. “With those who dance, they have a number of years of experience on them. It’s not like other sports where you’ve played since you were little.”

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Mayor says he is 'encouraged by the sounds of optimism'

Maquoketa mayor Don Schwenker
Maquoketa mayor Don Schwenker

By KELLY GERLACH

News Editor

kgerlach@mspress.net

Mayor Don Schwenker praised the city’s 2016 accomplishments and painted an optimistic picture of the year to come. 

He delivered his state of the city address Monday night during the Maquoketa City Council meeting.

“The citizens and businesses have endured a lot of inconveniences and hardship due to the numerous construction projects around our town,” he said, reading from a prepared speech. 

However, “Each challenge has been met with an optimistic outlook of what is to come, not the immediate obstacle that lies before them,” he said.

He named some of the projects on which the city worked in 2016:

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Cutting-edge treatment alleviates years of chronic pain for Maquoketa principal

Christine Snell unpacks the highly-magnetic remote control and recorder that are helping her regenerate bone growth in her left leg. MSP photo by Kelly Gerlach
Christine Snell unpacks the highly-magnetic remote control and recorder that are helping her regenerate bone growth in her left leg. MSP photo by Kelly Gerlach

By KELLY GERLACH

News Editor

kgerlach@mspress.net

They broke her femur.

She cannot put weight on her left leg, relegating her to crutches.

She is in pain.

But Christine Snell could not be happier.

After undergoing multiple surgeries and living with chronic pain for most of her 45 years, Snell believes she found relief in a relatively new limb-lengthening surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. 

“After all the surgeries just to deal with the long-term effects of my leg discrepancy, this is all very surreal to me,” she said, sitting behind the conference table in her principal’s office at Maquoketa Middle School last week – about one week after the surgery.

The surgery is working. As of Dec. 31, her left femur had grown 11 millimeters (about half an inch).

It doesn’t sound like much, but every millimeter counts when one leg is 47 mm – nearly 2 inches – longer than the other. 

Building blocks

Snell and her family never noticed her limb-length discrepancy. She walked, ran and played like her sisters.

Hindsight is 20/20, however, as she examined four childhood photographs in her hand.

“I looked like I was standing with my body tilted all the time,” she said, pointing to a Christmas photo taken when she was about 4. In the photo, her two older sisters are standing upright in front of the tree, but Snell looked as if the left side of her body was weighted down, gravity pulling her toward the ground.

 

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03/29/17

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