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Looking Back, Moving Forward

Posted December 26, 2012 in Waukee
Last year, Terry Snyder and others formed a board of directors, began raising funds and making plans for the creation of the Waukee Area Historial Society. She is pictured holding a carbide lamp once used by local miners.

Last year, Terry Snyder and others formed a board of directors, began raising funds and making plans for the creation of the Waukee Area Historial Society. She is pictured holding a carbide lamp once used by local miners.

It’s that time of year again — the new year. It’s a time for people to make resolutions, set goals, and take a look back at the year before. For some, 2012 might have been a great year full of new adventures, and for others it’s a time best left behind. Whether it was positive or negative, these Waukee residents reflect on the last year and look forward to the upcoming challenges and new beginnings that 2013 brings. Happy new year!

Celebrating history
Those interested in Waukee’s history saw 2012 as a good year as the Waukee Area Historical Society was started.

“I’ve been wanting to bring old pictures to life and learn about Waukee because I know there are so many seniors in our community,” Terry Snyder says. “I’ve been here for 20 years, and for 10 years I wanted to do something. Last year I was in the Waukee Leadership Institute, and they advise you to have a project, so I researched how we could establish the historical society.”

Snyder and others in her leadership institute class formed a board of directors, starting raising money, and got the group’s 501c3 non-profit status. Right now there isn’t really an official location for the society, but Snyder hopes that one day they will be able to open a museum to showcase all of the historical photos, documents and items they’ve received. They hope the museum can be opened near the Triangle, and they’re scouting potential sites.

The group also had a big fundraiser — a one-night-only opening of Alice’s Spaghetti Land. The famous Waukee restaurant, run by Alice Nizzi who Alice’s Road is named after, was located near the old mining camp. The house was converted into a restaurant and now back into a house. Alice gave her recipes to her nephew Jim Nizzi, who decided the society could reopen Alice’s for one night only, serving the food that made Alice and her family famous.

“We pre-sold 150 tickets, and we had over 365 people,” Snyder says. “It was a one-night event where we served her spaghetti. People sat around and visited who hadn’t seen other people in a long time, and Jim Nizzi came around. I’ve heard from people, ‘Let me know when you do it again.’ It really draws people from all around the area.”

Snyder says they’ve confirmed that they will do the event again in 2013, and it will be the organization’s annual fundraiser.

The organization also has a membership drive. It’s $25 a year for families, and this year each month there will be a calendar of events that gives members a chance to attend events and get involved. Snyder says she feels like people want to get something out of a membership, so they will plan different things like like how to research and learn more about their own personal histories and ancestries.

“Our oldest resident just passed away, and we had intended to get her on video to do a documentary that we’d like to put together,” Snyder says. “Well, her daughter said she was having health problems, and it just never happened. But we know there are others that can talk to us and tell us about Waukee so we can preserve those memories. Or if they have pictures, we can scan them in and give them a copy of the CD for their families so they’ll be digitally preserved.”

The society had a cemetery walk on Nov. 1, and about 40 people came out to listen and learn from people from Waukee who had deep roots and talked about their ancestors coming in the 1800s.

Snyder says someone talked about the first person from Waukee to die in a war in WWI and how people lined the streets as his casket was pulled through town. Many people don’t know that a Waukee football player was killed on the football field in the 1920s. Waukee quit playing football until the 1960s because of it.

“There are so many interesting things that you learn about this town, and we want to get all of that out for people to learn,” Snyder says. “It will take a long time. But we’re looking forward to getting started and getting more people involved in the coming year.”

A new business venture
For Waukee resident Nalan McConkey, 2012 was also a big year. She opened Growing Again Childre’s Resale shop four months ago, and she’s excited about growing her business in Waukee.

Nalan McConkey opened Growing Again Children’s Resale shop in Waukee in 2012.

Nalan McConkey opened Growing Again Children’s Resale shop in Waukee in 2012.

“We live in Waukee, and I was looking for something to do business-wise,” she says. “I decided to try a resale store because there are lots of young families here, and this might be a good spot for people to exchange their clothes and buy and sell. I want to spend some time at the store and make some money and help others make some money.”

Growing Again Children’s Resale Store sells gently-used clothing for children in infancy through teen years, as well as maternity clothing and baby toys and equipment, making life a little easier and more affordable for parents in Waukee. Customers are invited to bring in gently-used items for appraisal, and can either sell them immediately to the store owner for cash or sell them on consignment.

McConkey has a daughter, Michelle, who is 5. She’s one of McConkey’s most important customers, though she adds with a smile that Michelle doesn’t sell, she just buys.

McConkey says she hopes that as more people learn of the business, the store will really take off. Until now, she’s had a steady base of loyal customers, and she’s happy with the progress it’s made.

“I’m very happy and I have good clients and I like them and they like me and it’s team work,” she says. “I want to grow, of course. I want to have more people here and create a huge circulation and get involved in some community activities. I didn’t know there was Christmas tree event at the library, so next year I want to purchase a tree and be a part of that. It’s a nice way to give back.”

In 2013, McConkey says she looks forward to growing her business and becoming more involved in the Waukee community.

To good health
For Nicole McComas, 2012 was a year full of challenges and set-backs, but she knows already that 2013 is one to look forward to.

When McComas turned 40 in 2011, she went for her first routine mammogram screening. It was from that screening that she learned she had breast cancer.

“I had no signs or symptoms,” she says. “But I soon learned I had invasive ductal carcinoma. Mine is the more aggressive type, as it is triple negative. Within days I met with a surgeon who stated I would need a left mastectomy. I said, ‘Well, if you are going to take one, you might as well take the other one. I do not want to have “suspicious” lumps show up on the right side in a few years!’ ”

She underwent bilateral mastectomy in July and started chemotherapy at the end of July. She had 16 rounds that started at the beginning of December, and then she went through six weeks of radiation and that ended last February. Since then she had a reconstruction, and that posed some issues, so she’s had several surgeries throughout 2012.

McComas will go to back to work from the last surgery that she had on Christmas Eve. She says she’s ready to return to her job as a speech pathologist at Methodist.

Nicole McComas with her children, from left: Grant, 6; Nicholas, 4; and Paige, 9.

Nicole McComas with her children, from left: Grant, 6; Nicholas, 4; and Paige, 9.

The journey has been hard on her family, especially her kids who are 8, 6 and 4. She says they’ve tried to keep everything as normal as possible and their routines the same, but she can tell that cancer is always on the back of their minds.

“I don’t know always what they’re thinking,” she says. “But the other day my middle son said ‘I wish you would have never gotten cancer’ while we were shopping for tennis shoes. I think it’s on their minds but not as much as they might let on. I wanted them to have as normal life as possible and not have it all revolve around it.”

McComas became involved with the Waukee-based organization Katie’s Crusaders after a friend nominated her to be a crusader. Waukee resident Katie Mangan started the organization to help others with breast cancer after her own journey with the disease. McComas can’t thank her and the organization enough for helping their family.

“We’ve done the Komen walks, but this is local,” she says. “The money stays here, and you get to know people in the community. The camaraderie is huge, too. People know what you’re going through. You can talk about going through chemo, ‘Are you having this, too?’ Another crusader is having the same surgery that I had soon, so we talk about that, and it’s such a great support system.”

In 2013, McComas says she looks forward to a less eventful year. Her reconstruction is complete. She says she might have to have a few more “nips and tucks,” but as of right now she’s cancer free. She meets with her doctors every three months to monitor things; her cancer has the highest rate of reoccurrence within the first five years. Once she gets to that point, she won’t even see an oncologist, and her chances of getting it again are the same as anyone’s.

“Right now I’m thinking about trying to get back into exercise and healthy eating and helping Katie,” she says. “My husband and I are excited about being a part of the organization and paying it forward and helping other families.  You’re helping people in our area, and you can meet them and see how it will help. It’s really amazing.”

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