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Looking Back, Moving Forward

Posted December 26, 2012 in Altoona
Maggie and Bailey Fitzgibbon hold a portrait of them that was taken nearly seven years ago.

Maggie and Bailey Fitzgibbon hold a portrait of them that was taken nearly seven years ago.

Where did you go in 2012? It’s that time in the frenzied holiday prepping, shopping, celebrating and stressing that the thought, often fleetingly, crosses your mind. As another year comes to an end, one can’t help but reflect on the events of the past year, big and small, serious and silly.

There were the politics (the never-ending presidential race that finally culminated in the November election) and the power of Mother Nature (on full display, per the wrath of Hurricane Sandy). There was the spectacle of this summer’s London Olympics (with Iowa transplant Gabrielle Douglas garnering two gold medals in women’s gymnastics), and pop culture’s favorite spectacles (Honey Boo Boo and the “Gangnam Style” horse-dance craze).

Altoona residents recalled the major events in their lives in 2012 and shared their hopes, ambitions and goals for 2013.

Elizabeth ColeTo new beginnings
For Elizabeth Cole, 2012 marked the road to her first real job, as the dietitian at the Altoona Hy-Vee.

Cole graduated from Iowa State University in May 2011 with her bachelor’s in dietetics. An internship in Council Bluffs, from January through June of this year, followed. She began her job at Hy-Vee in August.

“I really like it,” Cole says. “I’m still trying to get my name out there, but I like everything about it.”

In her personal life, she’s excited about becoming a first-time aunt.

“My brother and his wife are having their first baby, and they’re due at the end of February,” says Cole, who is eager to meet her nephew. “I can’t wait to be an aunt.”

Election fatigue
The presidential election stands out in Kris White’s mind as the big event this year.

“I was just getting tired of all the negativity and the back and forth of who did this and who did that and not doing anything to really resolve anything,” White says.

For the upcoming year, she says: “I’d just like to see the government do what it’s supposed to do. That’s the big thing with me. It affects us all. (They should be) just looking out for the people, instead of themselves.”

A birthday milestone and future enjoying the outdoors
Amy TurgasenOne thing Amy Turgasen learned was that turning 30 wasn’t as bad as she’d feared.

Also, life, both professionally and personally, has treated Turgasen and her family well this year.

“Both my husband and I have jobs that we enjoy and are able to support ourselves and provide for our children while still making time for our friends and family,” says Turgasen, the assistant library director at the Altoona Public Library. “I am very thankful for that.”

In 2013, she’s envisioning more child-like fun while playing with her family.

“Both of my sons will finally be old enough to enjoy the trails and parks around our house and the surrounding area,” Turgasen says. “I’ve seen several park expansions going up this past fall, and I hope to take my kids to all of them — (I’m) definitely excited about the new pirate ship playground on the south end of Altoona.”

A healthy 2012 and family trip in 2013
In 2011, Heidi Fitzgibbon’s family had a great year, in which everyone was healthy. In 2012, she had the same wish.

She got it, plus a whirlwind summer. In June, they attended her niece’s wedding, then in the middle of the month, went to a dance recital for her daughters, Bailey, 13, and Maggie, 7.

“The week after our dance recital, my oldest daughter had dance nationals up in Minneapolis,” Fitzgibbon says. “So we spent a week in Minneapolis.”

Next year, they’re planning a family vacation to the Wisconsin Dells, says Fitzgibbon, whose husband is Kirk.

Paul DeshetlerA new job and perspective
Paul Deshetler started his job at Jimmy John’s in 2012, and it brought big changes to his life.

“It taught me how to be a lot more responsible, and taught me about managing my priorities better,” Deshetler says.

In 2013, he plans to keep working at the sandwich shop, saving money “and keep moving up in life,” he says.

The joys of retirement
This year was Joyce White’s first as a retiree.

White retired from her job at ING Financial Partners in 2011. Her career spanned nearly 24 years and included time spent working for Equitable Life Insurance Company of Iowa, which was acquired by ING.

Joyce WhiteThe slower pace of life has been nice, says White, who has been enjoying her newfound freedom with her husband, Doug, who retired five years ago.

“We could pick up and go whenever we wanted to,” she says.

She also likes the fact that she no longer has to drive into downtown Des Moines for work in bad weather.

This year, she began volunteering at Centennial Elementary in Altoona, where her daughter is a kindergarten teacher. She hopes to continue her work in her daughter’s classroom in 2013 and is looking forward to relaxing in the new year.

A new job, a new community
The Rev. Karen Nelson is in the midst of adjusting to a new job and community in 2012.

Nelson and her husband, Gary, moved to Altoona from Mount Vernon. Nelson works as a field outreach minister for the United Methodist Church Central District.Rev. Karen Nelson

This is the first time she and her husband have lived in Central Iowa, and Altoona is a “beautiful community,” Nelson says. They also like the convenience of their location. Everything they need is here, and Nelson has easy access to all of the communities and churches she needs to reach as part of her job, she says.

In the new year, they are both looking forward to getting to know people and experiencing what makes this area unique, from the food to the golf courses (her husband’s hobby).

“My husband and I joke about eating our way through the Des Moines area,” Nelson says.

In addition, Nelson says one of her professional goals in 2013 is “that the churches that I work with would be a positive presence in the communities.”

A wedding, a family
Amanda CaffreyAmanda Caffrey walked down the aisle on Sept. 29.

“I got married to the most wonderful man in the world,” says Caffrey, whose husband is Brian.

The couple, who have been together for more than a year, celebrated their nuptials with more than 200 guests.

“Not too small, not too big. Just perfect,” Caffrey says.

Now, they’re eager to begin a family. Caffrey says her goals in her personal life in 2013 are “to be a great wife and hopefully a mother, too.”

Professionally, the manager at The Sage Tree in Altoona wants to expand and promote her business.

A passion for food and customer service
Seafood was a major highlight of Kevin Havel’s year as chef at the Altoona Hy-Vee.

He’s added more seafood items to the case and has been encouraging customers to try new offerings, says Havel, who has worked at Hy-Vee for 18 years. One of his projects for the year that he’s particularly proud of is his class on how to cook five different fish, five different ways, held in October.Kevin Havel

Many customers were telling him they were overcooking their fish, which prompted him to offer the class, says Havel, who enjoys sharing new cooking techniques for all types of food with customers.

“I had a lot of good responses and a lot of people coming in saying it really helped them with cooking their fish,” he says.

Havel also created a couple new sushi rolls and helped introduce more in-house smoked meats this year.

In the new year, he would like to put more focus on family mealtimes.

“I really would like to help with family-style cooking and trying to get more kids involved in cooking,” he says.

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