Another year is in the books. A brand new year has just begun.
For the Fort Dodge community, looking ahead to 2013 is a bright new adventure, filled with opportunity. Take a few minutes and savor some memorable moments of 2012, all the while keeping an eye on the future.
A year of firsts
The year 2012 was a big year of firsts for Amber Allbee and her son, Kyrie. For Amber, learning how to be a mother was a first. For 7-month-old Kyrie, everything is a first.
“I’ve been learning how to have patience,” Amber says, something that every first-time parent can relate to quite easily. (She’s also likely been learning how to live on little sleep, constantly interrupted!)
A 2006 graduate of Fort Dodge Senior High, Amber grew up in a family of five children — large by post-Baby Boomer standards — and says she always wanted to be a mom.
In December, Amber had as much fun as Kyrie when she took him to see Santa for the very first time. Year-round, mother and son enjoy doing simple things together.
“We like to go to the park when we can. This summer we took him to Oleson Park Zoo a lot,” says the stay-at-home mom.
“We read a lot and play, and he’s learning how to play basketball — like his dad!” she says.
As her son goes from being an infant to a toddler on the move, she’s looking forward to all the new “firsts” to come.
“Next year he’ll be able to walk, so he’ll be even more fun. We’ll be able to do a bunch of things together that we can’t do right now,” she says excitedly.
But Kyrie isn’t the only one with a lot of firsts to look forward to in 2013. Amber is also working hard to complete her education at Iowa Central Community College.
“In March I’ll be done with my degree in health care administration,” she notes, an accomplishment for anyone, let alone a busy first-time mother.
As 2013 rolls on, mom and son have a lot to look forward to all year long.
A milestone year
Darron Baker celebrated a milestone in 2012, one that brings trepidation to some, but he took it all in stride. After decades of delivering AARP cards to others, he found his own in the mail.
For Baker, marking a half-century on the planet called Earth was something to celebrate.
“I turned 50,” Baker says with an easy grin. “My wife threw me a big surprise party in our garage — lots of people there; it was fun.”
Looking back on those 50 years, it’s interesting to note the changes. There have been 10 U.S. presidents, but only two hosts of The Tonight Show. (Well, four if you count Conan’s brief stint and the part of 1962 before Johnny Carson took over for Steve Allan — Letterman people really don’t count anyone after Carson!)
But for Baker, there’s little time to start looking back. As for 2013, he looks forward to another good year doing what he’s been doing for three decades.
“I just keep on walking, delivering mail. It will be 30 years in March with the Postal Service,” he explains.
Baker says he enjoys the work as it keeps him fit, allows him to be outside, and he just enjoys talking to people on his route. His wish for 2013 is simple: more time to golf!
New year, new goal
Hana Strauss says it’s hard to choose just one favorite moment as she looks back on 2012. Having moved from Rolfe to Fort Dodge for college a few years ago, she seems to have found a home here and enjoys everyday life with friends and co-workers at Mineral City.
“I’ve been here since 2006. I moved here to go to Iowa Central and study automotive, but I started working in this restaurant, and it’s a really nice atmosphere and a good place to work,” she says.
One of her favorite activities each year in Fort Dodge is simply going out to the apple orchard to select a pumpkin for the fall, pick up some apples and just have a good time with friends. She also enjoys the entertainment scene and has been very happy with some of the new stores that have opened up along Fifth Avenue South’s “Corridor of Commerce” in the last year.
Looking ahead to 2013, Hana plans to continue enjoying her work at Mineral City but says she may also make time to go back to school. This time around she’s interested in studying business management.
A new year, a new goal, and that’s always a good thing.
The years go quickly by
For Angela Barton, looking back on the year 2012 brings many happy memories of time spent with her children as they rapidly grow into adulthood. She and her husband, pastor at Rolling Hills Community Church in Fort Dodge, are parents to four boys, ages 12 to 19, so it’s easy to see that this is one busy family.
To make the most of that precious family time, the Bartons purchased a pop-up camper in 2012 and quickly put it to use for weekend adventures.
“We like to go camping at Brushy Creek,” she says. “We have friends there, and it’s close to home, so if we forget something we can run back and get it easily.”
Looking ahead to 2013, Angela says the family is hoping to venture a little farther from home, likely for a camping and fishing trip to northern Minnesota.
“We just want to continue watching our children grow up, camping and spending time as a family,” Angela notes.
“I also enjoy just being a pastor’s wife and ministering with him,” she adds.
A fresh start
After three decades in education, Aletha Stienstra enjoyed a fresh new start in 2012.
“The best thing this year was getting a teaching job at Community Christian School. I’ve been a teacher for 30 years, but I’ve never been in a traditional classroom until this year,” she explains.
Aletha worked for several years at the AEA, focusing on children with disabilities. But when budget cuts brought staff reductions, she found herself doing a variety of jobs including work in a photography shop as a college instructor. It was family that ultimately led Aletha and her husband to Webster County.
“When my husband and I found out that our daughter was pregnant with our second grandchild, and we have only one daughter, we decided that we wanted to watch our grandchildren grow up. So after 50-plus years of living two miles from where I was born and raised, we moved out of Sioux County to Webster County — and here we are!” she says joyfully.
As for 2013, this is one woman who has learned to go with the flow of life.
“I follow the wavy line that God gives us,” she says. “There is always joy in the wavy line.”
A little help from friends
Gladys Long has lived to see a lot of new years come and go since she moved to Fort Dodge after getting married in 1948. World War II was barely over. Crossroads Mall hadn’t been built yet and the Boston Store was one of the busiest on Central Avenue.
“I worked at Arlan’s Department Store, and then I worked at Kmart for almost 20 years,” she recalls of places now gone from the local landscape.
One thing that hasn’t changed in all those years is the value of friendship, and that’s what she treasures most as she looks back on 2012. In many ways, it wasn’t an easy year for Long. She’s had some health problems, and her car gave out. But that’s when friends rose to the occasion and helped her find a new set of wheels.
“I have a few good friends, and one of them helped me find this car,” she explains. “Now all I have to do is pay for it.”
Despite the challenges of 2012, she’s facing the new year with determination.
“I’m still alive, and I’m on a new diet: If anybody else cooks it and cleans up afterwards, I’ll eat just about anything,” she says with a laugh.
While it’s not as easy to get around as it used to be, her best little friend does keep her active.
“I do try to take my dog for a walk every day, and that helps,” Gladys says.
Looking ahead to 2013, Gladys would like to get out with friends more often.
“I would like to go to the Hawkeye Community Theatre next year,” she says. “I used to go to that once in awhile with friends, and it’s always fun.”
The blessings of family
For Dr. Ed and Heidi Touney, 2012 was a busy year. But then, with eight children, any year is likely to a very busy year.
For Heidi, starting a new job as Parish Life Director at Holy Trinity Catholic Parish was her biggest challenge, and likely her biggest enjoyment, in 2012.
“The fun thing is just being with the youth of the parish,” she says.
In 2013, she’ll have an opportunity to visit even more with the families throughout Webster County that make up the unified Catholic Parish as Holy Trinity conducts a census.
“We have to do a census, going door to door. We’re really working to find out what the parishioners need and want from us; that’s going to be the highlight,” she says.
In their family life, the couple enjoys spending time with their children. Dr. Touney says a family vacation to Jekyll Island, Ga., provided some of the best moments of 2012.
“Where I would like to go is Europe, but where we’ll realistically go is probably just camping,” she says.
But whether it’s camping in Europe or one of the state parks in Webster County, this is a family that simply enjoys being together.
“The best thing is just the blessings of our family every day,” says Dr. Touney.
Sounds like a great way to spend any year.