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Wingates 'Of Fathers and Fire' succeeds on many levels

Magic realism is most convincing when it places ordinary characters in extraordinary situations.
That's exactly what South Dakota State University associate professor Steven Wingate does in his novel, "Of Fathers and Fire."
Read more about the book in the Feb. 20 Advance.

Goodbye, Kmart

Algona's long goodbye with Kmart comes to an end this Sunday. The store will close with far less fanfare, I'm sure, than the day it opened way back when.

Chamber's year off to busy beginning

It seems like we just turned the calendar to 2020, yet here we are in the middle of February. The chamber operates on a calendar-year structure, so with the turning of the new year, we also welcomed new officers and new board members on our board of directors.

Non-topics and a happy topic

Here are topics I won't be writing about today: Politics. Well, okay, I might as well admit I caucused in the wrong precinct room at Algona High. It was fine, though. My vote counted, and I didn't figure out my mistake until the next day. Don't tell anyone – makes me look not too bright.
Second topic I won't be writing about today: Bats. I haven't had another unwelcome guest since my last column. I am knocking on wood furiously as I type this.

A sad step toward irrelevance?

As a small rural state, Iowa always has to fight for relevance. Our paltry six electoral votes make us the equivalent of a corner of New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, Chicago and Dallas-Fort Worth.

2020 Census mailing due in March

In the coming months, households will receive information in the mail about participating in the 2020 Census. The census is mandated by the United States Constitution which requires the federal government conduct a count of every person in the United States every 10 years.

A most unwelcome critter

I tried to emulate St. Francis of Assisi, who, it is said, loved all God's creatures. Really, I did. But I don't think even St. Francis loved bats. Statues of him (I have one in my yard) always show him cradling a fawn or puppy in his arms with other cute critters sitting at his feet. There's never a sign of a bat.

no predictions, but some ideas for Iowa's lawmakers

People who grew up in bygone days could stand in line at the grocery store and ponder the covers of various tabloids featuring the late Jean Dixon. She was a psychic and astrologer who made predictions throughout her life, but the tabloids featured her musings annually around the start of the new year.

of teddy bears, deceased and otherwise

I had a grand time in Los Angeles over Christmas, thank you so much for asking. And, even if you didn't ask, I still had a grand time.
With three of our children and their spouses, plus two amazing grandchildren (Dylan, 7, and Molly Scarlett, 5) living there, how could it not be a wonderful time? A highlight was a slumber party with Dylan, Molly and Nana in their Aunt Meg's king-sized guest bed.
Read Molly's ink Spots in the Jan. 16 Advance.

Staff, supportive communit help all RISE

The first semester of the 2019-20 school year in Algona Community School District has been wonderful. Our staff and students continue to make the choice every day to rise to the occasion and reach for the future.
I am often reminded as I walk through the halls of the high school or stop into a classroom at Bertha Godfrey, Bryant or Lucia Wallace, the Algona School District is filled with top-notch educators and top-notch students.

New year brings promises of what?

Welcome to 2020. It seems like yesterday that my sons were 9 and 6, and my wife and I opted to forego our traditional night out to stay home and usher in 2000 with them. What a night it was.
As midnight neared, they stood on our couch, arms extended high in the air, holding balls from their ball pit. We counted down the seconds, and at the moment, they dropped the balls.
Read the rest of this column in the Jan. 2 Advance.

A January column revisited, three decades later

I'm going to cheat a bit this week. You will be reading this on Jan. 2, 2020. I'm writing it on Dec. 21, 2019. By the time it is published, I will have flown to Los Angeles and back for Christmas with our California offspring, hopefully with sufficient identification to get me on the plane.

Emotionally draining front pages

Recently, I was visiting with a friend, Don McGuire, who enjoys history as much as I do. I told him that this past year it has, at times, been emotionally draining to read the front pages of previous Algona newspapers.

A simple reminder: go be kind

I hope that everyone reading this had a Merry Christmas. As we look ahead to a new year, I realize it's been a long time since we have reminded everyone to Go Be Kind as we go about our daily lives.
A favorite quote of mine is from Robin Williams: "Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about – be kind always."
Read the complete column in the Jan. 2 Kossuth County Advance.

A memorable Christmas — gifts to mom and the boys

There was snow on the ground, and it was a very cold, but bright, sunny day in mid-December 1941. Mom told us kids that we were going somewhere special.
Dad and Mom loaded Don (age 3), Julian (age 5) and me (age 6) into our Model A Ford and drove about 45 miles to Fort Dodge. We seldom traveled more than a few miles from home, so that seemed like a long trip.
Read the rest of Jim's Christmas memory in the Dec. 26 Advance.

New event, new digs for SPAC

Stinson Prairie Arts Council (SPAC) is looking forward to an exciting 2020, filled with fine art exhibits, events and opening the doors to the Carnegie Centre for the Arts.
In 2019, we hosted an artist show and photography show for adults and a high school show for students. This year, SPAC members plan to add a show for the younger artist.
Read more in the Dec. 26 Kossuth County Advance.

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