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Community

Optimist Bike Rodeo Saturday, June 18

SOLON– The Optimist Club of Solon will host its annual Summer Bike Rodeo on Saturday, June 18, on the play area behind the Solon Middle School. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and the contest will begin at 9 a.m. Kids in five age brackets (4-5, 6-7, 8-9 and 10-11 and training wheels) will compete in five contests focusing on balance, steering and paper toss. There will be a boy and girl division for each age bracket. Each age bracket will have first, second and third place trophies and two overall championship trophies. Come practice your bicycle skill and be sure to wear your helmet.

Ely Firefighter’s Breakfast July 4

ELY– The Annual Ely Volunteer Fire Department Firefighter’s Breakfast is Monday, July 4. Proceeds from this yearly event support the department’s operational expenses. Tickets can be purchased from any Ely firefighter or local merchants. Adult tickets are $6 in advance, $6.50 at the door, $3 for children 12 and under, and children 5 and under eat free. All-you-can-eat pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon, milk, coffee and water will be served. Serving, rain or shine, from 6:30 a.m. to noon at the Ely Fire Department, 1300 Main St. in Ely.

Macbride Raptor Project becomes Iowa Raptor Project

SOLON– The Macbride Raptor Project, a program devoted to the preservation of Iowa’s birds of prey and their natural habitats, has changed its name to the Iowa Raptor Project effective June 1. The name change reflects the organization’s shift in focus from rehabilitating individual raptors to field research focusing on habitat needs and identifying risks to preserve raptor populations.

Fire in his blood

After 24 years, Ely’s Zbanek trades chief’s helmet for firefighter’s

ELY– As a kid growing up in Ely, Randy Zbanek was a constant presence at the fire station.
“I was born and raised around it. My dad was on forever (and chief for two years); two brother-in-laws were on at a time. That was the thing to do, was to hang out at the fire station, and that’s what we did as kids… and the bug bit. I’ve been on ever since.”

Beef Days seeks parade route security

SOLON– The Beef Days Committee has rotating groups responsible for different activities during the annual event. The committee is looking for a group or a combination of individuals who would be interested in working as “parade security.” Nine or 10 people are needed to work from 9:15-11:30 a.m., Saturday, July 16, the pay is $10 an hour. The job is basically standing at intersections and making certain vehicles don’t drive through the parade route during this time.

NL lays bedrock for soil quality restoration

A rich investment

NORTH LIBERTY– Dan Harbit bought an “Earth and Turf,” a few years ago, on a whim. Now, he owns three of them.
“During the sale nobody bid on it because they thought it was broken” Harbit said of his first topdresser purchase. He ended up buying the piece of landscaping equipment for $850– a whopping 88 percent off its retail value of around $7,000.

City-wide garage sales June 9-12

NORTH LIBERTY– Local organizers have selected the weekend of June 10 for city-wide garage sales in North Liberty and have set up a website with information for sellers and buyers: northlibertygaragesales.com.
In addition to the website, garage-sale-goers will be able to pull up a mobile-friendly Google Map and find nearby sales by item categories.
Questions about sales can be addressed to the organizers at questions@northlibertygaragesales.com.

Saving St. Mary’s

130-year-old church needs new roof, siding

NEWPORT– There used to be a village of Newport along the road halfway between Solon and Iowa City.
St. Mary’s Church of Newport is just west on Newport Road, and if funds for its preservation are not raised, it may soon become a memory from the distant past, too.
The 130-year-old structure no longer serves a Catholic congregation as it did for the first 110 years of its existence. Even its role as a precinct polling place has fallen along the wayside.
The church bell, added in 1891, now tolls only a few times a year to mark the consecrated nuptials of a just-wedded couple.

NLCP volunteer spotlight: Susan Barrett

NORTH LIBERTY– Susan Barrett started volunteering at the North Liberty Community Pantry (NLCP) because she heard about it from another volunteer’s spouse. Barrett has been a volunteer at the pantry for nearly five years.

Update on Penn playground expansion, goats

NORTH LIBERTY– Goats on the Go did their job during their stay at Penn Elementary Saturday, May 14, through Tuesday, May 17. The school grounds crew also cut out all of the smaller woody vegetation and applied a type of grass seed that will grow quickly and help keep back weeds. This type of grass will only survive one year. In the next few weeks, a tree company will visit Penn to remove large “junk” tress– primarily ash trees. Throughout the summer, the grounds crew will continue to work on small projects, such as leveling low spots, removing stumps and cleaning the fence.

Daniel Rhoads of NL discovers giant morel

DORCHESTER– Daniel Rhoads, of North Liberty, found what he claims to be one of Iowa’s largest morel mushrooms at Camp Tahigwa, near Decorah, on Saturday, May 21.
Measuring 13 1/8 inches, it falls just a hair short of another self-proclaimed “largest Iowa morel” found earlier in May by Kelly Young near Walnut. Young’s morel weighed 1 1/2 pounds and was 15 inches long and 14 inches around.

NL fire dept. Open House and grill-out June 18

NORTH LIBERTY– The NLFD would like to open its doors and invite the community to come see the firehouse and get to know the firefighters and the equipment on Saturday, June 18, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be fun and interactive “firefighting” games and demonstrations for all ages. The fire department will also be grilling out and serving lunch.