Author: Contributed Article

MHS students get educated on sex trafficking

By Daniel Salazar  On January 2, Muscatine high schoolers were given the opportunity to miss their second or third period class to view a presentation from Braking Traffik, whose members gave an informative presentation about sex trafficking in the world.    Braking Traffik is a program offered by Family Resources whose mission is to abolish human labor trafficking and human sex trafficking in Iowa and Illinois. They provide necessary services to the survivors in Scott, Jackson, Clinton, Muscatine, and Louisa counties in Iowa as well as Rock Island County in Illinois.    Braking Traffik has been around for more than 12 years, and this year, high schoolers had the opportunity to learn about the hidden tragedy occurring in our state thanks to Kjirstin Osland, a sophomore at Muscatine High School who has been in contact with the program since 8th grade.    When she had the topic as part of an assignment to give an informative speech for speech and debate, Osland had the opportunity to get in touch with people from law enforcement ranging from local officials to agents from the FBI, including the head of Human Trafficking case studies for the state of Iowa.    A very influential person from Braking Traffik is Cathy O’Keefe, the former director of the organization. Kjirstin helped organize the visit and was surprised that over 250 students showed up for the two short sessions that were offered. The students seemed surprised to learn that human trafficking takes place as nearby as the Quad Cities and Cedar Rapids.    The main message of the presentation and the short film was that human trafficking in any form can happen to anyone, anywhere. Too many people do...

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The Merrill Hotel opens March 12

Contributed by Jim Ellias Muscatine and the Midwest’s newest four-star luxury hotel, The Merrill Hotel & Conference Center, plans to open March 12.  Even before it’s open, this spectacular new pearl is earning accolades. The International Association of Conference Centers (IACC) has named The Merrill Iowa’s only IACC Certified Venue, making it part of an elite group that represents innovative meeting venues throughout the world.   The Howe Conference Center crowns the hotel, taking up the entire sixth floor with spacious rooms, natural light, and scenic views the of Mississippi River from three sides. The conference center consists of over 12,000 square feet of state-of-the-art, flexible meeting space. The opulent Grand Ballroom will accommodate up to 360 banquet guests while treating them to a commanding view of the river from its 1250-square-foot terrace. When...

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Winter self-care

Contributed by Angela Dieckman    Let’s face it, Iowans, winter is a reality. Whether it’s the great variance in temperatures from moderate to brutal or the darkness that sets in anywhere after 5 p.m., winter can be a season that garners dread. I’d like to offer an alternate view on winter and help provide some tips to use winter months to your benefit.  First, while there are agricultural and environmental reasons why winter is important for our state, a more personal reason it can be beneficial is that winter naturally forces us to slow down. Think snow, getting coats and boots on, warming cars, driving…. This can be...

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Kids First Pancake Breakfast

  Contributed by Michele Rhoades  he Kids First Pancake Breakfast is held once a quarter, generally in January, April, July, and October, and it supports United Way’s Kids First Fund. The Kids First Fund was created to help kids stay connected by getting involved in activities and to eliminate barriers to learning. School district employees identify kids who would benefit from the program. Some of the items covered by the fund are shoes, clothing, gas for college visits, school supplies, and activity fees.  Upcoming 2018 pancake breakfasts will take place on April 13, July 4, and October 26.    At United Way’s Business After Hours in December, we auctioned off two hours of volunteer time from three board...

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Bridges to the future

Contributed by Thomas Berryman  Lead pastor at Island United Methodist Church    This column is titled Building Bridges and most think it is just for the future, of what lies ahead. Well, did you know that we have been building bridges to the past? Celebrations and observances take place every year in the Muscatine area, marking years of service and dedication to community. Island United Methodist Church on Stewart Road is no different, hitting 150 years with a weekend observation in June of this year. 150 years doesn’t seem a long time when compared to other observances. However, what really matters when we mark a date and time is what happened in the years in between when it opened and the planned celebration.  Muscatine has a lot to celebrate as its history is rich with information, like the fact that nineteenth-century novelist Mark Twain spent some time here. President Ronald Reagan talked about the USA being a city sitting on a hill, a city that cannot be hidden. So it goes for our celebrations and observances, shinning more light during its sesquicentennial, repairing bridges to the past that had been lost in time.  Bridges go both ways, though we only can go one way to build a stronger bridge. Last month, a most important bridge to the past was observed, a bridge about 2,000 years old. We get a chance every year to learn about the arrival of Jesus Christ into our world. In my review of the Island’s history, I...

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