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Brandon Pollock / BRANDON POLLOCK, COURIER STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER 

Cedar Valley Gymnastics Academy gymnasts Grace Penrith (left) and Taylor Hogan have qualified for national meets.


Local
Bloomin' beautiful dress made from flowers wins designer award

WATERLOO — One glance at the green and pink full-skirted halter dress with pearl buttons trailing down the back, it’s obvious Gina Whipple would have to be a dressmaker.

But she’s a floral designer — and the bloomin’ beautiful dress was constructed from flowers. Her creation won second place in the Designer of the Year competition sponsored by Koehler & Dramm wholesale florists. The contest took place during the Minneapolis Home and Garden Show in April.

Whipple, who has been a designer at Petersen & Tietz Florists and Greenhouses for the past 10 years, qualified for event after winning a semifinal competition earlier in the year.

Exactly what the competitors were going to do in the designer of the year contest wasn’t unexpected.

“We knew we were going to have to create a dress out of flowers, so I went online trying to inspire myself. I stopped doing that pretty quickly because I didn’t want to get ideas in my head and then not have the items I needed during the competition. I decided not to think about it a lot and let it happen very organically,” Whipple said.

Floral designers each were given identical mannequins with black slips, a box containing glues, florist wire and other tools and a bucket of flowers and foliage, including carnations, roses, wax flowers and pennycress. Competitors had 3 1/2 hours to complete their dress project before judging began.

“For the first two minutes, I stood looking at all of it, and then thought ‘OK,’ and got to work. Everyone was given the exact same flowers, same pink and green colors, same everything. I used a lot of foliage to build the dress, and I knew I wanted to create a big, full skirt,” Whipple said.

The bodice was highly detailed, constructed from foliage and trimmed with hot pink carnations. More carnations were used for pops of color on the green skirt.

All the while, the designers were on full view of visitors at the home and garden show. “Everybody could walk around us to see what we were doing and ask us questions. Everybody was really quite interested in it. Most people have never seen anything like this in person. I wasn’t nervous, just excited and really focused,” she said.

Her family also came to watch the competition.

A panel of professional judges awarded Whipple second place, praising the style and originality of her design, as well as her expert mechanics used to construct the dress.

“The dresses stayed on display at the booth, and I don’t know what happened to them after the garden show. I would have loved to have taken it home,” Whipple said.


Crime-and-courts
topical
Mom of baby found dead may plead intoxication

NEW HAMPTON — The mother of a baby who was found dead in an Alta Vista apartment in August has indicated she may use a diminished responsibility or intoxication defense at trial.

Meanwhile, the father of the child is asking the court to move his trial out of the area because of pretrial publicity.

Cheyanne Renae Harris, 20, and Zachary Koehn, 28, are charged with murder and child endangerment in connection with the death of 4-month-old Sterling Koehn. Sterling was found in a swing seat in their apartment, and a medical examiner determined he died of denial of critical care.

On Thursday, Harris’ attorney, Aaron Hawbaker, filed a notice Harris may use the defenses of diminished responsibility or intoxication and designated Art Konar, an Ames psychologist, as a defense witness.

Hawbaker also asked the court to postpone Harris’ June trial because of a scheduled conflict. Hawbaker is scheduled to represent Chad Little on first-degree murder charges in an unrelated child death case in Black Hawk County District Court in June.

Koehn’s attorney, Steve Drahozal of Dubuque, asked the court in April to move his trial because of more than 2,500 newspaper articles on the case as well as coverage on television and radio. The coverage creates the likelihood a fair jury won’t be possible in Chickasaw County, Drahozal argued.

Jeff Reinitz / JEFF REINITZ jeff.reinitz@wcfcourier.com 

Zachary Koehn listens during a pretrial conference in Chickasaw County District Court in New Hampton on Tuesday.

Prosecutors with the Iowa Attorney General’s Office aren’t resisting the request and asked the court that venue be changed to a community of similar size and character of Chickasaw County.

Koehn’s attorney also asked the court to prohibit allegations of illegal drug use and domestic abuse during trial. He said he anticipates the state will attempt to offer such evidence said the allegations are hearsay and would be unfairly prejudicial.


Education
CF student vying for artwork to be displayed on Google homepage

Abbi Zaugg

CEDAR FALLS — Abbi Zaugg, an eighth-grader from Holmes Junior High, is one of the 53 state and territory winners in the annual Doodle 4 Google competition.

The contest is open to K-12 students across the United States. Their challenge was to redesign the Google homepage logo inspired by the theme “What inspires me.”

Abbi’s doodle, “Galaxy of Music,” was selected as a semi-finalist from among 100,000 entries.

“I love music and art,” she said in a press release. “They inspire me and help me to express myself. I think the neat thing is that we are just one small insignificant person in the universe, but we have the potential to change the universe.”

Five finalists will be chosen by public vote, open until May 18 at https://doodles.google.com/d4g/vote.html#33

Google will announce these five national finalists and one of them as the national winner the first week of June. The winning student and national finalists will travel to Mountain View, Calif., to meet and workshop with Google’s team of professional doodlers and see what it takes to launch a Doodle on the Google homepage. Then national winner will take home a $30,000 college scholarship and his or her school will receive a $50,000 Google for Education grant toward the establishment and improvement of a computer lab or technology program.

Jeremy Jones, Holmes Junior High principal, said, “We are so proud of Abbi and her winning entry, as well as all the Holmes students who entered the contest. This is such a great opportunity for our students to take a common theme and see all the ways it can be interpreted.”


Local
Area newborn injured in freak accident at softball game

SHELL ROCK – A 7-week-old girl was struck by a softball in the Shell Rock area Wednesday and transferred to a Minnesota hospital for treatment.

Details of the accident weren’t immediately available, but the injury happened at a recreational softball game, according to social media posts Thursday.

The baby was treated at Waverly Health Care on Wednesday night for a head injury and then driven to an airfield in Cresco for a medical flight to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., according to Waverly police.

It wasn’t clear where the accident happened.

A social media post states the baby was hit in the head by a softball and suffered a fractured skull that caused seizures.