CEDAR FALLS — Face masks are the newest school supply for students who are returning to in-person classes this fall.
Both the Waterloo and Cedar Falls public schools will supply the facial coverings for children.
But Aaron Broshar and his wife, Ashley, have launched a fundraising effort to bolster those reserves. They hope to raise $24,000 in order to distribute a two-ply reusable cloth mask to each of the approximately 16,000 students in the school districts.
The owners of Blue Barn BBQ announced last week on Facebook that they were seeking online donations while planning to contribute some of their profits to the cause. They’re also encouraging other businesses and individuals to raise money toward the effort.
“It’s something that we’re kind of taking on, but it’s not about us,” said Aaron Broshar. “Our end goal is just that the community has an opportunity to come out of this stronger, safer, more resilient.”
With the youngest of their three children starting kindergarten this fall, the couple has been paying a lot of attention to “return to learn” plans being released by the districts. After seeing the prominent role of masks in those plans, they hatched their initiative.
Broshar said it’s a way to “pitch in and bring everybody together” as the community continues to grapple with COVID-19. The coronavirus pandemic kept students out of school during the spring, and masks are intended to limit the disease’s spread as work continues on a vaccine.
They launched the campaign on social media before approaching the districts. Spokespeople with both Waterloo and Cedar Falls schools said it was a surprise to learn about the effort, although the districts are supportive.
If a child needs a facial covering on a particular day, Cedar Falls Community Schools will provide a disposable mask.
“We’re providing them, but suggesting if they have their own they provide their own,” said Janelle Darst, a spokeswoman for the district. Still, she added, officials welcome the possible donation. “That’s a great thing that we would definitely use.”
Tara Thomas, a spokeswoman for Waterloo Community Schools, noted, “We’re already providing masks for students. ... We’ve literally got it covered.”
Still, she added, this is “a nice gesture” on the part of the business. “We would be happy to accept any donation down the road.”
Broshar said “we’re really attacking it from all fronts” to get the money raised. “We’re looking at ways we can get the community involved in the fundraising.”
One way the restaurant will participate is by donating all profits of meat sold from two recently purchased hogs. “We’ll raise $2,000 from just the hogs in-house,” said Broshar.
Last weekend, his children and some friends even got into the act, setting up a lemonade stand outside of the restaurant. “They managed to raise $800 on Saturday,” he noted, with profits going to the effort.
“We’re just happy we found a way we can help,” Broshar added. “We’ll carry it through and see how it all ends up.”
Photos: Morning at Big Woods Prairie
Fourth in a series on this year’s Courier 8 Over 80 honorees.
CEDAR FALLS — Lana Hochreiter never slows down. Her life is always full-steam ahead.
At 80, she teaches spin classes for other seasoned citizens at the Cedar Falls Recreation Center. When the center closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hochreiter set up a spinning bike in her garage where she did daily high-intensity workouts while listening to her favorite music and gazing out into the yard.
She biked or walked on the nature trails, too, and did online classes three times a week. A passionate gardener, as well, she devoted hours to working in her yard. With restrictions being lifted, Hochreiter is looking forward to returning to her spin class. “I’m the oldest one in the class at the Rec Center, and it’s my third year teaching there.”
The energetic Cedar Falls octogenarian was chosen as one of the Courier’s Eight over 80 honorees for 2020.
“I’ve always enjoyed being active. When I was 42, a friend talked me into riding my first RAGBRAI. I’ve done 20 RAGBRAIs now,” she said.
In her late 60s, Hochreiter stepped up her physical fitness level in rowing, spinning and other exercise taught by Kay Cervetti. She achieved her goals and began teaching senior classes.
“Going to Kay’s classes really turned the corner for me, helped me make a new lifestyle for myself,” she recalls. Then, at 70, Hochreiter began slowing down and felt something was wrong. A cardiologist diagnosed her with two severely blocked arteries. Being so physically fit had saved her life – her heart had been able to push blood through, but she needed two stents. After three months in cardiac rehab, she was back to her energetic self. At 72, she became a certified spin instructor.
“I first met Lana when she was a volunteer spinning and rowing instructor. Lana has quite a heart story to tell. She has shared her story at Go Red events and has made a video for them. She has volunteered her time to hang out in cardiac rehab with clients. She still can be found decorating the room monthly for whatever holiday is close,” Donna Brown said in nominating her friend for the Courier award.
Hochreiter also works for Caring Transitions, a company that offers relocation, downsizing and estate liquidation services. “I’m very passionate about people who have to move from their homes and don’t want to do it. It takes patience and caring because the job has to be done. I’m old, and I can spend time talking to these people and hearing their stories and relate to what they’re saying,” she said.
Dave and Elaine Prail of Cedar Falls, who also nominated Hochreiter, offered 10 reasons to choose her as an 8 over 80 honoree. At the top of their list, “Lana is an encouraging person. She boosts your mood and gives one a positive outlook.” They also praised her spiritual growth and describe her as “a blessing to many people.”
A member of Nazareth Lutheran Church, Hochreiter has participated in Habitat for Humanity building projects, including a project last year with a half-dozen other women. “So much is needed. There is so much we can do to help others when we’re blessed to be able to do it.”
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Hochreiter volunteered with the church group to help in New Orleans for a month at a stretch over four years.
She also is performance chairman for the Sweet Adelines, volunteers at the Iowa State Fair, ushers at Waterloo Community Playhouse and Cedar Falls Community Theatre performances, sings in the choir and plays in the hand bell choir at her church, makes silk flower arrangements for cardiac rehab and much more.
In February, Hochreiter was presented Sertoma Club’s Service to Mankind award, honoring a non-member who has lived a life of service to the community. “That was a great way to start my 80th year,” she said, laughing.
When asked what she is most passionate about, Hochreiter puts her family at the top of the list. She has seven kids – Kim, Carla, Jane, Suzie, Darrell, Danny and Greg, 25 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
“Next to that, I’m honestly passionate about spinning, my yard, helping people downsize and relocate – I’m pretty passionate about that. I just have a really good life, and I’m very thankful and blessed.”
As for offering advice, Hochreiter said, “Find something really interesting and don’t give up because of your age. Keep moving, keep doing what you enjoy. Each day is a gift, and we can’t let them pass by without finding what fulfills us.”
‘Each day is a gift, and we can’t let them pass by without finding what fulfills us.’ — Lana Horchreiter
DES MOINES — Nearly half of Iowa’s 23 casinos are requiring guests to wear face masks while inside the casino.
According to an analysis of the casinos’ coronavirus-related policies posted on their websites, 10 casinos are now requiring all guests wear face masks inside the casinos. Some of the requirements say the mask mandate is in effect whenever guests are within 6 feet of each other.
Another 13 casinos are not requiring face masks but say they are encouraging or recommending guests wear them.
Some casinos are providing masks to guests who do not arrive with one.
Public health and infectious disease experts, as well as some early studies, say wearing face masks helps prevent the spread of the new coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease the virus causes.
As of Wednesday afternoon, nearly 40,000 Iowans had contracted the coronavirus at some point during the global pandemic, and 808 Iowans had died of COVID-19.
“Those kinds of efforts and initiatives are evolving constantly and should be,” said Wes Ehrecke, president and CEO of the Iowa Gaming Association, which represents 19 casinos across the state. “I believe we’re trying to provide that entertainment experience in as accommodating but also responsible a fashion as possible.”
The casinos that are requiring guests wear face masks, according to their policies posted online, are Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort in Larchwood; Isle Casino Hotels in Bettendorf and Waterloo; Prairie Flower Casino in Carter Lake; Prairie Meadows in Altoona; Rhythm City Casino Resort in Davenport; Riverside Casino & Golf Resort in Riverside; Meskwaki Bingo Casino in Tama; Blackbird Bend Casino in Onawa; and WinnaVegas Casino Resort in Sloan.
The casinos that are not requiring masks but are encouraging or recommending that guests wear them are Ameristar Casino Hotel in Council Bluffs; Casino Queen in Marquette; Catfish Bend Casino in Burlington; Diamond Jo casinos in Dubuque and Northwood; Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Sioux City; Harrah’s and Horseshoe casinos in Council Bluffs; Lakeside Hotel Casino in Osceola; Q Casino in Dubuque; and the Wild Rose casinos in Clinton, Emmetsburg and Jefferson.
Each casino also has other virus-related policies and practices. Most are requiring workers to wear masks, and many are employing other social distancing measures and frequently sanitizing gaming areas.
“I think the overriding thing here is that every casino has put in extensive protocols and procedures for the safety of their patrons and of their staff,” Ehrecke said.
Four casinos — Blackbird Bend, WinnaVegas, Meskwaki and Prairie Flower — have taken the extra step of also banning smoking, according to the American Lung Association.
Casinos are the only businesses that are exempted from Iowa’s smoke-free law.
“We applaud the decision of the owners of these four casinos for adopting a smoke-free workplace policy as they re-open after COVID-19 forced businesses to shut their doors,” American Lung Association advocacy director Kristina Hamilton said in a news release. “This policy will protect the health of workers and customers from dangerous secondhand smoke and e-cigarette emissions, and we call for the permanent adoption of this policy.”