Reflections: Looking back on 2021
For the second year in a row, COVID consumed the headlines in 2021.
In January 2021, The Red Oak Express published an article on how the county is nearing completion of Phase 1A of the COVID vaccine.
COVID vaccine press releases and articles would continue to run on a monthly basis througout the year, including information on vaccine booster shots in the fall.
However, due to COVID, there was a less than average influenza season in 2021.
Whether that was from people wearing masks and staying/working from home was not validated, it was suspected by health officials.
In March, longtime Montgomery County Memorial Hospital CFO Ron Kloewer was appointed MCMH CEO, replacing David Abercrombie.
Also in March, the Pudgy Pumpkin Patch was under the new ownership of Diana Heitbrink.
In April, major renovations were underway at the former Red Coach Restaurant in Red Oak. Stadium 34, owned and operated by Rocky Rocha, which opened in June.
It was also in April when longtime Red Oak supporter and resident Elaine Hollen was selected as the 2021 Red Oak Junction Days Grand Marshal.
Despite COVID, area proms and graduations were held, with a few safety stipulations in place. Nate Ernst and Madison Bruce were crowned 2021 Red Oak Prom King and Queen Saturday, April 24.
To kick off summer, a lack of staff availability was the reason behind the Red Oak municipal swimming pool not opening Memorial Day weekend. However, the pool opened in early June and had a very successful first year.
It was also in June when a familiar face returned at the helm of the Montgomery County Development Corporation. Former executive director Steve Adams returned to replace Shawnna Silvius.
Another nugget of excitement locally was about the movie,“Unbreakable Boy,” adapted from Red Oak native Scott LeRette’s award-winning novel, which has been given a March 18, 2022, movie release date. The film, produced by Lionsgate and Kingdom Story Company, stars Zachary Levi and Patricia Heaton.
Results of the 2020 Census reported Montgomery County’s population decreased by 410 residents between 2010 and 2020.
In mid-August, the report on a special investigation of the Future Farmers of America (FFA) program within the Red Oak Community School District was released.
“The special investigation was conducted as a result of concerns regarding financial transactions related to FFA events that were not properly collected and deposited or expended in accordance with District policies by the District’s former FFA Sponsor,” read the report.
Longtime Red Oak FFA Advisor Alan Spencer had submitted his resignation in late July.
By fall, it became publicly known that Montgomery, Mills, Page and Fremont Counties are four out of 30 counties in Iowa where a 710-mile underground pipeline of captured CO2 might pass through. Summit Carbon Solutions, owned by Summit Agricultural Group, plans to construct a $4.5 billion pipeline as part of a system to capture carbon dioxide emissions from ethanol plants before its released into the atmosphere, where it contributes to global warming.
Subsequently, member of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors have heard numerous compaints and concerns from Montgomery County landowners about the pipeline.
The First Congregational United Church of Christ in Red Oak celebrated 150 years of serving the community in 2021.
Dollar Tree, Inc. announced a Family Dollar and Dollar Tree “combo” store would open at 1205 N. Broadwasy in Red Oak. The store is scheduled to open in May 2022. It was also announced, around the same time, a Scooter’s Coffee drive-thru kiosk will open in late December 2021, at 1509 N. Broadway in Red Oak.
When it came to 2021 Homecoming in Red Oak, seniors Camryn Bass and Luke Sperling were crowned Red Oak Homecoming Queen and King during halftime festivities Friday, Oct. 8.
Montgomery County will see new representation in the state legislature following the elections in November 2022.
Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the bipartisan redistricting bill, SF621 Nov. 4.
The new maps will be effective beginning with the 2022 elections.
In November, officials with the Iowa Department of Transportation announced plans to resurface and reconstruct Highway 34 from the East Nishnabotna River Bridge to Montgomery County Road H-34 near Red Oak. Construction on the project is anticipated to begin in 2024.
The 2021 city/school election is now behind us, and with the votes now tallied, the City of Red Oak will be seeing a change in leadership.
Shawnna Silvius, who challenged incumbent Bill Billings for the Red Oak Mayor’s position defeated Billings with 413 votes to Billings’ 355. Also elected to serve on the Red Oak City Council were Brian Bills and Tim Fridolph.
Lastly, on Dec. 15, a strong low pressure system moved through the area Wednesday, Dec. 15, bringing record high temperatures, severe thunderstorms, derecho, and even a couple tornadoes. Montgomery County was spared from widespread damage.