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Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, August 09, 2012

Smith to be inducted into 4-H Hall of Fame

Ringgold county's nominee for induction into the Iowa 4-H Foundation Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame at the Iowa State Fair this year will be H. Alan SMITH of Mount Ayr.

Counties nominate volunteers, community leaders, and Extension staff members who have exemplified outstanding service and dedication to the 4-H youth program in their county. Only one individual or couple per county can be nominated each year.

The Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame was established in 2002 as 4-H celebrated 100 years of a program dedicated to teaching youth life skills. During those 100 years, it became evident that one of the essential elements of the 4-H program was the caring adults who were committed to the program.

Inductees into the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame represent the many people in Iowa who have contributed countless hours to the 4-H program. These adults have modeled volunteerism, community service, integrity and leadership to Iowa's youth. Their legacy is the young people they have mentored who will in turn support the continuation of a 4-H program that builds Iowa's leaders.

According to the statement written about SMITH, he has supported 4-H his entire life even by going out with his mother who was an Extension Home Economist. In Ringgold county, SMITH has been the owner and publisher of the Mount Ayr Record-News for over 30 years. His coverage of 4-H is continual.

Rarely does one find the weekly edition of his paper without a 4-H article or something from Extension featured. His coverage is unbiased, timely, informative and interesting reading. His support of youth who write 4-H news is exceptional.

He has employed 4-H members to help with the annual fair edition of the Record-News where photos of approximately 60 youth are featured showing their 4-H exhibit. Every 4-H exhibitor has pride in knowing they have the spotlight in the 4-H edition of the Record-News.

He has covered 4-H basketball tournaments, the mud pulls, day camps, 4-H County Council events, award programs and every event at the county fair. This coverage has allowed those who want to know more about 4-H and kept up to date with the youth activities to read about it and to view photos.

"The hours Alan SMITH has dedicated to 4-H throughout the years is phenomenal, always putting 4-H members at the top of the to-do list," the statement said.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, August of 2012

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, August 23, 2012

Smith inducted into Hall of Fame

H. Alan Smith of Ringgold county was inducted into the 2012 Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the 4-H Exhibits Building at the Iowa State Fair on Sunday, Aug. 19.

A total of 87 Iowa counties participated this year and selected 114 inductees for their outstanding service and dedication to 4-H. Inductees were presented a certificate by the Iowa 4-H Foundation as they were introduced on stage.

Photograph courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, October of 2012

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, March 20, 2014

Smith wins "Friend of Extension" award

Cathann Kress, vice president for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach (left) presents the Epsilon Sigma Phi Friend of Extension award to Alan Smith

Alan Smith, former owner and editor of the Mount Ayr Record-News, was honored recently as a "Friend of Extension" at ceremonies held on the Iowa State University campus at Ames.

According to press release, "Smith has promoted ISU Extension and Outreach for many years. His coverage of events and activities was featured weekly in the Ringgold County paper he owned for more than 30 years. Through his newspaper work he informed local residents and other subscribers about ISU Extension and Outreach and the positive impact it has on agriculture, familes, communities, youth, business and industry."

The Iowa Alpha Mu Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi, the honor society of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, honored four individuals as "Friends of Extension." In addition to Smith, those honored included Rosalie and Steve Christensen of Riceville and Janice Crall of Albia.

All were recognized during the Epsilon Sigma Phi annual awards banquet March 10 at the Scheman Building on the Iowa State Campus.

Photograph courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, April of 2014

Alan Smith, 4-H Hall of Fame, 2012

Alan Smith has supported 4-H his entire life even by going with his mother who was an Extension Home Economist. Alan lived in a multitude of states always understanding the importance of 4H in his life, as well as others.

In Ringgold County, Alan is the owner and publisher of the Mount Ayr Record News. His coverage of 4H is continual. Rarely does one find the weekly edition of his paper without a 4H article or something from Extension featured. His coverage is unbiased, timely, informative, and interesting reading. His support of youth who write 4H news is exceptional. Alan has employed 4H members to help with the annual fair edition of the Record News where photos of approximately 50 youth are featured showing their 4H exhibit. Every 4H exhibitor has pride in knowing they have the spotlight in the 4H edition of the Record News.

Alan has covered 4H basketball tournaments, the mud pulls, day camps, 4H County Council events, award programs, and every event at the county fair. This coverage has allowed those who want to know more about 4H and kept up to date with the youth activities to read about it and to view photos.

The hours Alan Smith has dedicated to 4H throughout the years is phenomenal, always putting 4H members at the top of the to-do list.

SOURCE: iowa4hfoundation.org/index.cfm/30678/5161/2012_ringgold_county_alan_smith
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, April of 2014

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, May 26, 2016, Pages 1 & 2

For the final time, we present . . .

Time to say good-bye

They say all good things must come to an end.

That's not really been my philosophy of life, however.

This is the end of my columns in the Mount Ayr Record-News, however. My readers will have to determin if that is good or bad, I guess.

If I've calculated correctly, this is approximately the 1,880th column I've written for this newspaper, give or take a few. That's a lot of thoughts and other things. Literally.

I also wrote columns from time to time for the Weslaco Hi-Life, Graceland Tower, Red Oak Express and Dinsmore Publication newspapers in the years before a 30-year-old version of myself brought my family to Mount Ayr in April 1980. But I'm not counting them.

For over 36 years, and edging on toward two million words, I have typed and then computer keystroked whatever was on my mind each week. Surprisingly enough, some of you read it and commented on what I said. Sometimes I struck a nerve with people with a more political column. Not too often. Other times I struck a funny bone or a tear duct.

Writing a column has been my weekly therapy. I could laugh at the latest mishap in my life. I could get a frustration out by putting it on the page. I could chronicle the life of my family, sometimes to their chagrin. I could celebrate an accomplishment of my adopted hometown. I could try to help us through a low point. I could support a good cause. I could try my best to explain why an idea was a good one, or one we should take a pass on.

When I came to Mount Ayr, I had never lived in one community for more than four years of my life. My family had lived in places like Ames, Minneapolis, Hil, Lamoni, Weslaco, Independence and Saskatoon. My first home on my own was in Red Oak, and that's where Valle joined me after we were married. Other stops before Mount Ayr were Ames and Ottumwa. I had lived in 12 different homes if you dont count the four different dorm rooms I occupied when in school at Graceland College (now University). That's why we call Mount Ayr our "hometown."

In 1980 I read an advertisement in the Iowa Newspaper Association bulletin when I was looking for a new position. Jack Terry, long-time editor and publisher of the Mount Ayr Record-News, advertised that a "tired publisher" was looking for someone who would like to work into being a partner in the newspaper here. Jack and Helen had lived in Lamoni at the same time both Valle's family and my family had lived in Lamoni in the early 1960's. Valle's mother was friends with Helen 20 years earlier. I thought this job advertisement might had possibilities.

The rest is history. Jack hired me. I never had another job.

Valle and I had been looking for a community where we could live, work and worship all in the same town. We hadn't had that opportunity in the other communities where we had lived, for one reason or the other.

We moved here with young child -- with a third soon on the way. My aunt and uncle from Lamoni had helped us finance our first home in Ottumwa, so we were looking to buy a home in Mount Ayr when we came. We couldn't find anything to our liking and our budget.

After a few months of renting, we were able to purchase our home at 607 E. Madison Street. Others of my peers were envious when I said we were located one block from the elementary school and six blocks from work. Not much of a commute.

Institutions like Big Bird Preschool and the babysitting cooperative helped our children get their start before they became little Raiders. Meredith Dredge looked after Cara when Valle found her job as a special education teacher in the Mount Ayr Community school district three years after we arrived. Though her job title changed, all but two years of her 34-plus year teaching career were in the MAC district.

I was soon the sole owner of the the Mount Ayr Record-News, with a big contract to pay off at early 1980's high interet rates for the purchase of the newspaper and a home mortgage, too. The farm crisis was a real crisis to small business people here. I remember the week well when I had to cash out my meager life insurance policy so that I could make payroll for staff in a week I wasn't paid. But we pulled through, just like the community, despite outside prognosticators spelling our doom.

I had the best job I could have as the kids grew up. I could follow all of their activities because I needed to be there to cover the events for the newspaper. I spent long hours at work at other times, however, and if it weren't for the support of my wife, Valle, the family couldn't have carried on as well as it did.

When I first started covering the city council and school board they were literally meeting in smoke-filled rooms. It's different now. My goal was not only to report on what the decisions were that government bodies made, but as much as possible how the decisions were made. I may have reported too much detail for some readers, but I thought it was important to know what the discussions as well as the decision was. I was always a stickler for open meetings. It was the people's business they were doing.

I learned early that people like to read about themselves, so I always had a goal to include as many names of as many people as I could in stories to reflect each of their accomplishments. I wanted an honor student, a music student, a drama student and an FFA member to know their accomplishments were as important as an athlete's. I wanted people who had participated in community development projects to be recognized. And of course I felt [Page 2] that the news from our correspondents was important, as it marked milestones in the daily lives of our readers.

They say that a newspaper records the rough draft of history. In some ways my life's work has been to do just that for Ringgold County. Some of that came in columns. More of that part came in the stories I wrote and the pictures I took, trying to keep up with what was going on in the area.

Overt the years I have enjoyed taking part in activites like helping pour the tennis courts in Judge Lewis Park, planting trees all over town with the Trees Forever projects, seeing community efforts like the Princess Theater come to life, and supporting all the projects that give the Mount Ayr Community School District such fine facilities. All columns.

I have enjoyed fine arts activities like singing for years with the Ringgold Singers. What fun we've had, and how bittersweet it will be to sing with them for the final time this past weekend. Or taking part in community plays with the Moonlighters. From my first part in "Aaron Slick from Punkin Crick," to being one of the Magi with my brother Ron in "Amahl and the Night Visitors," to singing with the quartet in "The Music Man," getting to act with my daughter Erin and shave my head as Daddy Warbucks in "Annie" or helping open the Princess Theater in "Farmer Song" --- these memories come rolling back. Each was recorded in a column, I'm sure.

I;ve enjoyed sharing with my church family here in Mount Ayr over the years as well, as a volunteer leading our church group for many years. They truly have been family. I remember the times when we put on summetr musicals, involving other community youngsters as well as our own. Musicals like "It's Cool In the Furnace," "The Music Machine" and "Sir Oliver's Song." I remebmer sharing so many activities with the Ringgold County Ministerial Association, visitng farm homes during the Farm Crisis to offer support, sharing Good Friday services, taking part in the Breakfast with the Master breakfasts, sharing ministry to families at Christmas. All column fodder.

I could go on and on with memories. But the columns come to an end and with this one. The house on Madison Street will soon have new owners to build a life of memories in. (At least we hope so.) Valle and I will soon be moving away from our home here to a new one. Unless I live out the century, however, I'll never live anywhere else for as long as I have lived in Mount Ayr. That's one of the many reasons this will always be "home."

Steve Greene has a song I love. Some of the lyrics say:

     "Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
     May the fire of our devotion light their way
     May the footprints that we leave
     Lead them to believe
     And the lives we live inspire them to obey
     Oh may all who come behind us find faithful."

I hope some of my columns have been those footprints.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, July of 2017


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