Corydon Times

Todd Ratliff keeps running as track and cross country coach
Colonel Knox, right, presents Sergeant Major Todd Ratliff of the Army National Guard with his official promotion certificate. From left to right is Ratliff’s family, wife Kim and sons C.J., Brock and Tyson. Ratliff is the head track and cross country coach at Albia Community High School.
There is no better teacher than one who leads by example. Since Todd Ratliff has run a double marathon in the past, he has no trouble backing up his expectations from the Albia Community High School student-athletes under his care. The same could be said for his relationship with the men in his Army National Guard unit.

“Being able to do physically what all the younger guys can do gives you a lot of clout as a leader,” Ratliff said. “If they see you just tell them to do it, when you can’t do it yourself, you lose credibility.”

Endurance is no problem for the fast-talking Ratliff. It never has been, ever since his days on Wayne Community High School’s equivalent of the debate team, where he sharpened his silver tongue.

In Albia, Ratliff is still hitting his stride when he isn’t serving his country. He reached his 22-year mark in the National Guard on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. He is now a Sergeant Major.

Mar 23, 2015, 07:37

Donnie Becker rides ebb and flow of the West Coast
Donnie Becker, of Wayne, in the 3200-meter run at the 1989 Iowa state track meet. Becker finished fifth, and is still trying to break out of the pack.

Donnie Becker has spent his share of time in the now defunct darkroom of the 'Times-Republican,' bathed in red light and dipping photographic paper with tongs into solution, gently urging an image to appear. It takes patience. Becker was determined to learn every journalistic craft.

Now, with the emergence of computer imaging, darkrooms are obsolete. It was not the first time Becker thought he was learning, or that he had made a breakthrough. If the door opens a crack, the image disappears.

Mar 16, 2015, 08:07

After 32 years, Corydon’s Brian Shelley hangs up his badge
Former Iowa State Patrolman Brian Shelley shows off his retirement cake. After 32 years on the force, Shelley is hanging up his badge.

As an officer of the law, Brian Shelley is proud to say he never found it necessary to discharge his sidearm.

“I never fired my weapon at anybody,” Shelley said. “That’s always good.”

Shootouts are reserved mainly for television dramas, as are suspects escaping during a high-speed chase. Shelley recalls only twice over the years where the situation became too dangerous to continue pursuit. All other times, including six chases during one busy Thanksgiving weekend a couple of years ago, the police apprehended the suspect.

Mar 9, 2015, 07:51

Former New Mexico athlete Levi Jaeckel works with Yankees in the South
Levi Jaeckel
From the high desert of Albuquerque, N.M., to the humid everglades near Tampa, Fla., it does not take long for Levi Jaeckel to adjust to a new climate. He stays in shape. That comes with the territory of owning his own training gym, Perform24 in Tampa, where many professional baseball players make their off-season home.

It was not Jaeckel’s first transition—there was also a stint in Dallas, Texas—after spending several years of his early life just east of Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, his family moved to Corydon. Jaeckel went on to graduate from Wayne Community High School in 2008.

“Both my parents’ families were originally from Iowa,” Jaeckel said. “I think they wanted to get into the small town environment for us kids.”

His parents are former Wayne assistant boys and head girls basketball coach Eric Jaeckel, and band director Anne Jaeckel of Corydon; and formerly of the Corydon United Methodist Church, Pastor Judy Marshall of Marshalltown.

Mar 2, 2015, 09:02

Judy Utiger-Bacci provides rehab to Wayne County through reading
Marcus Ayala, son of Lacey and Enos Ayala of Corydon, reads a story to the LeCompte Memorial Library’s official teddy bear, T.S. Eliot. Photo by Judy Utiger-Bacci
Judy Utiger-Bacci, director of the LeCompte Memorial Library in Corydon, prefaces her own story with self-effacement, saying she cannot replicate fellow librarian Jackie Gunzenhauser’s round kick.

“My idea of exercise is from the door to the car,” Utiger-Bacci joked.

Gunzenhauser, a Black Belt, is Utiger-Bacci’s counterpart at the library in Humeston. Like Gunzenhauser, Utiger-Bacci is nonnative to southern Iowa, but wishes to do her part to expand the perspectives of the people, specifically the children, in Wayne County. She believes in their potential.

Though she might not be able to break boards, Utiger-Bacci did read 'War and Peace' when she was only 11 years old, and understands the power of narrative. She understands the transformative nature of reading for young people.

Feb 23, 2015, 08:39