The year 2019 just wrapped up and 2020 is officially here. There were a lot of big stories coming out of Perry in 2019.

Here are some of the top stories from the Perry Chief in 2019:

Perry, Minburn celebrate 150 years

History was highlighted during Perry’s Sesquicentennial Celebration July 5-7. The theme, “Rails to Trails: 150 Years of Growth,” took a look at Perry’s past. The Wall of Witnesses came to life in Soumas Court as several influential Perry residents told their stories. David Willis led a program, “Remembering Railroading” in the Carnegie Library Museum and Brian Eiteman led a tour of downtown historic fires. Other activities included a Fly-In/Drive-In Concert at the Perry Municipal Airport, kids activities, Railroad Street Music Fest, church tours and more.

While Fourth of July events made news around the nation, that was just the warm-up for Minburn on Thursday, July 4. Standing strong at 150 years old, the town celebrated its sesquicentennial, bringing back family from all over the country for a monumental reunion. Headlining the afternoon was the unearthing of 1969 time capsule, a moment that took more than just waiting fifty years to crack the seal. The sesquicentennial celebration continued July 5-7 with a school reunion, music, food, a Christian concert in the park and more.

Misty Ray pleads guilty; Marc and Misty Ray, Josie Bousman sentenced in Sabrina Ray case

The last three family members charged in connection to the death of 16-year-old Sabrina Ray were sentenced in 2019 as the case came to a close.

Misty Bousman Ray, the adopted mother of Sabrina Ray, pleaded guilty to three felony charges during a Jan. 9 hearing. She pleaded guilty to one count of kidnapping in the first degree, a Class A felony, and two counts of kidnapping in the third degree, both Class C felonies.

Misty and Marc Ray were then sentenced for separate charges related to the death of their adopted daughter, Sabrina Ray, during a joint hearing on Jan. 18 at the Dallas County Courthouse.

“There are no words that can express how incredibly sad I am for the hurt that I caused our children with my poor decisions,” Misty said while fighting tears. “I would give anything to go back in time and right all those wrongs. It was my responsibility to protect and love our children and not cause them pain. I failed as their mother. All this is my fault.”

When it came time for sentencing, Judge Terry Rickers placed the ultimate responsibility for the care and treatment of Sabrina and her two sisters squarely on Misty and Marc. He added that Sabrina died on their watch.

Marc was sentenced by Rickers to 50 years in prison for the count of child endangerment resulting in death. He added that Marc will not be eligible for parole until he has served at least 70 percent, or 35 years, of the 50-year sentence.

For the three counts of kidnapping in the third degree, Rickers sentenced Marc to a prison term not to exceed 10 years on each count. Those sentences, he added, are to be run consecutively.

Rickers sentenced Misty to be imprisoned for the rest of her life on the count of kidnapping in the first degree. She will not be eligible for parole.

As for the two counts of kidnapping in the third degree, Rickers sentenced Misty to a prison term not to exceed 10 years on each count. He added that all of Misty’s sentences are to run consecutively.

The Sabrina Ray case came to a close as Josie Bousman, Sabrina Ray’s adoptive cousin was sentenced on Feb. 1. She was the fifth family member charged in the case.

Bousman pleaded guilty to three amended charges, including one count of neglect of a dependent person, a Class C felony, and two counts of child endangerment, an aggravated misdemeanor.

Rickers sentenced Bousman to 14 years in prison at the end of the Feb. 1 hearing.

Perry school bond referendum passes

Over 600 voters checked the ‘yes’ box on the Perry Community School District’s bond referendum during the Feb. 5 special election.

The Perry School Board passed a resolution during a special meeting on Dec. 19 ordering a special election on the issuance of a $6.5 million general obligation bond. The district is looking to construct a wrestling room addition, along with a Career and Technical Education, or industrial tech, addition.

The referendum passes with around 89 percent. Superintendent Clark Wicks said 60 percent was needed to pass.

Wicks added that the industrial tech current and former teachers and students, along with the wrestling community, “was vibrant and passionate” about both portions of the project.

“It just showed all the way through. They just showed that great Bluejay pride,” Wicks said.

The passage of the $6.5 million bond means the industrial tech and wrestling/multi-purpose additions could proceed. The design work was completed, bids were awarded and the ground was officially broken for the project on Aug. 12.

New businesses

Common Wealth Provisions opened its doors on Feb. 7. The deli-style restaurant, located at 1215 2nd St., serves a variety of sandwich options. Jeremy Mahler’s partner in Common Wealth Provisions is Jim Reis, who owns the Des Moines Bacon and Meat Company.

Bett and Bev’s BBQ opened its doors in April. The Jefferson restaurant expanded and opened a second location at 408 1st Ave. in Perry. The Perry location is run by Kyle Roeder. The Perry Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting on June 28.

Quality Auto and Body officially opened its doors on April 12. Co-owners Jeffry Fuentes and Aldo Juarez purchased the former Exhaust Pros shop at 2633 Willis Ave. The Perry Chamber held a ribbon cutting on April 12 for its grand opening celebration.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Thursday, May 16 for the Raccoon River Pet Rescue. The new facility will be located at 14360 Ivy Place. Representatives from the rescue facility, Dean Snyder Construction and Atura Architecture were on hand for the groundbreaking.

Atelier at 1109 officially opened its doors during the 10th anniversary of Art on the Prairie. A ribbon cutting was held for the new business on Nov. 8. Mary Rose Nichols said Art on the Prairie has outgrown the office in the back of her shop, Mary Rose Collection. Atelier at 1109 will serve as the headquarters for the annual festival. Half of the new space, located at 1109 Second St., will house printmaking and screen printing. The other half will feature fiber and textile art.

The Tin Pig Tavern opened its doors in early November. The restaurant is located at 1201 2nd St. A ribbon cutting will be held by the Perry Chamber at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 8.

Changes in existing businesses

Andrea Tunink took over as the new owner of Ben’s Five and Dime from Jay and Jan Pattee on Jan. 1. The Pattees will continue to run Ben’s Five and Dime in Panora.

“I’m very honored and grateful to Jan and Jay for the opportunity to continue Ben’s Five and Dime. The store has such great history and is an important piece of Perry’s downtown,” Tunink said before officially stepping into her new role. “I’ve really loved every minute of working in the store and visiting with and helping customers. I think the new year is going to be an exciting one.”

Tom Maxwell, the owner of the Hotel Pattee, purchased La Poste from Ladies Jenny Eklund, Mary Rose Nichols and Colleen Eckhoff. The sale was final on Jan. 3, though Maxwell said it’s more of a merger between the two venues.

Maxwell added that it’s a good thing for the community of Perry as both spaces will continue to provide services for locals and out-of-town guests.

“The way I see it is you’ve got these two beautiful places. Nothing really changes with what’s going on at either place,” Maxwell said. “It’s just how they work together now and seamlessly offer even more services to those coming to Perry.”

As of Feb. 1, Douglas Bruce was officially retired from Osmundson Manufacturing. His daughter, Heather Bruce, took over as the owner of the company on Feb. 1. She followed in her father’s footsteps as Douglas Bruce took over as the owner from his father, Don Bruce, in 1982.

The ribbon was cut on the new Minburn Communications building, located at 100 S Main St., Woodward, on April 15. The company outgrew the former Medicap Pharmacy building. The building was demolished in May of 2018 and work started on a new one. The 4,000 square foot facility houses the physical offices for the technicians and features a customer engagement area and large conference room.

Wil-Do Cleaners celebrated 50 years in 2019.

“It surprised me when I added up the years and figured it out. It surprised me that it was actually 50 years. I thought ‘Wow,’” Owner Sandy Holmes said. Her parents, Wilma and Doug Clark, opened Wil-Do Cleaners in April of 1969. The name was created with the first three letters of Wilma and the first two letters of Doug.

Laurie Wernli retired after 40 years at the Perry Child Development Center.

“It’s been very rewarding to work with all the families and see all the second generations come back,” Wernli said. “To watch those children grow up, become adults, have their own children and know that their memories of us are nice ones that they want to bring their own children here.” Kim Bonjour-Eiteman took over the director position.

Scott Johnson officially started as the store director of Perry Hy-Vee on Oct. 14.

“I’m just excited to be here and have the opportunity to lead the store here,” he said during his first week in Perry.

Tom Maxwell, the owner of Hotel Pattee, sold Frio to Jose Calderon, who operates El Tren in Caboose Park. The sale was official Nov. 4.

“We loved it, it was so much fun to see the kids’ faces light up when they walk in,” Maxwell said of the business. “It was definitely something that we were excited we did, but it’s also a perfect time to let (Calderon’s) family take it on and move it forward.”

Work wraps up on Dallas County Freedom Rock

Iowa artist Ray “Bubba” Sorensen completed painting the Dallas County Freedom Rock, which is located near The Nineteen14 in Minburn, this summer.

The south side features the five Wilson brothers. All five of the brothers went into the service during World War II. Cornelison said only two came home. The north side of the rock features Nile Kinnick, of Adel, and Bob Feller, of Van Meter. Both individuals are Dallas County veterans, in addition to being sports figures.

A flag pole, sidewalks and a storyboard was added before the rock was dedicated on Oct. 18.

First Dallas County Habitat for Humanity house is dedicated

The first Habitat for Humanity home completed in Dallas County was dedicated on Nov. 2. Barb Snyder, Caleb, Kami and Kyra were welcomed with blessings and congratulations from the community of volunteers who partnered with the family to make their home a reality.

The home represents the work of more than 85 volunteers and 700 hours of volunteer labor. Four hundred of those hours came from Barb Snyder, who worked on the house and completed classes on home ownership.

“We dedicate this house.” In a litany led by Deacon Stephen Brinton, First Baptist Church, attendees gave voice to all that the house represents—love, vision, courage, faith, patience, understanding and hope. The dedication was followed by a consecration: “May the love that lifted the rafters and hung the shingles ripple out into the community…”

Showcasing Perry

Perry community members got the chance to share what makes Perry the town it is through two separate state events in 2019.

Representatives from around 31 Iowa Great Places-designated communities gathered in Perry for the annual Iowa Great Places meeting on Sept. 9 at La Poste.

“I am so excited you are all here today. We’re so blessed to be here in Perry and in this beautiful, historically preserved building that definitely has some really amazing elements of art and creativity and certainly history and historic preservation. It’s really a symbol of everything we as a state department stand for,” said Chris Kramer, Director of Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, of La Poste.

More recently, the the Iowa Rural Development Council Meeting was held on Dec. 18 at La Poste. Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg and others toured a number of locations in Perry, including Soumas Court, the Hotel Pattee, DMACC’s VanKirk Career Academy and more. Gov. Kim Reynolds then spoke at La Poste about the benefits of aiding rural communities.

“A big shoutout to Perry for hosting us today,” said Reynolds. “We want our rural communities strong and vibrant and growing and hopefully, this is connecting some of those dots.”

Murals completed throughout Perry

After the final two sculptures were completed on Willis Avenue in 2018, work turned to murals in 2019.

Artist Shawn Palek completed a mural in Perry Perk in April. The mural features 62 comic book, TV and movie characters within a recreation of the original Citizens Bank building at 1126 2nd St.

Palek then turned his attention to the Sinclair building. The mural depicts a scene of a Sinclair service station employee wiping the windshield of a car.

“It exceeded every expectation I had,” building owner Joe Unger said. “It’s not only fitting for the station, but it is art. He (did) an awesome job with it.”

Work shifted to the Josh Davis Memorial Plaza, where a patriotic mural is currently in progress.

Presidential candidate visits

Perry residents saw its first presidential candidate during a meet and greet event on Feb. 19. Former Maryland Congressman John Delaney stopped at Perry Perk during the Perry Area Democrats sponsored meet and greet.

In her first visit to Dallas County, at La Poste on March 29, U.S. Senator and presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said that the United States has a chance to change the course of the country by “attacking corruption, changing economic rules, and protecting democracy.”

“I get that the three things I’m asking for are hard,” Warren said during her visit to Perry. “I get that it’s hard, but we can’t quit now. We have a chance to dream big and fight hard and win this thing in 2020.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ message on May 4 in Perry sought to prove that his previously considered radical ideas have been normalized, citing Iowa’s support for him during the 2016 primaries. Among those ideas was a focus on the right to healthcare and education and the preservation of the planet.

Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) made her third campaign stop on Aug. 29 at Perry Perk for a meet a greet hosted by the Perry Area Democrats.

Democratic presidential hopeful Julian Castro spoke on Sunday, Sept. 22 at the Hotel Pattee. He talked about being fair to all of those regardless of gender, sexual orientation and more. Castro has since ended his campaign.

Pete Buttigieg said Sunday, Dec. 22 at a town hall event at the McCreary Community Building that he is looking to Iowans to spread his message of hope for his campaign.

A capacity crowd flanked Joe Biden on all sides at his town hall on Dec. 22 at La Poste as he spoke about his plan to “bring the nation together.”