Creston Iowa’s Loss

Tom Young fam

Tom, Cindy and Aaron Young

I first met Dr. Tom Young when I came as Pastor of Crest Baptist Church in August of 1994. He had already been serving as a physician in Creston for five years. I was immediately impressed by his grasp of a wide range of disciplines beyond medicine. A voracious reader with the closest to a photographic memory that I’ve encountered, Tom’s ability to recall information, even citing the page of the book astounded me. Tom’s intellect and size (a former heavy-weight wrestler at Drake) caused some to be intimidated. As I’ve talked to a few that were intimidated by Tom’s wealth of knowledge, my response was always, “Don’t you want a smart doctor?” It’s been my personal observation that Tom was almost always the smartest person in the room at any gathering.

Tom Football

Church Harvest Party…putting the moves on the competition

I’m not naïve enough to think that he never used that intimidation factor to his advantage. I’ve faced him on a racquet ball court!  However, he was not one to “suffer a fool” in his profession of medicine. Because he was up on current research and procedures in medical practice through medical journals and seminars, he expected as much from other health care providers. But often, such intimidation was only the perception of those who did not really know Tom. When he encountered individuals, who were truly desirous of improving their own skills, Tom was a ready instructor.

Early in my ministry at Crest, I asked Tom if he had ever considered doing short-term medical missions. His response was that rural Southwest Iowa was his mission field. While he had the opportunity to practice in more affluent communities, Tom’s Christian compassion led him to come to an area that at the time was underserved by the internal medicine specialty. That concern kept him in our community all these years. And beyond the medical care he offered our area, he was a financial benefactor to many of the non-profits of our community, seeking to make Creston a better place in which to plant deep roots.

2008 Mission Trip

2008 Mission Trip to Venezuela

Tom’s attitude toward short-term medical missions changed, and he subsequently made numerous trips to Venezuela and Peru. Taking medical supplies, some donated but much secured at personal expense, he treated some of the poorest people, who subsisted from the resources gleaned from a city dump. But perhaps his greatest influence was on the indigenous health care providers as he gave instruction for their future diagnoses and treatment of illnesses they encountered.

You may have noticed that the references in this letter are in the past tense. This could be construed as a eulogy of Tom. It has been intentionally written in that way. Although Tom is in good health and is not retiring from medical practice, the closing of Internal Medicine Consultants was not by his choosing. And for that reason it symbolizes a death in our community. Many are mourning this announcement, and it is not settling well with most of us who have been served so well by Tom. It is the death of what many have found to be quality health care in which a doctor takes the extended time with you, has a history with you and prays with you if you are so inclined. It represents almost the last of independent primary care in our community, that while working in collaboration with the hospital, is not controlled by a business model that appears quota based. It represents the slow death of our national health care system that many of us have known all our lives as a personal relationship with one’s physician.

Farewell Dr. Tom and Cindy Young, Dr. Carey Wimer, Sherri Seago, and Holly Schutz. Your care and presence as medical providers in Union County will be sorely missed. Godspeed!

Chuck and Myra Spindler

Upside Down Photography

After taking a picture of a blue heron on a placid pond, I decided to flip the photo. That caused me to go on a search for others that might appear almost the same whether they were right side up or up side down. Here are a few.


Blue Heron at Green Valley State Park Lake


Fall Foliage at Green Valley State Park Lake

Upsidown ISS

International Space Station dashes over Green Valley State Park Lake

Upside down

Summit Lake


Sunrise at Green Valley State Park Lake

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wall

Cheri Lucus Rowlands issued this week’s challenge suggesting that walls are “the canvases of our lives: where stories are read, voices are heard, ideas are shared.” Here are a few walls around my town that communicate some pride and support of our community.

Apparently, no business currently occupies this downtown building, but its boarded up windows lend a bit of beauty instead of blight.

Boarded up windows painted in trompe l’oeil style.

Boarded up windows painted in trompe l’oeil style.

This mural on the local YMCA conveys Creston’s past as its railroad depot and Bluegrass Palace are prominent features, highlighting the role of transportation and agricultural in its economy.

Blue Grass Palace 12'x24', 2002, on the YMCA by Carl Homstad

Blue Grass Palace 12’x24′, 2002, on the YMCA by Carl Homstad

The Creston News Advertiser, our weekday newspaper, invited the Southwestern Community College Art Club to paint this mural on the side of its building in 2006.

Mural on the side of the local newspaper publishing building painted by the SWCC Art Club.

Mural on the side of the local newspaper publishing building painted by the SWCC Art Club.

Three of the four panthers on the wall of the high school gymnasium illicit “Panther Pride.”

Panther mural in the Creston High School gymnasium

Panther mural in the Creston High School gymnasium

Finally, the high school commons is surrounded by photos of the achievements of present and former students. In 1997, the basketball team won the Iowa High School 3A state basketball tournament. My daughter, Katie, was a cheerleader. The cheer squad made it their goal to lead the student body in garnering the “Sportsmanship Award” and they succeeded!

Creston High School Wall of Fame - 1997 3A State Basketball Sportsmanship Award

Creston High School Wall of Fame – 1997 3A State Basketball Sportsmanship Award

You can find more examples of this week’s challenge HERE.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Containers – 2

Dammed lakes are containers of water for multiple uses: drinking water, recreation, flood control. McKinley Lake in our town’s primary public park was originally dammed to supply water to the local rail industry in the late 1800’s*, covering over 40 acres. It now serves the sole purpose of public recreation.

Help me out if you can identify the wild flowers that grow on the bank of the lake.

Here are a few more containers I saw on my morning walk.

HERE is a link to how others are interpreting the theme, “containers.”

*History from the McKinley Lake Restoration Project website

“The lake on the west edge of Creston was originally built in 1874 by the C.B. & Q Railroad. The lake was forty-five acres in size and was created by damming up a creek that drained thirty thousand acres of land. The entire land area including the lake was an 80 acre tract.  They built it with the purpose of creating a Holly System of Waterworks. A 7 inch water main brought water directly to the center of town from the Lake. It provided water to the Round Houses and Machine Shops as well as many downtown businesses. A communication system was developed so the yard manager could tell the waterworks supervisor when more water must be sent up. In the winter ice was cut from the lake for railroad use between Burlington and Council Bluffs. All the ice used in Creston was also cut from the lake.”

Weekly Photo Challenge: Split Second Story – Take 2

Shane Francescut writes: For this week’s challenge, we want you to become a documentary photographer and attempt to capture a candid moment of a person, place, or thing. Put your National Geographic hat on and tell a story by documenting a moment in time through a single image. What do you think this story is?

The “rest of the story” is that these three swans had just been released by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources as they try to restore trumpeter swan populations to Iowa. The Trumpeter Swan Restoration project released these three swans last May at Summit Lake near Creston, IA, and four more this year.

Click HERE for more examples of “split second story.”



Weekly Photo Challenge: Letters – Take 2

While waiting for the Amtrak passenger train and a coal train to clear the tracks, enabling a clear shot of the graffiti-covered railcar featured in my first “Letters” entry, I took a picture of The Iowana. Originally built as a hotel in 1920, the tallest building in this railroad community of Creston was once a hub of activity when rail was king. Sitting vacant for a number of years, it was recently revitalized into senior adult housing with 24 units in its six floors and mezzanine level.


The signage originally read “Hotel Iowana.”  In its restored version, the sign was refitted with LED lights and the “T” “H” and “E” letters were preserved from the “hotel” moniker and repositioned above the IOWANA (it’s always good to recycle if possible).


Click HERE for more examples of “letters.”

Here are a few more examples of “letters” on the historic Creston Depot.

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Lines to Patterns (Take 2)

The 36th Annual Southwest Iowa Hot Air Balloon Race, our community’s most popular event, occurred last weekend. While we had clear weather, wind conditions only permitted two of the four scheduled flights, three of which are competitive. Both of those flights were characterized by almost no wind, almost cancelling the second flight. Because a church member was sponsoring a balloon, I was able to get up close for some pictures on Saturday morning and then have my first ride on Saturday evening. It was a blast! Here are some of the weekend’s pictures that I think meet this week’s challenge – from the lines (cables connecting the baskets to the envelopes) to the geometric patterns of the envelopes.

As I mentioned I had my first flight in a balloon! While only about a mile in distance to the target, the winds were minimal, making it about a twenty-minute flight. It was an invigorating experience and a blessing from God. Here are few more photos I took from that afternoon ride.

While all three of my daughters have previously flown, my wife has been apprehensive about me flying because of a deadly hot air balloon accident she saw portrayed in a movie. Additionally, you might have noticed that the balloon sponsor was a funeral home – “that could be like a direct ride to the Pearly Gates.”(ba-dum tshh). However, I went with her blessing. When suggested by one of my daughters that “we need to get Mom up, now,” she responded, “When God gives me wings.”

Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.

Isaiah 40:31 (NASB)

See more examples of this week’s challenge HERE

Disaster (Relief) Comes to Creston

Jerry Hartman and Bob Dillman remove damaged tree.

Little did we know that the severe thunderstorm on the evening of April 14 would spawn an EF2 tornado just west of town. It happened so quickly and was rain-wrapped, giving no one the ability to issue a warning. The effects were minimal, given that the tornado skirted the northwest corner of our community. But for those in its path, the damage was devastating.  While we were spared the loss of any precious life, a total of 14 single family homes and 16 multi-family units were severely damaged and two homes in rural Union county destroyed as well. Several outbuildings on farms were destroyed and 40 homes in the area had minor damage. The Greater Regional Medical Center, not only a hospital but also housing all local physicians, took a direct hit and is still not back to inpatient care. The dormitories of Southwestern Community College were also in the path and now sit empty as all the students finish the semester housed in hotels and homes. Creston Community Schools received severe damage, but classes were able to resume the following Wednesday. The YMCA and other local businesses in the path have yet to reopen.

Things looked pretty bleak as darkness fell that Saturday night. But the outpouring of volunteers began immediately. By Sunday morning I was receiving calls from staff of the Baptist Convention of Iowa, asking if our Southern Baptist Disaster Relief units were needed in Creston. Not knowing the full scope of need yet, Wes Jones, Director of Missions, Northwest & Southwest Associations, arrived by 1:30 p.m., to make an assessment, meet with officials and then, mobilize the Chainsaw Unit. Three men from Sioux City joined Wes and Crest Baptist Church’s own Jerry Hartman, a DR trained volunteer. These five spent the next three days assisting residents with tree removal, as well as spreading the Good News of Christ. With each completed job, the homeowner received a Bible and a prayer for God’s continued aid.

Additionally, Pastor Mike Carlson and Associate Cal Callison from First Baptist, Winterset, arrived on Tuesday, serving as Disaster Relief Chaplains. They visited local adult care facilities that were also impacted by the storm.

The saying “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35) is so true. But those who were on the receiving end of so many volunteers were tremendously blessed in the midst of adversity. Our community continues to be grateful to the many volunteers, including our own Disaster Relief volunteers, who so quickly and selflessly came to the aid of those in need.

Corky Jenkins, Dick Lechtenberger (homeowner), Robert Battles, Wes Jones and Bob Dillman.