The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

May 26, 2012

Ottumwan chats with first lady

Simonson volunteers, stays involved in politics

OTTUMWA — Nothing could pull him away from seeing the president of the United States at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. Nothing, that is, but a call on his cell phone from the first lady.

“I’ve been doing some [political] organizing in Waterloo as  a volunteer,” said  Zach Simonson, 22, an Ottumwan currently attending the University of Northern Iowa.

When Barack Obama arrived in Iowa Thursday, Simonson knew he wanted another chance to see the president — the student had already seen him speak in Ottumwa. But he’d also been chosen as one of three young people across the country to participate in a conference call with Michelle Obama.

“I was at the state fairgrounds to see the president, and I ducked out to take the ... call from the first lady,” Simonson said. “I was able to talk to her about jobs.”

“Part of the reason why Zach was selected is because he believes that all people should be able to ... get involved in causes that matter to them,” said Liz Purchia, a campaign press secretary in Iowa.

Simonson, a 2008 Ottumwa High School graduate studying political communication at UNI, said he appreciated Mrs. Obama’s candor in answering his questions about people being out of work.

It’s not uncommon for political speakers to start touting their candidate’s accomplishments, Simonson said. And he knew there have been improvements over the past few years.

“It was really meaningful to me that she said we had a long way to go.”

That’s even with what he called 26-straight months of job creation; the nation still isn’t where it needs to be, Simonson said.

“The [discussion] should not be about accomplishments since 2008. It needs to be about how we’re going to get better starting [with] 2012.”

He told Michelle Obama that college graduates in Iowa are still unemployed or under-employed at higher rates than they should be. In fact just this week, a media report stated that nationally, college graduates are unemployed at a higher rate than those without four-year degrees.

He said the president seems aware of the value of skilled jobs in advanced manufacturing. And that means learning a trade or a skill.

Because while Simonson didn’t choose to go to a community college, while he attends UNI, he has watched his friends attend Indian Hills Community College — and graduate.

“They’ve had employers competing to give them jobs.”

In fact, it was at IHCC that the president last stopped in Ottumwa.

“I was really glad she talked about making a bigger investment in community colleges,” he said. “I felt a good connection to that because that was something the president spoke about when he was here [in Ottumwa].”

So did the first lady ask him anything? No. But she did ask something of America’s young people.

“There was a record [voter] turnout among youth in 2008. She said we’ll need to do that again in order to win in 2012.”

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 0730 OTT Better Buildings -T -M Wildwood could be your home OTTUMWA — There was always one child per class who just adored school. If they went to Wildwood, they may soon be able to move in permanently. The Ottumwa board of education met Monday, where staff told them where the district stood as far as "facili

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • A changing roster -- for school board OTTUMWA — If the last time you saw your board of education was before Christmastime, the current school board might surprise you. Two members retired from the board: longtime educator Ron Oswalt stepped down, as did board president Carol Mitchell. Bo

    July 29, 2014

  • Lottery sales top $3 million mark

    OTTUMWA — Mother Nature may have thrown Iowans a brutal winter, but it didn’t stop them from venturing out to buy lottery tickets. On Tuesday, the Iowa Lottery confirmed that it had topped the $3 million mark in sales for the third consecutive year.

    July 29, 2014

  • halo-5-guardians-concept_wallpaper-1920x1080-53cf9b0098ea45ada37dc0f66bc174f5.jpg The Art of Kong

    OTTUMWA — The Mona Lisa. Whistler's Mother. Donkey Kong? Don't be so surprised, said Walter Day, that video games and the surrounding memorabilia are being considered art. The creativity and artistic vision required to create a poster, said the found

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Slideshow: Truck overturns on roundabout

    July 28, 2014

  • 0729 OTT Picture veteran -T -M Veteran finally receives his medals OTTUMWA — A World War II injury may have saved the life of a U.S. Coast Guardsman from Iowa, but he lost friends and a box of military awards. Francis Hardy Harbour was born on Dec.16, 1919, in Drakesville. He joined the Coast Guard in 1941 as a mach

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Seasonal forecast Cool summer leading to cool fall? OTTUMWA — By late July, the average daytime high temperature starts to drop. What is normally the hottest part of the year is over. Averages are still in the mid-80s, and it certainly wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to see days in even the upper 90s.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • IHCC buildings.jpg Grant helps Hills keep students on track

    OTTUMWA — Thanks to a grant designed to improve graduation rates, Indian Hills Community College now has even more tools in its campuswide effort to help students with needs and give them the resources they need to stay in class. Indian Hills is one

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0728 OTT ribs in eldon BBQ dinner with a hundred friends

    ELDON --- This year's Eldon Rib Cook-off was won by three BBQ chefs --- and about 150 hungry visitors. "I was down here last year, too," said Dwayne Yates from Floris, who was biting into his third smoked rib. "I never had a bad one yet." That's what

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mediacom: Rural cable consumers and companies mistreated OTTUMWA --- You may want to add just a racing channel, a court channel or a nature channel to your cable line up. Unfortunately, you'll probably have to buy a "bundle," which, ironically, is what it will cost you here in Wapello County. That's accord

    July 26, 2014

Photo reprints


Obituaries

Facebook