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Coulson Zrust, 6, left, asks Santa Claus for a "magic bell" for Christmas. His brother Neil Zrust, 9, questioned if that even was the real Santa. But upon sitting on the jolly old elf's lap, the two talked about outer space. 

Social club in David City to disband

After nearly 70 years, David City’s Northside Club is coming to an end.

Not to be confused with the cafe and truck stop in David City sporting the same name, the civic social club was founded in 1951. Members have met about once a month to do activities and go on social outings. It currently has nine members: Barb Dehner, Shirley Warholoski, Rita Polak, Lorene Woita, Virginia Miller, Betty Tarr, Marie Cunningham, Bev Bennett and Virginia Rerucha.

Woita has been a member since the group was first created in 1951, while others have been in the club for more than 50 years. Dehner said they decided to disband because it was getting more and more difficult to transport people to meetings due to their age and health. Most club members are in their 90s.

“I said we were never going to put an end to it,” Dehner said. “But you know what, I saw myself being picked up by gals because I couldn’t drive anymore. There are three gals in walkers, and it’s a chore to move people around.”

Bennett said this type of group isn't as appealing in current times to the younger generation. The club stopped recruiting new members because it was difficult to have enough space in their homes for so many guests.

“We decided about 10 years ago that our homes were no longer big enough for 18 people, so we just stopped inviting new people to join,” Bennett said. “It just kind of slowed down after that.”

The club’s philanthropy included making holiday cards for Meals on Wheels and raising money for Relay for Life, Cunningham said. For the past six years, the club had raised more than $2,500 for the event, which has its funds go toward the American Cancer Society.

“This last year, we raised $5,000 during the summer, just our little group,” Cunningham said.

Whenever a member was in need, Bennett said the club was there to lend a helping hand.

“When someone was in need or had someone who was ill, we were there to make food, send cards, help them with rides, whatever they needed,” Bennett said. “It’s just a crutch to us.”

Cunningham said the club name comes from the fact that most of its members at the time of its creation lived north of the train tracks in David City. But, Dehner said, over time the group became more than just a club.

“Over the years I think we became more of a family than just a club,” Dehner said.

Although the group won’t have any official meetings any more after this month, Bennett said members will continue to keep in touch and grab coffee together.

And Cunningham agreed.

“We won’t be an official club, but we will always officially be friends,” Cunningham said.

Eric Schucht is a reporter for the Banner-Press. Reach him via email at

Zegers to change owners after 30 years

Mike Zegers and Leona Zegers struggled to fill their home remodeling supply and installation store with inventory back when Zegers Home Center in David City first opened in 1988.

Leona recalled how Mike installed fake walls inside the venue to fill out the space. As time progressed and their store and clientele continued growing, the panels were moved back to create space for their thriving business.

“We tried to make it look full, but we couldn’t because we didn’t have enough inventory," Leona Zegers said. “And now (we) look to try to find more room for stuff.”

After 30 years in business, the two said they're ready to retire. The store has been sold to Jess Neujahr and Leslie Neujahr, of David City, who will soon run and operate the business.

“We’ve been looking forward to retiring for the last half a year,” Mike said.

Leona added to his remarks, noting it's just “time to retire.”

The business first opened in 1988 and operated out of the former McVay Clothing store on E Street, today the site of Blue Valley Community Action. In 1993, the store moved to its present location at 470 N. Fifth St., formerly the Coast-to-Coast store, as previously reported by The Banner-Press.

The Zegers said they’re excited to sell their business to someone who will ensure it continues thriving and prospering. Jess Neujahr will be running the business full time while his wife, Leslie, will help out between working as a dental hygienist in Columbus.

“Jess has always wanted to do this, and I think we’ve wanted this for his career for quite a long time," Leslie Neujahr said. "So it’s exciting for us to finally get the opportunity and to take over an existing business that has been so successful.”

Jess said there’ll be a bit of a transition from becoming a business owner, but added he feels confident in the construction aspect. For several years he's worked for T. Novak Construction and he said he has a passion for the art of interior installation.

“I have, more or less, a full construction background," Jess Neujahr said. "I can do pretty much anything as far as building a house. But I’ll probably stay more limited to what Zegers has offered so I can keep a friendly relationship with the local contractors instead of competing with them.”

The Neujahrs will officially take over as owners by the end of the month. Leslie said with business will continue operating with its current hours and phone number. In the future, the sign will be changed to display the store’s new name: Neujahr Home Center.

Once the deal is complete, The Zegers said they plan to use their newly found free time to go to their seven grand-kids sports games and travel.

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at

East Butler's Josh Spatz fights for a dominant position against High Plains' Clay Church on Dec. 18. East Butler defeated High Plains 42-40. 

Downtown construction delayed to summer

Construction in downtown David City has been delayed to next year.

Although originally slated to be finished up this month, David City Mayor Alan Zavodny said the project is now expected to wrap up in June 2019. Factors behind the delay include cold weather and several brick streets having to be redone - a common trend in the project's history.

The section of D Street directly in front of the Thorpe Opera House will have its bricks relayed, along with a few other streets. Zavodny said there’s a lip between the bricks and the concrete there that needs to be smoothed out. He said this would be done in the spring.

“It’s really uneven and rough there,” Zavodny said. “We want to make sure that the taxpayers will get what they paid for.”

The Downtown Improvement Project encompasses 10 blocks of downtown David City and is currently estimated to cost about $7.5 million. Work began on June 1, 2017, and was originally estimated to finish by Dec. 1, 2018 - an 18-month time frame. Subcontractor Linhart Construction of Omaha started work on the brick removal and re-installation portion of the project in May 2018.

The plan was to remove the century-old bricks in the road, sort out the good bricks from the bad and then put them back into the road after it had been strengthened, as previously reported by The Banner-Press. While it may have been more work to keep the bricks instead of using concrete, Ward 1 David City City Council Member Skip Trowbridge said it was worth the effort.

“As I look at this sea of gray concrete down this street (North Fourth Street), it just looks like anywhere U.S.A. to me,” Trowbridge said. “That’s what we’re concerned with, the long-lasting appearance that we’re going to have. I think it’s going to be neat when it’s all done.”

Linhart has experienced problems throughout the project. About a month into work, it was discovered the bricks were sinking into the ground as heavy trucks drove over them. Jon McCarville and Al Hottovy of Leo A Daly, the Omaha-based firm designing the project, said it was decided to replace the rock-based Geo-Web that was originally placed underneath the bricks with concrete.

“We weren’t seeing the compaction rate that we needed to see in order to approve the section,” McCarville said. “So because of that, we thought it would be a faster and much better product and cheaper to change it to concrete.”

Because of this, several blocks had bricks taken out and redone, delaying the project by four to six weeks. Hottovy said the south lane of D Street and the west side of Fifth Street from C to D streets had to be taken out and put back in once the concrete was in place. Also, on several occasions, workers used poor-quality bricks or even ones with paint residue on them, which had to be taken out and replaced. These delays, however, will not increase the cost of the project for the city, Trowbridge said.

“It cost the city zero,” Trowbridge said. “Because it should have been done right the first time.”

Zavodny said he expects the city will identify more areas that need to be redone before the project's completion.

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at