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Continuing tradition: Annual Tour of Homes set for Saturday

Newton Dollars for Scholars Tour of Homes will return Saturday with a list five homes for attendees to walk through and enjoy the decor. 

“Every year, we ask five local homeowners if they would be so kind as to put their house on display, and they oblige us. This year we have two new builds, (one in northeast Newton and one in southwest), a historic home and two homes a little outside city limits that are also amazing,” president of Newton Dollars for Scholars Hilary Montalvo said.

The event will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

For $10, Newton residents will be able to tour the homes of Ron and Susan Grigsby, Jessica White, Dick and Ellen Graber, Andrae and Stephanie Parks and Jim and Sherri Long with the proceeds of the event going toward the scholarship fund. Tickets are available online via the group’s 2019 Tour of Homes page on Facebook, Advantage Credit Union and Newton DMACC. Tickets will also be available at the homes the day of the tour. 

The tour is one of the main fundraisers Dollars for Scholars uses to raise money for scholarships. 

“We have a goal to give every Newton high school senior who completes an application a scholarship. We’re a volunteer organization, and we use the funds from the tour directly to scholarships. Every penny goes right into the pocket of a graduating senior in 2020,” Montalvo said. 

The homeowners on the tour will have the opportunity to showcase their residences to tour-goers. It gives attendees the chance to see each person’s home at its best. 

“Homeowners always wow us with their collections and decorations. So many of them love Christmas and this is probably the easiest way to see about 30 Christmas trees in one day. We have some homes with a tree in almost every room,” Montalvo said. 

Ticket purchases are tax deductible as the organization is a nonprofit. People are welcome to donate to the organization even if they can’t attend the tour. Funds can be sent to P.O. Box 1492 Newton, Iowa 50208. 

The local chapter of Dollars for Scholars was chartered in 1985 and is affiliated with the national group Scholarship America of St. Peter, Minn. For more information about the tour, visit their website at

Home of Ron and Susan Grigsby

630 S. 44th Ave. E. 

This 1987 Modified Dutch Colonial, built by the late city councilman Jim Plumb and his wife Kathy of barn timbers from the former county home, sits in a 5 acre park-like setting beside a one-acre fishing pond. The Grigsbys have kept themselves busy since they bought the house 14 years ago by remodeling two of the three bathrooms, replacing woodwork in the home, adding a laundry room and fourth bath on the main floor, installing new windows and laying hickory flooring. Look for the large custom-built stone fireplace and the local art hanging in the stairwell to the second story, as well as the drawing by local artist Judd Hoskins in Susan’s study. Ron made the butterfly stained glass window as a special gift for Susan, and he is working on a large leaded glass piece to go in the half-moon window in the living room. In the front yard, the Grigsbys created a pink and evergreen garden, so Susan can see color out of her window, even on gray winter days.  

Home of Jessica White 

1550 W. Eighth St. S. 

The open floor plan, shiplap and wooden accents of this 2016 ranch home would delight Chip and Joanna Gaines, even if it is a custom-built home and not a “fixer-upper.” What’s old is still new again when it comes to décor. Look for the barnwood door made from the front door of the homeowner’s childhood home, an heirloom bedroom set and many more antiques, while you admire the classic Christmas theme throughout the home. Let your inner man-child wish he could stay in the fully finished basement with the shuffle board table, poker table and custom lighting, accented with a fun Hawkeyes theme. With a tree decorated to complement every room, you’ll need extra time to appreciate all the fun Christmas decorations at this stop. 

Home of Dick and Ellen Graber

324 S. Sixth Ave. W. 

This cute compact National style home with enclosed front gable porch has witnessed a lot of history since being built more than 100 years ago, sometime between 1893 and 1915. During renovations, the Grabers were amazed to find logs for beams and square-headed nails in the bones of their house. After digging out the foundation and installing a steel beam, the basement family room was born. Later, a six-year project of renovations gave the four bedroom, two bath home its modern touches. You will get in the Christmas spirit with this home, decorated with a dozen different trees, each with its own classic Christmas theme like: Angels, Santas or Snowmen from the Grabers’ extensive collection of decorations.  

Home of Andrae and Stephanie Parks 

628 E. 26th St. N. 

This bright and welcoming two-story New Traditional home was custom-built in 2018 for the Parks family of five. The home features an open concept space on the main floor with an indoor sunroom overlooking a beautiful country landscape. The upstairs contains four bedrooms, including the master suite, so the family is all together on one level, with the added convenience of a second floor laundry room. The fully finished basement has a teen hangout space and an in-home daycare area. Touches of “farmhouse” décor are throughout, with shiplap, barn doors and lots of buffalo plaid, which works into the main Christmas theme. Look for the fun Grinch theme in the downstairs and a little touch of Christmas in each bedroom as you tour.  

Home of Jim and Sherri Long 

3245 N. 18th Ave. W.

This classic New Traditional brick home in the Deer Park subdivision with four bedrooms and four and half baths was built in 2003 and remodeled in 2006 to add a movie theatre, craft room, wine cellar, office and extensive landscaping. On the first floor, look for the baby grand piano in the music room, next to a Christmas tree full of heirloom glass ornaments. High ceilings in the main living room showcase the serene pond view and a 13 foot tree, but don’t miss the treasured Fontanini nativity, collected over 35 years of marriage. On the lower level, you’ll find custom woodwork, including the bespoke wine cellar door, imported from Mexico; a life size antique Santa and miniature sleigh; and another Christmas tree. Stop and imagine watching a holiday classic curled up under the movie theatre’s barrel ceiling, surrounded by movie posters lit in a marquee style. Traditional touches will be found wherever you go in this warm and welcoming home. 

Contact Pam Pratt at 641-792-3121 ext. 6530 or

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