Pella Christian High class of 1991 graduate Rachel Brand is stepping down from her post as U.S. associate attorney general, according to the New York Times. Brand became the associate attorney general in May 2017 and would be next in line of succession after deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the special counsel’s inquiry into the Russian influence in the 2016 election. Brand is reported to be taking the position of global governance director at Walmart, the company’s top legal position. President Donald Trump is reported to have considered getting rid of Rosenstein, which would leave Brand in charge of the special counsel. In a statement released on Feb. 10, Sen. Chuck Grassley said Brand is an “incredibly talented lawyer” who served the U.S. very well.
Not many people can say they came through Ellis Island when they immigrated to the United States. But one Pella resident can. Francene (Schilt) Poortinga doesn’t remember much of her family’s stop in Ellis Island, but she does remember the 12-day ship ride to the U.S. and the three-day train ride to Percy, Iowa. She was eight years old when she, her father, mother, brother Gerrit and sister Lena emigrated from the Netherlands. Poortinga, who turned 104 years old on February 10th, attended a one-room school house until the eighth grade – her father was a farmer in the Netherlands, and continued to farm when the family moved to Iowa – first to Percy, then near Prairie City, and finally on land west of Pella in 1935. Francene married her husband Francis in 1939; during WWII she sewed clothing from feed sacks. Poortinga still resides in Pella and has six grandchildren, 12 great-grand children and one great-great-grandchild. Her advice for living a long life? “Keep breathing.”