I was born in Texas, but call Marshalltown home because I’ve lived here since age 16.


Family: I’ve been married 22 years to Ramon Ortega and we have four children. Son Jonathan attends Iowa State University in Ames, my daughter Alysha is a freshman at Marshalltown High School, daughter Alexa is a sixth grader, and my baby Aaliyah started pre-school this year.


Occupation: Having some free time in the morning now means I can chip away at my “to do” list, that only seems to get longer everyday. I love to cook and work on events, which is a good fit for my business. Since 2005, I have been the owner-operator of Midnight Ballroom, a local wedding receptions and events venue. I enjoy working with families to make their event memorable, and have made lasting friendships through the business.


Books: I have recently read “The Four Agreements,” by Don Miguel Ruiz, “The Girl with Seven Names,” by Hyeonseo Lee and David John, and lots of cookbooks!

Food: Mangos, cheese, avocados, shrimp and steak.

Movies: My family teases me because I fall asleep every time we watch movies, except through favorites: “Avatar,” “The Boy in Striped Pajamas,” “Silence of the Lambs,” and “Pan’s Labyrinth.”


Best part of living here: Marshalltown is small enough one can get to know neighbors and community leaders, yet big enough to offer basic services.

Local involvement: I have helped organize Marshalltown’s Fourth of July fireworks event for several years. Additionally, was part of the Friends of the Orpheum, which helped organize public events. If time allows, I try and participate in community events.

Advice on life: Take time to know people and enjoy their uniqueness without judging, because life is too short to be a negative, toxic person.


15 Minutes is a Saturday feature about Central Iowans. The question and answer format lends itself be completed or read in 15 minutes or less. To submit a name for consideration, or to participate, contact Times-Republican Staff and Features Reporter Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or mdonahey@timesrepublican.com.