Vavra approaches council about possibly moving Maiden Voyage to Marquette


By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor


Maiden Voyage owner Robert Vavra approached the Marquette Council May 13 about possibly moving his river tours to Marquette.


Vavra said the Coast Guard condemned the Maiden Voyage, which he had for nine years, so he is in the process of securing a new, similar boat he found in Florida. Once he has the new vessel, he said he would eventually like people to be able to board from better, more permanent dockage. He would also like it to be a handicap accessible dock, which the McGregor riverfront (where the tours are based) currently does not have.


“Handicap access is huge,” Vavra said, explaining that, last year, he hosted 12 nursing home groups, as well as other special needs groups.


The council was highly receptive to the move, with City Manager Dean Hilgerson offering to help open dialogue between Vavra and Lady Luck Casino, which leases the slips.


“I’m looking for a place to bring thousands of visitors, to do things that nobody else does on the Mississippi River,” Vavra said, mentioning that he’s especially excited to work with the Driftless Area Wetlands Centre and see how that continues to develop.


Vavra is slated to speak with the McGregor Council at Wednesday’s meeting.

Community center rentals

The council also discussed changing the rental rates for the community center, as some residents (who pay $25 as opposed to the $250 non-resident fee) have rented the center for events for non-residents. Some renters have also not respected the space, damaging tables.


The council unanimously agreed to leave resident rates the same, as it was one of the selling points in building the hotel/city hall/community center.


“I can’t see raising [the rates],” said councilwoman Cindy Halvorson. “The residents of Marquette were promised a community center. They’re taxpayers.”


“I don’t think we should go back on that,” agreed councilman Jason Winter.


“[The price] should be too cheap for residents,” said councilman John Ries, adding that something should be put in the rental contract to limit abuse and misreprentation, possibly keeping the security deposit if it occurred.


Although no official action was taken, the council agreed it would be best to not return the $250 security deposit immediately in order to assure the space was cleaned and its items taken care of properly. The issue will be brought up again at a future meeting.

Railroad meeting

The city said it is working on arranging a meeting with the railroad to discuss reported 40-minute wait times. City Clerk Sue Weipert said she has reported some significant wait times to Herb Jones, U.S. Director of State and Local Affairs with Canadian Pacific Railroad, who expressed interest in participating in the meeting.


If people experience extended blockages or issues, they can contact the Canadian Pacific Railroad at 1 (800) 766-7912. People may also contact the city so that the issue can be passed directly along to Jones. 


If you would like to report an incident, be sure to include specific information— the date, time and length and nature of stoppage, as well as the engine number, if possible.

Campground ordinance

The city passed a campground ordinance, allowing trailer camps and tourist campgrounds in the highway commercial C-1 zoning district. The zoning change will allow the city to develop a campground near the Driftless Area Wetlands Centre at some point.

Address changes

The Marquette address committee has finished updating street addresses around the community. The update will help emergency personnel better locate residences.


The council agreed it would be best to inform all residents, whether their address was changed or not, of the changes via a letter. Residents are also welcome to visit city hall to learn about the changes and to ask questions.


The changes will not be official until Clayton County Emergency Management inputs them into their system.

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