North Iowa Times

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Tue
23
Jul

North Iowa Tractor Ride rolls through area later this week

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

Nearly 200 tractors will roll through the area later this week as part of the North Iowa Tractor Ride. The riders’ base will be at a fitting location: Froelich. 

“Because of our special history, they felt it was appropriate to come to where John Froelich invented the first gasoline tractor to propel itself forward and backward in 1892,” said Froelich Coordinator Denise Schutte.

Tue
23
Jul

MFL MarMac lays out plan for Marquette property

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

The MFL MarMac School Board has laid out a plan to deal with around seven acres of property it currently owns in the city of Marquette.

“I stumbled across this a couple years ago,” said superintendent Dale Crozier. “There’s a glob of land the school owns” that includes a section of the ballfield and an area around it in the bench neighborhood. “I’m guessing it was part of the old Marquette school [property]. I don’t know why we still own it, but it doesn’t need to be ours. It’s something I want to clean up.”

Tue
23
Jul

Monona city administrator will retire in December

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

Monona City Administrator Dan Canton will retire effective Dec. 20. He announced his intent in a letter to the city council, which was acknowledged at the July 15 regular meeting.

“I appreciate the opportunity the city gave me,” said Canton, who has served in the position for 9.5 years.

“I’m happy for him,” stated mayor Lynn “Marty” Martinson, “and I’m sad for the city.”

Tue
23
Jul

Turner Park splash pad vendor selected

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

The design and features of the Turner Park splash pad are now coming into focus. The McGregor City Council, at its July 17 meeting, selected a proposal from the vendor Vortex-Commercial Recreation Specialists for the project.

Jake Deaver, senior project manager with MSA Professional Services, which is engineering the splash pad, said he met with city administrator Lynette Sander and councilwoman and Turner Park committee chair Janet Hallberg last month to discuss what they’d like to see incorporated into the splash pad. They received four proposals back, and a group evaluated the submissions prior to Wednesday’s meeting.

Tue
16
Jul

Remembrance and renewal at McGregor pocket park dedication


On July 11, McGregor’s new pocket park was dedicated in honor of Roger Witter, who lost his life clearing debris in the aftermath of the July 19, 2017 tornado. Pictured for the ribbon cutting were Ellen Burns, Roger’s daughter Beth Witter, grandson Eli, daughter Allison Thomas and wife Linda Witter, along with McGregor Mayor Lyle Troester and McGregor Deputy Clerk Duane Boelman. (Photos by Audrey Posten)

The pocket park is located next to the McGregor Public Library, where the historic Troutfetter Building stood before it was destroyed by the tornado. Fred Petrie and Melanie SanFillippo donated the lot to the city not long after, hoping it could be used for future civic use.

Joan Burns, who led the efforts to create the R.D. Witter Memorial Pocket Park, spoke at the dedication, highlighting all those who made the project possible.

“Vacant lots can be the beginning of a blight, the beginning of a decline in the vitality of Main Streets in Iowa and throughout the Midwest,” Burns told those gathered. “But they can also be an opportunity. They can also be a what-if. What can we do with this vacant lot to grow this community, to invigorate the economy, to welcome tourists, to provide a place for families to gather? That was the inception of this.”

Mayor Lyle Troester likened creation of the pocket park to the regeneration of the forest surrounding McGregor, now two years after the July 19, 2017 tornado. “Just like the trees that are regenerating in the hills, this lot is regenerating as well,” he said. “The tornado brought forth a surge of community response, but I think one of the most important things it brought forth was a link from the old to the new.”

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

July 11 was a day of remembrance and renewal in McGregor, as community members gathered to dedicate the city’s new pocket park, named in honor of beloved local farmer Roger Witter, who lost his life clearing debris in the aftermath of the July 19, 2017 tornado.

The pocket park is located next to the McGregor Public Library, where the historic Troutfetter Building stood before it was destroyed by the tornado. Fred Petrie and Melanie SanFillippo donated the lot to the city not long after, hoping it could be used for future civic use.

Tue
16
Jul

Monona wood carvers show their personalities through creations


The Monona Wood Carvers Group meets Tuesday and Thursday afternoons in the Marting Wood Carving Room at the Monona Historical Museum. Among the members are Elmer Marting (left), David Scott, Mary Althouse, Stan Blair, Gayle Patraw, Jim Faulkner, Butch Whittle, Bob Griffith, Ron Kaiser and Bob Moses. (Photos by Audrey Posten)

David Scott enjoys trying a variety of carving styles. “I do two or three of one thing and then I’m looking for something more challenging,” he said. Here, he works on a caricature carving.

Butch Whittle shows off the comb he’s working on. The teeth have already emerged from the piece of wood, and now he’s chipping a design into the base.

Jim Faulkner takes a break from walking stick carving to turn the center of a golf ball into a skull.

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

“Life is simple,” reads David Scott’s T-shirt: “Eat. Sleep. Carve.”

However, for members of the Monona Wood Carvers Group who gather weekly in the Marting Wood Carving Room at the Monona Historical Museum, the artful creations they form out of mere pieces of wood using just their own hands and a few tools are anything but.

Tue
16
Jul

Fishermen, boaters can help limit the spread of aquatic invasive species in local waters


Denver Link, a seasonal employee with the Iowa DNR’s aquatic invasive species unit, led a program at Pikes Peak State Park near McGregor on Saturday. (Photos by Audrey Posten)

Locally, one of the most common aquatic invasive species is the zebra mussel. The tiny invaders spread quickly by attaching themselves to boat propellers, trailers and equipment, clinging to aquatic plants and remaining in water from undrained containers and boat hulls. They also attach themselves to native mussels, eventually out-competing other mussels for food and killing them.

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

By following a simple slogan, “Clean, Drain and Dry,” fishermen and recreational boaters can help limit the spread of aquatic invasive species in local waters.

“An invasive species is a non-native plant or animal that infests an area,” explained Denver Link, a seasonal employee with the Iowa DNR’s aquatic invasive species unit, who led a program at Pikes Peak State Park on Saturday. “They have no natural predation, and they can have a traumatic effect on native species.”

Tue
16
Jul

Medical Associates Monona clinic moving to new location


Starting July 22, the Medical Associates Monona Clinic will be located at 101 Franklin St. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

Starting July 22, the Medical Associates Monona Clinic will be located at 101 Franklin St. (formerly the Family Dentistry building). Additionally, the current Medical Associates Monona office on South Page Street will be closed on July 19, as staff prepare to move to the new location.

“Our new location on Franklin Street will allow Medical Associates to better serve the growing needs of patients in this community, and we look forward to serving them for years to come at our new facility,” said Brian Schatz, chief operating officer for Medical Associates Clinic.

Tue
09
Jul

Marquette riverfront property attracts purple martin tenants


Dan Beck (left) and Laurie and Dennis Mason are landlords to a growing population of purple martins on the Marquette riverfront. They are pictured with one of the houses. (Photos by Audrey Posten)

Purple martins are native songbirds and the largest bird in the swallow family.

They eat insects and are most active in the early morning and early evening.

All the purple martin houses sit atop tall poles, which the Masons and Dan regularly lower to monitor the birds and maintain the numbered compartments against predators and parasites.

Dennis said the ability to raise and lower houses is key. Without maintenance and supervision, sparrows and starlings will attempt to take over the nests, driving away purple martins and even killing the young. Larger birds, along with raccoons and snakes, can also predatorize purple martin nests. These Marquette “landlords” have installed predator guards on the house poles—the shiny, silver metal preventing other critters from gaining purchase and crawling up to the nests.

Fourteen to 16 pair of the birds, along with nearly 40 babies (recently hatched or still eggs), have now taken up residence in one of two white, multi-compartment houses on the Marquette riverfront.

Purple martins are social birds and nest in colonies. The don't mind the human activity on the riverfront, and have become almost solely dependent on humans for their housing.

The riverfront is now a purple martin sanctuary. Dennis was able to erect this signage and an all-gourd "apartment complex" thanks to funds from the Marquette Action Club.

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

A series of “apartments” on Marquette’s riverfront are attracting a growing number of tenants—but not of the human variety. The area has become a sanctuary to purple martin birds, thanks to the efforts of several community members.

“When I was a kid on the west bench of Marquette, an old railroad man had purple martins. That’s where the interest started,” said resident Dennis Mason, who helped establish housing for the birds with wife Laurie and friend Dan Beck, from Elkader. “I’ve been trying for 30 years at home to get them. I gathered information from other enthusiasts and I moved it around, but couldn’t get any to stay.”

Tue
09
Jul

Officers settling into roles with Mar-Mac PD


Mason Kwilinski (left) and J.T. Cunningham are the new full-time officers with the Mar-Mac Unified Law Enforcement District. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

From car accidents and domestic disputes to OWIs and thefts, J.T. Cunningham and Mason Kwilinski have seen a little bit of everything during their first few months as full-time officers with the Mar-Mac Unified Law Enforcement District.

“I even got called to handle a gosling in someone’s driveway,” Cunningham shared.

“It’s been busy,” Kwilinski acknowledged, but the two have valued the learning opportunities.

Cunningham, a Guttenberg native, became interested in law enforcement at a young age.

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