North Iowa Times

Tue
11
Aug

Spook Cave continues to delight after 60 years


Guide Chelbe Feuerhelm gives visitors information about one of Spook Cave’s unique formations. Tours take visitors through the 47-degree cave, floating over 14 inches to 3 feet of water. (Photos by Audrey Posten)

“I’m not a big fan of scaring people, but I like the Old Joe Smiley story,” said guide Chelbe Feuerhelm. The story tells of a man by that name who entered the cave to change the light bulbs but never returned, leaving behind some grisly remains.

Spook Cave has offered cave tours for 60 years. Tours run daily, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., May through October.

As many as six tour boats, with nine adults in each boat, run on a busy day.

In the glow of colored lights, visitors can see the cave’s unique formations of stalactites and stalagmites. Developed by mineral deposits from dripping water, the formations continue to grow slowly in the cave, which is an estimated 750,000 years old.

Some parts of the tour are meant to teasingly spook visitors, particularly the stories of the alligators that reside in the cave.

Paul said it’s rewarding to continue the Spook Cave tradition started by the Mielke family. Last month, Spook Cave and Campground was honored with the “Attraction of the Year” award from the Clayton County Development Group at its annual meeting.

Owners Paul and Paula Rasmussen, along with daughters Taylor and Nora, welcome visitors to Spook Cave and Campground. (Submitted photo)

The Rasmussens have worked to modernize Spook Cave’s camping offerings, upgrading sewer, water and electricity. Forty-seven sites are available for nightly use, while 44 are for seasonal guests. The seasonal sites, like this one, are so popular there’s a waiting list, noted Paul.

Along with cave and camping, cabins round out Spook Cave and Campground’s three “Cs.” The campground features eight fully-furnished cabins, which are popular among large groups.

“I feel people come because the sites are large," Paul said. "It looks like a park with a lot of old growth trees and the landscape of northeast Iowa. Bloody Run goes through here and there’s a fishing and swimming lake.”

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

For owners Paul and Paula Rasmussen, Spook Cave and Campground is all about the three “Cs”: cave, camping and cabins.

Tue
11
Aug

Goltz carves out a life-long passion for woodworking


Steve Goltz sits with some of the items he’s created over the years, including wooden boxes, bowls, walking sticks and faces. He also crafts furniture, including the hutch behind him, which resides in his Monona home. Some of Steve’s work—including carved bowls, fish and walking sticks—is displayed and available for purchase at the McGregor-Marquette Center for the Arts. (Photos by Audrey Posten)

“It’s relaxing for me,” Steve said about why he’s enjoyed woodworking all these years. “I can sit in my rocking chair and carve away.” Here, he uses a tool to burn the morel mushroom’s honeycomb-like pattern into a walking stick.

Steve has made the walking sticks, which feature intricately-designed tops—with some that look like morel mushrooms—for over 15 years. “They just start as a stick in the woods,” he said, noting that it takes one to two hours to complete each one.

“When I find a burl in the woods, I bring it home and start carving, taking the soft, punky wood off to get to the good stuff,” Steve explained of the bowl-making process. Burls are growths that develop on tree trunks or branches. In burls, the wood grain grows differently, creating unique patterns. Steve enjoys discovering what lies beneath.

Steve enjoys creating wooden faces, which he carves free-hand. This Santa Claus look-alike hangs on a tree outside one of his kids’ homes in Monona.

Another face looks like an Old West character with its bushy eyebrows and handlebar mustache.

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Woodworking has been a life-long passion for Steve Goltz.

“I started back when I was a kid, with my pocket knife, whittling away,” recalled Steve, who had his own construction business for 30 years before injuries cut it short. He then worked at Cabela’s for 15 years before retiring and taking up woodworking full-time.

Tue
11
Aug

Northey checks out Monona pool parking lot


Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey (far right) visited Monona Aug. 4 to inspect the city’s pool parking lot. Installed last August, the parking lot was laid with concrete permeable pavers, which fit together like Tetris pieces, collecting the water that flows through the paver cracks in order to control its release. Speaking with Northey about the project are (left to right) Northeast Iowa RC&D Executive Director Lora Friest, Eric Palas with the Clayton SWCD and Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, councilman Dan Havlicek, mayor Barb Collins and city administrator Dan Canton. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey visited Monona Aug. 4 to inspect the city’s pool parking lot. Installed last August, the parking lot was laid with concrete permeable pavers, which fit together like Tetris pieces, collecting the water that flows through the paver cracks in order to control its release. 

The previous gravel lot left no control of water on rainy days, whereas the water will now go through the pavers’ joints and discharge at a slower rate. This is helpful in controlling water release to the Turkey River watershed, of which Monona is a part. 

Tue
11
Aug

MFL MarMac considers co-oping with Postville for some girls sports

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

MFL MarMac superintendent Dale Crozier said at Monday night’s school board meeting that Postville recently approached him about sharing some girls sports with MFL MarMac due to low numbers.

Although roughly the same size enrollment-wise as MFL MarMac, Postville is limited in the number of athletes at times, said Crozier, because some students cannot participate for religious reasons.

Mon
10
Aug

Francis Gene Ottaway

 

Francis Gene Ottaway, 75, of McGregor, Iowa died Thursday, Aug. 6, at Crossing River Health in Prairie du Chien. 

He was born on July 19, 1940 in Sabula, Iowa the son of Eugene Harold and Edith Geneva (McMahon) Ottaway. 

Tue
04
Aug

Charles Frederick Davies

 

Charles Frederick Davies, 84, of McGregor, Iowa died Saturday, Aug. 1, at the Great River Care Center, McGregor, Iowa. 

He was born on Aug. 26, 1930 to William W. and Elsie (McMillin) Davies in McGregor, Iowa. He attended country school near Marquette and Monona High School. Charles enlisted in the United States Army on April 10, 1951, he was stationed in Japan as a Messenger Carrier during the Korean War. He was honorably discharged on March 6, 1953. 

Tue
04
Aug

Consider donating extra produce to food shelf


As more and more vegetables ripen in gardens around the area, some growers become overwhelmed with the amount of produce. If you have more than you can eat or preserve, consider donating it to the Clayton County Food Shelf.

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

As more and more vegetables ripen in gardens around the area, some growers become overwhelmed with the amount of produce and are unable to eat or preserve it fast enough. If you’re in this boat, consider donating to the Clayton County Food Shelf.

“I started pushing for more [produce] five to six years ago,” said Clayton County Food Shelf Director Utoni Ruff. “Donations go up every year.”

Ruff said zucchini, green beans and cucumbers are especially popular this time of year. In fact, she arrived to work Friday morning to find a large box of cucumbers at the door.

Tue
04
Aug

City looking for tree board volunteers as McGregor debates becoming Tree City


If McGregor forms a tree board, one thing they might do is diversify the city’s tree population, which has a lot of maples. (NIT file folder)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

With their vibrant hues, the maple trees in McGregor’s Triangle Park are one of the city’s most iconic fall sites. They’re the backdrop to the arts and crafts festivals and relaxing strolls downtown. With the help of a tree board, these and other McGregor trees could receive more attention.

Tue
04
Aug

Schulte tells story of collecting Dan Gable’s stories


Journalist Scott Schulte, a Connecticut native who now lives in Monona, worked with Iowa icon and Olympic wrestling gold medalist Dan Gable on “A Wrestling Life.” (Submitted photo)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

When journalist Scott Schulte walked into the wrestling Olympic trials at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City in 2012, his main objective was to take in some good wrestling action. He got more than that, walking away with an interview with Iowa icon and Olympic wrestling gold medalist Dan Gable—an interview that eventually turned into a book deal.

Schulte, a Connecticut native who now lives in Monona, said the idea to interview Gable struck as he watched a video interview with Gable at the fan fest held between sessions at the trials. 

Tue
04
Aug

Monona to host meeting for county hazard mitigation plan

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

This year, Clayton County is working to update its multi-jurisdictional, multi-hazard mitigation plan. Meetings will be held in the county, seeking public input, with one being held in Monona on Tuesday, Aug. 25, at 5:30 p.m., at the community center.

“The county got a grant to cover the cost of a plan update,” said Monona City Administrator Dan Canton, speaking to the city council at its Aug. 3 meeting. In order to receive FEMA funding if a disaster should occur, having an updated plan is necessary, he said.

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