McGregor groups share updates

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Five McGregor groups—the library, art center, park board, museum and chamber of commerce—shared their yearly updates and budgets with the McGregor Council at its Jan. 20 regular meeting. Some notable information included:

Library—Last fiscal year, from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015, the McGregor Public Library had 11,724 visits to the library, with over 16,500 items borrowed. Over 1,000 kids took advantage of the library’s 94 children’s programs, while over 500 adults attended 95 adult programs. Computer usage reached nearly 2,000, and, as a Wi-Fi hotspot, the library has also become a popular destination for residents and tourists to use their laptops and other devices. 

The library’s downloadable e-book and audiobook program, called NEIBORS, expanded from a Northeast Iowa shared program to a statewide shared program called Bridges, which increases the number of titles available for patrons. Library director Michelle Pettit said the circulation of the library’s electronic resources has grown quite a bit each year, going from 525 in fiscal year 2013 to 1,175 in fiscal year 2015.

Art Center—The McGregor-Marquette Center for the Arts said it had $46,000 in gross sales this past season, an amount it hopes to continue. In 2015, the art center expanded its hours from five days each week to seven days per week, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., from late May through the end of October. It was also open Friday through Sunday from late November to just before Christmas, for holiday shopping. Treasurer Bonnie Pruett, who spoke for the group, said those hours will continue for the next season.

New this year, said Pruett, the art center will increase the size of its retail gallery, leaving a smaller area for event space. Also, in a move to increase marketability of the retail gallery, the art center will change its name to the Left Bank Shop and Gallery. According to another art center board member, Anne Kruse, (who spoke to the North Iowa Times at a different time) the art center’s legal name will still remain the same, but the gallery will be marketed under the “Left Bank” name. The name change, she said, will hopefully help people understand that the art center is a retail sales store and not just a place to view art. Left Bank, added Pruett, is derived from the art center’s location, in the former First National Bank building, which still houses the bank’s vaults.

Chamber—McGregor-Marquette Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Carolyn Gallagher said technology has helped her reach more people than ever before with information about the area. The chamber currently has around 4,000 Facebook followers, while monthly newsletters reach 2,000 people. Last year, she said, she received 5,000 requests for information, with many people also visiting the chamber’s website to find out more about McGregor and Marquette. 

Gallagher said planning is underway for the annual Spring Arts and Crafts Festival, which, with 68 vendors last year, had its best showing in five years. She’s also working to organize the McGregor farmers market, which will be held on Saturday mornings this year, a change that was made late in the season last year. It was previously held Friday afternoons.

June will see several large groups in the area, said Gallagher, as the Iowa High School State Bass Fishing Championship will be held on the Mississippi River, at McGregor and Marquette, around June 11. The event should draw 200 people, she said, with the group staying at the Cobblestone Inn and Suites in Marquette. The Great Eastern Iowa Tractorcade will visit Waukon June 12-15, so local lodging and eating establishments, as well as other businesses, may see overflow traffic from that event, as well.

Vietnam traveling wall

Local veteran Cheri Leachman, who is with McGregor’s American Legion Post and AMVETS, went before the council seeking a $500 donation toward the Vietnam memorial traveling wall that will be on display at the Clayton County Fairgrounds from June 30 to July 5.

The wall is a replica of the actual memorial in Washington, D.C., Leachman said, and designed by the same people. A veteran from Garnavillo, along with his wife, wrote the application to obtain the wall, and also contributed the down payment. The total cost to bring the wall to the area is between $35,000 and $40,000, Leachman noted.

Leachman said the wall only travels from April through November, remaining at each site for five to six days, so the fact that Clayton County was chosen is an honor.

“There are at least eight names from Clayton County on the wall,” she said, mentioning that special ceremonies will be held during the stop, honoring those who are listed.

The council agreed to make a $500 contribution.

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