North Iowa Times

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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)

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.

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.

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 Sout 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.

Tue
09
Jul

Hay Days committee asks city of Monona for greater financial commitment to event

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

Hay Days committee chair Teresa Graham said this year’s annual June celebration was a successful one, drawing over 1,000 people to Monona—a 22 to 23 percent increase from 2018. 

“But we need the city’s support to pull it off if this is something you want to continue to grow,” she told the Monona Council at its July 1 meeting.

Financially, the committee is just “scraping the barrel,” Graham said. They fundraised thousands of dollars to put on the event, but, after expenses, only a couple hundred dollars remain for next year.

Mon
08
Jul

Kathleen M. (Mills) Ertz

Kathleen M. (Mills) Ertz passed away Wednesday, July 3, 2019, in Galesville, Wis. She was born in McGregor to Victor and Margaret (Lorang) Mills on Aug. 5, 1928. She married Emil Ertz on Sept. 14, 1957, and they had one son. No matter where she lived, McGregor was always "home." She had many stories to tell of her days there, including being the teller who waited on the bank robber in McGregor in 1957. 

Kathleen is survived by a son, Dan Ertz, her cat NoNo and many beloved nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband Emil, her brother Francis "Bud" Mills and sister Helen Lenz. 

Donations to the Alzheimer's Association are requested in lieu of flowers. The funeral will be in McGregor on Friday, July 12, at 10 a.m., at St. Mary's Catholic Church, with visitation one hour prior to the service.

Tue
02
Jul

Thanks to donations, Monona fireworks display will be twice as large this year

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

When the Monona Volunteer Fire Department shoots off the city’s fireworks at dusk this Thursday, July 4, expect a show that’s nearly twice as large as last year.

It’s all thanks to an outpouring of support from community members.

“We had really good donations last year,” said volunteer firefighter Andrew Meyer. That’s allowed the department to grow from a $12,000 display to one that’s over $20,000. 

Meyer acknowledged an ultimatum is what spurred the surge in donations.

Tue
02
Jul

Still a 'Great Place'

As 'Ports of Discovery,' Marquette and McGregor area is re-designated

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

Marquette and McGregor, as the collectively named “Ports of Discovery,” have been re-designated an Iowa Great Place by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.

The news was announced last week, following months of work by a local committee to complete an updated application and vision plan for the area, which was originally designated a Great Place in 2008.

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