Hometown Pride

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson

Kirk Kaufman sits in his recording studio at Juniors Motel, one mile outside of Otho, recently. Kaufman is a member of the band HAWKS. The band is playing at Shellabration July 8.

Down at Junior’s Motel

OTHO — There’s a place to go, a mile west of Otho, tucked away on a gravel road, it’s called Junior’s Motel. But it’s not a bed and breakfast. Owned by Kirk Kaufman, Junior’s Motel is a professional recording studio concealed by green ivy and situated behind a house and next to ...

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen

Pride In Community Appearance volunteers Kay Brand, at left, along with Nancy Spire, both of Fort Dodge, work on removing weeds from a flower bed near the splash pad in Oleson Park during a recent work day.


Members of PICA have found it is a way to become active and gain lifetime friendships with a group of people doing good. PICA, which stands for Pride in Community Appearance, began in 2002, a creation of Jan and Phyllis Wilson, of Fort Dodge. It is one of only two groups in Iowa doing this ...

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen

Fort Dodge historian Al Nelson holds up a print of one of the designs he's considering for the cover of the book he's working on about the history of Fort Dodge during the Frontier Era.

Al Nelson

Fort Dodge historian Al Nelson’s interest in the past goes back to his childhood. “When I was a little kid,” he said, “my mother had this leather-bound genealogy book. It fascinated me. I’d sneak a peek through it. I was just amazed at the fancy handwriting and script.” After ...

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen

Webster County Supervisor Bob Thode takes notes during one of their weekly meetings recently. Thode, who has now retired from the Fort Dodge Police Department, serves the community on several other boards in addition to being a supervisor.

Bob Thode

On the afternoon of June 19, 2017, Fort Dodge Police Capt. Bob Thode made one last call on his radio. It was heard and recorded in the Webster County Communications Center by the other officers on duty and anyone with an ear turned to the local scanner traffic. “It’s been an honor ...

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter

Fire Chief Jeff Brundige poses with the newest fire truck in Badger's fleet. It's not your imaginationÑthis Freightliner is a little taller than your average small-town pumper. The truck was formerly used in Pennsylvania in the mountains, and has four-wheel drive.

Jeff Brundige

BADGER — Jeff Brundige has seen plenty of changes since he became a Badger volunteer firefighter 23 years ago. The training and requirements for firefighters have shifted in many ways. And this year, his own duties have changed as Brundige took on the role of Badger Fire ...

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari

Kendra, left, and Rick Winegarden pose in front of their auction vehicle in Pocahontas. Rick Winegarden, co-owner of The Sale Barn Realty & Auction, is a lifelong resident of Pocahontas who has made several contributions to the community.

Rick Winegarden

POCAHONTAS — Auctioneering is more than just a job to Rick Winegarden. It’s in his blood. Winegarden, of Pocahontas, learned all he needed about the job from his father, who was also an auctioneer. “I went to auctioneer school in Mason City, but most of the experience comes from ...

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson

Sherry Washington, of Fort Dodge, prepares some food at Coppin Chapel African Methodist Church recently. Washington said her parents taught her at a young age that she should always make herself available to serve.

Sherry Washington

Sherry Washington learned tolerance at an early age growing up in Fort Dodge. She was one of the first black students to attend Cooper Elementary School in the early 1970s. Prior to that she was attending Pleasant Valley Elementary School near her home, Washington recalled. Earl O. ...

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari

Steve Gerry, of Sac City, explains the design on the Sac County Freedom Rock, located in downtown Sac City. Gerry, himself a United States Army veteran, helped bring Sac County's Freedom Rock to the city.

Steve Gerry

SAC CITY — No matter where he’s gone in his life, Steve Gerry always ends up back in his hometown of Sac City. Gerry, who was born and raised in town, said he’s left two or three times, but he always comes back. And not only has he lived in his hometown much of his life, but over ...

-Messenger photo by Hailey Brueschke 

The Algona Pool was one of the first improvements Keuck made as the Mayor, it also introduced the Optional Local Sales Tax which helped pay for it.

Lynn Kueck

ALGONA — Lynn Kueck, Algona’s mayor, is all about giving back to his hometown and making it be the best it can be. He also likes to share his knowledge of history with the community whenever he gets the chance. An Algona native, Kueck graduated valedictorian from Algona High School ...

-Submitted photo

Rachel Tell Sasek, of Ames, watches as her daughter, Lydia Tell Sasek, 1, enjoys her time on the frog that’s part of the new playground equipment in the Lehigh Park. Catie Tell, of Des Moines, checks out the whale, at right.

Lehigh Betterment Committee

LEHIGH — A place where families can play and neighbors know and support each other are the benefits of living in a small town. Lehigh is no exception, and Melissa Bintz, the president of the Lehigh Betterment Committee, and fellow committee members Melissa Rude, Becky Davis and Joe ...

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen

Linda Donner takes time to sit for a potrait recently. Donner is involved with several local organizations including the annual Dragon Boat races and Relay For Life.

Linda Donner

That saying, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree? It can be applied to Linda Donner. Since 1981, when she and her husband, Tom Donner, moved to Fort Dodge right after he finished pharmacy school, Linda Donner has been, you could say, channeling her inner Lucy Olson. Olson was ...

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari

Fort Dodge Police Chief Kevin Doty, left, speaks with Webster County Crime Stoppers board member Joe Condon following a recent board meeting.

Webster County Crime Stoppers

When a local law enforcement agency needs help solving a crime, or if there’s someone with a warrant who can’t be located, there’s usually one group of people in Webster County that the officers turn to for help. That group is Webster County Crime Stoppers. For almost 35 years, ...


Operation Christmas

It all started with two women, Cele Sanders and Denise O’Brien, the wives of doctors, driving around in their cars to make deliveries to the less fortunate in Fort Dodge. These two saw the need was great, and recruited the women from the local Catholic parishes to help them. In 2017, ...

-Messenger photo by Darcy Dougherty Maulsby

Jill Heisterkamp, right, executive director of Calhoun County Economic Development Corp., talks with Carol Thompson, chair of the Calhoun County Historic Preservation Commission.

Jill Heisterkamp

ROCKWELL CITY — What would it look like to combine time travel with economic development? It’s an intriguing question for Jill Heisterkamp, who is helping revive the Calhoun County Historic Preservation Commission. “You have to give people a reason to come to your area,” said ...

-Messenger photo
 by Kriss Nelson

Marcie Boerner, of Gowrie, works on an exhibit that will be featured at the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance.

Marcie Boerner

GOWRIE — Marcie Boerner’s passion to see a small community in Webster County thrive comes from the fact she lives and works there. “I was born and raised in this area. If something is not here, that I wish was here, how do I make that happen,” Boerner said. Boerner is office ...

-Messenger photo 
by Karen Weld

Mary Tesdahl stands near one of the newest acquisitions for Clarion’s Heartland Museum,  Judge Newt Draheim’s 1927 roadster.

Mary Tesdahl

CLARION — For 35 years, Mary Tesdahl was a middle special education teacher; 28 of them in the Clarion schools. After her retirement, she has continued her work as an educator, serving as co-chair of Clarion’s Heartland Museum. She begins her third year heading the all-volunteer board ...

Joan Meyer, accountant at Cornwell, Frideres, Maher, & Associates. P.L.C, makes sure the flowers outside the office are healthy and beautiful. 

- Messenger Photo by Hailey Brueschke

Joan Meyer

Originally from Lytton, Joan Meyer first moved to Fort Dodge back in 1982 after graduating college, and it didn’t take long for her to become an active member in the community of Fort Dodge. Now she works at Cornwell, Frideres, Maher & Associates PLC as an accountant. She also ...

-Messenger photos by Karen Weld

Sonna Johnson, left, and Jayne Schipull are Goldfield Community Women’s Club members. They are still in process of getting the downtown park equipment installed. The group was instrumental in the needed fundraising and seeing that the project is completed. There are nearly 40 club members.

Goldfield Community Women’s Club

GOLDFIELD — Goldfield Community Women’s Club, nearly 40 strong of varying ages, has a reputation in the community of about 600 residents of “getting things done.” The group meets about a half dozen times a year. Group members learn all about what is happening in both their ...

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen

Dayton volunteer firefighter Dan Stewart poses with one of the department's pumper trucks recently. Stewart is one of the department's newest members. He joined in June of 2016 when her moved to Dayton.

Dan Stewart

DAYTON — It’s a common problem and an ongoing issue in many small rural communities — local fire departments and EMS services that rely on volunteers can’t get enough of them to fully meet their needs. Volunteer Dayton Firefighter Dan Stewart is helping to reverse that. Stewart ...

-Messenger photo by Darcy Doughterty Maulsby

Josh Waller,
president of the Manson Chamber of Commerce, poses at Rost Motors where he works.

Josh Waller

MANSON — A small sign on Josh Waller’s desk at Rost Motor Inc., in Manson, asks a big question. “What is your most important asset?” Ask Waller, a sales consultant at Rost Motor, what this means for Manson and the answer is straightforward. “Manson’s greatest asset is our ...