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Residents extol virtues of their small towns

Webster County communities have fans

February 17, 2013
By HANS MADSEN, hmadsen@messengernews.net , Messenger News

WEBSTER?COUNTY?- In the small towns scattered throughout Webster County are residents who wouldn't trade their hometown for any other on the map.

MOORLAND - Judy Pirie, owner of The Head Quarters, has been styling hair in Moorland for a while.

"It'll be 30 years this July," she said.

Article Photos

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Judy Pirie, owner of The Head Quarters in Moorland, styles a customer’s hair. Pirie said that Moorland is a friendly community with access to a good school system, Prairie Valley Community. In addition to being a longtime Moorland business owner, Pirie “paid it forward” and helped another local start her own business in Moorland.

She said she's now seeing second- and third-generation customers in her shop.

She said that support for her when she started her business came from other local residents, she was able to in turn help her business neighbor, Secrets Exceptional Resale, get started.

"I paid it forward," she said.

She said that community has a friendly atmosphere and access to a good school district. The town is in the Prairie Valley School District.

She also said that most of her customers come from the surrounding area; she gets a lot of them from Harcourt, Lehigh and even Rockwell City.

The majority, though, might surprise you.

"I see a lot of Fort Dodge people," she said.

Sara Gade, the owner of Secrets Exceptional Resale, has been operating her business for 14 years. She also notes that many of her customers are from not only Fort Dodge, but the region.

"We're a destination stop," she said.

She also lives in Moorland.

"I"m close to home," she said.

She said it's a good place to live, citing the small town atmosphere as one advantage.

CALLENDER - The city of Callender has a brand-new logo, proclaiming the city a community for all seasons and features four trees, each representing one a season.

City Clerk Denita Lee-Luke said that isn't all that's new.

She said the city has received a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant from the Iowa Department of Economic Development. The town will use the money for a sanitary/storm sewer project.

In addition, the town's new Property Maintenance Code helped out with the rehabilitation of several homes and business properties.

The town has also received a Iowa's Living Roadways/Trees Forever grant for $3,500. The money will be used for landscaping around three new city entrance signs. The amount is being matched by Callender Community Funds.

While the community has seen a population loss, Lee-Luke is hopeful that will change.

"With the new ethanol plants," she said, "this is a good housing community."

Kelli George, president of the Callender Area Revitalization Efforts group, has had a successful year and completed a major project.

"We have a new basketball court in the City Park," she said.

Previously, the park didn't have one. It's a whole new addition that offers residents another recreational opportunity.

The group is also sponsoring a community Easter Egg Hunt this year. They took over the event after the previous organizers disbanded.

She is very happy with the way residents of Callender have stepped up to help out.

"We get huge support," she said.

In addition, she said that donations have also come from areas outside the community.

Another project the C.A.R.E. group has taken on is an annual scholarship for a graduation Prairie Valley student.

The group is currently looking for their next large project and is seeking input from the community.

George is also a Callender resident.

She said she enjoys the quiet and calm of the community.

"I feel safe here," she said.

She would also like to see more business in the community and would welcome new residents too.

DAYTON - The city of Dayton has had a busy year.

Besides the annual Dayton Rodeo - which celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2012 - the community also saw thousands of RAGBRAI riders pedal through along with several municipal improvement projects.

Randy Dannielson, Dayton city clerk, said work on the water tank was one of the bigger projects.

"They sandblasted and painted the exterior," he said. "It extends its life considerably."

In addition, he said a block of water main was replaced, the city replaced several street lights with new LED models along Iowa Highway 175. The new lights use about 60 percent less energy.

The city is also planning several street resurfacing projects for 2013.

He also proud of another addition to Dayton; he said that pending the board's approval, Van Diest Medical Center plans to open a clinic in the spring.

"Resident support will be critical to the clinic's success," he said.

In addition to the other projects, the city is expecting delivery of a new sport utility vehicle for the Dayton Police Department.

He said that Dayton offers its residents a lot.

"You can get most of what you need here," he said.

One of those helping to provide that is Rob Scott, the manager of the Dayton Community Grocery store.

He enjoys the community and his clients.

"We've got wonderful customers," he said.

Being able to offer a selection of groceries to local residents, which saves them a drive to other cities, is an asset to the community.

Scott is a member of the Dayton Rodeo Committee.

"We had 10,000 to 11,000 on the hill," he said. "It was a good rodeo."

He also enjoyed the RAGBRAI visitors.

"It was good for the community to see that," he said.

For the future?

"We'll see us keeping up the progress," he said.

HARCOURT - Tom Rabbitt, general manager of Harcourt Equipment, said the company has been doing business along Iowa Highway 175 since 1960.

It's worked out well for them; dozens of pieces of John Deere green equipment fills their lot.

He said it's a good location.

"We have a lot of excellent farm ground," he said. "It's a central location."

That location, not only as a place to do business but also as a place to live, offers something else.

"You have good access to several larger communities," he said. "Harcourt is a good little city."

Harcourt Mayor Donna Brundage won't have any trouble agreeing with that, she's been living in the community since 1973 and is on the last year of her third term.

"We're a pretty clean little town," she said.

She said that while things have been quiet, there are some projects on the horizon.

"We're getting new street signs," she said.

In addition, there will be some paving projects and other street repairs. Both are slated for the spring.

She's also proud of how her community stepped up to welcome the summer of 2012's Ragbrai riders.

"We got lots of positive commments," she said.

LEHIGH - Nestled along the Des Moines River, the small community of Lehigh continues to offer its residents a warm friendly place to call home.

City Clerk Wanda Ganeff said the community is working on several projects.

"We want to build a new fire station," she said, adding that support has come from a raffle for a motorcycle, spaghetti suppers and a Lehigh Fire Department-hosted ice fishing tournament.

She said that she is happy with the support the project is getting, not just from local residents but also those from surrounding communities.

Another project in the community is the ongoing effort to raise money for new bleachers in the softball park, she said that an initial donation kicked off the drive and that the community has been helping to raise more.

She also said that the library has gotten a grant, which will be used to update the computers and software.

Residents like being near the river, she said, and they also like the access to other outdoor recreation.

"We're close to Brushy and Dolliver," she said.

She said that Lehigh's scenic location offers the organizers of various motorcycle and hot rod runs a great place to drive through and stop.

"Those bring in a lot of business," she said.

DUNCOMBE - The city of Duncombe has lost population, according to City Clerk Peg Royster. The latest Census figures indicate a drop to 410 residents from 474.

She's concerned about it, because the loss of population means a loss of revenue. She is worried that the city might have to cut the budget for fire and police protection.

While she has some concerns, she also said that the community has many things to be proud of.

"We have a nearly new community center," she said, "It's used quite frequently."

In addition, she's proud of the Fire Department.

"Our Fire Department is very good," she said.

It's also well supported by local and area residents, she said the annual Fireman's Ball is heavily attended.

"People like to support it," she said.

She said there are also indications that younger residents are moving to the community as housing is available.

"That's really good," she said.

Duncombe is also able to offer visitors to the nearby Brushy Creek State Recreation Area a place to buy a few groceries and bait - she said the Duncombe Gas and Grocery can keep them well supplied.

In addition, there's a new place to eat, called Ethel's Pub-n-Grub.

"It seems to be doing well," she said.

For anybody with a sweet tooth, residents Joyce Harms and her daughter Sonya McBurney, can offer up a selection of cookies to make sure it's happy.

Doing business as The Kringla Gals, the pair have been doing business out their home for several years.

"We talked about the kringla mom used to make," Harms said, "Maybe we can sell it."

They got licensed and began baking but found that the cookies sold far better than the kringla.

Harms said that there's been a good reception to their product and that Duncombe has been a good place to do business.

She also likes the community as a place to live.

"They are really caring toward everyone," she said.

VINCENT - Tanya Harrison, the owner of Mrs. T's Mercantile in Vincent, has been in business there since November 2007. She sells quilting supplies and operates a cozy restaurant in the back.

She likes being a part of the community.

"When you're operating a small business you get to know everybody," she said. "You're providing for them."

One of the challenges she's faced is getting people to drive there to visit her shop. Many of her regular customers - particularly for lunch - are regulars who work or live in the area.

"They're almost like a family," she said.

She likes operating in the community and said that it's been a learning experience.

"You always have to be willing to change," she said.

Retired Webster County Sheriff Brian Mickelson has been making Vincent his home for over three decades.

"It's a very clean, quiet community," he said.

One of the assets the community offers.

"Everybody watches out for everybody else," he said.

He plans on sticking around.

"I'm happy to stay," he said.

Vincent Mayor John Fransen is happy to stay as well.

He said that during the past year, the community has completed work on it's sewer lift station, water system, streets and other utilities.

"Our infrastructure is in good shape," he said.

In addition, the Vincent Fire Department has been able to add some new equipment and were able to construct an ambulance barn.

"They're a huge asset to the community,' he said

A city website is also on the horizon he said.

Fransen is optimistic that Vincent is on the right track.

"I feel very positive about the direction Vincent's City Council and community is going," he said.

 
 

 

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