Community News

Wed
14
Feb

Waukon Chamber of Commerce to launch its 2024 event series with the Cupid Shuffle this weekend

The Waukon Chamber of Commerce will be launching its 2024 Event Series this weekend, Friday and Saturday, February 16 and 17. This event, aptly called the Cupid Shuffle as it happens near the Valentine’s Day holiday, will highlight Waukon’s local dining establishments and encourages folks to get out and patronize Waukon’s businesses and community amenities.  Cupid Shuffle cards with a list of participating businesses are available at the Chamber office and EpicWear in Waukon, or can be viewed on the Cupid Shuffle Facebook event page.

Those participating in the Cupid Shuffle should visit three different locations in Waukon to grab a drink, have a meal, and take part in an activity. Any participants who “shuffle” to three participating locations and fill out and turn in a Cupid Shuffle card can be entered into a random drawing for a chance to win $100 in Waukon Bucks.

Wed
14
Feb

Harpers Ferry Museum: The Power of Place

Harpers Ferry Museum ...
Harpers Ferry Museum ... Pictured above is a scaled model of the Harpers Ferry Museum proposed for construction by the Harpers Ferry Area Heritage Society. Submitted photo.

A small river town is once again coming together to preserve its local history. The Harpers Ferry Area Heritage Society is raising $800,000 to build a new, 9,000-square-foot museum highlighting the community’s rich past. The effort builds on the Heritage Society’s previous work, which resulted in the historic Oil Springs School restoration and relocation.

“Harpers Ferry is one of the oldest communities in Allamakee County,” says Jane Hasek, one of the project’s leaders. “Its heritage is really unique.”

The city was founded by David Harper, who opened a hotel and launched a ferry that carried livestock, grain and more to Prairie du Chien, WI. Residents today feel a powerful connection to the community and its history and are excited to showcase their town in a new way.

Wed
14
Feb

Recipes from French Creek in rural Lansing finishes among top three finalists in “Grow Your Future” contest


Finalist in “Grow Your Future” contest ... Bobbi Jo Berg of Recipes from French Creek in rural Lansing was a finalist and selected as a third-place finisher in the Iowa Farm Bureau “Grow Your Future” contest at the Young Farmer Conference held February 2-3 in Altoona. Pictured above, left to right, Iowa Farm Bureau Young Farmer Advisory Council Chairperson Vanessa Trampel presents a third-place award of $2,500 to Berg and her Recipes from French Creek business. Submitted photo.

Ashley Wenke of Pleasant Grove Homestead near Montezuma was named Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s “Grow Your Future” Award first-place winner at the organization’s Young Farmer Conference held February 2-3 in Altoona. Wenke took home a $7,500 grand prize to expand her direct-to-consumer produce and meat business.

Also among the finalists in this year’s competition was Bobbi Jo (Wild) Berg, from Recipes from French Creek in rural Lansing of Allamakee County. Her business creates freezer meals with locally sourced ingredients, including eggs from her own farm, and she finished in third place as one of the finalists in the competition and received a prize of $2,500.

Wed
07
Feb

Waukon City Council discusses ordinance regarding dangerous and vicious animals, approves assessment for 9 Allamakee Street property

by Joe Moses

The Waukon City Council met in regular session Monday, February 5 to address a full agenda of matters including discussion of the City’s Dangerous and Vicious Animals Ordinance, the Assessment Schedule for 9 Allamakee Street, and the tentative approval of Capital Improvement Project and Revenue Budgets. The meeting was called to order by Mayor Arvid Hatlan.

There was no Public Comment with the meeting moving into Department Reports, with Park, Recreation and Wellness Director Jeremy Strub providing an update. Strub noted that the Youth Recreation program’s basketball season is coming to an end with soccer being advertised to start in April, which he advised is one of the larger programs with participants from several communities. Strub noted that the Wellness Center is very busy this time of year and that advertising will begin for summer employment including coaches, park help, lifeguards, among others.

Wed
07
Feb

Two can tab drop-off locations currently available in Waukon for supporting Ronald McDonald House


Two locations in Waukon to drop off can tabs to benefit Ronald McDonald House ... Local residents have two locations in Waukon at which to drop off their beverage and canned food can tabs for the benefit of Ronald McDonald House and the families that organization serves. Pictured above in the photo at left, the Waukon Lions Club joined forces with Waukon Redemption Center recently to provide a can tab drop-off location inside the door of the Redemption Center on Main Street in Waukon, where (left to right in the photo above) Neal Daley of the Waukon Lions Club stands with Waukon Redemption Center owner Ben Larkin. Pictured in the photo below, Village Farm & Home and the Sweeney family continue to carry on the legacy of the late Matt Sweeney in collecting can tabs and also donating them to Ronald McDonald House, an act that Matt Sweeney prided himself on in wanting to help people in any way that he could. Pictured, left to right, are Matt’s brother Steve Sweeney, father Joe Sweeney, and sister Sarah Monroe at the Village Farm & Home location just south of Waukon with another tub full of tabs ready for donation in Matt’s honor. Submitted photos.

The community of Waukon now has two established locations for people to donate their can tabs (pull tabs) in efforts to help support Ronald McDonald House charities. Thanks to the organizational and supporting efforts of a local family, an organization and two businesses, anyone in the community can join in those efforts to help support a program that has helped and supported so many in times when that help and support is needed most.

The focus of the Ronald McDonald House programs is to offer a home away from home that provides comfort, support and resources to families who travel far from home for the medical care their child needs. With more than 380 Ronald McDonald House locations across the world, the support efforts locally are mainly focused on the Ronald McDonald House locations in Rochester, MN and in Iowa City.

Wed
07
Feb

Allamakee County Veterans Museum program to feature Town Theatre 1940s filming

The Allamakee County Veterans Museum will again present the popular Town Theatre video program of movies taken in downtown Waukon during the summer of 1941. The program will be held this Saturday, February 10, beginning at 10 a.m., at the Veterans Museum located at 105 Allamakee Street in Waukon.

The video will run continuously between 10 a.m. to 12 noon. There is no admission charge, and the museum is wheelchair accessible.

The popular movies were filmed in downtown Waukon in the 1940s by the Cote family and shown during intermissions before and after feature movies, previews, cartoons and news reels. Viewers can try and spot and identify relatives shown in the film and enjoy a nostalgic look back at period vehicles and dress with local scenes and businesses, just before the entry of USA into WWII.

Wed
07
Feb

Foundation support helps launch local child care wage enhancement program


In support of child care in Allamakee County ... The Northeast Iowa Funders Network was instrumental in helping fund efforts by Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission that ultimately resulted in the establishment of a child care wage enhancement program in Allamakee County. Pictured above at the Postville Child Care Center, a benefactor of that new program, are, left to right, Affiliate Development Director for the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa Terry Gaumer, Keith Newhouse of the Winneshiek County Community Foundation, Emily Sadewasser of the Clayton County Community Foundation, Kristy Turner of the Postville Childcare Center, Andy Reimer and Haleisa Johnson of the Clayton County Community Foundation, Betty Steege of the Allamakee County Community Foundation, and Michelle Barness of Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission. Submitted photo.

Like other day care facilities in the area, Postville Childcare was recently ready to close its doors, which would have left 49 families without care and 17 staff members without jobs. Thanks to strong community partnerships, help came just in time.

As the center was gearing up to close, The Northeast Iowa Funders Network, made up of community foundations in Allamakee, Chickasaw, Clayton, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek Counties, awarded a grant to Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission to support the work of regional planner Michelle Barness, who is coordinating strategies for addressing child care challenges.

Barness provided support to Allamakee County providers, economic development leaders and other partners as they worked to raise $163,000 for a countywide child care wage enhancement program. The state of Iowa provided 2-to-1 matching funds, making nearly $500,000 available to help providers pay staff competitive wages.

Wed
31
Jan

After nearly 70 years in the local workforce, Jane Tepesch reflects on her start as a telephone operator, other rewarding careers as she retires

Jane Tepesch ...
Jane Tepesch ...

Telephone transition ... Pictured above is Jane Buntrock (now Jane Tepesch) working through the transition from switchboard telephone operation to dial telephones during her days working for Northwestern Bell early in her nearly 70-year working career. This photo appeared with a newspaper story about residents testing their new dial telephone with a photo caption reading, “Jane Buntrock, above, is one of the operators who will call you and ask you to dial a special number. If you make an error, it will be shown on the tape so she can explain it to you and help you dial correctly”.

by Brianne Grimstad

From the time that she was a young girl, Jane (Buntrock) Tepesch says she knew she wanted to be a telephone operator. “When you saw the pictures in the magazines, they looked so kind and helpful,” she says of what inspired her to follow her dreams.

When Jane was a teenager, Marian (Moyer) Smedsrud worked as an operator and one Saturday she brought Jane with her to work. Jane said she sat in a chair with a headset on and observed how the operators worked the switchboards. “Back then, the head sets covered the ears entirely,” Jane explained.

When asked if she could hear what was being said in her headsets, Jane couldn’t. “I had the holes turned to the outside,” Jane laughed. She had been wearing the headset wrong.

In June of 1954, Jane went to work for Northwestern Bell at the age of 18 years old. The office was located above the Chevrolet Garage at the time, on the second story.

Wed
31
Jan

ACED&T Executive Director joins Partners group in sharing with elected officials the impact of tourism


Participates in Tourism Legislative Night ... Allamakee County Economic Development & Tourism Executive Director Val Reinke (pictured at far left in front row of photo) participated in Tourism Legislative Night with Iowa’s elected officials Wednesday, January 17 in Des Moines. In conjunction with the Iowa Travel Industry Partners, the event was focused on emphasizing the importance of the tourism industry to Iowa’s economy. Submitted photo.

Val Reinke of Allamakee County Economic Development & Tourism (ACED&T) was pleased to join the Iowa Travel Industry Partners in gathering with statewide partners for Tourism Legislative Night with Iowa’s elected officials Wednesday, January 17. Conversations taking place at Curate, a reception event space located in downtown Des Moines, focused on the importance of tourism to Iowa’s economy. Bipartisan members of the Iowa Senate and Iowa House of Representatives attended the event.

Wed
31
Jan

Man convicted of multiple theft charges from incidents in Waukon and Waterville last year sentenced to 15 years in prison

Dillon Heiller ...
Dillon Heiller ...

Dillon Michael Heiller, age 37 and listed as homeless in court documents, was sentenced in Allamakee County District Court Monday, January 22 for a series of crimes committed in the Allamakee County area within the past year. Heiller was sentenced to a total of 15 years in prison in conjunction with three different theft charges stemming from two separate incidents within the county in 2023.

Heiller was arrested in October 2023 in Waukon after officers responded to a call of a suspicious individual and vehicle in the 700 block of 1st Avenue SW in Waukon. He was pursued on foot to a garage behind a residence on West Main Street, where he was tasered and arrested on several charges that included Theft in the 2nd Degree, for which he received a sentence of five years in prison January 22.

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