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Remembering 2008

By Staff | Dec 31, 2008

EDITOR’S NOTE – This is the second in a series of articles to chronicle the life and times of Palo Alto County during 2008. The final installment will appear in next Tuesday’s issue of The Reporter.

It was another outstanding year for Emmetsburg and Palo Alto County! The preceding 12 months were filled with the ups and downs of life. Following is the second of three installments of a review of the year that was 2008. Photos, highlighting moments from May through August can be found on Page 13 of today’s issue of “The Democrat.”


• South Grand Reconstruction – Infrastructure improvements on South Grand in Emmetsburg were completed in 2002, but when the main line trench settled and the crown of the street was lost, the street was completely removed and reconstruction began from 14th Street to 17th Street.

• Senior high school students throughout Palo Alto County participated in commencement ceremonies. At Emmetsburg High School, 63 graduates received degrees, while there were 25 graduates at Graettinger-Terril High School, 26 graduates at Ruthven-Ayrshire High School, and 31 graduates at West Bend-Mallard High School.

“101 Dalmatians KIDS” opened at Main Street Community Theater. Fifty-two Emmetsburg students–both elementary and Middle School–participated.

• New Statewide Penny Tax Benefits Emmetsburg Schools – Good news for rural schools was highlighted at the May meeting of the Emmetsburg Board of Education. The board members learned how the SILO (School Infrastructure Local Option Sales Tax) of one penny had been replaced by a statewide penny sales tax. All schools in Iowa–both urban and rural–will receive the same amount of money per student for school improvement projects.


• A time capsule, buried more than 50 years ago in Emmetsburg, was unearthed at Courthouse Square as the first official function of the committee planning the Sesquicentennial (150th) Anniversary celebration in Palo Alto County. The time capsule was buried in July 1958.

• Incumbent Supervisor Edged In Primary Bid – There was 10 percent voter turn-out as residents of Palo Alto County Supervisor District 3 defeated the incumbent candidate by a dozen votes during the June primary election. Challenger Frank Kliegl received 151 votes while incumbent Supervisor Leo Goeders received 139 votes out of 290 votes cast in the precinct.

• The ongoing dispute over the assessed value of Wild Rose Casino & Resort was resolved. The Stat e of Iowa Property Assessment Appeals Board determined that the assessed value of the property is $16,500,000 as of Jan. 1, 2007, which was less than the $20,855,750 value set by an outside appraiser arranged by the Palo Alto County Assessor’s Office for the 58.38 acre property.

• Emmetsburg Mayor John Schad received a letter from U.S. President George W. Bush addressing Palo Alto County’s milestone Sesquicentennial. The letter included greetings and best wishes on behalf of the President and First Lady Laura Bush.

• Steve Dunnick, PA-C, a provider at the Family Practice Clinic at Emmetsburg, was named recipient of the Golden Hands Award. Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa presents this award to two providers each year for demonstrating exceptional contributions to Mercy Medical Center.

• Palo Alto County Economic Development Corporation was awarded a grant of $70,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help establish a revolving loan fund to assist small and emerging businesses in Palo Alto County.

• It was a scene of shame and sorrow at the new Veterans Memorial on South Broadway in Emmetsburg when it was discovered that three of the four statues awaiting installation had been vandalized. Two statues were severely damaged after being tipped over, resulting in $4,000 damage. A reward was offered for information leading to the perpetrator(s) of the crime.


• Although Palo Alto County avoided major damages in the spate of flooding, storm-related damages sustained in the county prompted a disaster declaration. Eighty-six of Iowa’s 99 counties were declared disaster areas.

• The Sesquicentennial Was Celebrated – What a Weekend! With beautiful skies, perfect weather, and a multitude of events, Palo Alto County’s Sesquicentennial Celebration was a resounding success. From the Waterhawks Ski Show and local entertainment and activities at Soper Park to a concert by Lee Greenwood at Wild Rose, Palo Alto County celebrated in style.

• Ground was broken for a two-phase addition and remodeling project at Iowa Trust & Savings Bank in Emmetsburg.

• There were cheers, tears, and applause as members of the First Battalion Battery A of the 194th Field Artillery returned home after a year’s deployment to Kosovo. The troops were escorted through Emmetsburg with an official welcome home ceremony held in Estherville.

• It was announced by General Manager Jim Hurd that IEI in Emmetsburg would be closing its doors in a few months as a result of the downturn in the RV business. The announcement came during a meeting of the Emmetsburg City Council.

• After an extensive investigation into a vandalism incident, Emmetsburg Police Officers arrested three Emmetsburg juveniles in connection with the destruction of two statues at the Veterans Memorial. New statues for the memorial were then installed.

• Palo Alto County’s ace pedal puller added another honor to her distinguished list of accomplishments. Betty Sue Strohman took the six-year old age division championship at the 2008 International Pedal Tractor Pull. Strohman is the daughter of Mark and Angie Strohman.

• The All-Premium Auction concluded the 2008 Palo Alto County Fair, raising a total of $27,645 for the exhibitors of lambs, beef, dairy, and swine. Bridget Rouse was crowned as the 2008 Palo Alto County Fair Queen during ceremonies held on the opening night of the fair.


• Public access to additional shoreline of Five Island Lake will be the biggest pay-off of a recent city purchase. Emmetsburg City Council approved the purchase of the Clubhouse at Wild Rose Gold Club for $265,000. Negotiations to purchase the Clubhouse and adjoining property began the month before.

• Palo Alto County Relay For Life, the annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, netted $31,681. The 12th annual event was held at Courthouse Square in Emmetsburg and included recognition of the Team of Hope as they led the Survivor Lap.

• After participating in a whole-grade sharing agreement with the Terril Community School District for the past several years, patrons of the Graettinger Community School District discussed voting on a possible reorganization of the two districts into a consolidated district.

• The 112th Annual Graettinger Labor Day celebration was held over Labor Day Weekend with a pageant, parade, and a full slate of scheduled activities.

• Officials were on hand for the presentation of a $9.3 million check from United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development for the implementation of the Osgood Water Treatment Plant in Palo Alto County. The plant will provide drinking water to the residents of Palo Alto and Emmet Counties in northwest Iowa, and Jackson and Martin Counties in southwest Minnesota.