McGregor groups give updates, plans for 2015

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Several groups gave their yearly updates to the McGregor City Council Jan. 21, highlighting some of their accomplishments of 2014, as well as plans for 2015. Those providing reports included the McGregor Public Library, McGregor Park Board, McGregor-Marquette Center for the Arts and McGregor-Marquette Chamber of Commerce.

McGregor Public Library

Library Director Michelle Pettit said 12,305 visits were made to the library last year.   They held 82 children’s programs, with 781 in attendance. For the adults, 101 programs were held, with 626 people in attendance. 

A total of 16,167 items were borrowed in 2014. The top circulating books were:

1) “Fault in Our Stars” by John Green (29)

2) “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn (27)

3) “Standup Guy” by Stuart Woods (17)

4) “Divergent” by Veronica Roth (15)

5) “Oliver Finds His Way,” a picture book (15)

6) “Takedown Twenty” by Janet Evanovich (14)

7) “Hidden Fires” by Sandra Brown (13)

8) “Carnal Curiosity” by Stuart Woods (12)

9) “Invisible” by James Patterson (12)

10) “Love Monster,” a picture book (11)

The top circulating movies were:

1) “Frozen” (25)

2) “Despicable Me 2” (23)

3) “Cloud Atlas” (21)

4) “The Butler” (20)

5) “Last Vegas” (20)

6) “August: Osage County” (19)

7) “Captain Phillips” (18)

8) “Nebraska” (18)

9) “Divergent” (16)

10) “Life of Pi” (16)

With 12,280 downloadable materials through the library’s online NEIBORS site, Pettit said usage there is up three times from 2013.

The library also answered 1,804 requests for information.

“People are asking for history every week,” Pettit told the audience.

The library received several donations and grants in 2014, including a light table and CD player from the McGregor Clan Lions Club that is used for story time programs. The McGregor Hospital Board granted $500 for health and medical books. The State Library of Iowa awarded a technology grant for a touch screen Windows 8 all-in-one. NuTech Seed awarded the library a Community Investment Grant for technology at the library. Upper Mississippi Gaming Corporation awarded a grant for a handicap accessible door.

Pettit said planning is already underway for the library’s summer reading program. This year, the theme is “Heroes.” Although that automatically makes people think of superheroes, Pettit said they’ll try to make the focus more local, highlighting notable historic residents like the Ringling Brothers and Andrew Clemens.

“We want to talk to the kids about the little things they can do, not just superheroes,” she said. 

Pettit also mentioned the library would like to look into getting its collection of newspaper microfilm online, making history more accessible to people.

McGregor Park Board

City Administrator Lynette Sander the McGregor Park Board’s focus has largely been on planned Turner Park improvements. 

A group met throughout 2014 and developed a plan for four phases, beginning with a trail around the park’s perimeter. Phase two will include constructing a nature-inspired playground, while phase three will spruce up the sports fields, realigning the football field, adding new goal posts and improving the baseball field. A new concession stand is also planned, along with additional parking. For phase four, the committee hopes to construct a splash pad and shade structure.

Insurance money from 2013’s tornado episode, as well as some donations are waiting to be used, and Sander said the project is up for some grant opportunities, as well. Councilwoman Janet Hallberg said the middle school student council has planned an upcoming dance-a-thon and would like to donate proceeds to the project.

McGregor-Marquette Center for the Arts

McGregor-Marquette Center for the Arts (MMCA) Board Vice President Bonnie Pruett said the MMCA had a successful year, which was capped off in the fall when $4,125 was raised through a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to mat and frame over 20 prints donated by children’s book author Arthur Geisert. The prints depict scenes from Geisert’s book “River Town” and will be featured in the MMCA’s opening exhibit this spring. 

Pruett said the MMCA will have three special exhibits this year, down from four last year.

In 2015, the MMCA hopes to grow its children and teenage art programming. The first program of the year will begin Saturday, Jan. 31, with a ceramic workshop for teenagers.

Pruett said another of the MMCA’s goals for 2015 is to be open more.

“We feel we’re ready to be open seven days a week,” she said, noting the MMCA will open in mid-May. “We think it will benefit us and the entire city.”

The MMCA will officially close for the season in early November, but Pruett said they’ve contemplated staying open just on the weekends through Christmas.

Pruett said other plans for the year include holding another community Earth Day project, as a follow-up to last spring’s picnic table painting. They would also like to work on holding Fiber Fest, usually held at McGregor’s Landing around this time, at the MMCA. 

More involvement with the Chamber is also planned, as the MMCA would like to encourage some of the artists they’ve worked with to be vendors at the arts and crafts festivals.

McGregor-Marquette Chamber of Commerce

McGregor-Marquette Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Carolyn Gallagher highlighted some of the Chamber’s activities throughout the year, including organizing the arts and crafts festivals and Lazy River Beer and Wine Festival, the Progressive Dinner and annual dinner. 

She also noted the Chamber’s advertising through the Clayton County Development Group’s national ad campaign, as well as numerous print and broadcast advertisements locally and throughout the Midwest. 

A monthly email newsletter highlights events and business promotions.

“I try and divide my time and get out as much as I can [to see Chamber members],” Gallagher said. In order to better serve her members, she said she plans to schedule meetings with several businesses each month.

Gallagher said she also hopes to increase vendor participation at the arts and crafts festivals, especially in the fall. Competition has made it more difficult, though, she added.

“I’ve been speaking with other event coordinators and attendance is down elsewhere too,” she explained. “There are more festivals, so vendors can pick and choose more. I’m doing what I feel I can to make it better. I’m open to suggestions.”

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