Here is an aerial view of Aurelia, taken many decades ago.
Larson Lake: A Little Known Gem -
Nestled into the countryside a few miles east of Aurelia lies little known Larson Lake.
The lake, a former gravel pit, was converted into a 5 acre lake, settled within a 12 acre park.
Although it may be small in size, Larson Lake is still a place for fun opportunities.
A portion of the lake has been dedicated to Iowa's Trumpeter Swan Restoration Program for about ten years. The graceful birds can be seen throughout the year, from Spring Courtship through nesting and the raising of cygnets, the official term for young swans.
The remainder of the lake is open for those looking to cast their rod and reel in for a few fish. Bluegill, bass, crappie and catfish can be caught in the lake.
Small watercraft are permitted, but the Cherokee County Conservation Office asks that no gasoline motors be used on the small lake.
After an afternoon of bird watching and fishing, Larson Lake also has camping facilities available. Five primitive campsites are available for $5 per site per night.
There are also large and small picnic shelters, charcoal grills, a vault toilet and playground equipment for those just looking to spend a relaxing afternoon listening to the waves, watching the swans, and enjoying the little-known gem that is Larson Lake...
(Photo by Katie Carnes)
Larson Lake has several picnic and shelter areas, which provide a place to sit back and enjoy the look of the lake.
(Photo by Katie Carnes)
... This look at Larson Lake shows a serene place where visitors can sit in the shade and enjoy the lake area. The bench was donated in memory of Rex Whitney, an original member of the Cherokee County Conservation Board who spent many hours enjoying Larson Lake.
(Photo by Katie Carnes)
Aurelia author pens "The Cherokean" -
Dennis Allen - farmer, metal sculptor, and family man - can now add "author" to his list of occupations and hobbies after he recently published his book titled "The Cherokean."
When asked what prompted his desire to write a novel, Allen responded, "I've always like to write. Ever since creative writing in high school, I have always enjoyed it."
The book, a western with a classic old-time mystery, is set in Cherokee County during the time when settlers were just beginning to enter the area.
"I read several books on the history of Cherokee County, and I was able to use that information to describe the people and places in the book," said Allen.
The historical information carefully weaves into a plot that follows the main character, Nathan Wade, as he settles in the town of Cherokee to find out more about the mysterious death of his parents who died when he was just a young boy.
Although Allen followed the history books on the names of the towns, he had the freedom to play with the names of characters in the book.
"The names are based on members of my family," said Allen. "Many of the names are connected to my kids, my brothers and sisters and their kids."
The names aren't the only family connections found in the book. The artwork that can be found at the beginning of each chapter also holds a family connection.
"A few of the drawings came from a book of sketches drawn by my great uncle that was actually published by my great aunt," said Allen.
After picking the plot and deciding which family connections to use, it came time for Allen to write.
"Keeping the mystery side to the story was the most difficult part," said Allen. "I wrote the novel on-and-off over three years, so I would have to re-read the book to remember where I had left off."
Although it may have taken him three years to write, it took Allen nearly 15 years before he wrote, edited, and finally decided to publish the book.
Allen said, "I stashed the manuscript away in my home after I finished it, not really giving it another thought until this year."
That was where Allen took his manuscript to Forbes and Company Publishers, another Aurelia business.
Now, the rest is Allen's own contribution to history.
"The Cherokean" is currently available at the Village Boutique in Aurelia, the Book Vine in Cherokee, and both the Aurelia and Cherokee Public Libraries have copies to borrow.
When asked what's next for Allen, he stated, "I just want to keep helping and promoting the town of Aurelia."
And when our conversation turned to the talk of a potential sequel, Allen said with a smile, "Maybe in another 15 years."
(photo) Dennis Allen, Aurelia native, signs a copy of his book "The Cherokean," a western with a mystery, set in Cherokee County.
A Continuing Commercial Club -
"To promote Aurelia's local business, agriculture industry and the economical and social health of our community"
That is the mission statement of the Aurelia Commercial Club, an organization dedicated to the betterment of the community since its founding in 1920.
The commercial club was originally named the Aurelia Business Men's Association. The group met in the Community Rooms, above the old Farmers National Bank Building, later home to the Haunted Bates Hotel.
The service organization's name was changed to the Aurelia Commercial Club in 1941.
Through the years and name changes, the Commercial Club is now open to anyone and everyone, encouraging and promoting the business and social interests of the entire community.
The purpose in the club's by-laws highlight that the Commercial Club is "meant to work toward the common good in all matters, touching the general welfare of the county and town through consultation and united efforts, advancing agricultural interests, encouraging commercial progress, increasing acquaintance and harmony, and securing cooperation throughout the town and county communities."
These by-laws can be found in the Aurelia Centennial book (1973), but their message is anything but outdated.
The Commercial Club is still striving to encourage and promote the businesses and social interests of the entire community in the 21st Century.
A very visible sign of the club's efforts can be seen at the Community Coffee, which is held every Wednesday morning from 9:30-11 a.m. at the Aurelia Community Center.
Hosts supply donuts, bar or rolls and, of course, coffee, as people from the community are given the opportunity to gather and socialize, taking pride in local businesses.
The 2010 officers for the Commercial Club are president, Bob Forbes; vice president, Dick Vogt; secretary, Carla Peterson; and treasurer, Cindy Krause.
(photo) - Commercial Club President Bob Forbes
A Trip to Tanzania: Bringing fresh water from the deep to the people -
Approximately five years ago, Jeff Bowen of Aurelia received a phone call from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Storm Lake, asking if he would assist them in bringing fresh water wells to Tanzania.
After one refusal and another series of phone calls, Bowan and Darwin (Dar) Evans of Aurelia, are about to make their second trip to the country in southern Africa to repair, regulate, and install fresh water wells.
Both Bowen and Evans are no strangers to the process of digging wells.
Bowen is the President of Geo-Loop Inc., an Aurelia-based business that specializes in providing geothermal and water well equipment across the United States and throughout the world.
Evans has been in drilling all of his life. He worked with both the State of Iowa and United States Geological Survey, a group that looks at the science of the Earth, its natural and living resources, natural hazards and the environment.
That geological background is exactly what led Bowen and Evans' first trip to Tanzania in February 2008.
"We spent three weeks gathering information," said Evans. "We had to find out what we were working with, such as the depth of the water, where the water was located, whether we should buy or build a pump, and a wide variety of other well-digging logistics."
During their first visit, the pair quickly learned the Tanzanian environment.
"We entered a country where the average annual income is around $300, and only approximately one percent of the population have electricity," said Bowen. "There was no pre-packaged food, no refrigerators...many of the things we take for granted here simply aren't available to these people."
They also saw how desperately the people of Tanzania needed the clean water.
"The people of Tanzania get their water by taking their buckets down to the nearest stream and hauling the water back to their homes," explained Evans.
The availability of the water is based largely on the season.
"There is a five-month period in Tanzania where the country receives adequate rain," explained Evans. "The rest of the year, the land is a desert."
During that time, the water collectors, normally the women and children of the villages, are forced to travel farther and farther from their homes to find streams and water sources that haven't already dried up for the season.
"During our studies of the area, we found that if we dug down to the depth of 300 feet, we would most likely hit water somewhere," said Evans...
(Photo)- Jeff Bowen (left) and Dar Evans (right) work on a well during their first visit to Tanzania in February 2008.
... Yet, the water they found was anything but a rushing stream of fresh water.
"When we hit water, the capacity of the stream was normally around one gallon per minute," said Evans. "To put that in perspective, there are wells in Cherokee that are easily capable of pumping 500-600 gallons per minute, and near LeMars, 1500-2000 gallons per minute."
But with the lack of electricity, the hand pumps being installed in the Tanzanian wells are able to keep up with the small, steady stream of water available.
While studying the area, Bowen and Evans were also able to fix some of the existing wells with parts and tools that they brought over in their own suitcases.
"In one location, the people already had a flowing well that they had no means of turning off," explained Evans. "A group of people e-mailed us photos of the well and asked for help because the government was going to make them plug the well, thinking that the constant flow was a waste of water."
Bowen and Evans studied the pictures and loaded their bags with the tools and equipment needed to install two valves on the well, allowing the people to turn the water on and off.
That well will provide fresh water to approximately 5,000 people in the wet season, and 20,000 during the dry.
"We came to two very important conclusions during that first trip," said Evans. The first, "The equipment we sent over had to be 'goof-proof,' because there are no resources available for the people to fix the wells." The second, "Education is everything."
In Tanzania, unsafe drinking water is a large source of health problems, as well as insect-carried diseases, such as malaria and yellow fever.
Even with the health issues, Evans said that it was difficult to explain to the people that is doesn't do any good to take a dirty bucket to get fresh water.
"It was also difficult to teach them that the well must be protected," said Evans. "We had to teach them how to prevent contaminations in the wells themselves."
The duo also had to speak with government officials, explaining the plans they would like to implement in the country.
"Although they felt it was their responsibility to provide for their people, they understood they simply didn't have the means," said Evans. "The people appreciated that we are paying attention and trying to help, and the government said they wouldn't stop our plans."
Back in America, and with those plans set in motion, Bowen and Evans set to work gathering the equipment they would need for their return trip to Africa.
"We just shipped 40,000 pounds of rigs, equipment, and materials over this May," said Evans. "The equipment just arrived a few weeks ago in Njombi, Tanzania, a port 14-15 hours away from its final destination in Tanga."
Once the materials make their way through customs, Bowen and Evans will head out on their return journey to install the equipment and teach the Tanzanian people how to operate and maintain their fresh-water wells.
"After this trip, we will still have to make return maintenance trips periodically," said Evans," but ultimately, we will not only be providing the people with fresh water, we will be educating them so they can protect, repair, and maintain the wells themselves."
Through their work, Bowen and Evans are teaching the Tanzanian people how to keep their water safe, which in turn, keeps the people safe as well.
(Photo) - Jeff Bowen (left) and Dar Evans back home - for now.
Jack Johnson returns to Aurelia School -
Jack Johnson was an educator and coach in several Iowa schools for many years,and also worked as umpire in the summers. He earned his administrative degree and became the High School Principal at Anthon-Oto before taking a similar position in the Aurelia School District. Johnson served as the High School Principal in Aurelia from 1988- 1994, and his sons Randy and Brian both graduated from Aurelia High School and participated in athletics during the initial period of a shared athletic program between the two districts.
Johnson left Aurelia to take the Superintendent of Schools position in the Schleswig District in 1994 and he remained in that position until his retirement in 2009.
Jack, an avid fisherman, said he has enjoyed his retirement, but he agreed recently to return to Aurelia (as a commuter) and serve as the Superintendent of the District during the 2010- 2011 school year. In the following year, 2011-2012, the Alta and Aurelia Districts will be whole grade sharing, and the Districts plan to hire a Shared Superintendent.
In the meantime, Jack Johnson will "put on his traveling shoes" and make the trip back to Aurelia. He said he is happy to do so, as he is familiar with the Aurelia School and many of its staff members.
Jack's son Brian, by the way, is the current Superintendent of the Schleswig School District. Jack's wife Charlotte is happily retired.
Welcome back, Jack!
Aurelia celebrates every five years -
The city of Aurelia held its all-school reunion on the weekend of July 15-17, 2010 and, as usual, did itself proud. The city has been staging this event every five years, and despite hot. muggy conditions this year, a large crowd of Aurelia alumni and their families showed up for at least one of the many events which were scheduled that weekend.
Things kicked off with an "old time" dance on Friday night at the Aurelia Community Center, where folks danced to the good time music of "one woman band" Shirley Brandt of Ashton. Another dance that evening, at the Aurelia Golf Club, featured Aurelia alumnus Tony Bohnenkamp and his band, Pianopalooza, and a large crowd gathered outside the clubhouse to renew old acquaintances and listen to the variety of rock and pop tunes offered by Tony and the band.
On Saturday morning, alumni gathered in the gym to talk with more old friends and enjoy a performance by the Aurelia High School drum line ...
(Photo by Dan Whitney)
... Responding to an audience request, the drum-line actually offered up their version of the school song, "Our Director," and members of the large crowd sang heartily along. A fun run and walk also took place on Saturday morning ...
(Photo by Dan whitney)
... and at 10 a.m., a parade was staged, starting at the school running from South 2nd Street to Main, by Sunset Knoll Residential Facility and back to the school. A number of floats entered the parade, including floats put together and manned (and womaned?) by members of many of the graduating classes of Aurelia High School. At the risk of offending any classes we've inadvertently omitted, the Classes of 1949, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1966, 1970, 1971 and 1975 were all represented by parade floats this year ...
(Photo) - Dick Vogt (left) and Duane "Nobby" Biuttenob, long-time Aurelia teachers and coaches, served as the Grand Marshals of the All-School Reunion parade.
(Photo by Dan Whitney)
... The Aurelia Heritage Museum and the Heritage House, located at 400 Main Street, were both open on Saturday, and the Heritage Society even served delicious ice cream at a "social" on the lawn of the beautifully preserved 1879 home, the first house in Aurelia, built by Reuben R. Whitney...
(Photo by Dan Whitney)
... Village Boutique, on Main Street, served free cherry cokes to customers for two hours, and they were served by Shelley Hucke Dubes, who worked at the old Honsbruch Drug Store, which now serves as the Village Boutique location, when she was in high school in Aurelia a few years back ...
(Photo by Dan Whitney)
... The evening concluded with the annual Fireman's Ball in the Aurelia City Park, and the third dance of the busy weekend featured the music of the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band, the (Magnificent) Board of Directors.
Quite a weekend - and, I'm sure. as they say, "a good time was had by all" participants ...
(Photo by Dan Whitney)