Along Our Way
For the 20th year, a group of us continued a Holy Week tradition of meeting at the YMCA Camp northwest of Boone, sharing lunch, then climbing up a towering bluff there to Chapel Point, which overlooks the Des Moines River valley. Up at the top, there are a few reflections, a few stories, we sing ''This Is My Father's World'' and then Stan Moffitt of Boone plays taps on his bugle.
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Chuck Offenburger was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins follicular lymphoma cancer on July 10, 2009, had six months of chemotherapy & started a maintenance program. Carla Offenburger underwent surgery on April 26, 2010, for removal of a jaw tumor which was found to contain adenoid cystic carcinoma cancer. She underwent six weeks of follow-up radiation in June and July, 2010. Since then she has returned to good health, but she continues to have close medical observation. Two days after Carla finished radiation, Chuck noticed a pain in his left hip, and within days, a small mass near his tailbone was diagnosed as more aggressive large-cell lymphoma. In the fall of 2010, he underwent intensive chemotherapy, and had a stem cells transplant in November, with follow-up radiation in January, 2011. Since then he's been doing well, too, but continues to have regular check-ups. We post updates frequently here, including brief insights from Chuck, Carla and at least one of you readers.
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Recently on Facebook, we posted this photo and asked, ''What do this 1960s bicycle, 2002 Chrysler and 1900 barn all have in common, besides being at our farm in west central Iowa?'' People had some interesting and fun guesses and comments.
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''GARY THOMPSON: All-American'' is the new, 352-page biography of one of the state's genuine sports icons. From 1950-'53 Gary Thompson led the Roland Rockets to high school sports glory in basketball and baseball, giant-killers from one of Iowa's small schools. Then he led the Cyclones at Iowa State from 1953-'57, becoming the college's first two-sport All-American. He's had major success in broadcasting and business, from his home base in Ames. And he and his wife Janet have a family as solid as they come. "I'm the luckiest guy around," Thompson says.
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Along Our Way
Out in Greene County, Iowa
“Barn Quilts” – colorful celebrations of barns, quilts & art – are on display now in Greene County
By CHUCK OFFENBURGER
November 6, 2005
The Greene County “Barn Quilt” project is now on public display, with 11 colorful and traditional quilt patterns – each painted on a wood frame at least 8-feet square – now in place on ag buildings around the county.
Two new “barn quilts” were placed Saturday, November 5, to go along with the nine that were hung in August. More will be completed and hung during the spring of 2006.
“Who knows how many we might end up with?” said my wife Carla Offenburger, a member of the organizing committee. “It just depends on how popular the project becomes. There’s really no limit on the number of quilt patterns we can come up with.”
Curious motorists have already been slowing down to have a look, and often turning around for a second look, at the nine barn quilts now in place – on buildings located along Greene County’s main highways and paved secondary roads. The locations are listed below.
And we who were skeptical at first about whether this project could turn into a genuine attraction for the county – and I was one of those – are already seeing that we underestimated it.
After all, we realize now, who doesn’t like quilts? And who doesn’t like barns?
But it’s even more than that. The concept showcases barns, quilting, farm life, art and a drive through the beautiful countryside, too. In Iowa’s Grundy County, which is just west of Waterloo, in Sac County, which is midway between Sioux City and Fort Dodge, and in a wide area of southern Ohio, these “barn quilt” tours have drawn nice but manageable crowds in cars and tour buses.
Mark and Marj Peckumn show off their “Windmill” quilt pattern on their 1908 barn, located 10 miles south of Jefferson on the west side of Iowa Highway 4. “I’ve always wanted a windmill, and I figured this is probably the only way I’m ever going to get one,” said Marj.
The thought of bringing the project to Greene County began with Judy and John Clark, of rural Scranton, who had been collecting news items about the barn quilts in Grundy County for months. Judy Clark is an avid quilter, and John serves on the board of directors of the Greene County Development Corp. (GCDC), and he recognized the potential for tourism.
They brought their idea to Carla, who was working on special projects for GCDC. She says she remembered hearing a special report on public radio about the same program in the spring of 2004 and thinking, “What an odd project.” Meanwhile, Angie Duncan, of the regional economic development agency Midwest Partnership, had received an invitation to attend a one-day seminar on the barn quilts of Grundy County.
So in early March, the Clarks, Duncan and Carla all headed to Grundy Center to hear and see how the projects work.
The Grundy County project began in 2003, modeled after the idea that originated in Adams County, Ohio, a few years earlier. Out there, Donna Sue Groves of the Ohio Arts Council thought the region’s many weathered tobacco barns looked almost like art by themselves. She decided to “encourage local artists to paint traditional quilt squares on the barns, similar to the way barns were once painted with logos, such as the familiar Mail Pouch Tobacco advertisements,” according to a brochure.
Word began to spread by media and by word of mouth, and the barn quilts became “a way to capture traffic off a busy four-lane highway as it snaked through the economically depressed area of this southern Ohio county,” the brochure explained. “The project began to attract tourists, and has since encouraged nearly one-half of the original barn owners to become entrepreneurs. Both rural and city dwellers are benefiting from this folk art display in numerous ways, especially in the area of increased commerce to existing retail merchants and service businesses.”
In the fall of 2003, a similar project began in Grundy County in Iowa after Pat Gorman, a field specialist with Iowa State University Extension there, was driving home from a conference in Nebraska where she heard the Ohio Arts Council’s Groves tell the story.
Gorman realized that this type of project would be an excellent way to attract visitors off of newly four-laned U.S. Highway 20 going through Grundy County. Before the highway construction was completed, thousands of vehicles drove meandering routes through the county every day, and stopping in many of the communities. But when the new four-lane was completed, most of the traffic was streaming directly through the county without stopping.
The Greene County delegation learned that the concept can also work for communities and counties that aren’t necessarily losing visitors to new highway development. It can be a tourist attraction on its own, one that can include all parts of a county, including both well-traveled highways and less traveled roads.
Here are nine of the other barn quilts now in place on ag buildings around Greene County. Specific locations are listed at the bottom of this story.
Duncan noted that after Adams County in Ohio had initial success with the idea, 10 other counties in that region also initiated barn quilt projects, and that served to bring only more tourists. “And Grundy County in Iowa has seen a significant increase in bus tour traffic, with many more scheduled this year than last,” she said.
Meanwhile, Sac County in western Iowa started its project this year, too, and now has 14 barn quilts in place along a 108-mile route through the county.
It’s likely visitors coming from a distance will wind up doing the barn quilts of both Sac and Greene Counties on the same trip, as only about 30 miles separates them.
As they developed the project in Greene County, the committee started scouting the local area and, as a starter, identified nine barns or other “authentic” ag buildings positioned on or near paved roads in scattered locations around the county. They tried to make sure the barns are easily viewable from both directions. They asked the farm owners to volunteer their buildings as backdrops for the barn quilts, focusing first on locations along paved roads, because that’s easier driving for cars and buses. However, as the tours become more popular, farms along gravel roads that have interesting outbuildings will eventually be added, too.
New brochures enable visitors to have either self-guided or guided tours, and the brochures explain all the quilt patterns as well as the stories of the farm buildings. There is information at the end of this story about how to find the brochures.
This first phase of the project – getting the nine barn quilts up on display and then organizing and promoting a driving tour – has been budgeted at $2,400. Major donors so far are Greene County Development Corporation, Tri-County Lumber, two PEO Clubs in Jefferson, Don’s Hardware, the Greene County Farm Bureau, the Jefferson Bee & Herald newspapers, Midland Power Cooperative and the Clarks, with additional smaller donations from a number of others.
Donations are still needed, too. You can be a “purple ribbon quilt winner” for a donation of $250 or above, a “blue ribbon quilt winner” for a donation of $200-to-250 – and those gifts will make you barn quilt sponsors recognized in the brochure that visitors will use. But smaller donations are welcomed, too.
The first of the barn quilts that went up in Greene County is on the barn at farm of John and Judy Clark, east of Scranton. Quilters will recognize the pattern as the ''LeMoyne Star'' or ''the 8-Pointed Star.'' This is a 12-foot by 12-foot barn quilt, larger than the other ones around the county.
In addition, two dozen different volunteers spent evenings for four weeks helping build the large quilt frames, paint the white backgrounds, then do the intricate measuring, taping and painting of the actual quilt patterns, on a scale large enough to fill the 8-foot by 8-foot space.
The work crews that have hung the barn quilts have included John and Judy Clark, Jim Funcke, Dale Stephens and Midland Power employees Dennis Kinsey and Doug Delp. They have generally used two of the electric cooperative’s boom trucks to raise the barn quilts into place on the face of the buildings, then used bolts, cables and big screws to secure them.
Here’s where to find them:
“Windmill” pattern, barn of Marj and Mark Peckumn, 10 miles south of Jefferson on the west side of Iowa Highway 4.
“Goose Tracks,” barn of Ken Hostetler and Sue Sherlock, south side of County Road E57, between Iowa Highway 4 and the town of Cooper.
“Criss-Cross,” barn of Mike and Ann Ostendorf, south side of County Road E53 (Old Lincoln Highway), four miles east of Jefferson or three miles west of Grand Junction.
“Jacob’s Ladder,” corn crib of Francis and Verda Eilbert, north side of U.S. Highway 30, a half mile west of Grand Junction.
“Bow Tie,” corn crib on property owned by Mary Jane and Jerry Fields, one-eighth of a mile west of Iowa Highway 144, halfway between Dana and Paton.
“Clay’s Choice,” barn of Lowell and Carol Creger, west side of “Nine Mile Curve” on Iowa Highway 4, nine miles north of Jefferson.
“Starry Path,” barn of Meredith and Mardel Stream, north side of Iowa Highway 4, one mile east of Churdan.
“LeMoyne Star,” barn of John and Judy Clark, north side of County Road E53 (Old Lincoln Highway), one mile west of County Road P14, about three miles east of Scranton.
“Five-Pointed Star,” barn of Bill and Ann Doubler, painted in the blue and yellow colors of PEO, on the south edge of Jefferson, east side of Iowa Highway 4.
“Winding Ways,” barn of Janice and Dick Schlicht, south side of 250th Street, east of County Road P46 a few miles north of Rippey.
“Cross and Crown,” barn of Colleen and Roger Norgren, west side of County Road P46, a half-mile south of Rippey.
For more information about the “Barn Quilts of Greene County,” you can contact Carla Offenburger at (515) 386-5488 or by e-mail at carla@Offenburger.com. To contribute to the barn quilts project, write the Greene County Barn Quilts Committee, in care of Carla Offenburger, 1516 310th Street, Jefferson, Iowa 50129.