Sudan wells and Green Castle updates at Rotary

Mike Stegmann, long-time director of Marshall County Conservation was on hand to present the day’s program to the Marshalltown Rotary club. The June 20 edition of the luncheon was held in the confines of the ballroom at Elmwood. Richard Graves led the way with a prayer and Pledge of Allegiance. President-elect Dennis Drager shared some brief highlights of the Rotary International convention in Atlanta recently attended by himself, Bill Fitzgerald, Bonnie Lowry and Mary Giese. Rotarians pledged $1.2 billion over the next three years to combat Polio. Drager describe an awesome experience with some outstanding speakers and messages.

Greg Brown then introduced guests from South Sudan: Stephen Kuol, James Ruach and Nya Mousch. Brown brought the club up to speed on the multi-year water well project the club is involved with. The equipment and supplies for five new wells has been in a container in the capital city of Juba for a year now. Violence erupted about the time it landed and we have been waiting for transport down the river to the village of Old Fangak. Brown indicated the contents of the container were recently repackaged and set to be flown to the village at the expense of the United Nations. This flight was canceled due to an evacuation the night before takeoff. WellSpring Missions has since paid for the three flights necessary to transport the items to the village. Brown’s announcement that the supplies and equipment have made their final destination was met with applause. Over the five years, the population of the village has grown from 10,000 to more than 100,000. Kuol, formally an ambassador and National Minister of Education is currently a negotiator working for peace in the civil war that has wracked the landscape for 50 years. “It is hard to express in words the gratitude we feel toward the Marshalltown area and Marshalltown Rotary club,” said Kuol. He noted that water-borne disease kills more people in the region than malaria and HIV combined. Ruach, executive director of WellSpring Missions echoed Kual’s comments and affirmed the efforts are having an impact in the village and in the country. Brown showed a dozen slides of the plane being loaded and its arrival met by leaders of the village of Old Fangak.

Drager then announced the club raised enough funds to purchase a bike for “Bikes for Blue.” Rotarians Ric Anderson and Police Chief Mike Tupper posed with the ceremonial big check. Armed only with a microphone, Denny Grabenbauer was able to round up 10 donations of $100 in less than 60 seconds to allow for a $1,000 contributions to the 4th of July fireworks.

After a news report by Todd Steinkamp, Erin McGregor introduced Stegmann to talk about what’s happening in the world of Marshall County Conservation. A fourth generation and lifelong Marshall County resident, Stegmann noted a lot has happened in the year since he was here last as he started his slide show. Green Castle Recreation Area is celebrating its 40th Anniversary on Aug. 5 and it sounds like an event you won’t want to miss. The lake is in its third year of restocking. They are getting set for primitive camping, have put new fencing around the bison and installed a cell phone auto-tour. The planned campground upgrades come with a $2 million price tag and is therefore being completed in stages. GrimesFarm has programs for all ages and Stegmann noted the natural play scape is very popular. The goal with this addition is to get people out to interact with nature. There are plans for a three-tier amphitheater with a price tag of about $170,000. They are currently within $35,000 of this goal that will feature a venue with a raised stage and fire pit. The 240-acre Klauenberg prairie in the southern part of the county is being gradually restored to native prairie. It is not uncommon to see thousands of goldfinch as well as other species there. Stegmann then described something new he is trying with tapping the sugar maples for sap. They were able to collect enough for about eight gallons of real maple syrup that he hopes to showcase at a pancake breakfast next spring. Before taking questions, Stegmann showed pictures of some pretty impressive fish catches from around the county. He made it clear that you are missing out if you aren’t taking advantage of the diverse sampling of activities and wonders of the 29 parks and 17 trails contained in the 2,500 acres managed in the county. Rotary: Making a Difference.