Banquet fosters Marshalltown pride
Tears filled the eyes of those remembering July 19, 2018, but a renewed sense of pride was even more overwhelming.
On the night of the one year anniversary of the tornado that swept through Marshalltown, the Times-Republican hosted a banquet to raise money for the Rebuild Marshalltown Fund.
With more than 160 guests in attendance, more than $5,000 was raised on the night.
A slideshow of emotional images from the aftermath of the tornado lined the walls during the social time, giving the full room of guests subjects to discuss and memories to bring up.
The social time was followed by a dinner provided by the Iowa Valley staff and then the program started.
Emily Barske, Times-Republican editor, welcomed all the guests to the Pride and Progress banquet and noted that the Rebuild Marshalltown Fund has already granted $100,000 to the Veterans Memorial Coliseum renovations and Habitat for Humanity with its first grant cycle.
Abigail Pelzer, Times-Republican publisher, opened the program with a strong and emotional listing of the statistics that affected Marshalltown one year ago.
“23 minutes, 144 mph winds, 1,811 homes damaged, 209 businesses disrupted, one community who rallied,” Pelzer said.
Gov. Kim Reynolds spoke about how inspired she was by the Marshalltown community and how excited she is to see it continue to grow. Reynolds said the most important statistic is that there were zero deaths because of the storm and that the community came together as one to support each other.
“Marshalltown Strong is more than a hashtag, it is a movement,” Reynolds said.
A video depicting the story of Lennox, one of the largest employers in Marshalltown, showed the destruction the company faced and its incredible journey to recovery.
Pelzer then welcomed Jenny Etter, executive director of the Marshalltown Central Business District, to the stage to discuss how historic downtown Marshalltown was affected.
Etter said calling the tornado catastrophe was a major understatement because it was so much more.
“There is still a lot of damage and a lot to be done, but we have come so far already,” Etter said.
The Downtown Master Plan can be found at https://www.downtownmarshalltown.com/.
Pelzer asked Mike Tupper, Marshalltown Police Chief, to speak on the first responders’ response to the tragedy.
Tupper said Marshalltown is filled with the best of the best first responders and that they stepped up on July 19, 2018.
“I brought my kids here tonight because for 40 minutes on that day I didn’t know where my family was, and for 15 minutes I wasn’t sure if I was going to see them again,” Tupper said.
Pelzer welcomed Marshalltown Mayor Joel Greer to the stage.
“We are not only going to get back on our feet, but we are going to grow and get better,” Greer said.
The first Hometown Heroes to be awarded were the Parks and Rec Summer Blast staff, who kept 45 kids safe during the tornado. The second Hometown Hero to be awarded was Jake Rowley, a man well known in the community for helping others and doing more than he needed to
“I just wanted to thank everybody for the ways you came together,” Rowley said.
The third Hometown Hero to be awarded was Eric Duffy, a man who was injured while helping others. The fourth Hometown Hero to be awarded was Lavonne Watkins, a woman who served 4,400 hot meals days after the storm. The fifth Hometown Hero to be awarded was Richie Ritter, a Team Rubicon member who helped the community in many different ways from physical to creating an app.
All five of there heroes were given an award and all will have their stories in the Times-Republican anniversary magazine publishing Sunday and first released at the banquet.