Henry County Highlights of 1981

By Jim Rose, staff writer for the "Mt. Pleasant News", Saturday, January 2, 1982.
Mt. Pleasant’s downtown renovation project, financed by federal funds, was a highlight of the year 1981 in Henry County. Construction was down in the county seat and elsewhere, but a number of new buildings were constructed and some downtown store fronts were renovated.

The city received a federal grant of $453,700 for the replacement of sidewalks with brick, curbs and gutters and street lights in the downtown area. Businessmen pledged over $2 million for renovation of their buildings, and new fronts were constructed and other remodeling was done.

Becker’s Jewelry moved from its former location at the northeast corner of the square to the former Emerson Clothing store. The top floor of the building was removed and an attractive new front installed. The Panther Drug exterior was sandblasted and renovated, as were several other buildings in Mt. Pleasant. Trailblazer Ltd. was opened and the building in which it is located on South Jefferson was renovated and a new roof installed.

After the completion of the sidewalks, curbs, and gutters, and the installation of the turn-of-the-century street lights, small trees and shrubs were planted to add to the overall beauty of the project. An open house was held and several dignitaries praised the renovation project. Mayor Edd King and others thanked Stan Hill, director of public works, for his work. Ron Kaska placed the last brick.

Construction of the new Beavers Jack and Jill Store on North Lincoln was started and completed and Max Beavers, who formerly operated Beavers Market on North Adams, opened for business.

A two-story addition to the Henry County Public Safety Center was constructed at a cost of approximately $60,000, with the cost being paid from federal revenue sharing funds.

A new $3.1 million addition to the Henry County Health Center was displayed at an open house in May, and the hospital observed its 60th anniversary on the same occasion. Further interior remodeling of older sections of the hospital continues.

The future of the Mental Health Institute and the Medium Security Prison was in the news on many occasions during the year. To help solve overcrowding of prison facilities throughout the state, officials finally decided that the “flip-flop” method should be used. The prisoners would be transferred from Building 18 to the MHI main building and the MHI patients would be housed in Building 18 and other facilities.

Tragedy struck during the year, with two brothers being shot to death in a double homicide, four people dying in traffic accidents and others in non-traffic accidents.

Gary and Michael Anderson, both 30, were found shot to death in their rented farm home a mile north of Mt. Pleasant on Oct. 17. About week later, three men - two from Des Moines and one from Burlington, were arrested and charged with first degree murder. Their trials will be held the first quarter of 1982.

Monte Seager, 20, Mt. Pleasant, was indicted by a Henry County grand jury for first degree murder in connection with the shooting deaths of Clementine Beavers and her daughter, Karol, here, Oct. 29, 1978. He is to go on trial on the charges in April,1982. He is currently serving 55 years in prison on other convictions.

There were only 58 building permits issued in Mt. Pleasant in 1981, 40 less than in 1980. Of the 58, only 14 were for new houses. Others were for the four Greenway apartment units in the city-owned Rolling Acres Phase 2 subdivision and for two complexes at the Mapleleaf Care Center. One was for the addition of a dentist’s office on North Main for Drs. Steve and Mary Wettach, and another for the renovation of the former Shell Station at Washington and Jackson for a new service station and convenience store called the Mustang Market. Work has started, but will not be completed until next year.

In other business and construction news -

--The All American Sweet Shop, Space Invaders, Happy Fingers, Tanya’s Flowers, Dream Drive-In, Bob’s Auto Shop, and Bev’s Balloons opened for business. Relocation at other sites were Leyden’s Radiator Shop, Jim Miller Insurance, Byrum Realty and American Family Insurance.

--Steele Lumber was purchased by Standard of Beaverdale and renamed Mt. Pleasant Standard Lumber.

--Heatilator Fireplace, Inc., a division of Vega Industries, was sold to Hon Industries of Muscatine.

Residents of the Westwood area west of Mt. Pleasant voted to incorporate and thus became Iowa’s 956th city.

The city council took steps for improvements at the municipal airport and an application for state funds was approved. The city’s share will be $103,000. The improvements include the lengthening of the runway 1,000 feet, making it possible for larger airplanes to land here.

The future of a new building in the Waco school district remained uncertain in 1981, as voters turned down a $1.5 million bond issue proposal Dec. 1.

The proposal involved a “wrap-around” structure around the existing school in Olds to house grades 7 through 12.

Earlier, voters had rejected a supplementary bond issue to build a new school midway between Wayland and Olds. That building had been approved in 1979, but cost estimates eventually exceeded money available from that bond issue.

At year’s end, a group of Wayland area residents petitioned the Waco board to conduct another bond issue election in 1982 for construction of a new school in Wayland.

The Midwest Old Threshers and Settlers Reunion drew record crowds and was, as usual, a big success.

The MPCHS marching band won yet another Division I rating in the state marching contest.

According to Richard Thuma, Henry County Extension Director, the corn yield in Henry County was above average, but the price per bushel was down 90 cents. He said the soybean yield was average and the price down $1.50 a bushel. The highest number of bushels of corn yield was over 200 bushels an acre, Thuma said. Returns to beef cow owners and for feeder calves were below average and hog returns were on the negative side.

The number of building permits issued in New London was down. Exact figures were not available. Most of the permits were for adding roofs onto homes and for garages. The same was virtually true for Winfield and Wayland.

Construction of a new gymnasium for the Winfield-Mt. Union school district is nearing completion and ready for use next year. It is attached to the Winfield high school building. A new Methodist parsonage is being built.

New business which opened in Winfield were the Peppermint Parlor, Grandma’s Gift Shop and Cyclone Seeds.

Construction was started on a 20 unit apartment complex in Wayland for the Wayland Housing Corp. The apartment house is called Way-Mar.
January, February, March

Jan. 2 - Emily Jo Carrick was born to Mr. and Mrs. David Carrick, Mt. Pleasant and was the first baby born in Henry County in 1981. She received gifts from Mt. Pleasant merchants.

Jan. 6 - Harold McLeran, Mt. Pleasant attorney, received a plaque in recognition of his 14 years as secretary of the Henry County Conservation Commission. He left the board and attorney Gary Wiegel was named to succeed him. Don Shaw of Winfield is president of the board.

Jan. 7 - The Mt. Pleasant city council signed an agreement with HUD to obtain funds for the downtown renovation project and later received a grant of $453,000.

Jan. 13 - A Miss Henry County pageant was planned for Feb. 21 by the Mt. Pleasant Jaycees and Sue Dean. The winner was Lisa Grilliot, Mt. Pleasant. She later competed in the Miss Iowa pageant and was third runner-up.

Jan. 15 - It was announced that David Loving, acting superintendent at the Mental Health Institute here, was to become administrator of corrections at Clarinda effective Feb. 2. John Thalacker, superintendent of the medium security prison, was named acting superintendent and retained the prison post.

Jan. 14 - Kenneth Sanderson Jr., 11, son of Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Sanderson Sr. Hillsboro, was killed in a hunting accident.

Jan. 19 - The Mt. Pleasant Kiwanis club was celebrating its 50th year in existence. It received its charter Jan. 23, 1931. Charter members participating in the celebration were E. A. Hayes, A. M. Patterson and Dr. Frank V. Coles.

Jan. 28 - The murder trial of David P. Pforts, Mediapolis, started in Henry County District Court on Feb. 13 on a change of venue. A jury found Pforts innocent of the murder of his wife, Karin Marie, at their Mediapolis residence April 23, 1980.

Jan. 29 - Gov Robert Ray called for expansion of the MSU in Mt. Pleasant by “flip-flopping” prison and mental health buildings on the MHI campus.

Feb. 3 - The Henry County Master Corn Growers trophy was awarded to Herbert Hult for a yield of 193.09 bushels an acre. Craig Remick was named the winner of the county Master Soybean Grower trophy for a yield of 62.66 bushels.

Feb. 4 - It was announced that the Mt. Pleasant city budget, which will not require a tax increase, was approved by the city council. The budget askings totaled $1,497,956.

March 4 - The Mt. Pleasant Community School District budget was cut $115,473 off next year’s proposed budget. Various budget cuts were approved.

March 4 - It was announced that Henry County taxpayers will be paying higher taxes in 1981 and 1982 - 88 cents for each $1,000 of assessed valuation.

March 11 - It was announced that the downtown improvement project would start in July. It was completed in December. New brick sidewalks, curbs and gutters, street lights and shrubs were installed and the renovation received high acclaim.

March 10 - The Mt. Pleasant school board okayed a budget totaling $5,500,902.

March 15 - Glen E. Lampe, 45, Mt. Pleasant, died of injuries suffered in a two-car collision a mile north of Mt. Pleasant on Highway 218.

March 17 - Tom Reavely announced his resignation as city attorney, having joined a Des Moines law firm. William Dowell, assistant city attorney later was appointed to succeed Reavely.

March 18 - Richard T. Keller, Mt. Pleasant, pleaded guilty to two counts of murder in the second degree and to burglary in the first degree under a plea bargaining agreement. Keller admitted shooting his wife, Rose H. Keller and her mother, Verda Hamilton to death Aug. 24, 1980. He was later sentenced to 25 years in prison on each charge. The burglary charge was in connection with the theft of a revolver from the residence of Robert Hansen, New London lawyer and county magistrate judge, during a break-in. Two assault charges and a robbery charge were dismissed. The assault chargers were in connection with the wounding of Hansen and his wife, June.

March 24 - Mrs. Richard (Sandra) Klopfenstein, 42, Route 3, Mt. Pleasant, was killed when the tractor she was driving four miles southeast of Trenton rolled over on her.

March 26 - Glen Seberg, Route 5, Mt. Pleasant, was one of five Iowans named as a Master Farmer. He raises hogs, cattle and crops.

March 29 - Aaron Anderson, 3, Salem, son of Ron Anderson and Rhonda Ledbetter Anderson, died as the result of injuries received when he fell into an old well at the home of his grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Ledbetter, at Salem.

April, May

April 9 - Edward N. Smith, 84, New London civic leader, died. He was president of Geode Industries and was associated with his own insurance company for 60 years. He worked at the New London State Bank for 42 years.

April 19 - The Mt. Pleasant school board decided that the Pleasant Lawn sixth grade would move to Mt Pleasant for the 1981-82 school year, but that in accordance with the wishes of parents, the Salem sixth graders would remain at Salem. Two-thirds of the Pleasant Lawn sixth graders favored the move. The Pleasant Lawn sixth grade classroom will be used as a library.

April 12 - Arline Kerr retired after 45 years of work at the Mental Health Institute. She was a food supervisor. She was presented with gifts and a plaque.

April 13 - The new addition to the Henry County Health Center was opened for public use.

April 13 - Todd Boldt and Tom McDowell were named by the Bob Tribby American Legion Post 58 to attend Boys State.

April 14 - Diane Lee and Jon Proenneke were awarded 1981 Junior Achievement scholarships.

April 20 - Cynthia Danielson, 30, Mt Pleasant, was appointed a part-time Henry County magistrate judge, succeeding Roger Galer who has served in that capacity several years, and Robert Hansen was reappointed to a similar post.

May 1 - Heatilator Fireplaces, a division of Vega Industries, was sold to HON Industries. HON is headquartered in Muscatine and is the parent company of five other furniture divisions.

May 4 - Will Hunsaker, MPCHS senior, was awarded a $500 scholarship by the Mt. Pleasant Rotary club. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Neil Hunsaker.

May 6 - The Mt. Pleasant Education Association presented the 1981 Joan Morrison Friend of Education award to Mrs. Dave (Marilyn) McCoid. She teaches energy classes during a two-day overnight encampment each year with 70 sixth grade girls in attendance. She was described as “a concerned parent” and a willing volunteer in the Mt. Pleasant school system at all levels.

May 7 - The proposal to keep the MHI appeared brighter after a legislative subcommittee dropped plans to expand the prison here into the main MHI building. The committee originally had recommended the prison expansion by using the “half-flip” program which would retain the current prison building and expand the prison space into building 18, the employees’ building and the main MHI building. The proposed “flip-flop” of prisoner and patients remained unchanged in the Iowa Senate.

May 8 - Scott Maddix, 21, Mt. Pleasant, son of Mr. and Mrs. Donald Maddix, was killed when the small airplane in which he was passenger, crashed near the Des Moines River four miles northwest of Ottumwa. The pilot, Konrad Silver, Fairfield, also was killed.

May 15 - Dean Beckman and Lee Ann Hunting won the top awards at the MPCHS annual honors assembly. Beckman won the Iowa State Bar, the Legion outstanding senior boy, outstanding instrumental student and the scholastic award. Miss Hunting won the Legion outstanding senior girl award. Scott Brown received the Legion outstanding music student award.

June, July, August

June 1 - Tammy Clark was named the Henry County beef queen.

June 7 - The Rev. Alton Koch delivered his last sermon as pastor of the Faith Lutheran Church. In his 42 years as pastor he never delivered the same sermon twice.June 17 - The Mt. Pleasant city council accepted the bid of the McComas-Lacina Construction Co. of Iowa City of $ 372,892 for the curb and gutter work and the installation of the new brick sidewalks in the downtown business area.

June 25 - It was announced that the Hy-Vee is planning on building a new store in Mt. Pleasant east of the present store. Construction is to start in the summer of 1982.

July 3 - Mr. and Mrs. Alton Eggenberger, Mt Pleasant, were named as the 1981 senior citizen king and queen of the Fourth of July celebration.

July 11 - Harold McLeran observed his 50th year as an attorney here, still practicing at the age of 78.

July 14 - Michael Keefe resigned as junior high assistant principal to return to California to become an elementary principal at Oakdale. John Roederer, who was principal at the Waco middle school, later was named to succeed him.

July 15 - Debbie Miller showed the grand market steer at the Henry County Fair. The grand champion heifer was shown by Tammy Clark.

July 17 - The Mt. Pleasant City Council gave the go ahead to the updating of the waste water treatment plant and improving the sanitary sewer system, but phased out part of the proposed project, cutting the estimated cost from $4,955,900 to $4,337,000. The city applied for state and federal funds and later was informed there were no available funds.

July 21 - City plans for a $4 million sewer renovation project were cancelled because state and federal agencies withdrew the funding. The project was three years in planning.

Aug. 10 - The Mt. Pleasant city council took steps toward improving the municipal airport, including the lengthening of the runway by 1,000 feet. The Aeronautics Division of the Iowa Department of Transportation later approved 70 percent funding of the $345,000 project. The city’s share will be $103,000 and will be paid by general obligation bonds.

Aug. 10 - Monte Seager, 20, Mt. Pleasant, was indicted by the Henry County grand jury on two counts of murder in connection with the Oct. 28, 1978 shooting deaths of Clementine Beavers and her daughter, Karol, in their residence here. He was also indicted for first degree burglary. He is serving 55 years in the Ft. Madison penitentiary on other charges, including second degree murder in the death of Susan Wheelock, on April 14, 1979. Trial dates in the Beavers murders were set and changed several times. The latest date is April 13, 1982. Seager pleaded innocent to the charges Aug. 24.

Aug. 11 - It was announced that residents in the New London area will receive service from the Henry County Health Center Ambulance Service effective Sept. 1. The G. A. Elliott ambulance service had been providing the service. Its ambulances and equipment were sold to the hospital ambulance service by Elliott.

Aug. 15 - Bill Sater, longtime blacksmith here, received another award - a lifetime membership in the Iowa Blacksmith and Welders Association.

Aug. 19 - A tentative equalization order by the State Revenue Department raised the valuation of agricultural property in Henry County by 7 percent. The other three classes of property were not affected.

Aug. 19 - It was announced that Kjersti Hauge, 16, Bergen, Norway, would attend MPCHS in 1981-82 under the Youth For Understanding program. She is living with Mike and Marilyn Vincent.

Aug. 21 - Wendell Smith retired as postmaster here after 27 years of service. Bill Griest has been serving as acting postmaster.

Aug. 25 - Diana Lynn Fraise, 25, West Point rural, died of injuries she received in a car-tractor accident on Henry County road J-20 one-half mile east of Highway 218. She was driving the car.

Aug. 29 - Dane Scott McDonald, 22, Winfield, was killed when his pickup truck left Highway 78 three miles southeast of Winfield and overturned.

Aug. 30 - Sergeant Derrell W. “Red” Goddard, 64, longtime member in charge of the National Guard unit here and drill master of the MPCHS marching band, died. The band played at his funeral, which was attended by many of his relatives and friends.

September, October

Sept. 2 - Mrs. Herman Elgar was grand marshal for the Old Threshers Reunion parade. The five-day Reunion again set records in attendance. There were 3,200 camping units on the grounds, up 70 from 1980. Carol Dorman of Mt. Union was named Miss Sweet Sixteen.

Sept. 17 - The Mt. Pleasant Education Association members asked for an 8.3 percent increase which would raise the base from $12,000 to $13,100. The school board later offered an increase in base salaries of $100, less than 1 percent.

Sept. 21 - Edward Conwell was elected president of the Mt. Pleasant School board. He succeeded Louise McCormick, who did not seek re-election.

Sept. 22 - Mike Byrum was elected president of the Henry County Farm Bureau.

Oct. 1 - The Henry County jobless rate was down in August and the long range outlook by the Iowa Job Services was gloomy. The August jobless rate was 4.6, slightly lower in September.

Oct. 5 - It was announced that Louis A. Haselmayer will retire from the presidency of Iowa Wesleyan College, effective June 30, 1982. The board of trustees voted him a title of professor emeritus of English to provide continuing relationship to the college. He has been a faculty member or president for 30 years.

Oct. 8 - Lisa Lampe was named the 1981 MPCHS Homecoming Queen.

Oct. 8 - Dean Davis, 18, Iowa Wesleyan student from Oak Park, Ill., was fatally injured in a car-semi trailer accident at the intersection of the Maple Leaf extension and Highway 218. His car struck the side of the semi. A passenger, an Iowa Wesleyan coed, was injured in the accident. The traffic death was the only one within the city limits of Mt. Pleasant in 1981.

October 12 - David Scurr, warden of the Ft. Madison state prison, was named superintendent of the Medium Security Unit and the MHI here and John Thalacker will become his assistant. Scurr was to be succeeded at Ft. Madison by Col. Crispus C. Nix. Hal Farrier, adult corrections director, said the changes do not reflect failure on the part of anyone.

October 7 - Four members of a five-man citizens’ committee which evaluated operations of the Mt. Pleasant municipal utilities recommended it be sold to another utility. Committee member Tom Tipton opposed the sale but recommended changes in utilities operations. The city council decided that an outside consulting firm should be hired to study the utility plant operations.

Oct. 14 - A proposal made by the Henry County Health Center board of trustees that the hospital operate the Henry County Care Facility was not accepted by the Henry County Board of Supervisors. The offer was made after Maurice and Dorothy Garmoe resigned as administrators of the care facility. The supervisors later hired Dale and Harriett Waters as administrators of the facility.

Oct. 16 - Denise Keltner, 21, Mediapolis, was named the 1981 Iowa Wesleyan Homecoming Queen and Adam Lockard, 22, Waukon, the Big Wheel.

Oct. 17 - Two brothers, Gary and Michael Anderson, both 30, were found shot to death in their rented farm home a mile north of Mt. Pleasant. Autopsies disclosed the deaths occurred Oct. 15. A week after the bodies were found three men were arrested by division of criminal investigation agents, and other authorities and charged with first degree murder. They are Michael Smith, Des Moines; Michael Patrick, Burlington, and Robert Champion, Des Moines. Smith will go on trial here Jan. 26, the others at later dates to be set.

Oct. 22 - Glenwood Tolson, a 45-year resident of Mt. Pleasant, received the 1981 Outstanding Citizen award by the Chamber of Commerce. It was pointed out that Tolson does many things for the community, with many of his good deeds going unnoticed. He worked for the Henry County Bank 30 years and operates his own business. Marvin Day became the new Chamber president.

Oct. 25 - A contract which calls for a $500 per year increase in the teachers base salary was ratified by members of the MPEA, a 6.7 percent pay hike. It was later approved by the school board.

November, December

Nov. 3 - Edd King was re-elected mayor of Mt. Pleasant. He was unopposed. Fred Wohlleber was elected council member for Ward IV, succeeding Dick Fields, who did not seek re-election. Other Henry County mayors elected or re-elected were C. A. Williams Jr., New London; Ronnie DeYarman, Olds; Dennis Sammons, Rome; Russell McDowell, Salem; Roberta Boitscha, Hillsboro; Kenneth Miller, Wayland; Lewis Venghaus, Mt. Union; Lester Hill, Coppock. There was no mayoral election held in Winfield.

Nov. 10 - Joe McMillan was honored for 22 years of service on the Mt. Pleasant Utilities board of trustees.

Nov. 13 - The Henry County Compensation board recommended a 5 percent increase in salary for elected county officials and affirmed the recommendation following a public hearing later in the month.

Nov. 19 - Rama Challen was honored at an annual dinner sponsored by the Henry County Chapter of the American Red Cross. He received a state certificate in appreciation of 25 years of service to the organization. Caralee Beames received a certificate of appreciation for her work as treasurer of the county unit.

Nov. 23 - Dr. Frank V. Coles, 78, prominent Mt. Pleasant dentist, died. He had been in practice for over 50 years.

Nov. 24 - The Henry County Board of Supervisors approved a $460,000 road construction project for 1982. It includes three major projects, including the replacement of two bridges two miles east of Olds at a cost of $100,000.

Dec. 1 - Waco voters again turned down a school bond issue. This one was for a wraparound addition to the high school at Olds for grades 7-12 and elimination of the middle school at Wayland. The vote was 772-686.
Residents of Westwood, a housing community west of Mt. Pleasant on Highway 34, voted to incorporate, becoming Iowa’s 956th city. Election of city officials tentatively is scheduled for Feb. 9.

Dec. 1 - Bill Wesley, Henry County Ambulance Service director, announced that Henry County residents facing medical emergencies requiring an ambulance can receive “in the field” care. The program is called Advanced EMT-II and will provide cardiac monitoring and defibrillation, D.V. therapy, drug therapy and advance airway management in the field.

Dec. 5 - Roy Craig, member of the Mt. Pleasant American Legion post, was selected as Legionnaire of the month by the nationally circulated American Legion magazine.

Dec. 16 - Fire Chief Bill Sater, who retired after serving the Mt. Pleasant fire department 40 years, and Dick Fields, council member, who is ending a four-year term and did not seek re-election, were honored at a council meeting. Dwight Shellabarger was named to succeed Sater.

Dec. 19 - The Mt. Pleasant United Way fund reached and surpassed its goal of $19,600.

Resource provided by Henry County Heritage Trust; Transcription done by James Peters, University of Northern Iowa Public History Field Experience Class, Fall 2021.

Added to Henry County IAGenWeb, Nov 2021.
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