The October 28th meeting featured the induction of a new member and a talk by Alexandra Drehman, Executive Director of the Johnson County Historical Society, about the many venues and events managed by this organization.


Rotary File 10/28/14

President’s Remarks

Last Tuesday was an especially eventful day because we inducted a new member, Carolyn Wanat.  Carolyn is a Professor in the University of Iowa College of Education.  Her sponsor is Deb Ockenfels.  Welcome Carolyn!

Mark Patton thanked Jean Bartley for opening up her home to the 31 people who attended the Fireside Chat.  Many new members commented about how informative it was.

Mark also asked us to keep the Novak family in our thoughts and prayers while Louise undergoes tests and surgery for cancer at Mayo Clinic.

Rotarians in the News

Randy Willman noted that Mark Patton was once again in the news talking about a large group of computers that were donated to Habitat for Humanity.  Mark noted also that there was going to be a special Habitat even to honor the work of Jean Lloyd Jones for the organization that has been publicized lately.

Where in the World

Deb Dunkhase brought the world of the Maldives to light.  The Maldives is an island nation in the Indian Ocean.  Technically it is an atoll or chain of over 1000 islands that are widely dispersed.  The country is also very diverse in terms of its flora and fauna and particularly with the ocean life that surrounds the country.   One big concern for the Maldives is global warming because from lowest to highest point the Maldives only range from 7 to 10 feet above sea level and could be wiped out within a very few years if global carbon emissions remain at current levels.  The Maldives have pledged to become carbon neutral by 2014 and hope other countries follow their example.   

There is one Rotary club in the Maldives in its capital, Male. The club was started in 2012 with a very diverse mix of members and a strong program of community service.   


Thanks go to Hills Bank, MidwestOne Bank and Great Western for putting up messages about World Polio Day on their message boards. Friday Oct. 25 was also a good photo opportunity at UIHC Museum to celebrate the day for eradication of polio. 

Chris Ockenfels reported that coat distribution is on track.  The FAMSCO warehouse is full of coats even though many have already been distributed.  The plan is to empty it out over the weekend and then see the coat deliveries going to other parts of the district. Deb Dunkhase is coordinating the distribution with Broadway Center for about 30 coats.  It will take place Thursday Nov 13 with supper being supplied to the kids and their families.  Rotarians are welcome to participate that day by showing up at the Children’s Museum at 4:30. Mike Messier will do a press release.

The District Foundation Dinner is being held November 8 at the Holiday Inn in Coralville. Attendees should already have their tickets.

Karin Franklin announced there would be a FAMSCO work day at the warehouse from 1-3:30 Nov 16.  The warehouse is to be found at the first left after Theisens in Coralville.  

Join us on Monday Nov 3 for our Month Opener at Donnelly’s Irish Pub on the Ped Mall at 5:15. The December Month Opener will be at Peggy Doerge’s house on Dec. 8 (a week later than the usual date for a MO) for chili and cornbread.  Everyone is invited to bring their best homemade cornbread, or libations, or an hors d’oevre—or just yourself.

Brian Adamec reported that he had a chance to visit the nut factory in Waukesha, Wisconsin and it is huge.  The company that packages the product for our nut sales imports nuts from all over the world and stores them in huge refrigerated rooms.  Brian expects the nuts that were ordered to arrive just before Thanksgiving and he will get them distributed.


Alexandra Drehman, Executive Director of the Johnson County Historical Society was our speaker on Oct. 28.  She is a graduate in American Studies from the University of Iowa.  She said she had the good fortune to intern at the Museum and then get hired for a permanent position.  There are three employees and a very large group of volunteers who run the various venues and exhibits that make up the Johnson County Historical Society.

In addition to the museum the Society manages four other sites, the Poor Farm and Asylum, Plum Grove historic site, the 1876 Coralville School House, and the Iowa River Gazebo next to Iowa River Power Restaurant and the dam. 

The 1876 School House is one of most popular for our educational programs.  Each year students learn about a specific person important to Johnson County history and then they get a chance to go to the school house to impersonate that person and have a day to enjoy learning in the same one room school environment as many of our ancestors.  The School House is also the setting for summer camp every year.

The Museum includes an 80 vehicle antique car exhibit. They also accept artifacts of all types that have some connection to Johnson County and its residents.  Presently there are about 10,000 artifacts that have been cataloged into the museum.  Drehman curates the collection. There are several large research collections on a variety of subjects ranging from Goosetown,   county maps, the Johnson County Deed Books, country schools and much more.  The staff is working on a book on the country schools of Johnson County right now that will cover the country schools to the end of the era when consolidation happened.  The Museum also contains both permanent and rotating exhibits.  There is a permanent community stories exhibit, a permanent gun collection and also many photographs on permanent display.  They feature special exhibits on specific individuals and places from time to time.

One large demand is for genealogical research.  The staff point genealogists in the right direction with their limited resources and answer 4-5 genealogy questions per day.

Plum Grove is on exhibit from summer until the end of October every year.  Staff and volunteers really pay attention to keeping the Plum Grove grounds and house in beautiful condition for its many summertime visitors. 

The Poor Farm has been nominated to the National Register of Historic Places and is one of only three such farms still available for viewing in the state.  There is a lot of planning going on around the historic preservation of this site.   

Drehman encouraged Rotarians to get involved with the Historical Society and to participate in its many annual events.  Chris Knapp has been a board member of the Historical Society for several years. There are many events to enjoy as a museum member or guest. The annual barn tour this year featured Century Farms.  Winterfest is the next event coming up.  Of course the Historical Society is always present at the Johnson County Fair.  In March they host a High Tea and feature a speaker about Johnson County at the tea event. There is also an annual cemetery walk.  Drehman encouraged becoming a member of the Society or volunteering to help with the many exhibits and events.

Liz Nichols