MONTROSE —— Five years ago, Montrose Riverfront, Inc. was organized as an outgrowth of the visioning process which had just taken place in Montrose.
Since then, all efforts of the group have been in keeping with the mission statement: “Preserving the past, promoting the present, and planning for the future” of the Montrose community.
In recognition of these many volunteers, Montrose Riverfront, Inc. invites the community to a celebration starting at 4 p.m. Tuesday during the weekly Farmers Market.
Hot dogs and hamburgers off the grill will be available for a free will donation, along with cold drinks.
Gary Wagner and Friends will provide musical entertainment from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Free ice cream and toppings will be served.
Located along the river on the site of the former Montrose elevator, the MRI grounds now include the Hunold Heritage Center, an observation deck with viewing scope, a memorial flag pole, memorial picnic tables, an antique railroad box car, flower beds, a shelter house, a cabin from which food is served and an aquatic area with a waterfall, fountain and fish tanks, all complemented by water plants and flowers.
A grant has been received which will transform a storage building adjacent to the observation deck into a three-season pavilion.
When completed, the building will have a new roof, new siding, ceiling fans, heaters, doors for enclosure, a viewing scope and informational panels featuring migratory waterfowl, which use the Mississippi flyway.
Waiting to be developed is a warehouse which includes the “Old Berry Shed,” a building from which train car loads of strawberries and other fruits were shipped in the early 1900s.
In the future, plans call for visitors to be able to exit the Heritage Center, walk through the railroad car, and then enter the Berry Shed.
These improvements will take place as money becomes available.
Montrose Riverfront, Inc. has sponsored many activities in the community. These include: music shows, soup suppers, potato hugs, an annual small engine show, cemetery walks, the Cato Mead Memorial Day 2008 plaque dedication, Farmers Market, a Jingle Bell Tour, Christmas lighting contest, Memorial Day Parade, hosting of the MRT bike riders plus other groups, and participation in the Watermelon Festival.
In addition, 23 wooden planters have been placed along First and Main streets, with additional flower beds at the three town entrance signs, on the three creek bridges, at the Veterans Memorial, near the Montrose High School bell, at the Ivor Fowler Community Center and at the refurbished cannon in the cemetery.
Grants provided trees, bushes and wild flowers which were planted along old 404 coming into town.
The sides of the roadways leading into town are kept neatly mown. Trash is being removed from the roadways and other public places.
Projects have included: the production of three music CDs, annual Watermelon Festival buttons, publication of an eight-page monthly newsletter, The New Montrose Journal, articles for the Montrose/Donnellson News & Notes page published each Thursday in Keokuk’s Daily Gate City and Fort Madison’s Daily Democrat, and production of the 2008 Montrose Wild Rose Ornament and the upcoming 2009 Montrose Watermelon ornament.
The third music CD, “By the Bend of the River,” featuring local musicians and singers is slated for release during the Watermelon Festival, along with the second ornament featuring a slice of watermelon in honor of the 65th Festival, Aug. 27, 28 and 29.
None of these would have been possible without the support of the community.
In addition to financial support, countless volunteers have donated many, many hours. Youth involved have come from the Central Lee FFA, Midwest Academy, and the local Boy Scout and Cub Scout troops.
The volunteers have ranged from the very young to senior citizens. This volunteering has included planting flowers, pulling weeds, mowing, watering flowers, running a weed eater, helping to keep the Heritage Center open, doing historical research, maintaining and changing displays at the center, mowing, trash pickup, folding The New Montrose Journal, sending out PR releases, and sharing personal remembrances, memorabilia and old photos.