Couple moves to town, jumps into volunteer mode

—Richard, Angie Cottrell help out their new hometown
LIME SPRINGS - Every town needs some newcomers like Richard and Angie Cottrell. 
Sure, they have a little gray hair. Don’t most of us?
Sure, they talk funny. It’s that southeastern accent that is fun to listen to.
Sure, they live in one of the largest structures in town. They purchased the old Lime Springs-Chester Elementary.
And sure, they weren’t born and raised in northeast Iowa.
But hey! The people of Lime Springs are happy to have them. They have pitched in the community, giving natives a fresh look at their berg.
They have helped organize a steady Monday night Bingo game and a twice-a-month Seniors Club!
Some background
The couple purchased the elementary building in February 2018 and moved in two months later. Before that, they were RVers for 25 years!  
Their home for many years was North Carolina. When they started RVing, they spent most of their winters in Bullhead City, Ariz.
Shortly after moving to Lime Springs, the couple found out Angie had cancer. She went for treatments and is now doing well. Angie didn’t feel much like getting out and about during that time, but Richard went to Community Club and  Council meetings to get to know some of the people and happenings around their new home.
He had told Angie about the Monday night Bingo nights held at the Community Center. “She loves Bingo. She played Bingo in just about every state. We spent a lot of time at Indian casinos, staying for a few days. She usually played Bingo.”
So, that first Monday after she was done with treatments, they went to the Community Center to play some Bingo. 
“It was the first day it was closed,” Richard recalls. Ed Hampe (another relative newcomer — he and Lonnie have been community members since 2008)) was one of the organizers of weekly Bingo, so Richard asked him why it closed.
“Then we started talking about how to get it started back up.” 
The old Bingo game had a ball machine and flash board. Richard and Ed decided to start fresh with a computerized system. They ordered software and used the center’s projector and screen. “Mary Stevenson donated and sanitized the first computer. Then Margery Olsen donated a second one for back-up,” said Richard.
Since then, it has been a pretty busy place on Monday nights. They average about 30 players, but they are looking for more to guarantee the games continue.
The snack bar opens at 5:30 p.m., and the early bird games begin at 6. The regular Bingo games start at 6:30 and end around 9:30 p.m. By state law, players must be 21 years of age.
A person can get by with purchasing the basic package, which is $10 for 24 games. Or extra games can be purchased as well.
After they got the games going again, they knew they would need some help, so they approached some non-profits in the area. They found nine to help and share the profits! The groups include Lime Springs Children’s Theatre Troupe, Lime Springs Library, Oneota Club, Lidtke Mill, Community Club, Pool & Parks Board, Senior Citizens (that’s another part of the story), and the Girl Scouts and Howard-Winneshiek Parent Teacher Organization, who only help in the winter.
Members of those nine groups only need to help one week out of nine, then they share in the profits. The first nine-week session gave each group $100. The next two had enough profits to give each non-profit $150 both times.
In addition, the Community Center is able to rent the facility every Monday night.
“In the first 29 weeks of the year, the Bingo Club has put $4,600 back into the community!” Richard said.
If there was ever a win-win-win concept, this is it! 
Hampe is president of the Bingo Club with Janet DeVries as 1st vice-president. “Angie is the chief cook and bottle washer,” Richard jokes. “She puts a lot of time into the kitchen.”
Senior Citizens
Looking and talking with some of the senior citizens who attended Bingo, Richard saw a need to get the seniors together a couple times a month. Lime Springs used to have a Senior Citizens group, but it disbanded in 2016.
With the Cottrell’s guidance, a new group has started up. They meet the first and third Wednesdays of the month, with a potluck lunch at 11. After that there might be a speaker and then whatever the seniors want. Many times it is a game of Bingo followed by cards.
The next speaker will be from the Howard County Energy District and Green Iowa AmeriCorps on Sept. 4. “They will talk about how seniors are eligible for having homes checked for weatherization and Radon,” Richard explained.
More volunteering
Besides Bingo and Senior Citizens, the couple has also joined other groups. Angie goes to coffee with the women and attends Library-sponsored events, such as Game Night. 
Richard reads. He also volunteered to be vice-president of the Community Club, which next year will turn into the presidency.
They even volunteered to be co-chairs (with Harlan and Mary Larson) for the sweet corn stand during Sweet Corn Days. The couple also enjoys going to auctions.
It may seem that volunteering comes easy for the couple, but that isn’t necessarily so. 
Before retirement, Richard did refrigeration work for a supermarket chain and was on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “I didn’t have time to volunteer. I can understand the young people who don’t have time.”
What brought them here?
Richard said, “After traveling for 25 years, I was ready to settle down.” And settle they did. They moved into the elementary school and turned part of it into their home. “We both like it here.”
He added some couples might not have been able to stand being together in such a small space for that long, but they managed. “It takes a special couple to handle it.”
Just inside the front door to the east was the secretary’s office. That is now the freezer room, which holds food and drinks for Bingo and Senior Citizens. The principal’s office is their sitting room.The nurse’s office is the laundry. The other room is a coat closet.
The teacher’s lounge has been turned into their kitchen, while the first classroom (preschool room) is their bedroom. The couple also put insulation in the building as there was hardly any left.
All of that equals 1,700 sq. ft. of living space.
Richard removed two of the front doors and made it open as a garage, which is where their vehicles are located. Last winter, he drove Angie’s car down the hallway for storage. He has some plans to make part of the school into storage lockers but has to do some maintenance before that happens.
“It all takes time and energy, and I’m 76 years old,” he smiled.
Before and during their travel years, Richard and Angie were too busy or didn’t stay long enough to volunteer. 
But now they are settled down and are doing their part for the town of Lime Springs. 

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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