NBHF Parade Grand Marshals

—Turnmires take leadership role to bring unique bronze statues to Howard County


CRESCO - Dale and Mary Ellen Turnmire have spent a lifetime giving back to the community they call ‘home’, most recently taking on a leadership role that resulted in over 40 bronze statues placed throughout Howard County.
Cresco will say ‘thank you’ to the couple during the Norman Borlaug Harvest Fest this weekend: The Turnmires are the Harvest Fest Parade Grand Marshals.
The Harvest Fest Parade takes place Saturday, Sept. 16 at 4:30 p.m. The parade route runs 6th Avenue West and North Elm Street from the Howard County Fairgrounds.
'Very emotional for us'
Mary Ellen Turnmire said she and Dale were surprised when they heard they were chosen as grand marshals:
“A couple of days ago (Cresco Chamber of Commerce Executive Director) Jason Passmore called; it was very emotional for us to think they would even consider us, and it was very kind,” she said.
Mary Ellen said the couple has called Cresco home ‘forever.’
High school sweethearts, they  graduated from Cresco High School, and then attended the University of Iowa. They have been married for 64 years.
“Dale went into business, and I taught home economics at Crestwood and retired in 1995,” Mary Ellen said.
Dale owned Puritan Ice Cream and Meat Processing and Dale’s Fine Meats, before becoming the director of the Cresco Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development.
Origin of the bronze 
In recent years, the Turnmires gave back to their hometown in a new way:
“We winter in Arizona, and we took three or four trips to Santa Fe, New Mexico, visiting our friends Doris (McIntyre) and Sara (Read),” Mary Ellen said. “When we visited them, we saw bronze statues, and they had a foundry, so that spiked Dale’s interest in the statues. We especially liked the statues of children.”
The Turnmires found a vendor in Arizona who had bronze statues at a feasible price.
“The price was right, so from there, Dale came back to Cresco and presented the project to the City Council.”
In 2004 and 2005, the City of Cresco was in the process of redoing North Elm Street, including repaving and sidewalk repair. Mary Ellen said the City Council encouraged them to move forward with the bronze statue project.
A community effort
The Turnmires turned to the community with the idea, and 18 people came forward interested in purchasing a statue, most often in memory of or in acknowledgement of someone important to them, or simply to add a beautifying aspect to a location.
Mary Ellen recalls, “Marlys Hoines was one of the first, along with Dale Vagts, Doris McIntyre, Sara Read, and Jack Thomson.”
She said Dale talked to business people in the community.
“He went to Steve Bohr and told him about a base, and Steve said he’d be happy to donate, and Jim Holstrom was happy to donate plaques. Louie Balk Lime & Ready-Mix said they would be happy to provide the cement. Tom Mullen put the finish on the plaques. Generous people said they would help us with the project, and made it less expensive for people purchasing the statues and make it so that it was a doable project.”
The CRICCET Streetscape Committee included L&S Masonry, Willard and Dean Balk-Louie Balk Lime & Ready Mix, Jim and Sue Holstrom of Holstrom Gift & Jewelry, Rhonda and Nick Ruppert of Ruppert’s Ace Hardware, Tom Mullen and Chad and Sharon Bordwell.
Presently, 38 bronze statues are located throughout Cresco. Lime Springs and Elma each feature five bronze statues. Mary Ellen said the community of Elkader also showcases bronze statues.
The newest statue in Cresco, located near the Cresco Fitness Center at the site of the old auditorium, depicts a boy and girl reading and was donated by the Cresco High School Class of 1967.
New statue unveiled at Norman Borlaug Boyhood Farm Friday
During Harvest Fest, in addition to their honor as grand marshals, the Turnmires are pleased at the unveiling of a new bronze statue at the Norman Borlaug Boyhood Farm.
The statue will be the second on the farm, both donated by a doctor in Wisconsin. The newest statue is based on Dr. Norman Borlaug’s work around the world. The statue is expected to be dedicated Friday, Sept. 15 during Inspire Day, the Northeast Iowa School Day at the Borlaug Farm, which takes place from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and is open to the public.
The Turnmires say they enjoy the feedback they have received since the statues were erected in Cresco.
“They are fun to have, and Dale thought that statues of children were a subject everyone likes, and that it makes people smile when they see them.”
Dale said, “I feel the statues are unique, and a lot of people supported the project.”
About the statues
The bronze statues are pictured in a brochure available at the Cresco Chamber of Commerce office titled, ‘The Statues of Howard County.’
In addition to the bronze statues of children, the brochure also discusses the Norman Borlaug Statue in Beadle Park dedicated in 1971 to commemorate Dr. Borlaug’s honor as the Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1970.
The sculptor, Karen Laub Novak, grew up in Cresco, studied at the University of Iowa, resettled in Washington, D.C., where she gained fame as an artist and sculptor. She passed away in 2009.
As for the bronze statues depicting children, the brochure states:
‘Over 40 statues have been placed in the county under the leadership of Dale and Mary Ellen Turnmire and the CRICCET Streetscapes Committee. The bronze statues of Cresco were conceived as an idea to make Cresco an even more unique community. This idea has now been embraced by all cities in Howard County. The emphasis is to raise community and visitor awareness to a form of art not readily available outside of museums and galleries.’

Cresco Times

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

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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