Dennis Flanery discusses the Guthrie Center Development Group and gives an update on the Guthrie Activity Center at Celebrate Guthrie Center on May 2.Main Street Guthrie Center Executive Director Dana Buster lists the projects Main Street has accomplished over the past year and tells guests about the events happening this summer. Superintendent Steve Smith discusses school safety and college classes offered at AC/GC.

Community celebrates Guthrie Center at annual event

In 2011, the Guthrie Center Area Development Group wrote down a list of goals they’d like to accomplish at a strategic planning meeting. The group wanted to attract Subway to town, build housing at Cameron Flats and complete other large projects to improve the town.

Now, seven years later, Guthrie Center Area Development Group president Dennis Flanery says many of these goals have been accomplished, thanks to the work of the Development Group and many other hard-working organizations in Guthrie Center. 

Several of these organizations shared their accomplishments over the past year and their goals for the future at the 3rd annual Celebrate Guthrie Center on May 2 at the Guthrie Activity Center. 

Around 60 guests enjoyed a dinner of pork, chicken, cheesy potatoes, green beans, bread and dessert, catered by Cabbage Rose. 

Following dinner, representatives of Main Street Guthrie Center, the Guthrie Center Chamber of Commerce, the City of Guthrie Center, the Development Group, AC/GC Schools, the All-School Reunion and the Guthrie Activity Center shared the projects they’re working on to make Guthrie Center an even better place to live. 


Main Street Guthrie Center Executive Director Dana Buster kicked off the evening with a review of Main Street’s projects and a preview of the events taking place this summer.

One of MSGC’s biggest and most well-known accomplishments is the purchase of the Williams Building on State Street. Since purchasing the building last summer, Main Street has been working hard to renovate two ground floor retail spaces. This year, Genesis Development moved into the space on the east side of the building. 

Eventually, the renovation plan involves moving up to the second and third floors of the building and adding downtown residential apartments. 

Main Street hosted a variety of community events last year, including 50115 Fest, a Small Business Saturday event, a Falloween Festival and Christmas in Candy Land. Buster says the Falloween Festival and Christmas in Candy Land were both well-attended with over 200 guests. 

This year, Main Street will be holding its annual 50115 Fest on Saturday, June 9. The organization will also be hosting three outdoor movie nights in June, July and August.

Perhaps the most anticipated event of the summer is the arrival of the Smithsonian’s “Hometown Teams,” exhibit, which will be available for viewing at the Mary J. Barnett Memorial Library from June 23 until August 5. 

Throughout the summer, almost every weekend will have a sports-related event associated with the exhibit. 

A ribbon cutting ceremony will take place on June 23 and will include the AC/GC pep band, kids games and a coach round table discussion, with two coaches who coached at Guthrie Center and two coaches who graduated from Guthrie Center. 

On June 30 there will be an ISU Day with special guest Merv Krakau, a four-sport star at Guthrie Center high school who went on to earn All-American honors playing football at Iowa State University. He was drafted in the 14th round of the 1973 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. He played six years in the NFL for Buffalo and New England. Krakau is a member of the Iowa High School Athletic Association Football Hall of Fame. In 2007, he was inducted into the Iowa State University Athletics Hall of Fame.

The All-School Reunion will be held from July 5-8, and during that time, alumni and other community members can attend “Six-on-Six the Musical.” Baseball day, with special guest Barry Monaghan, will be held on July 14. Iowa Cubs mascot Cubbie will also make an appearance. Dan Gable will make his way to town for the University of Iowa Day on July 21 to round out the weekend celebrations. 


Alicia Ciesielski, president of the Guthrie Center Chamber of Commerce and co-owner of Midway Motel, gave an update on the Chamber’s accomplishments over the past year. Ciesielski also included a quick update on the renovations happening at the Midway Motel.

Last year, the Chamber sponsored a number of events with MSGC, including the Falloween Festival and Christmas in Candy Land. 

Currently, the Chamber has put together a Mother’s Day giveaway basket worth over $200, which they will be giving away on May 10. To enter to win, like the Guthrie Center Chamber of Commerce Facebook page, share the Mother’s Day post and comment a memory with your mom for extra bonus points. 

Ciesielski and her husband, Ski, have also been working hard to make the Midway Motel a place for Guthrie Center to be proud of. The Ciesielski’s purchased the motel in December of 2015 and have since been working to remodel several areas of the motel. 

Wi-Fi has been updated, and all rooms now feature two queen size beds and a flat screen television. New carpet has been installed in most rooms, and four rooms have been completely remodeled. 


Mayor Denny Kunkle spoke on behalf of the City of Guthrie Center. Kunkle gave a brief update on the water main and street overlay projects happening in the community. 

Currently, the largest project the city is working on is the Mitchell Park update. The project involves a five-year plan that includes adding public restrooms, a walking trail, dog park, musical playground, disc golf and the resurfacing of the basketball and tennis courts. 

While Kunkle noted that the public restrooms are the city’s primary concern, he told guests that the resurfacing of the courts will be among the first projects completed in the five-year plan. 

At this time, the city has entered into an agreement with MSA Engineering to conduct a needs assessment on the current bathhouse and determine the most cost efficient way to complete the project while addressing the needs of the community. 


Development Group president Dennis Flanery focused primarily on the DICA expansion project. 

The Development Group owns the building that DICA operates out of, and the rent paid by DICA is the group’s primary source of income. Originally, the business thought that they wouldn’t use half of the space they were renting. Now, they have grown and are in need of a larger space.

To keep the business in town, the Development Group is looking at completing a 10,000 square foot addition to the building. The project is estimated to cost around a million dollars to complete. 

Currently, the group has been in negotiations to acquire surrounding properties in order to expand the building.

Flanery also informed attendants of the Development Group’s revolving loan fund, which businesses can utilize and pay back at 0% interest. The fund contains $58,000, of which $37,000 is available for use. Businesses or groups in need of funding for a project are eligible to apply. 


Superintendent Steve Smith discussed college courses, school safety and his retirement. 

Due to the whole grade sharing agreement between Guthrie Center and Adair-Casey, the school has been able to keep providing services they wouldn’t be able to otherwise. One such service is the large variety of on-campus college courses taught by teachers at AC/GC. 

While students at all schools can earn college credits online, Smith argues that it’s not the same. Being able to ask questions and receive support from a teacher they know gives students at AC/GC an advantage that many students don’t have. 

“Our kids can leave here with a lot of face-to-face on-campus college courses,” said Smith. “I would challenge any district that’s continuous to us to have the same.”

Having experienced a gun threat at the school in early April, Smith also touched on school safety, noting that legislators passed a law that by June of 2019 all schools must have a comprehensive safety plan. 

Smith told guests that he attended a school safety workshop, which encouraged administrators to begin at the root of the problem:  school culture.

“They’re talking about how kids treat kids, how kids treat adults and how adults treat kids,” he said. “Thinking about it more as a preventative thing.” Smith explained that each teacher at AC/GC has 12-15 student advisees. The teachers are encouraged to build relationships with those students and make them feel valued as a part of the school.

Smith will be retiring at the end of the 2018-2019 school year. Currently, the Guthrie Center School Board and the Adair-Casey School Board have started the search for AC/GC’s next superintendent. 


Lesley Halsey spoke on behalf of the Guthrie Center All-School Reunion, which will be held from July 5-8. 

The event will kick off on Thursday, July 5 with a home swim meet at 6:00 p.m., a home baseball game at 7:00 p.m. and “Six-on-Six the Musical,” in the AC/GC High School auditorium at 7:00 p.m.

On Friday, July 6, alumni can participate in a two-women best ball golf tournament at 9:00 a.m., Art on State activities at 9:00 a.m., a two-men best ball golf tournament at 12:30 p.m., a Freedom Rock presentation by Brick Imerman at 4:30 p.m., a home baseball game at 7:00 p.m., “Six-on-Six the Musical” at 7:00 p.m. and a street dance on 3rd St. from 6:00 p.m. until midnight.

Events on Saturday, July 7 include a fun run in the morning and a parade at 10:00 a.m.. A four-person best ball golf tournament, car show, mini carnival and petting zoo will all begin at 2:00 p.m. In the evening, there will be a meal and program at 5:00 p.m. and a street dance at the fairgrounds to follow from 6:00 p.m. until midnight. 

The event wraps up on Sunday, July 8 with a matinee performance of “Six-on-Six the Musical” at 2:00 p.m. Throughout the reunion, the Smithsonian “Hometown Teams” exhibit will be open for viewing during select times at the Mary J. Barnett Memorial Library.

Halsey says that as the event draws near, the committee will continue searching for volunteers willing to help host the events. Anyone willing to volunteer is encouraged to contact the reunion committee at


Guthrie Activity Center president Dennis Flanery rounded out the night of presentations by informing guests about the Activity Center renovation process and capital campaign. The building is currently undergoing an interior and exterior renovation that will involve adding rooms, updating technology and remodeling the facade of the building. 

When creating the original plans and budget for the renovation, the roof was not a major concern. Upon inspection, it was discovered that the roof was actually the worst part of the building. 

“We didn’t realize how much danger you were sitting in last year when you were sitting here,” Flanery told attendants.  

He explained that the beams supporting the roof were not stable and that the roof was at risk of caving in. When tearing out the ceiling and removing lights, workers discovered that most of the lights were burning into the ceiling, creating a potential fire hazard. The crew also discovered a small gas leak. 

Today, the supporting beams have been replaced and the roof is now secure. A roofing company will be coming next week to complete the roof. 

The cost to replace the supports and the roof totaled around $80,000. 

“That $80,000 was what we were going to use to remodel the facility,” Flanery explained. “Now we’re kind of starting from scratch to do that.”

The Activity Center Board recently mailed out a capital campaign letter encouraging community members to donate money to support the renovation.

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