Friends of Waubonsie discuss park progress and issues

The Friends of Waubonsie held their monthly meeting in the WaShawtee Lodge in Waubonsie State Park on April 10, 2019, and discussed park projects, memberships, and needs.

Park Manager Matt Moles told the group the RV campground was almost completely full with flood victims. He said 24 sites were occupied, with about 50 people, and there was one site left. Moles said the governor had entered a decree and the DNR ordered that flood victims could stay at the park for free, with no stay length limit. Moles said most of the occupants were from Percival, McPaul and Hamburg.

Moles said the park has a washer and dryer set up for the use of the flood victims, and he turned the water on early for their stay. Use of a trailer had also been donated to store supplies such as toiletries. The school bus has been coming directly to the park to pick up and drop off students.

Moles said he had pushed for the opportunity to help the flood victims, but advised it would make a difference in the park's income for the season, as would the flooded road to Nebraska.  Moles said 60-70 percent of the park's users were traditionally from Nebraska, so having the road between Nebraska and Iowa closed indefinitely could really hurt.

“Electric and water charges will be way up this season,” Moles said, “but I believe we can seek FEMA recompense for lost revenue and expenses.”

Another concern Moles had was a senate bill that would make Waubonsie State Park and Lake Manawa Park part of a pilot program that would charge a user fee for out of state users. Moles said he understood the reasoning, as the parks in states surrounding Iowa do charge a user fee for out of state users, he just was not sure how it would affect the park's usage. Moles had no idea how or when such a new rule would be implemented, and reminded the group any funds gained through the new rule would go back into the general fund, not specifically to Waubonsie State Park.

Rebecca Castle shared a newly designed membership form, and volunteer release, liability waiver and code of conduct. As new members join the group, they can sign the volunteer forms at the same time, and they will be kept on file by the park for a year. People who volunteer at the park and are not part of the Friends group will have to fill out paperwork each time.

Possible new members will likely be contacted through social media, as well as emails sent to people who had attended the park's last public meeting. Membership in the group costs $20 per year.

Moles told the group May 4 is camping kickoff weekend, so the park must have a volunteer day that day. He said he had already contacted Hamburg Hometown Pride to see if they were interested, and might coordinate with other Hometown Pride groups.

In other business, the group learned:

they had received a Yeoman Tools grant for $200 worth of tools;

they had been granted 30 gallons of paint through Paint Iowa Beautiful and Diamond Vogel Paint, the largest amount of paint granted to anyone to that date;

Anna Stoysich, naturalist, will return for another season, and

Rebecca Castle and David Carter will work on designing a firewood sales box for the park.

The next Friends of Waubonsie State Park will be held May 8 at 6 p.m. in the WaShawtee Lodge.

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