Banquet highlights HCB&T, HOF

CRESCO - Jason Passmore, Executive Director of Howard County Business & Tourism (HCBT), introduced Sue Barnes, 1st Vice President of Howard County Economic Development (HCED), who welcomed all to the annual awards banquet. 
A buffet style dinner by McAllister Catering was then served.
Hall of Fame Awards
After dinner, Passmore introduced Dan Evans as a disgruntled Packers fan, Chamber Board member and Owner/ Publisher of the Times Plain Dealer, to hand out the Hall of Fame awards. 
Evans told the crowd that volunteers are the heartbeat of the community.
• The Educator of the Year was awarded to Jim Zajicek, who besides teaching and being an administrator at Notre Dame, Crestwood and Holy Trinity, he has been involved in many Howard County organizations.
Zajicek began, “If I had known so many former students and parents were going to be here, I wouldn’t have come up!” He thanked all who nominated and chose him for the honor.
He wanted to give tribute to four people who helped in his educational career, including Father Don Hawes, who hired him at Notre Dame. “I was going to teach for two years, then get a real job. Eighteen years later, the school closed, and I had five children and a pregnant wife.”
He was then hired by Rob Myers at Crestwood Junior High. Don Pettengill advised Zajicek to get his administrator license.
After that, Mr. Ron Sadler hired him as high school principal. “He told me to always wear a smile and always have a dream.” He also commended all of his staff, who helped him along the way.
When Zajicek was getting close to retirement age, a friend told him to have a plan. “You can only golf so much, and you can always fish so much.” He took that advice to heart and became a deacon for the Catholic Church.
“I live the dream every day. I’ve learned life is not me. Life is what I can do for my fellow man.”
• Citizen of the Year was presented to Janis Rockabrand. “It is such an honor. When I was told I won the award, I was stunned, like a deer in the head lights. The first thing I thought was, ‘I don’t deserve this.’”
She continued that she has been blessed working at the local hospital and clinic.
“And I’ve been blessed to be part of some very important organizations — Special Needs, CARE, library, RSVP and Mentoring Program.”
She didn’t want to take credit for any of the work she has done, Rockabrand noted, “It isn’t just one person. It’s a team. It’s a community.”
She then ended with a quote from Winston Churchill. “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
• Evans presented the Cresco Wildlife Club with Organization of the Year. “This is one of the hardest-working clubs in the area. They are always doing something.”
President Greg Hudecek said that unlike Jim Zajicek, who retired several times, “I am not going back to work. When I was working, I didn’t have time to volunteer. Since I retired, I’ve been pretty much devoted to this club.”
The group takes care of Gooder Field, the trapshooting range on the west edge of Cresco. They helped organize the Crestwood trapshooting team, Cresco Area Clay Crushers.
“There are 56 kids shooting. It’s fantastic. Usually the kids aren’t athletic or involved in sports, but the boys and girls can shoot the same.”
He encouraged the audience to check out the Wildlife Clubhouse during the Mighty Howard County Fair. “There are new displays. We also sponsor continuing education for youth, by awarding two scholarships.
“This core group . . . we do so much. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this award.” Hudecek invited everyone to attend the Mother’s Day luncheon on May 14 at McAllisters. Working on special occasions is one of the group’s fund-raisers.
Passmore took a moment to acknowledge local dignitaries in attendance, including City of Cresco Mayor, Dave Brenno, and council member Jan and Roger Carman; and Howard County Board of Supervisor, Dean Eastman. 
He also introduced Herbert H. J. Riedel, Ph.D., current president of NICC, along with Erin Daley, and other local dignitaries.
He said that 2022 gave $149,400 in revolving loan funds that created 23 new jobs and retained 20 others. “In 2023, we flew past those numbers. In the first quarter, we loaned out $350,000, which means we are just under $1 million in circulation.
“And we are excited to start a housing RLF for speculative homes or rentals. We are hoping to get more housing, which we really need.”
Passmore went on to say, “There are a lot of improvement projects taking place in Howard County — Regional Health Services is about ready to break ground, the Cresco Theatre plans to rebuild the scene shop, Protivin has built a new fire station, Cresco Fitness Center has upgraded equipment and making it a 24/7 facility, Elma continues to work on its Elma Community Complex and Lime Springs is looking to get a Dollar General and Upper Iowa Beef is expanding.
“Yes, there are a lot of projects, but what is the alternative? Standing still is not a viable option.
Iowa Secretary of Ag Mike Naig
The guest speaker told the crowd he was great to be back in Howard County. “It’s right to get together and celebrate, like we are here.” He added that getting together with people is the greatest part of his job.
He acknowledged Mike and Rachel Gooder of Plantpeddler; Tom and Sue Barnes for what they do with the Reicks View Ag Education Center; and Neil Shaffer and Hunter Slifka, for what they have done for soil conservation. “Howard County is a leader in water quality and soil conservation because of those two.”
Naig said earlier in the week he had talked at the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute. “I told the youth, they must come to the Borlaug birthplace. He was a farm kid, who grew up on a gravel road. I was a farm kid, who grew up on a gravel road. You can do anything!”
CEO Robin Schluter reported on the updates taking place at RHSHC. 
“We are able to do this cutting-edge project, especially after COVID, with a $1 million USDA grant. WE are doubling the size of the clinic and providing separate air flows between the hospital and clinic.”
She added the hospital had reached its fund-raising goal of half-a million dollars. “Thank you for your generosity. This community supports businesses and businesses support the community.”
In anticipation of next year’s banquet, start thinking about who the go-to person is in your organization or school and nominate them for the Hall of Fame. Also, look around your town and see which organization is always ready to help or promote the community. Nominate it as well.

Cresco Times

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

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

Sign Up For Breaking News

Stay informed on our latest news!

Manage my subscriptions

Subscribe to Breaking News feed