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How many people would have this kind of pure dedication

By Staff | Apr 28, 2008

Way in the back of this week’s special ‘Business, Industry, Community’ section is a small story about the Winnebago Museum.

There is a reason that it is small. The main story is about Dr. Joe Tempel doing some of the work on the new museum. The piece about the museum itself is just an update of sorts about the progress being made on the project. We will, of course, have more on it when the big move starts happening, and when it opens.

We can give you a little preview of it early, though.

It is going to be a rather incredible museum when it is done. Especially when you consider that it is located in a town the size of Winnebago. And I think it is due to the very hard work of a small group of people.

Although there have been many people involved in helping, there are less than a handful of people who have dedicated a majority of their time and effort to make this happen. They are at the new site nearly every single day, and they have been doing this for more than six months. Many days they are only there in the morning, but sometimes it is all day.

These volunteers scrubbed floors until they shine. Fixed and repaired everything from walls to doors. Then they painted…and painted…and painted.

The museum board started with a building that had once been three buildings and had been made into one. Plus it had already had extensive remodeling done to it by the Meter Man company. But it still needed a lot of work to get it into shape, and change it from a manufacturing facility to one that lends itself to displaying items for the public to see.

The museum group had been working on getting a larger place for all of the items they have accumulated over the years. They were bursting at the seams at their present location. They were full 10 years ago, and still getting more items dropped off all the time. displays were piling up on each other. Many items are in storage in buildings out in the country.

The museum board started raising funds, and looked at the possibility of a new building.

The museum, and the city, hired an architect to draw up plans. That cost them $54,000 and they found out that a new building would cost them $900,000. That was about $200,000 more than the maximum they wanted to spend, said Pete Haight, president of the board. Looking back, Pete thinks they could have gotten another bid, a lot lower.

But they didn’t. They bought the Meter Man building instead, when that company moved out. They paid $240,000 for it.

Millie Hanson said it is perfect for them. Pete Haight said it has taken a lot of work to get it that way.

The building had the space, where the manufacturing had been done. Plus it had a room that they could use as their genealogy room.

The building also has three separate office suites (each with its own furnace, entrance and bathrooms.) It also has three apartments upstairs. Plus a large, very usable basement (the one that Dr. Tempel’s grandmother once lived in, and that once had a bowling alley in it, if you read the story in the BIC section.)

All total, it had seven furnaces, seven bathrooms and at least seven doors into the place. It also has a massive phone equipment room in the basement.

The museum board has rented out the front corner office to the Winnebago Chamber of Commerce. It is a very nice office suite. Haight doesn’t know yet if they will rent out the other two. He also thinks they will not rent out the apartments upstairs, as it would take a lot of work to fix them up.

The core group of volunteers have already done an incredible amount of work, and probably don’t need more to do. Haight said they are getting a bit sick of working on the building and it is time to get on with the move. That too will be a huge job.

Pete and Millie both say they are going to recruit some other people to help with that. They are calling in the chits that were promised them and getting some younger and stronger folks to help out.

Even so, we doubt that they could be any more dedicated to seeing a project get done. And that is precisely what it takes to get something of this magnitude accomplished. It takes a small group willing to do whatever it takes, whatever amount of time and effort, to see it through.

I am not sure I have that much energy or time.

So later this summer when you get a chance to see this new museum in Winnebago, we promise you one thing. You are going to be impressed.