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Hawkeye Point preparing for Highpointer’s Club Convention

Iowa’s highest point, Hawkeye Point, has been selected to host the 2015 Highpointer’s Club National Convention. The site has been improved thanks to volunteer labor and materials, but more help is needed for the landmark to be ready in time. Robin Baumgarn/Daily Globe2 / 2

SIBLEY, Iowa — What a difference six years can make. 

It was six years ago that the Merill and Donna Sterler family decided to keep Iowa’s highest point open to the public. That desire was met when the family donated 1.6 acres of land to the citizens of Osceola County.

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Soon after, a group of volunteers formed the Hawkeye Point Committee, and what has transpired has been a labor of love. The site has been selected to host the 2015 Highpointer’s Club National Convention July 24-25, 2015, and preparations are already under way.

Since the acquisition of the property, the high point has received a few updates and new features. The most recent additions were 12 picnic tables donated by members of The Westerners/Those Crazy Goat Kids 4-H Club. The final table, commemorated last month as the “Governor’s Table,” was completed by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds.

The site also offers a new observation deck, a walk-through agricultural museum, a mosaic marker of the highest point and directional signs to other high points around the country.

Sibley-Ocheyedan FFA members and their supporters have donated more than 10,455 hours of volunteer labor at the high point and the campground, Hawkeye Point Committee Chairman Mike Earll said. Contractors and county workers have donated more than 816 hours, and Hawkeye Point committee members have logged in at least 1,972 hours of time, Earll added.

Volunteer labor is only one part of the equation. Additionally, equipment and services valued at more than $82,000 have been donated to work on the site, Earll said. The National Highpointer’s Club has donated $6,600 to the project, while the S-O FFA donated the proceeds from farming the land, totaling $10,802.87, to the land debt retirement, according to Earll.

Hawkeye Point has received more than $180,000 in donations, grants and other revenues, Earll said, adding that the unique blend of volunteer labor and resources appealed to the Highpointer’s Club. The group is impressed by the volunteer effort to make the high point open to the public, he continued, as several high points around the country are on private property or are limited in their accessibility by the general populace. Hawkeye Point was chosen to host the 350 to 650 convention attendees as an example of how to make a high point available through volunteerism, Earll said.

Hard work is still needed prior to the convention. Earll said the group is approximately $10,000 short of finishing bathrooms and showers at the campgrounds across from Hawkeye Point. The committee is worried it may have gone to the well one too many times and have tapped out its available resources, so it’s appealing to the community for help in the final stretch.

“We have a great opportunity to promote all of Osceola County as well as the state of Iowa with this national convention coming to our community,” Earll said. “ It is our hope that these representatives from all 50 states will enjoy their visit to northwest Iowa and share with their family and friends the beauty of this area, as well as the friendly people that call Osceola County their home. Our challenge now is to be ready for the visit.”

Anyone interested in aiding the project can contact Earll at the Osceola County Economic Development Office, (712) 754-2523.

Daily Globe Reporter Robin Baumgarn may be reached at 376-7323.