SIBLEY, Iowa — A new grain bin shelter is the latest addition to the Hawkeye Point property just off Iowa 60 north of Sibley.
The new shelter, erected in late July, is the result of a cooperative effort of the Hawkeye Point Foundation, Community Foundation of Osceola County and the Osceola County Conservation Board, according to Stephanie Neppl, executive director of the Osceola County Economic Development Commission.
A considerable amount of the work on the shelter, she added, was done by youths involved with the Sibley-Ocheyedan FFA club and local 4-H.
Mike Earll, who chairs the Hawkeye Point Foundation, was the S-O FFA advisor when Osceola County acquired seven acres of the Merrill-Sterler farm surrounding Hawkeye Point in 2008. With an elevation of 1,670 feet, it’s the highest point in Iowa, which meant it was already a known stop for people interested in visiting the high point of each U.S. state.
Students proceeded to do considerable work to develop the site into an enhanced tourist spot, as well as a place for nearby residents to visit and enjoy. Among the amenities added over the last several years include an agricultural museum in a corn crib, a display of antique farm machinery, an observation deck, informational kiosk and mosaic display, and a 12-site campground with shelter house, bathhouse, playground equipment, fire pit and 24 picnic tables.
Earll retired from S-O in 2013, but remained involved with the site through his subsequent work as executive director of the Osceola County EDC (preceding Neppl) and with the Hawkeye Point Foundation. He and Nick Schmalen, vice chair of the foundation and director of the Osceola County Conservation Board, had key parts in bringing the latest addition to fruition.
“It was just an idea that came about at one our our foundation meetings,” Neppl said. “We’re always just looking for something new. Now we’ve got this shelter where people can actually duck in from the rain and wind.”
Neppl credited Schmalen with obtaining quotes for the shelter’s construction, adding that his board promised $5,000 to the project if remaining funding could be secured. Three picnic tables have already been placed inside the grain bin shelter — which has a concrete floor — and electricity along with a cell phone charger will be added soon.
The grain bin shelter — not to mention an overall view of Hawkeye Point — can also now be seen on a webcam that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Neppl noted that a five-year commitment has been made for having the webcam located at the site.
“We hope the new shelter will be a great amenity for visitors who stop by the high point and for locals who are looking for a fun spot for any type of gathering, weddings and more,” Neppl said. “Hawkeye Point is really unique and something to be proud of, and we want to encourage people to visit and then maybe come into town and spend a little money.”
For more about Hawkeye Point, visit https://osceolacountyia.org/living-here/hawkeye-point/.