Gowrie gathers to hear about local progress

GOWRIE – The upcoming debut of a new car dealership and progress on the construction of a fire station were described Friday evening during the annual spring banquet of the Gowrie Development Commission.

The new automotive business has a familiar name and it will be located in a spot where vehicles have been bought and sold in Gowrie for decades.

Last year, Macke Motors, of Lake City, bought Lee Benson Motors in Gowrie. The new dealership will be called Macke Gowrie. It will be located in the former Lee Benson Motors building at 111 Beek St.

Greg Benson, who will be the sales manager, said the dealership will offer used cars and the availability of new Buicks, Chevrolets and Fords. He said eight people will be employed there.

Joe McGuire, a Gowrie contractor, is the general contractor handling the remodeling job that’s underway at the showroom, according to Benson,

He said the business will open next month.

To get ready for the opening, the staff of Macke Gowrie is looking for some help to bring vehicles to the dealership. Volunteers are being sought to meet at the Prairie Valley High School at 11 a.m. on April 10 to board a bus to Macke Motors in Lake City. There, they will pick up 40 to 50 vehicles and drive them to the Gowrie dealership.

Benson, who is the chief of the city’s volunteer fire department, is also involved in the other major project highlighted Friday – the new fire station.

The current fire station on Main Street was built in 1972 and is now too small to properly house modern firefighting equipment. The new station will also be on Main Street, next to the Southwest Webster Emergency Medical Service building. Earthmoving and drainage improvements have been completed there. A sign and a large pile of dirt mark the spot.

Jim Suchan, a fire department captain who is the chairman of the building committee, said bids for the construction of the building are due next week. He estimated that the next construction phase will cost $250,000 to $300,000.

“This time next year we hope to actually have some trucks moved into the new building,” Suchan said.

To raise money for the new station, the firefighters will raffle off a restored 1952 International Super C tractor.

Leaders of the Gowrie Development Commission contributed to the project Friday by presenting Benson and Suchan with a $2,100 check. That money was raised during the annual Christmas wreath raffle, according to Mindy Swieter, the commission’s president.

Swieter updated the audience of about 55 people in the Gowrie Community Center on plans for three new signs to mark the gateways to the community.

One of the those signs will feature an electronic message board and will be located near the golf course on the south side of the city. Other smaller signs will be located at the intersection of Iowa Highway 175 and Webster County Road P33 and on the north side of the city. Swieter said POET Biorefining, which has an ethanol plant near Gowrie, is paying most of the cost of the signs.

She said the commission has established a new Main Street Committee.

“We’re looking at ways to spruce up Gowrie’s Main Street, our business district,” she said.

Also on Friday, Dr. Adam Swisher, of the McCrary-Rost Clinic, and Cindy Carsten, vice president of nursing and ancillary services at Stewart Memorial Community Hospital in Lake City, gave an update on developments at the Gowrie clinic. The debut of electronic medical record-keeping and digital X-ray technology are among the changes there, they said.

The clinic and the Community Pharmacy are important assets, according to Swieter.

“The clinic is another thing that Gowrie is proud to have in the community,” she said. “When I talk about Gowrie, that is a huge thing that I stress.”

Lois Irwin, the superintendent of the Prairie Valley Community School District, summarized the whole-grade sharing arrangement that will bring Prairie Valley and Southeast Webster Grand students together in the next academic year. She said the combined district will have just over 1,000 students.

“Together, we’ll be able to offer more opportunities to students,” she said.

The banquet meal was prepared and served by students in the Prairie Valley foods class.