Rotary Wheel

August 6, 2013

Last week, an overview of the various committees was presented along with an opportunity to sign up.  Each member of our club is asked to join one or more committees so they can help contribute to making our club even better.  One committee / subcommittee is the Rotary Wheel.  If you always wondered how this was created and published each week and have a desire to do this for just ONE out of TWELVE months per year, please visit with Greg Kenyon or any of the editors for more information.  The editors are:  Tom Larson, Janet Nelson, Joe Willis, Bill Kalianov, Naura Godar, Linda Leave, and Greg Kenyon

Upcoming Events:

August 24 and 25.

While not a West Des Moines Rotary Event, the Waukee Rotary is sponsoring a breakfast as a part of Waukee Fest.  The breakfast will be the morning of the 25th from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.  You can check out more details at

September 24.

District 6000 training to be held at DMACC @ 6:00 P.M.

Committee Notes:

Harold Hulleman, chair of our bicycle committee/project has a tandem bike that was donated to us.  He has an offer from someone to purchase it for $150.  If you have an interest, please contact Harold right away.  Once sold, the funds will be used to support our bike project to purchase parts, helmets, etc. for bikes for kids.

Three Minute Speaker:

Our speaker was Pat Grote, VP of Fund Development for Girl Scouts.  Originally from Nebraska, she has lived in several areas including Papillion, NE; Omaha/Council Bluffs metro; Marion, Indiana; Chicago; and now Des Moines.  She met her husband when she worked for a Council Bluffs hospital and he sold ads for the cable company to that hospital.  They have 2 boys and 1 girl.


Our speaker, Kevin Wilbeck, was introduced by Club President Tom Narak.  Kevin is an Iowa State University-educated mechanical engineer, a leading salesman of fixtures and fittings used in major industrial plants, a husband and a father.  In addition, he has a passion for the outdoors and more specifically the Raccoon River Valley Trail:  From the website comes the following (edited for length by me!):

The Raccoon River Valley Trail uses the former right-of-way of a railroad built in the 1870s and early ’80s to connect the city of Des Moines with the Iowa Great Lakes region in the northwest part of the state.

For more than 50 years, it was a popular rail line, taking many vacationers from central Iowa right to the shores of Storm Lake, the Okobojis and Big Spirit Lake. By 1952, however, when the easy availability of automobiles had changed the public’s preference in traveling, passenger service on the Milwaukee Road was discontinued. The line was used by freight trains another 35 years. In 1982, it was purchased by the Chicago and Northwestern Transportation Company, but the farm crisis in the mid 1980s led to a discontinuation of any rail service on the route.

CIECO, the Iowa Trails Council, and the Conservation Boards from Dallas and Guthrie Counties came to an agreement in late ’87 to allow the development of a multi-use trail on the right-of-way.

The first section of the Raccoon River Valley Trail opened on Oct. 7, 1989, with a 34-mile route completed in 1990 from Waukee to Yale. A 12-mile addition from Jefferson south to Herndon was completed in 1997, with Greene County Conservation becoming part of the consortium owning and operating the RRVT. In 1999, a five-mile extension was completed east from Waukee to connect with the Green Belt Trail in the Des Moines suburb of Clive, and another five miles of trail was completed to link Herndon and Yale in northern Guthrie County.

In 2001, the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, one of the state’s premier trail-developing organizations, helped the counties’ Conservation Boards complete the purchase of the right-of-way from CIECO. The purchase was made possible by an Iowa Trails Grant from the Iowa Department of Transportation.

Meanwhile, the former railroad right-of-way on which a 33-mile “north loop” of the RRVT is being completed, was purchased in late 2007 from the Union Pacific Railroad. It runs northwest from Waukee through Dallas Center and Minburn to Perry, then swings west through Dawson and Jamaica before it intersects again with the RRVT in the unincorporated town of Herndon.

The paved surface of the RRVT includes both asphalt and concrete.  It is asphalt from Waukee west to Adel and on north to Linden; concrete from Linden through Panora to Yale; asphalt from Yale north to Winkleman Switch, and then concrete for the north four miles into Jefferson. The entire north loop is concrete.  The original 34 miles of asphalt trail in Dallas and Guthrie Counties required resurfacing by the time it was 12 to 15 years old. The 24 miles in Dallas County were resurfaced in 2004 and ’05. The trail between Linden and Yale was resurfaced with concrete, starting in 2007 and being completed in 2010.

While the great stretches of prairie that enchanted railroad passengers in the 1880s are now long-gone, there are still prairie remnants visible along the RRVT. Trail users encounter all kinds of wildlife, farm animals and birds along the way, too. They also go right through new retail shopping developments in Waukee, past the booming brickyards of Adel and within two blocks of the gorgeous “French castle” Dallas County Courthouse in Adel. They go past several sites of mills and livestock shipping terminals that operated in pioneer times. They can see beautiful Lake Panorama from the trail just north of Panora. North of Cooper, they can look to the north horizon and see seven huge new wind turbines generating electricity at a “wind farm” north of Jefferson. Then, still south of Jefferson, trail users go back into dense woods, and cross a 600-foot-long railroad trestle bridge over the North Raccoon River. Then they arrive in Jefferson to hear the bells playing atop the 162-foot-tall Mahanay Memorial Carillon Tower on the Greene County Courthouse Square.

In recent years, the Conservation Board directors have estimated that more than 125,000 people per year are using the RRVT. With the connection into the metro trail system now completed in Des Moines, as well as the new north loop being completed on the RRVT, the number of users is expected to mushroom in the years ahead.