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The highlight of Lone Tree’s annual Fall Fest has for years been a fireworks display put on by the Stumptown Shooters, but the money to pay for it may be at risk.
The local Chamber of Commerce has been funding this display with the proceeds from pop cans left in a bin down by Rich Burr’s Car Wash on North Devoe.
Although the cans may be free, sorting and redeeming them takes work.
For the better part of the last two decades, Brian Havel has been in charge of the cans, but he informed the chamber that this will be his last year.
The chamber needs to find other volunteers by the end of May at the latest.
Although this year’s Fall Fest won’t have fireworks due to a scheduling conflict, the show is on for next year. Whether there will be fireworks the year after that without the money collected from pop cans is anyone’s guess.
Brian and Joanne Havel, who both have been responsible for collecting and redeeming the cans, are longtime residents of Lone Tree and have been active in the community for the past 25 years.
The Havels took in their granddaughter, Katie Birtcher, when the little girl was diagnosed with a serious illness when she was an infant. Katie made it to her eighth birthday.
In response to this, Joanne Havel worked with the University of Iowa’s Dance Marathon to set up a dance marathon for Katie’s classmates in elementary and middle school. It is held every year in the fall.
In addition to the volunteer work, Joanne Havel was elected mayor in 2001 and served one term. It was, she said in an interview, “stressful.”
And, after nearly 20 years, so is dealing with the cans, a task Joanne described as “time-consuming.”
Brian and Joanne are nearing retirement – Brian works at Proctor & Gamble in Iowa City, and Joanne drives for SEATS. Something has to go.
Joanne made it clear that she is worried about funding for the fireworks display.
The cans bring in a lot of money, and if the chamber gives up that source, “they aren’t going to get it back.”
Russ Forbes, president of the Lone Tree Chamber of Commerce, is seeking volunteers to take over from the Havels.
Volunteers do not have to be chamber members. They can be anyone interested in helping with Fall Fest.
Anyone interested can contact any chamber member or Russ Forbes at Farmers and Merchants Bank.