Impact Award to Chuck and Carla Offenburger


Carla Offenburger, Jerry Roberts, Chuck Offenburger

Chuck and Carla Offenburger were presented with the Greene County Impact Award Sunday at a ceremony in the courthouse rotunda. About 30 friends and relatives attended the afternoon event.

Jerry Roberts served as emcee. The Offenburgers have lived in Greene County 14 years; they’re the ninth recipient of the award. “We’re so blessed to have so many people who participate on a countywide basis,” Roberts said. The award is given to a person or group whose service has benefited not just one community, but all of Greene County.

The Offenburgers work together and separately. They together helped form the Raccoon River Valley Trail Association, and they organized the Committee for a Super Cooper and five Cooper proms.

Carla served as first president of the Raccoon River Valley Association, and held the post for four years. She coordinated the restoration of the historic Gallup House, worked on the first downtown streetscape plan, and is on the organization committee of Jefferson Matters: Main Street.

Chuck has played an important role in the Greene County Historical Society, using his extraordinary journalism skills to promote Historical Society events and to document local history.

Their “all-in” effort once they join a project was mentioned by all those who spoke at the awards ceremony.

Roger Aegerter, Greene County Historical Society

Roger Aegerter, director of the Historical Society, called Chuck “the backbone of what gets shared about Greene County Historical Society and all of its functions… He has pumped lifeblood into the museum and the telling of Greene County history, past and present.”

He said Chuck’s detail in his writing and his telling of back stories makes Greene County history meaningful and fun.

An annual event at the Greene County Fair is a series of live interviews Offenburger does with knowledgeable residents. Roberts, a retired radio news man, has been part of the interviews with him. He commented on Chuck’s ability to bring out nuances in an interview. “His preparation, his journalistic background, his questioning skills make word picture after word picture… His people skills are remarkable. I think that’s the essence of Chuck,” Roberts said.

Karen Lawton

The Offenburgers moved to rural Cooper 10 years ago. Karen Lawton detailed their impact on Cooper. “They looked at the little village of Cooper with new eyes. They saw opportunity in our unique and charming area,” Lawton said. Their fresh eyes led to celebrations, parades, flea markets, meals, bike rides and the Cooper proms, held in what was left of the old Cooper school.

“If they wanted us to help, they were always there, too. They were never stingy with their time,” she said.

“They each day vow to live life purposefully, and they truly approach each new day with thoughts of how can they make a difference, and they do make a difference,” Lawton said. “Impacting where they live is high on their priority list. They understand the importance of keeping communities vital… Some people are able to see the big picture, and we neighbors appreciate the impact they’ve had on making this community an appealing place to live and work.”

Ava Schilling and Nicole Friess Schilling

Musical interludes were provided by the mother-daughter duo of Nicole Friess-Schilling and Ava Schilling. They sang “Side by Side,” the 1927 standard by Harry M. Woods, and “Together, Wherever We Go,” from “Gypsy”.

Mike Walker of Dallas County conservation spoke about their work with the RRVT. “They go into everything they take on in a passionate way. They ownership and they take leadership,” Wallace said.

The Greene County supervisors had signed a resolution naming June 3 as Chuck and Carla Offenburger Day.

Mike Wallace, Dallas County conservation

Board chair John Muir noted that many Greene County residents live in the county because they were born there, but that the Offenburgers chose as adults to live in the county. “They saw what was here…they saw they wanted to be part of it, and they are. They contribute. If we don’t have people who want to get involved and make things happen, we won’t move forward,” he said.

Carla read an original poem in acknowledgement of the award. “We’ve Never Done” began “We’ve never done small very well. Dreams are big, plans are big, results are big, too.” They also haven’t done “slow,” “can’t be done,” “alone,” “quiet,” and “we’ve never done being honored well, but today we appreciate this honor, the friendships made along the way, the successes, the failures, the memories, too. Thank you.”

Carla and Chuck Offenburger

Chuck used his time at the mic to talk about progress. He quoted a homily by Fr Bill Brunner shortly after the Hardin Hilltop Wind Farm was commissioned in which he call the wind turbines “the seven prophets, because the winds of change are blowing across Greene County.”

He said that in 14 years leadership has turned over. “We had good people in those positions that set up a remarkable transformation in Greene County and this region. Now we have great younger people stepping up in almost all of our organizations and initiatives,” he said. “That’s part of the winds of change blowing across Greene County. I’m excited.”

He mentioned growth in bio fuels, growth of the pork industry, wind farm development (“a whole new crop, a whole new shot in the arm for us”), manufacturing, Main Street development in Jefferson, Wild Rose Casino. “We weren’t responsible for this by any means, but we’ve loved being involved in it. That’s what I tell younger people who are looking at coming here. If you want to come into a place and live in a happy place that’s fun and open to all, it’s Greene County, Iowa. Our potential in this county is unbelievable.”

He verified what Muir said, that they could have picked anywhere to live. “We picked Greene County and we couldn’t have been happier. It’s been a wonderful home for us,” he said.

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