Local volunteer honored at state capitol

Each year, the Marshalltown Central Business District nominates a volunteer of the year. This year, Dan Engesser had the person he planned to nominate already picked out when the group approached him.

“I was basically told ‘don’t bother,'” Engesser said. “So I knew something was up.”

Main Street Iowa recognized Engesser and the other volunteers of the year from around the state at a conference May 17 in Des Moines. Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds attended the ceremony. In a Main Street Iowa press release, Branstad lauded Main Street Iowa programs, saying they contribute to the economic vitality of large and small communities alike.

Jenny Etter, CBD director, said in the two years he has been volunteering since his retirement, Engesser has tirelessly logged hundreds of hours working on efforts such as planting the berms downtown and installing bike racks and banners on light posts. He is always soliciting volunteers, she said.

“It really keeps me moving,” Engesser said. “I got a lot of different pots going.”

Engesser is the chair of the CBD’s design committee. From public art initiatives and transforming the alley between Tremont and Apgar Photo Studio into a pedestrian walkway to other efforts like keeping the streets clean through Cleaniac and repairing garbage cans, Engesser contributed 570 volunteer hours in 2012.

Etter said the CBD never lacks somebody to honor as volunteer of the year. Although the CBD tries to focus on a different area each year, she said the choice this year was easy.

“He is crazy busy with this stuff,” she said. “He is a swell guy.”

Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority, was also on hand during the presentation. According the press release, Durham believes Main Street programs epitomize public-private partnerships. Taxpayers are getting their money’s worth, she wrote in the release.

Still, Engesser said the nomination caught him off guard. Engesser was one of 48 volunteers to receive the distinction.

“It’s very humbling. It’s not something I expected. I was very surprised when I heard,” Engesser said.