That’s What Friends Are For

By Cynthia Petersen

What would the world be like if we didn’t have friends to support and encourage us to do our best? Fortunately, it’s a question the Hiawatha community doesn’t have to spend too much time thinking about.

Hiawatha resident, Phyllis Jones, who is a member of the Friends of the Hiawatha Public Library group, operates the Book Sale Room at the library, as well as an online book sale on their Facebook page.

The majority of the books are gently used and are from the most popular authors, but magazines, DVDs, music CDS, and magazines can be found in the room, as well.

“We carry magazines from the past few months and sell them for a quarter. If there is a particular magazine you love, we probably have it.”

Books in the book room are .50 for paperbacks and $1 for hard copy; children’s paperbacks are .25 and .50 for hard copy.

The price for items online vary, which also includes games and puzzles.

“I do my best to keep the Facebook page up-to-date,” said Jones. “The items are not kept at the library, but are stored elsewhere. I usually meet the buyers at the library to conduct business.”

“The Book Room is open when the library is open, and you pay at the front desk. We also accept donations at the front desk, as well.”

The books are donated by the library and from the public, as well as from area book stores that have too much inventory.

The group has even received old used books, such as an autographed copy of, In Cold Blood, signed by Truman Capote.

Diana Flander, president of the group, said the book sales fill in the gaps and purchases items the library’s budget isn’t able to, such as the Summer Reading Program.

“We give $2,000 a year to both the adult and the children’s programs for any items the librarians need to use outside of their budget,” said Flander. “We have also pledged $4,000 for the upcoming library expansion. We give our time, as well, and help acquire items sometimes without spending a dime.”

The group recently donated a puppet theater that one of the friends board members neighbor made.

“The children love it.”

The group meets monthly to keep tuned-in with requests that the library did not anticipate when it made up its budget, or perhaps did not have the funds for. The group also brainstorms ideas to help out the staff.

Flander said anyone who wants to learn more about the Friends of the Hiawatha Public Library are welcome to attend any of the meetings. Meetings are held the Third Tuesday of the month at 6:30 pm at the library. The next meeting will be held Feb. 21 at the library.

“We love to see new people attend,” she said.

You can join the group’s Facebook page by going to Book Friends 52233, Friends of the Hiawatha Library Books for Sale. Notifications are sent out whenever a new item is added.

Friends of Hiawatha Parks and Recreation Foundation

If you live in or near Hiawatha, chances are you have attended one of the many friendscommunity events that often take place in one of the parks or at the community center.

What you may not know is that the events are made possible, in part, thanks to the Friends of Hiawatha Parks and Recreation Foundation. The Foundation supports and promotes diversity and inclusiveness through a wide variety of programs and services in the Hiawatha community.

A variety of fundraisers throughout the year help support the Hiawatha Adventure Camp, as well as other recreation programs and park projects.
Hiawatha Adventure Camp is held for kids during the summer months and offers creative and structured play opportunities that serve as a tool to build new relationships, expose children to new experiences, and encourage fitness. These programs are available for children in Kindergarten through 8th grade.

Participants have the opportunity to go on field trips, make crafts, listen and learn from exciting speakers; participate in community service projects and various other fun activities.

The Friends of the Parks Foundation sponsors a variety of activities in Hiawatha, including Movies under the Moon, HiBRAI, 5K runs/walks, and several others.
HiBRAI, Hiawatha’s annual bike ride to Riverside, is held in August and will celebrate its 15th ride this year. The overnight excursion includes a stay at the Riverside casino, along with all the amenities the hotel has to offer.

Watch a movie in the Guthridge Park during the summer, courtesy of the Friends of the Park. Movies under the Moon will be held July 21 and Aug. 25.

New this year is a bus trip Aug. 16 to the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. Also new in 2017 is Santa’s Reindeer Run/Walk, which will be held Dec. 2 in Guthridge Park. Enjoy hot chocolate and coffee before dashing your way through the snow!

An annual membership drive will be held in February or March. For more information, visit the Hiawatha Parks & Recreation or Hiawatha Friends of the Parks Facebook pages.


Retired Linn-Mar Teacher Explores New Venture


You’re never too old to do something you’ve always wanted to do. Suanne Huffman of Marion is proof of that. At 74 years young, Suanne, a retired English teacher from Linn-Mar High School, has decided to begin a  new venture; making, printing, and distributing greeting cards nationwide.

“I just love making things, and people seem to like the things I create,” she said. “I don’t like to sit around much. Working on my projects keeps me active.”

Suanne uses clothing and other items to make upcycled art, altered books, and greeting cards. She also paints and restores shabby chic furniture, repurposes children and adults’ clothing, makes purses, pillows, jewelry, vintage linens, and “unique crafty projects of all kinds.”

“I love making the cards,” said Suanne. “I use fun little objects to decorate the outside. I add a quote, and leave the inside blank for a handwritten note. I think it’s really important to write what you feel inside to make it more personal.”

Suanne hopes to market her greeting cards nationwide.

Suanne grew up in Marion and graduated from Marion High School. She attended Iowa State Teachers College, which is now UNI.  She went on to earn her BA from Upper Iowa University in English Education, and her M.A. in English Education from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA.

“I think I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, but I wasn’t sure what kind,” she said. “I thought I might like to be a German teacher, but they didn’t offer it Upper Iowa. And then English teacher popped into my head. That’s when I realized it’s what I really wanted to do all along. It just made perfect sense. I don’t know why it took me so long to see that.”

She and her husband, Max, lived in California for seven years.  Suanne’s first teaching job was at Edgewood High School, a Los Angeles suburb.   The couple moved back to Marion, where she taught English at Linn-Mar, retiring 15 years ago.

“Both of my kids (Julie and Mace) were in my English class, and they both did fine. They didn’t get any special treatment, of course, even though my son joked about it sometimes,” she said with a chuckle.

After teaching for 30 years, Suanne decided it was time to retire. “I was getting a little burned out, I think, and I loved doing crafts, so I started making things for my friends and family.”

One day she was working on a project for her friend, Mary Campbell, when Mary suggested they open a store together.

Suanne creates art out of books; altered books
Suanne creates art out of books; altered books

The two ladies rented several rooms on the 2nd floor of The Perfect Blend in Mt. Vernon. But three years later, Suanne decided the hours were too much for her and opted to stay home and work on her projects.

She started a half-time position at The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art as a Museum Educator, which involved training docents (tour guides), developing programs and tours for schools.

Since then, Suanne has taken part in the McGowan House Artisans, Serendipity, Next Page Bookstore, the Cedar Rapids Art Museum, as well as Iowa Artisans Gallery.  Suanne also attends artisan shows in the area, including at Prairiewoods events, as well as out-of-state.

Crafting isn’t Suanne’s only interest; she is also very active in the community. She has served on several boards, including the Marion Arts Festival. She also works periodically supervising events at Lowe Park, and she and Max are both members of the Friends of the Marion Parks. 

The next few months, however, will be spent producing, marketing, and distributing the greeting cards.

“I am already talking to a printer to try to get prints of the cards sold nationally. We have also stopped at several little shops during our travels to see our daughter in California. I give them a few cards to try out and my contact information. I keep hearing, ‘I’ll let you know after the holidays,’ so I guess we’ll just wait and see.”

Suanne said she wants to keep the cards affordable, so she has decided to reprint them, rather than producing each handmade card individually. “It takes a long time to make just one card, so I would have to charge more.”

Suanne came up with the name of her business ‘Goody Two Shoes,’ in honor of a fable that explained where the term came from.

“As a variation of the Cinderella story, the fable tells of a poor orphan girl who goes through childhood with only one shoe. When she is given a complete pair by a rich gentleman, she is so happy that she tells everyone she now has two shoes … she tries to greet all she meets with a joyful heart.”

“While it might be difficult today for us to follow such a path, it emphasizes that each of us can make a contribution. In an effort to promote the true spirit of caring for others, a portion of the profits from Goody Two Shoes products are given to charity.”

The complete story can be found on Goody Two Shoe’s Facebook page,, as well as on the back of each card.

Though Suanne enjoys traveling, displaying her artwork at bazaars, and getting out in the community, she said her crafting tends to take over, and uses much of her downstairs to store all of her creations.

“I have always had a passion for crafts and to create things,” she said. “This is just something I want to do. And despite what some people think, you’re never too old to start something new.”

Suanne’s greeting cards can be found at Next Page books, The Cedar Rapids Museum Gift Store, The Perfect Blend, and Iowa Artisans Gallery.

For more information, contact Suanne at





Hiawatha Celebrates Fall

Peck’s Flower & Garden Shop, 3990 Blairs Ferry Road NE, celebrated fall in style Oct. 16, during its annual festival, which included free hayrack rides and popcorn, games, and of course, trick-or-treating.

A Hiawatha firefighter hands out tattoos at Peck’s Fall Fun Days Oct. 16.

The Hiawatha fire and police departments were also on hand to show off their cool vehicles and pass out treats.

More fall events are planned in Hiawatha, including a free dance for the special population Friday, Oct. 21, at the Hiawatha Community Center, 101 Emmons Street. The dance is sponsored by Barbers, Ect.

Hiawatha’s last farmers market of the year coincides with the city’s fall festival Sunday, Oct. 23, 11 am to 2 pm in the Guthridge Park parking lot.

This free event will feature pumpkin decorating, a costume contest for the kids (sponsored by the HiCREW Kiwanis), trick-or-treating, and other fun activities.

(For a list of area Halloween activities, visit

Kid’s Movie Night will be held Friday, Nov. 11 at the Hiawatha Community Center at 6:30 pm. This free event includes juice and popcorn. Kids are encouraged to bring their pillows and blankets, and even their favorite stuffed animal snuggle with during the featured movie, “The Angry Birds.”

The movie night is sponsored by the University of Iowa Credit Union and Hiawatha Parks & Recreation.

Fore more Hiawatha events, visit the city’s website.

Hiawatha FunFest Photos 2016

Hiawatha held its first-ever FunFest Aug. 26-27, 2016 with activities for the entire family, including a Movie under the Moon and concert in the park; a 5K Run/Walk and breakfast; bouncy houses and other fun activities! Watch the video on Hiawatha Today’s Facebook page! 

See a Penny, Pick it Up …

By Alyssa Vicente


Hiawatha has gained a new restaurant, and a little bit of “Luck,” too.

Lucky Penny, 1705 Boyson Road, opened its doors July 7, and offers the Hiawatha community an eatery that is “casual, but upscale.”

Owner, Graig Cone, is a man of many talents. In addition to Lucky Penny, Graig Cone owns Conveyor Engineering, is an an entreprenaur (he co-owns several restaurants in Cedar Rapids), and a real estate developer.

His first leap into the restaurant business began with the Black Sheep Social Club, a restaurant in downtown Cedar Rapids, sparking an interest to open Lucky Penny in the Hiawatha area.

General Manager, Mitchell Springmann, has been in the restaurant business for 20 years. While he is skilled in all areas, he said he is most passionate about bartending.

“I really enjoy being the better part of someone’s day and I always attempt to make people feel as comfortable and as welcome as I can at any establishment I work at,” said Springmann.

Lucky Penny’s menu features a variety of delicious appetizers, soups and salads, wood-fired pizzas, and several entrees to choose from. According to Springmann, the restaurant focuses on serving regional favorites and using fresh, local ingredients whenever possible. In addition to the impressive food menu, Lucky Penny is equipped with a knockout beer and cocktail menu.

“Our cocktail menu is made with all fresh-squeezed juices in-house and features seasonal selections created by our bartenders and a rotating menu of lesser known but fantastic tasting classics. We also feature 12 draft beers and 50+ bottles,” said Springmann.

Lucky Penny’s “Happy Hour” is from 3 to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. They also feature a changing soup, grilled cheese, and bratwurst special every day.

Springmann said they plan to be open on Sundays in the fall, perfect for football fans looking for a place to enjoy a beer and watch the game.

“We are possibly looking at getting OnIowa to do their Iowa Football broadcast from here,” say Springmann.

Springmann said they decided on Hiawatha for Lucky Penny because they thought it was a great place to “build a better future, raise a family, and to enjoy the simple things in life.”

“We really just wanted to open a place that people from the surrounding neighborhoods would feel welcome coming into for lunch or dinner and grab a bite to eat, catch a game, or have a drink and relax with their friends and family.”

Springmann said they are looking to adapt to the needs of the community and always open to suggestions or comments, which fits right in with their mission, “to provide the locals with a comfortable place to gather and enjoy each other’s company.”

For more information, visit their website and Like them on Facebook, and check out their website at

For more articles about Hiawatha, go to

American Pickers Coming to Eastern Iowa

Mike Wolfe, Frank Fritz, and their team are excited to return to Iowa!

They plan to film episodes of the hit series American Pickers throughout the region this summer.

American Pickers is a documentary series that explores the fascinating world of antique ‘picking’ on History.

The hit show follows Mike and Frank, two of the most skilled pickers in the business, as they hunt for America’s most valuable antiques.

They are always excited to find sizeable, unique collections and learn the interesting stories behind them.

As they hit the back roads from coast to coast, Mike and Frank are on a mission to recycle and rescue forgotten relics.

Along the way, the Pickers want to meet characters with remarkable and exceptional items.

The pair hopes to give historically significant objects a new lease on life, while learning a thing or two about America’s past along the way.

Mike and Frank have seen a lot of rusty gold over the years and are always looking to discover something they’ve never seen before. They are ready to find extraordinary items and hear fascinating tales about them.

American Pickers is looking for leads and would love to explore your hidden treasure.

If you or someone you know has a large, private collection or accumulation of antiques that the Pickers can spend the better part of the day looking through, send us your name, phone number, location and description of the collection, with photos, to:, or call 855-old-rust.

More Hiawatha articles at or find us on Facebook!

Hiawatha Offers a Summer of Fun

Can you believe it’s already halfway through summer? The time is flying by,  but Hiawatha still has so many fun activities planned!

Hiawatha Library

There are activities for every age group at the Hiawatha Library, 150 W. Willman St! Here are a few highlights:

The Hiawatha Library invites all students going into 6th all the way to 12th grade to read, “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” and then come see the movie with us July 19 beginning at 1 pm. Snacks will be provided. There will be a discussion on the differences between the book and the movie afterwards.

Calling all Middle Schoolers! Those going into the 6th, 7th, or 8th grade, can attend the Middle School Makers at Hiawatha Library July 12 from 12-1:30 pm. We’ll have fun making crafts and eating pizza!

All ages are welcome to meet Fire Chief Mike and his friends on Thursday, July 14, at 12 pm. They will share stories and fire safety tips. Families are encouraged to bring a sack lunch and a blanket to sit on. And of course, don’t forget your camera for firetruck photo opportunities.

Magician Rick Eugene returns to the Hiawatha Public Library Monday, July 25, at 1 pm. Be prepared to be dazzled with his amazing tricks! Space is limited.

Come by the Hiawatha Public Library for our big end of the year celebration Saturday, July 30 at 11:30 am-2 pm! There will be games for kids such as t-ball, football, and tennis on the lawn. There will of course delicious food, and Darrin Crow will mesmerize us with various stories called, “Races into Summer Reading.”

All of these activities and others are free of charge! Visit the Hiawatha website for more information 

Hiawatha Parks & Recreation

Hiawatha Farmers Markets: Hiawatha now has two farmers markets that provide a variety of fresh produce, bakery, and other items.

The weekly farmers market is held every Sunday in the 10th Avenue parking lot in Guthridge Park from 11 am to 2 pm.

The weekday market is held the second and fourth Wednesday of the month from 4-6 pm in the city hall parking lot, 101 Emmons Street.

Movie Under the Moon: Hiawatha Parks and Recreation along with the Friends of Hiawatha Parks and Recreation Foundation are featuring 2 outdoor movies located in Guthridge Park, July 15 and Aug. 26, in Brown Pavilion.

Relax and enjoy a night with family and friends. The movies begin at dusk (around 8:30 pm) and free popcorn will be available, courtesy of the Hiawatha Friends Foundation. Bring your blankets, chairs and coolers and enjoy a movie under the moon!



Summer Concert Series: Beginning Aug. 5 at 6 pm, and every  Friday night in August, enjoy the beautiful sounds of a variety of local bands! Hi-Crew Kiwanis will be on hand for those who would like to purchase snacks. Blankets, chairs, and coolers are welcome! 

The concerts are sponsored by the University of Iowa Community Credit Union. 

Due to the Iowa Smoke Free Air Act, smoking is prohibited during Concerts in the Park.

Touch a Truck: Come to Guthridge Park before the concert Aug. 5 (4-6 pm) and have fun with trucks!

This community event provides families with the opportunity to learn about and explore trucks, construction vehicles, and public safety equipment that they know and love! Kids of all ages will climb, run around, sit in and even honk horns of many types of trucks and vehicles!

Bring a non perishable food donation to help support HACAP.

HIBRAI: Mark your Calendar for HIBRAI, Hiawatha’s Bike Ride Across Iowa, Aug. 13-14!

Join other bicycle enthusiasts on a bike ride to Riverside Casino & Golf Resort, where you will enjoy a fun and relaxing evening, before riding back to Hiawatha the next day. The price of registration is $79.95, plus a $45 registration fee ($60 after August 5).

Register at or mail in payment to: Friends of Hiawatha, 101 Emmons Street, Hiawatha, Iowa 52233.

4th Annual Hiawatha Police K9 Unit Golf Outing: Have fun and help out a great cause while you’re at it! The Hiawatha Police Department is holding their 4th Annual Golf Tournament  Aug. 14 at 1 pm, at Hunters Ridge Golf Course in Marion.

The registration fee of $85 for a 4-person team includes entrance fee, dinner, and a demonstration of the department’s K9 Unit.

Hiawatha FunFest: Hiawatha’s answer to F-U-N! This new annual festival will begin Aug. 26 with a concert at 6 pm in Guthridge Park, followed by a Movie under the Moon at Brown Pavilion. The fun continues the next morning with a 5K run/walk, followed by a parade, and activities for all ages, including inflatable’s, food, live music, and fireworks. It will be a weekend filled with fun activities!

For more information visit Hiawatha’s website at