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New gates keep a memory alive

  • New gates, built by FFA students, were recently put up at an entrance to the Floyd County Fairgrounds, in memory of Debra Pennington. (Press photo by James Grob.)

  • Brayton Quade, Landon Luft, Chase Crooks, Cindy Snell, Bruce Pennington, Blake Frascht, Brady Frascht, Max Deeter, and Drew Staudt stand in front of the updated gates at the Floyd County Fairgrounds. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • New gates, built by FFA students, were recently put up at an entrance to the Floyd County Fairgrounds, in memory of Debra Pennington. (Press photo by James Grob.)

By James Grob, jgrob@charlescitypress.com

Some students in Bret Spurgin’s advanced welding class gave a fresh and much-needed update to some memorial gates.

The northwest front access to the Floyd County Fairgrounds has a spiffy-looking new entrance, compliments of some handy young welders and the family of Bruce Pennington.

“The gates were just old and they needed to be replaced,” said Spurgin, who is Charles City High School FFA instructor. “For a memorial, you want something to look nice. We needed something nice there, and I think the kids did an awesome job on it. I think they look really good.”

The gates were initially donated by the Pennington family and placed at that location in 1977, in memory of Debra Ann Pennington, who died in 1976 at the age of 18. She had been a recent graduate of Osage High School and had a steer she was going to show at the county fair. Her sisters, Cindy and Julie, showed the steer in her absence.

“We wanted to do something at the fairgrounds to honor her, so we actually showed her steer at the county fair that year, and used the proceeds from that to build the gate,” said Cindy Snell, Debra’s sister, who now lives in Norwalk and is an ag teacher at Waukee. “She was 18 and always active in 4H and very involved in the country fair, so we wanted to do something special to honor her with that.”

Spurgin and fellow instructor Jim Lundberg approached Snell and told her the gate needed a little updating. She and the rest of the Pennington family thought it was a good idea, and paid for the new entrance.

“It was wonderful to see that the students were doing the planning and the creating and the welding work,” Snell said. “It was great to see that it was a student project, and it was fun to see that it was completed before the county fair.”

The entrance reads “Floyd County Fair” on one side and “America’s County Fair” on the other. Students involved in the construction included Brayton Quade, Landon Luft, Chase Crooks, Blake Frascht, Brady Frascht, Max Deeter, Drew Staudt, Tanner Heitz, Nick Ritzman and Brent Meyer.

The students worked with Ben Rottinghaus at Thor Manufacturing in Charles City to cut out the lettering in the gate.

“I was real impressed with the way the gates were made,” said Bruce Pennington, Debra’s father, who served on the fair board for about 15 years. “I think it’s quite an addition to the entry to the fairgrounds.

Bruce and Cindy both said that it’s good to see the memory of Debra live on.

“The gate is beautiful. It’s really nicely done,” Snell said. “It promotes the fair, so when people glance at it, they can see the Floyd County Fair sign. I think it was great work done by the students.”

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