In the News

Outside Company to Dredge Upper Middle Raccoon

A company that provides dredging services across the United States has been hired by Lake Panorama RIZ to dredge in the Middle Raccoon River channel between the lake’s upper basin and the Fansler Bridge. Dredge America equipment began arriving in late September, including a crane used to assemble the company’s dredge, pipe and other items.

By Susan Thompson

In 1971, just a year after Lake Panorama was formed, developer Mid-Iowa Lakes hired Betts and Beer Construction of Adair to dredge several coves. Ever since then, dredging has continued as the main line of defense to keep Lake Panorama from silting in.

While periodic dredging is done in some coves, the primary area of focus always has been the Middle Raccoon River channel between the Fansler Bridge and Lake Panorama’s upper basin. 

Creativity of Lake Panorama Woman Manifests in Many Ways

Donna Beeler took this photo using the timer on a camera, to provide to the publisher of her first book. She ended up using it on the back cover of all three books she has written.

By Susan Thompson

Donna Beeler was born 84 years ago in Madison County, on the family farm where her father and grandparents lived. A resident of Lake Panorama since 2000, Beeler’s life story is filled with adventures, fueled by a competitive spirit and the joy she experiences creating things.  

The youngest of three girls, Beeler’s sisters were five and nine years older. “I learned to hold my own at an early age,” she says. “And since I was the last chance for a boy, my dad pretty much adopted me as his son. I had him, my uncle and a hired man to help teach me.” 

Lost Ring + Social Media = Personal Connections

Shown returning the lost wedding ring to Karen Sievers are Scott and Jamie Schoenleber, and their children, Tyson, Brody, and Kenna.

By Susan Thompson 

On Sunday, September 15, Jim and Karen Sievers drove from Lake Panorama to Van Meter to watch one of their grandsons play soccer. While there, Karen dropped her wedding ring in the grass where cars were parking. 

“Jim and I knew exactly where and returned twice that afternoon,” Karen says. “Each time families from Van Meter joined us on our hands and knees, combing through the grass. I know a ring is a thing, but the symbol of 44 years is tough to part with.”

Third Lake Panorama Wetland Nears Completion

This photo, taken August 15, shows the earthmoving equipment needed to create the nine-acre Burchfield/Smith wetland pool.

By Susan Thompson  

The key focus of Lake Panorama’s Rural Improvement Zone (RIZ) always will be dredging. Yet attention in recent years has turned to reducing the flow of both sediment and nutrients into the lake by installing small wetlands to drainage areas. 

In the late 1990s, Iowa State University researchers began studying the use of wetlands to slow water runoff from farm fields. They found these strategically placed wetlands could reduce the amount of nitrates moving into streams and rivers by 40 to 70 percent. 

Guthrie Center Chamber President Talks about Growth

Kristen Crouthamel

By Susan Thompson 

Kristen Crouthamel is serving during 2019 as president of the Guthrie Center Chamber. A native of Boone County, she attended college and worked in the Des Moines area for 17 years before moving in 2013 near Monteith, and then to Guthrie Center in 2017. 

Since 2014, Crouthamel has been the financial advisor at GCSB Investment Center with offices in both Panora and Guthrie Center. She tries to be involved equally in both communities, and in fact, was president of the Panora Chamber in 2018. Here she talks about recent business growth in Guthrie Center. 

Book Review: Lake Panorama - Devoted Chronicle of First 50 Years


Susan Thompson, a seasoned journalist with deep ties to Lake Panorama, brings a gifted eye for detail and passion for Guthrie County and its people, current and former residents, dreamers and doers, to an exhaustively reported book, “Lake Panorama: The First 50 Years.”

The book, now available for sale, brings to life what former Gov. Terry Branstad, who has maintained a residence on the lake during his service as ambassador to China, describes as one of the more inspiring places in Iowa.

Sales of Lake Panorama History Book Continue

Susan Thompson, author of Lake Panorama – The First 50 Years, prepares to sign a book for Janet Luing, while Gary Soreide waits in line. The book celebration also included historical displays and a short program.

About 100 people attended the August 20 celebration of a new book about Lake Panorama. Lake Panorama – The First 50 Years is a full-color, hardcover 112-page book that includes both historic and contemporary photos. Chapters in the book describe six decades of planning and development. 

The event was held at the Lake Panorama National conference center. During the first hour, attendees purchased books, viewed historical displays, and talked with Susan Thompson, the book’s author. Thompson also signed books on request. 

Friends of Lake Panorama Begins Research on New Amenities

By Susan Thompson 

Friends of Lake Panorama is a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity dedicated to improving recreational amenities at Lake Panorama. Major projects so far have been a playground at Sunset Beach and sports courts at Boulder Beach. A $473,000 estate gift led to significant improvements at Panorama West. Donations also have funded renovations in the LPN dining room, memorial benches, and a rain garden.