Posted 12/7/2021By Susan Thompson Lake Panorama Times
Friends of Lake Panorama is a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity dedicated to supporting recreational amenities at Lake Panorama. The first meeting of the Friends of Lake Panorama board of directors was Dec. 3, 2013. An application for nonprofit status was filed with the IRS in January 2014, and approved in July of that year.
The charity is governed by a volunteer, seven-member board of directors. In this month’s Q&A, Jan Reinicke, Friends president, talks about current projects and future goals.Q. Let’s start with a look back at some of the major projects Friends of Lake Panorama has helped make possible in the last seven years.
A. With the help of the LPA community being central to our success, I believe it’s an impressive list of projects completed in the very short time we’ve been in existence.
Our first major project was a destination playground at Sunset Beach. It was a partnership project, completed in 2016, with Friends raising $80,000 and LPA contributing $50,000. We built upon that success with our second large project being the sports courts at Boulder Beach providing fans of basketball, pickleball and tennis many hours of fun and exercise. It was also a partnership project with the LPA.
Our next project in 2017 was a transformation of the Panorama West golf course thanks to an estate gift of $473,00 from James and Joyce McLuen. It allowed the addition of many improvements, but also challenged Friends to establish a protocol for handling future estate gifts. It was a generous gift by longtime lake residents deciding to support something they loved by including a bequest in their will. We’re hoping it encourages others to think about the future impact they can have on recreational amenities at Lake Panorama.
Another major project completed this year was a $70,000 fundraising campaign for new playground equipment at both Shady and Boulder Beaches. As always, the LPA provided in-kind contributions of assistance with installation, oversight and maintenance. Q. Tell us about the progress on the Lake Panorama Dog Park.
A. The possibility of building a dog park at Lake Panorama had been discussed for many years, even before Friends of Lake Panorama existed. Because the idea had received strong support from a segment of the LPA membership, in 2019 the Friends board recruited volunteers to serve on a dog park task force to study location, design, costs and rules.
That group shared their proposal with the Friends board in 2020, which endorsed the plan and sent it to the LPA board of directors for consideration. At its August meeting, the LPA board agreed Friends could raise funds for a dog park. A $50,000 goal was set, and fundraising began in October 2020.
The members of the dog park task force took a high-profile role once the project was approved by the Friends and LPA boards. What resulted was a group of people who recruited other dog lovers to the cause and successfully organized a fundraising event last fall, raising $6,225 with a dog walk, golf tournament, raffle, auction and reception.
This past summer, the same group raised more than $3,700 with a garage sale of donated items. In October, the group hosted a dog walk that raised $325. In November, committee members hosted a Furry Family Photos event, bringing in donations of $1,266.
Private donations continued at a strong pace, and $45,000 had been raised by this past summer. The fourth Friends Beach Ball was held July 30, with a profit of $25,000. The Friends board committed $5,000 of those profits to reach the $50,000 goal for the dog park.
This has been a very successful fundraising model for Friends. In addition to the many fundraising events held, the networking among task force members and supporters in the community resulted in many donations coming in faster than for many of the other projects we’ve sponsored.
Most importantly, it demonstrates what a small group of committed people with some well-defined goals can accomplish to make their community a better place for them and their furry friends.
I’m happy to report much of the dog park construction is complete, with only the entrance gates and a small shelter over the entrance left to build. Grass was seeded this fall, and has emerged, but additional seeding will be needed in the spring. Two trees have been planted. The LPA will be installing a parking area and two picnic benches. Friends continues to accept donations for the dog park to purchase additional trees, and perhaps some benches, plus help with ongoing maintenance costs.
The park will be open to LPA members and their guests. Opening will take place sometime in 2022, and will depend on how soon the turfgrass is fully established.Q. What other projects are in the works?
A. Friends will be completing two other projects in 2022, using funds from the 2021 Beach Ball. Enhancements to an existing trail near the Panorama West golf course are underway. The existing trail is used by the Panorama School District as a cross-country track site. A task force of volunteers has developed plans that include marking a portion of this trail and designating it as the “official” Panorama West Trail.
For safety reasons, and in compliance with current LPA rules, users of this 2.5-mile trail, which includes a 1.5 mile out-and-back section, and an optional 1-mile loop, may include hikers, runners, cross-country skiers and dogwalkers, but no motorized vehicles.
The newly marked trail will wind through grassy open areas and timber but will not cross the golf course or roadways. A trail map will be placed on an informational kiosk that will double as a trail head sign. The trail head, with limited parking, will be located at the end of the Nicholl Drive cul-de-sac just east of the Panorama West clubhouse.
Low profile 4x4 recycled plastic lumber posts with directional signage, recreational symbols, and distance markers, plus two recycled plastic benches, will be installed along the multi-use portion of the trail.
Another project made possible by the 2021 Beach Ball is the addition of three swings to the Sunset Beach playground. These will be installed in spring 2022.
Fundraising is underway for two new projects. One is a half-court basketball at Sunset Beach. The court will be on a concrete pad 40-feet wide by 50-feet deep. Sport Construction Midwest, headquartered in Adel, will install a new Goalsetter MVP hoop, place tile on the concrete, and paint half-court lines. A 10-foot-high fence and one gate will complete this project.
Mark and Karen Einck, who matched donations of $25,000 for the Boulder Beach basketball court, have pledged to match up to $20,000 for the Sunset Beach court. It is hoped $40,000 can be raised for construction in 2022. Donors of $500 or more will be recognized on a sign at the court.
The other new project involves developing a proposal for a multi-use recreational area on Lake Panorama’s south shore. At its June 2021 meeting, the LPA board of directors unanimously approved a motion to allow Friends to develop this “recreational concept.”
A volunteer task force is working on a proposal to take to the LPA board in the spring. The proposal will include a disc golf course and a walking/hiking trail, with additional recreational amenities considered. The plan will need approval from the LPA board of directors before work begins, but Friends is accepting donations for this effort now.
One final project I want to mention. In the last two years, four high-quality metal benches have been placed in various locations at both Sunset and Boulder Beach. Locations at all three beaches have been identified for additional metal benches, either stationary or swinging. The current cost of one of these benches on a concrete slab is about $3,200.
These benches can be purchased either as a memorial for a loved one, or by those who want to leave their mark on Lake Panorama while they are alive. The benches include signs that can be engraved with up to four lines of text.
We are not conducting a general fundraising campaign for benches. Instead, this “Benches at Beaches” project targets individuals, couples and families interested in sponsoring a bench. We hope to find sponsors for several benches before installation, which would mean a cost savings on concrete pours and reduced shipping costs.
So far this fall, Friends has received donations from two couples for two new swinging benches, one at Shady Beach and one at Boulder Beach, which will be installed in 2022. Anyone interested in discussing the sponsorship of a bench at one of Lake Panorama’s three beaches can email email@example.com
, or call Susan Thompson at 515-240-6536.Q. What are the various ways people can donate to Friends?
A. First, I want to remind everyone that all donations are tax-deductible, and donors receive a confirmation letter for tax purposes. Statistics indicate a high percentage of charitable contributions are made in the last few weeks of the year so we’re looking forward to additional contributions coming in to support the basketball half-court at Sunset Beach, the South Shore Recreational Concept, the dog park, and the Friends general fund.
There are several options to donate. One easy way is to clip the coupon from the Friends ad in this issue of the Lake Panorama Times, fill it out and mail it with a check to Friends of Lake Panorama, P.O .Box 488, Panora, IA 50216. Or simply include a note with your check so we know how you want your donation used, and mail to the same address.
On the Friends website — friendsoflakepanorama.org — there is a donation form that provides more details. This form can be printed, completed and mailed with a check. Donations also can be made by credit card on the Friends website.
Donations of securities (stocks, mutual funds, etc.) are welcome, as are direct IRA qualified charitable distributions — for donors older than age 70 ½ who are required to take forced IRA distributions. There are potential tax-saving benefits when considering either of these direct donation strategies. For information, contact Kristen Crouthamel, financial advisor at GCSB Investment Center, at 641-755-2799 or firstname.lastname@example.org
.Q. Any additional thoughts you’d like to share?
A. Friends of Lake Panorama is the perfect opportunity to forge a strong partnership with the Lake Panorama Association to improve the recreational opportunities here at the lake. Working together, we have the potential to improve the quality of life for current and future residents. While the LPA’s focus, out of necessity, needs to be on safety, security and infrastructure needs, Friends of Lake Panorama can be a catalyst and support group focusing on the amenities our community members desire.
Our working relationship with the LPA is a good model as we move forward. The LPA board has provided financial contributions when possible and many in-kind contributions. LPA staff have spent many hours helping make each of the projects come to be a part of life at Lake Panorama.
We are proud of our commitment to engage LPA community members in establishing priorities and continuing our work to provide additional amenities. The volunteer committee working on developing a concept for recreational amenities on the South Shore is another good example of seeking input from community members with expertise and commitment.
We will be doing outreach for the support needed to complete the next phase of projects and hope you’ll include Friends in your priorities. We’d like to widen our fundraising base in the community and get new first-time donors on board. We appreciate your support and look forward to working with you to build a strong Friends organization for the future.
That future support can include marking your calendars now for the fifth Beach Ball on July 22, 2022. This is our primary fundraising event in addition to the individual donations we solicit throughout the year. It’s always a fun event so save the date and plan to attend. More information will be available in the spring.