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Walnut, Iowa History

1970 to present

Any references to "today" are accurate up to May 2021.

1970 - Barb Davis ends her career at WHS with 1,955 points in girls basketball, 2nd only to Carmen Cordes 1955-1958 (2,223 pts).  She scored 66 in one game, and averaged 49.5 per game in the 69-70 season, good for 3rd in state that year.

1971 - Walnut High School joins the new Western Iowa Conference for all sports and activities.  The WIC is a combination of the previous Tri-County Conference and Southwest Iowa Conference.  The new conference includes AvoHa, Carson-Macedonia, Elk Horn-Kimballton, Griswold, Iowa School for the Deaf, Missouri Valley, Oakland, Shelby-Tennant, Treynor, Tri-Center, Underwood, and Walnut.

1971 - Walnut celebrates its Centennial July 2-4.  

1972 - The old Peace Church on Walnut street is torn down, and a new church is built next to the park on the old Osler track and barn property.

1972 - Walnut fields a high school wrestling team for the first time.

1973 - Walnut's viaduct, which had shifted on its foundations, is declared unsafe by the Iowa Highway Commission.  It is taken down and a paved road put in its place.

1974 - The Villager Restaurant opens north of the Walnut I-80 interchange.  Roger and Betty Kubik from Avoca go on to operate and eventually own the restaurant for 30 consecutive years, making them the longest-running single restaurant / cafe owner in Walnut history.

1976 - WHS wrestler Mark Drake qualifies for the Iowa High School State Tournament, Walnut's first state qualifier.  The next year, both he and Jim Blum qualify and place at state, Mark earning 6th place and Jim 3rd place.  In 1978, Jim Stuart, a freshman, qualifies for the state tournament.

1978 - Mrs. Floyd Knop (Doreen) of rural Hancock opens Mount Vernon Antiques in downtown Walnut, the first antique store in town.  By 1982, there are 10 antique stores in town, including the Cal Dyer Auction Co.

1979 - Volleyball becomes a varsity sport at Walnut High School.

1979 - WHS's Larry Johnk is crowned state class C champion at the State Track and Field meet in Des Moines, in the 110m high hurdles, in a time of 15.01 secs.  He repeats the feat the next year.

1979 - Another addition is completed to the school, to add administrative offices and a new Industrial Arts shop.

1979 - A new Stromberg Carlson digital switch is installed by the Walnut Telephone Co, the first digital switch in Iowa.

1981 - Nancy Blum, senior forward at WHS, is named Captain of the Omaha World-Herald's All-Southwest Iowa basketball team.

1982 - Walnut Telephone Co expands into cellular, and service commences in April 1985.

1982 - The first annual Antique Christmas Walk is held downtown, the brainchild of Mrs. Pam (Knop) Schirm.  It is a resounding success, as reported by the Historical Museum's register of visitors.  It is still an annual event in town.

1983 - Walnut's high school football team qualifies for the state tournament for the first time.  The head coach is Earl Harberts.  

1983 - Walnut's high school joins the Rolling Hills Conference for all sports and activities, which matches it up with schools of the same size as opposed to the previous conference.

1983 - Walnut's high school girls basketball team qualifies for the state tournament for the 2nd time in its history.  They lose to Des Moines North-Tech in the first round.  The head coach is Rod Hoegh.  The Des Moines high school had enrollment of >2,000 students, while Walnut had 87.

1983 - Holli Harberts is crowned champion of the high jump at the Iowa State Track & Field meet.  Her jump of 5'91/2" is still fifth best all-time.  Harberts was named the Omaha World-Herald's Female Athlete of the Year for Southwest Iowa.

1983 - Cable Television is offered by the Walnut Telephone Co to town customers.  12 channels are available, which would expand to 24 channels by 1995.

1983 - Our Savior Lutheran Church is organized and incorporated in Walnut.  President is Neal Smith.  They would build a new church in 1984 across from Peace Haven.

1984 - The Optimists Club is organized in Walnut, a service group to benefit youth.  The first president is Doug Matthies.  It is still in operation today.

1984 - Land is purchased adjacent to Veteran's Memorial Park to put in a softball and little league field, and the project is completed by the end of the year.

1985 - A vision for the future is published in the Walnut Bureau, encouraging the town to pursue a new industry - Tourism.  Reference is made to the formation of a new development group underway, and our main street being renamed Antique Lane, with exit signs on I-80 noting the name.  The editorial is signed by Eldon Ranney.

1987 - Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signs the proclamation designating Walnut officially as "Iowa's Antique City".  I-80 exit signs reflect the name change to Antique City Drive (formerly Central Street).

1989 - Deven Harberts, a 1984 graduate of WHS, signs an undrafted free agent contract with the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League after a successful college career playing for the Iowa Hawkeyes..

1989 - The State of Iowa passes legislation which allows students to open enroll at schools outside their home district.  The district of residence must pay the receiving district the state cost per pupil plus a teacher supplement amount.

1990 - A new larger fire station is constructed on west Pearl Street, at the site of the old Green Bay Lumber Co.

1990 - The Walnut school board approves a football and track sharing agreement between Walnut and Elk Horn/Kimballton, to begin in the 1991 season.  The team would go on to be known as the Walnut-EHK Knights.  The sharing agreement for football is abandoned in 1998 when both schools field new 8-man football teams.

1991 - New old-style street lights are installed, funded entirely by donations.

1991 - The Optimists Club completes construction of the new Welcome Center on Highland Street where the old fire station was located.

1991 - The Walnut Creek Historical Society completes renovation of the old Masonic Lodge and relocates from the library to the new site.

1991 - A new playground structure is completed on the school grounds, the product of nearly 5,000 donated hours by Walnut's citizens. It is torn down in 2015. 

1992 - Heather Schirm leads the state in rebounding, at 13.1 per game, and is the only Walnut player listed in the IGHSAU basketball history books to this day.

1993 - The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union switches girls basketball from a six-player to a five-player structure.

1993 - The Walnut-EHK Knights qualify for the state tournament in football.  They repeat in 1994.  Ron Hamilton is co-coach.

1993 - The Optimists Club hosts the first annual Antique City Car Show.  147 entries show up.  The show continues as an annual event today.

1993 - The Walnut Creek Historical Society opens a 2nd museum site, the recently relocated Monroe Twp country school, on east Highland Street.

1995 - Walnut's baseball team qualifies for the state tournament for the first time.  The coaches are Bob Gross and Denny Book.  They would go on to qualify for state in 1997, 2004 and 2005.

1998 - Larry Dant of Walnut is drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 21st round of the amateur baseball draft.

1998 - Walnut High School joins 6 other teams in western Iowa to convert to 8-man football, a new format adopted by the IHSAA.  Curtis Osborn is our first 8-man coach.  We would go on to qualify for the state tournament in 2004, 2005, and 2007 in 8-man football, with Ron Hamilton and Alan Sorensen as coaches.

1999 - Walnut senior Josh Abel hits 20 home runs for the season, easily a school record.

1999 - Walnut's school builds a large addition to its facility, adding a new gymnasium, pre-school, locker rooms, and several classrooms.  The addition, which adds 22,500 square feet, cost $1.8 million.

2000 - The WHS boys basketball team qualifies for the state tournament, the school's first and only trip to state.  The team is coached by Jon Peterson.

2003 - Walnut's A Cubs (formerly Midgets) win the state Legion tournament in Walnut, Legion Post 422's only championship in its 70 year history.  The coach is Larry Jacobsen, who coached Legion Ball for 22 years in Walnut.

2003 - A new water tower is constructed at the park, which holds 200,000 more gallons of water than the previous one.  The total cost of the project is $565,000.

2003 - Dale Lynch, who taught at WHS for 36 years, dies in a hunting accident.  A scholarship is started in his name, and an annual alumni weekend is held from 2004 to 2015, raising more than $120,000 for high school scholarships and school improvements.

2004 - Walnut hosts its first and only state tournament football game, when they defeat Farragut in a come-from-behind 51-44 victory at Veteran's Memorial Park.

2004 - Tyler Blum of Walnut is crowned champion at 215 pounds at the state wrestling tournament.  He is the son of Jim Blum, who placed 3rd in state in 1977.  Walnut's boys wrestled for Atlantic that year.  Tyler would qualify for state in 2003 and 2005 as well, placing 3rd in 2005.

2006 - The Alec Mertz Playground is opened at Fireman's Park, in memory of Alec, son of Greg and Michelle Mertz, who passed away from cancer at the age of 10.

2008 - MidAmerican Energy announces plans to develop a wind farm near Walnut.  In the end, 102 huge wind turbines dot the landscape around Walnut, generating 153 megawatts.

2010 - Walnut's Walk of Honor and Eagle Monument is opened at the park, a memorial to honor all veterans of the armed forces.

2010 - Walnut's population is 783 per official census records.

2010 - Walnut's third baseball field is built at Veteran's Memorial Park.  It is designed as a little league and softball field, and is named Logan's Little Field, in memory of Logan Blum, son of Rick and Gwen Blum, who died of a car crash at the age of 20.

2011 - Walnut's Splash Pad is opened at the park.

2012 - Walnut competes in its last high school competition of any kind during the baseball districts at Woodbine, losing 10-1 to Logan-Magnolia.  All sports would be played as part of a whole-grade sharing agreement with AHST for 2012-13.

2014 - Walnut graduates its last senior class, with 7 class members.  The high school is closed.

2014 - The Walnut Bureau publishes its last edition December 25th, after being in business 136 years.

2014 - Walnut grad Mitch Osborn ('80) is inducted into the Iowa High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame.  Through the 2019 season and 35 years of coaching basketball, Osborn ranks 4th in Iowa history with 689 wins, 18 state tournament appearances and 3 championships at Elk Horn-Kimballton, Pomeroy-Palmer and Harlan Community schools.  He is nominated for National Coach of the Year in 2017, and is still the head coach at Harlan.

2016 - Walnut's school closes at the end of May.  Our district becomes part of the new AHSTW (Avoca) district.  The new district has no plans for the Walnut buildings or facilities, and retains AHST's colors and mascot, the Vikings.  Thus ends 144 years of education in Walnut.

2016 - The Marne & Elk Horn Telephone Company purchases the Walnut Telephone Company and its subsidiary Walnut Communications.  Marne-Elk Horn brand name and logo are introduced in 2018, ending 101 years of Walnut Telephone Co. 

2017 - The Walnut Community Center opens in the former school buildings, which were purchased by the city from AHSTW School District.  The north building (1951 addition) is razed the previous year.  A foundation is created, operated by volunteers, to assist in programming and fundraising.

2018 - A new well 2,600 feet deep, accessing the Jordan Aquifer, is completed at a total cost of $1.9 million.  Through grants reducing the overall city cost, the average cost per customer is projected to increase only $12 per month.

2018 - The Downtown Revitalization Streetscape Project is completed, which renovates the facades of most of the downtown business houses.  The entire project cost $1.1 million.

2019 - AmVets Post #45 hosts the 37th annual Walnut Antique Show in June.  The commander and lead organizer is Gene Larsen.

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