Welcome to Villisca.com - Villisca is a small, rural community nestled in the hills of southwest Iowa. We are a community of people with diverse interests and backgrounds; a community of individualists; and certainly a community with a unique history. We have a story to tell and we hope as you visit the various pages on this website, you will get to know us better and learn more about making this a great place to call home, to grow a business, to visit.
by Susie Enarson
Since 1980, this large pig, purchased and placed by the Villisca Reno Smith FFA Chapter, has greeted those arriving at or driving past Villisca. It is common to see people taking advantage of a photo opportunity beside him.
There has recently been a plaque mounted on the base of the pig to explain why it is there. The pig was never officially named, so this past winter, Elinor Brown and Susie Enarson visited the City Council meeting and petitioned to have the pig named “Willard” in honor of the theme of the 1988 Heritage Days. At that time, NBC weatherman, Willard Scott, was invited to attend Villisca Heritage Days and, thereby, to save a real pig called “Little Willard” from the fate of all pigs. The live pig was donated by Dirk Dunn and cared for by young Kyle Stein. There was a lot of publicity and Carolyn Gage, former Villisca Review publisher, took this little pig to many places to have him photographed with various ‘celebrities’. Scott did not attend Heritage Days, but he held up the green t-shirt with a picture of Willard the Pig on it two times, so the promotion was deemed a success. It was a lot of fun, and after the event was over, Enarson and Gage took the pig to the Montgomery County Fair Open Class Swine Show and entered as a ‘pen of three!’ So, in honor of that little pig, and with the approval of the Villisca City Council, on Saturday, July 5, 2014, the ‘Villisca Pig’ was christened ‘Willard’ by Brown and Enarson.
VILLISCA COMMUNITY GARDEN
To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.
- Audrey Hepburn
There are several opportunities for people to be involved in the community garden project. Participants can have their own garden space or volunteer to help in the community garden area. Garden spaces will be $25 per year; this will include a $10 certificate to purchase plants locally, tools, and water usage. Produce will be used by the individual or donated to community projects such as the food pantry. Plans are in the works for a farmers market as well. Sponsors are welcome to assist with purchase of supplies and maintaining the site. For further information and questions, you may contact Richard Mullen (712-826-4111), Kari Bloom (712-826-2426), or contact Lee Haidsiak (712-826-8472).
The new owners of the Armory are seeking input from the public on the potential use(s) of the Armory to serve Villisca. They have a short survey as a tool in their discovery. Click here to go to that survey. They will be at the Armory during the Heritage Days weekend when they will welcome visitors and additional input.
Villisca Connections is now a group on Facebook and you're invited and encouraged to join the group. The purpose of the group is to provide a way to keep people informed on a daily basis of events and happenings in Villisca, to expand awareness of life in and around Villisca and to increase community connections, to open doors to conversation.
A Look at our Town
In many ways Villisca is typical of many of the small rural communities that dot the Iowa landscape. The smaller school population allows our students to participate in as many school and extra-curricular activities as they choose. Our class sizes are small enough that our teachers are still able to take a personal interest in the students. Our students experience excellence in education through our highly qualified teachers and through additional opportunities of online classes and through classes at our community colleges for which the students receives high school and college credits. The students receive support from throughout the community. Our young people and senior citizens can walk the community without the fear of threats or of being mugged. Friends and neighbors and even strangers provide support in times of triumph and/or tragedy.
While we have many similarities to other rural communities, like our name, in many ways, there is only one Villisca. We are a community of people with diverse interests and backgrounds; a community of individualists; and certainly a community with a unique history. We have a story to tell.
In these days of dual-income households, Villisca is a great location geographically. We are equidistant from Corning to the northeast to Red Oak to the west and Clarinda to the south; from Shenandoah to the southwest west, Atlantic to the north and Creston to the east. And when Villiscans need the services or pleasures from a metro area, we are not far from Omaha, Des Moines or Kansas City. We have the best of both worlds.
If by chance you are an entrepreneur, an artisan, a business owner seeking a place to start, expand, or relocate your business or work for a business that has embraced telecommuniting, we want you to know that Villisca is a perfect place to grow a business.
We have experienced changes in the past several decades with changes in agriculture, an ever expanding global economy and an aging population. Where businesses once had to be located in metropolitan areas to experience success, the growth of technology and the Internet is allowing businesses to locate in small communities, places with a higher quality of life, safer neighborhoods, a sense of community.
Villisca Community School District
The mission of the Villisca Community School District is to provide a safe, nurturing and educational environment in which effective teachers and staff provide challenging curriculum through which each student can achieve his/her maximum potential while developing the ability to become lifelong learners and a productive member of society. The teachers are creative in looking for new and innovative ways to make the curriculum live for their students.
Understanding the challenges of small schools in rural communities, the school board and the administration work to provide education opportunities beyond those classes available in Villisca, including Advanced Placement and Post Secondary Educational Opportunities (PSEO) online courses and ICN classes. In the school year 2013-14m Villisca began whole grade sharing with the Corning Community School District. The middle school is in Villisca and the high school is in Corning. A number of the high school courses are accredited for college credit so students are able to get as many as a years worth of college credit before graduating from high schoo.
The culture and arts curriculum and extra-curricular activities in the school system give students the opportunity to discover and develop talents that will enhance their adult lives. Unlike many urban schools, students are able to participate in as many of the activities as they choose - arts, music, sports, speech, and drama.
The Villisca community is supportive of the education system in a variety of ways and through a number of groups. Many residents show up at school events just to show their support for the students. The number of local scholarships that have been established - 25 to date - is an example of Villiscans wanting to see that students reach their fullest potential. The newly formed Villisca Alumni and Friends Association was formed with the specific purpose of supporting the school system and providing full educational opportunities for Villisca students.
The faith community in Villisca is highlighted with the churches working together through the Villisca Interchurch Council. The churches in Villisca are the Advent Christian Church, Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church, The Pres-byterian Church, St. Joseph's Catholic Church, United Methodist and Nodaway Methodist Church and the Strand Evangelical Lutheran Church. The churches worship together at an Independence Day service, World Day of Prayer, Community School Prayer Walk, Interchurch Baccalaureate Service, Commu-nity Thanksgiving Service, Good Friday Service and the Easter Sunrise Service.
The Interchurch Council oversees the community Food Pantry, the Good Samaritan Crisis Fund, Interchurch Vacation Bible School, We Care, Public School Teacher's Brunch and the Interchurch Scholarship Fund.
Commitment to Country
The VFW, the VFW Auxilliary and the American Legion are active in the Villisca community.
The high school government teacher, Melissa Feilmeier, has worked to assure that our students understand the gift of freedom. From the 2006 Veterans Day presentation by her class the students told the story of some of the WWII veterans. One portion read "Insignia of rank and memories of war resurrect tales of courage and bravery that we have neglected teaching to younger generations. Tales of heroism have been buried with these brave soldiers and with the loss of the uniform is the loss of the soldier who transforms into a humbled veteran and continues about their daily routine as if their contribution were insignificant, as if they didn't help materialize a vision of freedom into a reality for all of us to enjoy."
There is a memorial to those who have served our country in the City Square. Award winning artwork created by VHS students graces the wall in the VFW Hall.
Parks and Recreation
The Villisca Swimming Pool was built with WPA funds in the 30s. The community has maintained it since that time. It's operation is under the direction of the City of Villisca.
The City Square, with its children's playground area, the shelter and the gazebo, is used year round. The newest playground equipment was paid for with funds raised within the community.
The expansive playground at the Enarson Elementary School is used throughout the year. The playground was built through a grant and with the whole community pitching in one Sunday to construct it.
The Harris Harmony Trail sits on property owned by the school. Again, community residents have over time made this walking trail a joy for walking in summer and winter.
Villisca has a number of programs for young people elementary age up. They include: 4-H clubs, FFA (Future Farmers of America), Youth Sports programs, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, Kids and Kinship Mentoring Program, fall and spring play productions and Cindy's Dance Studio.
The Rialto Theatre
Villisca has the services of medical clinics locally and is within 15 to 17 miles of three full service hospitals in Red Oak, Clarinda and Corning. Our volunteer EMTs have an outstanding response rate in serving Villisca and rural Villisca residents.
The Villisca Business Community
As the agricultural industry and the traditional ways of farming changed, so did the landscape of rural Iowa. As ag related businesses closed, other support businesses also closed their doors. Villisca is still the home to some ag related businesses. We also have many of the small businesses found in every community - plumbing and heating, auto repair, grocery store, pharmacy, restau-rants, bars. We are fortunate to have medical services and a fully staffed nursing home. With the emergence of high technology entrepreneurs are able to successfully operate their businesses from rural communities while enjoying our quality of life. Technological advances also allow employees of metro businesses to telecommute with their offices in rural communities.
Our Senior Citizens
Like most Iowa small towns, Villisca has a large senior population. Villisca senior services include a Senior meal site at our Senior Center, Meals on Wheels, medical support and two housing areas built with seniors in mind. Seniors are also served by the many volunteers in the community who work to assure that their needs such as transportation, good nutrition and entertainment are met.
To many the 1912 Unsolved Axe Murders are synomous with the name Villisca. And there is no doubt that the murders are a part of the fabric of Villisca. As Carolyn Gage, then editor of the Villisca Review wrote in 2000, "On Sunday night, or early on the morning of Monday, June 10, 1912, Villisca was the scene of one of the most vicious crimes in all the history of the world. While the city lay sleeping, following a peaceful Sabbath, some fiend incarnate entered the home of Mr. and Mrs. J. B. Moore on East Third Street, and, wielding an ax, murdered eight people while they slept in their beds. ...:
"As is evident, time did not ease the memory of the crime nor did it quiet the gossip. No one was ever convicted of these crimes; this certainly altered the lives of all those who were close to the incident. Even now, 88 years later, there is speculation.
"While it is not pleasant for Villisca to be remembered as the site of these murders, it is foolish to ignore what happened. History, no matter how painful, should never be rewritten." Villisca Review © copyright 2000
Villisca was also the scene of the Pulitzer Prize winning photo "The Homecoming."
As reflected earlier, Villisca has a strong military history going back to the early 1800s.
The Villisca Historical Society, Inc. was formed in 2006 by a group of people who want to preserve Villisca's History. There are some very serious pieces in Villisca's history and then there are a number of quirky stories to be told.
Villisca Heritage Days is a summer celebration of Villisca's history, its present and its future. Heritage Days was started in 1987 by Carolyn Gage, the owner the Villisca Review, and Susie Enarson, then mayor of Villisca and Elinor Brown, the City Clerk, worked together in carrying off the Heritage Days Weekend. This team of three planned the Heritage Days weekends for a number of years. More recently, the Villisca Chamber of Commerce has sponsored Heritage Days. In 2005 and in 2009, an All-Class Reunion was a part of Heritage Days.
Governed by a mayor and five city council members. Our city employees include a public works director and a city clerk. The city supports, along with the Villisca Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Initiative. The public works department oversees the water and sewer plants and a public cemetery. Villisca's police protection comes from the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department with one individual dedicated to protection in Villisca.
The Villisca Public Library, which is housed in a Carnegie building, falls under the City of Villisca, operating under a board of directors. The community building also falls under the direction of the city government, as does the Villisca Housing Authority, the volunteer EMTs and the volunteer Firemen.
Villisca Municipal Power Plant
After 14 years of litigation with the former Iowa Nebraska Light and Power, the power plant produced its first electricity in November 1931. The plant now operates on a stand-by basis with power purchased from area cooperatives. The power plant is governed by a board of trustees and has a superintendent to oversee daily operations.