A couple devoted to Storm Lake

FILLERS

BY JOHN CULLEN

When Police Chief Mark Prosser was honored Nov. 7 with the National Immigration Forum’s “Keeper of the Dream” award, it was nice that Mayor Mike Porsch, City Councilman Kevin McKinney and City Manager Keri Navratil were on-hand in Washington, DC, to support their colleague. It is a great honor for Storm Lake which, under Prosser and others, has become a model for how America can integrate immigrants into our communities.

Immigration, primarily from Mexico, was just starting to become an issue here 30 years ago when Prosser became police chief. There was some resentment towards our new neighbors early on, but as time passed, with leadership like Prosser’s, Storm Lake embraced the diversity and prospered while other less welcoming places flailed and failed.

Now Storm Lake is one of the few communities in western Iowa that is growing as our “native” young people abandon the farms in their race to the cities. There are towns in Iowa that three decades ago “didn’t want to be another Storm Lake.” Now those towns, faced with closing schools and dwindling businesses, seek our advice, and Prosser has traveled the state and the nation telling America how we can all thrive with natives and immigrants working together.

I’ve always felt that Prosser, along with Bill Kruse, former superintendent of schools, and Bob O’Brien, then manager of IBP (later Tyson), formed a triumvirate of calm guidance that kept the lid from blowing off Storm Lake.

Under Kruse’s leadership, the Storm Lake Community Schools instituted the ELL programs which, coupled with extra aides and special classes, enabled our new students to transition from their native languages to English, assuring that all of God’s children would receive an education and a gateway to a promising future. And the kind-hearted and genial O’Brien used his Irish charm to build bridges between the packinghouse and the community.

Dawn and Mark Prosser

DAWN PROSSER, Mark’s wife, is a saint so it’s easy to understand why she worked for St. Mary’s Parish and now the Catholic Diocese of Sioux City for three decades.

And why wouldn’t she be a saint? (At least we in journalism like to think we’re saints.) Dawn grew up in a newspaper family — her dad was a newspaperman in Pella — and she was a reporter in Storm Lake for several years before she and Mark were married.

Then she worked as Development Director for St. Mary’s Parish, where she did a phenomenal job raising money for the school and church. She started St. Mary’s Ball in 1990, which has probably raised close to $2 million over the years — including a record $183,000 last year — while establishing an active alumni association, publicizing the school and church through stories and pictures to newspapers, and developing an online presence.

That’s a tough act to follow at 320 Seneca St.

In October Dawn returned to her roots as a journalist. She was named editor of the Globe, the newspaper for the Diocese of Sioux City.

Thanks, Mark and Dawn, for all you’ve done for Storm Lake!

Articles Section: