Volunteers of Year: Bickfords
by Gregory R. Norfleet · News · February 08, 2013

Main Street West Branch selected Norm and Pat Bickford for its Volunteers of the Year Award, in part for hours donated to the civic group, and in part for helping build Appreciation Park.

The group’s Board of Directors cast their vote on Jan. 22. The Bickfords will be officially honored May 17 at the annual state Main Street conference in Des Moines.

Program Director Mackenzie Krob said the Bickfords’ involvement stretches back a few years.

“We felt like their impact on the program has been substantial,” she said of MSWB’s board of directors.

The semi-retired couples said they did not expect the honors, even for the park and memorial built to honor veterans.

“I think it’s really nice,” Pat said. “But we definitely didn’t do the park for some sort of gain for ourselves.”

Norm agreed.

“I sure appreciate it,” he said. “But I didn’t expect it.”

Krob said the couple do “a lot of little things” behind the scenes, like hanging corn husks downtown in the fall, and crafting lots of paper snowflakes to decorate businesses prior to Christmas Past.

“Whenever we need a helping hand we can call on them,” she said. “In a pinch, they are always willing to help out.”

The Bickfords, with Phyllis Sondergaard, worked for years to raise support, find a location, design and build Appreciation Park, which today sits between 109 and 111 East Main. Part of that involved the Bickfords purchasing 111 East Main, which has commercial space on the ground level and an apartment upstairs. They renovated, repaired and painted the building, tearing out an addition to make room for the park.

The front section of the ground floor of the building became the new home for Main Street West Branch.

“They’ve been excellent partners (providing us with) anything we would need in the building,” Krob said.

Pat said they had “no indication” MSWB was even considering them for the volunteer honors.

“It was a complete surprise when Mackenzie called Norm the other day,” she said.

Norm said they first got involved with Main Street through Krob’s predecessor, Rod Ness.

“We liked Rod, and Mackenzie has done a great job taking over,” he said. “We’ve enjoyed working with both of them.”

Pat said she and Norm will attend the Main Street conference, but they “don’t like the limelight.”

“We like the behind-the-scenes work,” she said.

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