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Dead heat for first in latest Tama Co. Pitch & Build

May 13, 2014
By John Speer - Editor ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

"Closest" contest and the best of the half dozen Pitch and Build competitions sponsored by Tama County Economic Development was how Heath Kellogg, the executive director, described the event held on Tuesday night, April 29, at the Reinig-Toledo Civic Center.

Murder mysteries and more in Chelsea, a Dysart antique dealer, a Toledo boutique cafe, a black powder rifle maker in Traer and expansion of the summer camp programs near Montour were pitched.

The judges - Jill Van Dee, Dwayne Luze and Lyle Niemeyer - actually came up with the same point total resulting in a tie for the Gold Award. This was why Kellogg said the competition's history had made a new mark. With a tie for first, the silver awards were just behind, Kellogg said.

Article Photos

Heath Kellogg, Tama County Economic Development executive director with Pitch & Build winners (l-r) Jodi Philipp, Periwinkle Place Manor, Chelsea, gold, Lisa Bandfield, Dysart, Front Porch Antiques and Primitives and Ann Graham, Pilgrim Heights Camp and Retreat, silver awards and Deb Wacha, who catered the evening meal from The Magnolia. Josh Casto also was awarded gold recognition. He had to leave the competition early for a previous commitment to lead the county 4H youth shooting program.

News-Herald photos/John Speer

Van Dee, Vining, is Tama County Economic Development chair, Luze, Dysart, is the past chair and Niemeyer, Marshalltown, represents SCORE, Service Corps of Retired Executives Association, a free mentoring service for small businesses and is a former Toledo High School and Marshalltown Community College business teacher.

Here's a review of each presentation with the winners reported at the end.

Pilgrim Heights

Fact Box


Tama County Economic Development Commission

1007 Prospect Drive, PO Box 22

Toledo, Iowa 52342

(641) 484-3108

(641) 484-5127 fax

An exciting new day camp for young people is being introduced this summer at Pilgrim Heights Camp and Retreat Center north of Montour.

"Tama County's Hidden Treasure" as Ann Graham, executive director, termed the historic Pilgrim Heights during her presentation, will feature week-long "explore nature" themed experiences.

Formally called 2014 Environmental Education Day Camp, among activities kids will have are the chance to raise a garden, collect rocks and participate in arts and crafts activities.

There will be swimming, boating, hiking and a featured special guest each week.

Programs will incorporate "music and movement" to climbing and crawling" Graham said. They will even be involved with "messy materials."

Pilgrim Heights is operated by Our Sacred space, Inc. a non-profit organization. It includes 20 buildings ranging from rustic bunkhouses to modern lodges and is set on Sportsman's Lake.

Murder at Periwinkle Place Manor Bed and Breakfast - Chelsea

"We're going to fire up Chelsea this year," said Jodi Philipp at the Pitch and Build.

Already she has restored the former Hrabak Funeral Home there and turned it into a bed and breakfast featuring murder mysteries and a venue for events ranging from family reunions to tea parties - Murder at Periwinkle Place Bed & Breakfast.

Not only that, but Philipp has purchased four old buildings on Chelsea's main street (Station Street), has restored three and is in the process of fixing up the fourth.

The spaces will be used for artists, crafts people and other projects.

Philipp she expects a boost from and to add to Chelsea's 150th Celebration on July 25 and 26.

At the funeral home location, a coffin in a crate was discovered and will be incorporated into some of "mysteries" she said.

Winter time will provide a setting for yet another project, Sleigh Runner Village in Chelsea which Philipp said will feature ice skating, Santa and Mrs. Claus, live entertainment, reindeer and yes, sleigh rides.

A bakery and coffee shop is also among the projects for which Philipp is "having other businesses join us is our goal."

Philipp is on stanger ot the murder mystery business having operated one in Benton County at her farm for a number of years among other enterprises there.

Casto Armory

"It takes me a week to build a rifle," Josh Casto said of his business in Traer. He's been at it for a few months, but says he received his first rifle at age six, sparking a longtime interest in firearms - he's almost 40 years old.

What he makes in his shop in downtown Traer is black powder guns almost from scrathc. He starts with a "chunk of wood" - a $300 piece of Curly Maple - addes brass fittings which are polished to fit and acid aged and the other gun components. He ends up with a product which costs anywhere from $600- $1,200.

He said every bit of his product is made of U.S. made parts.

Casto said his "week" for production amounts to more than your 40-hour week, more "like 12 hours a day."

At his store next to Traer's Library at 539 2nd St., he stocks black powder, some accessories and a limited selection of antique firearms.

Within the next three years Casto said he would like add a full-time gun smith and an apprentice.

Front Porch Antiques and Primitives

Just like Josh Casto, Lisa Bandfield, Dysart, has had an interest in her new found vocation for some time.

"I hve been into antiques since I was five," Bandfield said during her Pitch and Build presentation.

A move from her home to downtown Dysart- 335 Main St.- in November of last yyear has been quite a success she reported. Nto only has she made many sales, "I have 1,500 sq. ft. house I've cleaned out," she Bandfiled said.

"My biggest challenge has been to figure out what everyone wants," she said.

Bandfield said when asked she has been a "picker" - "I've been in hog houses and declares "It's nothing like you see on television, not like Frank and Mike (American Pickers program about a pair of dealers from Le Clair, Iowa.)

Bandfiled said she "doesn't want to be a thrift store" and avoids selling reproductions.

She has taken in consignments which "have done really well" and says she "loves auctions" for another osurce of merchandise.

The Magnolia

Attendees at the April 29 Pitch and Build got a sampling of meals served at The Magnolia in downtown Toledo as part of Deb Wacha's Pitch and Build competition.

Deb Wacha converted her downtown Toledo photo studio at 103 West High into the specialty restaurant offering baked goods and serving noon lunches in the summer of 2012.

She serves customers in what she describes as "an intimate atmosphere" which Wacha has described as "upscale but casual."

Special events including evening dinners for groups by reservation are laso offered.

The Winners

As Heath Kellogg said, the voting was indeed "the closest in the history of Pitch and Build competition" Josh Casto with Casto Armory and Jodi Philipp's big plans for Chelsea emerged as the Gold award winners on April 29.

The next Pitch and Build is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 9.



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