Leo’s Club partnering on downtown river project

The CFHS Leo’s Club, which has been standing proudly since the fall semester of 2022, is also an extension of the Cedar Falls Lions Club.

The club has a total of 15 members and has 12 members that are currently active. The Leo’s Club meets twice a month, where they discuss current projects and activities.

According to adviser Zeb Nicholson, the student members of the club have a goal, “To make a bigger impact on their community than just writing letters and cleaning up ditches once a year.”

When working on projects in Leo’s Club, one can expect to see a wide variety of projects, including “Anywhere from making Valentine’s Day cards for residents of the Western home all the way to much bigger projects,” Nicholson said.

The club is currently working on a big project with both the Cedar River Recreation Project (located downtown Cedar Falls) and the Whitewater Project. The members are designing and building equipment kiosks for the projects.

Senior Ivy Hemmer, currently the club’s treasurer, said the shared goal is to “prove to our club and those who want to join that we can do big things to help out the community.”

Club president Ivy Hemmer said they have done “quite a bit in our effort to help out. This has included working at the pancake breakfast hosted by the Lions Club a few weeks ago, helping with trash pickups, etc.”

Junior Cameryn Davis, the club’s secretary has extensive knowledge of both the club’s activities along with the Cedar River Recreation and Whitewater project. “The project has two primary goals: to create a whitewater current for kayakers and people and to construct stability structures and access locations along the bank for environmental and tourist purposes.”

The kiosk project started when Hemmer contacted Ty Graham, a lead Cedar Falls city engineer, “regarding any opportunities or assistance to do with the improvement project,” Davis said.

The two had started communicating in the earlier months of this school year. Eventually, the rest of The Leo’s Club was included in the back-and-forth communication, which led to the group visiting the worksite earlier this school year. The group was accompanied by Graham.

After this, the club president contacted Cedar Falls Councilman Dustin Ganfield to see “if he and other members would be able to assist us with our endeavor,” Davis said. A while later, they were able to set up a meeting with not only Ganfield but also the Director of Public Works, Chase Schrage, and the Director of Community Development, Stephanie Sheetz.”

All of these efforts have led to where the club stands now with its equipment kiosk project. Currently, the club is working with an architect to build these kiosks. As the kiosks are currently in the early design stages, they have yet to fully know what the kiosks will look like, but they will “will be a wooden, rectangular body held up by two wooden posts secured in a concrete platform. The posts will not be completely anchored into the ground, so the stand can be removed and stored during the colder months,” Davis said. “The kiosk will have multiple hooks to hang life jackets and helmets. The face of the stand will include safety-use information, a list of donors, a section about the Leo Club, and liability information.”

The club is also deciding on a final “safety protocol” to keep the equipment from being damaged. Though Davis said they have decided that one of the “biggest security measures is to print ‘Property of the City of Cedar Falls’ on the back of the lifejackets.” Davis said the labeling of the jackets is to lower the chance of the lifejackets being stolen as the possible thieves are aware the city is involved.

He said the kiosks will be helpful for everyone and allow those seeing the kiosk to see the care and appreciation that Cedar Falls High School students have for their community.

Not only do the equipment kiosks allow for a show of appreciation,  but Davis said they also serve the purpose of supplying, “Free and safe recreational equipment for any individuals who want to use the activity on the river. We hope to promote safety in the community by making the devices accessible and noticeable to remind people that wearing life-saving equipment is crucial.”

For those who are interested in new learning opportunities or want to help the community, the Leo’s Club is currently looking for new members to join them, as the kiosk project will  likely extend into the summer.

Davis said the current members working on the equipment kiosk have already learned a lot about “city law, industrial technology and the importance of being connected within a community.”

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