Highlighting Inspiring Women: She gives her time to McGregor

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Throughout March, which is Women’s History Month, the North Iowa Times will again publish a series of articles highlighting local women. Whether it’s through their careers, hobbies, volunteer efforts or unique personalities, these women have become an inspiration to others.

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

“McGregor’s always been home.”

Even as a kid, growing up outside the community, Janet Hallberg said she’d sometimes purposely miss the bus to her house, just so she could walk around town with her friends after school.  When her family moved into McGregor her freshman year of high school, Janet loved it.

“Everyone knew you, everyone said ‘hi.’ If you did anything wrong, your parents would know before you got home,” she said, laughing. “Everybody takes care of everybody.”

It was during these formative years that Janet’s service to the community began. She joined Girl Scouts and was active in her church, First Lutheran/Swede Ridge.

“Once I was old enough, I started teaching Sunday school,” she recalled. “I’ve just always done volunteer stuff.”

As an adult, Janet moved away from McGregor for awhile. But the town eventually drew her back. It didn’t take her long to get involved.

When her oldest daughter, Bailee, started school, Janet became a local Girl Scout leader. It’s a role she’s continued as younger daughter Mattie has grown.

She’s given her time to the MFL MarMac Friends Helping Friends group, is one of the town’s most well-known bakers and has served on the planning and zoning commission.

The latter role eventually grew into an appointment to the McGregor City Council. Janet is now halfway through her second term and was recently named mayor pro-tem. 

“It’s definitely been an eye opener,” she said, “to realize all the procedures and hoops you have to get through to get stuff done.”

Janet’s time on the council has included stints on the Mar-Mac Police Commission and the city’s personnel and parks and riverfront committees. She’s also on the board of the Smith and Bulldog Childcare and Learning Centers, serving as a liaison between the city and the daycare.

She plans to join the Mar-Mac EMS Board and is the organizer of Thursday-night trivia at Backwoods Bar and Grill, one of several places she works in McGregor and Marquette.

Perhaps Janet’s biggest role, though, has been as head of the Turner Park Fitness for All Ages Committee, a group of volunteers who, around six years ago, began meeting with the goal of revitalizing McGregor’s Turner Park.

“It had already kind of started before I joined,” she said, but it didn’t take her long to see the value of participating.

“It was the park I grew up in. I spent a lot of my childhood there,” she shared.

Today, the park has a new walking track and sidewalk, playground equipment and field improvements. Ground will be broken this spring on the much-anticipated splash pad and, eventually, there will be a joint bathroom and concession stand building.

Although the projects have received generous support from the city of McGregor, grants and countless donors, the committee members have raised many funds themselves, through bake sales, pancake breakfasts, chili cook-offs, basket auctions, hog roasts, 5Ks, home tours and more.

“I didn’t really realize just how big of an undertaking it would be,” Janet admitted. “We’ve been fundraising for six years. Some weeks, I feel like that’s all I do.”

She estimates at least five hours of her time each week are devoted to Turner Park. It’s been worth it, though.

“It’s so rewarding to see people walking the track or using the field—to say ‘I did that, I helped with that,’” said Janet. “It will be nice once the splash pad is done, then people can bring their kids, and then they might stop at other businesses in town and get something to eat. Hopefully, it will help everybody.”

Even as the Turner Park projects begin to wind down, Janet said she’s not worried about finding something to occupy her time.

“I’m probably on too many things,” she joked.

But she wants to show her daughters—and other residents—the importance of being involved in the community.

“I tell them, ‘Don’t complain. Make sure you’re trying to do something about it,’” Janet shared. “Even if it doesn’t seem like much, every little bit helps.”

In McGregor, Janet views it as “my town, my park, my store.”

“You have to take pride and want the best for your work, your town, your home,” she said. “They all connect.”

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