A proud Story City native sent a major donation to help repair the community’s beloved Swinging Bridge, which was damaged by large chunks of ice during flooding last spring.
Dr. Frances Bartlett Kinne sent a $40,000 check to the city on Sept. 11, along with a letter describing her love of Story City and Iowa in general.
“As a loyal supporter of Iowa, and specifically Story City, it is a pleasure for me to assist in recognizing the importance of the well-known Swinging Bridge,” Kinne wrote. “I became very concerned with Mayor Jensen informed me of the damage. As a Military wife, my life has taken me through ten years in four countries, and I was always teased about ‘bragging of the best state and home town’ on every occasion in which I could manage the opportunity to do so. Obviously, the Swinging Bridge is an important attraction for all of us.”
Mayor Mike Jensen said the city was determined from the outset of the damage to repair the historic bridge, which was built in 1936 and was one of the New Deal projects constructed under Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration (WPA).
Insurance is covering about $90,000 of the repairs, leaving the city about $80,000 to pay out of pocket.
But Kinne cut that amount in half with her donation, which Jensen called kind and generous.
“This is just like something that Fran would do,” he said. “She is such a supporter of the community of Story City. She’s a wonderful person, and even though she’s been very successful in her life, she’s very down to earth. Fran is someone that can sit down and have a conversation with anyone.”
Frances, who is fondly known in the community as Fran or Frannie, is a glass-ceiling breaking woman.
At age 102, Kinne is still working full-time with both Mayo Clinic and Jacksonville University. She is retired President and Chancellor from Jacksonville University; she’s also a Staff Member for Mayo Clinic.
“Every time I get to Iowa, I have doctors and nurses from Mayo join in the visit — not because I need medical care,” Kinne wrote. “It is because they say they want to find out what I am ‘talking about all of the time about Iowa and Story City.’
“Of course, I must always speak about the Bertha Bartlett Public Library and the Story City Historical Society. Also, I am impressed by the fine leadership you all have provided, and we know that is one of the main reasons for Story City and Iowa to be so special.”
Work began this week on the bridge repair, and Jensen said the goal is to have it ready for Christmas lights for the holiday season. A small plaque honoring Kinne will be installed on the bridge, near the existing plaque that names past donors to the bridge preservation.
The bridge will also be about a foot higher than it was before the flood damage, in an effort to keep this type of damage from happening again.
“I hope my gift will be of help to you. I know this would have pleased my father, Charlie Bartlett, my mother, Bertha Bartlett, and my brother, Charles Bartlett,” Kinne wrote. “I look forward to seeing the results on my next visit to my home town.”
Kinne plans to be back in the community in November for the Storytelling Festival.