A group of Manning residents who gathered in a room Wednesday evening didn’t see the four walls around them — they were too busy envisioning an ice-skating rink and expanded trails system.

More than 50 people attended an “Imagine My Manning” community meeting Wednesday evening, where they were asked what project or organization they would choose to benefit from a donation of $500 — or $5,000, or $50,000, or $500,000.

Ron Reischl, chairman of the Main Street Manning’s Business Improvement Committee and a leading economic-development advocate, facilitated the meeting.

During the “Imagine My Manning” meeting, new ideas came to the fore, including an ice-skating rink, alternative-energy investments, connecting city trails to the regional trail system, enlarging the Konferenz Centre and building an education/innovation center.

“If the past is any indication, this community will find a way to make a significant number of them a reality,” Reischl said in a news release.

Manning’s newest social and charitable organization, Manning Chicks with Checks, was introduced during the meeting, and various donations to Manning projects totaling about $640,000 were announced.

They included an anonymous donation from a person who designated Manning as the beneficiary on a $400,000 IRA at the time of the donor’s death. The donor included guidelines for the use of the funds, and the Main Street Manning Board will serve as the trustee.

A $75,000 donation from the Meryl and Imelda Kerkhoff family will benefit the Trestle Park shelterhouse, which will be named for the family.

Other naming opportunities at the park will be available to “significant donors,” according to the release. Those interested can contact City Administrator Dawn Meyer at City Hall by calling 712-655-2176.

The city also received a $75,000 challenge grant from Main Street Iowa, which will be used for upper-story housing above the Sextro law office in Manning.

The Refresh Manning Trust Fund also recently received anonymous donations of $10,000 in stock and $50,000 in cash. The fund now has more than $90,000 and plans to issue more than $4,000 of grants to Manning projects in December, according to the release.

After observing the popularity of the Iowa sculpture in Trestle Park as a spot for visitors to take photos, Reischl donated $10,000 for additional Iowa-themed artwork. He committed another $10,000 in 2018 as matching funds if the City of Manning receives another Great Places grant.

The Manning Masonic Lodge donated $5,000 for lit artwork for the city’s downtown streetscape, and an additional $5,000 for Trestle Park.

Bill and Phyllis Opperman donated $5,000 to be used for benches and matching trash receptacles for the downtown streetscape.

“Manning has always been blessed with community members who generously donate their time and monies to their favorite causes and organizations,” Reischl said.

And those causes continue to grow.

The ideas generated were enlightening, and action plans will be developed,” Reischl said. “The announced donations reflect our residents’ willingness to invest in their community. End of year is approaching, and in the spirit of year-end giving, I encourage others to keep the Manning community in mind and make a difference for our and their future.”