Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Local News

April 5, 2010

Gnome-bers crunch

Strasburg's tiny, trademark citizens to be counted in census

STRASBURG — For residents of the small community of Strasburg, there really is “gnome place like home.”

    A couple of years ago, residents chose the garden gnome to represent the village, and now, organizers are looking to take count of their village mascot with their own census — one that focuses on the mythical creature and its place in the yards of homes throughout the community.

    The Gnome Census is modeled after the U.S. Census currently underway. However, instead of focusing on a household’s inhabitants, it asks residents about their gnome status. “How many do you have?” and “Are they male or female?” are just some of the questions being asked in the Gnome Census. Other questions include “Where do they come from?,” “Do they stay here all the time?,” “Which gnome came from the farthest away?” and “Which gnome have you had the longest?”

    Youth will go door to door April 17 to get the answers to those questions and, at the same time, do some charitable work. The census committee will have a food drive in conjunction with the census and collect nonperishable food items to donate to local food pantries.

    Yards throughout Strasburg are landscaped with gnomes, with more appearing as the weather warms.

    “People either like them or they don’t,” said Pam Clark, who is part of the committee conducting the census. “They make me giggle.”

    The census has some residents curious about just how many gnomes reside in Strasburg.

    “One guy told me he can’t wait to find out how many gnomes there are,” said another census organizer, Jane Giertz.

    Census results will be revealed in the Strasburg newsletter, “Strasburg Gnome News,” which has earned the town statewide recognition. The village and its Strasburg Community Action Network that produces the newsletter received the Innovate Project Award for bimonthly publication at the 21st Annual Rural Community Economic Development Conference in Peoria. The village also was used as a model during the “Strategic Doing: Planning into Action” session at the recent conference.

    It’s not the first time Strasburg has been recognized for its work. The village won the Governor’s Home Town Award last year for beautification.

    SCAN had been searching for an icon for its newsletter when resident Les Sentel came up with the idea of gnomes.

    “I opened up one of my gardening magazines and it had an article ‘Gnome Place Like Home,’ that talked about German heritage. Since Strasburg is German, I pitched the idea,” said Sentel.

    Giertz said the idea won out over other suggestions, such as a windmill and barn that would serve to highlight Strasburg as a farming community.

    Sentel believes the mascot will make people who normally pass through stop and see what’s in town, and perhaps, it will make Strasburg a destination spot.

    “There’s a town in Wisconsin that calls itself the troll capital of the world,” he said. “We thought we could be the gnome capital.”

    Sentel has several gnomes at his home that he has collected over the years, but it wasn’t until the mascot was adopted around 2008 that Sentel decided to try his hand at making one out of concrete. Sentel is familiar with concrete, having made concrete stepping stones.

    “I thought maybe I could make a few to go along with the theme,” he said.

    Sentel has since made around 100 concrete gnomes with molds he purchased from eBay and has sold them at community events. He has just one problem, though.

    “I’m always looking for someone to paint them,” he said.

    Around every corner of the Sentels’ yard sits a gnome he has collected, along with some he made. His wife estimates he has about 40 of them.

    Giertz, who lives down the road from Sentel, also displays the mascot in her yard and has become quite acquainted with the mythical creature since it was declared a village trademark.

    “I wanted to know where they came from,” she said. “So, I got on the computer.”

    Giertz discovered gnomes are vegetarians, they live in the forest, are male or female and aren’t exclusively German. They also can be Scandinavian or Bulgarian, just to name a few.

    Giertz began collecting gnomes after they were made the official mascot.

    “Everywhere I go I look for gnomes,” she said.

    Giertz has even dressed like one for Halloween, earning her the nickname of Strasburg gnome.

    While Giertz and others are promoting the mascot themselves, they are looking for bigger ways to promote it to people outside of Strasburg and have tossed around the idea of a festival.

    “We’re just talking about it,” said Giertz, who added the idea was taken from other communities, such as Shelbyville, which has a Spores ’N’ More festival.

    Giertz said the project and others the village has done leading up to this have gotten “a town that was dying fired up.”

    “It’s just neat, I think,” she said.

    Cathy Thoele can be reached at 217-347-7151 ext. 126 or cathy.thoele@effinghamdailynews.com.

Text Only
Local News
  • IMG_9368.JPG Storm interrupts power to 1,000 Fayette County residents

    Southwestern Electric line crews worked into the early hours of Thursday morning, restoring power to 1,700 members after a small but intense storm swept through the area Wednesday night.

    August 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADM donates to Blessings in a Backpack Archer Daniels Midland Company recently donated $1,000 to Effingham’s Blessings in a Backpack program. The donation will go toward purchasing food for area students for the coming school year.“Support and partnerships with area businesses are a stron

    August 21, 2014

  • golf Golf benefit raises $36K The Friends of St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital’s 6th Annual Golf Benefit was held July 18 at the Effingham Country Club. The event, which evolved through a partnership with Jonathan Kabbes and “Golf for a Cure” held in 2009 and 2010, netted $36,000 t

    August 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Nursing students make dean's list Students who are enrolled in at least six credit hours at Lakeview College of Nursing and who achieve a GPA of 3.6 or higher on a 4.0 scale are named to the dean’s list for the semester. Students recently receiving that honor include the following: B

    August 21, 2014

  • Heartland hosts depression presentation Heartland Human Services will host the presentation "Fed Up With Depression? (Discover The Foods That Can Help You Heal)" at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 26, by the agency's psychiatrist, Dr. Rhoda Gottfried, MD, entitled, along will her husband, Dr. Sam

    August 21, 2014

  • Stocks advance for third day, despite Fed minutes NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market rose for a third straight day Wednesday despite a report from the Federal Reserve that showed a growing chorus of central bank officials willing to raise interest rates sooner rather than later.In the bond market, pri

    August 21, 2014

  • $500K coming to sports complex

    In a 3-2 vote Tuesday, Effingham City Council narrowly approved $500,000 in hotel/motel tax revenue to help fund the construction of the Richard E. Workman Sports and Wellness Center during a meeting in which the council approved funds for other entities as well.

    August 20, 2014

  • Shimkus not taking anything for granted despite past electoral success

    U.S. Rep. John Shimkus  hasn't had a serious election challenge in more than a decade. But the longtime congressman said he's not taking anything for granted, even though his sprawling district appears tailor-made for continued Republican representation.

    August 19, 2014

  • Power out in Effingham subdivision; cause not yet known

    A small number of Ameren electric customers on the west side of Effingham were out of power this morning.

    August 19, 2014

  • Unit 40 presents $57k deficit Thanks to a series of personnel moves, Unit 40 officials have estimated a $57,136 deficit for the school year — much less than the $834,000 deficit the previous year. With this year’s expected revenue at $28,695,717 and expenditures coming in at $28,

    August 19, 2014

AP Video

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.