Beth Scheckel was just 1 year old when her mom, Ann Niemann, rolled up her sleeves and helped organize a gala to build a new library in DeWitt in 1987. Scheckel’s grandmother, Helen Hatch, was on the library board at the time.

“My mom has amazing family video of my grandmother in front of the library giving a tour and beaming with pride at how they got the grant for the library,” Scheckel said. “She was so excited about it being built. I remember watching that video. It’s pretty cool.”

When Scheckel, her husband, Jared, and their young three children moved back to DeWitt a couple months ago, getting their library cards was the first order of business. 

So, it’s only natural that Scheckel wanted to get involved in the efforts to expand the current library. She is part of a group of six friends who are donating a Murder Mystery party for eight to be auctioned at a fundraising gala at 6 p.m. Feb. 23 at 21 Chop House in DeWitt. The party is one of several items, services and experiences that will be auctioned that night with the goal of raising $10,000 for the $5.7 million expansion and modernization that will more than triple the library in size. 

As plans are being made for the event, called “Next Chapter Live Auction,” history is repeating itself in more ways than one as several members from the 1987 committee are hard at work again planning a gala to raise funds for the library’s expansion. They include Sheri and Greg Barnes and Mary and Gary Froeschle, who also were on the 1987 event committee. The Barnes’ daughter and son-in-law, Bethany and Kevin Oberfoell, are among the Murder Mystery party organizers, along with the Scheckels and Taylor and Kayla Hall. 

Having the next generation involved is meaningful to Sheri Barnes and other people working on fundraising for the project. 

“We were all at a point in our lives then – with young children – where our kids are right now. Our families used the library. It’s as important today as it was 30 years ago,” she said. She recalled that Springbrook Country Club was packed for that event, and she hopes the upcoming gala is as well.  

A limited number of tickets, which will cost $50 per person, will be sold at five locations, including the library, DeWitt Bank & Trust, First Central State Bank, 21 Chop House, and Urban Eats.  Tickets will be available within the next few weeks.

The ticket price covers cost of food, which will be heavy appetizers, and a small donation to the library expansion project. A focal point of the evening’s fundraising effort is a live auction.

“We hope that individuals or businesses consider this unique opportunity to contribute either by attendance or donation for this live auction,” Barnes said. 

Among the items donated so far are a progressive dinner party for 12; a pontoon ride with drinks and appetizers for eight; four Iowa football tickets and a tailgate party; use of a motorhome for three days; an airplane ride to Madison, Wisconsin, with dinner; a murder mystery party for eight; 20 hours of interior painting; an artistic painting package by a local artist; a local golf package for four at Springbrook Country Club, Wapsi Oaks and Glynns Creek; and a home interior decoration package from two local business women.

The committee is seeking additional auction items, Barnes said.  Some items will have a minimum bid to equal the cost being donated. 

Bids will be accepted for items via mail if people cannot attend, Barnes said. The mailed bids need to be at least the minimum bid.

For more information or to donate, Contact Greg or Sheri Barnes at 563-659-8491.