Joe Hollinrake of Albia was honored by the Iowa Rural Water Association when he was inducted into IRWA’s Hall of Fame for his contributions to rural water. Hollinrake, with Rathbun Regional Water Association, was presented this honor during the IRWA’s 39th annual conference held at the Veteran’s Memorial Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center Feb. 24-26 in Des Moines.
The award is presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to IRWA either legislatively or in other capacities such as service to the IRWA board, and or active participation in IRWA committees and other functions.
“Receiving the Hall of Fame Award was really quite an honor,” Hollinrake said.
Hollinrake’s wife of 50 years, Jean, agreed.
“I’m very proud of Joe. He is 88 years old and has spent half of his life working with rural water in the area,” she said.
In the late 1960s Hollinrake, a lifelong resident of Monroe County, began working with other farmers from Monroe County to investigate bringing rural water to the area. This group of farmers formed the Monroe County Rural Water Board with Hollinrake as chairman of that board.
“We needed water,” said Hollinrake. “And our neighbors needed water. Back then, we had a shallow well and we were buying water from Albia.”
“We were raising eight kids and were always running out on the weekends,” Jean said.
The Monroe County Board began correspondence with the Appanoose, Wayne and Lucas County Rural Water Boards and by the end of 1972, the four boards resolved to participate in the construction of one treatment plant, utilizing Rathbun Lake as its water source. They eventually organized a private non-profit entity known as Rathbun Regional Water Association, Inc.
The chairman of each of the four county boards became board members for RRWA and Hollinrake began his tenure on the board of directors of RRWA. This idea quickly grew to a $25 million dollar project funded by the Farmer’s Home Administration and the Economic Development Administration. Construction on the water treatment plant began in the spring of 1975 and they distributed water from the plant in 1977.