Skip to content

Project AWAKE originated from the activities of the Newton Chamber Community Betterment Committee (NCCBC).  NCCBC researched community beautification projects in Indiana and Iowa City (Project GREEN) and decided Project GREEN had promise for Newton. 

Many of the original NCCBC members contributed volunteer labor and financing. As a result, in November of 1981 a group spun off from the NCCBC and formed Project AWAKE (A Winning Answer to a Kept Environment).  The Newton City Council adopted a resolution establishing a Project AWAKE Fund and a Board of Trustees for the management of the fund. 

The original trustees were: •Don Byers •Dick Rabedeaux •Bill Swartz.
The City Clerk oversaw the activities of the fund, donations to which were tax deductible.
It was the belief of everyone participating in Project AWAKE that all citizens share in the responsibility of making Newton a pleasant, attractive, and clean place in which to live. 

In the early years, the focus of Project AWAKE was:

  • 1) to promote high standards of design in architecture, landscape architecture, and community planning, as well as high standards of maintenance and cleanliness in the community.
  • 2) to serve as a forum for beautification and improvement ideas as a catalyst for individual, neighborhood, and community groups, and as a coordinator and liaison between groups and individuals pursuing common goals.
  • 3) to encourage the preservation of open spaces, natural features, and historic landmarks.
  • 4) to support, supplement, and recommend beautification projects of governmental agencies and volunteer committees.
  • 5) to stimulate citizens to make improvements on their individual properties and to work toward overall community appearance.

The concept of an Arboretum and Botanical Garden was formulated in 1995.  Denny Slings, former Parks Director for the Newton Park Commission and a member of the Project AWAKE Board of Directors, introduced the idea of developing an arboretum on six acres of unused property located in the southeast corner of the newly developing Agnes Patterson Memorial Park. 

The Agnes Patterson Memorial Park is an 80-acre tract of land that was donated to the Park Commission by Howard Patterson. The Park Commission took possession of the property in 1992 with the development of the park beginning shortly thereafter.

The Newton Board of Park Commissioners was also approached in 1995 regarding the development of the Arboretum.  The Park Board gave informal consent for developing plans and was consulted regularly during the planning process.

The first meeting of the Arboretum Committee, a sub-committee of Project AWAKE, was held on October 10, 1995.  The original committee members were Linda Campbell, Betty Dickinson, Gary Peterson, Wayne Straight, Mark Monroe, and Denny Slings. In 1996 a master plan was finalized and volunteers planted the first 102 trees on May 28, 1996.  A trail layout was developed, and specifications were completed for retaining walls and plant beds.  

During this time Dwight Stanfield, a Project AWAKE board member, approached Mrs. Ann Krumm about constructing a horticultural learning facility. She readily embraced the idea and believed it to be a fitting tribute to her late husband, Daniel J Krumm, an avid gardener.  Mrs. Krumm and her son David were involved in the planning.  

In 1998 plans were finalized for the Daniel J. Krumm Horticultural Learning Center.  Jack Topp was the architect and Randy’s Construction (Randy Terlouw) was awarded a contract for the construction.  A groundbreaking ceremony was held May 6, 1999 and construction began in July. The first horticultural seminar was hosted at the Krumm Center in February 2001.