This year's Eddy Award winners will be recognized at next year's Fish & Fire Friendraiser, April 23, 2021 at Figge Art Museum.

Each year River Action honors individuals and organizations that best represent the spirit of true river action.

The "Eddy Awards" recognize those who go against the current, as in an eddy, to provide outstanding riverfront activity or development, well-designed and environmentally responsible.

2020 Eddy Award winners

Design: IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union / Brian Laufenberg

With a commanding presence on the riverfront, IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union (IHMVCU) Headquarters provides panoramic views.

If design for the 21st Century is to provide architecture to combat climate change, the Credit Union welcomes it.

Architecture must address today’s pressing issues and for this project it was done by a collaboration with the architect Leo A. Daly of Omaha, Neb. and Russell Construction.

Step off the elevator, into an office, and you are immediately blitzed with panoramic views of the river.

CEO Brian Laufenberg was struck by the views when the site was proposed for its headquarters.

Believing design is not a frivolous add-on to our lives, but rather at the root of how we live, this $26-million building at 2500 River Drive Moline, is four stories, with flexible work spaces for employees an outdoor gathering place, open staircases and a workout room with a river view. The City of Moline believes the headquarters building sets the standard for quality and design as the city begins to develop east of the I-74 corridor.

Stewardship: Amy Kay, City of Davenport, Clean Water Manager

The permeable alley built between Federal and Tremont Streets
in Davenport in 2019 was spearheaded by Amy Kay.

Next time you see a body of water, ask yourself: what message is this water carrying? From where, and to whom?

Water is the earth’s neurotransmitter, and one person who understands it and asks those questions is Amy Kay, Davenport’s Clean Water Manager.

Since 2016, she has expanded the community's knowledge of storm water best practices, increased the number of green infrastructure projects in the city, and greatly expanded and improved the floodplain of Duck Creek since taking the helm.

Through the city’s Clean Water Education Program, she has launched a sweeping conservation program, expanded community knowledge of pollution prevention, floodplain management, and improved master planning with businesses and the public. Those who work with flood prevention and mitigation admire her knowledge of federal, state and local laws and permitting, and her ability to move against the current in all things clean water!

Education: Eric Sorenson, WQAD-TV8 meteorologist and climatologist

Eric Sorenson enjoys summer days on the river. Above and beyond. Sound like anyone you know?

If you know Eric Sorenson, meteorologist and climatologist at WQAD-TV8, you would say yes.

At WQAD, he's committed to communication and education, and
his unique position as a meteorologist adds credibility to his environmental message.

Eric dedicates his Monday morning broadcasts to climate change education along with the day’s weather forecast.

He often reports the day’s expected temperature on the riverfront recreational trails.

In addition, he contributes to programs in the Quad Cities as a panelist with extensive climate change expertise.

He embraces paddling on the Mississippi River with friends and participates on the water in river events while filming his messages.

Eric has gone against the current in broadcasting, education and river paddling!

Art: Brad Bisbey

Brad Bisbey, a painter and teacher associated with Bereskin
Gallery, Bettendorf, is a dedicated and courageous artist who pushes constantly outward against the currents of prevailing art and thought.

His landscape paintings — many of which include the Mississippi River or other local natural scenes — are remarkable for the
strong sense of life and place which they convey.

A prolific painter, he often challenges himself to create 30 paintings in 30 days, knowing that the pressures of such production can often spark new discoveries and that every moment painting adds to the sum total of his experience and accumulated skill.

He also pushes himself to explore new styles, aiming always to convey the feeling of the scene.

The Eddy Award jury recognizes his deep understanding and respect for painting, for the Quad Cities, and for the river which he conveys to his students and everyone he meets.

Special Recognition: Anthony Heddlesten

Anthony Heddlesten is a person who can check all the boxes.

He leads his team in outreach for the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers and flood preparation.

He has helped River Action initiate the Quad Cities Flood Resiliency Alliance, served on the Upper Mississippi River Conference committee, led Riverine Walks along the floodplain in Davenport, given Channel Cat Talks on the lock and dam system, and installed solar panels on his the roof of his home.

He's written and recorded a WVIK RiverWay Story on solar power, and helped author a "Transformation Grant" for frequently flooded cities.

In River Action’s pursuit of a mobile flood response app, it would be a bonus if we could just download his brain! How does he handle wearing so many hats so well?

He doesn’t have boundaries and says he would get bored if he did.

He walks easily between the engineering world to that of public servant; the intersection of engineering, design and public discourse.

The Eddy awards jury recognizes a champion of change — not just someone who promotes progress, but who epitomizes it.

Special Recognition: Roger Viadero, Ph.D.

Roger Viadero believes when it comes to education, “it’s all about collaboration.”

Upon his arrival at the Western Illinois University – Quad Cities campus, he began working with River Action on the Upper Mississippi River Conference.

“I was amazed at all the groups around the table,” he recollects.
“To this day, they are the collaborators at the WIU Environmental Department, and I could not have done it without those connections."

"River science can be done anywhere," he said. "The environmental studies have to be done hands-on, in and near the river. The support from the community is why we are successful.”

He has brought scholarships to the program, acquired a pontoon boat for student work, and sensor equipment for wetland research.

One teacher can change a person’s life; Roger has found a way to create initiatives to help the next generation of environmental leaders to blossom.

The Eddy recognizes an educator who leaves an impact far beyond his classroom.

Revitalization: The Bend / Tim Knanishu

The Bend – the newest riverfront development in East Moline – breathes new life into a storied industrial site.

At 133 acres, it sits on a beautiful bend of the river with excellent potential for riverfront mixed use development.

Since 2002, Tim Knanishu has worked diligently to bring the
vision to reality through REDEEM and East Moline economic development.

The former Case-International Harvester site was a brownfield,
and in 2004 it was cleaned up, cleared, and made ready for
Phase I at 3rd St.

The remaining 90 acres are being developed as Phase II.

Tim persevered through a recession during the early years of marketing the site, but with a loyal board that has stayed intact from the start. Today, The Bend boasts a major hotel, convention center, music venue, brewery, coffee house and office space, all with access to the riverfront recreation trail.

With plans for more occupancy and construction projects in the next several months, Phases I and II should be completed in 2020.

Plans are in place for a 15-foot-wide lighted walkway from the hotel to the surrounding businesses. Without state funding, this energetic group of developers has gone against the current to get it done on their own.

Revitalization: Hauberg Gardens / Deb Kuntzi

As you walk through Hauberg Gardens, there is a sense of history in the trees, house and prairie plantings.

Deb Kuntzi, executive director of Friends of Hauberg Civic Center, partnering with the City of Rock Island, has restored the original Jens Jensen plan and even made it better.

A major contribution to Rock Island’s open space, its scale, theme and quality have established it as an important landmark.

It can’t be seen all in one visit. It is a grand public space rich with bands of trees, flowers, and gravel paths.

The work of the Friends breathed new life into a storied mansion and grounds which in 2017 needed many repairs and improvements.

Future plans include an educational food garden to supply local food pantries and homeless shelters while giving opportunities for children from Rock Island’s Center for Math and Science to learn life skills.

Annual revenue from estate tours has increased from $16,000 in 2016 to over $130,000 under Deb's leadership. The Friends went against the current to get it done, but took none of the charm away!

River Activity: Buffalo Trail Committee / Jim Mathys

The perseverance and commitment of a small trail committee led an entire community to an historic win.

The committee and organizers led by Buffalo State Bank President Jim Mathys met regularly in the bank’s board room, but time after time they were turned down for funding.

Yet they reminded themselves that together they were powerful. They gathered the tools to find the resources, (grant writers from Bi-State Regional Authority were helpful) and the dream.

They came from all walks of life – council members, bicyclists, residents – and found solidarity in their work together.

This powerful network of folks now has a new goal: more riverfront trail. Deciding to always forge ahead with hope is a brave and bold thing to do, and without a doubt, they will continue to be successful.


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River Action, Inc.
822 E. River Drive
Davenport, Iowa 52803
Phone: (563) 322-2969

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