Windmill donors officially made 'citizens'

Former Mayor Kenny Dill tells the story behind the windmill has the Knobbes listen.
Staff Writer

They gave the city its iconic symbol years ago. Now, they are "official" citizens, complete with their own "key to the city."

Harry and Doris Knobbe, life-long residents of West Point, Neb. who gave West Point the windmill that overlooks downtown, were presented their "key" Friday in a ceremony at the West Point-Clay County Growth Alliance.

Mayor Robbie Robinson did the honors with former Mayor Kenny Dill, who arranged for the windmill in the first place, on hand to share in the act, which he said he "forgot to do" all those years ago.

"I see it everyday and I think of what a wonderful image it has been for the city. It has become such an important part of who we are," Robinson told the couple.

"We are proud to give you dual 'citizenship' in our West Point," Robinson, added, noting the United States has nine towns named West Point.

The idea for the windmill had its genesis in the Prairie Arts Festival which Lee Stafford started in 1980 and used a windmill in promotional materials. The problem was, the city didn't have a windmill.

"We all looked around here and every windmill we found was made out of wood, out of lumber, and they all were rotted. Turns out we really didn't use windmills in this area because you have to have wind," Dill told a small gathering at the ceremony.

Local leaders were told the best windmills were in Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska and Kansas, areas where the winds were more constant and often brisk. Jimmy Bryan of the Bryan Foods family used his connections in the cattle business in that part of the country and the match was made.

The Knobbes brought a windmill to the city, from West Point, Neb., in the early 1990s and the windmill has grown as the city's symbol since then. In fact, two more now are in the area, one on the north side of Highway 82 near the Airport Road exit and another on Highway 50 east of West Point.

"It gave us a lot of ammunition to promote ourselves," Dill said.

Harry Knobbe said the family's ties to West Point started in the 1970s when they started buying cattle here. That's when they met the Bryan family. When they brought the windmill in the back of a truck, their son came with them. He stayed and married a West Point, Miss., woman.

They still travel often in the cattle business and West Point is on their list, part for family, part for friendship and part for business.

"You have to go see what's out there, you have to see the people, see all the people you meet in the cattle business," Harry Knobbe said, recounting how he and his wife have been to Kansas, Texas, Louisiana and Alabama on their current road trip.

"We appreciate your friendship. The gift you have us has been priceless," Dill said.