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Treasure Hunt teaches valuable lesson: Never give up

Appleby refuses to quit, finds medallion after ‘someone’ moved it

Lonnie Appleby (left) and Travis Padget pose with the 2013 Great Treasure Hunt medallion and the $1,000 in Newton Chamber Bucks they won for finding the treasure.
Lonnie Appleby (left) and Travis Padget pose with the 2013 Great Treasure Hunt medallion and the $1,000 in Newton Chamber Bucks they won for finding the treasure.

Never give up.

If there’s anything to be learned from the 2013 Great Treasure Hunt, hosted by the Newton Daily News, the Greater Newton Area Chamber of Commerce, Skiff Medical Center and Park Centre, it is to never give up. Even when you’re told it’s all over.

Thursday, during a routine search for the treasure hunt medallion, it was discovered the medallion was no longer in its original hiding place adjacent to the gazebo at the Newton Arboretum and Botanical Garden. In fact, a search within a radius of 10 feet of the hiding spot turned up nothing.

But, by Friday afternoon, still no one had turned in the medallion to collect the $1,000 in Newton Chamber Bucks awaiting the winner, despite instructions on the back of the medallion instructing even the accidental finder to bring it in. Speculation began to circulate among the more avid hunters on the Daily News Facebook page.

Lonnie Appleby, who had been hunting as part of a team with Travis Padget, thought it was just a little too weird. So, he took the initiative and began looking again in the area around the gazebo at the arboretum.

“My thought was either a raccoon or a groundskeeper, not knowing it was in that area, was maybe weed-whacking and hit it with the weed whacker, so I was going to search inward, then move outward,” he said. “Truth is, I was down in the rocky creek bed first and gave up and was walking toward my car and I thought, ‘I’ll look for 10 more minutes or so.’”

Appleby started in the exact location the medallion had originally been hid. And he, too, turned up emptyhanded. Ready to give up, yet driven by sheer stubbornness that convinced him no one could possibly find the medallion and not turn it in, he moved out farther.

About 20 feet from the original hiding place, in a planting box next to the gazebo, he hunched down, hands on his knees, and leaned forward. Very slowly, he swept through the foliage, until he came upon a patch of lilies.

“At that moment, what was going through my head was, ‘This is stupid, Lonnie. It’s been found or taken, and even if it was here, you should be home cleaning your hou ... Son of a...’ as my eyes landed on it,” he said. “I just stood there, then looked around really quickly like I had discovered the secret plans on the train platform in Prague at midnight or something, grinned, reached in and snagged it.”

Appleby and Padget will share the $1,000 prize, splitting it right down the middle. Neither of them has decided what he plans to do with the Newton Chamber Bucks just yet.

The medallion: How did it move?

Perhaps the most perplexing part of the story is how the medallion moved from its original hiding place to the location where Appleby found it. Even now, everyone involved is still shaking his or her head.

When the medallion was discovered to have been removed from its original hiding place, Newton Administrative Parks Superintendent Nathan Unsworth, who also had been seeking the treasure himself. He said no Parks Department staff had found it.

One theory is that a raccoon may have picked the medallion up, dropping it after discovering it wasn’t edible.

Newton Chamber Bucks: What are they?

Last week, Greater Newton Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Darrell Sarmento explained what Newton Chamber Bucks are. Some had the impression they had limited spending power in the community.

“They are gift certificates that can be spent like cash for goods and services at most Newton Chamber of Commerce businesses. It’s a way of encouraging people to ‘Shop Local’ and support our Newton businesses,” he said. “From Hy-Vee and Fareway to Wal-Mart, Theisen’s and Farver True Value, plus the dozens of our unique retail shops and restaurants in our area, Chamber Buck recipients will have a wide variety of businesses to choose from. They can even be used for services like auto repair and carpet cleaning.”

Currently, there are more than 200 businesses who are members of the Greater Newton Area Chamber of Commerce and the number is growing — almost daily.

The clues: What did they mean?

The clues for the 2013 Great Treasure Hunt were interpreted to have a lot of different meanings. And, to be honest, they were written for exactly that purpose. But, in fairness, here is how we hoped the eventual winner would piece them together.

Clue #1: You need a spark, You can try to look for me, Where the trademark, Was dependability.

This clue simply means “look in Newton,” the town where the trademark was once Maytag dependability.

Clue #2: Looking by the book, Look high or low, But don’t you look, Where the winds blow.

This clue means, “If you follow the rules, you will look high and low, but don’t look near Newton WaterWorks,” which is located across the street from Windstream’s corporate offices.

Clue #3: Fast as fast can be, Won’t be any help, You want to find me, But I cannot yelp.

This clue means, “Don’t look at the Iowa Speedway, and don’t expect the cluegiver to provide you with any hints.” For starters, Iowa Speedway is private property. Secondly, this is about the time the office begins getting calls about the location of the medallion.

Clue #4: Ten forward, Fifteen right, Six backward, Fifteen right.

This clue refers to the number of blocks from the courthouse one would need to travel to get to the medallion’s hiding place.

Clue #5: A map, a map, Helpful, one would be, Looking’s a snap, Look around. Find me.

This clue tells you that having a map of Newton, and using it when referring to many of the clues, will be helpful.

Clue #6: Tick, tock, tick tock, To find where I hide, Eyes on the clock, Time’s not on your side.

This clue was meant to help prepare for the next clue, which will help solve the location of the medallion, if you have a clock or a watch with hands on it.

Clue #7: From the courthouse lawn, Look up at the big clock, If you’re there at dawn, See me at 2 o’clock.

This clue tells you to look in the 2 o’clock direction from the courthouse. Placing a watch or clock with hands over a map of Newton would have helped here. The word “dawn” was used only because it rhymed with “lawn.”

Clue #8: To find where I hide, Let’s be philosophical, Check the eastern side, No need to get physical.

The arboretum is located on the east side of Newton, with recreational facilities immediately adjacent to it.

Clue #9: I’m hardly a jock, I play hide and seek, Look around the Rock, Or maybe the Creek.

If Clue #8 got you as close as Agnes Patterson Park, this clue was meant to help you zone in to the medallion’s hiding place, which was just off the Rock Creek Recreational Trail at the arboretum.

The following clues were not officially given out, but would have further helped treasure hunters.

Clue #10: I offer you no falsehood, Clues? I’ve given a plethora, Celebrate our native wood, And check out the local flora.

This clue would have told you to look in the arboretum.

Final Clue: My hiding place sure is “purdy,” Near a structure big and round, Look around for something sturdy, Then turn your eyes to the ground.

The medallion was originally hidden at ground level immediately adjacent to the gazebo at the arboretum.

The 2013 Great Treasure Hunt was presented by Newton Daily News, Greater Newton Area Chamber of Commerce, Skiff Medical Center and Park Centre. This year’s sponsors are: Book Trader/Tan America, Advantage Real Estate, Pit Stop Liquors, Westwood Golf Course, The Floor Store, First Newton National Bank, Fore Seasons Golf, Re/MAX Real Estate Concepts, Mojo Cycling, Newton Village and Hawkeye Car Credit.

Daily News Editor Bob Eschliman may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 423, or at

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