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Sarah Gomez


Earth Day was celebrated near Coon Rapids with the groundbreaking ceremony for Whiterock Conservancy's $4.8 million state-of-the-art backcountry trail system.

The 35 mile trail will give visitors the opportunity to experience being surrounded by nature. Winding through the seven square miles of Whiterock Conservancy, visitors will be taken to oak savanna and prairie restoration areas, forests, ponds, stunning vistas, pastures and sustainably farmed land in the Middle Raccoon River Valley.

"We could not think of a better way to celebrate Earth Day than marking the start of construction for a trail that will allow many, many more Iowans to experience the beautiful natural landscape Whiterock was created to protect," said Conrad Kramer, executive director.

"Whiterock works every day to protect and improve this special land, but being able to have students from Coon Rapids-Bayard School and volunteers help plant trees the same day was the perfect complement to the groundbreaking."

Adding to packed aggregate trails already at Whiterock, this sustainable designed dirt trail will bring the total number of miles available to walkers and runners to 40.

For the first time, 16 miles of single track trails specially designed for mountain bikers will be added. An additional 7 miles and an open pasture ride will be constructed to specifically serve equestrians. The remaining miles will be double track trail offering some of the best vistas in Iowa and will be open to all trail users including those with mobility restrictions who can use rented low power vehicles to venture deep into the wilderness.

Other improvements being made as part of the trail system are a new horse RV campground, new hike/bike in wilderness campsites, new interpretive signs and nature viewing blinds, and the renovation of the Burr Oak Visitor Center to provide additional meeting and event space. -Audubon County Advocate Journal Read more »

Success Stories


Plans for the 2014 Bell Tower Festival and this year’s logo were unveiled by Greene County Chamber and Development Monday. The 2014 festival, June 13-14, is being promoted as a celebration for and of the entire county.

“Welcome to Iowa’s Emerald County” plays off the festival’s 35th anniversary. As a 25th anniversary is a silver anniversary and a 50th anniversary is a golden anniversary, a 35th anniversary is a jade or emerald anniversary, Chamber executive director for tourism and events Chris Henning explained. Emerald is a word play with green, making Greene County Iowa’s “Emerald County.”

Incorporating the phrase “There’s no place like home,” as a nod to Greene County’s designation as the first Home Base Iowa community, the festival will have a Wizard of Oz flavor. The logo includes a yellow brick road leading to the bell tower.

The logo was designed by 2004 Jefferson-Scranton graduate Krystal Berger. It includes the Scranton water tower, a church, houses, barns, grain bins and wind turbines. The color version of the logo features the bell tower in green, and Henning hinted that the tower may be seen as green during the festival.

Many festival favorites will return this year including a pork barbecue Friday night, a parade Saturday morning, and the Bill Riley Talent Search Saturday evening. The Beverage Garden will feature music by Burnin’ Sensations Friday evening and Big Time Grain Co. Saturday evening.

BTF committeeSeveral Bell Tower Festival steering committee members were on hand for the unveiling of the logo. Present were (from left) Chris Henning, Ces Brunow, Angie Pedersen, Michael Cooley, Chamber administrative assistant Brandon Gustoff, Adam Pedersen and Harry Ahrenholtz. Dorothy Gale of Kansas made a surprise visit as well.

As a new theme-based treat, the Sierra Community Theatre has arranged for matinees of the digitally re-mastered 75th anniversary release of “The Wizard of Oz” on the big screen June 13, 14 and 15.

Updates on Bell Tower Festival planning and events are available by clicking on the ad/line on GreeneCountyNewsOnline (, at, on Facebook pages Greene County Chamber & Development and All Greene, and by calling the Chamber at 515-386-2436.
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Mark Lane, vice president of Operations at American Athletic Inc in Jefferson, was one of three featured speakers at the annual meeting of Western Iowa Advantage in Carroll Tuesday evening.

AAI is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, and Lane gave information about the organization of the company. “All 60 years have been in Jefferson, and we’re very proud of that,” Lane said.

AAI was purchased by Russell Athletic in 2004. Russell Athletic was purchased by Fruit of the Loom in 2006. Fruit of the Loom is now a subsidiary of Berkshire-Hathaway. Lane explained that AAI makes and sells gymnastics and cheerleading equipment and some gymnasium equipment under the AAI brand.

AAI has provided equipment for more than 240 major gymnastics championships including two Olympics, every Olympics trial since 1976, the National Championships since 1972, the American Cup since 1974, the NCAA championships since 1984, seven Malaysian Games and more. In 2014, AAI will provide equipment for 69 gymnastics events, including the World Championships in Nanning,China.

Under the Spalding brand, AAI manufactures institutional volleyball and basketball equipment like the backboards used at every NCAA tournament game. Spalding has been the official supplier since 2006 of nine consecutive NCAA Final Four tournaments.

Lane spoke of the 2014 men’s tournament, the first time Spalding has been used in all rounds of the tournament. “It’s been a great tournament. The slam dunks, the 3-point shooting, the buzzer beaters in this tournament, the close games, the huge upsets. The one thing that hopefully went unnoticed is that we were there for the whole thing, and that’s according to plan. We don’t want you to notice us. If you noticed us, we probably did something wrong. And when we do something wrong, the athlete’s game suffers. Our goal is to have every athlete play to the best of their ability… Athletes should be limited by their ability, not by the equipment. That’s why we do what we do.”

Spalding has also been a supplier to the NBA D-League since 2008, the NBA since 2009, including six consecutive All-Star games, and the WNBA since 2010. Spalding equipment has been used at more than 22,000 NBA, NBA D-League and WNBA games.

Athletes like the Darth Vader look of the Carbontek pads, Lane said.
Athletes like the Darth Vader look of the Carbontek pads, Lane said.

Lane also introduced the company’s newest product, Carbontek® shoulder pads under the Russell Athletic brand. He said they’re more than shoulder pads, but are “upper body protection system.” “The materials are unlike anything that’s ever been used before for shoulder pads before,” Lane said.

He said a protection vest is the core of the product. It uses an automotive foam that disperses 30 percent more energy than what is used in other shoulder pads. The foam is covered by a compression fabric that holds the vest tightly to the athlete’s upper body. Over that is an aerospace carbon fiber exoskeleton that disperses energy even more. “It’s unlike any product that anybody has ever tried,” he said.

The Carbontek shoulder pads are less than half the weight of other shoulder pads and have increased ventilation and moisture management. The pads do not absorb perspiration, so they’re the same light weight at the end of the game as at the beginning. “It may not sound like a lot, but you go out and play a game of football, and it makes a big difference,” Lane said.

The Carbontek pads are more odor and bacteria resistant than other pads, and have better impact dispersion. Lane explained that because the vest fits an athlete tightly, he has better range of motion and doesn’t feel a need to adjust his pads after every play. A final bonus is that by removing the exoskeleton, the pads are machine washable and dryable.

Lane said the Carbontek pads are in production in Jefferson. Russell is now taking orders and AAI is ramping up production. Last week 80 sets were constructed, and the company is looking for good growth. Five new employees have already been added to build the pads. “We’re excited about it…. We’re fired up that out of 33,000 employees (Fruit of the Loom, worldwide), they picked the 107 in Jefferson.”

“We’re fiercely proud of our brands and we’re proud of the fact that we’re making them. But the thing that we’re most proud about is that they’re made in Small Town, Iowa. That’s what we’re most proud of… We want you to be proud of these brands, too. These are your brands, too. They’re not just ours. They belong to Iowa,” Lane said.

Other speakers at the event were Keith Kerkhoff of Templeton Rye and Allan Petersen of Danish Countryside Vines and Wines.

Western Iowa Advantage is a collaborative effort of economic development officials in Greene, Adair, Audubon, Carroll, Crawford, Guthrie, Ida and Sac Counties. The consortium’s mission is to work cooperatively in an effort to effectively market the many viable economic assets of this region to help build a stronger local, regional and statewide economy. Read more »


The Guthrie County Arts Council (GCAC) recently announced details for its third annual Art in the Village festival, to be held 9 am to 5 pm Saturday, June 14 at the Guthrie County Historical Village in Panora.

"Art in the Village is a fantastic venue for people of all ages to come out and enjoy the handmade art and music on local artisans, all in the beautiful setting of one of the state's best small town historical museums," commented GCAC president Dale Menning.

Along with dozens of artists' booths, the event also features coffee and rolls for breakfast, grilled sandwiches and root beer floats for lunch, and wine tasting and sales all day long by Dale Valley Vineyard, the area's local winery.

Art in the Village also features two of western Iowa's finest bands: Bob Fields and Swing Time, and the King of the Tramps. A mainstay in Omaha, Swing Time, as their name suggests, features some of the finest music from the swing era. Their repertoire of Frank Sinatra and other swing era stars simply must be heard to be appreciated. Their big band sound is second to none. King of the Tramps (KOTT) features leader Todd Partridge, an Auburn native, who has spent the last 15 years on the road honing his chops. KOTT, inspired by the Rolling Stones, Allman Brothers, and Black Crowes, currently has two original albums, Good People and Wicked Mountain. They play throughout the Midwest, traveling Minnesota, Kansas, Colorado and Iowa.Swing Time will take the stage from 10 am to 1 pm, followed by King of the Tramps from 1 to 4 pm. -Guthrie County Vedette
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Brokers International, Ltd., of Panora recently donated $4,590 to Tori's Angels Foundation. The company's employee charitable giving committee chose Tori's Angels as their focus for the first quarter of 2014 and raised money from fellow employees. Committee fundraisers included a Build Your Own Burrito breakfast, Valentine's Day bake sale, March Madness brackets and tailgate party, and special jeans days. Company employees enjoyed these events while raising money to help children in need.

At receiving the generous check from Brokers International, Tori's Angels' Chairman Bill Ridgley said "All the kids and families we support say thank you in the deepest way possible." The foundation is currently supporting six children with life-threatening illnesses.

Tori's Angels was founded in 2011 after a very successful fundraiser for Tori Heckman of Panora and was named for all the generous community "angels" who supported Tori. The foundation has accepted 11 children to date and pays travel expenses to treatment, as well as medical co-pays and deductibles.

Donations to the foundation can be made at Panora State Bank or Guthrie County state Bank in Panora, MidStates Bank in Harlan, any US Bank, or by credit card on the Tori's Angels Facebook page. Supporters can "like" the Facebook page to receive regular updates on the children. The page has more than 1,500 follower to date.

For more information about Tori's Angels or to request an application for assistance, contact the foundation's chairman, Bill Ridgley, at or 712-249-6423. -The News Gazette Read more »


Save the date for Midwest Partnership's 19th Annual Golf Outing- lots of great new prizes this year including a Hole In One Challenge!

Get your teams together and sign up!

Click here for registration form Read more »


Bike Trail Tourism – Getting More Out of Your Trail is a conference set for Thursday, April 10 at the Hotel Pattee in Perry. How to capture more economic benefit from our trails is the focus of this conference, said Jim Miller of Waukee, board member of the Raccoon River Valley Trail (RRVT) and one of the conference organizers.
“We’re really fortunate to have the RRVT and the High Trestle trail go through our communities here in central Iowa, said Miller. This conference was developed to help towns on the trail get more out of this valuable new community asset. Our primary audience is local leaders of towns on the trail, trying to give them ideas and strategies to get more economic benefit from bike trails.”
The conference begins at 9:00 am with an opening presentation from Michael Gould of the Iowa Economic Development Authority, and avid biker, with thoughts on development in each community on the trail and creating more opportunity for bikers to spend money in your town.
Four panels of local and area speakers with expertise in each area have been assembled and will make presentations on the following topics;
(1) Best practices for businesses on the trail, including food, beverage, bike shops, etc, and starting and growing businesses that can capture sales to bike trail users.
(2) Local way-finding; improve local signage to help direct bike users off a trail into a town to local restaurants, bars, bike shops, and other local destinations. Also, how to create loops into your town from the main trail, along with signage, to get more trail users into your town.

(3) Public art on the bike trail, creating more reasons for trail users to visit your town and stop in your town; consider your local assets and how to market them as a bundle of assets.
(4) Best practices using technology – social media, web sites, mobile devices and popular apps, code readers, etc, to announce local events and market your town and the trail.
“We’re really excited to host this conference”, said Jay Hartz, owner and general manager of the Hotel Pattee. “One of our strategies to grow our business is to focus on bike trail users and do all we can to give them a great experience when they eat a meal here or stay overnight with us.”

Conference sponsors are the Center for Towncraft in Perry, a collaboration between Iowa State University Extension & Outreach and the City of Perry, and Common Thread, a consortium of towns on the Raccoon River Valley Trail and the High Trestle Trail.
Conference registration is $20 per person which includes lunch and all conference materials.
Pre-registration is required by April 7. Please make checks payable to City of Perry

Send your pre-registration to:
City of Perry
Attn: Bike Conf.
PO Box 545, Perry, IA 50220.
For more information contact, Alan Vandehaar, ISU Extension 515-231-6513, or Butch Niebuhr, City of Perry 515-465-2481,
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Chad Schreck, Executive Director of Midwest Partnership, recently sat down with Mike Libbie, of Insight on Business. To hear what they talked about, click HERE. Read more »


Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds have announced that Greene County has earned the designation as the first Home Base Iowa community.

Branstad and Reynolds plan to be in Jefferson at the AAI Showroom from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Thursday, March 13, for a ceremony introducing the program to the county.

Greene County officials, led by Home State Bank President Sid Jones and Greene County Development Corporation Executive Director Ken Paxton, have worked closely with the governor's office on the initiative to recruit returning military veterans to Iowa.

"Since we launched the bipartisan Home Base Iowa veterans jobs plan, Greene County has made it clear that the community stands ready to welcome service members and match them with good, high-paying jobs," Branstad said. "I commend the entire Greene County community for their work and look forward to being there in March to celebrate the achievement."

Paxton and Greene County business leaders are organizing veterans and workforce delegations to greet Branstad and Reynolds and other state officials associated with Home Base Iowa.

"When Governor Branstad and I launched the Home Base Iowa initiative to attract service members with their unique skillsets to Iowa, Greene County was there standing ready to adopt measures to become a Home Base Iowa Community," Reynolds said. "I look forward to joining Greene County leaders, business and citizens to announce the exciting designation."

The governor rolled out the overarching plan last fall at Camp Dodge in an event attended by Greene County leaders. In a follow-up news conference at the State Capitol, where has was joined by Paxton, Branstad described how cities and counties and businesses can earn designations as veteran friendly through jobs and housing programs, as well as other efforts.

A White House report says each year the military separates between 240,000 and 360,000 service members - and that the services are "expected to separate a million service members over the next several years."

Branstad said Iowans have a responsibility to those veterans - professionals who also have the training to make enormous contributions in the state.

"We want veterans to know that Iowans can provide them with not just a job, but a career in a caring welcoming community," Branstad said.

Branstad will detail resources and programs involved with Home Base Iowa during the Greene County event.

In Greene County, a countywide Veterans Jobs and Career Task Force led by a number of businesspeople and former military veterans has been meeting for about four months to leverage elements of the developing state plan. The goal: recruit veterans and their families for more than 1,000 jobs Greene County officials expect will be available in the next three to five years.
Read more »

Home Base Iowa Success Stories


After a rigorous training and application process, it was announced Thursday, February 6, by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds, that Guthrie Center in Guthrie County was named one of three new Main Street Iowa communities, along with Avoca and Newton. Main Street communities are designated after demonstrating the ability to work together and develop a strategic plan to further strengthen and create opportunities in their cities. Each community receives approximately 40 days on on-site training and technical assistance as well as 30 days of training for volunteers and local staff for the first three years of their designation. The state of Iowa's total investment for each Main Street community is $120,000 over the first three years and $10,000 in technical assistance and continued training annually. Read more in this news release from Iowa Economic Development Authority. Read more »

Success Stories


Please join the leaders from throughout Audubon, Adair, Guthrie & Greene counties as we come together to create our strategic plan for encouraging and supporting entrepreneurship. Tuesday, February 11th, 1pm-5pm at John 15 Vineyard- 343 180th St, Scranton. Your input is critical! Read more »


Stories of expansions, entrepreneurship and employment opportunities were plentiful at the 2014 Midwest Partnership Economic Development Corporation (EDC) annual meeting held January 23 at Lake Panorama National Conference Center in Panora, Iowa. The regional group, which includes Adair, Audubon, Greene and Guthrie counties, presented its 2013 results to more than 120 attendees present at the annual dinner event.

Economic Development Spurs Growth
Midwest Partnership EDC works with existing businesses and prospects to create jobs and expand industry and facilitated significant growth in 2013. Success stories noted included:
• AgriDrain Corporation, Adair, was named the “Renew Rural Iowa Entrepreneur of the Month” in February and was the first stop on Iowa Governor Terry Branstad’s Manufacturing Week Tour of businesses.
• Scranton Manufacturing, Scranton, announced an expansion of 56,000 square feet that will allow the increased throughput and the addition of up to 75 employees to its existing workforce of 180.
• Bauer Built, Paton, sold their business to John Deere Manufacturing, who will maintain operations in Greene County, securing 150 jobs. Owner Vaughn Bauer began work on a new business in Paton, expecting to create 30-40 jobs.
• Puck Custom Enterprises, Audubon County, began construction on a 30,000 square foot addition and was honored by Des Moines Area Community College with the 2013 Small Business of the Year Award.
• AMVC, Audubon, began construction on a new vet supply distribution center that will create 10 new jobs.

Community Development Creates Job Opportunities
In addition to economic development, Midwest Partnership also collaborates on community development and tourism projects in the region.
• Whiterock Conservancy in Guthrie County was awarded a $400,000 Community Attraction & Tourism Grant from the state of Iowa for the overall $4.22 million construction of and improvement for 35 miles of trails.
• A countywide referendum for a casino in Greene County passed with the highest vote percentage in Iowa history with more than 75 percent in favor.
• The Warren Cultural Center in Greenfield was one of only 10 sites to receive the 2013 National Preservation Honor Award by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
• Midwest Partnership EDC has established a five-year partnership for a regional entrepreneurship development project, made possible by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and two programs of UNI’s Business & Community Services. MyEntre.Net & The Institute of Decision Making.

New Officers Installed
A volunteer board oversees Midwest Partnership and is made up of member representatives of each county in the region. Sid Jones of Home State Bank, Jefferson, IA, (Greene County) handed off the President’s responsibilities to Warren Varley, Varley Law Firm, Stuart, IA, (Guthrie County). New executive board members include:

President Warren Varley, Varley Law Firm, Stuart, IA, Guthrie County
Vice President Brett Irlmeier, Audubon State Bank, Audubon, IA, Audubon County
Treasurer John Rutledge, Lake Panorama Association, Panora, IA, Guthrie County
Secretary TBD

Midwest Partnership EDC represents Adair, Audubon, Greene and Guthrie counties in Iowa and is the region’s leading facilitator for the retention, expansion and attraction of business to create jobs and grow the tax base. For more information, visit, email or call (515) 523-1262.
Read more »


Superstition in the 19th century typically would have prevented a furniture maker from building and displaying a coffin specifically for his showroom. It seems that folks back then thought if you build one, someone would surely wind up in it. But when Robby Pederesen, the Jefferson furniture maker who adheres to the techniques, tools and finishes of the 1870s, waned a coffin for his own showroom, he did something presumably would have freaked the muttonchops right off even the most hardened veteran of Antietam. He measured himself. And you know what? Working daily in the shadow of his own coffin, Pedersen's RVP~1875 historical furniture shop is thriving.

Pedersen, 43, recently signed off on his 820th career piece. "Lots of dining room tables come out of here," he explained one recent morning as a fire crackled and popped inside his hearth's shop.

The shop is coming off a banner year- having produced 82 pieces and nabbing the state of Iowa's 2013 outstanding tourism business award in October- but it looks like history will repeat itself in 2014.

Just 30 days into the new year, Pedersen already is only four orders away from being booked with work through Christmas. "This is the farthest out we've been," Pedersen said.

That's also merely keeping with historical accuracy. In 1875, he said, the average furniture maker had a waiting list of at least six months.

The first weekend in February RVP~1875 will host the first in a series of three-day workshops this years at a cost of $250 for beginners to learn about the trade. By Sunday, students will have built their own piece of furniture. Additional workshops are scheduled for March 7-9 and September 26-28.

When Pedersen set up shop nearly six years ago in the old Milligan Lumber, Grain and Coal building just off the Square, conventional wisdom suggested that his business model had about as much of a chance at succeeding as an infant born on the prairie during a cholera outbreak.

"Everybody said "If you're going to make a living t it you're going to have to use power tools,'" he said. Instead, he is now arguably the only shop in the nations- possibly the world- that turns out period furniture the way it would have been done in the 1800s, and produces enough of it to be self-sustaining. "We've got a business model that proves it can be done," he said.

The more than 400 hand planes lining Pedersen's shelves is a good indicator that RVP~1875 is a cut above similar-minded shops. The 19th century woodworking tools in his shop- including the Barnes Velocipede saw, a 140 year old, leg-powered, bicycle-like contraption- aren't just for show, despite their advanced age. The finishes also are a recipe of his own. He boils walnut husks for the dye, adding tints of raspberries, onion skins, and other goodies, but how much he uses remains a fiercely guarded secret.

His wife and business partner, Angie Pedersen, doesn't even know.

The whole endeavor makes for something totally unique to Jefferson- hence the Iowa Tourism Office's recognition last fall of RVP~1875 and the adjoining History Boy Theatre Company as a top draw for visitors to the Hawkeye State.

A 1989 graduate of Jefferson-Scranton High School, Pedersen spent ten years as a historical interpreter at Living History Farms near Des Moines before setting out on his own with RVP~1875, which was initially located in Story City. "We needed to pick our permanent home," he explained. "We did a national search and got offers from all over the country." The list was whittled down to three well-established tourist destinations, including Galena, IL., all of which were offering lifetime lease incentive. "I came home to talk to my parents about my options," Pedersen recalls. "I don't even know why, but I came up and looked at this building. I just fell in love with it. It had everything I would ever need. Jefferson wasn't even on my radar. Now it feels right. It made sense to come home."

His hometown of Jefferson makes it possible, he believes, to be a true production shop.

Today Pedersen has shipped his furniture to places as far away as Finland and Australia.

Like Iowa's settlers, Pedersen has staked one of the first claims of its kind in Greene County. But whether his settlement now goes the way of Jefferson or Angus remains to be seen. "we're here to start the tourism anchor. Hopefully, they utilize us," he says. - adapted from The Jefferson Herald Read more »

Success Stories


With the start of the new year, the residents of Exira are looking to a new leader, Mayor Brenda Bengard, who was elected to the position last fall.

Bengrd was a member of the Exira City Council for several years, winning the 2006 election and taking office in January of 2007. While she had never considered serving in a public position, and was asked to run for the Council eight years ago, Bengard says she enjoys the position and has learned a lot over the years.

"It is definitely a learning process and it isn't as easy as a person might think it is," she says.

One of the first issues on the plate when Bengard took office was the City's impending decision to leave the Audubon County Landfill Commission. "That issue alone was a huge learning curve," she said. Another area in which Bengard has gained a lot of knowledge is the budgeting process. "Budgeting for a city is very different from planning your own budget. The budget has to be put in place so far in advance and you don't know what expenses or emergencies might come up," she said.

Through her years of service to the Council, Bengard said she's proud of the clean up efforts that are going on throughout the city, starting with West Exira and moving east. She is also pleased with the renovation of City Hall. Being part of the decision to enter into a shared law enforcement agreement with Audubon County is also one of the major decisions Bengard has been involved with. "The agreement (with the County)is going well," she said. "We had to have police coverage and had to do something and this seemed like the right decision to make."

With her taking over the seat of Mayor, Bengard says the learning curve will continue. "It will be different going to a non-voting position, versus being an active member of the City Council. I will be in more of a guidance role, versus a decision making role," she stated. "Being more familiar with every item on the agenda and having more knowledge of the issues on our agendas will be different too."

One of the things Bengard hopes to accomplish as Mayor is to get a ten year plan in place. "I'd like to get a ten year plan that moves and guides the community forward, put into effect," she said. Having an effective and balanced budget will be another one of the issues Bengard and her council will work on. "Budgeting in any small entity is a challenge," she said. "The streets and sewers are old, but getting funding is difficult, and that is something all small towns face. There are grants available but most require matching funds, and coming up with those is an issue."

Bengard invites the residents of Exira to attend the Council meetings, held on the second Monday of each month and says she is always available to talk. "The Clerk;s office is open Monday through Friday 8:30 to 4:30 and I can always meet with anyone who has a concern or opinion. If people don't speak up about their concerns, we don't know what they want or how we can help. Call the Clerk;s office and we can set up a one on one meeting, or you're always welcome to come to a meeting and talk to all of us."

Bengard has been married to husband Jed for 37 years. They have two children, Tim, who works at Quality Machine in Audubon, and Amy, who works at Quakerdale in Manning. Daughter-in-law Amy is employed by Community Insurance and she has "one wonderful grandson", Gavin. She is a graduate of Kuemper Catholic High School in Carroll and has been a resident of Exira for 35 years. She has been an employee of the Exira Community Schools, Exira Care Center and DeLong's Manufacturing. -Audubon County Advocate Journal Read more »


The Audubon Chamber of Commerce held their annual banquet and awards ceremony on January 4. During the evening awards were presented, including Citizen of the Year, Junior Citizen of the Year and Community Service Award. Members of the Audubon Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors were also introduced and those retiring from the Board were honored. The evening also included entertainment, a catered dinner and an auction.

Roger Malmberg, beloved former science teacher in the Audubon School District, was named Citizen of the Year, Malmberg was stunned as he accepted the award, surrounded by his wife Judy and members of his family. Pat Curtis, last year's Citizen of the Year, presented Malmberg with the award.

The Junior Citizen of the Year award was presented to two outstanding individuals, Maddie Christensen and Megan Deist.

Christensen is a member of the National Honor Society and Student Senate, holding offices in both organizations. She is a member of the high school band, choir and speech and drama departments, receiving numerous state honors and recommendations throughout her four years of participation. She was named Missouri Valley Junior Recreational Tennis Player of the Year and has been a four year member of the AHS tennis team. She is an honor roll student and has over 60 hours of community service logged in the Silver Cord program. She is a tutor, directs Summer Rec Youth Theatre, coaches Summer Rec Youth Tennis, volunteers with Caring and Sharing, spends weeks at a time in the Lincoln, Nebraska homeless shelter, entertains residents at the Friendship Home and the list goes on.

Deist is a four-year member of the AHS track and cross country teams and a three year state cross country qualifier. She is also a member of the AHS band and chorus, earning numerous awards and honors over the past four years. She is an honor roll student who has served as class officer, and student senate officer, was a member of the Homecoming Court and a member of the dance team. She is active in church and community services and plans to attend the University of Iowa upon graduation to major in Theatre and Journalism/Mass Communications.

The Special Community Appreciation award for 2013 was presented to the Audubon County Memorial Hospital. In 2013, ACMH was presented with a number of awards and commendations. In March they were named one of the Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals in the nation, by Health Strong. In April they were named as Top 20 Critical Access Hospitals on a patient perspective basis. They were named by Becker's Hospital Review as one of the great 100 hospitals dedicated to quality care and community service. Hospitals rated on this scale have less than 550 beds, with minimal teaching programs and are usually located in rural areas. They were also presented the Guardian of Excellence Award by Press Ganey. Fewer than 5% of all Press Ganey clients reach this threshold and maintain it for the one-year reporting period. Press Ganey partners with 10,000 facilities, or more than half the hospitals in the U.S.

Kate Whitehead, who presented the award to the administrator, Tom Smith, and his staff said "I just want to say that having dealt with ACMH staff both as fellow professional and a patient that we are extremely fortune to have this high level of expertise in this community. Because of the high level of dedicated professional staff and competent administration, we have a state of the art facility to meet our health care needs that in many ways surpasses the care and compassion we see in the cities, and are very financially sound."

The 2014 Board of Directors President Dave Witt served as Master of Ceremonies for the evening. He also presenting retiring Board members Trish Nielsen, Kay Whitehead, Tom Hansen and Amy Emlquist with Certificates of Appreciation for their duties. New Board members for 2014 were also introduced and include Shane Lange, Ashley VanAernam, Ann Wood-Randeris and Vicky Robinson. -Audubon County Advocate Journal Read more »


The Entrepreneurship Event scheduled for Jan. 10th is now rescheduled to January 21st. We will be updating website for more information soon.
Read more »



Recognizing excellence in leadership and passion for economic development in the
Midwest Partnership Development Corporation region.
Guy Powell, past president of the Midwest Partnership Development Corporation and active volunteer on the board of many other area organizations, was passionate about local and regional economic development. He was a strong believer in the region’s potential. In recognition of his life-long dedication, commitment, and service, the Midwest Partnership Development Corporation has created the Guy Powell Award.

Businesses and individuals who are members in Midwest Partnership Development Corporation are encouraged to nominate individuals who stand out as outstanding leaders in this area of west central Iowa, and who work to make it a more economically vital place to live, work, and play.

The Nomination:

Those submitting nominations should consider:

o Vision
o Leadership
o Courage
o Impact

Information to include in the nomination is as follows:

o Name & Address of the Nominee (Person, group or business being nominated.)
o Name, Address & Phone Number of the Nominator (Person completing the nomination.)
o A brief statement (500 words or less) on how the nominee has made an impact on their local community and/or region through volunteer service.

The deadline to submit nominations is January 17th, 2013. Mail or e-mail nomination form to:

Monica Cateron, Office Manager
Midwest Partnership Development Corporation
P.O. Box 537
Stuart, IA
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The Iowa Department of Revenue has issued its Assessment Limitations Order, or "rollback," on property values in Iowa. The Order adjusts the property values used by local governments to compute property taxes for agricultural, residential, commercial, and industrial property.
While the Department issues an Assessment Limitations Order each year, this year's Order is notable in that it implements the first phase of Governor Terry Branstad's 2013 Commercial Property Tax Reform package, 2013 Iowa Acts Senate File 295.
Prior to the 2013 legislation, state law allowed no more than a four percent increase from year to year in the taxable values for agricultural, residential, commercial, and industrial property classifications. Effective with the 2013 Assessment Limitations Order, the increase in taxable values for the agricultural and residential property classifications is limited to three percent. Additionally, the 2013 law removed the assessment limitation for commercial, industrial, and railroad properties and replaced it with a five percent reduction in the taxable value, from 100 percent to 95 percent. In 2014, the taxable value will be reduced another five percent, from 95 percent to 90 percent.
The 2013 Order sets forth the following taxable values:
* The taxable value for residential property is 54.4002% of the assessed value. This is an increase from the 2012 level of 52.8166 %. Residential property includes farm dwellings.
* The taxable value for agricultural property is 43.3997% of the assessed value. This is a decrease from the 2012 level of 59.9334%.
* The taxable value for commercial, industrial and railroad properties is 95% of the assessed value. This is a decrease from the 2012 level of 100%.
* No adjustment was ordered for utility property because its assessed value did not increase enough to qualify for reduction. Utility property is limited to an 8% annual growth.
County auditors will apply the adjustments to each property classification to compute the taxable values used to establish property taxes. Tax liabilities based on the 2013 taxable values are payable in fiscal year 2014-15 and will not be determined until local taxing bodies establish their property tax needs early next year.
Additional information about the property tax rollback is available on the department's website at: Read more »


Forrest (Brick) Schnobrich, of Casey, was included in a new photographic exhibit honoring notable Iowa veterans. The exhibit is at the Iowa Gold Start Military Museum located on Camp Dodge in Johnston.

Spec. 4 Forrect "Brick" Paul Schnobrich was born November 22, 1942, in Avery. He graduated from Adair-Casey Community School in 1961. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Secondary Education at Northwest Missouri State (1965) in Maryville, MO., before teaching and coaching at Atlantic (Iowa) High School and North English High School.

Schnobrich then joined the U.S. Army. After basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, MO. and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Sill, OK,he was deployed to Dong Ha, Vietnam, in a fire direction center and later within the battalion operation center.

"I joined the military to serve my country," Schnobrich said. "My father served in WWII and I thought it was my duty to serve also. My great-grandfather fought on the Union side in the Civil War."

He re-deployed stateside, where he served as a processing clerk at Fort Carson, CO. He was discharged from the Army in 1970 as a Specialist.

Hi military awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal (with three stars), Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal (with device "1960"), and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry (with Palm).

The Iowa Gold Military Museum is open to the public and admission is free. -The Adair News Read more »

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