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Sarah Gomez


The second half of a U.S. Department of Labor grant to help re-employ Iowa workers affected by layoffs at Electrolux has been allocated.

More than $676,388 was disbursed to Iowa Workforce Development on Monday, more than a year after the first half of a $1.3 million national emergency grant was awarded.

In July 2008, Electrolux began moving its operations from Jefferson and Webster City to Juarez, Mexico. In February 2009, the company announced that it was moving all manufacturing operations to Juarez and transferring all distribution operations to an existing center in El Paso, Texas.

The Labor Department says more than 700 workers affected by the layoffs will be assisted by the grant money.

The money will provide eligible workers with continued access to training and support.

Read more »


The Audubon County supervisors signed two resolutions last week, applying for grant funding for the Little Mermaid Trail, connecting the Danish Villages and Elk Horn and Kimballton. Chris Whitaker of the Regional XII Council of Governments approached the board with the details on the two grants. Whitaker has been working with SWIPCO staff and the Little Mermaid Trail Committee on funding options for the project. "While this project is large in scope," said Whitaker, "It will prove to be a welcome addition to the amenities already present in these two communities. Grant funding will be critical to complete this project." Grants from the Statewide Transportation Enhancement and the Federal Recreational Trails Program, both administered by the Iowa DOT, are the two funding options the group is applying for at this time. Whitaker said the application is for Phase 1 of the project, which includes the trail through the town of Kimballton and the West Elk Horn Element in Elk Horn. "The total project cost is estimated to be $675,000 and the grant requests would be from $475,000," said Whitaker. "The local match would be provided by the cities and the trail committee via local fund raising and other grants." The only thing the County would be responsible for is the sponsorship of the project and a promise to help with trail maintenance, which the supervisors had already agreed to. "We previously agreed to this so I see no reason not to pass these resolutions," said supervisor Todd Nelson. - Coon Rapids Enterprise, October 13, 2011. Read more »


The new land manager at Whiterock Conservancy (WRC)has a project he hopes the community will dig into, too. He is planting trees- 5,300 trees to be exact.

"It's going to be a nice area when it's all said and done," said Chris Troendle of Coon Rapids, gesturing at the proposed area for the tree influx. The trees will be planted along the paved section of the trail just south of the Main Street trailhead on what has long been known as the Coulter Farm.

The area looks barren now. That's because Troendle and other WRC employees have recently cleared it of dead trees and tall grasses to prepare for planting in the spring. On this 7.2 acre tract of land next to the Middle Raccoon River, Troendle is excited about giving 5,300 trees a home.

"I want to make this a multi-use trail," he said.

Not only will he be planting 12 varieties of hardwood and softwood trees, but he also plans to remove the fence along this space of land and plant fruit trees.

"Really what I'm looking for is the community to get involved," he said. "How great would it be to walk the trail and be able to pick an apple or a plum along the way ?"

Not only will WRC be planting trees, but they will also add shrubs and even rye. He plans to make the area a destination for wildlife watching, recreation and even snacking in a space rich in biodiversity.

"I think it will turn out to be a really cool area," he said.

TO complete the project, Troendle needs a little help from the community. Funding for the project has been provided through the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NCRS), which allows him to purchase hard and soft-wood varieties and bushes. However, the NCRS will not fund flowering fruit trees. So, Troendle is asking community members to donate a tree or funds to purchase a tree.

He would also like to have some help to plant the trees next spring. Those wishing to volunteer should contact Troendle at (712)684-2697 ext 114 or via email at

"Five thousand three hundred trees is a lot of trees to plant," he added. Read more »


The memories seem safely tucked in the distant past but do you remember the January 2010 ice storm that left thousands of Western Iowa rural residents without electricity for several days ?

At its worst, Raccoon Valley Electric Cooperative had more than 1,000 poles knocked down. The damage was so severe that nearly 2,700 of the co-op's 2,752 members-consumers lost power.

Around 150 out-of-state linemen volunteered to assist RVEC in making the necessary repairs which ultimately helped minimize the inconvenience for its customers.

RVEC, working in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is now in the midst of making sure another ice storm does not cause a similar impact. A large portion of RVEC's electric system, which stretches 1,254 miles in nine counties, is being rebuilt.

Jim Bagley, General Manager of RVEC, reports that over 707 miles of line is being replaced by RVEC crews and contracted crews.

"New lines are being built with larger conductors and we will have more poles per mile," said Bagley.

Currently RVEC has approximately 500 miles completed, contracted or in progress of being completed. The project should be completed by 2014.

Bagley said FEMA estimated that damage to RVEC's system was over $53 million, of which 75% is being covered by FEMA, 10% by Iowa Homeland Security and 15% by RVEC.

Guthrie County REC also experienced major losses and is in replacement mode for many miles of its lines.

CRMU General Manager Brad Honold said the local utilities will also see some benefit of FEMA hazardous mitigation funds through re-conductoring high voltage transmission lines that help feed Coon Rapids. - Coon Rapids Enterprise, October 13, 2011. Read more »


The Guthrie County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the application of Common Thread for a $650,000 planning grant at their October 4 meeting,

Perry city administrator Butch Niebuhr explained the purpose of the Common Thread organization to promote housing, eco-tourism and more in a variety of communities in the area. Included in Guthrie County in the initial planning stages were Bayard, Bagley, Jamaica, Yale and Panora. Stuart and Menlo are slated to be included in the future. Guthrie Center may be added.

The Board was receptive to the idea as long as no money is attached. Chairman Jerry Caraher questioned the mention of $230,000 in-kind contribution. HE specifically questioned the use of the word "mostly" in reference to the support provided.

"All the funding is for planning. We're not asking for funds in cash," explained Niebuhr. "The communities have a lot of things in common. There isn't much growth." He pointed out that the recreational trails, water trails, etc, that link the communities.

Niebuhr noted the grant encompasses many things: housing, recreation, transportation, EPA, planning for the future, eco-tourism, etc. "We want to make ourselves a little more known. We're tooting our horn a little bit," said Niebuhr.

"Working together. We have a lot of things in common," added Niebuhr. "The whole idea is that we're in this together."

Read more »


A trio of employees of Ravensdown, a cutting-edge agronomy company in New Zealand, recently spent a day-and-a-half at West Central Coop learning about American agriculture and practices. As part of their visit to West Central's Ralston and Jefferson locations the guests from Ravensdown had an opportunity to get out to the field and meet local producers Bruce Wessling, Roger Wessling, and Wessling Ag employees Steve Fisher and Wade Sohm. - Jefferson Herald Read more »


After reviewing four bids received at its September 13 meeting, the Guthrie Center city council Monday accepted the low bid of MSA for engineering services for a project that would involve new street lighting and sidewalks downtown.

MSA's winning bid was $14,700 for lights and sidewalk engineering and $9,700 for designing a master downtown revitalization plan and preparing a grant application for such with the Iowa Department of Economic Development.

A decision on the bid was delayed at the time due to the absence of council members and a wide array of information presented in the four bids.

In other action, the council approved health insurance premiums for 2012 from Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield which are decreasing by 6 percent.

The council clarified running refrigerator truck trailers must be dropped in the designated parking area at the city shop during winter months with truck drivers providing their own planks. Tractors then can be moved to a designated location to plug into electricity providing the driver has completed the parking space rental agreement ad paid for such. No maintenance work is to be completed on the tractor/trailers while located at the shop on the west edge of town.

Discussion was held on a new requirement for a lift at the aquatic center. Further investigation is needed to determine if the lift will work with the aquatic center's gutter system. Read more »


Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced funding awards that will support rural communities, help create jobs and build regional economies in 34 states. The Secretary announced investments through the Rural Business Opportunity Grants Program (RBOG)program which supports regional planning activities to improve the economic conditions in rural areas. The Wallace Centers of Iowa, with locations in Des Moines and rural Orient, will receive $50,000 for a two-year project to develop a holistic value-added support program to assist local farmers and growers in developing, processing, and packaging new food products. The Wallace Centers of Iowa was one of only four Iowa organizations to receive a grant. The highly competitive program awarded just 39 grants nationwide.

"The funds I am announcing today will help local business leaders, communities, and disadvantaged agricultural producers take more of a collaborative and regional approach toward jobs creation business development and economic growth," said Vilsack.

Projects funded as part of USDA's regional initiative will focus on strategic planning activities to improve economic conditions in rural areas, particularly in underserved communities. The initiative will help communities to connect and cluster their economies geographically based on their self-identified strengths, so they are able to increase productivity and build more robust, sustainable economies.

"This support will enable us to broaden the outreach of our food programming within a 13-county area," said Diane Weiland, CEO and Program Developer. "In addition to expanding the restaurant at the Country Life Center and adding value to the fruits and vegetables grown there, we will serve other small producers through teaching and mentoring in the development of new food products. This product will have a positive effect on growers' revenues."

The 13-county outreach area includes Adair, Adams, Cass, Clarke, Decatur, Greene, Guthrie, Madison, Polk, Ringgold, Taylor, Union and Warren counties.

This announcement is part of a series of rural infrastructure investments expected by Secretary Vilsack during the next two weeks. This effort supports the goal of the American Jobs Act, which makes critical infrastructure improvements to put people back to work immediately. The Wallace Centers of Iowa is a non-profit organization that includes the Henry A. Wallace Country Life Center in rural Orient and the Wallace House in Des Moines. The two historic sites provide programs and community services centered on sustainability and civility, organic fruits and vegetables, and Wallace family history. More information can be found at - Adair County Free Press, October 12, 2011. Read more »


The TIF agreement between Audubon County and West Central Cooperative moved one step forward this week, as County officials gave Joe Behrens of Region XII Council of Governments finalized TIF district map and cost estimate of projects that could be done within the district. Those two pieces of the "puzzle" were needed to finalize the Urban Renewal Plan, which is an integral part of establishing the TIF district.

The district includes the section of land in which the new West Central Hamlin facility sits, as well as some surrounding land and 13 miles of right of way on N-36. By including those 13 miles of N-36 in the TIF district, the County will be able to use additional tax dollars "captured" by the agreement to make improvements to the paved road.

The Board of Supervisors and county engineer, Mitch Rydl, had considered including F-58 from N-36 to the Audubon and Cass County line into the district, as it would sense that paved arterial roadways leading to and from the West Central facility would expect to see heavier traffic, but chose not to include the road in this agreement. The Board, instead, will look to a possible TIF arrangement that would include F-58, when a proposed wind tower project in southeast Audubon County comes to fruition.

Rydl's project estimate for the West Central TIF agreement included: $5.2 million in paving projects, $1.7 million in bridgework, $219,650 in shoulder repairs and $416,000 in granular costs over the 20 year life of the TIF. The Board and Rydl were quick to point out that these were simply estimates of all of the projects that could be completed within the district and that the projects completed would depend on actual dollars received and severity of need.

Behrens will continue to work on the agreement and stated to the Board at an earlier meeting that the county should be able to start certifying debt to the TIF by December 1. - Audubon County Advocate Journal, October 7, 2011. Read more »


Iowa's fall foliage provides a colorful backdrop to autumn activities statewide. Travelers can find weekly foliage updates on, as well as listings of autumn events and information on the scenic byways across the state. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) provides information for the updates, which are specific to seven general regions of Iowa.

This year the DNR estimates that the northern half of the state will experience peak colors beginning around October 8. The southern half of the state will be most colorful about a week or so later.

"A quarter of our travelers visit between September and November," said Iowa Tourism Office Manager Shawna Lode. "Those people are enjoying great fall festivals, u-pick pumpkin patches, apple orchards and of course, beautiful and colorful scenery along the way."

This year offers new opportunities to explore the fall colors:
* Living Loess Tour, near Missouri Valley. On October 15 nine artisans in the scenic Loess Hill, including a lavendar farm, aronia berry farm and woodworker, will offer special programs and discounts.
* High Trestle Trail, Ankeny to Woodward. The centerpiece of the 25 mile trail is a dedicated 2,300 ft long bridge crossing the Des Moines River, the fifth largest trail bridge in the world.
* Sky Tours, Dubuque. Soar through dense treetops and over tree-lines ridges in historic Union Park.

Tourism is a $6.1 billion industry in Iowa, employing more than 63,000 people statewide and generating more the $312 million in state taxes. The Iowa Tourism Office is part of the Iowa Economic Development Authority. For more information about Iowa tourism, visit, call 800-345-IOWA or stop at any Iowa Welcome Center. Read more »


The Friends of Rippey were one of the 16 charitable groups in the central part of the Alliant Energy utility service territory to receive a Community Grant from the Alliant Energy Foundation in the second of three grant cycles in 2011. The 16 grants totaled $22,250.

The foundation contributed $2,000 to the Friends of Rippey to help with the renovation of the Rippey Public Library's new facility.

The foundation's Community Grants program focuses on contributing to a wide range of programs aimed at improving the quality of community life. Grants are awarded to support specific programs that address community needs and benefit a large number of people. The program emphasizes five primary areas of giving: human needs, education, culture and art, civic and the environment.

Since its formation in 1998, the foundation has contributed more than $34 million to worthwhile projects and organizations. - Jefferson Herald, September 22, 2011 Read more »


The Guthrie County Hospitals Family Medical clinics in Panora and Adair are excited to add another clinic location to the GCH Family Medicine- Stuart location clinic. On Tuesday, September 20, a temporary home for the GCH Family Medicine Clinic was delivered to the clinic location at 312 N. Fremont Street. The temporary home will be staffed with employees who have volunteered to cover shifts. The cooperation of the City of Stuart is appreciated as they have allowed the use of the temporary home for up to 18 months.

The temporary home is 24' by 56', which will include three exam rooms and be handicap accessible. GCH will rent and use this facility until the permanent home is complete from construction. It is coming to Stuart from ModSpace , a Kansas City, Mo. company.

"A special thank you to the entire community in helping make this all possible," said Jerry Neal, CEO of Guthrie County Hospital.

The Guthrie County Hospital is celebrating its 60th Anniversary this week, and on Saturday, September 24 from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., they will greet people at Sneakers Cafe located in the hospital.

The Guthrie County Hospital has been in existence since 1951, and is a rural critical access hospital with 25 beds. It includes a state-of-the-art operating room and emergency department that are less than five years old. The Guthrie County Hospital Healthy Living Center at GCH is home to the physical therapy, fitness center, and cardiac rehab. GCH Specialty Clinic is the newest addition to the hospital, which is home to many specialty doctors that come, visit, and see patients on a monthly basis for different procedures from orthopedic surgery to eye surgery. - Stuart Herald, September 22, 2011 Read more »


Bill Menner, USDA Rural Development State Director in Iowa, will be in Audubon on Friday, September 23rd at 9 a.m. to listen to local community and economic development leaders, as well as the general public, discuss issues and opportunities they encounter in their ongoing efforts to keep rural Iowa vibrant and prosperous.

The session will take place at the Audubon County Economic Development Corporation, 800 Market Street, and is open to the public.

In the last ten years, 66 of Iowa's 99 counties have seen a population decline. While rural communities and areas are home to 1.7 million Iowans, more than half of Iowa's nearly 950 cities now have fewer than 500 residents.

USDA Rural Development currently administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility loan and grant programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.

During the past year the agency helped a record number of Iowans receive funding for economic development projects and quality of life improvements. The agency's investment in Iowa helped create or retain more than 2.200 jobs, aided 2,500 families in buying their own homes and assisted more than 250 communities as they made improvements to their facilities, services and infrastructure. -Guthrie County Vedette, September 22, 2011

Read more »


An open house is scheduled for Thursday, September 22 at the new dry fertilizer plan recently erected by Herbers Seed of Audubon. Read more »


RIADA Inc. (Residents for Industrial and Agricultural Development in Adair) met Monday noon in the Adair Public Library meeting room. The meal was catered.

John Fisher, president of the organization, conducted the business meeting.

Chad Schreck, executive director of Midwest Partnership, was a guest. This was his first meeting with RIADA after being hired by MWP about two months ago. Mr. Schreck reported on the activities of MWP in the four counties served by the economic development corporation. He was brought up to date by members of RIADA about the available buildings and sites in the community for development.

Mr. Fisher discussed recent developments funded by RIADA, including the three flag poles and flags at the sign at the south entrance to the city. Members agreed it is a nice addition to the area.

Fisher suggested that since the organization had such good results from their 2010 Vision done in 2000, it would be a good goal for RIADA to have its own 2020 Vision done this year. All members are asked to attend next month's meeting and bring three ideas of projects to improve the community by 2020.

Other business of the organization was discussed. - The Adair New, September 15, 2011. Read more »


Chad Schreck of the Midwestern Partnership, the economic development group that Audubon County is a member of, was at Monday's Audubon County Board of Supervisors meeting.

Schreck and Joe Behrens of Region XII were on hand to update the Board on the progress of the TIF agreement with West Central Cooperative. Behrens has been putting together an Urban Renewal Plan for the TIF agreement and presented the Board with a draft copy.

Behrens advised the Board that in the coming weeks they would need to identify exactly where they want the TIF district boundaries to be. "Once you have that detail in place, the rest of the process can begin," said Behrens.

The board members are in agreement that including county paved roads N-36 and F-58 in the TIF district would allow them to capture tax dollars that could be specifically used to repair those roads. Behrens agreed. "It absolutely makes sense to include those roads," he said. "It doesn't matter of the district will have 15 or 20 miles of road in it. If those roads will be impacted by extra traffic, it makes sense to include them."

The Board said they would have the map and a few other details in place by the end of the month. Behrens said he is looking at a December 1, 2011 deadline to begin certifying debt to the TIF.

Schreck then gave the Board more god news stating that he had been in contact with a physician from Kansas City who was looking to open an insurance processing facility in Audubon. Schreck said, "I'll be honest, nothing is a guarantee, but things are looking very promising. He is not even looking at another area, at this time, only Audubon."

The facility would employ at least 10 at the start with possibility of an additional 10 workers down the road."We're doing our best to keep on top of everything. It's an awesome opportunity. He wants to get going as soon as possible and said that Audubon would be the perfect location. We're really hoping this is something we can pull in," said Schreck.

The gentleman is a practicing physician and wants to continue the practice. He has been in contact with Tom Smith at the Audubon County Memorial Hospital to inquire about opportunities. Schreck said that affordability and the location between Des Moines and Omaha were two things that really interested the potential entrepreneur. Schreck and former Audubon County Economic Development Director Tom Nielsen have met with the gentleman to give him a tour of the area and several prospective locations for the facility were also looked at.

Schreck said "He told me that a friend of his said 'If you ever want to get out of the city and are looking to settle down in a small town, go to Audubon." He remembered that and here he is." Read more »


West Central Cooperative hired 19 college students this year as part of the organization's 12-week summer internship program.

The students involved in the internship program came to the cooperative with a variety of backgrounds, skills, knowledge and insight. This year the interns represented five different universities throughout the Midwest, including Kansas State, University of Missouri, Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Purdue. Interns worked in various departments throughout the company ranging from accounting to agronomy and from outside operations to network administration.

West Central has expanded its internship program over the last several years. Recruiting from several different places has been critical to this effort.

"We want a variety of students; we look for different talents from different places," said Barb Quandt, director of human resources. "We want top-notch student so we look around." That strategy has created a very diverse and successful workplace for the organization.

Throughout the summer, interns were expected to learn about West Central, develop skills in their designated position, interact with the agricultural industry, and complete a capstone project that required them to show they have developed something of significance to the organization.

Not only does the organization benefit from having student workers, but the students also leave the program with a one-of-a-kind experience. West Central makes it possible for students to get real world, out-of-the-classroom hands-on experience.

"I have done more at West Central than I could have imagined. It's amazing how much responsibility they give their interns," said Brookelynne Slabaugh, communication intern. "I have enjoyed applying what I have learned in school to the work place and seeing my skills and knowledge being used in this organization."

The program wrapped up on August 10, when interns gave a presentation on their capstone project to the CEO and West Central management team. - The Bee Read more »


The Minnesota Vikings have promoted Jeff Anderson to director of corporate communications.

Anderson has been with the team for nine years. Vikings vice president of stadium affairs Lester Bagley said "Jeff has done an outstanding job at the Vikings and has been a star performer. He worked his way up from an intern in 2003 to director level, which is significant at the Vikings. He is highly regarded by ownership, management, players, coaches and staff, and is the consummate team player and professional."

The Vikings created the new position for Anderson to lead all non-football related public relations matters. That includes work on the team's push for a new stadium, community relations, sales, marketing and legal and business affairs.

"I'm excited and especially thankful to Wilf ownership and Vikings management for supporting me and giving me these new responsibilities," Anderson said. "This is a first-class organization and I'm happy to be part of it."

Anderson is a native of Adair and has played a large role recently in the Vikings' efforts to get a new stadium built in the Twin Cities suburb of Arden Hills.

Anderson will begin his new duties immediately. - Adair News, September 1, 2011. Read more »


'Trails & Trills' Rolls Saturday on Raccoon River Valley Trail. Muscicans perform between Jefferson & Cooper. Read more »


A new executive director has been hired to lead Midwest Partnership Corporation (MWP), a four county organization that provides economic development services to Greene, Adair, Audubon, and Guthrie Counties. Chad Schreck comes to MWP from nearby Region XII Council of Governments, where he served four years as a regional and economic development planner.

"We are pleased to welcome Chad to the organization and feel very fortunate to have found a candidate with his experience," said Mike Underwood. "Although the search lasted longer than we initially anticipated, we feel we have found the perfect candidate to move MWP and the area we serve forward."

Prior to working with the Council of Governments, Schreck earned a master's degree from Drake University in public administration with a concentration in executive leadership. He also earned a bachelor's degree in law, politics and society at Drake and worked as a legislative aide in the Iowa House of Representatives.

"Having collaborated with Midwestern Partnership on several projects over the years, I have seen firsthand the impact the organization has on the region and I am excited and honored by the opportunity to lead these efforts," said Schreck. "My familiarity with the organization and the region will help make for a smooth transition so we can work quickly to capitalize on the opportunities presented to us, plus go after new ones. My goal is to provide services leading to the retention and growth of existing businesses, the creation of new businesses, and put our communities in a position to compete successfully for new investment".
Read more »

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