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Sarah Gomez


Black Hills Energy Weatherization Teams are in the community creating potential energy savings and increased comfort by weatherizing houses at no charge for homeowners selected because they can't perform the task themselves due to age, health or physical limitations. The effort also promotes awareness that almost anyone can apply simple, low-cost weatherization measures in a weekend afternoon and gain energy savings all year.

"Helping our customers use energy wisely is an important component of our overall service," said Nick Gardner, Black Hills Energy Operations manager. "You can reduce drafts and cut energy loss by having the furnace cleaned and inspected, replacing filters on schedule, and using weather-stripping, caulk, expanding foam, window plastic, outlet gaskets, hot water pipe insulation and other do-it-yourself measures."

By collaborating with local organizations and businesses, Black Hills Energy is able to weatherize more homes. This year the company has partnered with local groups to weatherize approximately 110 homes in communities across Iowa where Black Hills Energy provides natural gas service.

The Black Hill Energy weatherization effort is part of a company-wide undertaking- employees across the organization's multi-state electric and natural gas service territory are weatherizing homes in other communities Black Hills Energy serves. In Iowa, the company partners with the Iowa Community Action Association to identify candidates for the weatherization assistance. Selected homes are then inspected by Black Hills Energy professionals to determine each home's requirements.

Black Hills Energy also helps customers manage their natural gas bill with its Budget Billing option, which reduces the amount due during the cold peak usage months by distributing the total out over the year and providing a level monthly bill. Through its Black Hills Cares energy assistance program, the company matched customer and employee donations and forwards the total to local agencies to help qualifying customers. Bill stubs feature a pledge box for designating a monthly or one-time donation. In Iowa, the Iowa Community Action Association disburses Black Hills Cares fund.

And in Iowa, energy efficiency incentives are available, beginning with a free home energy evaluation. Rebates can help pay for insulation and energy efficient doors, appliances and furnaces. More information is available at or by calling 888-567-0799. - Scranton Journal, October 26, 2011. Read more »


Ground was broken for the Coon Rapids-Bayard school district's new Early-childhood and Primary Grade Center just a day after school official relished some good news in regards to financing the new 14,115 sq. ft. facility. Four bids were received with interest rates ranging from 3.2% to 3.67%. The district sold the revenue bonds in the amount of $3,105,000 to Northland Securities which is charging the district an average of 3.202660% over 18.5 years. The low interest rate, when compared to the projected rate, is expected to save the district $250,000 over the payback period. That also helped lessen the sting of higher payback than expected construction costs. -Guthrie Center Times, October 26, 2011 Read more »


The library was truly "the place to be: last Saturday evening. Artists displayed their varied talents to an appreciative audience of over 250 people. The Guthrie County Arts Council had a wonderful first event!

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The Jefferson-Scranton elementary library recently put out an appeal to the community to assist with its campaign to put more books into the hands of students and on the shelves of classroom libraries. The monetary goal of One for Books campaign is $500.00 which will be matched by the Scholastic Company. Beta Tau Delta heard that call and answered with a $500 donation.

Beta Tau Delta has supported children's projects and programs in Greene County for more than 90 years through fundraising projects like its virtually charity ball and hole-in-one golf tournament. Its mission to "enrich children's lives, widen their wonder, open their possibilities, better their health, and increase their knowledge" has guided the Beta women to assist with a multitude of children's projects, including the recent trip to Blank Park Zoo offered to all Greene county second graders, after prom party prizes every year, college scholarships, Early Learning Center needs, I-Smile dental check-ups and much more. - The Bee, October 25, 2011. Read more »


Pfizer Animal Health is privileged to showcase the talented first winners of the 10 under 40 swine veterinarian award program.

This biennial program is designed to recognize 10 veterinarians under 40 who are making significant contributions to swine medicine.

"Anything we can do at Pfizer Animal Health to place the spotlight on deserving animal care leaders is a goal we strive to accomplish as part of our Commitment to Veterinarians," says Steve Sornsen, DVM, M.S., senior director, pork technical services at Pfizer Animal Health.

He adds: "The 10 under 40 program recognizes the success and dedication of young swine veterinarians and we are privileged to work with and recognize these leaders who are doing their part to help pave the way for the future of our industry." An independent panel of judges had the difficult task of selecting 10 deserving veterinarians out of nearly 60 nominees. The award was open to AASV veterinarians under 40 years of age, residing in the United States, in practice, academic or consulting capacities. Nominees were to devote a minimum of 60 percent of their time to swine medicine.

The winners include:
* Tara Donovan, DVM- Donovan serves as Vice President of Health Management at the HANOR Family of Companies, Spring Green, WI.
* Jason Hocker, DVM, M.S.- As a partner at AMVC and managing partner of AMVC PRoduction in Audubon, Iowa, Hocker was also the lead organizer of the Iowa State University/AMVC Swine Medicine Education Center.
* Marlin Hoogland, DVM, M.S.- In Algona, Iowa, Hoogland acts as the Midwest Lead Finishing Veterinarian at Murphy-Brown Western Operations.
* Darin Madson, DVM, Ph.D.- Madson is an Assistant Professor in the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.
* Jeremy Pittman, DVM- Pittman serves as Staff Veterinarian at Murphy-Brown North Division in Waverly, Iowa. He is also adjunct faculty member at North Carolina State University.
* Sarah Probst Miller, DVM- Probst Miller recently started her own business, AgCreate Solutions, Inc., She is based in Monticello, IL.
* Chris Rademacher, DVM- Rademacher is the Director of Production Improvement at Murphy-Brown Western Operations in Ames, IA.
* Cameron Schmitt, DVM, M.S.- In Independance, Iowa, Schmitt is one of the owners and veterinarians at Pipestone Veterinary Clinic of Iowa.
* Matthew Turner, DVM- Turner serves as Staff Veterinarian at Prestage Farms in Clinton, N.C. and also is an adjunct professor at North Carolina State University.
* Amy Vincent, DVM, M.S., Ph.D.- Vincent is a Veterinary Medical Officer at the United States Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service. She works at the National Animal Disease Center, in Ames, IA.

Winners received a trip to the Allen D. Leman Swine Conference, September 17-20, 2011 in St. Paul, Minnesota. The selected individuals were honored at the conference and are being featured in communications about the program.

"At Pfizer Animal Health, we believe in showcasing and assisting the animal health care leaders or tomorrow by supporting veterinarians through industry-leading training and education, research and development and investing in the future of the profession with programs such as this," says Sornsen.

Learn more about Pfizer's Commitment to Veterinarians and get to know the exceptional 10 under 40 winners at

Pfizer Animal Health, a business of Pfizer, Inc., is a world leader in discovering and developing innovative animal vaccines and prescription medicines, investing an estimated $300 million annually in animal research and development. For more information about how Pfizer Animal Health works to ensure a safe, sustainable global food supply from healthy swine and other livestock, visit
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Southern Iowa Resource Conservation and Development (SIRC&D) and Southwestern Community College (SWCC)have launched a collaborative effort- the Smart Business Resource Program- to provide workshops, on-site consultation, and online learning opportunities for area business people and entrepreneurs. The program was partially funded by SIRC&D and a USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant.

The Smart Business Resource Program, which will be facilitated through SWCC's Small Business Development Center (SBDC), will promote rural entrepreneurship and job creation throughout its south central Iowa service area.

SWCC business and technology instructors and professional staff, who have extensive teaching and business consulting experience, will be utilized to provide individualized technical assistance through online training, face-to-face workshops, and on-site consultation. Initial topics will include business planning, basic small business accounting, basic and advanced QuickBooks, QuickBooks for farmers, reading and understanding financial statements and marketing.

For more information about the Smart Business Resource Program, contact Dave McLaren, South -Central Iowa SBDC director , at 641-782-1483 or Read more »


The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) today announced the launch of WindTV, a new showcase of video profiles of Americans whose lives have been positively affected by the wind energy industry. The site is located at and will feature a different video profile each week. Milford farmer Tim Hemphill is featured this week.
- The Business Record
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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.

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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."

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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

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