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|Hog Issues Resurface
Union County Board of Supervisors’ boardroom Monday was once again the
scene of the debate between a young farmer wanting to erect a hog
confinement unit and community forces concerned about its environmental
impact. Rockin’ G Ranch has submitted an application for a swine
facility in Spaulding Township.
As required, the Union County Supervisors have scored the Master
Matrix. Waste discharge is of particular concern in any such operation.
Kent Krouse of Pinnacle, who developed Rockin’ G’s Manure Management
Plan, outlines inspection measures addressed in the plan.
The Manure Management Plan allows for self-inspection. Justin Geidel of
Rockin’ G further explains that means visually inspecting tile lines
and immediately notifying the DNR of any discharge.
But is that good enough?, questions citizen Mary Jane Weishaar, who
would like to see state inspectors take on the responsibility to
protect the public health.
The unit will utilize underground pit manure storage and Krause says all the manure will be used locally as fertilizer.
The new facility will also utilize an EPA-approved composting structure for composting carcasses.
The Board of Supervisors approved the application, although that has
little significance in the process. The county can voice objection, but
the ultimate decision rests with the DNR at the state level, and it
relies primarily on the Master Matrix score.
Geidel is working with the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers to add trees and other measures to reduce odor.
School Board Talks Money, Barns and Jobs
the items presented for action at Monday night’s Creston School Board
meeting was the 2014-2015 Certified Budget. Following a public hearing
devoid of public, the budget was passed unanimously. The total budget
is nearly $5 million less than last year. The tax levy will remain the
same, while other revenues showed a decline. Expenditures for
Facilities Acquisition and Construction, and Debt Service, also
declined, balancing the budget at just under $22 million.
The last of the 2012 tornado-related projects is still on the drawing
board – the bus barn. Superintendent Steve McDermott says the plans are
now at the State Fire Marshall’s office awaiting approval. Once the OK
is given, bid packets will be available to contractors. He says there
are contractors who have expressed interest and have begun planning, so
he expects good response.
McDermott was reminded the day was the second anniversary of the storm.
The project has been plagued with problems, and the pressure is on to
complete the structure this construction season to avoid another
McDermott also informed the board of a recent speaking engagement at a
Cromwell Church Lenten Breakfast, where he talked about the school’s
plans for technology; and the continued partnership with Prescott
leading to a possible consolidation vote next spring.
There were staff issues to address as well. Current Business Manager
Roy Stroud is vacating the position due to health issues. McDermott
says the district has advertised and has received response from several
Among the other resignations received were Elementary Literacy Coach
Becky Riley, who will retire the end of this school year, and building
and grounds maintenance supervisor Gary Latham. McDermott says the
unions are requesting a review of substitute pay for all positions. The
issue will come before the board in the near future.
The board also approved 110 students for graduation on May 25, and
approved student fees for the 2014-2015 school year with no changes
from the current year.
The next board of director’s meeting will be held Monday, May 19, 6 p.m., in the boardroom at 801 N. Elm Street.
A New Way of Banking is Coming to Creston
new technology is coming to Creston. It's called an Interactive Teller
Machine, or ITM. PCSB Bank Marketing Assistant Dawn Loudon says the
machines look similar to an ATM, but when buttons are pushed, a teller
appears on the screen to guide the customer through their transactions.
Loudon says customers can expect to perform the same banking functions
they would inside the bank, from deposits and withdrawals to loan
payments and more specific needs.
She says just because it's a machine, doesn't mean you won't get
personal service. The teller machines are manned by a crew at the
Clarinda call center, enlisted and trained for the special force.
The machines will eventually replace the tube system drive-throughs.
The outside lane will be installed in July, with the inside lane to
come this fall.
The ITMs will be available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8
to 1 on Saturday. Loudon says the expanded banking hours are one of the
perks of the new addition.
PCSB is one of the first banks in the country to implement the Interactive Teller Machines.
You can contact Dawn Loudon at PCSB Bank in Creston for more information.
Chamber Helps Paint a New Face
you have the urge to tackle that big paint project this year, but just
don’t have the funds? A program to help Creston residents paint their
homes is in need of applicants. Creston Chamber of Commerce Director
Ellen Gerharz explains the program will provide the paint; the
homeowner must provide the labor. Nineteen homes have been painted
through the program over the past five years. The paint is purchased
Applications are available at the Creston Chamber of Commerce office on
Highway 34. The homeowner must be the resident of the home.
She says homeowners also need to be aware there are no tax
repercussions for the upgrade. A homeowner’s property valuation will
Gerharz says the city has a vested interest in home preservation. Every house maintained, is one less house to be torn down.
The program will also cover the cost of painting supplies such as scrapers and brushes for approved applicants.
Plans Progress for Ranger Residence
for a new Park Ranger residence at 3-Mile Lake are nearing completion.
Conservation Officer Doug Jones reviewed details of the bid packets
with the Board of Supervisors last week. With final approval by the
Conservation Board, bid packets are headed to contractors. Jones says
they are hoping for a bid opening in around a month.
Between the bid opening and bid letting, the Conservation Board will
review the bids and make any recommendations to the Board of
Supervisors. The project will be bid in three segments – a modular
home, the basement and foundation, and the septic system. Some site
work will be required.
A fourth bid will go out later for log siding for the home. Jones says
they hope to start construction toward the end of June, but the
timeline is still somewhat fluid. He says if all goes well, the house
may be finished by September or October.
The house will replace an old residence that was deemed beyond repair.
More Bad Bridges for Union County
annual bridge inspection report is in. Union County bridges are
inspected by Calhoun-Burns & Associates, transportation structure
experts, of West Des Moines. The report cites six bridges that require
lower weight limits due to structural problems.
Union County Engineer Steve Akes says two bridges on the list are in
the program to be replaced in coming years. And two more could be
repaired, like one on Redwood Avenue in Sand Creek Township, just
reduced from legal weight to a 20 ton limit. County crews can
encapsulate the rotted wood pilings in concrete, increasing the
longevity of the structure.
Another, on Eagle Avenue in Platte Township, is also slated for repair.
The bridge’s weight limit was lowered from 6 tons to 3 tons. Akes says
they plan to replace the deck. The repair will not increase the weight
limit of the bridge, but it will make it safer.
But some of the structures are not so easy. Akes says it can sometimes
be hard to justify a new bridge on a little used, or in some cases,
Level B, road. That’s the case with one bridge in Pleasant Township,
reduced from 6 to 3 tons. The traffic count on the road is 10 cars a
day, one of the lowest in the county, but as Supervisor Ron Riley
reminded Akes, those 10 are important to someone.
Bridges are generally inspected every two years unless they have been flagged as in need of more attention.
Greenfield True Value Changes Hands
Value Hardware and Rental in Greenfield has a new owner. Dave Wallace
of Greenfield purchased the store from Kent Sinn in February. Sinn is
the owner of the True Value in Creston. Wallace also owns the NAPA
stores in Greenfield and Stuart.
Before the purchase was complete, there was plenty to be done. Dave
Wallace says it was about six months ahead of the final purchase that
he and Sinn made preparations.
Wallace took over on February 7. Right now, he is still waiting for the
final floor plan. However, many renovations will be done before then.
Purchase of the store will include renovations to give it a more
Another improvement to the store will be the lawn and garden area.
Wallace plans to put on a greenhouse attached to the building, so
plants have more shelter from weather.
The greenhouse will not be a part of the plans for this year; however,
this will be a busy year for the store. Most construction will be in
the next two months, and interior changes will be in July and August.
When the purchase occurred, all lawn mower and chainsaw parts were
moved to Creston True Value. Parts manager Bob Hogan has been ordering
new parts daily to restock the inventory. He says most inventory has
been restocked, and customers are still able to get anything by
order. In addition to parts, the rental department is going to
continue and lawn mower service will continue.
All employees were able to stay on under the new owner. Wallace does
not intend to close the store at any time during the renovations. New
lawn mowers will be arriving in the next couple weeks and plants will
arrive at normal time, later this month.
New hours for Greenfield True Value are 7:30 to 5:30 Monday through
Friday, 7:30 to 4:00 on Saturdays and noon to 5 on Sundays. The manager
of True Value in Greenfield is Doug Buckner.
The Creston True Value will continue to be managed by Sinn.
Learning from Data
progress is measured by a series of tests administered throughout the
year. Data is charted, graphed, and analyzed – not only for its
comparison against No Child Left Behind benchmarks, but for its insight
into each student’s strengths and weaknesses. Creston Pre-K – 3rd Grade
Principal Callie Anderson addresses the Creston Board of Directors with
the latest stats to come to the district.
Anderson explains the data presentation, highlighting the conundrum
facing Creston and other schools in the coming year – No Child Left
Behind demands 100 percent proficiency, or the district will face
The No Child Left Behind achievement goals are set based on a
percentage of proficient students, with the percentage growing each
year. Andersen says there are better ways to measure educational
success – like measuring individual student growth over their previous
Board Chairman Galen Zumbach agrees, comparing the scenario to the
difference between teaching football skills to improve players’
performance, and expecting every player to make it to the NFL.
Anderson says that’s why following trends within the data offer more
relevant information to direct teaching strategies. The district has
adopted a goal of one year’s academic growth each year for all students.
No Child Left Behind sanctions have already required the district to
direct Title I funds into professional development. If the 100 percent
goal is not met, more sanctions will likely follow.
Understanding School Budgets
Creston Schools Superintendent and the District Board of Directors has
the 2014-2015 Certified Budget ready for the publication and public
approval process. At the most recent board meeting, Larry Sigel, School
Finance Director with the Iowa Association of School Boards, delivered
a video presentation on the certified budget process.
Sigel says the certified budget is the first step in the process, and
as such has its limitations. Funds are lumped together to come up with
total dollars, and that can be misleading to the public who may not be
aware certain expenditures must come from certain
Standardized worksheets help, with districts filling in what blanks
they can, but Sigel says much of the picture is out of their control.
Funding is related to property tax values and student populations.
The deadline to certify the budget is April 15, and it is meant to be
an estimate. A line-item budget will be developed over the summer with
monthly expenses tracked throughout the school year.
According to the Certified Budget, Creston’s school levy will remain
the same as last year at just more than 15 cents per $1,000 valuation.
The Public Hearing for the Creston School District 2014-2015 Certified
Budget is set for Monday, April 14, 6 p.m., in the district boardroom
at 801 N. Elm Street.
It's Time for Road Construction to Begin
is almost a distant memory – and that means road construction season is
upon us. Union County engineer Steve Akes gives a run-down of projects
scheduled around the county.
A bridge on 167th Street northeast of Thayer is scheduled for
replacement. Akes says a July 15 letting is scheduled. The DOT has not
yet set the start date, but with the July letting it will be August 15
at the earliest.
The county crews will tackle a second bridge project on 197th. They
will begin taking bids for materials soon. Akes says the project will
involve more grading than many the county does themselves.
The process is about to begin on improvements to the REA road. Two
large culverts will be replaced. The project is scheduled for an April
letting, and work should be completed this season, but Akes says it
will take longer than that to have the road back to normal. The
immediate area around the culverts will be rocked temporarily, then
allowed to settle for at least a year, before the pavement is replaced.
The rock stretches on the REA road will be dust-treated and properly
The diamond grinding projects on the High & Dry and Cromwell roads
have been let and will be done sometime this summer, but no exact date
has been set.
Board of Supervisors Considers Enterprise Zone
A subdivision planned for the west edge of town will likely take advantage of a popular economic development tool.
The Union County Board of Supervisors on Monday considered the creation
of an Enterprise Zone on the west edge of Creston. If approved, the
zone will encompass the Cottonwood Subdivision. Union County
Development Association Director Wayne Pantini presented the plan to
Qualifying counties can designate up to 1 percent of its total acreage
for Enterprise Zones. The program provides benefits for the developer,
who must apply to the state, in the form of tax credits on the property
and development, and rebates on products purchased. In order for that
application to take place, the county must create the Enterprise Zone.
The program is due to change June 30. A new set of rules coming out of
the Legislature will limit development of “green fields” – areas like
Cottonwood that are on undeveloped land. The new program will focus
more on infill and second story housing. That makes it more beneficial
for the Cottonwood developer to apply under the current program.
The subdivision is a city project. The county must create the
Enterprise Zone, but it is the city that must work out the intricacies
of public infrastructure and choose a developer. The council has shown
interest in a condo proposal presented by Sonntag Construction of
Atlantic, but a decision has yet to be made. Pantini is hoping that
will happen soon to keep the project in motion.
Since it has been several years since the last Enterprise Zone was
created, the supervisors will review the program, and likely take up a
vote on the issue next week.
Once created, an Enterprise Zone generally lasts for 10 years.
It's Good to Share with Others
the real world of elementary and secondary education, school districts
share all sorts of things – facilities, transportation, personnel.
Sharing teachers is perhaps the most common, allowing small districts
to provide a more extensive array of classes. In presenting annual
sharing agreements to be approved by the Board of Directors, Creston
Superintendent Steve McDermott outlines the current arrangements.
Several teachers are shared with other districts, mostly in the areas
of physical education and special subjects. McDermott says sharing can
provide a wider variety of classes for students, but it is also used as
a scheduling tool. Creston shares with Murray, Mt. Ayr, Nodaway Valley,
O-M students can take basically any Creston High School course they
would like. Principal Bill Messerole says upper-level math, science and
English, industrial tech, music, and foreign language are the
most popular. Creston also shares a transportation supervisor with O-M.
The Board approved the current agreements. Last year, it declined to
renew an agreement with Diagonal in an attempt to streamline the music
Creston also shares with Prescott, where the Creston Board has opened
the door for movements toward eventual joining of the districts. That
sharing agreement includes the Superintendent and business Manager.
Board action included approval of a sharing agreement with Southwestern
Community College. The agreement covers classes taken through the
college by Creston High School students. High School Principal Bill
Messerole says more than 121 students take more than 25 classes. SWCC
bills the school each semester by the credit hour, at a reduced rate.
McDermott also presented for approval a list of 14 open enrollment
applications into the district. The students represent eight families.
He explains the list does not include open enrollments out of the
district, as the decision to approve or deny the application rests with
the receiving district.
He says the reasons for open enrolling are varied and mostly depend on family circumstance.
Sometimes the reason for switching districts is a common misconception,
as people assume a smaller district will mean a smaller class size.
That is not necessarily the case. McDermott says he always counsels
families and tries to leave the door open should their circumstances
In addition to its regular April meeting, the Creston School District
Board of Directors will meet Monday, April 14, to hold public hearings
on its Certified Budget and 2014-2015 Calendar.
Creston Hires Director of Instruction
Schools will see a new face next year. The Creston School District has
hired a Director of Instruction. Kevin Teno will join the district on
July 1. The position was created under Interim Superintendent Chuck
Scott, through a reorganization of administrators. But the spot has
remained unfilled for a year.
When current Superintendent Steve McDermott came on the scene last
July, he began working with administrators to define the job
description. Though the process, current administration determined
certain aspects of oversight and scheduling were best left in their
McDermott sees this as a more realistic plan for a position designed to
coordinate programs for special populations as well as ensure academic
progress for all students.
The district has now filled the position. Teno comes from the Sioux
Central School district in Northwest Iowa. He has spent 13 years as a
principal and has worked with special ed programming. He also has
experience with the TAG, or Talented and Gifted Program. McDermott
describes Teno as a “detail person,” a characteristic he sees as a plus
for the position and the district.
In other news from Monday’s Board of Director’s meeting, the school
district and the teacher’s union have begun the contract negotiation
process for this round. McDermott says initial proposals have been
exchanged and are being considered by both sides.
Parent-Teacher Conferences are the Place to Be
High School Principal Bill Messerole gave a report to the Creston
school board Monday night. He highlighted attendance at parent-teacher
conferences, adding that he met with the principals of the Hawkeye 10
conference schools last week.
Creston's parent-teacher conference attendance for the spring semester
was nearly 85 percent, and Red Oak's was 90 percent, while Denison's
was only 40. All other Hawkeye 10 schools were below 60 percent
Messerole's report also included a detailed study sent to him by
Northwest Missouri State University – including grade point averages of
15 Creston High School graduates who attend. Creston students’ GPA
average is 3.39, compared to 2.79 average for all students.
He adds the report also breaks down the English, Math and Science
classes. All of Iowa's regent universities used to do this, but no
longer provide the information.
Messerole also reported that 3 Creston school personnel, 25 students,
and himself will attend the Governor's Conference on Bullying on April
Elm's Club Burger Hailed Again
Elm's Club in Creston has one of the best burgers in the state,
according to the Iowa Beef Industry Council. The IBIC hosts the Iowa's
Best Burger contest every year, and the Elm's Club has survived the
first round of voting to land in the top ten – for the second year in a
row. Owner Donna King says the delicacy is a hand-formed 1/3 pound
pattie (with special secret spices) on a 53 percent whole-wheat bun.
Aside from the standard cheeseburger and patty melt, the Elm's has also
recently added a Bacon Blue Burger made with Maytag Blue Cheese.
Customers had a chance to vote on their choice for the top burger, and
King says today's mass communication definitely helped.
Now in it's fifth year, the contest garners thousands of votes each
year. Burgers are judged on taste, appearance, presentation, and
quality of cooking methods.
Mike and Donna King have owned the Elm's Club since 1976, and Mike's
brother Gus joined them 12 years later. It's not the first time they've
made a “top” list. Aside from last year's Top Ten Burger finalist, 11
years ago they were named runner-up in the Iowa's Best Tenderloin
contest. Donna says there are benefits to the distinction. They do see
traffic that comes specifically to check out the prize-winning
But she says it's not just one month of voting that matters, it's the
ongoing support. She thanks the regular customers and the staff for
maintaining the quality the establishment has to offer.
A covert team of judges will now visit the top ten sites, then select
the overall winner to be announced the first week of May – Beef Month.
The Elm's Club is located at 108 North Elm Street in Creston.
East Union Taps State Grant Program
Union Schools is taking advantage of a statewide initiative to improve
education. East Union Superintendent of Schools Pam Vogel says East
Union is one of 39 districts in the state to receive the Teacher
Leadership Compensation grant. That means $309 per student for a TAP,
or Teacher Advancement Program.
The funds will enable the district to hire two Master Teachers. The
teacher leaders must come from within East Union’s ranks and will earn
an extra $10,000 per year to focus full-time on improving teaching. The
funds will also pay to hire two teachers to replace those promoted, and
an extra $5,000 per year each for four Mentor Teachers, who will aid
younger teachers in addition to their regular classroom duties.
The total cost to the district will be $175,000-180,000.
The State Legislature has pledged $50 million a year for the effort, in
the name of ongoing funding. The 39 schools receiving the grant account
for around one-third of Iowa students. The idea is to utilize teaching
experience and excellence by helping all teachers to achieve better
results. Vogel says with all today's talk about student test scores,
it's important for people to understand the emphasis remains on
education, not just numbers.
Teachers hired for the initiative are required to take additional
training over the summer. East Union will be teaming with North Polk
and East Marshall for the training.
County Honors Longevity
Union County Employees were honored Monday for their long-time service.
Union County Board of Supervisors Chairman Dennis Brown explains.
Union County Recorder Paula White, County Attorney Tim Kenyon, and
Assessor Gene Haner were all honored for 30 years of service to the
county. Engineer Steve Akes was recognized for 35 years in county
government, the last five in Union County.
Brown says the experience and expertise these people bring to their jobs is invaluable to the county.
County elected officials do not work for the Board of Supervisors. They
are elected in their own right, and as such are autonomous, answering
only to the citizens. The Board of Supervisors does have final approval
of their budgets.
Brown says the “on the job training” the county has provided these
people has been a good public investment – resulting in people who know
how to do their jobs and solve problems with efficiency and
White and Kenyon are seeking re-election this year to their positions
of Recorder and County Attorney. Akes as county engineer is a hired
employee and Haner intends to retire as County Assessor later this year.
Farmers Work to Feed the World
Agriculture Day. This is the day to celebrate and appreciate what those
engaged in agriculture do to provide us with the food, fuel and fiber
we need for our daily lives. One area farmer is putting in double duty
– producing and working to increase world markets for products. Roger
Brummett of Bedford is the newly-elected chairman of the Iowa Beef
He says farming has changed through the years. The scientific
information used in crop and livestock production has expanded
tremendously thanks to research at land grant universities and also the
private sector. He says given the drought conditions of the past few
years, he is amazed he can produce a crop at all – and that is due to
drought resistant crop varieties produced by plant geneticists. In the
livestock sector, advances in housing, nutrition, and breeding have
allowed efficiencies that translate into better buys for the consumer.
He says it can at times be hard for the consumer to understand the
forces at work behind the scenes, and they may not believe advances
have been to their advantage given the current price of beef. But that
is due to a supply shortage, with the U.S. beef herd at the lowest
since the late 1940s. He adds drought conditions in areas of the U.S.
are a driving that. Likewise, many producers have converted cow/calf
pasture to corn and soy beans because the economics have dictated that.
There have been many changes in agriculture due to science, and that
science can sometimes be controversial. Brummett says he “reads with
interest” the opposition to GMOs, and news items like recent stories of
Norman Borlaug work with wheat varieties that aided starving countries,
and realizes those are emotional issues. But for him and many of his
fellow producers, the concern is being able to feed the world.
Food producers around the world have been given a daunting mission – to
double food production by 2050. The combination of increasing world
population and increased world-wide standard of living create practical
challenges as well as moral ones.
He says ag producers have a moral obligation to help people have
sustainable diets. When a family is hungry, there are negative effects
– anarchy, and child development that depends on adequate nutrition.
Brummett grew up in the Bedford area and graduated from Bedford High
School. He attended Iowa Sate University and spent several years as a
county extension agent and beef specialist before settling into his own
beef operation where he will artificially inseminate around 200 cows
this year. There are around 2 million farms in the U.S., each farmer
feeds an estimated 155 people.
People in the U.S. spend less of their disposable income on food than
anywhere in the world. They have a safe and abundant food supply, and
money to spend on entertainment and recreation, and Brummett says, that
is because of scientific developments. He hopes what has been a
positive for Americans will continue to be a positive for the world.
Iowa ranks third in the nation in dollars received from agricultural
production, behind California and Texas. It leads the country in pork
and corn production.
Brummett will leave this Friday on a trade tip to China, where he will
join Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and representatives of
the Iowa Department of Economic Development, along with other beef and
ag producers and spokesmen.
Council Talks Housing
issues were on the Creston City Council agenda last week. The council
approved a deadline extension on a Neighborhood Stabilization Program
development agreement with Union County Development. The amendment
changes the completion date for a housing project on South Elm Street
until September 15. UCDA Director Wayne Pantini says the project is on
budget and mostly completed, but weather conditions have held up the
final landscaping and parking.
He says they are currently seeking bids for that part of the project.
He hopes to have the work done yet this spring, but the original
completion date was March 15.
He says he hopes the home will soon be sold.
The council also engaged in discussion concerning a recent field trip
to Atlantic to view condominiums developed by Don Sonntag. Sonntag has
approached the council about developing similar units in the Cottonwood
Subdivision. Councilman Loyal Winborn said he would like to see the
project given consideration as one possible way to move the subdivision
development forward and begin recouping tax revenue.
The council will continue to explore the condo project. No firm
decisions have yet been made. Questions concerning the development of
the Cottonwood Subdivision can be addressed to City Manager Mike Taylor
at City Hall.
A New Payment Plan
road construction vouchers for $1,000 each were approved by the Union
County Board of Supervisors this week. But these were different than
usual. The vouchers were for work not yet begun. Union County Engineer
Steve Akes says they the federal government does not like to see a
project lying idle, so the county is now required to make a payment in
order to activate the contract.
And so the early contract payments - $1,000 each on the High & Dry
and Cromwell Roads for this summer’s diamond grinding projects. Akes
says it is a method that is hard to get used to, and makes appears to
make little sense.
The move is purely to satisfy the feds that the project is an active project, and Supervisor Ron Riley agrees.
Akes says previously, a letter of explanation would suffice if a
project lingered in inactive status for too long. This is the first
year this approach has been required.
The projects are slated to begin later this summer.
Check SIRWA Meters for Winter Damage
been a long, cold winter. The ground is finally starting to thaw, and
with it, water pipes, tile lines – and SIRWA meters. Dan McIntosh is
the manager of the Southern Iowa Rural Water Association. He says like
pipes, meters can be damaged as they thaw.
He says generally the problem is discovered when the customer loses
water, but even if you haven't had noticeable problems, you may need to
check your meters. The meter pit can fill up with water as the ground
thaws and that is not unusual, but if water is bubbling out of the top,
call SIRWA immediately to make repairs.
McIntosh says it won't be long before SIRWA will be able to identify
problems more quickly. Currently, SIRWA, like most utilities, reads
meters once a month. By year’s end they will switch to a system that
reads meters daily. That will help identify a problem much sooner.
He adds no one wants to see a precious resource like water wasted, even if it's Mother Nature's fault.
SIRWA can be reached by calling 641-782-5744.
County Roads Weathered the Winter
Union County Secondary Roads, spring is a time to switch gears. For
Engineer Steve Akes, that means taking the year’s first good hard look
at the shape of roads following winter’s cold and snow. He says there
does not appear to be any extreme or unusual problems.
County crews have changed their focus from cutting brush, a popular winter activity, to hauling spot rock.
Akes says conditions are nearly perfect for rock application, and the
rock is available. Crews have also been busy picking up trash dumped in
road ditches. And preparing for the first major construction project of
the season – a double culvert replacement on the REA Road.
Also on the 2014 road construction calendar is the diamond grinding on
the High & Dry and Cromwell Roads, slated for later this summer;
and a DOT bridge replacement west of Creston.
Treasurer's Report Brings Good News
County Treasurer Kelly Busch presented her monthly reports for January
and February to the Board of Supervisors Monday. Busch says all fund
balances look good, and taxes are coming in on schedule. She has made
some changes to the mailing contract for outgoing tax statements.
The cost for the mail prep and mailing increased slightly over last
year. Busch and Union County Auditor Sandy Hysell say having the
service prepare statements is much preferable to the old days of late
nights stuffing envelopes, as well as saving the Treasurer's office a
significant amount of money.
All totaled it costs around $3,000 per year to subcontract the statements. The contact covers
If you missed the March 1 deadline, property taxes are NOW DUE to the county treasurer's office.
Shooting for Fun
is a new opportunity for shooting enthusiasts to practice and compete
in southwest Iowa. At 3-Mile Lake, the new High Lakes Outdoor Alliance
Shooting Range is sure to be a success in the coming years.
Union County Conservation Officer Doug Jones says the project began development two years ago.
As of now, the range is open to the public. However, this summer they
plan to install an electric gate around the premises. The High Lakes
shooting range will be full of events starting this year, including
Steve Maltzahn, Vice President of High Lakes Outdoor Alliance, says
league shooting will be held in April-May, and again in June.
In addition to a beginner trophy league, there will also be a Saturday
jackpot shooting competition. He says that registered events will not
be available until late this year or into 2015. Those registered events
will be monthly, he adds, and will attract professional shooters up to
100 miles away.
The 80-acre shooting range is located on the north end of 3-mile lake, near 130th St and Creamery Road.
Membership to the High Lakes Outdoor Shooting Alliance is $45. For more
information, contact the local DNR office or the High Lakes Outdoor
Shooting Alliance in Afton.
County Gives Budget Final Thumbs Up
Union County Board of Supervisors passed the county's Fiscal Year
2014-2015 budget Monday following a three-minute public hearing held
for an absent public. Supervisors Brown, Riley and Monday all said they
had received little citizen input. Supervisor Lois Monday said she had
a few comments on salaries early on, but “they seemed to have worked
The budget reflects a decrease in the levy, despite a decrease in
assessed property values. Board chairman Dennis Brown says the results
were achieved through prudent management and sticking to priorities.
The new fiscal year begins July 1. The board will take up the issue of
a budget amendment on THIS year's budget in coming weeks. Union County
Auditor Sandy Hysell explains the amendment includes movement of mental
health and secondary road funds.
Much of the budget amendment involves transferring funds into spendable form.
The public hearing for the budget amendment is set for Monday, March 24, at 10 a.m.
Tom Latham checked in Tuesday with the latest news from Washington. He
is spending the week in hearings with agency and department heads
concerning the Housing and Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee
he chairs. Then they will try to figure out how to meet a budget
shortfall of funds committed to states.
He says infrastructure is not only critical for rural Iowa, but as a
country as a whole, roads and bridges, and locks and dams, are crucial
to maintaining our place in the global economy. We are quickly falling
behind other developed countries.
Latham says with the huge budget hurdles under control for now, he is able to focus on the nuts and bolts of appropriations.
All eyes will also be turned outward to events in other parts of the
world, and Congress debates how best to deal with the situation in the
Ukraine and other hot spots around the globe.
The Washington Report is a regular monthly feature of KSIB Radio News.
The entire interview with Congressman Latham can be heard here
Getting a Handle on Hunger
meals are flying out of the Murray school today. 60,000 Meals from the
Heartland are headed from the hands of volunteers to dinner tables
throughout the Midwest and around the world. The effort stems from an
FFA project, as Murray FFA Adviser Susannah Miller says the opportunity
for a grant presented itself, and senior FFA members decided to conduct
a hunger awareness effort.
The grant, and community funds raised, will fund 60,000 meals to be
packed at Murray High School on Wednesday. The project also provided an
And that led to more activities.
The idea is to highlight how people of various socioeconomic classes
from around the world eat through a Poverty Dinner, and then to put
that lesson to practical use.
The FFA chapter raised $12,000 and plans to package 60,000 meals.
Plans are to begin the meal packaging shortly after noon and work until
around 3:30. All community members are welcome to come and help.
Union Co Vet Director Resigns
Union County Supervisors Monday received the resignation of Veteran's
Affairs Coordinator Kevin Scadden. Gary O'Daniels, representing the
County Veteran's Commission, presented the resignation.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Dennis Brown handles the formalities and
says the resignation is accepted with “deep regret.” Scadden had served
in the position for approximately two years, and O'Daniels says they
have been pleased with his performance.
The VA requires the local office be accessible 20 hours per week, with
the local director and commission setting the hours. O'Daniels says
they don't anticipate a problem finding another candidate. They had
several applicants the last time the position was open.
Scadden is retired from the U.S. Navy and is looking to take advantage of full-time retirement.
Art Camp Planned for Summer
a new learning experience being planned for Creston kids this summer.
Brian Zachary of Creston:ARTS says they will be offering a Summer Art
Camp the last three weeks of June. Creston High School has offered the
use of its art room. Zachary says it is a very generous offering that
includes use of pottery wheels, paint brushes and other equipment as
well as insurance and utilities. The camp will still need to purchase
supplies such as paint, dye, or clay.
He says the art projects will have a focus. Activities will be centered
on creating art from recycled materials, including projects kids can
complete at home.
There will also be group projects, with something special planned for the final week that includes local artisans.
The camp will run in two half-day sessions, with grades 1 through 4 or
5 likely grouped together, and older youth in another group. Exact age
groups and times have yet to be finalized. They would like to hear from
eighth or ninth graders who would be interested in being counselors.
There will be a fee for the camp to cover the cost of supplies, but
Zachary says they are trying to keep that as low as possible. They are
exploring outside funding.
More details will be available as plans progress. Questions can be addressed to Brian Zachary.
Students Use Data to Guide Learning
purpose of student achievement data is to measure progress. All the
testing, and interpretation of results, is designed to show where
students are excelling, and where extra help is needed. But any
educator will tell you it can be hard to get students to take the
testing seriously. At Creston Middle School, that hurdle is overcome by
giving students a stake in the action. Middle School Principal Brad
Baker says 96 percent of students qualified for a special incentive by
improving their test scores over last year.
The incentive is a tasty one – the students get an extra day off from
school. Baker says the exact date has yet to be set, but will likely be
at the end of the school year.
Student involvement began early in the process with a review of
achievement data with the students; a move that helped both students
and teachers focus on problem areas. Then, throughout the year, data is
shared with students so they can see growth.
Detailed review of past scores not only channeled student
participation, but helped teachers direct specific instruction to
address problem areas. The Iowa Assessment is the required test to meet
No Child Left Behind requirements, but it is not the only one used by
the district to determine student needs and progress.
New this year, the district also uses the MAP, or Measure of Academic
Progress, assessment. The MAP assessment focuses on specific knowledge
or skills possessed by the individual student, rather than a grade
Baker says all this will come together at parent-teacher conferences
next week. Conferences are student led, with the student talking about
classes and progress, backed by the teacher explaining the assessment
methods. Then goals for the rest of the school year are set
Parent-teacher conferences in Creston will be held Tuesday and
Thursday, March 11 and 13, from 4 to 8 p.m. There will be no school
Friday, March 14.
This Friday is First Friday
are a day of celebration in Uptown Creston, especially First Fridays.
Brian Zachary with the Creston Arts Council says this month will
feature the second Creston:ARTS Poetry Jam.
But, Zachary says it isn’t just about poetry. The event the open
microphone event is for any form of verbal expression. He says the
first Poetry Jam was a well-received, with participants of all ages,
and he’s hearing a lot of buzz about this next one.
This month’s exhibit at the Depot Gallery features the work of six
Creston High School independent art students. Friday’s artists
reception will give patrons the chance to meet all six artists and
discuss their work. The reception will be held at the Depot Gallery.
The Poetry Jam will be held at Adams Street Espresso.
First Fridays is a monthly Creston:ARTS event celebrating the arts in Uptown Creston.
KSIB Gets Ready to Roll
polishing and positioning and planning has begun. The Third Annual KSIB
Tractor Ride is in the works. KSIB Station Manager Chad Rieck says the
final route details will be unveiled in April, but he can say the ride
will be heading NORTH.
With details in the ride kept close to the vest awaiting a Grand
Unveiling, Reick says riders can expect the same quality experience
they've had the past two years. That means plenty of scenic views of
the KSIB listening area.
He says getting out in the southwest Iowa countryside is one of the
attractions of the ride, and as a native southwest Iowan, he is proud
to be able to bring the experience to riders, as well as celebrate the
rural heritage represented by the tractors.
One detail will remain as last year - the ride will be leaving from the Historic Restored Depot in Uptown Creston.
Rieck adds none of it would happen without the sponsor support, who make the ride free to participants.
The ride is set for Saturday, June 7. Stay tuned to KSIB for more details to come.
Listen to Full Story here
JD Dealer Helps Cattlemen
Cattlemen’s groups are getting a boost from John Deere dealer
AgriVision. AgriVision is the result of a merger between Barker
Equipment and A&M Green Power. Todd Barker says Barker Implement’s
eight locations and A&M Green Power’s five locations have merged
into a company that now serves 28 counties in southwest Iowa, eastern
Nebraska and northern Missouri.
He says this type of merger is common in the farm implement business,
as producers’ operations grow larger, and require more technical
To help grow the customer base, AgriVision has partnered with the Iowa
Cattlemen’s Association to support livestock production in the area.
Adair County Cattlemen’s President Justin Stiens tells of the incentive
provided by AgriVision.
AgriVision will donate the lease of a 125 horsepower tractor with cab
and loader for 150 hours or six months to the county cattlemen’s
association that signs up the most new members over their three-year
average. The ICA’s goal is 10,500 members. Members must be on board by
The tractor can be used by the county organization however it wants.
Steins says suggestions include use by the member who signs up the most
new members, or a raffle fundraiser.
Barker says it’s a great way for AgriVision to start out the new
company and the new year. He says the new road will look much like the
old one, with the same faces at Barker’s providing the same, reliable
service they have for 75 years.
A listing of AgriVision’s 13 locations can be found at AgriVision.us
Time for Candidates to File Papers
you're considering running for office, today is an important day. Union
County Auditor Sandy Hysell says Monday, March 3, is the first day
potential candidates can take out nomination papers from the Auditor’s
County offices appearing on the ballot this year are Sheriff,
Treasurer, Recorder, County Attorney, and one seat on the Board of
Hysell says the process is simple. Pick up the papers during regular
business hours and return them with the appropriate number of
signatures by March 29. Based on the number of people from each party
who voted in the last general election, Republican candidates need at
least 50 signatures and Democratic candidates need at least 30 to have
their name placed on the ballot.
You must be a resident of Union County to run for office in Union County.
The seat on the Board of Supervisors that will appear on the ballot is
Ron Riley's. Riley says he does intend to seek re-election. He says he
enjoys serving on the board and has projects he would like to see
finished. Riley has been on the board for eight years and served two
stints as chairman.
The Primary Election is June 3.
Student Enrollment Follows the Jobs
One of the most pressing problems facing rural areas is loss of student enrollment in local schools.
At the last Creston School District Board of Directors meeting, Creston
Superintendent Steve McDermott presented student enrollment figures to
the board. Taking figures from neighboring districts as well as other
Hawkeye Ten schools, McDermott was able to piece together of picture of
enrollment gains and losses compared to Creston's.
The data shows seven schools with gains in enrollment led by Creston,
Clarke Community, and Denison with 8 percent. Seventeen schools show
enrollment loss over the period 2009 to 2013, ranging from Clarinda,
Lewis Central and Mt. Ayr with 1 percent to Bedford, Corning, and
Villisca at 11 percent. McDermott says not all of that loss can be
attributed to rural population loss. Some of the change can be
attributed to students changing schools through open enrollments.
He says the open-enrollment movement has been good for Creston. The
district open enrolls more students in than out, a rarity in the state.
He says the reasons for students open enrolling to another district are
varied. Some districts focus on marketing to lure students, but
McDermott says it usually comes down to each family’s decision for
their own reasons.
But McDermott says there is one common denominator. The students go
where the jobs are. A community mush have employment opportunities to
attract employees, and thus enroll their children into schools.
East Union saw a 1 percent increase during the measurement period.
Diagonal was up 4 percent and Lenox 3 percent. Nodaway Valley decreased
3 percent, Orient-Macksburg 6 percent and Murray and Adair-Casey 8
Creston's 8 percent enrollment increase amounts to 106 students.
ECHCO Concrete Receives Iowa Venture Award
Concrete LLC of Corning is the latest Southwest Iowa company to receive
the Iowa Venture Award from the Iowa Area Development Group. The award
is granted annually to enterprises showing leadership and innovation in
helping to grow Iowa’s economy. Associated with Iowa’s Rural Electric
Cooperatives, municipal utilities, and telecommunications companies,
the Iowa Area Development Group has served as an economic development
partner since 1985. Chris Cole of ECHCO Concrete says they are very
grateful for the opportunity, and the recognition needs to be shared
with their parent company, Henningsen Construction.
Cole says ECHCO has a long, proud history with Henningsen. E.C.
Henningsen founded ECHCO Ready Mix in the 1970s. They got out of the
business for a time, then realizing the need for more competition in
the concrete business in southwest Iowa, opened ECHCO in Corning.
Hennigsen has history with the Iowa Area Development Group. The
construction firm has built 51 percent of all spec buildings across the
state built through the Iowa Area Development Group.
ECHCO began to meet the Southwest Iowa demand with a state-of-the-art
facility capable of producing 150-200 yards of concrete per hour. Now
an expansion is in the works. A permanent plant will be built in
Corning, and the portable one moved to Atlantic. When complete, the
Corning plant will employ 10-12 people, with another 5 or 6 in
Atlantic. Both should be on-line by spring.
Cole says ECHCO has the “best team in the business,” and gives them
full credit for the company’s rising success. He says the best is get
to come. He says as long as the market and community support are there,
they will continue to grow.
ECHCO Concrete was nominated for the Iowa Venture Award by Southwest Iowa Rural Electric Cooperative.
The Iowa Venture Award Hall of Fame can be accessed at IADG.com
Green Valley Benefits from Facelift
as a project to improve fisheries and water quality, Green Valley Lake
has experienced a large facelift in the last five to seven years. In
this project, it has also led to a revamping of the campgrounds and
Park ranger Alan Carr says the Clean Lakes Program, an EPA program in
place since the 1980s, placed Green Valley and about 300 other lakes in
Iowa on an Endangered Water Bodies list.
On this list, the lakes have opportunities for funding by the
government to improve such problems as water quality and fisheries.
Though starting as a project to combat fisheries, he goes on to explain
why additional work was done to the area.
Knowing the fishery would be off-line for a period of time while the
lake was drained, a group of partners decided to complete as much
related work as possible. Since 2008 when the lake was drawn down,
there have been numerous improvements to the campgrounds as well.
Since these changes, Green Valley has seen an almost 25 percent
increase in campers and ice fishing has risen 20 times from the
historic levels, according to DNR fisheries biologist Gary Sobotka.
County Proceeds with Mental Health Changes
is making changes to its Mental Health funding system, and that means
changes on the local level. The Union County Board of Supervisors will
see a change in the way it processes mental health claims beginning
July 1. Supervisor Ron Riley explains Union County will now be part of
a four-county region that also includes Adair, Adams and Taylor
Riley has been the board’s representative on a four-county board that
has worked for more than a year to create the new region under a 28E
agreement. The combined region allows for pooling of funds.
The changes were state-mandated; an attempt to reduce mental health
costs statewide. Board Chairman Dennis Brown says the change did
present challenges in developing the Fiscal Year 2014-2015 budget, with
many expenses and funding still unknown.
Last year’s budget included around $600,000 for mental health. The
county is working with the state to pay around $300,000 in Medicaid
bills currently owed due to changes in the funding system, and unclear
messages from the state about what would need to be paid. Once Union
and other counties’ past-due balances are paid, Southern Hills Regional
Mental Health will be eligible for state stabilization funding.
County Conservation to Replace House at Three-Mile Lake
in the budget process, Union County Board of Supervisors Chairman
Dennis Brown remarked that this year’s budget was yielding few
surprises. Then the board met with County Conservation Officer Doug
Jones. He unveiled plans to replace the park ranger house at Three-Mile
Brown says the expense may have been unexpected, but it is needed.
Efforts were made to shape repair and remodeling plans, but in the end
it was determined replacement was the best option.
The old home at 3-Mile Lake will be replaced by a modular home.
Supervisor Lois Monday says she was impressed not only with the
moderation of the Conservation Commission’s plan, but by their
Conservation staff will provide some of the construction and the house
will have one amenity – log siding – in order to have it blend with the
Monday says she considers the home a great asset for the popular
tourist and recreation spot. Brown says it was a challenge to come up
with the needed funds, but the project looks positive going forward.
The new house will be built without a garage. That may be added at a later date.
Hospital is Vital Part of Economy
local hospital is more than a healthcare provider. It is also a
valuable community economic partner. Such is the case with Greater
Regional Medical Center in Creston, as Greater Regional Executive
Director of Continuum of Care LouAnn Snodgrass tells.
Greater Regional Medical Center generates 366 jobs that add $26,842,112
to the region’s economy, according to the latest study by the Iowa
Hospital Association. In addition, Greater Regional employees by
themselves spend $7,323,293 on retail sales and contribute $439,398 in
state sales tax revenue.
Greater Regional isn't the only one.
The study found that Iowa hospitals directly employ 71,437 people and
create another 57,792 jobs outside the hospital sector. As an income
source, hospitals provide $4.2 billion in salaries and benefits and
generate another $1.8 billion through other jobs that depend on
Snodgrass says the annual study sheds a light on medical facility's contribution.
The IHA study examined the jobs, income, retail sales and sales tax
produced by hospitals and the rest of the state’s health care sector.
The study was compiled from hospital-submitted data on the American
Hospital Association’s Annual Survey of Hospitals and with software
that other industries have used to determine their economic impact.
She adds it's a role Greater Regional is glad to accept, as it prides
itself on being an active contributor to the local economy. She adds
the facility has benefited from patients and families that choose GRMC
for their healthcare, and it’s important to show the power of giving
back through improvements in the local economy.
Iowa's healthcare industry accounts for nearly one-fifth of the state's non-farm jobs.
County Budget is Ready for Public
County's Fiscal Year 2014-2015 budget is complete and ready for final
approval. A public hearing is scheduled for Monday March 10, at 10
a.m., in the board room at the Union County Courthouse. Board of
Supervisors Chairman Dennis Brown says the levy will be decreased
roughly 8 cents per $1,000 of property valuation. Part of that is due
to a reduction in the county's debt status. Union County has paid off
nearly $1 million of its bonds.
There are expenses to be paid, like bills associated with changes in
mental health funding. And of course there are road projects, like the
dowel bar retrofit scheduled for the Cromwell Road and the High &
Dry, along with two major culvert projects in the REA road, and two
bridges in the eastern part of the county.
Brown says everyone involved is able to benefit from the county's
fiscal picture, a picture created by everyone working together.
Most county employees received a 3 percent wage increase plus a 2
percent cost of living adjustment. Brown also says they will not be
adding an assistant county attorney at this time, as requested, but
will remain flexible on the issue and continue to assess the situation.
Supervisor Lois Monday says it is all possible through keeping
priorities in line – watching spending and looking ahead with programs
to help families.
Students Want to Change Street Name
group of Creston Middle School students would like to rename a street.
The Middle School Student Governemnt approached the city council last
week with the proposal.
They would like to change the name of Parkway Street to Patriotic
Parkway Street. Parkway is the short stretch of street that connects
New York Avenue and Highway 34 near the Phillips 66 Visitor’s Center.
The area is the future home of Union County’s Patriotic Rock, scheduled
to be painted by Ray Sorensen in 2015.
The students have laid the groundwork, as Trevor Downing tells. They
have discussed the issue with Public Works Director Kevin Kruse and
have volunteered to pay for the new signage.
Faith Wilson says they have also assessed the economic impact of those
in the area, determining there are no businesses on the road that would
need to change mailing address.
Jaden Driskell says they feel it is just something that should be done.
The Middle School Student Government puts on a veteran’s program each
year and feels the community should do what it can to honor those who
serve our country.
The issue has been referred to the Planning and Zoning Commission. If
approved there, it will come back before the council. Mayor Woods met
with the students early in the plan development, explaining the steps
necessary to make the change and the process required.
The students also consulted local veteran’s groups in making their plans.
Council Hears Cottonwood Proposal
city of Creston has plans to turn a 40-acre plot of land north of
McKinley Lake into a housing subdivision. Preliminary plans included a
mix of single-family dwellings, and multi-family units in the form of
duplexes or condominiums. At last week’s city council meeting, Don
Sonntag, of Atlantic-based Sonntag Development, LLC, presented an
He would like to develop the area into condominiums. His plan is for 14
condos in the first year. If all goes well, he would plan to add
another 12 units the second year. The units would range in size from
877 to 1,459 square feet.
Sonntag, who has built around 175 condo units in Atlantic, as well as
developing seven new housing areas with lots, says the condo is an idea
who’s time has come in rural Iowa. As people age, they stay in their
homes longer. The condos present an opportunity for low-maintenance
living and free up housing for families.
He says the challenge can be in the marketing in an area that my be unfamiliar with the concept.
He is prepared to develop the needed infrastructure along with the
units, with a plan in place that would then turn it over to the city.
The council will take the proposal under consideration and discuss it further at a future meeting.
Taylor says there may be other developers presenting in the near future.
Reward Offered in Break-in
weekend break-in in Afton has resulted in local businesses offering a
reward for information. These photos were taken by the security system
at Afton Fitness Center. The suspects stole cash, but did not damage
any equipment. The Afton Fitness Center has offered a reward of $1,000
plus a lifetime membership. A nearby business, Up In Smoke, was the
victim of a break-in this summer. It has offered a $500 reward. Local
authorities report a series of break-ins in the area in recent weeks.
Ash Trees, Beware
Emerald Ash Borer is in Union County. The word became official a couple
weeks ago. To educate the public about the pest, Union County ISU
Extension and Outreach is holding a special meeting Thursday night.
Carol Lafaver, Extension Regional Director, gives highlights.
The meeting will be held Thursday, December 9, 6-7:30 p.m., at the
Supertel Inn and Conference Center in Creston. It is free and open to
the public. No registration is required.
Lafaver says the meeting will include discussion on issues such as
indentifying the Emerald Ash Borer, identifying ash trees, safety of
trees, treatment options and replacement options.
The Emerald Ash Borer, or EAB, is one of the most destructive tree
pests in North America. It first appeared in Iowa, in Allamakee County,
in 2010. Since then it has spread to Des Moines County, Jefferson
County, and most recently Union County. Transfer of firewood is one of
the most common means of contamination.
A panel of experts will address the issue at Thursday's meeting. This
slated to appear include Emma Hanigan, IDNR Urban Forestry Program
Coordinator; Randy Goerdnt, IDNR District Forester; Mike Kintner, EAB
Outreach and Regulatory Coordinator with Iowa Department of Agriculture
and Land Stewardship; and Mark Shour, ISU Extension and Outreach
Lafaver says for those unable to make the meeting, the Extension
Service is committed to providing the needed information. There is now
an Emerald Ash Borer website, or contact your local Extension Office
County Depends on GRMC for Public Health Programs
The Union County Board of Supervisors heard a report on public health services at its Monday meeting.
Counties have an obligation to provide public health services. In some
counties, that means a separate department housed in the courthouse. In
Union County, those services are picked up by Greater Regional Medical
Center. Greater Regional Director of Continuum of Care LouAnn Snodgrass
provides the historical context.
Changes in home care delivery in the 1980s prompted changes in
administrative structure. At that time the hospital and the board of
supervisors decided to move the program to the hospital, with the
hospital picking up the primary financial responsibility, tapping grant
programs as appropriate to create and provide services.
Snodgrass says the current program is a good fit for the hospital, as one of the pillars of their mission is community.
The arrangement also works for the Board of Supervisors, whose members
generally are not health care experts. It also works financially for
the county, which unlike many other counties, contributes very little
to public health services.
Public Health services are funded in part by a series of grants and
patient payment, with Greater Regional picking up the rest of the
expense. Services provided include maternal health services for new
mothers, an adult and childhood immunization programs, elderly health
services, education, and monitoring of health crises and disease
Snodgrass says recent efforts have helped eliminate duplication of services with other agencies.
Supervisor Dennis Brown is the county’s representative on the Board of Health.
Union County Treasurer Stops CDL Driving Tests
Union County Treasurer's office will no longer offer CDL driving tests
as of December 27. Union County Treasurer Kelly Busch says the office
will continue to offer testing and will continue to issue licenses, but
not the driving test.
Busch says the number of people taking the test no longer justifies the
expense of keeping an examiner on staff. The retirement of the current
examiner prompted the change. Busch says many of those served are from
other counties, as the October/November statistics show.
Other services will continue as they are, including CDL renewals. Car
and motorcycle driving tests will still be offered with Busch doing the
testing. And all testing and license issuance will continue. Busch says
those needing the CDL driving test can go to another county. Page,
Montgomery and Madison counties all offer the service.
Or drivers can tap a new program proposed by SWCC, that will provide 80
hours of training plus the driving test. More information can be
obtained by contacting Kim Oaks with SWCC Adult Continuing Education.
Plans are to start the program in February.
Living in Creston: Does Our Housing Meet Our Needs?
Regional Planner Jeremy Rounds says, “When we invest in our older
neighborhoods, the surrounding housing stock will improve.” That’s one
of the reasons why Creston’s efforts and improving its housing stock
include improving and rehabilitating existing housing. There certainly
have been many private efforts to improve Creston’s older homes, with
many shining examples of design and historic appreciation.
There are those who would like to purchase a “fixer-upper” but have
trouble obtaining the financing. Rounds says local lenders are often
confined by parent company and government regulation and thus lack the
flexibility for those types of projects.
City Manager Mike Taylor says some simply struggle with the expense of
basic maintenance. Programs like the Chamber of Commerce Paint Program
help with that. Local businesses donate paint, and through an
application process, it is distributed to local homeowners who provide
the labor to repaint their home. Taylor says the program currently
serves four to five houses per year. He would like to see that increase
to 10 or 12. He says it’s understandable that people can have problems
keeping up with home maintenance and programs like this are there to
Bit by bit, house by house, the powers that be are chipping away at
Creston’s housing situation. But despite the innovative partnering and
agreement of the issues that is taking place, real progress may depend
on greater coordination. Rounds would like to see a community meeting
to identify specific needs and develop a plan to meet them.
Taylor says it is nearing time to redraft the city’s comprehensive plan
and that will no doubt help pull various elements together.
The comprehensive plan will also help identify infrastructure needs
going forward, though Taylor says in many ways the city is already
prepared. Taylor says the city’s wastewater system is designed for
twice the current population. There is also amply water available.
All that under the umbrella of coordinated effort is crucial, as
Creston continues its roll as a population and business hub for
you talk to officials about housing for very long, you will hear the
word “infill.” Unlike creating new subdivisions, infill makes use of
existing space within the city. That effort often starts with removal
of a substandard structure. For the past several years, the city of
Creston has been involved in a Neighborhood Stabilization program to
remove blighted homes. City Manager Mike Taylor explains a change in
state law a few years ago allows for the city to take ownership of
blighted properties. In some cases the owner relinquishes ownership.
Any liens on the property are dismissed and the court re-assigns
Once the property is in the city’s hands, the structures are removed,
aided in past years by grant funding, and the lots are sold, some to
private landowners in the name of neighborhood improvement.
Those that are suitable for building have been put to use. Habitat for
Humanity has purchased lots, and constructs around one house a year.
Their current project is a two-bedroom home. Another already acquired
property is slated for a larger family dwelling. The homes are sold to
qualifying persons through an application process.
A partnership between Union County Development and SWCC is helping the
effort. SWCC Vice President of Instruction Bill Taylor explains
UCDA provides the lot and the Building Trades Program constructs the
home. UCDA then pays (at cost) for the house and puts it on the market.
The program, and South Elm Street location of the latest house, fit
UCDA’s larger mission, according to UCDA Director Wayne Pantini, who
says the program not only provides housing but enhances the visual
appeal of a primary corridor into the city.
He would like to see the program expanded. Programs like the SWCC/UCDA
partnership fill a need for-profit construction companies struggle to
provide due to low profit margins on a low square-footage structure.
The partnership also enhances SWCC’s efforts to provide the local
construction industry with a steady, trained workforce by offering
instruction in all aspects of building construction.
Taylor says Iowa Workforce Development data indicates 140 new
construction jobs will be available in the area by 2020, with a 31
percent increase in people needed for building construction and a 24
percent increase in specialty trade contractors over 2010.
It’s that kind of strong economy that keeps Creston growing.
is a place where people shop and work. It is also a place where people
live. But finding adequate housing is not always easy. There are those
trying to correct that. Local government, development agencies, and
private citizens are addressing the issue, with some results. But is it
Truth is, much of Creston’s housing stock is showing its age, as Mayor
Warren Woods explains. Many houses in Creston were built for railroad
laborers, men who worked in the depot and the roundhouse. Some, like
those on Cherry Street were built in the 1870s.
In short, there are entire neighborhoods in Creston consisting of
small, old, track houses – many of which are in poor condition. Added
to that, Creston is growing. Entities like Southwestern Community
College, Greater Regional Medical Center and a host of local industry
are bring new professional people to town. That demand for new and
improved housing at nearly all levels of the economic ladder is
creating the need for action. Union County Development Association
Director Wayne Pantini says existing business and industry says as they
recruit employees, they find a housing shortage at all levels –
professions to entry level.
The city has turned to creating housing subdivisions to alleviate the
crunch, as Creston City Manager Mike Taylor explains. James Subdivision
was designed to offer new homes, with the idea that those in older or
smaller homes would “move up” creating a ripple effect throughout the
Union County Development helped create the James addition, and Pantini
says a survey a few years ago indicated about half of the subdivision
residents followed that pattern and about half were new to town.
With only a few lots left in the James Subdivision, a new one, the
Cottonwood Subdivision, is planned on a nearby 40-acre plot. Taylor
says the hope is the Cottonwood project will help fill specific needs
as well as contribute to the overall picture. There appears to be a
demand for one-story homes for the newly, or nearly, retired; and
multi-unit housing, both owned and rented.
Housing in a town like Creston depends, in part, on good rental stock –
an element that is can be in short supply. Taylor says there is a
definite need for multi-family units that are not income-based. Nor
does senior housing, also in ample supply due to recent construction.
Jeremy Rounds, Regional Planner with the Southern Iowa Council of
Governments, or SICOG, says it is likely most of Creston’s population
growth from 2000 to 2010 could be attributed to new senior housing.
Maintaining the quality of rental properties is an ongoing concern.
Rounds outlines part of the problem saying “Students will live in
anything.” Thus, landlords have little incentive to upgrade properties.
SWCC has addressed the rental quantity problem by increasing student
housing. The school is constructing its third new dorm since 2006. When
finished, there will be dorm units for just over 200 students on
campus, but, enrollment growth is consuming those nearly as fast as
they are constructed.
The city of Creston has made attempts at improving the quality by
enacting rental housing standards, designed to ensure properties meet
basic safety standards. Taylor says many landlords who have completed
the self-inspection checklist provided have initiated improvements.
Still, more multi-family housing is needed.
It's All About Service
road traveled by this year’s Volunteer of the Year and Youth of the
Year runs through Appalachia. For more than 30 years, Becky Riley has
taken a group of Creston youth to the Appalachian Mountains through The
Appalachia Project. Both here and in the hills of Kentucky and
Tennessee, the effort is all about service – both there and at home as
the youth fundraise and help with community projects.
Riley, this year's Volunteer of the Year, came to the project at a
young age. She served on the Appalachia Project as a youth and was
inspired to serve others.
She first suggested the project to the kids while serving as youth
group sponsor at her church. And every year since she has headed a
group of kids and adults who spend a week making homes warmer, safer
and drier for residents of the poverty-stricken region. Volunteers hang
dry-wall, roof, build porches and ramps, and make other structural
changes and repairs.
Like Becky, the experience for Creston kids can be life changing. She
says they are most often amazed at how happy the people are when they
have so little.
Creston’s Youth of the Year honoree is one of those kids. Levi Eblen is
in his third year of involvement with The Appalachia Project, one of
items on his list of contributions to his community. Riley says he is
willing to do whatever is asked of him and influences others with his
calm demeanor in times of stress.
Riley is not the only person to experience Eblen’s leadership skills.
Among those to nominate him for the award is Creston High School
Business Instructor and advisor for the Future Business Leaders of
America Shannon Smith.
Smith says Eblen has earned the respect of the community through his
professionalism in organizing FBLA community service projects.
A senior at Creston High School, Eblen is active in the FBLA,
participating in competitions at the State Leadership Conference and
active in the group’s community service projects. He is class
president, has been a Student Council officer for four years, as well
as participating in sports and is a member of the National Honor
Society. He even dresses as Clifford the Big Red Dog at Library events.
But it’s his leadership skills that most impress Smith. He actively
encourages younger kids to get involved and leads by example. Smith
says Eblen is able to apply his talents and dedication to every effort
he takes on.
The Creston Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting was held Tuesday night
at the Supertel Inn and Conference Center. Denny Abel was named Citizen
of the Year.
Nominations for the Citizen of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, and
Youth of the Year come from within the community. Selections are made
by a panel of community judges.
Chamber of Commerce Names Citizen of the Year
you need help, call Denny” reads one of the stack of nomination forms
suggesting Denny Abel as Creston’s 2013 Citizen of the Year.
From the halls of Greater Regional Medical Center to the VFW, Denny
Abel is well known as a community volunteer and an advocate for
veterans. According to Abel, a Viet Nam vet, that didn’t happen
accidently. He says he does what he does because he loves his veterans,
and a good share of what he does now is to get them the due they have
coming to them.
But getting started wasn’t that easy. Like many vets of his era, being
a veteran wasn’t always popular, and in some cases respect and
appreciation wasn’t always forthcoming. When he first returned from
Viet Nam he tried to join the VFW but was rejected because it wasn’t a
“war.” He says it wasn’t until after the Gulf War that vets from Viet
Nam and Korea were acknowledged. When he was asked to join in 1992, he
jumped at the chance, and since his retirement in 2004 he has devoted
his time to helping vets.
Abel says young veterans today can be hard to reach, as they rely on
Internet social networks for support rather than their fellow veterans.
But, Abel says, the help is there if they need it, in a way only fellow
veterans can provide it. A person who has been in combat has a
different mindset than those looking in from the outside. He suffered
for year from post traumatic stress disorder and understands who vets
need help with that.
His days are spent helping fellow veterans get the medical benefits
they need, filing paperwork and driving vets to the VA in Des Moines or
Omaha. He is working with Greater Regional to bring more vet services
to the area. He also channels his efforts through the VFW, holding
state office, and is the force behind Union County’s Freedom Rock. He
has rallied volunteer forces throughout the community, amassing cash
and in kind donations, to place the rock set to be painted by Ray
Sorensen in 2015. He says while many community efforts honor fallen
vets, the Freedom Rock honors the living.
He helps with those other efforts, too, setting flags for Memorial Day
at the cemetery, and participating in Honor Guards here and at the Iowa
Veteran’s Cemetery in Van Meter – an emotional contribution for Abel,
who says he is always moved by the families of those who have given a
part of their life to their country.
As for “if you need help – call Denny” – well, Abel has an answer to
that – “I hope so. That’s what I’m here for. I hope those who need help
will call me.”
Abel also serves as an information guide at Greater Regional Medical
Center, offers support to vets in hospice, and spends time volunteering
at the Union County historical site.
Abel, along with the 2013 Volunteer of the Year and Youth of the Year,
will be honored Tuesday night at the Creston Chamber of Commerce Annual
meeting. Listen tomorrow for features on the other two recipients.
New Agency Addresses Domestic Violence
Much of the KSIB listening area is undergoing a chance in domestic abuse service providers.
This summer, The Rural Iowa Crisis Center, which had provided domestic
violence and sexual assault victim services for the area closed its
doors. The move was the result of state directed regionalization. There
are now only six agencies serving the entire state, and services in
this area now fall under the domain of the Crisis Intervention and
Advocacy Center, based in Adel. Agency Director Johna Sullivan says as
of July 1, her agency provides services in Adair, Union, Adams,
Ringgold and Taylor counties.
Crisis Intervention and Advocacy already provides services to Dallas,
Guthrie, Madison, Clarke and Decatur counties. It is working to open
offices in throughout the new area.
In addition to the traditional services, the agency provides help for
the homeless. It does not operate a shelter, but works with people in
the community to provide emergency and transitional housing for people
on their client list.
Union County Board of Supervisors Chairman Ron Riley says he is glad to
see a new agency coming in to fill the void for much-needed services.
Sullivan is hoping she can count on the Union County Board for
financial support. Historically, the county has provided funding for
domestic violence victim’s services. The board instructed her to return
at budget time.
The Crisis Intervention and Advocacy provides a full array of services,
including a Spanish language hotline. Current clients are being
transitioned to the new agency. Those in need of emergency help can
call the 24-hour crisis line 1-800-400-4884.
CHS Hall of Fame
Creston Homecoming is Friday, and that means it is time to induct a new
class into the Creston High School Hall of Fame. This year’s inductees
are Curt Olson, Thelda Williams and Tim Kenyon.
Bender Williams was a typical high school student when she graduated
from Creston High School in 1959 – with the possible exception of
working in her parents' produce station. She never imagined she would
someday serve as council woman and mayor in the nation's fifth largest
city, Phoenix, Arizona. But she has no doubts about where and when
those seeds were planted. She says she gives Creston High School full
credit – with teachers who not only taught daily lessons, but taught
kids to take a chance. She says she learned a little about a lot of
things and that has taken her a long way.
Williams held several jobs before going to work for the Maricopa County
Sheriff's Department. There she started a drug rehabilitation program
that was known for its tough love. The program became a national model,
and Williams was entrusted with other projects – the first high school
for juveniles servicing time as adults, a pet MASH unit where prisoners
learned to care for abandoned and abused animals.
Just like much of her professional career, her entrance into politics
came from seizing an opportunity. She was working to lobby the city for
more parks and ball parks in her neighborhood when the opportunity to
run for office came up and she took it – and was elected.
That was in 1989. Since then, Williams has served on the Phoenix City
Council and was appointed Interim Mayor for a time in 1994. Along with
her array of city committees and boards, she is a frequent world
traveler as an ambassador for the city. She determined early in her
career that Phoenix needed an international airport, and has lobbied
the world over for international air service.
She says there are perks to the job. She once conducted a seminar on
democratic government in Moscow for more than 100 Russian mayors and
was given full VIP treatment, including her own performance of the
Bolshoi Ballet and a private tour of the Kremlin. Back in Phoenix, she
says it's not hard to see where to fix things if you are out in the
community. Trying to obtain the community ideal, with various factions
helping each other, is a lesson she says she learned in Creston.
Williams offers a bit of advice for current Creston High School
Students: “Learn everything you can. Continue your education throughout
your live. Have the courage to take a chance. And think big.”
In high school, Williams was a member of the original Peppers squad,
and has been married to fellow classmate Mel Williams for 54 years.
one can come to the end of life and be able to say they made a
difference, they can say they have lived a successful life. Curt Olson
was a success. Olson began his career as a teacher and a coach in 1968
and came to Creston in 1982. He died last year, just as he was about to
be inducted into the Hall of Fame, putting off the formalities of the
honor until this year. Olson’s wife Beth remembers he was surprised he
had been selected, he felt others were more deserving. She says that’s
just the kind of guy Olson was.
There are few in Creston who would argue with Beth Olson’s assessment.
Olson went to work every day determined to make a difference in kids’
lives. And make a difference he did. He worked with guidance counselors
to identify students who needed a special hand – those with drug or
emotional problems – or those who were struggling academically. Beth
says that came from battling his own health problems as a young child,
and parents who never lightened their expectations, and never failed to
Olson was a tireless coach and athletic director who saw to the
interests of his students on and off the field. He also held several
statewide Athletic Association offices and received the IHSADA Golden
Eagle Award, the NIAAA Award of Merit, and the IHSAA Administrator
award, and IHSADA State Athletic Director of the year. Olson was a big
man – in stature and in spirit. His mighty laugh was well known
throughout the community, as was his gentle heart and commitment to his
Beth says she has had several students tell her they would not have
graduated without Olson’s encouragement. Olson had started the 2012-13
school year, the same way he started every other – setting the stage
for student success. He was coaching the 8th Grade football team at the
time of his death.
For Beth, that was just life with Curt Olson: “He loved people. He
loved kids. He loves sports. He loved music. He loved the arts. And he
just thought everybody should have a chance.”
Olson was an active member of the Creston Chamber of Commerce, served
as parade master for many years, and sat on the Foster Care Review
Board. His Hall of Fame award will be accepted by his wife, Beth.
Tim Kenyon graduated from Creston High School in 1976. He has sat at
the same desk in the Union County Attorney’s office since 1983. During
that time he has amassed an impressive record, prosecuting more than
6,000 cases – more than all previous Union County Attorney’s combined.
Kenyon says that is due, in part, to the changing face of crime.
Today’s criminal activity all too often is the result of drug use,
He says his office has seen a drastic increase in juvenile cases and
makes giving kids a chance a high priority.
Working with kids is part of the reason for Kenyon’s nomination into
the Hall of Fame. In 1998 he received the Governor’s Volunteer Award
for his work with the Creston Middle School Mock trial program. He is
past president of the Creston Activities Booster Club and spent many
years involved in the Marching Band Parent’s Committee.
For Kenyon it offers a balance to the side of life he all too often
sees in his job. He enjoys the kids’ energy and positive attitude – and
says he learns a great deal from them.
His work with the band also fits with his ongoing love of music. Still
a practicing musician, he is a regular with the Waukee Big Band. He
says a highlight was playing the Surf Ballroom. Kenyon and his trumpet
are also regular guests with the Creston High School Pep Band.
He credits his success in all areas with the lessons he learned in high
school about hard work and preparation, adding “you get out of it what
you put into it.”
He says those lessons translated into what he considers the basic
elements of life – mainly keeping a positive attitude and looking for
the good in people.
He adds for most people that can be summed up by the phrase Carpe Diem – Seize the Day:
“When you get up in the morning, what are you going to do today to make
your house better, to make your family better, to make Creston better?
What are you going to do to make things better? Literally, you have to
seize the day. And sometimes it’s a little hard to get a hold of.”
Kenyon has been an adjunct professor at SWCC since 1990, teaching child
phycology and criminal justice, has served as youth group leader for
the Appalachia Service Project, and was president of the Iowa County
Attorney’s Association in 2010.
School Activities are Easy to Track
schools is using a new tool to inform parents and community members of
school activities. It’s a web-based tool called R-School, and it
provides an interactive digital calendar of events and other
Just click on “Activities” on the school’s website, crestonschools.org,
and then click on Hawkeye Ten.
From there you can navigate your way around Creston’s activity calendar
as well as many surrounding communities. Click on Creston and you’ll
get the full calendar, with daily details just another click away.
The site breaks down information by activity, by school, by date, and by conference.
If you’re a Hawkeye Ten watcher, there’s a special feature. The site
will soon have historical data and stats from throughout the conference.
Bevins says the R-school site isn’t just for sports. It covers
everything from this week’s football game to the Fifth Grade band
concert. The site even tells what time the student bus is leaving for
any given out-of-town activity.
All the information is there for people to plan ahead to support their school.
Bevin says they are no longer printing the red, full-size calendars,
but will still make the smaller tri-fold schedule available.
Stay tuned to KSIB Radio for the latest in area sports news.