The Balancing Act
As summer approaches (officially June 21 although these hot days make us believe we are already there!) I am usually planning ways and times to have a little fun, learn some new things, spend time with friends, and meet new people. Perhaps you are doing the same thing. It works great to rejuvenate my mind and spirit.
I try to keep the same thing in mind in my work life and my employees’. Sometimes we all get bogged down with the “to-do” list and scheduling all the work we have on our plate. Don’t get me wrong, that is important. However, for me at least, when I get away, I am better balanced and motivated when I am back at work.
Plus, when I go to a training, meeting, workshop, or retreat – away from the office; I usually
learn about a new opportunity that might help one of our communities, or
Find a new method of doing something that takes less time or is easier, or
I meet a new person that becomes a great resource for future projects, or
I come back energized and appreciative of the work I am doing
Another balancing act as a person who manages staff is determining which employee(s) should go to which meeting, workshop, etc.; what the budget can allow; how can they bring back what they learned to the rest of the team; which person can be gone with the current work that is scheduled; finding an activity that best fits the type of job, personality, as well as where the activity is located are also factors. Sometimes it gets complicated, and we wonder if it is worth it. It is!
Also having worked for several different Boards of Directors, our clients, or even volunteers who work with staff, sometimes it is a balancing act getting their buy-in on the value/cost ratio or timing for an employee to be out of the office for one of these activities. “Why are you paying them good money to go to ‘X, Y or Z’ when they have ‘enough’ work to do here?” I often answer them with my own question, “Do you want the best employee to do the best job they can? If so, they need to be knowledgeable, have the resources and contacts to open up opportunities, and be happy and challenged in their work to provide the best service for our members and partners.”
So, I encourage you to think about your employees, volunteers, and community leaders. There are a lot of great workshops this summer filled with knowledgeable people, examples of what other communities are planning, are doing, and have done. They are sharing innovative programs, new funding sources, and new ways of looking for funding.
Check out the rest of the newsletter to see a sampling of good choices that can enhance the work you, your employees, your volunteers, and community leaders are doing. Ask yourself – “What needs to be balanced to do our best work?”
The FY2024-2027 Draft TIP will be available for public comment and review beginning June 16th. The document will be available at the SICOG Office as well as the SICOG Website, www.sicog.com. Any comments shall be directed to Jessica Hagen at 641-782-8491 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments will be accepted until Monday July 3rd at 5:00 p.m.
Motorists who travel on Iowa 25/Sumner Avenue in Creston need to be aware of an upcoming construction project at the BNSF overpass that could slow down their trip.
Beginning on Monday, June 12, until Friday, June 30, weather permitting, construction crews will work on the BNSF overpass. This will require restricting traffic on Iowa 25/Sumner Avenue to one lane between Fremont Street and Jefferson Street. Access to Russell Street from Iowa 25/Sumner Avenue will be closed for the duration of the project.
Temporary traffic signals will be in place to assist motorists through the work zone. Vehicles and loads over 11-feet wide will need to use an alternate route.
UPDATE: ROAD CLOSURE ON U.S. 169 NEAR LORIMOR BEGAN ON THURSDAY, JUNE 1
If you’re planning to drive on U.S. 169 from U.S. 34 in Lorimor, there’s a road closure that could slow down your trip.
Construction beginning on Thursday, June 1, and will continue until Friday, Aug. 25, weather permitting. Construction crews will work on removing the current bridge on U.S. 169 and replace it with a pipe and concrete paving. While the roadway is closed to traffic, motorists will follow a marked detour route using U.S. 34, and Union County roads P-53 and H-17.
As always, SICOG provides an un-exhaustive list of grants to generate ideas about possible projects and provide funding guidance. Grant funding sources are increasingly interested in creative solutions to problems and many are willing to support not just construction but also operations. If your community has a problem that outside funding might address, then please contact your SICOG office. We would be glad to help and can attend a local meeting at no cost to discuss the project or idea. There are many other sources, so if you have project, please contact us.
Iowa Downtown Forums
Designing the Downtown Experience
IEDA’s Iowa Downtown Resource Center is offering four interactive downtown forums on June 26 through the 29. These forums are for Iowa communities that are interested in learning more about streetscapes improvements, creating good pedestrian experiences, wayfinding signage, and how to fund them.
Monday, June 26- Waldorf University, Salveson Hall, 106 S 6th St, Forest City
Tuesday, June 27- United Methodist Church, 304 1st St SW, Mount Vernon
Wednesday, June 28- Warren Cultural Center, 154 Public Square, Greenfield
Thursday, June 29- The Foundary, 524 Lake Avenue, Storm Lake
For more information regarding these forums, the forum agenda, and registration, click the button below!
Homes for Iowa Career Fair June 23, 2023
Are you a contractor looking for skilled labor? Check out this opportunity at the Homes for Iowa Build Site!
Vulnerable Road Users Grant Opportunity
The United States Department of Transportation is reaching out to members of a community planning organization or DOT partner who may be aware of a bicycle and/or pedestrian traffic safety issue in the area. The Iowa Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau (GTSB) can be a valuable resource.
Their mission is to identify traffic safety issues, and through partnerships with city, county, state, and local organizations, develop and implement strategies to reduce deaths and injuries on Iowa’s roadways.
GTSB is offering an opportunity to apply for a traffic safety grant for federal fiscal year 2024, from October 1, 2023 - September 30, 2024. The GTSB has reserved up to $250,000 for programs/projects targeting pedestrian and bicycle safety. If you have identified a vulnerable road user concern in your community or your organization already implements programs, US Department of Transportation would like to talk about a partnership supporting your efforts.
If your community is experiencing bicycle and/or pedestrian traffic safety challenges but you are unsure how to address this growing trend, please use the links below for effective countermeasure ideas.
Strategies to Increase Pedestrian Safety
Strategies to Increase Bicyclist Safety
Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Micromobility Program Ideas
When you have a program idea and plan, contact Program Administrator Sheri Krohn who can be reached at 515-725-6128 or email@example.com.
Up Coming Conferences and Summits
2023 Downtown Conference, August 1-3, at the Sioux City Convention Center in Sioux City, Iowa. Learn about the latest trends, acquire practical information and ideas, and learn strategies that are relevant to rural, mid-sized and urban downtown districts. Click here to register!
Housing Iowa Conference, September 6-8, at the Cedar Rapids DoubleTree in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. This event welcomes housing developers, property managers, financiers, lenders, Realtors, homeless and supportive services professionals, housing advocates, policy makers, community development professionals, community leaders and anyone interested in learning more about housing in Iowa. Click here to register!
Des Moines Cybersecurity Conference, September 21, at the Des Moines Marriott Downtown in Des Moines, Iowa. Discover cutting edge security approaches, and how to manage risk in the workforce. Click here to register!
Iowa Ideas 2023, October 12-13, and is a Virtual Conference. Iowa Ideas is an annual virtual conference designed to gather Iowans from all perspectives to explore, discuss and offer solutions on issues impacting the state. Click here to register!
2023 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! Summit, at the FFA Enrichment Center in Ankeny, Iowa. Learn from experts from across the state implementing 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! in schools, early care, out-of-school programs, health care clinics and communities. Sessions focus on how to adopt strategies that support the healthy choice as the easy choice and create policy, system and environmental changes within all sectors. Click here to register!
10 Iowa Smart Planning Principles
In the coming issues of The Windmill, I’ll cover the 10 Iowa Smart Planning Principles, now codified in Iowa Code Chapter 18B. This month, we’ll cover the first one: collaboration. The Code reads as follows:
“1. Collaboration. Governmental, community, and individual stakeholders, including those outside the jurisdiction of the entity, are encouraged to be involved and provide comment during deliberation of planning, zoning, development, and resource management decisions and during implementation of such decisions. The state agency, local government, or other public entity is encouraged to develop and implement a strategy to facilitate such participation.”
The Code states that that the local government shall consider and may apply the 10 principles in appropriate planning, zoning, development, and resource management decisions. The question becomes how to consider and apply them. When SICOG works on these issues, we like to take on the principles directly. We evaluate possible planning goals, objectives, actions, and policies in terms of how these may impact, positively or negatively, each of the 10 principles.
Collaboration is essential to the success of community development, whether or not it is a mandated policy. In rural communities, with limited populations and resources, we must collaborate to succeed in any planning and development effort.
But what does that really mean? To me, it means that various groups work together proactively and intentionally to accomplish long-term goals and objectives. Notice the second part of the legislative description: “…entity is encouraged to develop and implement a strategy to facilitate such participation.” This means that the local government should take measures to encourage working together beyond the minimum required. It also means that we should seek to “engage” people, including those who might normally avoid being involved, such as non-English speakers, young people, and newcomers. Engaging people is only possible if the local government proves that opinions and new ideas are accepted and sometimes used. When this happens, we can collaborate to bring about change needed to grow the community and carry out challenging projects and programs.
What is your community doing to engage people and to bring stakeholders and groups into along-term collaboration that will bring about success not possible with the local government alone?
Thriving Communities Designation
The Iowa Finance Authority in May introduced Iowa Thriving Communities. This is a new designation for local communities, namely cities, to receive recognition for their work in housing. The main benefits for winning applicants are that the City a) receives special consideration when project applications are proposed for Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits or the Iowa Workforce Housing Tax Incentive and b) is marketed by State agencies to developers as a good destination for housing. Since the tax credit programs are popular and very competitive, the designation can be a big deal to attract projects and get funds awarded. The increased exposure to developers is also important, as it can increase the capacity to build housing at the scale needed, which is often beyond local development capacity. The application is now open, and the due date is July 17. Contact Jeremy or Terry for assistance.
In January 2023, Winterset Community Schools, Madison County Health Care System, the Winterset Public Library, and the Master Gardeners organizations put forth projects to Iowa Department of Public Health’s (IDPH) Healthy Eating and Active Living 5-2-1-0 program for funding, and received a total of $6,400. The 5-2-1-0 program focuses on five servings of fruits and vegetables, two hours less screen time, one hour (plus) physical activity, and zero sugary drinks.
Winterset Community Schools were able to retrofit two existing drinking fountains with bottle filler attachments and install one new full unit in the preschool area. The new water filling station located in the pre-school pod serves about 76 students and 8 adults. The two retrofitted stations serve approximately 200 students.
Above: A member from the Madison County Health Care System After-School Program helps a child properly put on a helmet.
Madison County Health Care System received funding for their after-school program. The organization hosted two after-school programs for 3rd grade students on January 13th and March 24th, that promoted health, safety, and new ways to move their body while fueling it with healthy snacks. The program intends to educate participants on safety and promote physical activity and provide seasonally appropriate outdoor activities that can be used at home. The program started this year with 3rd graders only and the organization plans to expand to other grades in the future.
The Winterset Public Library and Master Gardeners have projects that are funded by IDPH’s Healthy Eating Active Living 5-2-1-0 program. Both of those projects are still in implementation phases.
Above: Students at the Winterset Community School utilize the new Water Bottle Filling Station.
SICOG Partnerships 2023
*Creston City Water Works
*Clarke County Development Corporation
*City of Osceola
*John Wayne Birthplace Society, LTD of Winterset
*First National Bank of Creston & Afton
*Iowa State Savings Bank of Creston & Lenox
*Lenox Municipal Utilities
*Corning Municipal Utilities
*Garden & Associates, LTD of Creston & Oskaloosa
*Greater Regional Health
*PCSB of Clarinda, Corning, Creston, Lenox and Mount Ayr
*American State Bank of Lamoni, Osceola & Winterset
*JEO Consulting Group of Ankeny
*North Stone Apartments & Corkrean Construction of Winterset
*Snyder & Associates, Inc of Ankeny & Atlantic
*Southwest Iowa Rural Electric Cooperative of Corning, Mount Ayr & Stanton
*Tyler Insurance Services of Creston & Mount Ayr
*Veenstra & Kimm, INC of West Des Moines
*Adams Community Economic Development Corporation
*Afton Development Corporation
*Akin Building Center of Corning & Creston
*City State Bank of Mount Ayr
*Clarke County Hospital
*Clarke Electrical Cooperative of Osceola
*Community Development Corp of Greenfield
*Farmers & Merchants State Bank of Orient, St. Charles & Winterset
*First National Bank of Osceola
*FNB of Fontanelle & Greenfield
*Grundman Insurance Agency of Corning
*Lenox Chamber of Commerce
*Lenox Development Corporation
*R Realty of Creston
*Rainbow International of Winterset
*Ringgold County Development Corporation
*Saylor Realty, LLC of Osceola
*Southwestern Community College
*State Bank of Brooks of Corning
*Subway of Corning
*TS Bank of Treynor in Corning
*Union County Development Association
*Union State Bank of Greenfield
*Union State Bank of Winterset
Interested in becoming a partner?! Call us today at (641) 782-8491 or go to the Partnership page on the SICOG website and fill out the form at the bottom of the page!
SICOG Executive Board Minutes- May 2, 2023
Chairman Jerry Walker called the meeting to order at 1:00p.m. at the SICOG office. The following members were present: Akin, Christensen, Dunbar, Fitch, Geist, Holmes, Leners, Pantini, Risser, Walker and Zabel.
Staff present: Waddle and Brimm.
Akin made a motion to approve the agenda with the addition of golf invitational dates under the director’s report. Fitch seconded the motion, all ayes. Motion carried.
Christensen made a motion to approve the minutes of the March 7 and the March 28, 2023 meetings. Holmes seconded the motion. All ayes. Motion carried.
Akin made a motion to approve the financial reports as presented for the month of March and April. Zabel seconded the motion, all ayes. Motion carried.
Other items discussed included: grant report, audit, CARES Planning, NICRA, roof, office car, By-Laws, golf invitational, director evaluation, legislative.
Holmes made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 1:25p.m. Leners seconded the motion, all ayes. Motion carried.
Minutes Submitted by Brimm
SICOG Executive Board
Jerry Walker, Chairperson, Adair County
Diane Fitch, Vice Chairperson, Madison County
Karen Zabel, Secretary, Taylor County
Scott Akin, Treasurer, Adams County
Randy Dunbar, Clarke County
Sam Wengryn, Decatur County
Colby Holmes, Ringgold County
Rick Friday, Union County
Doug Davidson, Private Sector
Tom Leners, Private Sector
Raelynne Risser, Private Sector
Jodie Geist, Private Sector
Wayne Pantini, Member-At-Large
Beth Waddle, Executive Director
Judy Brimm, Finance Director
Jeremy Rounds, Regional Planner
Jessica Hagen, Transportation Planner
Terry Niestadt, Regional Planner
Kendra Comstock, Planning Tech