June, 2014
 
Upcoming City Clerk Meeting
UERPC will be hosting the Northeast Iowa Clerk’s Association meeting on Thursday, June 19th at 10:00 a.m. at the Postville YMCA, 313 West Post Street.
 
The topic will be with an energy company that has innovative ideas for city’s water and wastewater infrastructure.  Jon Kallen with Energy Independence Partners (EIP) out of Des Moines, IA, will be the presenter.  

EIP and EIP Water are energy and environmental infrastructure companies focused on making strategic investments in core assets in these market verticals as well as providing turnkey infrastructure solutions to clients.  Specifically, EIP Water is committed to providing cost effective, turnkey solutions to meet the water and wastewater requirements of both industrial clients and small, decentralized communities.    
 
Water and wastewater infrastructure is often a critical, albeit costly, requirement for many industrial facilities and small municipalities.  This infrastructure is often not included as part of new and/or expanding industries capital budgets and is often an unexpected burden to site, source technology, build and operate.  As such, EIP Water is actively looking for the following opportunities in communities to assist new and expanding industrial clients.
  • Opportunities to own and operate facilities to process wastewater treatment residuals (sludges as an example) for further processing (oil extraction, or digestion and methane recovery). As an example, EIP is a partner in a facility in NW Arkansas that is processing turkey and chicken byproducts for oil recovery as a feedstock for biodiesel.  
  • Opportunities to deploy and own/operate industrial pre-treatment technologies at the client owned site.  EIP Water can charge a fee per gallon treated or provide a lease/rental option. 
  • Opportunities to deploy their proprietary water and wastewater treatment technologies at industrial facilities (buy, lease, rental options).  
EIP Water also offers a wide range of water and wastewater technologies for smaller residential/municipal communities and decentralized locations including - 
  • Packaged wastewater treatment solutions
  • Packaged water treatment/filtration solutions
  • Packaged pump/lift stations 
Please contact Rachelle Howe at rhowe@uerpc.org to RSVP.  Mayors, city councils and city water/sewer personnel are encouraged to attend as well as city clerks.
Iowa State researchers return to communities to assess small town quality of life
Time has changed many of Iowa’s rural communities. Strengthening these towns starts with understanding how social capital and leadership influence development in a small town. A group of Iowa State University researchers has tracked changes in quality of life and social capital in 99 Iowa towns since 1994. This month, they begin a third, two-year study to determine if the changes have continued.

Terry Besser, a professor of sociology and the team lead for the project, says social capital refers to the relationships and trust between residents that can be used for the good of a community. Previous research has shown an association between high social capital and community economic prosperity, the availability of recreational and cultural amenities, and high quality public services.

“Small towns often don’t have much in the way of financial resources,” Besser said. “If they’re able to marshal their social capital, they have a network of people they can call on who trust each other to get things done.”

Iowa State researchers first surveyed residents in the 99 towns in 1994 and then 10 years later in 2004 to gauge their opinions on local quality of life and other community features. Besser and colleagues Stephen Sapp, a professor of sociology; Deborah Tootle, an associate professor of sociology; and Georgeanne Artz, an assistant professor of economics; will send a third round of surveys for residents in those towns to complete in May and June.   

The project, funded by a grant from the USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture, also includes an in-depth analysis of six communities starting in 2015. At that time, researchers will look at development strategies, leadership structure and processes, and assess local amen
ities to evaluate the effectiveness of various kinds of strategies over the last 20 years.

While researchers reported an overall decline in social capital between 1994 and 2004, Besser says some communities sustained or improved their level and she expects the positive results will be reflected in this latest study. Overall civic engagement also dropped during that 10-year span. However, volunteering in community improvement projects increased. Besser says that could be a lingering effect of previous social capital or the response to an event in which the need was so great it brought people together. 

Not all social capital is equal
The feeling of belonging to a tight-knit community is a quality many people value in a small town. It is a bond that unites people, but unfortunately it can also exclude new residents, Besser said. In some cases, people who have lived in a community for 15 or 20 years may still be treated
as an outsider. This type of social capital can have a negative effect on community growth and development.

“It discourages people from coming into the community. It also closes off avenues for some great ideas, lots of volunteer energy and tapping into outside resources,” Besser said. “It’s a potent
ial weakness many small towns face.”  

Towns where residents from different backgrounds (ethnicity, income, religion, and length of residence) work together effectively will have greater success in sustaining and improving quality of life than towns with tight-knit resident cliques. Besser says the leadership structure in small towns is also important. In some towns there may be one individual, family or organization that always initiates and organizes community projects. That person or organization generates financial support, organizes volunteers and makes the idea a reality. Besser says this can benefit the community in the short-term, but it is hard to sustain over the long-term.

A group of leaders who can work separately or as a team for community improvement can prevent the burn out often associated with a single “hub” leadership structure, Besser said. Depending on a single entity to provide leadership also gives it the power to veto projects and discourages other residents from participating or getting involved.

Identifying these issues will help the research team develop tools and programs that state policymakers and communities can utilize to enhance the quality of life in rural Iowa. Selected communities will receive an individual analysis of the survey results. Researchers will combine the data from all 99 towns to create an average or typical community that towns can use for comparison. 

UERPC Section 504 Training
UERPC recently held a staff training on Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  Section 504 is a national law that protects qualified individuals from discrimination based on their disability. The nondiscrimination requirements of the law apply to employers and organizations that receive financial assistance from any Federal department or agency, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). These organizations and employers include many hospitals, nursing homes, mental health centers and human service programs.
 
Section 504 forbids organizations and employers from excluding or denying individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to receive program benefits and services. It defines the rights of individuals with disabilities to participate in, and have access to, program benefits and services.
 
Section 504 protects qualified individuals with disabilities. Under this law, individuals with disabilities are defined as persons with a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities. People who have a history of, or who are regarded as having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, are also covered. Major life activities include caring for one's self, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, working, performing manual tasks, and learning.
 
UERPC wants to service our clients and staff to the best of our abilities.  We highly recommend, you attend a Section 504 training in your area as well.
Employee Spotlight
Rachelle Howe
Rachelle Howe is UERPC’s Executive Director.  She has been with the organization for nearly five years.  Rachelle oversees all operations of UERPC; including economic development, planning, housing, workforce and transportation.  She is active at the state level with the Iowa Association of Regional Councils as well as serves on several boards and committees throughout Northeast Iowa.
 
Rachelle lives north of Waukon with her husband and two children.  She is active in her church, 4-H and the Allamakee County Community Foundation.  In her spare time, she enjoys attending her children’s school activities, distance running, and spending time with her family and friends.  If you wish to visit with Rachelle, you can reach her at either the Postville or Decorah office location or by email at rhowe@uerpc.org.
Safari Programs in NE Iowa
Now that school is out, kids will be looking for fun things to do. Luckily there are a number of Safari programs being offered within the UERPC region!

The Safari programs are free outdoor adventures, sending participants on the hunt of natural, cultural and historical treasures throughout the county. Most of the Safari programs run from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Participants are given a guidebook and map featuring  sites within that respectable county or region.  Once at a site, participants follow clues in the guidebook to find a wooden post with a special tile from which participants can make a crayon rubbing in their guidebook as proof of their visit. Every guidebook page provides information about the site, and may offer ideas for activities to do while there.

For information on each Safari being offered and to find out where to find your Safari kit, see the links provided below:
Did You Know....
.....if you want to learn more about IowaWORKS programs, you can simply call 563-382-0457 X 412 and request a personal business visit?  IowaWORKS staff will set up an appointment to visit you at your place of business and discuss services available to you free of charge. 
Hooray for Valley!
Recently the Valley Community School District was on the receiving end of some good news.  USDA Rural Development approved a Community Facilities grant in the amount of $10,000 towards the purchase of age appropriate playground structures for the school’s early childhood programs. 
 
This playground equipment will be located between two communities, Elgin and Clermont, at the school facility where minimal play equipment is available.  The school and equipment is also located alongside a newly built recreational trail where visitors and residents alike are utilizing.
 
Upper Explorerland was excited to assist the group with this application request.  If you would like more information on USDA Community Facilities loans and grants, please feel free to contact Rachelle Howe at 563-382-6171.
Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there!
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