November, 2013

UERPC Board Attend Training
Every successful organization is supported by a strong board.  A strong board knows what it is doing.  In order for a board to know what it is doing, board members need education and training.  Training ensures that each board can make positive contributions.  Trainings are a simple and cost effective way to ensure effective, responsible governance.
On October 17th, the UERPC Board Members attended a board development program hosted by The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque at the Postville YMCA in Postville. The program was tailored to address three topics identified in a recent board survey and included the following objectives:
  • Board members discussed and validated their motivations and inspiration for serving the community and understand other members’ motivations.
  • Board members identified and validated the organization’s values, mission and impact.
  • Board members discussed, formulated and practiced an elevator speech for the organization
From the Board Development training, the following items were discussed and proposed. 
  • Proposed mission statement: To cooperate with local governments to meet community planning and economic development needs through collaboration and resource sharing.
  • Proposed vision statement: To be a valued economic resource and regional asset in our five county region in Northeast Iowa.
  • Proposed values statement: The UERPC values community partnership, collaboration and strategic planning in working to make communities throughout Northeast Iowa affordable, safe and financially viable.
Proposed elevator speech talking points:
  • regional organization serving 52 cities in Northeast Iowa
  • provides support through regional cooperation and collaboration
  • is an essential portal for planning and economic development expertise and resources (housing, workforce development, economic development, transportation, etc.)
  • connect community members to resources
These proposals will be further discussed and approved at an upcoming board meeting.   We have 24 representatives serving on our board.  We appreciate each and every one of their contributions towards our work for the area.

Did You Know..…
........that IowaWORKS center in Decorah now offers online video interviews?  The Decorah center offers a product called Interview Stream which can be used by both job seekers and/or employers.

Job Seekers can use this Interview Stream to assess and prepare themselves for in person interviews.  Simulated online job interviews for job seekers allows them to practice both verbal and non-verbal communication skills.  Job seekers can use a webcam to answer pre-recorded questions and evaluate themselves on how well they did to better prepare themselves for interviews. Employers can use as a pre-screening tool for job candidates.  Traditional interviewing is time consuming.  Employers can have pre-recorded interviews set up at IowaWORKS centers and use as a cost effective tool to facilitate their hiring process.

For more information on Interview Stream, visit your local IowaWORKS center in Decorah.

“Fall” into Healthy Habits
Upper Explorerland initiated an agency-wide wellness program in August and staff were up for the first eight-week challenge!  The objective of “Fall Into Healthy Habits” was to focus on adding one healthy habit per week in an attempt to make all eight healthy habits part of the staffs daily routine. Challenges included drinking more water; engaging in physical activity; adding recommended fruits/veggies to our daily diet; eating a healthy breakfast; obtaining adequate sleep; finding “me” time each day; and avoiding fried foods and limiting desserts and sweets.  With lots of self-determination and team encouragement, the staff kept motivated and mastered the eight week challenge!
Underway now is the “Maintain, No Gain” challenge which takes staff through the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.  The goal of this eight week personal challenge is to empower staff to make healthy eating choices during the holidays and avoid weight gain.  Tips and reminders will be provided throughout the challenge to help staff stay balanced and in control of eating habits during this busy time of year. Here’s ”TO YOUR HEALTH!”  Happy Holidays!

Big thanks go out to Veterans Memorial Hospital for donating the cups towards our healthy initiative as seen in the picture above.  Socks were also given to staff from the UERPC Wellness Committee to encourage physical activity.

Winter and the novice driver - team up with your teen for safe driving
This time of year many of us are preparing our vehicles for winter driving. Preparing our younger drivers should also be included in the winter plan. Getting behind the wheel for the first time on a wintery day can be nerve-wracking, even for an otherwise “invincible” teenager. Learning to drive can be scary for the student and driving instructor, typically a parent or other adult. Novice drivers need additional instruction on the safest methods of driving on snow and ice. Some tips for those assisting a novice driver include:
  • Make a smart choice: A novice driver's first on-the-road experience with winter weather driving should not be during a major storm. Practice while conditions are moderate and delay on-the-road driving until conditions are less severe.
  • Take gradual steps: Start out having the teen practice driving on slippery roads in daylight. Once the driver has gained sufficient experience driving during the daylight hours, gradually give them experience driving on slippery roads at night, when factors like black ice or whiteout conditions could be a factor.
  • Test the waters (frozen water that is): Allow the young driver to practice in a vacant, snow- or ice-covered parking lot where slow-speed maneuvers can be mastered with little risk to the vehicle and its passengers. Practice braking and steering in skidding situations.
  • Give ‘em some room: Explain to the young driver the importance of maintaining adequate space between vehicles, demonstrating in a safe location the difference in stopping distances on dry pavement and slick roads.
  • See and be seen: Before starting out on the road, make sure the vehicle’s windows, headlights and taillights are cleared of ice and snow.
  • Check it out: Winter weather puts your vehicle’s mechanical systems and performance to the test. Make sure the vehicle the novice driver operates is in top working order, including all mechanical systems, including brakes and the vehicle’s tires.
  • Be prepared: Always be prepared when traveling during the winter by carrying a winter survival kit in the vehicle. View the Iowa DOT’s winter preparedness video on YouTube with your novice driver at
  • Trip preparation – is the trip necessary? Often, delaying a trip by a few hours can give snow removal crews time to get the roads back to normal winter driving conditions.
  • Check on road conditions: Visit to discover all of the ways in which travel information is available via the web, social media, phone and your mobile device.
Employee Spotlight
Ashley Christianson
As UERPC’s Regional Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Liaison, Ashley enables and encourages students to safely walk and bicycle to and from school and in daily life. SRTS activities include SRTS Community Coalitions, Student Safety Education, Walking School Buses, Bike Rodeos, Mileage Clubs, and Walk and Bike to School Day events.  She collaborates with the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative, a grassroots effort in Northeast Iowa to create vibrant communities where the healthy choice is the easy choice. Ashley is also a member of UERPC’s Wellness Committee and has been with UERPC since May of 2012.

Ashley lives in Decorah with her cat Frankenstein. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her boyfriend, a good sweat from exercising, eating produce from her garden, cooking without recipes, reading “Our Iowa” magazine and listening to Bruce Springsteen. Ashley works out of the Decorah office and would love to bring SRTS activities to your school and community! She can be reached at or 563-382-6171.
RPA 1 Stakeholders Addressed DOT Commissioners on October 8th
A group of five from our region attended the Iowa DOT Commissioners’ meeting in Mason City on October 8th.  Jan McGovern, RPA 1 Policy Board Chair and UERPC Board Member; Bill Ziegler, Fayette County Economic Development and UERPC Board Member; Karn Pankow, NEICAC-Transit Operations and Mobility Manager;  Rachelle Howe and Karla Organist all attended to take advantage of the opportunity to bring our region’s transportation concerns before the DOT Commission.  Rachelle Howe presented for the RPA, first thanking the Commissioners for all of the projects they have supported in our region, and then sharing our concerns over the lack of overall transportation funding, the distribution of MAP-21 federal transportation funding in the state, and the impacts of reduced funding and discontinued programs to our region.  RPA 1 attendees were able to visit individually with the Commissioners during the “Meet and Greet” session to discuss more localized issues.  While the trip was quick, attendees felt that our presence at the meeting was valuable and we were happy for the opportunity to meet the Commissioners one-on-one.
Business Workforce Alliance Luncheon
All are invited to the bi-annual Business Workforce Alliance employer luncheon meeting sponsored by Employers Council of Northeast Iowa (ECI) and IowaWORKS.  This meeting will be held in Dubuque on December 4th and repeated in Decorah on December 10th.  Hot lunch will be provided. 
This is our opportunity to take the time to celebrate our businesses who help us achieve our outcomes.  We look forward to seeing you.
RSVP to Peggy Murray by email: or by phone at (563) 556-5800 ext. 130.

Quarantine of Firewood
A quarantine order to prevent the spread of Emerald Ash Borer, a destruction insect pest, was issued November 1 affecting twenty-five counties in Eastern Iowa.  The counties included in the quarantine in our region include: Allamakee, Clayton, Fayette, and Winneshiek.

Please see the press release from the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the quarantine order in the link below if you are doing or administering any activities that affect the movement of ash trees, ash tree parts (logs, limbs, chips), or firewood of any hardwood species out of the quarantine zone.  Click Here.
“Thank you so much for making this available to the kids. How wonderful to have others to walk to school with.”
~Decorah parent comments on her student’s daily Walking School Bus
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