Employee Spotlight
Chelsea Welsh
Chelsea serves as a Community Development Associate for UERPC and has been with the agency for nearly four years. Chelsea works closely with cities, counties and other local groups with grant writing and administration.

Currently Chelsea is working with multiple Community Development Block grants, ranging from water and sewer projects, community facilities, and facade rehabilitation and revitalization projects. She has worked with a number of local, state and federal grants for the UERPC region, Chelsea also serves as a Davis Bacon compliance officer for the agency.

Chelsea currently resides outside of Monona.  In her free time she enjoys riding horses, camping and spending time with her boyfriend, friends and family. She be reached at either of our office locations; in Decorah at 563-382-6171, ext. 205 or in Postville at 563-864-7551 ext. 117; or by email at cwelsh@uerpc.org.
Did You Know….. that as of November 17, 2013, Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) now asks that claimants filing their weekly continued claim “weekly certification” do so online? 

This is easily accessible by going to www.iowaworkforce.org and selecting "Unemployment Insurance" on the left hand side. From there you will be presented a drop down where you will select, "file your weekly continued claim for unemployment".

IWD has taken this position for a variety of reasons but mainly to better track what claimants are inputting and look for more ways to try and help them get re-employed. At some point in the near future this will be the mandatory way to file the weekly continued claim.
2014 Bike Rack Challenge
The “2014 Bike Rack Challenge” will take place January 2014 – May 2014 and challenges Northeast Iowa Industrial Tech students to construct a bike rack for their school or a local business, library or park. Students will have a chance to win welding gear…including a BRAND NEW WELDING HELMET! Click here for more information. See if your school district is signed up by contacting Ashley Christensen, Regional Safe Routes to School Liaison, at achristensen@uerpc.org or 563-382-6171.
New Additions!
Congratulations to Mary Huinker, and her husband, Doug on the birth of their twins, Cooper William, 6 lbs. 12 oz and Brooke Lily-Rose, 6 lbs. 13 oz.  The twins were born on December 17th and are growing daily.  Mary works as a Community Housing Assistant in our Postville office.  We wish their family well!

The UERPC Housing, Inc. audit for the period ending June 30, 2013 is complete and available for review at uerpc.org.

UERPC Hosts a Discussion with Legislators
On Friday, January 10th, over 35 local businesses and leaders gathered with state and federal legislators to discuss regional priorities.  The event was held at the City’s Edge Golf & Grill outside of West Union. Those representatives in attendance were:
  • Senator Mary Jo Wilhelm (serving Chickasaw, Howard, part of Winneshiek Counties)
  • Senator Michael Breitbach (serving Allamakee, Clayton, part of Fayette, part of Winneshiek Counties)
  • Senator Brian Schoenjahn (serving part of Fayette County)
  • Representative Roger Thomas (serving part of Winneshiek, part of Fayette, part of Clayton Counties)
  • Representative Patti Ruff (serving Allamakee and part of Clayton)
A wonderful discussion was held regarding the upcoming sessions and work ahead for the legislators.  A list of regional priorities were handed to the legislators to take with them to the capital on housing trust funds, Section 8 portability and administration fees, workforce, transportation, education, economic development and planning.
January, 2014
 
Upcoming Training
Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission and the Northeast Iowa Clerk's Assocation is excited to be hosting Jeff Schott with the Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Iowa to carry out a free two-hour program on basic laws and concepts that apply to local governmental boards and commissions on Thursday, March 13th at 10:00 am at the next upcoming Northeast Iowa Clerks Association Meeting held at our Postville UERPC location.  Mayors, city clerks, council members, supervisors, and county employees are all encouraged to attend.  Topics will include:  open meeting law, public record, gift law, conflict-of-interest; board duties, team building and more. For more information or to RSVP, please contact Kris Timp at 563-382-6171, ext. 208.

We welcome all newly elected officials as well to the training.  With lots of changes following elections and the new year, we encourage you to visit with our office now to help you better understand our programs.

FEMA Changes
Recently, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has implemented numerous changes to the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. These changes will create significant challenges to developing future mitigation projects. The attached hyperlinks provide reference to the new FEMA guidance.
Several examples of these changes are:
  1. Reduced Period of Performance (POP): this is the timeframe between the date the disaster is declared and the time that all grant activities are completed. This new guidance established a four year timeframe for the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to close out activities for the disaster. Previous disasters have been open for 5-8 years. “Frontloading” project scoping and decision-making processes by sub-applicants will be key to completing all project elements within the reduced Period of Performance.
  2. Condensed Application Review: Inclusive with the four year period of performance FEMA has outlined timelines for application reviews and to receive requests for information (RFI) and the repercussions if not met. This requirement if not met may allow for the denial of funding for an otherwise eligible project.
  3. Strategic Funds Management Allocation and Budgeting: this is a system where FEMA may elect to implement funding in increments to fund projects where the Federal Share is at or above $1,000,000. This process will require forecasting of budgeting expenses in incremental phases in application submittals to FEMA.
  4. Changes in the HMGP Lock In Formula: The HMGP program receives its final budget when FEMA establishes a final lock in at 12 months from the disaster declaration date. Prior to this lock in FEMA will only obligate 75% of the latest current estimate. This change may affect the level of funding available for final application submittals.
The State of Iowa Hazard Mitigation Grant Program is requesting feedback toward the interest in the scheduling of future educational sessions, to explain and discuss the changes and challenges for future HMGP applications. Please let UERPC know if you would be interested in further training or if you have any questions feel free to contact Dan Schmitz at 515-725-9369.
Local Projects Awarded Statewide TAP Funds
The Iowa Transportation Commission recently approved the funding of five statewide Transportation Alternatives Program projects, two of which benefit projects within the UERPC region.  The Commission awards up to $1 million annually toward Transportation Alternatives projects that are statewide in nature.  $30,000 was awarded for the Fayette-Volga River Multiuse Trail, sponsored by the City of Fayette and Upper Iowa University.  Additionally, the Commission approved $123,504 in funding for the Iowa Safe Routes to School Partnership, sponsored by Iowa Northland Regional Transportation Authority (INRTA) and the Iowa Bicycle Coalition.  This partnership will be supporting UERPC’s Safe Routes to School Liaison position in the region, while expanding the work into additional counties served by INRTA.  We look forward to this new partnership with the Iowa Bicycle Coalition and INRTA; and send our congratulations to those working to complete the Fayette-Volga River Trail!
Long Range Transportation Plan Available for Public Review and Comment
The region’s transportation committees have been working well over a year to develop a long range transportation plan for the region.  The purpose of the Long Range Transportation Plan is to encourage and promote the development of a regional transportation system that incorporates many modes of transportation to ensure the safe, efficient and economical movement of people and products throughout the five-county area and beyond.  The plan includes a description of the region’s existing conditions; forecasts future population and potential growth corridors; identifies current and projected transportation problems and needs; and identifies various transportation improvement strategies to address those needs.  In addition, the plan lays out short-term projects and long-range policy goals and discusses the funding necessary to implement the plan.  The inventories and data included in this plan can be a useful source of information for all residents, especially regional leaders and elected officials, economic developers, and transportation project developers.  The plan is currently available for public review and comment on the UERPC website by clicking here. The plan will also be discussed at future county supervisor meetings, open to the public.  Watch for local media announcements regarding the exact dates and times of the supervisor meetings.  Pulling the information and ideas together for the plan was a long process and the committees are looking forward to the public’s review of the document.  The plan will be finalized and adopted by the region’s Transportation Policy Board in mid-March.
Transportation Alternatives Project (TAP) Applications due February 28, 2014
RPA 1/Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission (UERPC) is now seeking applications from the region for Federal Funding for the Federal Fiscal Years (FFY) 2015-2018 through the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP).  The MAP-21 transportation bill established this program to provide for a variety of alternative transportation projects, including Transportation Enhancements, Recreational Trails, Scenic Byways and Safe Routes to School programs.  Eligible applicants include local governments; regional transportation authorities; transit agencies; natural resource or public land agencies; school districts, local education agencies, or schools; tribal governments; or any other local or regional governmental entity with responsibility for oversight of transportation or recreational trails.  Under TAP, nonprofits are not eligible as direct grant recipients of the funds, but they are able to partner with any eligible entity on an eligible TAP project. 

RPA 1 expects to have at least $50,000 (total) available for distribution in Federal Fiscal Years 2015, 2016 and 2017, and at least $115,000 available for distribution in Federal Fiscal Year 2018.  (The 2015 Federal Fiscal Year begins October 1, 2014).  For more information about the types of projects eligible for TAP funding, please see the complete application on our website after January 30th by clicking here.  Applications will be due on February 28, 2014.

Surface Transportation Project (STP) Applications due February 28th
RPA 1/Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission (UERPC) is seeking applications for Federal Funding for the Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2018 which begins October 1, 2017 and ends September 30, 2018.  All incorporated cities and counties located in the five-county UERPC region that maintain federal aid routes (see maps here) are eligible to apply for the funds, as well as the DOT and the Regional Transit Authority.  UERPC boundaries include the cities in and the counties of:  Allamakee, Clayton, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek.  STP funds can be used for road projects on federal-aid routes; bridge projects on any public road; provide funding for transit capital improvements; and provide funding for transportation planning activities.  Applications will be sent to all city and county jurisdictions, the DOT and the Regional Transit Authority via email after January 30th, 2014 and will be available on the UERPC website by clicking here. Applications will be due on February 28, 2014.
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