THE MIDAS TOUCH‎ > ‎2009‎ > ‎


City Disaster Recovery and Response Proposal

The Iowa League of Cities’ endorsed “City Disaster Recovery and Response” proposal to the Iowa Legislature has the potential to impact every Iowa City. The proposal provides a menu of five potential revenue options for all Iowa cities, along with a list of options to spend the funds. The alternative revenue options include franchise fees, hotel/motel tax increases, local sales tax, local income tax surcharge, and an entertainment tax. As proposed, each City would have the option to implement all, part, or none of these measures. Funds raised from these sources could, under the current proposal, only be used for public safety, disaster recovery and prevention, infrastructure, property tax reduction, and targeted jobs program.

Interested parties are encouraged to visit the Iowa League of Cities web site ( ) for more information.

Governor Seeking Information for Funding

By now all MIDAS cities and counties should have received a letter from the Governor asking you to provide a list of infrastructure projects that you would like to have funded if money becomes available as part of an economic stimulus package.  These projects should be ones that are already in the planning/development stages and can be started within six months.  The emphasis is on construction projects and projects that will create jobs.

The governor is asking that you complete a brief project overview for all the projects for which you are interested in receiving funding.  Information for the overview includes contact information, brief description of the project, total project cost and how much is needed to complete the project.  Also needed is the earliest start date for construction, can the funds be completed within 2 years and if the project is disaster related.  Note: There is a very quick turn-around on this request. The project overview must be completed and mailed by January 16, 2009.  Mail project overviews to:  Tom Hard, Infrastructure and Transportation Director, Iowa Department of Economic Development, 100 East Grand Avenue, Des Moines, IA  50309.     

For an electronic copy of the project overview please contact Shirley Helgevold, MIDAS, and (515) 576-7183 ext. 212.

Region V TEA-21 Public Meeting

What:  Region V TEA-21 Public Meeting
When:  January 21, 2009 at 3:30 P.M.
Where:  MIDAS Office; 602 1st Avenue South; Fort Dodge, IA

Region V SAFETEA-LU Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) will hold a regional meeting on January 21, 2009 at 3:30 PM to discuss the STP and Enhancement application process and to receive views and concerns from the public about transportation issues in the Region V area which includes the counties of Calhoun, Hamilton, Humboldt, Pocahontas, Webster and Wright. The meeting will be held at MIDAS Council of Governments in the Conference Room, 602 1st Avenue South, Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Applications for project funding will be available for the first time at the meeting and at your SAFETEA-LU TAC Representatives office and the MIDAS office or on the MIDAS website  

If you have any special needs pertaining to this meeting, please contact Shirley Helgevold, MIDAS Council of Governments, and (515) 576-7183 ext. 212.

Rose M. Lee Starts as DART/MIDAS Transit Manager

It is hard for most of us to talk about ourselves then it is to address the strength of others.

I am happy to be back in the Iowa, and in the role of Transit Manager for DART/MIDAS. The staff here in the MIDAS office has made the transition back in to public transit and to Iowa easy for me.

I am an old hand in the Iowa Rural Transit Program with thirty-two years of experience in Northwest Iowa as the Executive Director of RIDES.  The last eight months I served as the Mobility Manager in a consulting position for the North Front Range Metropolitan Planning Organization in Fort Collins, Colorado.   

After being in transit management for almost all my adult life, I have seen it all.  Starting out in 1975 with one old school, a station wagon, and a modern lift (at the time) vehicle, with no communication system to modern ADA vehicles, ITS (dispatching) systems,  GIS (global positioning), and great professional training programs.  That is right, I have thirty two year of experience in transportation.  You just have to remember I was only twelve when I started as a Transit Manager.

In the past thirty two years, I not only managed a regional transit system, but I also helped in the direction of the Iowa Public Transit Association (IPTA), Community Transit Association of America (CTAA), and the Rural Transit Assistance National Program (RTAP).  I have served in all Officer Positions for the IA Public Transit Association, I served as the Iowa State Delegate for CTAA for more than ten years, and I served on the National Advisory Board of RTAP for six years.

On the personal side, I have four children, three boys and one girl.  Two of my sons are step-children.  I have three adorable granddaughters and one on the way.  I am recently widowed, and just recently moved back to Iowa form Fort Collins, CO., I’m just trying to play catch up with my new job, new residence, and new life.

Thank you Sharon

Sharon Porter receives IDOT Certificate of Appreciation from Samil Sermet upon her retirement as MIDAS Transit Manager.Your browser may not support display of this image.  

Census PSAP

The 2010 Participant Statistical Areas Program (PSAP) will allow designated participants, following Census Bureau guidelines, to review and suggest modifications to the boundaries for block groups, census tracts, census county divisions and census designated places for reporting data from the 2010 Census.

MIDAS is currently a designated participant that is reviewing the boundaries of these statistical areas.  The Census Bureau has designated that MIDAS complete the review for one of our six counties by the middle of February and the remaining five counties in the month following. 

If your City or County government would like to discuss potential modifications to the Census boundaries in your  jurisdiction, please contact Brad at the MIDAS office.  (

End of the Year Website Recap @ MIDAS

It's that time of the year when individuals and organizations look both backwards and forwards.  They look forwards to examine and set their upcoming goals.  They look back into the past to see how well they accomplished their goals that they had set for themselves.  Several of the actions items identified in the MIDAS strategic plan focused squarely on increasing communications and further developing our web based resources. In December 2007, MIDAS purchased the domain name to go along with our long established domain name.  This allowed us to have a bit better control of our "brand" as well as implement some web-site technologies that we couldn't have done with just our old site and policies of our website host. What do the numbers say?  MIDAS basically looks at two different sites and the visitor statistics for those two sites.  The two sites are our main web presence ( as well as the MIDAS newsletter site (
  • The newsletter website saw 1,364 visitors during 2008.  We get some good returning traffic (roughly 20% of our visitors are returning visitors.)  Hopefully this number builds through the years but for now, that's a decent number for our purposes.  The busiest month for visitors was in October but you can see from a graph of our traffic that traffic climbed steadily throughout the year.
    Click on graph for larger version.
    Where were our visitors coming from and what were they looking for?  It looks like that in 2008, half of the newsletter traffic found the site using a search engine.  Roughly 1/3 came to the newsletter page from a referring page.  (Not sure if anybody out there is linking to the MIDAS Newsletter so I would have to say that most of those clicked on the link from another MIDAS webpage.)  Finally, the remainder of visitors came to the Newsletter site from a direct source.  Maybe they typed in the address directly ( or they may have come to visit the site after receiving the email version of the Newsletter.  *(If you haven't  checked out this option, its nice and handy.  Sign up for automatic email delivery of the MIDAS Touch Newsletter by following the link on the left-hand side of the Newsletter.  Submit your email address and reply to the confirmation email and you'll be getting a copy of the Newsletter that way.) And finally, how are people using the MIDAS Touch Newsletter as a resource?  What are they interested in when they visit our site?  Looking at keywords that people were using to search on, the top topics for 2008 were:  "ipers"; "usda midas"; "midas newsletter"; "iowa smoke free air act" and "ipers i-que".
    Word cloud of words/phrases used on the MIDAS newsletter during 2008.
  • In January 2008, MIDAS launched the redesign of our website.  The previous site had been in existence for quite some time and was ready for a little bit of a facelift.  The new site saw the migration of existing resources from the old website as well as the addition of a few key elements to the new site. Hopefully those that have used the site have found navigation easy to use somewhat intuitive.  Two items that were heavily requested by users were the capability to perform searches of the MIDAS website as well as a 'calendar of events' for the region.  Both are up and running and ready to be utilized. The main MIDAS website ( had 868 visitors during 2008.  Those visitors looked at an average of 2 pages per visit spending a little bit of time (hopefully finding what they were looking for). If you haven't, please take a few moments and look around the site.  Feel free to make any recommendations and comments that may make the site more useful and usable.  One other thing to keep your eyes on, MIDAS does try to update the "headlines" that are found on the homepage with some regularity, so look there for any important announcements.

MIDAS Technical Assistance

Calhoun County:

  • County:  Assisted County with GIS related training issues.
  • Farnhamville – Provided administration for CDBG Housing Rehab Program.
  • Lohrville – Provided administration for CDBG Housing Rehab Program.
  • Pomeroy – Provided administration for CDBG Wastewater Program.
  • Rockwell City - Provided information on Neighborhood Revitalization Program to City Clerk.
  • Somers - Worked on USDA Community Facilities grant for library.

Hamilton County:

  • County - Provided Supervisors with information on Hazard Mitigation planning funding.
  • Ellsworth – Developing Hazard Mitigation Plan.
  • Stratford – Researched possible USDA funding for Water Plant.  Assisted City on GIS related issues.
  • Webster City - Worked on City Buy-out program.

Humboldt County:

  • County:  Prepared Notice of Interest for Hazard Mitigation Plans for Emergency Management.
  • Gilmore City - Assisted City on GIS related issues.
  • Humboldt – Provided administration for CDBG Housing Rehab Program.  Developing Hazard Mitigation Plan.
  • Livermore – Provided administration for CDBG Housing Rehab Program.
  • Renwick – Provided administration for CDBG Water Program.

Pocahontas County:

  • County - Met with PCEDC committee.
  • Fonda - Assisted City on GIS related issues.
  • Laurens – Provided administration for CDBG Water Program.
  • Palmer – Provided administration for CDBG Sewer Program.
  • Rolfe – Provided administration for CDBG Housing Rehab Program.  Assisted City on GIS related issues.

Webster County:

  • County – Hosted Governemntal Services Sharing and Coordination meeting.
  • Callender - Developing Hazard Mitigation Plan.
  • Dayton – Provided administration for CDBG Water Program.  Provided administration for CDBG Housing Rehab Program.
  • Duncombe - Provided information on funding for a Fire Truck to City Clerk and City Works Superintendent.
  • Fort Dodge – Attended Leadership Fort Dodge meeting.
  • Lehigh - Attended City Council meeting.
  • Otho – Developing Hazard Mitigation Plan.

Wright County:

  • Belmond – Provided administration for CDBG Housing Rehab Program.  Developing Hazard Mitigation Plan.
  • Eagle Grove – Provided information on Neighborhood Revitalization Program to City Administrator.  Developing Hazard Mitigation Plan.
  • Woolstock - Attended City Council meeting.

Regional Benefit:

  • Worked on Jumpstart Business and Jumpstart Housing programs
  • Worked with MIGP Budget Committee.  Attended MIGP meeting.
  • Attended IARC meeting
  • Hosted Region V TAC Meeting.
  • Met with County Conservation Directors to begin Regional Bicycle/Pedestrian Plan.

Please Note

Please note that the regular meeting location for the MIDAS Board meeting has been relocated to the Starlite in Fort Dodge (Highways 168 & 7.

MIDAS Executive Committee Meeting of December 3, 2008

Chairperson Sweedler called the meeting to order at 6:30 P.M.

A quorum consisted of: Sweedler, Young, Bergman, Sandholm, Foster, Triggs, DeWolf, Ekstrand, Watne, Bowman, Hansen, Jacobs, Besch, and Denklau.

Motion by Bergman, second by Besch to approve the agenda.  Ayes, all.

Motion by Watne, second by Hansen to approve the minutes of October 15, 2008. Ayes, all.

Motion by Bowman, second by Watne, to appoint the Finance and Management Subcommittee to nominate a candidate for the Vice Chair position. Ayes, all.

Motion by Bowman, second by DeWolf, to accept the October financial report and place it on file, and approve the October payables. Ayes, all.

Motion by Bowman, second by Watne, to approve contract with City of Belmond to prepare a Hazard Mitigation plan.   Ayes, all.

Motion by Denklau, second by Bergman, to approve contract with City of Rolfe to perform General Administration for housing rehab project. Ayes, all.

Motion by Young, second by Sandholm, to approve EDA financial assistance award in the amount of $156,000 to provide a disaster recovery specialist to MIDAS.  Ayes. all.

Motion by Young, second by Hansen, to revise the MIDAS fee schedule by adding two categories for Hazard Mitigation plans. Ayes, all.

Motion by Sandholm, second by Besch, to approve contract with City of Webster City to prepare a Hazard Mitigation plan. Ayes, all.

Motion by DeWolf, Second by Watne, to recommend City of Fort Dodge approve Amendment #1 to IDOT Contract 18-0028-269-06. Ayes, all.

Motion by Watne, second by Bowman, to write off invoice 098372 in the amount of $22.00. Ayes, all.

Motion by Watne, second by Hansen, to authorize Cliff Weldon to sign EDA RLF resolution. Ayes, all.

A discussion of IME billing issues was conducted.

Board thanked Transit Manager Sharon Porter and Board Vice Chair Wilbur Ekstrand for their years of service to MIDAS.

Motion to adjourn by Watne, second by DeWolf. Ayes, all.

Respectfully submitted for Secretary Dennis Bowman by staff member Clifford Weldon.  

Cliff's Notes

I hope you had a Merry Christmas and had lots of fun on New Year’s eve. It’s time to dig back in and get started on meeting the challenges 2009 will bring. Lets hope they don’t include the extreme weather challenges we saw in 2008. One challenge MIDAS will face is the transition of leadership in the transit department. Sharon Porter officially retired on December 31st after a fourteen year career with DART and MIDAS. She has been instrumental in achieving whatever success our transit section has met over the last decade, and she will be missed. Fortunately, we were able to hire an experienced transit manager to replace her, Rose Lee. Rose is a pioneer of public transit in Iowa, and I am certain that she will build on the foundation left by Sharon and lead the transit system to even greater heights over the next months and years.

Other challenges will include the recapitalization of our business RLF as soon as EDA approves the grant, implementing the Business Disaster Recovery Program, implementation of the Low Income Tax Housing Credit inspection program with the Iowa Finance Authority, and completion (hopefully) of the Jump Start Business and Jump Start Housing State programs, and the implementation of the Federal Jump Start Programs. At this point I would be remiss if I did not mention the hard work of Crystal Rasmussen. She is working with MIDAS for six months as part of an Iowa Workforce program, administering the Jump Start Housing program. She has done an excellent job and will be very difficult to replace when her allotted six months are up Add to these challenges the wrap up of the GIS grant and the training programs it included, and the continued work on a large number of city and county disaster mitigation plans, and you can see that 2009 will be another busy year.

Last but not least, I’d like to express my appreciation for the continued support of the MIDAS board over the last year, and offer a special “Thanks” to Wilbur Ekstrand who leaves the board after many years of dedicated service and leadership.

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