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IDED Considers New Business Assistance Program Assistance Program

Discussions with IDED regarding the Jumpstart Business program, which is designed to offer assistance to businesses damaged by the severe weather of 2008, revealed two major developments. The first is the probable implementation of a new form of assistance. The program will be in some form of rental assistance, and the concept is to bring businesses back into buildings that were damaged by last year’s floods. As envisioned, renters would receive up to six months rental assistance if they are now occupying, or will move into, space in a building that suffered flood damage. The renter will have to sign a one year (or longer) lease, and the rent may not be front-end loaded. There will be dollar limits set, and previous assistance received under the Jump Start Business program will reduce the amount of rental assistance eligibility. IDED would like to finalize the program parameters over the next couple of weeks and implement the program by the end of the month.

The second development is tied to the first. IDED would like to close out the original Jumpstart Business program before implementing the rental assistance program. That means that there may be a deadline sometime this month for new Jumpstart Business applications. The impact on the region by officially closing this program is anticipated to be very minimal since as this is being written, MIDAS has no open Jumpstart Business applications. Watch for details of these changes in future editions of this newsletter and “blast” e-mails.


MIDAS Transit Services: The Best Kept Secret

Recently I read article in the Fort Dodge Messenger about the approval of mental health strategic plan. The plan outlined five critical needs: the first item was “Transportation – flexibility and affordability, including weekends and evenings.” This is not a new concept!

In 1979 the State of Iowa passed a funding bill for coordinated transportation services that designated sixteen regional transit systems and nineteen small and large urban transit systems. Region 5 (MIDAS) is one of the regional transit systems which include the six counties of Pocahontas, Humboldt, Wright, Calhoun, Hamilton, and Webster. Fort Dodge (DART) is a small urban transit system in the state.

Coordinated Transportation services means MIDAS and DART collaborate with non profit organizations, human service programs, communities, and counties to provide safe, affordable and flexible transit services. The State of Iowa charged the Iowa Department of Transportation’s Office of Public Transit to develop regional transit system, oversee the distribution of Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and State Transit Assistance (STA), and to set up a State Level Coordination Council.

All of the state human service agencies that have customers that need transportation services are members of the State Level Transportation Coordination Council which includes Michelle McEnany (Chair), Iowa Department of Transportation; Doreen Chamberlin, Iowa Department of Public Health, Bureau of Health Care Access (Division of Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention); Wayne Clinton, Iowa State Association of Counties (Story Co. Supervisor); Max Christensen, Iowa Department of Education; Annette Dunn, Iowa Department of Human Services; Becky Harker, Governor's Developmental Disabilities Council; Doug Keast, Iowa Workforce Development; Dave Kramer, Iowa Pupil Transportation Association; Kristin Haar, of Iowa Regional Transit Agency; Jill Joseph, Department of Veterans Affairs; Robert Parks, Iowa League of Cities (West Des Moines Council Member); Tim Weltzin, Department of Human Services; Nicki Stajcar, Iowa Department of Elder Affairs; Tom Rendon, Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Head Start State Collaboration Office.

Each of the Regional Planning Organizations’ (MIDAS is one) is tasked to set up a Regional Level Coordination Council, to plan transportation services in their regions. MIDAS COG has done so, and holds regular meetings to identify needs and seek solutions. All human service entities in the MIDAS region are invited to attest but attendance has been less than stellar. Apparently the word has not come to the regional human service organizations that they should be part of the Regional Level Coordination Council for Transportation Service from their state peers.

In the past thirty years, human service agencies have received funding for transportation services that do not include collaboration or coordination transit services with the Regional Transit System. It is usually human service agencies asking the County Supervisor for vehicles. The RTAs received 93% funding for vehicle purchases to work with these agencies, yet the counties are paying out 100% local funding for the vehicles where as they could pay 17%. Once the agencies receive the vehicles there are the usual operating costs, insurance, maintenance, driver salaries, fuel, and depreciation costs. Vehicles are often underutilized, with little effort made to coordinate usage. As a Transit Manager, I have seen these vehicles being used to duplicate what the RTA are mandated to provide.

In these times of economic downturn it is time that we look at how we can all work together. Local Human Service agencies, private non profit organizations and anyone receiving federal or state funding should be a part of the Regional Transit Development Plan. In this way, we can save money by not duplicating available transit services, and providing additional needed transit services.

The whole gist of this article is that the Regional Transit System was not part of the three year strategic plan. The RTA was not asked to participate in the plan to discuss the number one need on the plan. The article talks about consumers who have trouble finding transportation to Fort Dodge. Five days per week MIDAS transports customer to Fort Dodge from the Humboldt area. Also each day a MIDAS vehicle travels from Pocahontas to Humboldt in time to have the customer transfer to the Humboldt vehicle. Trips from anywhere in the Region may be scheduled by calling 1-800-BUS-RIDE.

Please help MIDAS Transit become the first line of transportation services in Region 5. Don’t let us be the “Best Keep Secret in Region 5”. As the Transit Manager for DART and MIDAS, I am available to speak at Community Clubs, to participate on strategic planning sessions, attend county interagency meetings, and coordinate contracts for transit services. I can be reached on email at rlee@midascog.net or 1-515-576-7183 ext. 217.


Region V Receives Federal Highway Economic Stimulus Funds

It is estimated that Iowa will receive $360 million in federal economic stimulus funds for highway transportation. According to Iowa Department of Transportation approximately $120 million of these funds will be allocated to local governments through allocations to Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) and Regional Planning Affiliations (RPAs). MIDAS serves as the Regional Planning Affiliation for Region V which includes Calhoun, Hamilton, Humboldt, Pocahontas, Webster and Wright Counties. Region V will receive approximately $4 million for highway funding.

The region was given 8 days to identify projects that were ready to go and within the funding constraints of the targets provided. At the time of project identification it was thought that 50% of the funding needed to be under construction contract within 90 days of the stimulus bill signing and the remaining funding under contract within 180 days. Projects currently programmed for fiscal year 2009 were not to be considered for funding.

The Region V Transportation Advisory Committee identified 4 projects within the region to receive the funding and 4 alternative projects. Below are listed the projects identified for funding:


County        Project Description                                      Total Cost     Stimulus Funding
Calhoun       HMA Overlay on D15                                    $2,900,000     $2,000,000
Hamilton      Rockford Bridge Replacement                        $1,126,000     $600,000
Webster      PCC Crack/Seal w/ 4inch overlay on D14       $1,250,000     $1,228,000
Webster      Bridge Rehab on C66                                      $350,000        $350,000
Humboldt    (A) Bridge Replacement Delaware Ave            $130,000
Humboldt    (A) Bridge Replacement Washington Ave         $120,000
Humboldt    (A) Bridge Replacement on P20                       $125,000
Pocahontas  (A) Bonded PCC Overlay on C29                 $1,000,000


(A) – Designates alternative project to replace funded project if cannot meet funding requirements


IFA's REOHome Program

You may be interested in learning more about IFA’s new REOHome Program, which offers up to $10,000 in down payment/closing cost assistance to qualified Iowans who are purchasing a home that is Real Estate Owned. (Real Estate Owned properties are in the possession of a lender as a result of foreclosure of forfeiture.)

To learn more, please visit the IFA website here: http://www.iowafinanceauthority.gov/en/for_home_buyers/reohome_program/


Getting the count complete

The census is coming.  The census is coming.  I'm sure that by now, most all of you reading this are full well aware that the decennial census is right around the corner.  April 1, 2010.  Is your community ready?  Should your community do more to be better prepared? 

Complete Count Committee

One way to better prepare your community for the upcoming census is to organize a Complete Count Committee (CCC).  Complete Count Committees are volunteer established to increase awareness about the census and motivate residents in the community to respond.

Why form a Complete Count Committee?

A Complete Count Committee should be formed to:
  • Increase the response rate for residents mailing back their questionnaire through a focused, structured, neighbor to neighbor program.
  • Utilize the local knowledge, expertise, and influence of each Complete Count Committee member to design and implement a census awareness campaign targeted to the community.
  • Bring together a cross section of community members whose focus is 2010 Census awareness.
How to get Started

The U.S. Census Bureau has issued a Complete Count Committee Guide that they have mailed to the highest elected official in cities and counties and have made available online.  This is a fantastic reference that better explains the role that a Complete Count Committee has in making sure everyone is counted.

If you would like more information about this or other Census 2010 related issues or need assistance in setting up a Complete Counts Committee, please contact Brad Cutler at the MIDAS office.  He can be reached via email or (515) 576-7183 x214


Project Updates for April 2009

Hazard Mitigation
Corey Miciunas has continued to work with Belmond, Callender, Eagle Grove, Ellsworth, Humboldt, and Otho in creating their Hazard Mitigation plan.  The City of Kamrar had their first meeting and has started their hazard mitigation plan.  The City of Fort Dodge and Webster City are in the process of turning in their hazard mitigation plan applications.  If you have any questions about Hazard Mitigation plans, please contact Corey Miciunas at 515-576-7183 x213.

Area Disaster Recovery Plans
We are looking for area businesses and Communities that were affected by the floods of 2008 to setup Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity plans.  The first step in the process is to gather information and company profiles.  Once profiles are formed a plan can be adopted within weeks.  Also, we are still working to find assistance for area businesses and communities in need. For more information about qualifications contact Justin Harvey at jharvey@midascog.net or (515) 576-7183 ext. 215.

Low Income Housing Tax Credit Compliance (LIHTC)
The MIDAS office has begun the process of Low Income Housing Tax Credit Compliance (LIHTC) inspections.  The Iowa Finance Authority contracted MIDAS to conduct the inspecting in tax credit properties throughout our region. The properties that will be inspected are apartment complexes which are mainly elderly and disability living.  Many of these properties were built in the last ten years and are great assets to our communities.  For more information contact Justin Harvey atjharvey@midascog.net or (515) 576-7183 ext. 215.  

MIDAS GIS Program
MIDAS continues to assist cities and counties in learning about and implementing GIS technologies.  If your community has a GIS related question or would like to have a GIS presentation at an upcoming meeting, please let us know.  Brad Cutler has worked with communities in the region of all sizes and capabilities in an effort to map an appropriate course of action that fits the individual needs of that community.  For more information, contact Brad Cutler at bcutler@midascog.net or (515) 576-7183 ext 214.

Jumpstart Housing Assistance Program
Chrystal Rasmuson is continuing to work with homeowners affected by the Iowa severe storms, tornadoes and flooding in Boone, Hamilton, Humboldt, Webster and Wright counties. The housing programs available are Housing Repair/Rehabilitation, Homebuyers Assistance and Interim Mortgage Assistance.

The first qualifications a homeowner must meet are they must have been affected by the disasters between May 25, 2008-August 13, 2008 and they must have received FEMA assistance from this disaster. For more information and qualifications please contact Chrystal Rasmuson at crasmuson@midascog.net or (515) 576-7183 ext. 216.


MIDAS Technical Assistance

Calhoun County:
  • County - Attended Supervisors meeting to discuss revolving loan fund.
  • Farnhamville – Provided administration for CDBG Housing Rehab Program.
  • Lake City - Provided City Administrator with information on trails funding.
  • Lohrville – Provided administration for CDBG Housing Rehab Program.
  • Pomeroy – Provided administration for CDBG Wastewater Program.
  • Somers - Assisted City Clerk with USDA Community Facilities Application..
Hamilton County:
  • County - Assisted Emergency Manager with FEMA Hazard Mitigation Plan funding application.
  • Blairsburg - Answered question about conflict of interest. Attended City Council meeting.
  • Ellsworth – Developing Hazard Mitigation Plan. Provided administration for CDBG Water Program.
  • Webster City - Assisted City Clerk with FEMA Buy Out application.
Humboldt County:
  • County -   Project Application Meeting and Grant writing assistance. Provided assistance on zoning related issues.
  • Humboldt – Assisted and awarded funds to homeowners with the Jumpstart Housing Program. Continued working on Hazard Mitigation Plan. Worked on CDBG grant.
  • Livermore – Provided administration for CDBG Housing Rehab Program. Provided GIS assistance.
  • Renwick – Answered question on Community Disaster Grant. Provided administration for CDBG Water Program.
  • Thor - Answered question about State Community Disaster grant.
Pocahontas County:
  • County - Worked on PCEDC Housing Seminar.
  • Palmer – Provided administration for CDBG Sewer Program.
  • Rolfe – Provided administration for CDBG Housing Rehab Program.
Webster County:
  • County – Hosted Governmental Services Sharing and Coordination meeting.
  • Callender - Continued working on Hazard Mitigation Plan.
  • Dayton – Provided administration for CDBG Water Program. Provided administration for CDBG Housing Rehab Program.
  • Duncombe - Researched funding opportunities for a pumper for the Fire Dept.
  • Fort Dodge – Assisted homeowners with the Jumpstart Housing Program; Attended Leadership Fort Dodge meeting.
  • Gowrie - Assisted homeowner with the Jumpstart Housing Program. Assisted in community strategic planning.
  • Knierim - Provided GIS assistance.
  • Otho – Continued working on Hazard Mitigation Plan.
Wright County:
  • Belmond –Continued working on Hazard Mitigation Plan and Project Application Meeting. Provided administration for CDBG Housing Rehab Program.
  • Dows - Assisted homeowner with the Jumpstart Housing Program
  • Eagle Grove – Continued working on Hazard Mitigation Plan.  Worked on pilot GIS program.
  • Goldfield - Assisted City with development of Personnel Policies and Job Descriptions.
  • Rowan - Visited City Council.
Regional Benefit:
  • Assisted and awarded funds for the Jumpstart Housing Program in Boone
  • Conducted Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Inspection. 
  • Attended Jumpstart Business training.
  • Attended two IARC meetings.
  • Attended MIGP meeting, briefed on ARRA funds.
  • Met with state-wide Disaster Recovery Coordinators to discuss and coordinate Disaster Recovery Issues.
  • Attended roll-out meeting on updated Webster County Soil Survey
  • Attended Mid-Iowa Community Development Conference Steering Committee meeting.
  • Attended Central Iowa GIS Users meeting.
  • Attended CAT Grant Workshop
  • Met with statewide GIS coordinators to discuss geospatial intern program


MIDAS Executive Committee Meeting of 18 March, 2009

Chairperson Sweedler called the meeting to order at 6:35 P.M.

A quorum consisted of: Sweedler, Watne, Donahoo, DeWolf, Jacobs, Vermeer, Triggs, Bergman, Sandholm, Foster, Boyington, Fuller, Hansen, and Burleson.

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

Motion by Watne, second by Triggs to approve February minutes. Ayes, all.

Motion by Vermeer, second by Foster, to approve amendment #1 to the NIACOG Jumpstart contract contingent upon planning committee review and approval, aforementioned planning committee review and approval to be conducted by e-mail. Ayes, all.

Motion by Watne, second by Boyington, to write-off the following planning section invoices: 077151, City of Yetter, $0.03; 087136, City of Livermore Projects, $0.02; 097109, Eagle Grove Housing, $2.00; 048109, City of Humboldt Projects, $0.01; 058103, City of Dayton, $0.07. Ayes, all.

Motion by DeWolf, second by Watne, to request advanced authority from IDOT to incur costs for RTA and DART, and order six RTA buses, and to recommend the City of Fort Dodge order two buses for DART. Ayes, all. 

Motion by Triggs, second by Bergman, to approve IDED contract 09-RGM-08 for MIGP marketing. Ayes, all.

Motion by Watne, second by Hansen to accept the February Financials and place them on file. Ayes, all.

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

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


Cliff's Notes

The theme for March should be “waves”. There are waves of money coming our way, and we need to be positioned to capture some of it before the waves dry up. There was a large wave, in the form of $150,000,000 in ARRA funds for projects through the Economic Development Administration. Applications for these funds are being accepted now, so if you have a match of 50%, are “shovel ready” or will be soon, and can show a job creation or retention benefit, you should be applying. MIDAS can assist, but it is up to each community to initiate the process. Another wave was $32,000, 000 in additional CDBG dollars. These disaster assistance funds have all of the normal CDBG requirements, but the increase in the size of the pool (continuing the wave analogy) will make it easier to successfully compete for funds. And a smaller wave also hit, this time from the State. The Community Disaster Grant application date was 1 April. While the amounts were relatively small, the application is simple and communities were routinely allocated $2,000 that could be used for a variety of purposes. And of course, last month we received over million in transportation dollars in the region, and these were allocated to a number of projects (see article above for details). 

Those communities that stay informed connected will ride the waves better than those who don’t. Staying connected means keeping abreast of what is happening, and can be accomplished in many ways; by reading newsletters and e-mails, by attending meetings, by participating in public hearings, and by a myriad of other means. More waves are coming – are you ready? One way to help us help you to stay ready is to keep your contact information (including e-mail addresses) current.


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