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Read our latest newsletters to see what's been going on with ICOG.

 

Welcome to Iowa Association of Councils of Governments (ICOG) quarterly newsletter! This communication is to keep you up to date with what ICOG has been working on.

 

ICOG is the state association for 17 councils of government (COGs) in Iowa. Collectively, we work to solve regional issues and improve public sector services to build strong communities throughout the state. COGs are Iowa's rural economic backbone.

 

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I would be happy to talk to you about any of the projects we are involved in or a project you would like our input on.

 

Sincerly,

Carl Lingen

Executive Director

staff@iarcog.com

 

 

 

Iowa Association of Councils of Governments (ICOG) continue to work with member councils of governments, Iowa Prison Industries and legislators to start an affordable housing program in Iowa. Modeled after the Governor’s House program in South Dakota, COGs look to be the leader in creating the program here in Iowa that would help create affordable homes in rural areas.

 

Our work with legislators has gone well as both parties have not only shown great interest but are helping drive this legislation forward. Currently, we are seeking $2 million in one-time funding to help build a security fence at the Newton Correctional Facility, build a structure for storage and for initial operating capitol needed. This program, over time, will be a self-sustaining program for the state of Iowa. When talking with Lt. Governor Gregg about this program, he indicated he had not seen a program that fits in so many buckets. He stated, “This helps with rural housing shortage, workforce shortage, addresses the middle skills gap in Iowa and helps reduce recidivism in the state.”

 

Mike Norris, SEIRPC, discusses the program in more detail with his article below.

 

 

 

ICOG has been involved in the implementation and strategic planning for the 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! campaign that is a state-wide initiative to address childhood obesity.

 

We have just finished up with our online and in-person strategy session where we had 30 public and private stakeholders from different sectors take part in this discussion and direction of the program. ICOG is now helping facilitate the sustainability plan for the program with Iowa Department of Public Health and Iowa Healthiest State Initiative who will be leading the campaign.

 

While ICOG is working on the strategy forward, our member COGs are implementing the 5-2-1-0 strategies within four pilot programs. Malvern, Mt. Pleasant, Dubuque and West Union have been chosen by IDPH as the first communities. COGs are working with schools, before and after school programs and healthcare clinics to market and implement policy changes within the community.

 

Success stories from the work that is being done will be completed this summer. IDPH and ICOG were selected to present this program and our work at the upcoming Governor’s Conference in Des Moines.

 

 

by Mike Norris, Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission executive director

 

Incarcerated offenders building homes in Iowa’s correctional facilities could soon happen in Iowa. Think of a project where offenders receive skilled trade training through an apprenticeship while building a home to be sold to income-qualified Iowans. Several critical issues are addressed here: skilled worker training, offender rehabilitation and affordable housing development.

 

South Dakota has been checking these boxes for 20 years through their Governor’s House program. Based out of Mike Durfee State Prison in Springfield, South Dakota, around 100 energy efficient, ranch-style homes are built annually by incarcerated offenders. The homes are sold by councils of government around the state to great effect. Creative uses for the homes beside primary residences include establishing daycare centers and providing homes for teachers in rural areas.

 

For several years, Iowa Prison Industries and Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission have been planning for and promoting the project. In the past year, the project has captured the attention of Sen. Mark Lofgren, ICOG members and housing non-profits. Some found it hard to believe the project design really works – so a trip was set up to South Dakota to experience the Governor’s House program.

 

A group of interested Iowans made the trip to Mike Durfee State Prison in early March. Making the trip were State Sen. Mark Lofgren, Mike Norris (SEIRPC), Rick Hunsaker (Region XII COG), Dan Clark (Iowa Prison Industries), Kris Weiztel (Warden, Newton Correctional Facility) and other representatives from Department of Corrections and Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity. The group could not have asked for better hosts than Steve Maruska and Mike Harsma (Governor’s House program), and Jennifer Stanwick and Rebecca Schiefer (Mike Durfee Prison). In fact, they have hosted Governor’s House tours for 20 states, including Iowa.

 

First impressions of the project are that it is extremely well run, innovative and taken very seriously. For instance, their material waste is less than one percent. Construction is planned to a level of detail where fasteners (nails and screws) are portioned out to the exact number needed for the particular job. The homes are Energy Star rated and advanced framing techniques reduce materials and increase energy efficiency. They also deserve credit for doing all of this outside, year round.

 

The attendees encountered multiple offenders working in the homes being built. All were very much focused on their task at hand, but clearly proud of their work when asked about it. It’s not all work, though; site-built break chairs made of construction lumber and carpet scraps give the workers a place to rest. The program also spends generously on coffee to keep the crews energized throughout the day.

 

In total, the program has constructed approximately 2,500 homes over 20 years. All parts of the state have purchased a Governor’s House. In the past three years, recidivism rates for offenders building homes is 30 percent lower than the general prison population. And, yes, this is done in a state with less than a third the population of Iowa.

 

The Iowa contingent was impressed with the program, its progress and its potential in Iowa. Complimentary effects for our large and small communities should not be understated, nor the positive presence of a skilled trade apprentice program for offenders.

 

Let ICOG know if you want a house.

 

 

 

by John P. McCurdy, AICP, Southwest Iowa Planning Council executive director

 

Interstate access along I-80 played a vital role in the decision making process when Menards Inc. chose Shelby, Iowa, to be a major Midwest regional manufacturing and distribution center. The community allowed for quick access by truck to both suppliers and Menards stores. However, the workforce to operate the 24/7 operation was lacking in the town of approximately 650. That’s where a public private partnership between Menards and Southwest Iowa Transit Agency (SWITA), operated by Southwest Iowa Planning Council (SWIPCO) of Atlantic came in to bridge the gap.

 

Missed work because of vehicle issues was one of the biggest barriers to retention of workers for Menards. In efforts to combat the issues, Menards and SWITA staff worked together to develop a schedule for transit service for three shifts a day, with buses originating in Council Bluffs and Atlantic making the round trip to Shelby. Menards pays a contract fee for their employees to ride free of charge, and the service is open to non-Menards employees for $5.

 

Ridership can vary due to seasonal employment at the plant, but typically 30-40 workers ride from Council Bluffs and 15-20 from Atlantic each day with higher peaks throughout the year. “We knew that transportation was a barrier for workers at Menards, but our own marketing alone would have never reached these number of workers. It took close partnership with Menards and their recognition of the return on investment that reliable public transportation for their workforce would mean in terms of recruitment and retention in a tight labor market,” said John McCurdy, SWIPCO director.

 

Once the right model was in place SWIPCO/SWITA could replicate it, knowing that each situation called for a slightly different approach. OSI/Oakland Foods in Oakland, Iowa, is another example of a large employer in the rural area that has a sizable portion of its workforce commute out of the metro area to its plant.

 

SWITA had in the past talked with employees of OSI about establishing a bus route, but with little success. However, once put in touch with Uptown Staffing, which does much of the recruitment for OSI, a close partnership was quickly found. Uptown Staffing was providing transportation with their own vehicles to new hires but for many reasons wanted to get out of the transportation business. Now a route runs from South Omaha to Council Bluffs and on to Oakland and back seven days a week.

 

 

 

Don’t forget to register for the Iowa Rural Summit to discuss issues and solutions for our rural communities. Cities and community partners will be in attendance for a two-day conference. Register here.

 

 

 

$3.1 Million Awarded to Iowa Communities for Infrastructure Projects

 

What do rural Iowans want? It may not be what you think

 

ICOG Members Partner with U of I Making National News

 

ECICOG vanpool campaign targets commuters on I-380s

 

NADO's Analysis of the President's Budget

 

 

 

-------------

 

 

 

2018 Archives

January

 

2017 Archives

April

January

 

2016 Archives

October

July

 

 

 

Iowa Association of Councils of Governments 400 East Court Ave, Suite 126 Des Moines, IA 50309 (515) 868-0133 staff@iarcog.com
The Iowa Association of Councils of Governments is the trade association for the 17 Councils of Governments (COGs) in Iowa.

Iowa Association of Councils of Governments 400 East Court Ave, Suite 126 Des Moines, IA 50309 (515) 868-0133 staff@iarcog.com
The Iowa Association of Councils of Governments is the trade association for the 17 Councils of Governments (COGs) in Iowa.

Iowa Association of Councils of Governments 400 East Court Ave, Suite 126 Des Moines, IA 50309 (515) 868-0133 staff@iarcog.com
The Iowa Association of Councils of Governments is the trade association for the 17 Councils of Governments (COGs) in Iowa.

 

Welcome to Iowa Association of Councils of Governments (ICOG) quarterly newsletter! This communication is to keep you up to date with what ICOG has been working on.

 

ICOG is the state association for 17 councils of government (COGs) in Iowa. Collectively, we work to solve regional issues and improve public sector services to build strong communities throughout the state. COGs are Iowa's rural economic backbone.

 

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I would be happy to talk to you about any of the projects we are involved in or a project you would like our input on.

 

Sincerly,

Carl Lingen

Executive Director

staff@iarcog.com

 

 

 

Iowa Association of Councils of Governments (ICOG) continue to work with member councils of governments, Iowa Prison Industries and legislators to start an affordable housing program in Iowa. Modeled after the Governor’s House program in South Dakota, COGs look to be the leader in creating the program here in Iowa that would help create affordable homes in rural areas.

 

Our work with legislators has gone well as both parties have not only shown great interest but are helping drive this legislation forward. Currently, we are seeking $2 million in one-time funding to help build a security fence at the Newton Correctional Facility, build a structure for storage and for initial operating capitol needed. This program, over time, will be a self-sustaining program for the state of Iowa. When talking with Lt. Governor Gregg about this program, he indicated he had not seen a program that fits in so many buckets. He stated, “This helps with rural housing shortage, workforce shortage, addresses the middle skills gap in Iowa and helps reduce recidivism in the state.”

 

Mike Norris, SEIRPC, discusses the program in more detail with his article below.

 

 

 

ICOG has been involved in the implementation and strategic planning for the 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! campaign that is a state-wide initiative to address childhood obesity.

 

We have just finished up with our online and in-person strategy session where we had 30 public and private stakeholders from different sectors take part in this discussion and direction of the program. ICOG is now helping facilitate the sustainability plan for the program with Iowa Department of Public Health and Iowa Healthiest State Initiative who will be leading the campaign.

 

While ICOG is working on the strategy forward, our member COGs are implementing the 5-2-1-0 strategies within four pilot programs. Malvern, Mt. Pleasant, Dubuque and West Union have been chosen by IDPH as the first communities. COGs are working with schools, before and after school programs and healthcare clinics to market and implement policy changes within the community.

 

Success stories from the work that is being done will be completed this summer. IDPH and ICOG were selected to present this program and our work at the upcoming Governor’s Conference in Des Moines.

 

 

by Mike Norris, Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission executive director

 

Incarcerated offenders building homes in Iowa’s correctional facilities could soon happen in Iowa. Think of a project where offenders receive skilled trade training through an apprenticeship while building a home to be sold to income-qualified Iowans. Several critical issues are addressed here: skilled worker training, offender rehabilitation and affordable housing development.

 

South Dakota has been checking these boxes for 20 years through their Governor’s House program. Based out of Mike Durfee State Prison in Springfield, South Dakota, around 100 energy efficient, ranch-style homes are built annually by incarcerated offenders. The homes are sold by councils of government around the state to great effect. Creative uses for the homes beside primary residences include establishing daycare centers and providing homes for teachers in rural areas.

 

For several years, Iowa Prison Industries and Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission have been planning for and promoting the project. In the past year, the project has captured the attention of Sen. Mark Lofgren, ICOG members and housing non-profits. Some found it hard to believe the project design really works – so a trip was set up to South Dakota to experience the Governor’s House program.

 

A group of interested Iowans made the trip to Mike Durfee State Prison in early March. Making the trip were State Sen. Mark Lofgren, Mike Norris (SEIRPC), Rick Hunsaker (Region XII COG), Dan Clark (Iowa Prison Industries), Kris Weiztel (Warden, Newton Correctional Facility) and other representatives from Department of Corrections and Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity. The group could not have asked for better hosts than Steve Maruska and Mike Harsma (Governor’s House program), and Jennifer Stanwick and Rebecca Schiefer (Mike Durfee Prison). In fact, they have hosted Governor’s House tours for 20 states, including Iowa.

 

First impressions of the project are that it is extremely well run, innovative and taken very seriously. For instance, their material waste is less than one percent. Construction is planned to a level of detail where fasteners (nails and screws) are portioned out to the exact number needed for the particular job. The homes are Energy Star rated and advanced framing techniques reduce materials and increase energy efficiency. They also deserve credit for doing all of this outside, year round.

 

The attendees encountered multiple offenders working in the homes being built. All were very much focused on their task at hand, but clearly proud of their work when asked about it. It’s not all work, though; site-built break chairs made of construction lumber and carpet scraps give the workers a place to rest. The program also spends generously on coffee to keep the crews energized throughout the day.

 

In total, the program has constructed approximately 2,500 homes over 20 years. All parts of the state have purchased a Governor’s House. In the past three years, recidivism rates for offenders building homes is 30 percent lower than the general prison population. And, yes, this is done in a state with less than a third the population of Iowa.

 

The Iowa contingent was impressed with the program, its progress and its potential in Iowa. Complimentary effects for our large and small communities should not be understated, nor the positive presence of a skilled trade apprentice program for offenders.

 

Let ICOG know if you want a house.

 

 

 

by John P. McCurdy, AICP, Southwest Iowa Planning Council executive director

 

Interstate access along I-80 played a vital role in the decision making process when Menards Inc. chose Shelby, Iowa, to be a major Midwest regional manufacturing and distribution center. The community allowed for quick access by truck to both suppliers and Menards stores. However, the workforce to operate the 24/7 operation was lacking in the town of approximately 650. That’s where a public private partnership between Menards and Southwest Iowa Transit Agency (SWITA), operated by Southwest Iowa Planning Council (SWIPCO) of Atlantic came in to bridge the gap.

 

Missed work because of vehicle issues was one of the biggest barriers to retention of workers for Menards. In efforts to combat the issues, Menards and SWITA staff worked together to develop a schedule for transit service for three shifts a day, with buses originating in Council Bluffs and Atlantic making the round trip to Shelby. Menards pays a contract fee for their employees to ride free of charge, and the service is open to non-Menards employees for $5.

 

Ridership can vary due to seasonal employment at the plant, but typically 30-40 workers ride from Council Bluffs and 15-20 from Atlantic each day with higher peaks throughout the year. “We knew that transportation was a barrier for workers at Menards, but our own marketing alone would have never reached these number of workers. It took close partnership with Menards and their recognition of the return on investment that reliable public transportation for their workforce would mean in terms of recruitment and retention in a tight labor market,” said John McCurdy, SWIPCO director.

 

Once the right model was in place SWIPCO/SWITA could replicate it, knowing that each situation called for a slightly different approach. OSI/Oakland Foods in Oakland, Iowa, is another example of a large employer in the rural area that has a sizable portion of its workforce commute out of the metro area to its plant.

 

SWITA had in the past talked with employees of OSI about establishing a bus route, but with little success. However, once put in touch with Uptown Staffing, which does much of the recruitment for OSI, a close partnership was quickly found. Uptown Staffing was providing transportation with their own vehicles to new hires but for many reasons wanted to get out of the transportation business. Now a route runs from South Omaha to Council Bluffs and on to Oakland and back seven days a week.

 

 

 

Don’t forget to register for the Iowa Rural Summit to discuss issues and solutions for our rural communities. Cities and community partners will be in attendance for a two-day conference. Register here.

 

 

 

$3.1 Million Awarded to Iowa Communities for Infrastructure Projects

 

What do rural Iowans want? It may not be what you think

 

ICOG Members Partner with U of I Making National News

 

ECICOG vanpool campaign targets commuters on I-380s

 

NADO's Analysis of the President's Budget

 

 

 

-------------

 

 

 

2018 Archives

January

 

2017 Archives

April

January

 

2016 Archives

October

July

 

 

 

Iowa Association of Councils of Governments 400 East Court Ave, Suite 126 Des Moines, IA 50309 (515) 868-0133 staff@iarcog.com
The Iowa Association of Councils of Governments is the trade association for the 17 Councils of Governments (COGs) in Iowa.