GrCo school board transitions to smaller board

Okays change order for new school, creation of an advertising jingle, and FCA

The Greene County Schools board shrank by two members at the Nov. 18 meeting as the “old” seven-member board was retired and the “new” five-member board organized.

The Jefferson-Scranton and East Greene boards had five members each before the districts reorganized to the Greene County district in 2013. The board grew to seven members then, with two members of the East Greene board joining the J-S board to form the Greene County board. Sunset for the larger board was set for 2019. Continue reading GrCo school board transitions to smaller board

Jefferson Matters’ investment drive under way

The annual investment drive for Jefferson Matters: Main Street was kicked off in early November. Donations to the non-profit (501c3) program help fund the projects and expenses involved for the organization for the coming year.

The theme of “Setting Our Sights on 2020” was selected and a thermometer of the Mahanay Bell Tower was built by volunteer Marc McGinn. The tower is located by the Jefferson Matters: Main Street office at 110 W Lincoln Way. As the donations come in, the tower will be marked to reach the board’s goal of $75,000 invested for programming for 2020. Continue reading Jefferson Matters’ investment drive under way

GrCo test scores told for 2018-19

As Greene County Schools curriculum director Karen Sandberg rolled out the results of 2018-19 standardized testing (formerly the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, now the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress – ISASP) for school board members, she first reminded them “this is only one data point for us.”

Data from the last school year was delayed partly because the tests were all new. Sandberg said the results of testing next spring will be available before the end of May. Continue reading GrCo test scores told for 2018-19

Medical center welcomes new foundation/community relations director

Nancy Houska

Greene County Medical Center recently welcomed Nancy Houska as its director of the foundation and community relations. With more than 25 years of marketing and public relations experience, and 12 specific to the healthcare field, she will oversee fundraising, community relations and Ever Greene Ridge activities along with serving as a liaison to the auxiliary.

Houska began working fulltime at Greene County Medical Center Nov. 4. Continue reading Medical center welcomes new foundation/community relations director

Supervisors deal with nuts & bolts of TIF, bond sale

Hardin Creek fish kill “undetermined” per the DNR

~by Janice Harbaugh for GreeneCountyNewsOnline

The Greene County board of supervisors at its regular meeting Nov. 18 heard the annual urban renewal report from Pam Olerich, real estate and tax coordinator for the county, and adopted several resolutions to continue the tax increment funding process for the career academy and other urban renewal projects. Continue reading Supervisors deal with nuts & bolts of TIF, bond sale

Harvest wrapping up for 2019

Snowfall in the first part of the week ending Nov. 17 slowed  harvesting activities in parts of Iowa by limiting farmers to 4.7 days suitable for fieldwork according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Propane shortages continued to be a challenge for farmers across the state as they try to dry down their corn crop due to high moisture content. Fieldwork activities included harvesting corn and soybeans; baling corn stalks; applying anhydrous and fertilizer; and fall tillage. Continue reading Harvest wrapping up for 2019

Early Learning Center tells intent to construct new building

Childcare, identified as a high need priority in the Vision 2020 plan as vital to bringing new families to Jefferson and Greene County, will receive a boost with a new, expanded childcare center on the horizon for the not-for-profit Greene County Early Learning Center (GCELC) in Jefferson.

“It is imperative that we move forward to provide additional childcare for our area,” said GCELC board co-president Jacque Andrew.

“The need for access to quality, available and affordable childcare is no longer solely a parent issue. It’s an economic issue, a workforce issue and an infrastructure issue. This is an opportunity to attract and retain workforce and to grow our community and county,” said Bill Monroe, GCELC board co-president.

Since 2005, the center has served children and families in the area with its mission to provide quality care in a learning environment. Currently the center is licensed for 94 children and consistently has a list of families seeking future care.

“Providing the highest quality care for children is the most important priority of GCELC,” said GCELC director Cherie Cerveny. GCELC is the only Greene County center holding an Iowa’s Quality Rating System (QRS) star rating. The center currently holds a 3-star rating and has applied for a 4-star rating, with 5 stars being the highest. QRS is a voluntary child care rating system for DHS-licensed centers and preschools, Department of Education program, and child development homes as part of Iowa Child Care Resource and Referral.

To aid in the deliberations for future needs of the center, GCELC engaged First Children’s Finance (FCF), a non-profit research group, to provide demographic data and growth projections for Greene County. The research group provided financing, training and business-development assistance to childcare businesses throughout the Midwest.

The FCF report was shared with local business leaders and representatives of public entities in April 2017. Projections from FCF included a potential for more than 100 additional children to be served with population growth and/or shifts in community/employment patterns. The GCELC business plan is to be licensed to accommodate an additional 50 children in the new building.

For many years the center has been located in the current Greene County Schools administration building on W. Madison St. The building was constructed in the 1950s as an elementary school with block and brick construction. It is the intent of the Greene County Schools board to make the building and part of the city block available to the GCELC when the school’s administrative operations move to new locations as a result of the new school buildings and remodeling.

The board of the GCELC sought professional opinions from two engineering firms that estimated the probable cost to inherit and renovate the existing building. Those costs came in more than expected for minimal upgrades and addressing any new code requirements that may need to be met. In addition, it would be necessary to relocate the services of the GCELC during the remodeling process. It would not be an easy task to meet the childcare space requirements in temporary locations requiring improvements to meet DHS requirements. “After reviewing the strengths and challenges of new construction versus renovating the school building, the decision was made to construct a new facility,” Cerveny said.

“To ensure the most efficient use of space and ongoing annual expenses, the GCELC board made a decision to proceed with building plans and engaged Benjamin Designs Cooperative Inc of Ames, an architectural firm, to being the planning process for design,” Andrew said.

A number of conceptual and preliminary drawings have been prepared for review by the board and the project building committee which also includes members from the community, parents using the center, school board, city of Jefferson officials, and others in addition to the board.

Parents of children at the center have been notified of the plans moving forward and current GCELC staff has been engaged in fine-tuning plans and making suggestions for consideration. A total building security system will be included similar to the room-specific security now in place at GCELC.

As a cost measure, a wood structure has been selected for the 12,800-plus square-foot building and a “hardened” room is included in the plan for safety during severe storms. The building will be located in a north-south orientation on the east side of the block facing east, with its entrance on S. Vine St.

Architect’s rendering | Benjamin Designs Collaborative

During construction, the current building will continue to be used for the childcare center with no disruption or relocation in service. “We are grateful for the generosity of the Greene County school district for its partnership for many years,” Cerveny said. “Being able to continue in the current location during construction is an incredible advantage for the children and families we serve.”

Following construction, the current building will be demolished to make way for the center’s playground and other green space on the block.

Proposed site plan | Benjamin Designs Collaborative

Construction would take about one year to complete but the bid process will not begin until adequate funding is secured. “Although the new center is a vital economic and community development tool, we need to act with fiscal responsibility as we approach the process,” Andrew said.

The board has begun discussions with various funding entities and applied for several grants with applications in process for others. With a total cost of about $2.9 million, funding for this non-profit entity project will need to be acquired from a number of sources including grants, public entities, private businesses and individuals. No bond issue would be applicable as the center is a non-for-profit entity.

“With the importance of high quality, ample, safe and affordable childcare to our community, its families and businesses, we are anticipating substantial support for the project,” said Cerveny. “We appreciate the work of many previous board members, organizations, businesses and interested citizens who have provided support for the center in the past and helped us with this process. Now we are inviting additional members of the community who would like to help us make this new non-profit facility possible. Please contact me at the center, 515-386-2092, or gcelc [at] greenecountycsd [dot] net. Donations are welcome and may be sent to GCELS at 204 W. Madison St, Jefferson, IA 50129. A fundraising campaign will get underway early next year.”

New Winter Festival, Celebration of Trees on holiday calendar

Area residents are invited to participate in the Jefferson Area Chamber of Commerce’s Winter Festival and Celebration of Trees, slated for Saturday, Dec. 7, from 1 to 7 pm, and Sunday, Dec. 8, from 12 to 4 pm at 123 N. Chestnut St, formerly Ace Hardware.

The Celebration of Trees will feature festive trees decorated by members of the community, many of which will be up for silent auction. Proceeds from the auction will benefit New Opportunities’ Christmas toy drive. Continue reading New Winter Festival, Celebration of Trees on holiday calendar

Jeff council slates special meeting

The Jefferson city council will hold a special meeting Tuesday, Nov. 19, at 5:30 pm at the municipal building.

Agenda items include consideration of a resolution approving a purchase agreement for the building at 100 E. State St; and consideration of approving a professional services contract with the Franks Design Group PC for $19,960 for architectural and structural services at the same address.

Jeff council discusses vacancy, Early Learning Center

The Jefferson city council met Tuesday and discussed but did not come to a decision of how to handle an upcoming council vacancy due to council member Matt Gordon winning the election for mayor.

City attorney Bob Schwarzkopf advised two possibilities for filling Gordon’s council seat: appointment of a temporary council member or calling for a special election. In either event, Gordon must resign his council position within a time-frame before assuming the role of mayor on Jan. 1. Continue reading Jeff council discusses vacancy, Early Learning Center

Supes hear updates on many projects

~by Janice Harbaugh for GreeneCountyNewsOnline

The Greene County board of supervisors heard updates on planned projects at its regular meeting on November 12.

Mike Palmer, city administrator for Jefferson, said bids for planned trails will probably be let early next year. This includes a trail to the Jefferson municipal cemetery, landscaping, and improvements to the east entryway to the city. A 10-foot wide trail from the current high school to the Greenewood Road, on the west side of Highway 4 is also planned, along with a 10-foot wide trail on W. Central Ave from Fareway to the water tower near the site of the new high school. Continue reading Supes hear updates on many projects

“Our Town” on stage Nov. 14-16

Community Players of Greene County will present the American classic, “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 14-16 in the Greene County High School auditorium.

“Our Town,” written in 1938, tells the story of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire, through the everyday lives of its residents from 1901 through 1913. Grover’s Corners is perhaps similar to any Greene County town. Using minimal sets and props, the audience is drawn into Grover’s Corners through the narration of the stage manager. Continue reading “Our Town” on stage Nov. 14-16