Thanks to Segebart

A hearty Iowa cheer goes out to Sen. Mark Segebart, R-Vail, who told us Wednesday that he is fully committed to making certain that no client falls through the cracks or that work activity centers are diminished under a new mental health redesign. We had spoken previously with two prominent Democratic senators, Amanda Ragan of Mason City and Joe Bolckom of Iowa City, who told us they are big supporters of sheltered workshops and they do not want a changed funding mechanism to threaten the ability of work activity centers to employ everyone, and not just those outside the walls of the center.

Bolckom chairs, and Ragan and Segebart are members of, an interim study committee that is providing oversight to the redesign. We also would note that our friend and longtime supporter of the handicapped, Sen. David Johnson, R-Ocheyedan, is another member of the committee. There appears to be a genuine bipartisanship on this panel and over this issue that makes us swell with pride as practical Iowans.

The members say they agree that sheltered work activity is a good thing that deserves to be funded. It should be included in the “core services” prescribed by the redesign, both Bolckom and Segebart say. They both favor an expansion of the bottle bill that helps fund work activity centers by giving their clients meaningful, safe employment in the redemption business.

They want to provide work activity centers the widest possible latitude in helping their clients find the best workplace fit.

Our gratitude goes to Segebart and Bolckom in particular for devoting themselves to this cause. They give us hope that we can find consensus on moving Iowa forward in ways upon which everyone can agree. We look forward to full legislative action next session. And we hope that Genesis will be able to find a way to avoid closing its redemption center on July 1, as planned. It’s important to the clients, it is convenient for the consumers and it keeps trash out of our ditches and landfills.

Making progress

Storm Lake is a town laid out in and around a marshland complex. So it went through history that we have battled standing water. The east side of town, from Storm Lake High School to the lake, has been the worst. We do not understand why many of the neighborhoods suffering so long from flooding after a heavy rain were allowed to develop without sufficient storm water removal infrastructure. But so it went.

The city laid plans going back generations to really do something about it. But it never happened for lack of funds.

It is happening now.

We have a $17 million sanitary sewer system expansion underway. We have at least $8 million worth of storm sewer improvements in progress or in draft. It sounds as if millions more will come our way as state economic development officials want Storm Lake to be a pilot community for sustainable development.

It’s not as if previous city councils did not want to do something. They did. But they had no way to pay for it, other than increasing property taxes or levying huge special assessments on middle-income families.

A shout-out goes to former City Administrator Patti Moore, who guided the effort to get the Federal Emergency Management Agency involved in helping prevent flooding and secure the sanitary sewer system. Through the State of Iowa, FEMA gave Storm Lake the green light to expand the sewer system.

The state this week approved the $8 million in new storm sewer projects targeted at the high school and Rose-Tulip-Violet lane neighborhoods.

The reason this work is being done is because of the state and federal governments about which we complain so much. The FEMA money for Storm Lake and other Iowa communities was set aside by the Obama Administration. It was delivered by the Branstad Administration. They both participated in the largesse, if that’s what it was.

We view it as the final solution to Storm Lake’s chronic problem with flooded storm and sanitary systems. And that is progress, friends. Because of it, Storm Lake can grow sustainably and solve the problems that have bothered The City Beautiful since it was platted.