Learn how Region 6 Resource Partners is making a difference in the communities we serve.
Region 6 Annual Report Header
Region 6 Leads Pandemic Relief Effort for Local Small Businesses
Region 6 was awarded funds from the Economic Development Authority (EDA) to help prevent, prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. In an effort to directly aid local businesses in adapting to changes caused by the pandemic, Region 6 allocated $80,000 to the Building Business Resilience through Digital Advancements (BBRDA) program. BBRDA aims to reduce economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic for businesses throughout Marshall, Hardin, Poweshiek and Tama counties by providing digital support through education, resource acquisition and development.
The first phase of BBRDA is a partnership with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). This aspect of the program provides webinars pertaining to website development, social media use and online resources for local businesses. We anticipate the release of these webinars in March 2021. The webinars will be accompanied with consultation services provided by the SBDC.
We are currently seeking consultants to assist businesses with the cost of website development and related digital services including ecommerce. Region 6 is also seeking additional funding to conduct more small business trainings.
Grant Will Help Revitalize Zamora Fresh Market Building in Downtown Marshalltown
The Marshalltown downtown area was severely impacted by a tornado in July 2018. One of the hard hit buildings is home to Zamora Fresh Market. Region 6 Resource Partners assisted this business and Marshalltown Main Street with preparing a successful $150,000 Iowa Main Street Challenge Grant application to complete improvements largely on the building’s front facade. These improvements should be underway in 2021. Many additional phases will be required to completely restore this iconic structure.
Current Zamora Fresh Market
Future Building Improvements
Region 6 continues to collaborate with business owners, the City of Marshalltown, Martha Ellen Tye Foundation and the local Rebuild group to improve other downtown buildings. It appears that this advanced planning may result in a new $1.5 million project to improve other downtown commercial facades. This work will hopefully commence in 2022.
Marshalltown Housing Repairs Continue Following Devastating 2018 Tornado
Region 6 Resource Partners continues to assist the City of Marshalltown with a $500,000 federal grant through the Iowa Economic Development Authority. Funds are being used for owner occupied housing improvements in tornado affected areas. Approximately $200,000 of funding was obligated in 2020. The remaining funds are obligated for 2021. The entire project is scheduled for completion in 2022.
After the tornado, the Marshalltown community raised money to assist families with storm related housing repairs. Region 6 assisted this effort with property inspections, work write ups, reviewing construction quotes and construction inspections at the end of the work. We completed about 78 inspections. With this effort more construction work could be completed by qualified contractors.
Iowa Falls Project to Protect Critical Infrastructure
In 2018, the City of Iowa Falls wastewater treatment plant and public water supply were threatened by flood waters due to a major ice jam on the Iowa River. Two well heads along the river were in danger of being overtopped. The wastewater treatment facility was also in significant danger of being flooded. If flood waters reached these facilities, thousands of Iowa Falls residents and businesses would not have sewer or water service for weeks.
Region 6 staff helped the city secure a $518,400 US Economic Development Administration grant to flood-proof these essential facilities. Construction will hopefully be underway in late 2021 and complete sometime in 2022.
Region 6 Helps Albion and Garwin Tap Grant Funds for Water System Improvements
The City of Albion has relied on only one compliant well for a number of years. They have had numerous problems finding a second source of reliable water. Region 6 staff helped the city secure a $249,000 grant through the Iowa Economic Development Authority to help drill a second well and complete water treatment facility improvements. Albion will provide cash in the amount of $318,000 from the State Revolving Fund. Afterwards, residents can rest easy knowing they have a reliable, safe source for drinking water.
The City of Garwin water distribution system has flow and pressure problems in parts of the their aging system. Region 6 staff helped the city secure a $300,000 Iowa Economic Development Authority grant to replace parts of the distribution system. Garwin will provide $391,000 of funds from the State Revolving Fund to help complete all the needed improvements. After these improvements are completed, residents will have adequate drinking water flows for daily activities like showers, clothes and dish washing. The city will also have adequate fire flows and hydrants for community protection.
Grant funds for these projects are provided by the Iowa Economic Development Authority. If your community has significant water improvement needs, please contact us to work through the process to use these funds.
Four Regional Communities Get Waste Water Treatment System Upgrades
The unincorporated community of Green Mountain in northeast Marshall County currently has a non-compliant on-site wastewater collection and treatment system. Constructing a compliant on-site system is infeasible due to the small lot sizes. For the past 10-12 years, the area has been working with Iowa Regional Utilities Association (IRUA) in Newton to construct a centralized wastewater collection and treatment system for this village of 126 people. Delays have been a result of land acquisition problems. Marshall County received a $126,000 Iowa Economic Development Authority grant with Region 6 assistance to help get this facility built. IRUA will use about a $1.4 million USDA rural development grant and loan to also construct the facility. The project will be completed sometime in 2022.
LeGrand largely completed a $2.0 million wastewater lagoon improvement project in 2020. Region 6 staff assisted the city with securing a $300,000 Iowa Economic Development Authority grant and a $1.7 million State Revolving Fund loan for this large improvement project. This project will be fully complete in 2021.
Montezuma largely completed a $4.8 million wastewater treatment improvement project in 2020. Region 6 staff assisted the city with securing a $500,000 Iowa Economic Development Authority grant and $4.3 million State Revolving Fund loan for this large improvement project. This project will be fully complete in 2021.
Grinnell recently completed a $500,000 Iowa Economic Development Authority grant application for wastewater collection improvement work in the southeastern part of the city. The City will need to provide cash assistance in addition to the grant amount.
We continue to work with area communities on wastewater collection and treatment improvement projects. All the previous projects were partially funded with grants from the Iowa Economic Development Authority. Many of these projects take years to fully develop. If your area has a wastewater need, please contact us to assist with the process necessary to secure grant and low interest loan funds.
Downtown Grinnell Building Facade Improvements
The City of Grinnell, together with Region 6 Resource Partners, completed Phase 1 of the downtown improvement project in 2017. This project expended about $1.4 million over 12 store fronts. This project made a significant difference in the appearance of blighted downtown buildings.
In 2020, Grinnell was funded to complete Phase 2. The remaining blighted facades around downtown that need repaired will be part of this project. This project targets nine facades with a $1.1 million budget. Nearly 45% of the project expenses will be covered with outside federal grant funds through the Iowa Economic Development Authority. Construction should commence in late 2021 and be completed in 2022.
Creating Affordable Housing Options for Residents
With funds from the Iowa Economic Development Authority and some local funds, Region 6 Resource Partners assisted with five significant housing improvement projects in 2020. Federal funds associated with these projects totaled approximately $1.1 million. Nearly 30 homes were improved in Melbourne, Ackley, Tama, Toledo and Iowa Falls.
These projects revitalized older, affordable and lower income housing units. Common housing improvements include new siding and windows, new roofs, insulation, electrical upgrades, painting and insulation. After the improvements, these older homes will remain affordable and available for low income families. It also assists in providing adequate affordable work force housing.
The Region 6 Housing Trust Fund program provided approximately $200,000 of improvements in 2020. The percentage of funds spent by county included 29% in Hardin, 35% in Marshall, 9% in Tama, and 27% in Poweshiek. Over a number of years we ensure that these funds are distributed per capita to each county. More than 80% of funds were spent on single family owner occupied housing improvements. The other funds were spent to assist with tornado damage at the former Marshalltown Iowa Wholesale Building for Marshalltown Senior Apartments. These are low income restricted rental units. Insurance funds did not cover all the damage to this historic building.
Iowa River’s Edge Trail Expands Across Region
In 2021, Hardin County should begin a $1.8 million project to complete a 4.4 mile stretch of recreational trail improvements. Funds for this project were secured over the past several years. This project starts at near the southwest part of Steamboat Rock and continues to near Highway 175 in Eldora. Construction activities include rehabilitating old railroad bridges and paving a 10-ft wide trail. Funding includes $392,000 of Region 6 recreational trail related funds, $672,000 of Federal Recreational funds, $375,000 of State Recreational Trail funds, and $365,000 of local funds. Most of the construction work associated with this project will take place in 2022.
The Iowa River is the next big destination on the Marshalltown section of Iowa River’s Edge Trail. The river is about 2.7 miles from the current end of the finished trail. Getting to the river requires many large bridge replacements and paving work. Bridge structures in Marshall County are in much worse condition than railroad bridges in Hardin County. It is not feasible to improve these old structures due to very poor structural conditions. Some of the bridges over this length will be replaced in late 2021 and 2022. Funding for these bridge replacements includes $547,000 of Region 6 Recreational Trail related funds, $426,000 of State Recreational Trail funds and some local cash.
After the bridges are replaced, part of the distance to the Iowa River can be paved. Region 6 staff assisted the City of Marshalltown in securing a $300,000 Federal Recreational Trail grant to pave part of the distance to the Iowa River. About $700,000 of additional state and local funds are still needed for this phase. Paving work could be completed in late 2022 and 2023.
Another phase will be needed after these projects to replace bridges and pave to the Iowa River. It will take several more years to reach Albion, which is about 1.2 miles beyond the Iowa River. The old Iowa River Bridge could be a large improvement project.
State and County Roads Slated for Improvements
Region 6 Resource Partners annually administers the $2.6 million surface transportation program. Roads must meet a certain federal functional classification threshold to be eligible for funding. Eligible roads generally include the paved county system, the state network, major roads in towns with 5,000 or more residents, and county or state connector roads in smaller cities under 5,000 people. We typically approve road projects several years in the future. After our funding approval, all project applicants must work with the IDOT on a very detailed engineering process.
In 2020 and 2021, Region 6 approved approximately $6 million of projects totaling about 18 miles. State Center will resurface most of the old Lincoln Highway. Ackley will improve part of Butler Street. Hardin County will improve D55 East of Highway 65 to S55, and S33 from D55 to Highway 65. Marshall County will pave S52 from State Center to E29. Tama County will pave E64 from Richland Creek to V18. Poweshiek County will pave V30/F17 from Hartwick NE 3 miles. The Tama County FY 2020 project was 10 miles on E64 from Highway 63 to V18.
Poweshiek County Conservation Receives Grant for Diamond Lake Park Enhancements
Region 6 assisted Poweshiek County Conservation in securing a $75,000 grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The grant will be used for improvements along the Stagecoach Trail at Diamond Lake County Park located north of Montezuma. The park and trail are used often by area residents, campers, fishers and boaters. The park also hosts community events like the 2019 Halloween Trunk or Treat, annual 4-H Nature Campouts, and Wonders of Nature field trips for local schools and daycare centers. In addition, Montezuma High School cross country, track and football teams use the Stagecoach Trail for physical and endurance conditioning.
The $150,000 total investment will provide an updated restroom facility with two flush toilets, a drinking fountain, a 1.5 inch trail overlay to refresh the trail surface and a paved parking area to make the trail ADA accessible. The new restroom facility is replacing a pit toilet that was installed in 1965. Residents and trail users will greatly appreciate the improvements to this well-loved park.
Healthy Choices Initiative Underway in Grinnell
The Iowa 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count program is a perfect blend of public health and community planning. In 2020, Grinnell was one of 14 communities across the state to be selected for the program. Grinnell received $30,000 to develop and execute an action plan. The plan lists nearly 20 projects and will impact every sector of the community. Highlights include planting edible landscapes in a local park of blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, herbs and fruit trees; installing two water bottle filling stations around town to increase access to water; and purchasing a blender bike to be used at community events. The bike is people powered and contains a blender attached to the front of the bike. Participants pedal to make a healthy smoothie drink.
"There are so many organizations in Grinnell that are working on ways to keep kids and families healthy, as well as workplaces," said Nikki Laug, Healthy Readers Taskforce coordinator and community member. “Finding a way to get these people together is important and the 5-2-1-0 program gave us a push to do that."
Grinnell is making a difference with healthy community planning. Learn more about how you can get your community, workplace, school, health care clinic or child care site involved in 5-2-1-0 by visiting the the Iowa Healthiest State website.
Peoplerides Regional Transit Continues Essential Services During Pandemic
2020 was a challenging year for Peoplerides, our regional public transit service. Services, except dialysis transportation, were discontinued for several months at the beginning of the pandemic. Services have been discontinued and re-arranged over the past year due to possible exposures and other problems. Funding from the Cares Act covered our large financial operating losses over the past year.
Peoplerides employees have done an exceptional job working through the challenges, including sanitizing vehicles, testing, service disruptions, off site ride scheduling and all of the uncertainty caused by the pandemic. Today, our core ridership can access services to get to essential activities. This includes medical appointments, services, grocery stores and work sites. Most Peoplerides users are disabled and elderly. 
Ridership in the first quarter of FY2021 was about 50% less than in FY2020. Service miles are down 40% and hours are down 30%. Most of our local funding sources are tied to passenger counts. Continuation of low passenger counts will have a significant long term impact on our ability to provide services. We are hopeful that the ridership comes back to historical levels in the summer of 2021, but that is unclear. We believe that some additional federal aid will be provided which will help us continue services with decreased funding and ridership. 
Region 6 Resource Partners is Here to Help Communities Plan for the Future
In 2020, we largely finished the Regional Long Range Transportation Plan. Region 6 reviews and updates this document every five years. Goals from this document include:
1. Provide an efficient, multimodal transportation system to promote connectivity and mobility.
2. Maintain and improve existing infrastructure.
3. Improve safety and security.
4. Provide an inclusive, accessible and equitable transportation system.
5. Enhance sustainability of the region.
6. Develop, maintain and promote quality community spaces.
All of our projects are the result of community and regional planning efforts. We encourage all communities to prioritize, solve problems and creativity plan futures. Services are available through our staff to help your community with short and long term challenges.
Learn more about Region 6 and how we can assist you. Visit our website at www.region6resources.org
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