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Excel! Estherville Stage two

By Staff | May 8, 2008

Deb Satern signed up for one of the committees during the Excel! Estherville volunteer drive Tuesday at the Sleep Inn & Suites in Estherville.

Excel! Estherville, having raised $104,181.38 with a goal of $100,000, entered a new stage Tuesday night.

Volunteers for various committees met to pledge their elbow grease to the efforts of Excel! Estherville. The next goal is to get 100 volunteers, or 10 for each of 10 committees. Committee leadership spoke to the goals of their respective areas:

n Gene Haukoos said housing was an issue for him ever since he retired from the Navy and returned to Estherville. He noted the progress Estherville has made in the upcoming housing rehabilitation plan but noted that affordable rentals and new housing are needed.

n Jodie Greig noted a goal is to embrace and nurture community diversity in Estherville. She hopes to get more community members on the diversity committee from diverse populations.

n “We just need to do a better job of telling our story,” said Bill Bumgarner of marketing Estherville. Bumgarner said Excel! Estherville could show elected officials what has been accomplished in our area. He also stressed the need to ensure a good working relationship with the Iowa Lakes Corridor. He also said he wanted to enhance collaboration with eastern Emmet County. “Excel! Estherville offers a better opportunity to delve into that,” he said.

n Lyle Hevern discussed new business growth that he has seen as president of Estherville Industrial Development Corporation. “It’s going to be a harder challenge than it has been in the past and it’s been a big challenge in the past,” he said.

n Scott Taylor said 80 percent of job creation comes from existing businesses.

n John Wittneben, liaison for the recreation committee who will be joined by Chair Roger Hash, noted the Emmet County Water Trails group, Friends of Fort Defiance, and people dedicated to a hiking and biking trail as evidence of people working toward recreation in the area.

n Brenda Marx, speaking for arts and culture, said people don’t realize the importance of fine arts in a community. She hoped the committee would help make the future of arts in Estherville brighter for both young people and adults.

n Bob Jensen of the beautification committee said he hoped to continue with downtown beautification. He said he was pleased with the four new entrance signs to the city, the three-laning of downtown, new Christmas light, and the water trail. He said he wanted to work more on in-fill businesses downtown.

Hevern then discussed Excel! Estherville’s goal of passing a local option sales tax Aug. 26.

He said Estherville is one a only a few communities in the state that does not have the extra penny local option sales tax. He said Excel! Estherville will try to get the tax passed in both Estherville and the rest of Emmet County.

“That effort is going to generate a significant amount of money,” Hevern said. He said the City of Estherville is committed to allocating 60 percent of sales tax proceeds to community betterment projects. “If that passes, there is a pool of money,” Hevern said.

Bumgarner said Estherville could have done $5 million in projects over the past 11 years had voters approved the local option sales tax in 1997.

To volunteer for the tourism, recreation, new business, housing, existing business, diversity, community relationships, beautification, or arts and culture committees, call the Estherville Area Chamber of Commerce at 362-3541.