DCA announces Iowa's newest Great Places

Elk Horn-Kimballton, Webster-Hamilton counties identified

For Immediate Release September 22, 2010

(DES MOINES, Iowa) – The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs today announced Elk Horn-Kimballton and Webster-Hamilton counties have been selected to join the Iowa Great Places program.

The Iowa Great Places Citizen Advisory Board reviewed proposals from six communities in August, conducted site visits this week and determined Tuesday night that Elk Horn-Kimballton and Webster-Hamilton counties are ready to join the program. Department of Cultural Affairs Director Cyndi Pederson approved the board’s recommendation today.

“The Iowa Great Places program asks Iowans to work together to develop a vision for the future of their communities and I congratulate Elk Horn-Kimballton and Webster and Hamilton counties on their selection into the program,” Pederson said. “In the next few months, our staff will be working with both of these communities to finalize work plans and draft memorandums of understanding that will make them full partners with the state.”

Now in its sixth year, Iowa Great Places combines state resources with local assets to build capacity in communities, regions, neighborhoods or districts that cultivate their unique and authentic qualities.

In developing their proposals, Iowans are asked to address seven dimensions that make places special: engaging experiences; rich, diverse populations and cultures; a vital, creative economy; clean and accessible natural and built environments; well-designed infrastructure; a shared attitude of optimism that welcomes new ideas; and a diverse and inclusive cultural mosaic.

The program calls for the state to work in partnership with each Great Place to identify existing grant programs and technical assistance that may be applicable to projects contained in their work plans.

Elk Horn-Kimballton and Webster-Hamilton counties will be formally identified as Iowa’s newest Great Places Oct. 22, 2010, at the State Historical Building, 600 E. Locust Street in Des Moines.

The two communities join 26 other Iowa communities as part of the Iowa Great Places program. Iowa Great Places staff will continue to work with this year’s other finalists – Albia, Lamoni, Manchester and Vinton – to continue to develop their proposals for future consideration.

“We applaud the other four finalists that submitted proposals this year,” Pederson said. “The advisory board believes those communities can be best served by having additional time to consult with staff, strengthen their proposals and resubmit during the next review cycle.”

More information about the program and Iowa’s other Great Places is available at www.iowagreatplaces.gov. Following are summaries of the proposals submitted by Elk Horn-Kimballton and Webster-Hamilton counties.

Elk Horn-Kimballton

The Danish Villages of Elk Horn and Kimballton will become known as a model green community, based on practices currently used in Denmark. The community’s proposal focuses on its “bridge from the past,” showcasing the authentic Danish Wind Mill, Danish Immigrant Museum and Little Mermaid attractions. The proposal includes building the Jens Jensen Prairie Landscape Park at the museum site; a multi-use Danish Villages Conference Center, Fire Station and green Energy Academy; and the Little Mermaid Recreational Trail and Park Improvements with public art focusing on the works of Hans Christian Andersen.

Webster-Hamilton counties

 “Where the Rivers Run Wild” – Webster and Hamilton counties are focusing on the area’s recreational benefits. Their proposal includes The Fort Dodge Trails & Riverfront project, which includes a three-mile hard surface trail along the Des Moines Riverfront in Fort Dodge; the Gypsum City Off-Highway Vehicle Park expansion and 25-site campground with two family camping cabins; a Fort Dodge Downtown Plaza that connects trails and the pedestrian loop to the future Community Festival Lawn; a 14,400-square-foot Outdoor Convention Center in the Briggs Wood Recreation Area; and a 21,456-square-foot regional Brushy Creek Environmental/Education Center located in the heart of Brushy Creek State Recreational Area.

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The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs is responsible for developing the state’s interest in the areas of the arts, history and other cultural matters with the advice and assistance from its two divisions: the State Historical Society of Iowa and the Iowa Arts Council. DCA preserves, researches, interprets and promotes an awareness and understanding of local, state and regional history and stimulates and encourages the study and presentation of the performing and fine arts and public interest and participation in them. It implements tourism-related art and history projects as directed by the General Assembly and designs a comprehensive, statewide, long-range plan with the assistance of the Iowa Arts Council to develop the arts in Iowa. More information about DCA is available at www.culturalaffairs.org.

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Mary Cownie, Director

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