News Archive
Monday
Dec142015

Apply to serve on a State Board or Commission

There are many boards and commissions in Iowa, appointed by the Governor, that help to advise and administer on a wide range of topics, issues, and areas of service.

Currently, there are 9 individuals from Washington County serving on Governor-appointed boards and commissions. Kudos to them for getting involved. The Governor did not select them because they are FaceBook friends - they completed an application and asked to be considered.

Washington County appointed Commission members

NAME COMMISSION Term Ending
Berger, Steve Judicial Nominating Commission, State 4/30/20
Cobb, Mark Renewable Fuel Infrastructure Board 4/30/19
Kiene, Kevin Plumbing and Mechanical Systems Board 4/30/16
Kleese, Amanda Early ACCESS, Iowa Council for 6/30/18
Latcham, Sarah Libraries, Commission of 4/30/19
Lipski, Patricia Civil Rights Commission, Iowa State 4/30/19
Lynn, Trevor Juvenile Justice Advisory Council 6/30/18
Marek, Larry Agricultural Education, Council on 6/30/18
Unternahrer, Shannon Child Advocacy Board 4/30/17

 

In the surrounding area, there are many other appointed Commissioners serving, including 11 from Henry County, 23 from Iowa County, 3 from Jefferson County, 53 from Johnson County, 4 from Keokuk County, 77 from Linn, and 3 from Louisa County.

Governor Branstad will make appointments to 91 of the 160 State boards and commissions in March, 2016 during the Legislative Session. Browse through this list, and click through to any that interest you to learn more. Don't wait until February to get started. Do it over the Holidays.

State law requires most boards and commissions be balanced according to gender and political affiliation. Geographical location and diversity is also considered. Sometimes, this means that your gender, party affiliation, or geographical location make you a good fit for a particular commission, but sometimes, your background may not be what they're seeking at this time. Really, this balance is one of the best things about Iowa.

COMMISSION   APPOINTING
Accountancy Examining Board   3 of 8
African Americans, Commission on the Status of   6 of 8
Aging, Commission On   2 of 7
Agricultural Development Board   1 of 5
Alcoholic Beverages Commission   1 of 5
Architectural Examining Board   2 of 7
Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs, Commission of   5 of 7
Athletic Training, Board of   2 of 7
Autism Council, Iowa   4 of 13
Banking Council, State   2 of 6
Barbering, Board of   1 of 5
Behavioral Science, Board of   3 of 9
Blind, Commission for the   2 of 3
Capital Investment Board, Iowa   1 of 5
Chiropractic, Board of   1 of 7
City Development Board   1 of 5
City Finance Committee   4 of 7
Community Action Agencies, Commission on   3 of 9
Cosmetology Arts and Sciences, Board of   2 of 7
Credit Union Review Board   4 of 7
Cultural Trust Board of Trustees, Iowa   3 of 5
Deaf Services, Commission of   3 of 7
Dentistry, Board of   3 of 9
Dietetics, Board of   1 of 5
Drug Policy Advisory Council, Iowa   2 of 7
Early Childhood Iowa State Board   3 of 15
Education, State Board of   3 of 10
Educational Examiners, State Board of   3 of 11
Electrical Examining Board   4 of 11
Emergency Response Commission, Iowa   10 of 14
Employment Appeal Board   2 of 3
Engineering and Land Surveying Examining Board   3 of 7
Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, Iowa   2 of 6
Grain Indemnity Fund Board, Iowa   3 of 5
Great Places Advisory Board, Iowa   4 of 12
Healthy and Well Kids In Iowa Board (HAWK-I)   2 of 4
Hearing Aid Dispensers, Board of   2 of 5
Higher Education Loan Authority   2 of 5
Human Rights Board   8 of 11
Innovation Council, Iowa   1 of 1
Interior Design Examining Board   3 of 7
Interoperable Communications System Board, Iowa Statewide   3 of 11
IPERs, Investment Board of the   1 of 6
Judicial Nominating Commission, State   3 of 8
Landscape Architectural Examining Board   2 of 7
Latino Affairs Commission   3 of 7
Law Enforcement Academy Council, Iowa   3 of 13
Libraries, Commission of   1 of 7
Lottery Authority Board of Directors, Iowa   1 of 5
Massage Therapy, Board of   3 of 7
Medicine, Board of   5 of 10
Mental Health and Disability Services Commission   8 of 18
Mental Health Risk Pool Board   2 of 9
Mortuary Science, Board of   3 of 7
Nursing Home Administrators, Board of   2 of 9
Nursing, Board of   3 of 7
Optometry, Board of   2 of 7
Organic Advisory Council   1 of 5
Parole, Board of   3 of 5
Peace Officers Retirement Accident and Disability Systems Trustee   1 of 1
Persons with Disabilities, Commission of   4 of 7
Petroleum Underground Storage Tank Fund Board, Iowa Comprehensive   2 of 6
Pharmacy, Board of   2 of 7
Physical and Occupational Therapy, Board of   3 of 7
Physician Assistants, Board of   4 of 9
Plumbing and Mechanical Systems Board   4 of 9
Podiatry, Board of   4 of 9
Prevention of Disabilities Policy Council   3 of 9
Psychology, Board of   3 of 7
Public Employment Relations Board   3 of 3
Public Information Board, Iowa   4 of 9
Racing and Gaming Commission, State   2 of 5
Real Estate Appraiser Examining Board   3 of 7
Real Estate Commission   1 of 7
Renewable Fuel Infrastructure Board   6 of 11
Respiratory Care, Board of   1 of 5
School Budget Review Committee   2 of 4
Sign Language Interpreters and Transliterators, Board of   2 of 7
Social Work, Board of   3 of 7
Soil Conservation Committee, State   1 of 9
Speech Pathology and Audiology, Board of   2 of 7
Status of Women, Commission on the   4 of 7
Technology Advisory Council   5 of 8
Telecommunications and Technology Commission, Iowa   3 of 5
Tobacco Use Prevention and Control, Commission on   3 of 6
Transportation Commission   2 of 7
Veterans Affairs, Commission of   5 of 9
Veterinary Medicine, Iowa Board of   1 of 5
Vision Iowa Board   6 of 10
Watershed Improvement Review Board   3 of 11
Workforce Development Board, Iowa   4 of 9

 

Get the Application!

If you find one that fits your circumstances that you are interested in, go to the Governor's on-line application page. You can apply by creating an online profile and completing an on-line application, or you can download a PDF form to complete off-line. If these don't fit you, think of someone you know that you could forward this to that might find a good fit. Go to the Governor's home page for Boards and Commissions for more info.

 

And if none of these fit you, don't despair. Look around for other volunteer opportunities where you could make an impact. Your city, county, school district, and non-profit organizations are routinely in need of interested and knowledgeable community members to contribute their time and expertise. Look around and get involved! Feel free to contact me or the Washington Chamber of Commerce if you want some advice on what organizations you could connect with.

Don't delay. Don't wait for the deadline. Make getting involved in your community or your state a New Year's resolution if you need to. It is very rewarding.

 

Wednesday
Dec092015

Washington County Unemployment falls to 2.4% in October

Washington County's unemployment rate fell to 2.4% in October from 2.6% in September. The number of employed persons rebounded to 12,500, and the number of unemployed persons was about 300.

Washington County's laborforce has peaked again at 12,900, equalling the historical high set this summer.

Iowa Workforce Development offers this data in several formats. At IWD's Local Area Unemployment Statistics page, you can select county maps for any month, and for several data types. That is the source for the following maps.

Source IWD Local Area Unemployment Statistics

Source: IWD Local Area Unemployment Statistics

Source: IWD's Local Area Unemployment Statistics

This map shows the percentage of the population between the ages of 20-65 that are employed or unemployed and seeking employment. Washington County has a participation rate of 86.2%, which is the third highest rate in Southeast Iowa. In Iowa, Washington County is in the top 20% of all counties for laborforce participation.

This high level of participation accounts for the large laborforce in Washington County, compared to other counties with a similar population.

The source of this map is the "Map of the Week" service of the Iowa Legislative.

Source: Iowa LSA Map of the Week

I like maps. 

Sunday
Nov082015

Washington County is top Conservation County

Washington County has the most acres in Iowa enrolled in the USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) with 37,046 acres or 2.6% of the state total.

"The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), established in 1985 by the Reagan administration, is a land conservation program administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA). In exchange for a yearly rental payment, farmers enrolled in the CRP program agree to remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and plant species that will improve environmental health and quality. Contracts for land enrolled in CRP are 10-15 years in length. The long-term goal of the program is to re-establish valuable land cover to help improve water quality, prevent soil erosion, and reduce loss of wildlife habitat."

As a result of the last CRP signup in August 2013, Iowa had 1.39 million acres enrolled in CRP on October 1, 2013, down from 1.53 million acres. This decrease is because there were 183,857 acres that expired from the program, and only 47,418 acres that were accepted in to the program. The average number of CRP acres per county is 14,000.

Washington County had 6,779 acres that expired in 2013 and 3,203 acres that entered the CRP program, resulting in a state leading 37,046 acres. The reason that so many acres expired is that 10-15 years ago, even more acres were enrolled in CRP.

Washington County's 3,203 acres entering CRP in 2013 is the most in Iowa, followed by Keokuk County. This is significant to note because 2013 was the highest corn and soybean prices in Iowa history, averaging over $7 per bushel of corn and $15 per bushel of soybeans in the months leading up to the CRP signup.

This means that with sky-rocketing grain prices, Washington County farmers and property owners did not move to plant as many acres as possible. Instead, Washington County led the state for conservation acres enrolled and also for the number of new CRP contracts (110, 2nd to Keokuk County). Washington County farmers and landowners have a long-term view of caring for the land, and is not lured to plow up sensitive land by spiking grain prices.

Among the top 8 CRP enrollment counties, Washington County has the largest population, as well as the most enrolled acres. Five of the top 8 are on the southern Iowa border with Missouri, having populations between about 5,000 and 8,600. 

Source: USDA CRP 45th Signup, August 2013 County by County Summary

Among the top five hog producing Counties, Washington County has 12,000 more acres of CRP than the other four combined. In Washington County, leadership in livestock numbers is matched by leadership in conservation.

In southeast Iowa, a cluster of four counties account for 9% of all the CRP acres in Iowa - Henry, Jefferson, Keokuk, and Washington Counties.

The Des Moines Water Works has sued three Northwest Iowa counties over water quality. Only one of these three counties has more than the average CRP enrollment, and the other two have half the average CRP enrollment. In 2013, these three counties combined had 2,067 acres that expired from CRP, and only 260 acres that were enrolled in CRP.

Washington County is a unique County in Iowa (and the Midwest).

  • #1 in land conservation with 37,046 acres in CRP
  • #1 in solar with over 4.1 MW of user-owned, distributed power
  • #2 in hog production (which is all locally owned)
  • #3 in organic production
  • #3 in goat production
  • #6 in turkey production (with no avian flu cases in 2015)
  • #14 in population growth (behind the core metro counties)
  • Renewable fuels - Iowa Renewable Energy 30mgpy flex-source biodiesel plant

Source: USDA 2012 Ag Census; USDA CRP Enrollment 2013; Alliant Energy & Iowa Dept. of Revenue

The next CRP signup window is December 1, 2015 through February 26, 2016.

Sunday
Nov012015

Unemployment remains at 2.6% in September - Employment up

Washington County's unemployment rate of 2.6% held constant from August into September, 2015. The number of employed persons was 12,300 in September, down from 12,500 in August as some seasonal work ends. This is really remarkable to have 12,300 to 12,500 Washington County residents employed. This means that almost every person who wants a job, has a job.

Compared to neighboring rural Counties, Washington County's 12,300 employed persons is tops. Henry County has 9,170 employed persons, fully 3,130 less people with jobs than Washington County. Jefferson County has 8,840 employed persons, or 3,460 fewer than Washington County (although they also have a smaller total population).

Some might say that people have given up looking for a job and are not in the labor force any more. There are certainly examples of dropping out, but Washington County's labor force continues to grow, reaching a record of 12,800 in August. 

The number of unemployed persons remained steady at 300 in August and September, 2.6% of the labor force. Of the 300 unemployed persons, 78 (26%) are receiving unemployment benefits. 17 of the 300 received their first unemployment payment in September, while 6 received their last payment. 

Statewide, the labor force grew slightly, and so did the number of employed persons, while the number of unemployed persons dropped. Statewide unemployment fell to 3.6% in September from 3.7% in August.

The State and County data in this article is from the Labor Market and Economic Research Bureau of the Iowa Workforce Development.

 


 

Employment trending Up

In addition to the growing labor force, the number of jobs in Washington has grown over the last 15 years from about 6,750 in 1999 to about 8,300 in 2014 Q4, an increase of over 1,500 jobs.

  • Source: US Census Bureau, Quarterly Workforce Indicators data

    In the past 15 years, Health Care has grown to be the largest employment sector. The other employment sectors with over 1,000 jobs includes Manufacturing, Hospitality, Retail (not on chart), in addition to Health Care. The Construction sector almost doubled to 842 jobs in 2014. Manufacturing had the greatest volatility, significantly impacted by plant closings (2003), national recessions (2008-10), and expansions and new plants in the last several years.

    Source: US Census Bureau, Quarterly Workforce Indicators data

     

  • Tuesday
    Sep152015

    Energy Efficiency Workshop & Washington County surpasses 4 MW of Solar

    Have you been thinking about improving the energy efficiency of your Commercial building or business with new LED lighting or solar rooftop panels? This program is for you! Don't wait until incentives expire in 2016! Now is the time to educate yourself.

    This FREE event is hosted by Main Street WashingtonWEDG, and sponsored our vendors and speakers.

    SE Iowa Energy Efficiency Workshop
    Monday, October 5th, 5:30-7:30pm
    Washington Free Public Library
    (south side of the Square)
    115 West Washington St.
    Washington, IA 52353

    Learn About:

    Light refreshments will be provided thanks to Alliant Energy.

    There will be time to network and ask 1-on-1 questions at the Library after the 5:30-7:30pm event.

    Mid-American Energy also offers Energy Assessments and programs for Distributed Generation like Solar, and has a helpful FAQ for its customers.


    Washington County surpasses 4 MW of Solar

    In 2015, Washington County achieved 4.1 MegaWatts of installed solar energy in Alliant Energy's territory. Over 2 MegaWatts of that power serves Ag buildings, and another 1 MegaWatt serves residential users, and almost 1 MegaWatt serving business and industry users. There is 1.3 MegaWatts of that solar is in the City of Washington, mostly for business and residential uses.

    It is worthwhile to note that this 4.1 MW of solar energy is owned by local farmers, businesses, and residents rather than by Alliant Energy. That is a fundamental difference between local solar and the large, utility owned wind farms in Central and Western Iowa.

    Washington County Solar - Alliant Energy territory

      # of Customers # of Systems Capacity (KW)
    Agriculture 53 96 2133
    Business 14 21 690
    Residential 71 81 1042
    Small Business 8 11 207
    Total: 146 209 4072

     

    Back in May, 2015, I wrote about Washington County's #1 in Iowa status for solar with 22% of Iowa's solar tax credits. It also appears that Washington and Washington County are #2 Nationally (behind Honolulu, Hawaii) for watts of solar per capita.

    According to an Environmental America report from May 2015 on the top large-cities in America for solar, Honolulu was #1 with 276 per capital PV solar installed (Watts-DC/person). In the report, Indianapolis is #2 with 127 per capita PV solar installed.

    Forbes Magazine reported on Environmental America's findings in May 2015.

    Alliant Energy has calculated that based on the 4.1 MW of solar installed in Washington County with about 22,015 population, there is about 185 watts of PV solar per capita. That makes Washington County #2, way in front of Indianapolis!

    Even considering just the City of Washington with 7370 estimated 2015 population and 1,263Kw of installed solar, that is 171 watts of PV solar per capita. That would still easily be the #2 solar city in America (behind Honolulu).

    That is a lot of solar. And there is going to be more installed in the coming years.

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