City of Monona ups MCED contribution

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor 

At its Nov. 21 regular meeting, the Monona City Council approved contributing $12,000 to Monona Chamber and Economic Development (MCED) for 2017, an increase of $2,000 from its 2016 pledge. 

“Personally, I think it’s necessary,” said mayor Fran Passmore of MCED’s request for an increase. “We have to support economic development because it supports everybody. I think we’ve made a lot of improvements, and we’ve come a long way, but we have a lot further to go.” 

Councilwoman Randee Koenig agreed, citing MCED Executive Director Rogeta Halvorson’s success in increasing MCED membership and working to bring other businesses into the fold. 

“I think she’s doing a great job,” added councilman Dan Havlicek, who stated he’s been pleased with Halvorson’s, MCED’s and other groups’ work to create an industrial park in the community. 

John Elledge was the only council person not sold on the increase, commenting that he’d like MCED to pursue other possible revenue streams, including fundraising opportunities. 

Halvorson stressed that her main role at MCED is economic development. By focusing on events, she said, she wouldn’t have the time to devote to those economic development efforts. 

Passmore said, while she hopes MCED won’t always have to continue coming to the city for funding increases, it’s important to keep things moving in the right direction, until more funding can be found elsewhere. 

“Down the road, we want a hotel, which could be another revenue stream,” she said. “But until we get to that point, we need someone to do that legwork. For the time being, we have to continue to support [MCED].” 

Dollar General store 

The Overland Group is making a play at another location in the community for construction of a Dollar General store. This location, also along U.S. Highway 18/52, west of Fisk Farm and Home and the Davis Street Car Wash, is in the vicinity of other sites the Overland Group has considered over the last year. 

The property the Overland Group is considering is not owned by the city, but they are negotiating with the city over a small parcel of land east of it. The purpose of the small parcel from the city would not be to build on, said city administrator Dan Canton, but to leave it open to create better visibility in the event a store was built. 

Butterfly Garden 

Jim Langhus, a volunteer with the Monona Butterfly Garden, said the group has received a grant for up to $1,000 from Trees Forever for creation of pollinator habitat. A 2.4 acre-area within the Butterfly Trail loop will be used to establish a prairie. Although planting will occur within the next year, prairie grasses often take 5 years to mature, he noted. 

While speaking with the council, Langhus also mentioned that a new sign is being created for the Butterfly Garden. The sign, while very similar to the one already at the site, will be made of high-density plastic, so it will last longer, he added. It will also incorporate actual photos of things from the Butterfly Garden. The total cost for the sign, Langhus said, is $2,100, with $1,000 coming from the Upper Mississippi Gaming Corporation, $250 from Thrivent Financial and the rest from the group’s annual pancake breakfasts, as well as the Butterfly Garden endowment. The council gave Langhus approval to make the first payment for the sign.

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