BUSINESS & INDUSTRY
March 24, 2012 • Volume 2
The Valley News • Saturday, March 24, 2012
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EXPANSION...One of the construction sites in Shenandoah is at the Shenandoah Public Library.
Shenandoah’s booming despite tough economy By TESS GRUBER NELSON Managing Editor
Despite the rough economy in 2011-12, there are quite a few large building projects going on within the city limits of Shenandoah. And although the numerous construction undertakings are surprising to some, they aren’t to Shenandoah Chamber and Industry Association Executive Director Gregg Connell. “I think that a lot of it is thtat Shenandoah is a community people are willing to invest in,” said Connell. “People believe in this community and I think that is a tribute to 140-years of Shenandoah beating the odds. This is the communi-
ty that refuses the accept the status quo and one that refuses to give up.” Expansion projects going on around town include Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Shenandoah Public Library, Forest Park Manor, Shenandoah City Hall, Shenandoah schools safe/wrestling room, and the Shenandoah Regional Airport. New business construction sites include the Walmart Supercenter, Windsor Manor Assisted Living and a $5 million BioProcess Algae/Green Plains Renewable Energy Phase 3 algae farm. A $2.3 million renovation and expansion took place last year on the Shenandoah
National Guard Armory, a new Subway restaurant and MaMa D’s Barbeque was constructed, and El Portal Mexican Restaurant expanded. “This community has an incredible sense of place and Shenandoah tends to sell itself,” Connell. “When you tell people we are a community of 5,100, people don’t believe it.” Connell said in these difficult economic times, some towns tend to do nothing, but not Shenandoah. “It’s business as usual in Shenandoah,” said Connell. “In the face of this tough economy, it’s nice to see. We’re certainly glad about it.”
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The Valley News • Saturday, March 24, 2012
TOUGH...It was a tough road, but Sapp Bros has reopened after massive flooding.
DEDICATION... It’s hard to tell that mst of this area was under water nine months ago.
Sapp Brothers stronger than ever after flood By JASON GLENN Staff Writer
When Highway 2 reopened following last summer’s historic floods, the Sapp Brothers Travel Plaza was caught a bit unprepared. But it wasn’t clean up and water removal that had the popular truckers’ and travelers’ way station scrambling to open their doors - managers and employees had been keeping up with that throughout the inundation - it was an extensive remodeling campaign that had been in the works for months before. “We had plans for remodeling, we thought with Highway 2 being in the shape it was it might be a little longer before that road would reopen,” said General Manager Brad Buckingham. “But as long as we could get the contractors and everybody in here, we’d start to do the building expansion right away. It’s over with now and it’s a bigger, brighter, newer looking facility.” The travel plaza reopened not long after
the road did in October, but work was ongoing on an extensive upgrade of the popular Apple Barrel restaurant through February. With updated décor dedicated to local high schools, a new large private meeting room with a 9-foot projection TV that can handle anything from birthday slideshows to business presentations, four new women’s rest rooms with heated toilet seats and a greatly expanded line of retail offerings from purses to tools to go karts, Buckingham said sales are up in every category “The traffic flow is higher, business is growing and we feel really good about the future of this corner and we continue to invest in it,” Buckingham said. Weathering the storm took a lot of work and a lot of dedication on the part of the company and its employees, Buckingham said. While the waters were up, they boated in three times a week to run the air conditioning and pumps to fight off rainwater accumulating inside the protective berms and moisture that could cause mildew in the
buildings. Being part of a small chain of travel centers, they were also able to get some help from their sister stores, which helped them hang on to their most precious asset – their employees. “We were blessed in that we had resources to help us, with other facilities that could help remove inventory, help get in and get products out. One of our most valuable products is our own help. To make sure that we retained as much help as possible, we provided job and transportation or gas reimbursement to those that wanted to continue working and travel to our locations in Omaha or Lincoln,” Buckingham said. For those employees that couldn’t work at the other locations, Buckingham said the company continued to provide health insurance and even supplemented their unemployment checks to approximate a working wage. Beyond their own situation, Sapp Brothers reached out to their Highway 2
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neighbors who weren’t as fortunate to gain regular access during the flood, Buckingham said, running pumps at their businesses to help fight the tide. He said it was just a natural part of trying to preserve what was best for everyone. “You have your neighborhoods where you take care of each other,” he said. “We just felt like it was the right thing to do.” Doing the right thing, and being prepared, kept Sapp Brothers from going under when the river ran over and now the oasis popular with locals and visitors alike is better than ever. Buckingham said it’s simply a reflection of the priorities they’ve always maintained, none more so than making guests feel as comfortable as if they were at home. “It just shows we take a lot of pride in the cleanliness and the friendliness of our services,” he said. “We even have a sign on the front of the building stating that we have the cleanest restrooms on Interstate 29.”
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The Valley News • Saturday, March 24, 2012
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DIRTY LAUNDRY...Nishna Productions new facility in Red Oak will house the laundry service.
Commercial laundry service being started by Nishna Productions, Inc. In order to obtain commercial laundry service in Fremont, Page, Montgomery, or Mills County, one used to have to hire a business out of Omaha, Saint Joseph or Lincoln. However, with the opening of Nishna Productions Inc. Laundry Service in Red Oak, clean linens, rags and uniforms are only a few miles away. Located at 210 South Broadway in Red Oak, in the organization’s new vocational center which opened March 16, NPI Laundry will come pick up your commercial laundry, take it back to their facility, clean and press it, and deliver the items quickly, and professionally back to your business. Sherri Clark, executive director of NPI, explained the idea of having a commercial laundry service first came about seven or eight years ago. The facility will begin by offering services relating to floor mats, shop rags, and hotel and restaurant linens, but will gradually move to uniforms. “The uniforms take a little more expertise - as far as buying and managing the inventory,” explained Monica Bartlett, NPI director of organizational employment. NPI Laundry service will be available within four to six months. Officials with the organization are currently getting bids on equipment. “In the scope of the project in Red Oak, the purchase of the laundry equipment was kind of put on hold because we were busy to try to raise money to pay for the building (new vocational center) itself,” said Clark. “We’ll purchase what we need to get started and then as we grow we’ll add to it.” Eventually, Clark said it will be a stateof-the-art laundry facility in the way it is set up. The laundry will be housed at the new vocational skills training center, which will also house everything else they do vocationally including the can redemption center, and the work floor where contract work
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is done for area business. “The front portion of the building is actually dedicated to the laundry,” said Bartlett. The new vocational center, explained Clark, has more than enough room to accommodate the laundry and vocational facilities. “The new building is 16,200 square feet and is attached to an existing storage building that is 2,500 square-feet,” said Clark. Clark said the reason behind the new vocational facility is because they simply outgrew where they were. Additionally, the new business is more assessable for clients and clientele. “We wanted to go to a location where we had a loading dock and be more assessable for everybody,” said Clark. “It also allows us to have everything under one roof,” added Bartlett. In addition to the laundry service, NPI has a can redemption center; Savings Central, a retail store; shaved ice business, document destruction, custodial services, soup and sandwich shop, as well as contract work with Lloyd Inc., NSK/AKS, Pella, Eaton, Parker-Hannifan. Clark said the approximately 200 clients get value from working, whether it’s serving food, sweeping floors, or washing uniforms. “There’s value in working,” Clark said. “It makes them feel as though they are contributing.” Although NPI serves the counties of Mills, Montgomery, Page, and Fremont, they said they’d be willing to offer their commercial laundry services to those outside the four-county area. “The laundry will provide an array of jobs for people with all levels of skills,” said Clark. “Our goal is that this commercial laundry will generate excess revenue that we can turn back into supporting agency operations to kind of make up for where our funding sources can’t keep up.” If interested in hiring NPI Laundry Service, or any other NPI business, contact NPI Business Developer Dana Crouse at 623-4362 or Bartlet at 246-1242.
By TESS GRUBER NELSON
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Nester’s fingerprint pendants are indeed priceless prints By TESS GRUBER NELSON Managing Editor
If it’s true that no two people have the same fingerprint, then it’s safe to say no two of Deb Nester’s fingerprint pendants are the same. It was in 2003, when Shenandoah resident Nester started making jewelry while living in western Nebraska. She named the company, Prairie Creations. A few years later, she began working with Precious Metal Clay and created Priceless Prints, the original fingerprint pendant. In those nine years, Nester has sold more than 16,000 fingerprints to people all over the world in either .999 fine silver or 22 karat gold.
“It has grown tremendously,” said Nester. “I never ever thought it would do so well. Business is good and I’m even trying to grow even more.” In fact, Nester has more than 60 retailers, from British Columbia, to Tennessee to Texas. On top of that, her prints have been featured on actress Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP website and in Sky Mall magazine, as well as been included in Jewels & Pinstripes Celebrity Gift Bags. Most recently, Nester has become a member of the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association and Pet Loss Professionals Alliance member. “What sets my product apart from similar products out there - mine is the actual thing see NESTER, Page 5C
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The Valley News • Saturday, March 24, 2012
WOOD...Eric Johnson is the owner of Plum Creek Sawmill in rural Thurman.
Plum Creek Sawmill - Thurman the challenge of knowing that if you don’t “measure twice, cut once” there’s no do-over. Whether he’s milling custom decking for a semi trailer hand shaping an oak bench that will likely outlive its owner or painstakingly, ear-achingly shaving and nicking away a custom chainsaw creation, Johnson said he is driven by the idea that people want something totally original. “Each and every one of them is unique. There are never any two of them that are absolutely identical and that’s the way I want it,” he said. While he came by his love of woodworking and skill somewhat naturally, Johnson said he honed his creative instincts through the irregularities he would find in his dayto-day work with metal. “A lot of that stuff was fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants,” he said. “You may have a blueprint in front of you but it may not be right, so you had to be able to improvise, adapt and overcome to get the job done.” Some of Johnson’s regular customers now include Jim Hawk Trucking and a slew of private owner-operator truckers who purchase custom-milled, high quality decking for their trailers and Midwest Woodworkers, a woodcraft tool and supply retailer in Omaha. He has also started doing brisk business among the general public in his carvings and sculptures and recently finalized the purchase of a lot in Thurman where he one day hopes to build a retail store-
For Thurman’s Eric Johnson, working with steel had become a good-paying, but uninspired, profession. Wood was his real passion. After building a career as a certified pipe fitter and welder working on oil refineries and power plants across the central U.S., all the while picking up more soul-satisfying side projects in custom woodworking, last year Johnson went full bore and opened Plum Creek Sawmill. Offering milling services on all manner of fine woods as well as his own oneof-a-kind benches and chainsaw sculptures, Johnson has turned his lifelong avocation into a growing small business. “As far as the wood aspect goes, I’ve kind of been tooling around with it all of my life,” he said. “My great-grandpa taught me a lot of things, watching him carve all the time and make stuff. I guess it’s just one of those things I was born with.” Working steel, where you can weld over and grind out your mistakes, had lost its appeal, Johnson said. He wanted
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NESTER Continued from Page 4C
the person touches. A lot of similar products use a mold, but mine is not a reproduction,” said Nester. Nester said her fingerprints are a personal way to welcome a newborn baby, remember a loved one, document the bond of sisterhood, or even a way to cap-
ture the nose of a furry companion. “There’s a connection there (with the prints),” said Nester. In March 2011, Nester added a production facility at 708 West Lowell in Shenandoah and hired Shirley Boyer, in addition to Jenny Fasbender, to help with the numerous customer orders.
SAWMILL... Eric Johnson, owner of Plum Creek Sawmill, stand beside one of his custom creations.
front. Though his sawmill is attached to a portable trailer and he will, if the job is big enough, take it on the road, Johnson said he mainly works in Thurman, where two of his numerous stacks of sorted logs are located. Having made it through a difficult year for a start-up, with the floods of last summer limiting his ability to get out and grow the business at a faster clip, Johnson said it’s reassuring to know there is a strong market, in all income brackets, for his range of products. The next stage for Plum Creek Sawmill, though, is an ambitious one where Johnson envisions taking what he calls “rustic contemporary” furniture to a whole new level of craftsmanship. With the focus, as always, on creating something absolutely original. “I’m wanting to grow into bigger and better things, where a single table can sell for $10,000 to $15,000 and I’ll sit on it for a year and not have any quarrels about it because I know there’ll be that one customer, whether it’s in California or Washington State or Texas or wherever that’ll want that table because it will be a unique, one-of-a-kind piece,” he said.
In addition to fingerprint pendants, Nester creates exquisite handcrafted necklaces, bracelets, and earrings of all colors, shapes and sizes. On top of that, she also sells Art by Aimee, which includes witty charms for bracelets and necklaces and bobbles. “It’s different from anything anybody else has
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around here,” Nester said. Most recently, Nester has added trimmings to the fingerprint pendants, such as Swarovski crystals representing birthstones. On top of that, she has designed a cremains vile pendant for cremated remains and glass lockets to incase a fingerprint, photo, or lock of hair. For more information on Priceless Prints or Prairie Creations, visit www.prairiecreations.com. Nester said the production studio is also open for business, however, hours vary. “Whenever the blinds are up on the door, Shirley’s here and they are welcome to come in and shop,” Nester said. “Deb has a heart of gold,” said Boyer. “She gets personal with the customers. There’s a lot of heart in the business.”
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The Valley News • Saturday, March 24, 2012
Eleven new businesses open in Nebraska City’s downtown in 2011-12, despite flood By TESS GRUBER NELSON Managing Editor
Despite the flood last summer that made Highway 2 impassable to Nebraska City, our Nebraska neighbors to the west had 11 new businesses open, just in the downtown district alone on 2011. Rebecca Turner, executive director of Nebraska City tourism and commerce and Nebraska City Mainstreet Program, said Nebraska City had a great year for business expansion and new business within their community. “I think a lot of it is timing. There have been a lot of people dedicated to revitalizing our downtown district for years,” said Turner. “I’d say the past seven or eight we’ve worked on addressing some curb appeal issues, doing some rehabilitation of some properties – and eventually people began to see it as an environment where a new businesses can take hold.” What a Girl Wants, is a girly boutique specializing in scrapbooking supplies, accessories, and formal wear including prom and wedding dresses. “We’re excited about that shop in particular because for the past couple years we’ve been working on building the destination wedding market because regionally, we are a great hub for that,” said Turner. Moreland Furniture, whose original location is in Sidney, opened up a second retail space across the river, as well as Modern Hearing Solutions. “We like to have a good mix of traditional retail as well as service businesses,” said Turner. Other new business are, From Latin to Satin, a dance and fitness store, Tiny Tots Tumbling, Guilty Pleasures Salon and Spa, and Revelations, which carries a lot of art and Nebraska City merchandise said Turner. Bring it On Antiques, a reincarnation of an old store, Nebraska City Flooring, and Blums Custom Frames and Gifts are also new stores Turner said. “One really significant expansion was Janie’s Confections, which was
a cookie and truffle store. They decided to get into the coffee shop business, so they purchased the property next door and opened a coffee shop. Then, when she moved, a woman in town who does custom cakes, purchased Janie’s old building next door.” Turner added there were a couple other new businesses, not in downtown that also opened last year, such as Fareway Grocery Store. “When the flood hit, it was a good reminder of how much traffic we get from Iowa – especially Hamburg and Percival. It was good for us to take note of that,” Turner said. “However, for the downtown store, I think most of our traffic is coming from Lincoln and Omaha.” In addition to the new businesses, the movie theatre, The Fort Western Wear, and Walmart bring people to town. “We also have great eateries, like Parkers Barbeque, which has been a wonderful addition. Unknown to some people, Turner said Nebraska City has numerous touristy places to see like Arbor Lodge State Historical Park, Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure, Kimmel Orchard, Mayhew Cabin with John Brown’s Cave, Missouri River Basin Lewis and Clark Center, Nebraska City Museum of Fire Fighting, Civil War Museum, Old Freighters Museum, River County Nature Center, Wildwood Historic Home, and a new museum opening this year called the Kregel Windmill Museum. “Nebraska City had a windmill factory, which closed in 1939. It was basically preserved in tact, as if the factory workers were just told they were closing for a short period of time. Work gloves and tools were laid down exactly where they were – it is so cool,” Turner said. “It’s a perfect fit for our community.” With numerous shops, several delectable eateries, and more than 10 museums, Nebraska City would make a great weekend destination, especially with high gas prices Turner suggested “It’s a fun getaway that conveniently close.”
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The Valley News • Saturday, March 24, 2012
Times can be tough for hometown cafe’s, like Babe’s By JASON GLENN Staff Writer
For most of the last decade, since he took over Babe’s Café in Essex, Curt Riley has enjoyed, if not wild success, at a comfortable minimum a steady, sustainable flow of customers though the doors of the town’s only diner. In the last couple of years, though, the loss of as much as 80 percent of his regular business, Riley said, has him wondering how much longer he can keep those doors open. “I guess you could say a small town café could be put on the endangered species list. The other towns around that have small cafes, they’re having a hard times keeping things going, too,” Riley said. “It’s a scary thought when you can look and say, ‘Okay, how many months do I have left?’” Riley said it was tough to pinpoint exactly why business had declined so dramatically, but thought the tough economy and many of his loyal, longtime patrons either passing away or moving out of their Essex homes and into managed care facilities were certainly two of the main factors. The Little Red Wagon, a local meal delivery service for seniors that contracts through Babe’s, has been a modest but reliable source of income since Riley bought the café, but even those numbers are down dramatically, he said. “The summer before last, we had twen-
BABE’S... Curt and Karen Riley own and operate Babe’s Cafe in Essex.
ty-some meals, we were having two people deliver meals. Today we’ve got two, usually we have around five to seven. That has really dropped off too,” Riley said.
Riley said he has tried a number of different things to drum up business, from a fish night on Thursdays to a taco night on Tuesdays to offering new specials but has-
n’t found anything to make a lasting improvement. While he used to draw regular customers from Shenandoah and as far as Clarinda, he said younger patrons and commuters have been hard to lure away from high-visibility fast food restaurants in the area. He said he still has a dedicated core of daily customers - “You can always count on them, they’re the ones that really keep it open” – but that the occasional once a week or once a month crowd has really declined, leaving him often wondering how much food to prepare, enough to serve but not too much to waste. “It’s really a hit-and-miss,” Riley said. “When you plan out a dinner menu, you figure so many and you pray you get rid of it. It’s gotten really tough here in the last couple of years.” Though he said he worries every day about how much longer he can hold out and knows something has to change, Riley said he’s not ready to throw in the towel yet. For one thing, if he goes under the Little Red Wagon, a vital service for local seniors wanting to remain in their own homes, will probably go under too. And for another, his uncle, the original “Babe,” instilled in him the value a great local café brings to a community “It’s a place for people to go visit, eat, run into somebody they haven’t seen for a while,” Riley said. “Every town needs a place like that.”
The mission of Shenandoah Chamber & Industry Association is to improve the economic vitality of the Shenandoah area, to expand high paying employment opportunities, enhance Shenandoah's retail shopping, and to support major community projects that improve our quality of life. 2011 - 2012 SCIA Business Members: Audiological Servies, Inc. Alliance Gas American Legion Country Club Antique Alley Angel Care Home Health Anchor Painting Aesthetic & Family Dentistry Advanced Restoration Services Ag Pro/CHS Bank Iowa Barnwood Frames & More Beecher, Inc. BioProcess Algae Brown’s Shoe Fit Brown’s General Office Casey’s General Stores Chat Mobility/Radio Shack Cenex – RocStop Central Surveys City National Bank City National Bank Investment Ctr. City of Shenandoah Clinton L Allen Monuments Community Connections Council Office & Document Country Tire Crain Construction
Depot Deli Design Originals Donut Stop Don’s Johns Earl May Garden Center Eaton Corp. Edward Jones Investments El Portal Mexican Restaurant Eyecare Associates of Southwest Iowa The Emporium Fareway Fair Oaks Assisted Living First National Bank Garden View Care Center Gary Gee, Attorney Gavilon Grain Get Framed George Jay Drug Generation Music Godfather’s Pizza Goracke Professional Group Gowing Plumbing Great Western Bank Green Plains Shenandoah Hackett Livingston Funeral Home Hansen Jewelry
Help @ Home Howard Clothing & Sporting Goods Hy-Vee Food Store, Wine & Spirits & Pharmacy Inter-Tech Collision Iowa Western Community College Iowa Workforce Development J.B. Parts & Supply— NAPA Jim Hughes Real Estate Johnson Tire Co. John Gowing Plumbing & Heating Joyce Ellen’s on Main J & R Furniture J & R Excavation KCSI Radio Kidd Enterprises Kriegler Office Supply Kris’s Connections Kirchert Electric Kirsch Funeral Services KMA Radio Kum & Go Ladies Apparel Shop Lee’s Trophies Legacy 3 Theaters Little Waite Lanes
Lloyd Inc. Long View Estates Madsen International Mae Farmer Boutique Manpower McDonald’s McIntyre Real Estate McNeilly Garage Door Service & Gee Bldgs. McQueen Carpet Cleaning MediaCom Micky G’s Clothing Co. MidAmerican Energy Co. Miller Building Supply Miller, Shearer, Lashier Mondo’s Restaurant M’s Casual Fine Dining McQueen Carpet Cleaning Nebel Construction Nebraska Medical Center New Horizons Roofing New York Life Ins. Nishna Valley Café Nishna Productions O’Hara Seed Inc. Orscheln Farm & Home Pella Corp.
Paper Trail Performing Arts & Education Assoc. of SWI Prairie Creations Professional Associates, Ltd. Rawson Stevens, Attorney Rengstorf Carpentry Rem Manufacturing RH Johnson Co. Orchard Corners Roberts True Value Robert Norris, Attorney R & R Concrete The Sanctuary Schwan’s Home Service Security Lock & Key Select Motors Serenity Studio & Spa Shenandoah Community Schools Shenandoah Development Co. Shenandoah Floral Shenandoah Family Dentistry Shenandoah Inn & Suites Hotel Shenandoah Medical Center Shenandoah Sanitation Sheridan Decorating Shirt Works Smith Vending
Sorensen Auto Plaza Sports-Plex Spencer’s Grocery & Gun 6 Star Energy Inc. State Farm Ins. Subway Sump Ins. Tall Corn Inn Team Green Plumbing & Heating Triple K Manufacturing Turnbull Child Development Ctr. United Group Ins. United Group Real Estate Valley News Wallin Plumbing & Heating Wabash Wine Co. Wal-Mart Wilson Ins. Win Wang Chinese Restaurant
City with Energy
Shenandoah Chamber & Industry Association 100 S. Maple, Shenandoah • 712-246-3455 • www.shenandoahiowa.net
We’re Back! And Better Than Ever!!
Come Visit the Newly Remodeled & Expanded Travel Center Larger Retail Store • More Selection
All New Dining Area • Expanded soup & salad bar • Fresh fruit • All your favorites still on the menu
Open 24 Hours
All New Party Room! • Great for Business Meetings & Family Gatherings • Seats 50 People • Large 9 Foot Projection T.V.
We Promise You the Cleanest Restrooms on I-29 • Four New Ladies Rooms • Heated Seats
SAPP BROS. TRAVEL CENTER Percival, Iowa • Junction of I-29 and Highway 2
The Valley News â€˘ Saturday, March 24, 2012
Outpatient Clinic Clinic Outpatient Montgomery County Memorial Hospital OUTPATIENT CLINIC
Call 623-7270 or 888-755-3767 to schedule Allergy/Asthma
Work Health Solutuons
No Need to go to the city to see a specialist Call MCMH outpatient clinic
Montgomer y County Memorial Hospital 2301 Eastern Avenue, Box 498, Red Oak, Iowa 51566 Phone 712-623-7000 â€˘ www.mcmh.org
Celebrating 40 Years in Shenandoah YEES MPLO
Committed to enhancing the economic vitality of Southwest Iowa and the health and well-being of its citizens.
Suppor tin charitie g local s th volunte rough er work
g for Strivin cturing a f u n a m ce excellen
TEA Y T E AF
COMMU NITY IN VOLVEM EN
Developing environmentally sensitive programs to improve the quality of life in Southwest Iowa
Published on Apr 11, 2012