Keep Iowa Beautiful Executive Director Gerry Schnepf explains how the hometown program works.
“It’s about providing professional people to assist communities that don’t have access to good professional help. And they’re called community coaches,” Schnepf explains. The communities of Camanche, Clinton, Delmar, DeWitt, Grand Mound, Lost Nation, Low Moor, Welton and Wheatland will be active participants in the program. He says it’s a long-term commitment.
“We end up with a contract for five years with the county economic development person and the communities,” Schnepf explains. “Because sometimes changing behavior and doing things takes that long. You’d like it to be faster — but sometimes we just don’t move that way.” Schnepf says the hardest part of improving a community can be getting started, and that’s what the program helps them do.
“It gives the communities through this process an empowerment to do things that they maybe didn’t have the chance to do before,” he explains. “And one of them is to make sure that there is always a vision in front of their community.” Schnepf says there is a wide variety of projects in each community.
“It’s everything form working on derelict buildings in their communities, to streetscaping, to enhancing their downtowns, to improving their entryways. Painting up their facilities, fixing up their facilities, looking at how they can landscape certain areas,” Schnepf says. “Just all the kinds of improvements that can make a difference when you first drive into a town.” The program gives the communities $60,000 and they chip in $20,000 to pay for the Hometown Pride Coach and the planning.
KIB’s other Hometown Pride programs are in Dubuque, Fremont, Jackson, Jasper, Jones, Louisa, Pocahontas and Sac Counties and three Des Moines Capitol neighborhoods.
Hometown Pride is funded by Keep Iowa Beautiful, through support from private donors, a grant from the Iowa Economic Development Authority and the counties and communities.