The Waseca area accomplished much in 2019 with officials looking ahead to the new year.

The City of Waseca is looking at new construction and finishing construction in town.

Janesville is continuing to grow and improve streets and businesses in the city.

In 2020 the city will see major road work on two streets that will start in the late spring and continuing throughout the summer.

Janesville’s Economic Development Authority will continue to offer the new home purchaser rebate program and the Storefront Enhancement Grant Policy along with the sale of residential lots in foreclosure.

Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton school district is moving forward under the new leadership updating the strategic plan, improving the curriculum and continuing forward with personalized learning.

City of Waseca

In 2019 the City of Waseca completed numerous projects and in 2020 the city will continue to make improvements.

The Economic Authority Coordinator Gary Sandholm shared an update on the proposals that were sent out for potentially developing land at the interchange of United States Hwy. 14 and Minnesota Hwy. 13 in Waseca.

Proposals were sent out in October 2019 and are due back on January 15.

Sandholm stated that the EDA will evaluate the proposals and options and see how best to proceed.

There is a portion of about 20 acres available to be purchased and developed from the Woodville Holdings group. This is estimated to be a $10 million to $15 million project.

“We think there’s very good potential out there,” Sandholm said in an October 2019 article.

A hotel, convenience store and a restaurant would be the ideal projects developed on the land at the interchange.

Requests for proposals were sent out to numerous organizations, including developers, construction companies and other private businesses that could potentially have a hand in developing the land.

The authority then has until March 1, 2020 to purchase the land with a set price on it that they would be able to give the developer.

Waseca had a hotel study done a few years ago, and with the new event spaces and events in town, there is a need for a third hotel, because they can’t accommodate all of the visitors.

With some buildings in the area there is already some infrastructure in the development area, but there would be a need for more, like extending utilities, and possibly building new roads. A clean wetland phase 1 study has also been completed on the property to make the process of developing it smoother.

Sandholm shared a few other challenges the city will be tackling in 2020.

He mentioned that multi-family housing is needed badly,with the hopes of getting at least one project going. Child care is another topic with high importance. The city is working with the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation to find solutions to the shortage of capacity.

At the November 6, 2019 City Council meeting the council approved a Recovery Coordinator position for the City. Sandholm shared they are currently taking applications and are hoping to fill the position by late winter or early spring.

With the approval of the position the city approved a grant match of 20 percent, or about $98, 955, over the next three years to hire a Recovery Coordinator position.

The city worked with Region Nine for over a year on a grant application to fund the three year position with the City. This position will focus on economic development efforts to combat the impacts of the Brown/Quad Graphics closures and seek to bring more industry to Waseca.

According to the agenda of the meeting the Recovery Coordinator Position fits well within the “Expand and Leverage Economic Development Initiatives” pillar of the Vision 2030 document.

Applications are being taken for the Recovery Coordinator. We hope to have the position filled by late winter or early spring.

The city saw a new industry in 2018 with the Midwest Hemp Farm moving to Waseca. In 2019 the operation grew to the former Quad Graphics building where the CBD oil is being extracted and then sold at the CBD Centers in Waseca.

“We are very likely to see continuing growth with industrial and CBD hemp,” Sandholm said in an email. “It’s very rare to have an entirely new business sector emerge seemingly overnight. Having so much action in that sector in Waseca is very exciting.”

The final item Sandholm spoke on is Vision 2030. He shared it will receive some City financial support which will enable the action teams to have resources to begin implementation of their projects.

City of Janesville

The City of Janesville works on one large street project every other year to improve the city.

This spring City Administrator Clinton Rogers shared that West 4th Street and Youngerberg Lane will be the two streets worked on this coming year.

He went on to share that bids will most likely open in late winter with the project beginning in early spring.

“The street projects always take quite a bit of time because they are important and affect a lot of people,” Rogers said.

The project will be a complete redo of the roads. This means there will be work on the water lines, sewer lines, sidewalks, curbs, gutters and everything else.

This project falls into place with the city’s capital improvement plan, CIP, that was created in conjunction with Bolten and Menk in 2017.

The last major street project was done in 2018 and was N. Market Street and E. 3rd Street.

The City created a long term plan in the summer of 2019. This plan is to help schedule and prepare for equipment replacement and other things within the city departments.

With this plan it allows the city to budget better and know what they are spending and approximately when.

The Economic Development Authority in Janesville will continue the sale of the residential lots in foreclosure along with the new home purchaser rebate program.

This is a cash rebate to homeowners who purchase and occupy homes constructed in 2018 or 2019, within six months of obtaining the certificate of occupancy. This incentive is offered as a one-time payment.

The program is simple with few requirements. The owner myst occupy the property for one year, utility payments made must be in good standing after one year and the property must not operate as a rental.

Another program the EDA will continue is working with local businesses through the Storefront Enhancement Grant Policy.

The purpose of this grant policy is to help improve Main Street in Janesville by helping the local businesses.

In June 2019 the Janesville EDA awarded 22 grants, totaling over $56,000.

In order to apply for the EDA Storefront Enhancement Program, businesses must meet some requirements.

Properties must be retail/commercial business properties located within the city boundaries of Janesville. The applicant must not have started or completed work on the proposed project, though phase work is permitted. Proposed improvements must comply with the Minnesota State Building Code for rehabilitation work and proper building permits acquired.

Eligible improvements include exterior changes — some of them could be windows/doors, painting, outside lighting, landscaping or awnings but this list could be expanded upon. Ineligible improvements include refinancing prior debt, working capital, inventory finance and improvements that are removable.

All of the work must be completed within 180 days of notification of the grant.

The two types of grants were Storefront Enhancement Grant and a Commercial Building Demolition Grant that both would give 50 percent of the project cost with a maximum of $5,000.

Over the past year the council has worked on streaming the council meetings to the public to allow for more citizens to view.

A few of the meetings have been live streamed through Councilor Melissa Kopecheks Facebook page but this is still a limited amount of meetings video and audio recorded for people to view later at their convenience.

Rogers shared the council is going to work on getting the city council meetings recorded with microphones and possibly a live streaming of the meetings. The final details are still being worked on but he said people will be able to hear the meetings for sure.

In 2020 the final big item happening in Janesville that Rogers spoke on is the Presidential Primary Election happening in March.

He shared having the primary in March is early and a first in his time working for the city.

The Presidential Primary Election polling location is Trinity Lutheran Discipline Center. The polling place will open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

JWP

The JWP School District will be updating the Strategic Plan during the first couple of months of 2020.

Teachers have already been meeting since November 2019 to review data and research to create specific actions steps that align with the World’s Best Workforce areas, including: kindergarten readiness, reading well by third grade, closing the achievement gap, career and college readiness and graduation.

District staff are also reviewing the current status of Social-Emotional Learning curriculum and determining the next steps. Community input will be elicited in February and March, with the goal for the final plan to be voted on by the School Board in April.

The District administration and teachers are also in the process of evaluating curriculum to better understand strengths, areas of growth and future professional development.

The Minnesota Department of Education has updated the science standards, so teachers are working to create a timeline for implementation that will include a review of instructional materials, changes in science courses for some grade levels and providing additional inquiry-based learning experiences. The Minnesota Department of Education is currently reviewing the english-language arts standards this school year, with social studies and mathematics to follow.

JWP students, staff and parents are continuing to move forward with Personalized Learning, specifically in the areas of learner profiles, standards-based education and shared commitment to success.

The process for students to create and revise his/her learner profile is meant to be a reflective process to build self-awareness and encourage active participation in learning.

The standards-based education component ties directly to the JWP curriculum work and aligning curriculum, instruction, assessment and reporting to standards. Students are frequently asked to reflect on the attributes of the JWP graduate profile to support student development and growth through a shared commitment to success.

The JWP Graduate Profile includes striving for success for the following attributes: communicator, collaborator, creator, critical thinker and global citizenship.

Reach Reporter Bailey Grubish at 507-837-5451 or follow her on Twitter @wcnbailey. ©Copyright 2019 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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