Iowa Central to build new biofuels lab

Casey’s donates property in western Fort Dodge

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Casey’s General Stores recently donated this former convenience store and the lot it sits on along A Street West to Iowa Central Community College to support the construction of a new biofuels lab.

Iowa Central Community College will build a new biofuels testing lab on the west side of Fort Dodge using land donated by Casey’s General Stores and the owners of the former Colonial Inn site.

Construction could begin late this summer.

”Iowa Central Community College continues to be a leader in the biofuel testing industry,” said Dr. Jesse Ulrich, the college president. ”The Iowa Central Fuel Testing Laboratory has been uniquely positioned for the last decade to offer quality fuel testing and analytical services for the petroleum and renewable fuels industry.”

Ulrich said the facility is the official analytical laboratory for the state’s Bureau of Weights and Measures. That means the lab is the place where fuels to be used all across Iowa are tested to make sure they meet state standards.

The lab was started in about 2007 on the Fort Dodge campus. Federal funding secured by former U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat, and former U.S. Rep. Tom Latham, a Republican, combined with state dollars provided by former state Sen. Daryl Beall, D-Fort Dodge, and former state Rep. Helen Miller, D-Fort Dodge, made it possible.

It is currently located in the Bioscience and Health Science Center. The demand for the lab’s services is so great that it has outgrown its space in that building.

A 2018 general obligation bond issue approved by voters in the nine county area served by Iowa Central contains $2 million for a new fuels lab.

The new site for the lab is on A Street West, in the U.S. Highway 169 corridor. It will be on a vacant lot where the Colonial Inn once stood and a lot where a shuttered Casey’s General Store still stands.

The Colonial Inn property was donated to the college in 2011 by Tom and Phyllis Cairney. The donation of the Casey’s General Store site was recently finalized.

”Casey’s has been part of the Fort Dodge community for over 30 years, and we are glad that we can donate this space in a way that will bring value to Iowa Central Community College, its fuel lab, their students, and professors for many years to come,” said Megan Elfers, the convenience store chain’s vice president of marketing and advertising.

”As a fuel provider, we appreciate the need for the testing capabilities this will provide for the petroleum and renewable fuels industry which are part of our region’s economy,” she added.

Ulrich said the”generous donation by Casey’s will allow us to continue to serve our region, the state and biofuel testing needs across the nation.”

”We would like to thank the founder of Casey’s, Don Lamberti, for connecting us with Casey’s about this opportunity,” said Jim Kersten , the college’s vice president of external affairs and government relations. ”The Casey’s team made this a very easy agreement that is beneficial to Casey’s, Iowa Central and our bio/ag economy.”

In a written statement, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig described the lab as ”an essential part of ensuring that consumers have confidence that they are putting high quality fuels in their gas tanks.”

”The Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance applauds the generosity and partnerships created by Casey’s and the renewable fuel industry to help Iowa Central move this project forward that will make Webster County, the region and state of Iowa a more competitive site for the ever growing renewable fuels industry,” said Dennis Plautz, the chief executive officer of the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance.


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