Officials’ DC trip is worthwhile

Local leaders foster relationships that will benefit Fort Dodge and Webster County

Visiting Washington, D.C. is always a fascinating experience.

The Capitol, the White House, the Supreme Court building, the towering Washington Monument and even the cherry trees surrounding the Tidal Basin make the city a unique place. And within that place, history is made every day and has been since the original portion of the Capitol opened in about 1800.

What happens in Washington affects Fort Dodge and Webster County.

That’s why a group of local government leaders is in Washington right now. They traveled to the nation’s capital on Tuesday, and will spend today and Thursday meeting with members of Congress, their aides and officials from various federal agencies. The delegation will return home to Iowa on Friday.

The local group is there to help federal officials learn about the needs of Fort Dodge and Webster County. And they will seek help for some specific local initiatives.

But maintaining and building relationships with the federal officials is perhaps the most important thing the group will do.

”Over the past decades, we have built some great relationships with not only the elected delegation, but the staff,” Mayor Matt Bemrich said recently. ”So when things are moving very quickly, we know who to reach. The No. 1 thing is to continue to foster those great relationships.”

Such relationships come in handy when trying to secure federal money for local projects. Bemrich said keeping in touch with members of Congress and their aides can ”best facilitate getting the dollars that our community and region sends out there and getting them back here and putting them to work.”

Projects to be discussed during the ongoing Washington visit include the possible construction of an intermodal hub on First Avenue South downtown and the renewal of the Higher Education Act to benefit programs at Iowa Central Community College.

Local officials have been making trips to Washington since about 2000. Former U.S. Rep. Tom Latham, a Republican, encouraged Fort Dodge officials to have a presence in the capital.

The trips are not sightseeing vacations. The local delegation always has a full schedule and sometimes the group splits up so that multiple meetings can be held at once.

We believe these trips are worth the cost and effort.

We thank the delegation members for putting in the time and resources to complete this Washington trip. Championing our community in the nation’s capital is vital work that benefits us all.