Eagle Grove: Housing is a focus
Wright County town is preparing for Prestage
EAGLE GROVE — Housing remains a focus in Eagle Grove as the community prepares to welcome Prestage Foods of Iowa’s new $240 million pork processing plant, which could be fully operational by the fall of 2018.
According to Sandy McGrath, Eagle Grove mayor, housing has been a chief concern for residents long before it was announced that Prestage would be bringing at least 900 new jobs to the area.
“We have had some really good people working on that,” McGrath said. “A lot of houses have been rehabilitated or taken down completely.”
Research on how to address the dilapidated homes was conducted in 2012.
Since then the city has launched a campaign to dispose of or fix nuisance properties.
The city along with the Community Development Corporation have successfully addressed about 20 properties in recent years.
McGrath said most of the homes were ones that were left abandoned for five years or more and had no heat or electricity.
“We weren’t singling anybody out,” she said. “We were taking a look at the properties, not the people. We gave the owner the opportunity to rectify it before we stepped in further.”
The city has also turned its attention towards building new homes.
A new housing program called the Commercial Construction Incentive Program, was put in place to incentivize citizens to build a new home or property in Eagle Grove.
The program is designed to benefit Eagle Grove contractors.
“We are trying to benefit local contractors in the 50533,” McGrath said.
In the program, people wishing to build a new home or property in Eagle Grove will be eligible to receive up to 20 percent of the total project cost but that number cannot exceed $40,000.
To be eligible for the grant, the applicant has to use an Eagle Grove-based contractor.
Otherwise, the projects have no minimum or maximum dollar amount requirements.
Eligible projects include new commercial, industrial, residential and multi-residential construction projects.
Four applicants have been approved for the program to date, according to McGrath.
“We had already started this and then with Prestage coming, it just fit in like a puzzle piece,” McGrath said. “We know in Eagle Grove, to make us sustainable, we need bricks and mortar and this was our way to do it after we dealt with dilapidated homes.”
Wastewater treatment plant
Since 2014, Eagle Grove has been working with engineers to upgrade the town’s wastewater treatment plant.
In 2016, the city of Eagle Grove found their answer when it entered a waste treat agreement with Prestage Foods of Iowa to construct a new $16.5 million wastewater reclamation facility, according to McGrath.
“We are very excited to be working towards the state initiative of nutrient reduction,” McGrath said. “This fast forwarded our ability to address that quicker.”
The public, private partnership between Prestage and the city is one that McGrath hopes will lower nitrate levels and improve efficiency.
“We are in the process of engineering the best possible and most efficient quality plant that we can have,” McGrath added.
Eagle Grove’s current plant is at least 45 years old.
The wastewater from Prestage’s plant would be pretreated onsite before being sent through a sewer main to the wastewater plant in Eagle Grove, where it would be treated again.
The wastewater would then go into a drainage ditch or creek.
According to McGrath, there is no set timeline on the construction or completion of the wastewater plant.
In 2016, Eagle Grove also said goodbye to city administrator Mike Boyd.
Boyd, 62, signed a separation agreement with the city in October.
Boyd served as city administrator for six years.
A new city administrator is likely to be hired in the coming weeks, according to McGrath.
“We don’t want to rush into anything,” McGrath said. “We have a lot going on in Eagle Grove and will in the future. We are looking for someone who will be engaged.”
A special committee made up of council members, utility board members and community members are in the process of interviewing candidates.
Parks maintenance and recreation supervisor
Logan Willard took on the role of parks maintenance and recreation supervisor in 2016.
Willard is responsible for programming all the sports in Eagle Grove, including Little League baseball and softball, basketball, volleyball and flag football.
Since taking on the position, Willard helped to secure new playground equipment at Greenwood Park, the town’s busiest recreation area.
The equipment was purchased in March and installed in May with the help of Bob Torkelson, a local contractor, who donated time and resources to complete the job.
After the passing of longtime Eagle Grove Fire Chief Gary Lalor on July 30, Tom Peterson stepped into the role of chief in August.
Lalor served as fire chief from 1993 to 2016.
Prior to that, his father, Archie Lalor, served as chief for 45 years.
Peterson has been with the Eagle Grove volunteer fire department for more than 30 years.
Peterson also serves as president of the Eagle Grove utility board.