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Nine For ‘09

By Staff | Dec 31, 2009

(Editor’s Note: This is the final in a two-part series that looks back at news stories that played a big part in life in Palo Alto County during 2009.)

PACHS Remodeling Project

Palo Alto County Health System (PACHS) continued with its four-year remodeling effort, which began in 2006. During 2009, PACHS saw the return of Clinic Billing to Emmetsburg, the expansion of the Specialty Clinic, a new location for Community Health Services and Business Health, expansion of the Cardiac Rehabilitation Department, and remodel of the Surgery Suites.

A welcoming information desk, more privacy for patient registration, and a new office for patient financial services were a result of the remodeled Business Office. Billing services for the Family Practice Clinics was brought back to Emmetsburg and is located in the newly remodeled business office.

In April of 2009, Community Health Services and Business Health moved into their new office space attached to the hospital’s northeast corner. This move made additional space for the expanding Specialty Clinics and additional floor space for the Cardiac Rehabilitation Department. An additional hospital entrance with adjacent patient parking is located behind the hospital off Wallace Street. The new entrance is convenient for patients visiting Community Health Services, Rehabilitation Services, and Business Health.

Construction of the new surgery department increased the size of the surgical suites as well as improved the flow from surgery, through decontamination, sterilization, and central storage, bringing the surgery department up to current recommended square foot standards. A Same-Day Surgery department will be added in 2010.

In Graettinger, the Family Practice Clinic held an open house in September of 2009 to celebrate the expansion and remodeling of their office. A new patient entrance, waiting area, and registration desk offers more patient privacy at check-in. A new lab draw room was relocated for easier access for patients. Freshly painted exam rooms, new signage, and extra file storage added the finishing touches.

A grand opening celebration at PACHS is planned for May 2010.

Depew Pavement Completion

Palo Alto County continued with its program of road reconstruction projects during the summer with the widening and reconstruction of County Road N60, or the Depew pavement. The entire nine-mile length of the roadway, from B14 south to the junction with U.S. Highway 18 north of Cylinder, was reconstructed and re-paved with Portland cement concrete. The bid for the nine and a half miles of reconstruction and concrete paving was $4,459,487.32.

Preliminary work on the project began on May 4, 2009, when the existing Portland Concrete Cement pavement was cracked. The project was completed by the end of August, and a ribbon cutting was held Sept. 3, in Depew.

The next major paving project on the county’s schedule is the reconstruction of county road B53 east from Ayrshire to Iowa Highway 4. The County Engineer’s staff is working to complete design and specifications with the hopes of being able to let bids for the project by the first of 2010 for summer construction.

Emmetsburg Community Garden

Emmetsburg welcomed its first community garden in 2009. Emmetsburg Mayor John Schad was instrumental in bringing the garden to fruition. The garden space was provided on ground owned by the City of Emmetsburg at no charge. Schad said that the focus of the garden was to provide a place to grow vegetables for people who may not have sufficient room to grow them on their own property.

A ribbon cutting was held in April at the site located at the corner of 17th and State Streets. One hundred garden plots were made available with each plot measuring 20 by 30 feet. All 100 garden plots were filled with produce throughout the summer. In fact, the harvest was so plentiful, gardeners donated their fruits and vegetables to Upper Des Moines Opportunity’s Emmetsburg Food Pantry.

Plans are already underway for next year’s garden.

New Entertainment Pavilion For Fairgrounds

The skyline of the Palo Alto County Fairgrounds changed with the construction of a new entertainment pavilion. The open-sided pavilion replaced the big top tent of past years as a permanent home for stage shows at the fairgrounds. Brennan-Chapman Builders erected the structure, which was purchased from Energy Panel Structures in Graettinger. Kirk Wagner Construction of West Bend did the concrete work, and Weisbrod Elecric of Cylinder handled the electrical work on the structure, which was completed prior to the start of the 2009 county fair in July.

The building, which measures 54 feet by 120 feet, is open on three sides, with the east end enclosed to provide an area for the stage to be locatd. The structure was designed with a concrete floor the entire length and width of the building to allow for the placement of bleachers or chairs to accommodate audiences.

The project was funded in part through a grant from the Palo Alto County Gaming Development Corporation.

Horizons Unlimited Celebrates 40 Years

Horizons Unlimited recognized 40 years of working with adults with developmental, mental and/or physical disabilities in September of 2009 with a community celebration. Horizons hosted the Chamber of Commerce Coffee and held an official ribbon cutting of the newly remodeled men’s and women’s bathrooms and PACE Center. The third annual BBQ was held and tours of the facility were given.

In March of 2009, Horizons started a new program at the main office in Emmetsburg with a grant they received from the Palo Alto County Gaming Development Corporation for ADA Bathrooms and Day Hab Center Renovation for $69,998.

With the grant and $30,000 matching funds, Horizons constructd two brand new ADA compliant bathrooms and completed necessary renovations for a Day Hab Center. With the new Day Hab program, less emphasis is placed on work opportunities and more time spent on overall personal development of Horizons consumers. The day hab program focuses on social interaction, leisure activities, physical fitness, daily orientation/current events, health and hygiene, and community awareness and involvement.

In August of 2009, Horizons welcomed new leadership. Ron Askland, a Des Moines native, was hired as the new Chief Executive Officer. Askland had been living in Whittemore for 1 1/2 years and worked at Horizons Unlimited for one year prior to being named C.E.O.

In September of 2009, Horizons announced three major changes at their Bottle & Can Redemption Center–a self-serving redemption area, a new conveyor system, and new hours.

A grant from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Redemption Center program allowed Horizons to make self-service an option in the Redemption Center.

Another change was designing, building, and adding a new table conveyor system to the Redemption Center.

FIT Trail Debate

The Five Island Lake Trail (F.I.T.) was a hot topic of discussion and debate in 2009.

The trail has been in the planning stages since The Storm was held five years ago.

In May of 2009, the Recreation Trail Committee members came before Emmetsburg City Council to request approval of a resolution for maintenance and construction of Five Island Trail. The resolution, adopted by the council, refers to a “multi use trail (bike, walking, running, roller blading, etc.) between Lake Shore Drive/North Huron Street and Five Island Lake from the railroad trestle north to the lake outlet area.”

Supporters identfied the health benefits–and economic benefits–that the trail would afford.

The proposed trail would start at the northeast side of the railroad trestle and continue north to Duhigg Park. Property for the park, which has been designated as the trail head, was donated to the county. The County Conservation Board and the Palo Alto County Conservation Foundation would own and maintain the trail after it is built. The goal of the Trail Committee was to have a 10-foot wide paved trail.

In October of 2009, the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors amended a previously approved resolution to give the board the final right of approval before work on the trail began in the county’s right-of-way. Opponents of the trail argued that easements can only be used for a public roadway, and that landowners’ rights were not being respected.

The issue has still not been resolved.