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Lobbying trip is worth investment

As they have each year for more than six decades, tri-state leaders from both the public and private sectors (this year's trip involved nearly 60 men and women) traveled to Washington, D.C., this week for the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce steak dinner (today it's more of a reception with steak appetizers than a sit-down meal) lobbying tradition.

At its foundation, this trip is about learning how Washington works, opening doors, making contacts, forging relationships and laying groundwork. For uninterrupted longevity, we know of no other community lobbying trip in the nation quite like it.

A strong record of producing federal support (these trips aren't only about money, they're also about advancing priorities and specific pieces of legislation) for a spectrum of important metro projects through the years speaks to the value of what is a committed strategy of consistence and persistence.

In other words, we believe the steak dinner lobbying missions represent an investment worth making. So long as public entities, such as cities and school districts, send only essential representatives and avoid extravagance, taxpayers are, in our view, well-served (we would be remiss if we didn't commend private leaders who pick up the tab for the trip themselves each year).

Cone Park honored

Cone Park in Sioux City is the top-rated new destination for tourists in Iowa, according to a Tuesday online MSN article, "The best new tourist attractions in each state." 

More than 20,000 visitors enjoyed Cone Park's first winter of operation.

Northwestern receives largest gift ever

Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, on Monday announced a $6 million naming gift for its new $24.5 million science building - the largest single gift in school history.

The science building will be named the Jack and Mary DeWitt Family Science Center after the Holland, Mich., couple who gifted the $6 million.

The 61,000-square-foot building will open in August.

School board gets behind naming rights

The Sioux City Board of Education approved a request by the Sioux City Public Schools Foundation to allow for naming specific areas of schools, such as gymnasiums and auditoriums, in return for donations, The Journal reported last Friday.

"The Board may enter into an agreement with any person or entity regarding the naming rights to a District facility in exchange for a substantial donation or other contribution to the District or the Sioux City Public Schools Foundation," the new policy reads.

In our view, the policy represents a reasonable extension of a common method of honoring someone recognized and used across the country in a variety of places and forms and will be valuable to the foundation in its efforts to raise funds for support of local public schools.

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Woodbury can't go it alone

Iowa Department of Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven last Friday said Woodbury County can't form its own region for delivery of mental health services for one year.

Woodbury County had asked for DHS approval to bridge the gap between the county's (hoped-for) July 1, 2018, departure from Sioux Rivers Regional Mental Health and Disability Services to its (hoped-for) July 1, 2019, addition to Rolling Hills Community Service Region.

Foxhoven said Woodbury County must remain part of Sioux Rivers for the fiscal 2019 budget year.

"Woodbury County can't stand alone," Foxhoven told The Journal. "The law doesn't even give me the power to give them a waiver right now."

To end some of the uncertainty for individuals and families in Woodbury County who need these services and who await final resolution of this conflict, we urged the DHS to expedite approval for Woodbury County to form its own region.

With this decision and the next step for Woodbury County unclear, the uncertainty and the wait for them will, it appears, continue.

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