Renewable energy showcased during Reynolds' visit


Jon Biederman (left), Fehr Graham Engineering, and Dick Woodward (right) speak to Iowa governor Kim Reynolds about the Streetscape and Upper Housing Story projects that were completed in the last decade.  (Chris DeBack photo)


Renewable energy showcased during Reynolds' visit



By Chris Deback



Renewable energy showcased during Reynolds visit


Chris DeBack


A day after signing the Empower Rural Iowa Act, Iowa governor Kim Reynolds made a stop in West Union and visited with a couple local businesses. 

Reynolds started her tour at the West Union Chamber — A Main Street Community’s office before heading over to Euphoria Coffee’s new location on Elm Street, in the former Iowa Food Hub building. While the location is currently under construction, Nick Yost, Euphoria Coffee owner, did have a sample of his coffee for the governor to taste. He also gave her a bag of coffee to take back with her to Des Moines. 

Yost spoke with the governor about how he got his start roasting coffee beans, which led to him and his wife opening the coffee shop that is currently located across the street from the Fayette County Fairgrounds. Yost added that he is competing in the Main Street Iowa Open 4 Business Contest, and he should know if he moves on to regionals sometime in June. If he makes it through regionals he will be one of five businesses in the running for $25,000. He would be using the money he wins from the Open 4 Business contest to help with his transition to downtown.

Reynolds then made her way to Bank 1st to view the organizations solar array. As she was walking through downtown West Union Jon Biedermann and Dick Woodward took some time to talk about the Streetscape project, as well as the Upper Story Housing project that have been completed in the last decade.

When she arrived at Bank 1st, she was greeted by its staff and received a small presentation on the solar array, the banks conversion to geothermal, and changing to LED lights from Derek Heins. 

“This is at least my second visit [to West Union], and I have just been so impressed at the leadership position when it comes to renewable energy and just the forward thinking the community has put in place,” she said. “As I visited a couple of businesses, I loved how they talked about sourcing local. I love how they have taken the geothermal and expanded to solar. I think that is really being prudent, responsible, and innovative. As I signed the Empower Rural Iowa Bill yesterday this community is a great example that we can highlight to other communities across the state to what you can do in the area of renewable energy.” 

The state will be holding idea summits across Iowa under the new Empower Rural Iowa Act, and Reynolds feels that West Union is in a prime position to host one of those summits. 

“The task force holds idea summits across the state, where they bring all the members together, and I think it would be a great idea to have West Union host one of those meetings and highlight the renewable piece,” she noted. “That isn’t something the task force has talked a lot about, we have kind of focused on housing, connectivity, and leadership, growing the next generation of leaders. This could be another piece of that, to talk about renewable energy.”

Reynolds closed by saying that she enjoys doing these types of visits because it gives her a chance to see how communities are succeeding, which she can then point to and highlight when giving speeches or talking to others.

“It gives me a chance to highlight something when I am talking about the things we can do in rural Iowa and why it is important to have opportunities in every single corner of the state,” the governor closed. “I can say I have been here, I have visited, I have seen what they can do. I have been here twice and they continue to evolve and expand even from the Streetscape project with which they started.”



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