Representatives from sixteen states met in Montpelier, Vermont during the week of September 9, 2013 to hold the Partners for Rural America annual meeting, reinforce collaborations and visit successful
community vitality and entrepreneurship activities. Considerable focus was given to examining Vermont’s very successful “local food to table” systems. Bonnie Peterson, president of Juneau County Economic Development Corp., participated as a representative of Wisconsin Rural Partners, Inc. and a retiring board member of
Partners for Rural America.
Partners for Rural America is the national arm of the State Rural Development Councils (SRDCs). The SRDCs are federally recognized through the National Rural Development Partnership and the federal Farm Bill. State councils
provide a variety of services including hosting educational forums, highlighting best practices, and providing community assessments that help rural communities engage in priority setting and planning efforts. SRDCs actualize the mission of the National Rural Development Partnership by sharing examples of best practices, serving as neutral conveners, brokers of new partnerships, and facilitators of progress.
PRA convenes the State Rural Development Councils to share experiences, coordinate policy and program work that crosses state boundaries, and to support the national advancement of rural development efforts. Given its mission from the Farm Bill, PRA is a unique bridge building organization of the state councils and helps them collaborate across sectors, coordinate program development and implementation and support models for community success. All councils work to connect local rural communities to regional, state, federal, non-profit and private sector resources to enable them to move forward and accomplish their long term priorities and build leadership.
During the meeting, PRA also strengthened its ties with the Rural Policy Research Institute and its President and CEO Chuck Fluharty and representatives from state policy centers in nine states. The meeting was enhanced by visits and comments by Speaker of the Vermont House of Representatives Shap Smith, Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding, and Lt. Governor Phil Scott.
PRA elected its sixteen member board representing eight districts from across the county. It also elected its officers as follows: Chair: Jerry Townsend, Illinois Rural Partners; Vice-Chair: Mike Field, Idaho Rural Partnership; Secretary: Mary Ann Hayes, Maine Rural Partners; and Treasurer: Mary Randolph, Wyoming Rural Development Council.
Congressman Peter Welch of Vermont was awarded the Champion of Rural America award for strong ongoing support of Partners for Rural America. Ricky Rolfsmeyer of Wisconsin Rural Partners and immediate past chair of PRA was presented the Ron Shaffer Award for Excellence in Collaborative Leadership. The Ron Shaffer Award is presented to an individual who embodies the values, skills and impacts necessary to build a national and state rural development partnership that meets the needs of rural America. The award is named after the late professor from UW-Madison whose impact in the field of community economic development is known worldwide, through his
leadership in the University of Wisconsin - Extension, Center for Community Economic Development, Community Development Society, and National Rural Economic Development Institute, to name a few. He was one of the pioneers of the Community Economic Analysis process now widely used around the world today, and
the Community Economic Preparedness Index measuring tool for communities.
For more information, visit PRA’s website at www.partnersforruralamerica.org and Wisconsin Rural Partners, Inc. website at www.wirural.org.
Juneau County Economic Development, (JCEDC), celebrated its’ 22nd year
anniversary at their annual meeting on Wednesday, May 15. The meeting was
held at the Travelers Inn & Convention Center in New Lisbon where the room
was prepared perfectly for event. During the business meeting, Jim Costello,
General Manager of Lemonweir Valley Telcom was reelected for a term of three
years. Costello has held a position on the nine-member board of directors at
JCEDC for several years and has always provided excellent council with his
During the program, which was opened by JCEDC President, Bonnie Peterson, she
referred to the mission statement of the organization, which is “To foster
positive economic change for Juneau County communities and to promote the
success of agricultural, industrial, commercial and entrepreneurial enterprises.
We do this through leadership and collaboration with public and private
organizations and individuals on a national, state, regional, county and local
level”. She said the five areas emphasized in JCEDC’s strategic plan include
Business Retention and Expansion, Attracting New Business, Education, Quality of
Life and Tourism Promotion.
The main speaker of the evening was Colonel David L. Romuald, commander of
Volk Field Air National Guard Base in Camp Douglas, which includes the Combat
Readiness Training Center, the 128th Air Control Squadron, and the 126th Weather
Flight. He is responsible for all aspects of mission performance of these three
diverse organizations. The CRTC at Volk Field is the premier training resource
in the ANG managing a 2300 acre installation, over 12,000 square miles of
Special Use Airspace, and an Air to Ground Gunnery Range. The Air Control
Squadron and Weather Flight maintain qualifications and readiness for worldwide
combat deployment. Colonel Romuald shared his views on the impact Volk Field has
on the local economy and commended JCEDC for being a great collaborator on a
number of important initiatives. He also talked about the effects of the
sequestration on both Volk Field and how it impacts the area.
Ray Feldman, a Juneau County Board Supervisor as well as a JCEDC Board Member
was presented with a plaque for his tireless efforts to promote Juneau County
for canoeing and other tourism activities.
Terry Whipple, JCEDC Executive Director shared a few words before introducing
Representative Ed Brooks, of the 50th Assembly District, who graciously
addressed the crowd and shared comments on several matters that directly impact
Juneau County. He talked about his work in the Assembly and some of the bills he
is promoting. Brooks praised JCEDC for its efforts to improve economic
conditions and create jobs in the area, and he congratulated the organization on
its 22 years of service to the county.
The crowd was delighted with a superior performance by the Mauston High
School Jazz Band and the New Lisbon High School Barbershop Quartet, who both had
the crowd on their feet several times cheering them on. The meal was prepared by
Wisconsin River Meats and was both delicious and plentiful. The evening
ended with a door prize drawing and was enjoyed by all.
Visit juneaucounty.com, or call 608-427-2070 to get more information about
Juneau County Economic Development Corporation, or how to become a member of the
organization, new members are always welcome.
We invite you to join us in Mauston at the City Hall on Wednesday evening from 6 – 7 p.m., for the JCEDC Community Meeting. We will hear from Nathan Thiel, Mauston City Administrator, Steve Young, Director of Baseball Operations for Woodside Sports Complex, and Terry Whipple, JCEDC Executive Director, updating everyone on other activities affecting Juneau County.