Staff Editorial

Planning Ahead: Goals and hopes for the coming new year

A young girl holds onto her New Year hat during a celebration in Iowa City. (Stephen Mally/Gazette Archives)
A young girl holds onto her New Year hat during a celebration in Iowa City. (Stephen Mally/Gazette Archives)

Fresh calendars soon will grace our desks — 365 more opportunities to make a difference.

While many subscribe to personal betterment goals this time of year, we wondered if the same could be applied to the broader community. Are there needs to be met or unrealized potential to be tapped? And, if so, could creating a community-based New Year’s resolution focus efforts?

We reached out to a variety of people and asked them to tell us their hopes and goals for their profession and for us all. Their answers follow.

And, we encourage you to do the same. Throughout the month of January, we’ll be welcoming and publishing community letters that share your resolutions, goals and hopes for the future of our neighborhoods, towns, cities and counties. When you dream big, what do you see?

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STEVE SHRIVER

President/Founder, Eco Lips, Inc.

Wouldn’t it be great if Cedar Rapids made 2019 “The Year of Community?” We owe so many of our current successes to the intrinsic strength of our community, but have we thoroughly embraced the idea of “community” yet?

Building strong micro-communities in each sector of the city is the scaffolding that allows us to build greater civic infrastructure. Since the flood of 2008 we have proved to have great synergy: the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. We are stronger together, better together and have a greater chance of success when we set goals and embrace community.

In 2019, we should all strive to support locally owned businesses, give to individuals and organizations in need, embrace health and outdoor recreation, support the arts and continue to cultivate entrepreneurial environments. This spirit of togetherness will continue to make Cedar Rapids a fulfilling place to live, work and grow.

Wishing you all, my fellow community members, the most amazing 2019!

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MICHELLE COLE

Vice President and Chief Development Officer, Horizons

We are fortunate to be part of such a supportive and engaged community. Imagine the outcomes if we took our vibrant community and collectively found our individual passions, causes that support our community, and took action to expand our involvement. Through the power of collective action, we can work together in our government, for-profit and nonprofit sectors to overcome any obstacles.

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Together, we can create a social and physical environment that promotes the well-being and equity of our entire community. In the meantime, I am proud to be part of this community, and my hope is that you are, too. If we continue to share our time, talent and resources, we can improve the quality of life for everyone who calls our community home. I hope you will join me to make 2019 the year of collective action.

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PHOEBE TREPP

Executive Director, Willis Dady Homeless Services

At Willis Dady we have developed a range of services to meet the needs of people experiencing or about to fall into homelessness. When my staff is able to help a person or family keep or find good quality housing, I feel peace, hope and warmth. Unfortunately, when one person finds good housing, there are hundreds of others who still need our help. The daily suffering we witness can make us feel overwhelmed, frustrated and helpless.

My dreams for the future show me neighborhoods that are full of people from different races, classes and ages, supporting and learning from each other. I dream of a future where everyone — every single person — has a safe, desirable place to call home.

Thus, in 2019, I resolve to advocate for system change and to operate services that will truly change people’s lives.

I resolve to build programs that take people from a place of darkness to a place of health and growth.

I resolve to implement and advocate for housing that is available to those who are poor, those who are currently living on the streets or in the overflow shelter, and those who have served their time in prison.

I resolve to listen to the people we serve, to understand what they have been through, the strengths they can draw from, and their dreams for the future.

I hope my resolutions will pave the way for my dreams to become a reality.

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ERIC ENGELMANN

Executive Director, NewBoCo

NewBoCo will double the size of the Iowa Startup Accelerator in 2019, to about 20 start-ups, aiming for 50 to 100 per year by 2023. We will do this by:

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• Supporting more local start-ups with experienced local founders — like Mike Ott, CEO of Rantizo from Iowa City.

• Recruiting start-ups from elsewhere to move to Eastern Iowa — like Cargofy, which moved to Cedar Rapids from Ukraine and is growing so fast that it landed in second place from Iowa on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies.

• Strengthening the pipeline of student entrepreneurs — like the founders of SwineTech from the University of Iowa, now headquartered in Cedar Rapids.

• Raising a large seed fund to invest in 50 to 100 early stage companies per year, building Eastern Iowa’s startup pipeline.

• Developing sector-focused accelerator programs, such as education technology, health care technology, food/ag technology and transportation technology, in collaboration with corporate partners.

• Creating more technical talent for our start-ups by scaling up DeltaV Code School, which prepares adults for software careers in less than six months.

Perhaps most important, we’ll push for better coordination and strategy among the many organizations in Eastern Iowa that support entrepreneurs. We’ve solved all of the small problems that can be addressed by any given organization. It’s time to quit playing small ball and aim big. That can happen only if we’re working together to get more done on behalf of our entrepreneurs.

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JOHN LUNDELL

Mayor, Coralville

My hope is the immense “Coralville Pride” that already exists among our residents and businesses will continue to grow at an exponential pace. This pride reflects the high-quality programs and services provided by our dedicated city staff.

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Another 2019 resolution is to not undertake multiple major arterial street reconstruction projects at the same time in Coralville.

And, finally, that I, as mayor, will never communicate to members of the community or news media using Twitter.

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JODY MATHERLY

Police Chief, Iowa City

The Iowa City community is rich in culture and diversity and is one of the best places to live in Iowa. This community aims for high standards of living for all its residents, and the police department is no exception.

In 2019, the Iowa City Police Department will strive to continue to provide the highest level of service to the Iowa City community and the people who come to Iowa City to work and play. We will continue to collaborate with our community partners to support and empower victims. The officers of the Iowa City Police Department are committed in 2019 to enhancing trust with our community and protecting with courage and compassion.

Our resolution in 2019 is that all members of the Iowa City community are confident that the Iowa City Police Department will provide excellence in service that is inclusive and respectful as we pursue justice and maintain a safe and secure city for everyone.

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KATE PINE

Business Marketing Specialist, IowaWORKS

My hope for our region aligns with the vision of our agency: to create, enable and sustain the most future-ready workforce in the nation. Unemployment in our region is lower than the state’s 2.4 percent rate, and businesses are struggling to find skilled workers. My dream is to see the creation of a collaboration with dozens of partnering organizations, communities, employers and educators to change how we bring people into the workforce.

Future Ready Iowa is the state’s initiative to help close its skills gap and have 70 percent of its workforce have postsecondary education, training or a credential of value by 2025. Our region hosted a Future Ready Iowa summit in November, and one of the strategies we are deploying from the summit is an inclusive model to eliminate barriers to employment.

Home Base Iowa connects Iowa businesses and communities to skilled veterans and transitioning service members. As a U.S. Navy veteran, my dream is for our region to increase the number of Home Base Iowa businesses and communities.

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Businesses that start a registered apprenticeship program can build a talented workforce equipped with skills specifically fitting their company. Registered apprentices are on a path to a rewarding career where they earn a paycheck from day one — a chance to earn and learn.

My vision for the future is for all Iowans to be gainfully employed no matter their past, and for businesses to be thriving members of our regional community.

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LONNY PULKRABEK

Sheriff, Johnson County

In 2019, I hope to continue the progress Johnson County has made on the development of an Access Center in Iowa City.

We will continue working through the many transitions at the sheriff’s office as a result of recent and upcoming retirements of experienced, high-level management members.

More personally, I will continue to work to make sure that the voters of Johnson County never regret checking the box on the ballot next to my name.

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OKPARA RICE

Chief Executive, Tanager Place

The beginning of a new year brings with it renewed hope, renewed energy and renewed resolve to tackle issues we have placed on the back burner or have been left undone this year.

Many of us will make resolutions in the new year to live intentionally; eat healthier, exercise more, to slow down and to enjoy life. These are good options and, of course, may offer great value in our personal lives. My resolutions for this new year stretch beyond my personal goals and embrace all of us as community.

What I hope for this year is that we as community resolve to use our voice for the issues that are important to us. I connect with many community members throughout the year who are passionate and share a deep love for continuing to make our community a wonderful place to live. I want us to use our collective power to bring about real community impact and change. I want us to work together to set community priorities that will make a difference in all of our lives.

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It is my hope that we stand resolved to see the humanity in each other at all times this coming year — through all that occurs both good and bad. It is our collective strength that will help make our community goals a reality. It is our collective resolve that will create opportunity and continue building our strength.

My resolution for 2019 is to continue to be a voice of strength for those who are underserved, to be an advocate for community need and to produce real results that improve the lives of families in Eastern Iowa. I am committed to being a strong, positive voice. Will you join me?

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BRIAN GARDNER

Sheriff, Linn County

My New Year’s wish for 2019 includes us getting along better as a society, specifically as it relates to the relationships between law enforcement officers and the public we serve.

I’m not sure when it happened, but clearly, some members of the public hold negative perceptions of law enforcement officers and seem more inclined to question our authority and treat us with disdain, than to understand that we merely have a job to do. Having served with the Linn County Sheriff’s Office for over 38 years, these differences are more apparent to me now than ever before.

It’s true that nationally there have been some well-publicized examples of law enforcement officers overstepping their authority and/or committing unlawful acts. While I’d like to think that it isn’t so, bad apples do exist in every profession, and no one is infallible. However, the absolute, overwhelming majority of law enforcement officers are out there doing their best to protect their communities 24/7, willing to place themselves in harm’s way in order to ensure the public’s safety. It’s what we signed up for and it’s what we took an oath to do.

We train our law enforcement officers to act professionally and respectfully and serve with integrity. We need them to be compassionate, yet courageous and dependable. We instill in them that it is of the utmost importance to be fair, truthful and ethical. More important, we hold them accountable for their actions.

It is my hope, as we move into the new year, that the relationships between law enforcement and the public are strengthened and we treat each other more respectfully and appropriately.

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CINDY HADISH

Board Member, Save CR Heritage

For Save CR Heritage, 2018 was remarkable.

Our nonprofit showcased more than a dozen historic sites during well-attended public tours, launched a popular museum “meetup” series and hosted a televised community conversation about the Cedar Rapids school district’s plan to close neighborhood elementary schools.

Save CR Heritage was named Iowa’s preservation group of the year for our advocacy efforts.

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Yet, we have been disheartened time and again to witness the disregard for our city’s history.

The 1923 Bever Building in the Downtown Historic District and the 1916 Ely house, both holding distinct historical and architectural integrity, with ties to Cedar Rapids pioneers, were demolished to clear space for office buildings.

An 1890s fourplex on the Grant Wood walking tour was razed, erasing a piece of our city’s connection to Iowa’s most famous artist. A Josselyn & Taylor-designed mansion made way for another parking ramp, and a significant structure in the Automobile Row Historic District was demolished for “green space,” both in the medical district.

Our hope for 2019 is simple. The City Council should end incentives to developments that destroy our city’s historic character. We submitted more than 500 petition signatures calling for a halt to the practice of providing “standard” tax incentives to such developments.

We would love to see creative visionaries incorporate historic structures into new developments, offering a sense of place that gives Cedar Rapids its unique identity, and using our past to provide a brighter future for our community.

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EMILY J. BLOMME

Executive Director, Foundation 2

Breathe it in! A fresh new year! An opportunity to start anew and try to be a better you than the year before. It is also an opportunity to support others and make strong connections.

You may not realize it, but single-handedly, YOU have the ability to impact lives. Even though it is rarely obvious and not often discussed, many people feel isolated and alone. At a time when suicide rates continue to increase, connecting with others can be a preventive factor in decreasing suicide and improving the quality of life for those struggling in our community.

As the crisis experts, Foundation 2 challenges you to reach out and connect with others. You can check in when you sense someone might be struggling, but also check in when someone appears to be full of joy! You can do something kind for your neighbor or tell someone you care about that you appreciate them. Instead of choosing to judge someone, choose to try to understand and hear their story.

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We know when people feel connected in meaningful ways, amazing things happen! Connection is a superpower and it is in each of us — if we choose to use it. By connecting with others, you can change the trajectory of someone’s life. You can be a source of strength for another.

When individuals thrive, so does our community. We can’t wait to see what we will accomplish together through connections in 2019!

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DONALD TYNE

Director, Linn County Veteran Affairs

My dream is for our community to become actively involved in helping veterans. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Volunteer as a Disabled American Veterans driver by contacting Ron Devoll at (319) 338-0581, ext. 6281.

2. Donate your frequent flier miles to a veteran. Fisher House Foundation has a network of homes on the grounds of military and VA hospitals around the country. These homes help family members be close during the hospitalization of loved ones recovering from combat wounds, service-connected injuries and diseases. Fisher House operates the Hero’s Miles Program and can be reached by phoning 1-888-294-8560.

3. Sponsor a service dog for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. Call Ryan Anderson, canine trainer for the VA, at (319) 338-0581 ext. 7521, or Definitely Dogs at (319) 930-3647.

4. Send a care package or a letter to a military service member. Operation Gratitude can send packages to current military members as well as veterans and their caregivers. To learn more, send an email to info@operationgratitude.com.

5. Help a veteran take an Honor Flight. The Honor Flight helps veterans make a free trip to the World War II memorial and other military memorials in Washington, D.C. You can volunteer to escort these men and women on the flight by emailing eastern iowahonorflight@gmail.com or phoning (855) 344-3435.

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To the veterans, thank you for your service. To their families, thank you for your love and devotion.

Remember a soldier doesn’t fight because he hates what is in front of him, he fights because he loves what he left behind.

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WAYNE JERMAN

Police Chief, Cedar Rapids

I am thankful and excited for the many partnerships that the Cedar Rapids Police Department has developed over the years, not only with federal and state agencies, but also with community partners.

We have seen crime, and in particular violent crime, continue to decline since 2013. In fact, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, the rate of violent crime has declined 7.9 percent in Cedar Rapids since 2013.

The citizens of Cedar Rapids continue to provide the police department with an incredibly high level of support, which I believe is a large factor for this decline in crime. I encourage citizens to learn more about the police department and become more involved in continuing to make our community safe.

We value the trust the community has in us, and I vow to continue build on this high level of trust, confidence and transparency while we continue to treat everyone with dignity and respect.

The body camera program is nearing 100 percent implementation and has proved to instill accountability and enhance trust, while clearly demonstrating our values of integrity, courage and character.

Lastly, achieving national accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies this year will be a high point to demonstrate that your police department possesses standards and practices that mirror other nationally accredited law enforcement agencies. Accreditation is the gold standard in public safety and embodies the precepts of community-oriented, 21st-century policing.

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STACEY WALKER

Supervisor, Linn County

As I look ahead to 2019, I see three key focus areas.

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Balanced Approach to Community Development — As our community continues to grow and reinvent itself, we must remember we are only as strong as the most vulnerable populations in our society. When government endeavors to build community, we should remember that helping the socially vulnerable is just as important as efforts to attract and enhance business and industry and grand living developments in our city centers.

Radical Forgiveness — It is a practice as old as the ancient scriptures, but its necessity for our times could not be more apparent. It is the idea that we should forgive those who trespass against us immediately without need for the trespasser to atone or even understand the harm they caused. It is the idea that we can offer forgiveness now for future harm. This does not absolve us of the hard work of reconciliation and progressive change-making, but it does allow us to move forward in life. It helps us lead with grace, offering a kinder model of leadership for coming generations.

Renewed Commitment to Civic Engagement — State Sen. Rob Hogg talks often about the larger meaning of citizenship, and our duty to be actively engaged in the issues and affairs affecting our lives. He is right to encourage a more engaged citizenry because a well-functioning democracy requires our full attention and participation. As the world continues to grapple with the very idea of democracy, we here in America would be wise to remember our nation is a living and evolving experiment in egalitarian governance, which yielded a republic that can endure only if we do the hard work required to keep it.

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MISTY REBIK

CR and IC Events and Stewardship Coordinator, One Iowa

While putting our wish list together for 2019, we can’t help but notice how far we have come, and yet how far we have to go to ensure LGBTQ+ Iowans are safe, healthy and respected in our communities. Here’s what we’re wishing for in 2019:

A Corridor where LGBTQ+ individuals are safe and able to bring their full selves to the workplace, where employers create and foster an inclusive workplace for all people.

A Corridor where every LGBTQ+ person receives the compassionate health care they need and have the right to, no matter how they identify, and where all elected officials preserve and advance the rights of LGBTQ+ Iowans in local and state policy.

Join us in our work in the Corridor area in 2019 to make our wish list a reality for LGBTQ+ Iowans. Connect with us at oneiowa.org.

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KARLA TWEDT-BALL

Senior VP, Programs and Community Investment, Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation

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A few years ago, I watched the movie “We Bought a Zoo.” In the movie, the dad encourages his son to risk “20 seconds of insane courage” to do something good that he is afraid to do. I loved that phrase. What would you do if you could muster 20 seconds of courage?

My dream for 2019 centers on connected community. I love stories, and I think we learn a lot about ourselves when we learn the stories of the people around us. The story of our country these days is one of divisiveness and conflict. But it is hard to sustain divisiveness after meaningful and connectional conversations where we learn the stories of others.

I am going to challenge myself to risk 20 seconds of courage to begin meaningful conversations with people who I might not otherwise take the time to know, or people I might avoid for fear my differing opinions might cause conflict. I challenge others to do the same, because I believe that if we practice this on a broad scale, we will keep rediscovering ways that we are more alike than different. I’m optimistic enough to believe that while we might have different ways of expressing our dreams, we can find common themes among our deeply held values, and that by risking meaningful conversations, we might transform not only ourselves but our communities and our country. Here’s to 2019!

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NICK ABOUASSALY

Mayor, Marion

My goals for 2019 are aimed at helping our city achieve its full potential as the third-largest city in the Corridor and making Marion a key component of what makes the metro area and region attractive for people and businesses to locate and thrive here.

At the center of our efforts must be a focus on serving the needs of people in our community, making all people feel welcomed, safe and cared for and giving them greater opportunities to achieve their goals and experience an unequaled quality of life.

We will continue initiatives to alleviate housing and food insecurity, establish a youth center, expand the services of Encore Café for older adults and fully fund an inclusive playground.

The community also will work to bring to fruition great quality-of-life amenities including a new recreation center/YMCA facility, Prospect Meadows sports complex, a new skate park and additional trail connections, while moving ImagiNEXT initiatives toward implementation.

The city and its economic development partners also will be more intentional in our efforts to drive high-quality commercial development that benefits our residents and improves their quality of life.

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My personal goals include building on my existing efforts to be responsive and engage with residents in various ways to help them solve their issues and give them opportunities for input and participation in building the community they desire and deserve.

• Comments: (319) 398-8262; editorial@thegazette.com

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We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.