Be Informed. Get Involved. Stay Connected.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Monument Proudly (re)Displayed

After two years of fundraising, planning, and negotiating, the Civil War Monument has found a new home. Soon to be joining the 1927 monument on the northeast corner of the courthouse lawn are the two Civil War cannons dating back to 1858.

The Montezuma CLG group, in the hopes of preserving and showcasing history within our community, spearheaded this project with the help of Montezuma Community Development, the Blakely-Stevens American Legion, and the Poweshiek County Supervisors. We were also the reicipient of a generous donation from the Poweshiek County Alliance, without whom, none of this would have been possible.

A huge thank you to Sheets Excavating and Bushong Construction for their help in making this move happen!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Food, Fun, and Friends at the County Seat Market Fair this Friday 4:00-7:00

Don't forget to checkout this week's County Seat Market Fair this Friday. The Market Fair is a new event series that offers local and surrounding communities an opportunity to come together to offer homegrown, homemade and a variety of items from local vendors.

You can find us in Montezuma at the corner of 2nd & Main. One block east of US Highway 63, just south of Main Street (Just north of Peoples Bank). Vendors include coffee, mints, salsa, produce, plants, unique items, and more.

Even if you don't find vendor offerings to your liking, there are more reasons to come to the Market Fair. The entertainment this week is "Karaoke by Scott Farrington. The entertainment is free thanks to our sponsors. Future acts scheduled included Drum & Strum, Too Many Strings Band, Breaking Adam, and King of Clubs. So there are different genres for different tastes in music. But go ahead and sample them all.

The meal vendor this week is the Montezuma Study Group. They will be serving up grilled items. The Montezuma Women's Study Club meets monthly with programs to explore opportunities and personal experiences found in the community. Bea Hensel is the current president and anyone interested in joining should contact her. The group sponsors two or three scholarships for Montezuma High School seniors. They also give donations to the Montezuma Food Pantry as well as other community projects that arise.

Active community member, Janet McKee says, “A great location for a summer evening meal, local vendors, and music. Bring your lawn chair, relax and stay a while, visit, and enjoy.”

For anyone that might say that there is nothing to do in town, now's you chance. The Market Fair is scheduled for the first and third (and fifth) Friday of June, July, and August from 4:00-7:00 PM. The entertainment act is different each time. The meal vendors are a variety as well. Whether you can make it this week or not, make this part of you Let Celebration Ring weekend on July 5th, as well as the rest of the summer. Keep informed with our website at Post it on your Facebook page, tweet it out and tell your Google+ circles.

So tell and bring your family and friends and enjoy a late afternoon/early evening of fun, food and face- to-face socialization. Bring your lawn chairs as well as playing cards, checkers, chess, backgammon, or just yourself. This is a great way to kick-off the weekend. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Contagious Improvement

I came across an advertisement recently that has really stuck with me. It is a Lowes ad where a new couple moves into town and places a potted plant in a window box. This leads to the neighbor planting a flower garden, which leads to a painted fence, shutters on a house, and so on. Near the end of the commercial, a voice over comes on and says, “Home improvement is contagious.”

How true is that? I can’t even count the number of people who have taken notice of the construction, renovations, and curb appeal being done to buildings around the square. I think it’s more than just an attempt to “keep up with the Joneses.” Like the ad noted, I think it’s contagious.
Since the induction of the Community Development position in Montezuma last April, there has been so much excitement and movement in this town. The thousands of dollars of grant money and donations have already made a lasting impact on our community through beautification, events, building purchases and business expansions. So, let’s take it one step further, shall we?
As we are still eagerly awaiting word of the recipients of the façade grant, let’s keep moving forward. Let’s let the betterment of this community become contagious.
To help us visualize such growth and revitalization, I am challenging you to send photos of your various improvement projects over the last year, be it home or business, to We will begin showcasing these improvements and projects for others to catch the bug of property improvement. 
As always, community development is only made possible through the support of the people in and around it. To give to Montezuma Community Development or to learn about volunteer opportunities, contact the office at (641) 623-7600 or send to Box 314, Montezuma, IA 50171. 

Huge Thank You

It's not always glamorous behind the scenes; and credit is usually not given where it is due.

Last year, Montezuma received a face-lift with banners, hanging baskets, and new concrete planters. There was a real focus on making lasting improvements in regards to community beautification. This year, we were able to go even farther with a grant from Keep Iowa Beautiful to enhance our city entrance signs.

As someone who just stepped into this position three months ago, I have to pass on much of that credit to Terence Blain, who worked tirelessly and thanklessly last year to get the ball rolling in so many areas of community development. Also to be recognized is Kevin Kudart and the Electric Department for hanging and recently lowering the basket hangers by a foot. I know the volunteer watering crew is greatly appreciative.

Thank you also goes out to the Montezuma FFA for working closely with Montezuma Community Development to plant our baskets and planters this year. The baskets are yet to be hung, but the planters look fantastic.

Thank you to Vannoy Chevrolet for providing the equipment and water for the water tank.

Thank you to the community groups who have voluntarily adopted the city entrance signs and helped to plant them. They include the Montezuma Methodist Choir, the Montezuma Nursing and Rehab Center, the Montezuma Lions Club, and a Montezuma Young Adult  Small Group.

Thank you to those who have contributed to community beautification, as well. A special thanks to the Montezuma Public Library Board and the Poweshiek Leadership Program for their generous giving.

Even though Spring 2013 has been full of strange, rainy weather, the city has been planted and it looks beautiful. 

Thank you to all who participated. None of this is possible without your help. 


Friday, May 3, 2013

For everything, there is a season

For everything, there is a season. Even if it's proving itself difficult, Spring will eventually come, leaving behind the dormancy of winter. As I walked around the city square today, I believe the same thing can be said of Montezuma.

For the past several years, there have been many attempts to revive our community; to bring it back to a former shine; to build it even bigger; to leave a better place for a future generation to call home. I believe we are truly starting to see the season in Montezuma, and that season is bringing revitalization, rehabilitation, and growth. 

There are several projects happening at the moment, and even to a passerby, they are noticeable changes. Family Dentistry has dove in to construction on the north half of the former Apple Basket. Studs are in place and walls are about to become a reality. The back entrance has seen a makeover, as well. With this kind of progress, an early summer opening is a definite possibility. 

Nearby, the former County Seat Bar has been converted into usable space for fitness center Boot Camp Madness. They have been open on the north side of the square for nearly a year and have outgrown the space.

The new space has been cleaned and gutted, revealing original tin ceilings and ample workout space. The façade of the building has been cleaned and painted, as well. These two projects will bring some much needed foot traffic and aesthetically pleasing additions to the east side of the square. 

On the north side of the square, the Monte Tap has been getting a face-lift of its own. Owner Aaron McCaslen is expanding his restaurant and bar into the south portion of the building. Renovations are underway for an early summer opening that would include dinner service.

In other news:

Jumpin' Jimmy's, the restaurant and bar located at Lake Ponderosa's Marina, has opened for the season.

Just 4 U Consignment on East Main is now Tracy's Treasures. It will continue to offer  consignment items.

We're still awaiting word on the façade improvement grant, which we believe will be a springboard for economic development and revitalization in our community. But even without that, there has been  movement and activity, and as we sit ever so patiently waiting for the next season, we can see that it is near.

Community revitalization is only made possibly by community wide support and patronization, as well as financially partnering with our organization as we continue to advocate for all areas of Montezuma. To give or volunteer, please contact us at or call 623-7600.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

April Showers

You know when you've invited a guest to your home and they arrive much later than promised? It's annoying and tiresome sitting at the window, waiting for them to turn in the drive. Well, we invited Spring over to our home months ago. It's about time she showed up!

In spite of the cold, wet weather, April has been an incredibly busy month for community development in Montezuma.

  • We have secured $2000 from the South Central Iowa Solid Waste Agency to go toward a community beautification project and to build raised garden beds for the Galaxy Youth Summer Program, complete with refurbished rain barrels and compost. 
  • The Montezuma Library Board has partnered with our community beautification efforts for Montezuma and have agreed to help fund some new landscaping projects around the library and the city offices. 
  • We have received $2000 from the Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation for the relocation and preservation of the Civil War monument. Advocates of historic preservation in the community will be working with the Legion in ironing out the details of this project. 
  • As spring approaches, be on the lookout for new bike racks in town! We are working with Grinnell Regional Medical Center and the CDC on this project. 
  • In conjunction with the Montezuma Lions City-Wide Cleanup, volunteers helped MCD clean up the downtown and prepare the planters to be planted in the coming weeks. 

As always, we are looking to widen and deepen our support both in the community and with those connected to Montezuma. If you have any questions, comments, or would like to give to Montezuma Community Development, please contact us at or 

Also, for those of you not living in Montezuma, we would love to hear what it would take to get you to consider our beautiful little town. Please fill out the following survey.

Click here to take survey

In Montezuma Blue, 

Derek Bates
Interim Executive Director
Montezuma Community Development
501 East Main St., PO Box 314, Montezuma, IA 50171

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Two business expansions in Montezuma

PRESS RELEASE - April 4, 2013

Montezuma Community Development Corporation is pleased to announce the successful negotiation of two business expansions on the east side of Montezuma’s historic square.  In December 2012, Montezuma Community Development purchased approximately 6000 square feet of prime retail space for future mixed-use development.  

The first phase of the development project will be completed with two professional office expansions.  Family Dentistry of Grinnell will begin construction immediately on approximately 2500 square feet of space located at 103 South 4th Street.  The full-service satellite clinic will initially be open three days a week and is expected to be in operation by June 2013.  

Mahaffey Law Office at 107 South 4th Street will also be taking on a 1200 square foot office expansion as an annex to their current space.  The law office is expecting to grow in the near future and plans to accommodate for additional staff and meeting space.

Montezuma Community Development continues to plan for the remaining portion of the building which housed the former Apple Basket Restaurant and Grill.  The organization is currently accepting business proposals to lease the space for restaurant or retail use.  Prospective plans should include a business narrative, 2-3 years of cash flow projections, and available cash or secured financing for start-up.  
Dr. David Smith of Family Dentistry
with MCD Director Derek Bates and
Board President Aaron McCaslen. 

To find out more information or to request a tour of the building, please contact the Montezuma Community Development office at 641-623-7600.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Welcome Newcomers! 

Thank to the many who visited our table last night at the Montezuma Business Expo!  And thank you to the Montezuma Community Boosters for sponsoring another great event in our community. 
We have several folks signed up to volunteer for our community beautification efforts this spring and summer, but the more we have, the more we share in all the fun!  Dates will soon be announced for spring planting and rosters will be put together for watering and maintenance.  Several groups and organizations have also expressed interest to adopt our city's gateways and other landscaped areas this year.  Don't forget to check with your people and get back to us at MCD.  We need your support to make this a more attractive community and better place to live. There is even a rumor that plans for a new community garden are underway.  Green thumbs unite! 
For more information or to provide updates on your recruiting efforts, give us a call at the MCD office, 641-623-7600, or feel free to drop an email to us at  Get Involved!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bates Named as MCD Interim Director

The Board of Directors for Montezuma Community Development Corporation has named Derek Bates as the Interim Director for the organization.  The appointment began this week following the resignation of Terence Blain announced at the end of February.  Blain will remain in his post until March 29, and will be working with Bates during the transition.  Bates will officially take the helm on April 1. 

Bates is a 2004 graduate of Montezuma High School and a 2008 graduate of Grinnell College.  He is one of two creative minds behind Simone's Cuppa, a local coffee shop enterprise that opened downtown in 2011.  Derek is very involved in the community and serves on the Certified Local Government.  The CLG Program is a preservation partnership between local, state and national governments focused on promoting historic preservation at the grass roots level.  Montezuma’s CLG was instrumental in providing the support and research needed to nominate Montezuma’s historic downtown as National Historic District, of which Bates was a part. 

Bates will be working with the board of directors while sustaining the efforts of the organization and working to implement strategies to better the community.  This includes an amplified community beautification project this spring and summer, a new community event, and working with downtown stakeholders on the hopeful façade project that is pending a grant from the state.  The board will take the next several months to make long range plans on how to grow the effort and make decisions about how to move forward with a permanent staff position. 
For questions regarding the transition, please contact the MCD office at 641-623-7600 or speak with a member of the board.  Board members are Aaron McCaslen, Joel Kercheval, Christy McCaslen, Jo Ahrens, Andrea Martin, Charlie Sheets and Clayton Hjelmland. 

County Seat Market Fair
Begins Memorial Day Weekend

A newly organized Main Street event under the umbrella of Montezuma Community Development will be launching on Friday, May 24.  A group comprised of local growers, food producers and arts and crafts enthusiasts has joined ranks to spearhead the summer event which will provide a combination of a traditional farmers market with area crafters and live music.  Following the Memorial Day start, the Market Fair will run the first and third Friday during the months of June through August.  The season will conclude on Labor Day weekend, Friday, August 30.  There will be 8-events from 4-7 p.m. throughout the season.
The planning committee is seeking vendors.  The $50 seasonal vendor fee will support event planning, promotion and funding for future community development projects.  Prorated season fees may be considered based on available space.  Vendors should supply their own table, tent, and electricity if needed.  Vendors selling potentially hazardous foods will need to show their state license to do so.  Prepared foods and baked items should list ingredients and possible allergens. The committee is also seeking business or corporate sponsors for entertainment, and organizations who would like to adopt an event for a cookout or meal as a local fundraiser. 
Please contact the MCD office for more information, 641-623-7600.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Don't Stop Now!
A Letter from Terence Blain, Executive Director
On Thursday, February 28th, the Board of Directors of Montezuma Community Development accepted my resignation as Executive Director of the organization.  This news has traveled quickly appearing in the newspaper, discussion at around the coffee table and online.  I wanted to take a moment to provide words of explanation and encouragement as I hope Montezuma will continue to look ahead.
I had no idea what was on the horizon for me when I returned to my hometown late in 2011.  But somewhere along the line (perhaps it was a secret ingredient in my cheesecake), I was soon appointed into a unique role in the community with great responsibility.  It has been my pleasure to serve in this capacity leading the MCD organization.  Many things have been accomplished and many things are beginning to take shape as the community is starting to unify their vision and forge the important partnerships necessary for the future of our town.  The list of accomplishments from our first year is long, and much of it has been realized because of the dedication and efforts of many in our community who have risen to this challenge.  I want to personally thank the City of Montezuma, Montezuma Light & Power, Montezuma Community Boosters, Poweshiek Iowa Development, our local businesses and industry, civic organizations, private contributors, and countless hours of volunteerism that have gone into laying the ground work for local community development.  I also want to thank our board of directors for their support this past year. 
Be Informed.  Get Involved.  Stay Connected.  This has been our tag line and the message I have tried to communicate consistently since our liftoff.  You want something for your community, go get it.  No one will do this for you - not a new director, not a single benefactor, not someone with a magic wand or fairy dust.  Everyone must do their part in their own way to make it happen.  Sitting on the sidelines and waiting for someone else to do it for you, well, I hope you like sitting. 
So what's next for Montezuma Community Development?  I have implored upon our board of directors to jump on finding a replacement as soon as possible.  I have also provided several succession planning tools to provide for a smooth transition.  My advice?  Don't stop now! 
So what's next for Terence?  Next month I am returning to Chicago where I have spent nearly one-third of my life.  I consider the Second City my second hometown.  Right now I am looking at some other career opportunities, but also very excited to reunite with my network of friends and colleagues there.  I have no regrets for making the return to Montezuma, and I believe that for everything there is a season and purpose.  Even though it was for a short time, I'm certain this is where I was destined to be.  My life's motto is that wherever I go, make a difference.  I again thank all of you that have been a part of helping me live this out over the past 16 months. 
I look forward to hearing about and seeing continued progress in Montezuma.  My best to you as you look ahead to a bright future.  Thank you for all that you do to make this a great place for your community. 
                                                                                    - Terence Blain

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Montezuma Community Development
Needs Your Help

As a public-private partnership, we rely on funding from both the city, and private support from local businesses and individuals.  We are at a crossroads as we continue funding the organization's work, pay staff, and plan to make investments back into our community.  MCD has an urgent need to raise $15,000 to offset the final 6-months of this year's operating budget.  This is above and beyond the commitments already made by the City of Montezuma and those who have already contributed. 
Since April, we have raised over $45,000 to support community beautification and downtown development projects.  Over 85% of those funds have already been invested back into the community, with plans for continued investment in Montezuma underway.  Your help is needed!
We thank those of you who have already been generous and we ask for your continued support.  If you have not made a contribution to Montezuma Community Development, we invite you to do so as soon as possible.  We are a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. 

Suggested Giving Levels
Individual Level - $150
Bronze Partner - $250
Silver Partner - $500
Gold Partner - $1000
Platinum Partner - $5000

Please make your check payable to Montezuma Community Development Corporation, c/o Montezuma State Bank, PO Box 128, Montezuma, IA 50171.  Thank you for your consideration and kind support.  Help us keep Montezuma moving! 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

City Pledges $393,000 to Downtown Project

The City of Montezuma has pledged a total of $393,000 to the downtown facade project.  In regular session on Monday evening, Deb Calderwood  of Poweshiek Development and Terence Blain of Montezuma Community Development presented updated cost estimates the the City council as the project has continued to evolve and the level of local support has increased.
The City had already committed $63,000 towards the project in December, however the council wanted to find other solutions to assist building owners and the community in achieving the needed transformation for Montezuma's downtown.  Letters of support and financial match for individual projects are still coming in, but the initial cost estimates are nearing $1.3M.  Should Montezuma receive the CDBG funding for the facade work, the City agreed to contribute an additional $330,000 through a bond. 
Last Friday an anonymous donor offered a $25,000 challenge grant to encourage continued private investment for the downtown project.  Funding is still needed to use as local match for the grant application that is due February 1. The higher the local match through both public and private sources, the better the application will score and the more likely Montezuma's project will be funded.  Individual projects may also be reduced by 15% to maximize the available funding.

Funding Spreadsheet Up-to-Now:

CDBG Funding Source    $500,000 (maximum award)
Building Contribution      $130,000 (minimum match)
City Contribution             $363,000 (all funding combined)
Challenge Grant               $25,000 (private funding source)

Total Possible Funding:  $1,018,000

Private funding against the $25,000 challenge grant can be made through the Montezuma Community Development Downtown Revitalization Fund.  MCD is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.  Contact our office for details at 641-623-7600, or send a check or letter of support to us at PO Box 314, Montezuma, Iowa 50171. 
This blog is read throughout the United States and other countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany and the Ukraine.  Anyone out there want to meet the $25,000 challenge?  As always, we appreciate all financial support for Montezuma Community Development's operating budget and special projects. 

Thank you to the City of Montezuma for your increased participation!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Apple Basket Purchased for
Community Development Project

Montezuma Community Development has purchased the former Apple Basket building on the east side of Montezuma's historic town sqaure.  The purchase was made possible through the generous financial support and private contributions made through the MCD Downtown Revitalization Fund. 

The property has been empty since The View, a coffee shop, occupied a portion of the space a few years ago.  Immediate plans for the building include a proposal to divide and lease the space for mixed-use.  Several new businesses have already begun to inquire about leasing opportunities, however, much work will need to be completed before full occupancy is expected. 
With ownership now in the hands of a non-profit, there are many other possibilities for funding the development project.  MCD has already applied for a grant to cover some of the initial costs for rehabilitation, and has met with two agencies to talk about other grants that may be available.  State and federal tax credits may also apply provided any future plans for historic preservation are undertaken.  Cost estimates and preliminary renderings have also been completed for participation in the proposed downtown facade project.  Up to $30,000 in private contributions are needed to provide match to participate in the facade project.
Any member of the community that would like to participate financially in rehabilitating the building may do so through the Montezuma Community Development Downtown Revitalization Fund. MCD is a 501(c)(3) with tax advantages available to those who contribute to the project.  
All parties interested in leasing space should be prepared with a strong business plan that includes financial statements and cash flow projections.  Free resources are available for business planning.  Traditional financing and revolving loan funds may also be sources of capital for start-up and expansion.  For more information or to inquire about leasing, please contact the Montezuma Community Development office at 641-623-7600.