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STC Superintendent Nelson urges readiness for new pack workers

Tells Tama Counicl of benefits of involvement

May 10, 2013
By John Speer - Editor ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

"Packing plants historically see many immigrant workers," South Tama Schools Superintendent Kerri Nelson said Monday night in an appearance before members of the Tama City Council.

Nelson was on hand to possibly get the ball rolling to meet some of the needs as the Tama-Toledo area gears up to welcome many new workers when Iowa Premium Beef reopens the closed packing plant on Tama's east side.

Nelson said she believes the Tama-Toledo area is of a size which can have a positive committee approach. She said she was willing to offer her expertise to serve as a "resource person and on committees."

Article Photos

Kerri Nelson
South Tama Schools Superintendent

IPB officials have said some 950 meatpackers can be expected to be hired. Although no start up date has been announced the Tama Council Monday night accepted an invitation to tour the plant to witness improvements which have been made. A date for the tour is currently being arranged City Clerk Judy Welch said Tuesday.

For the city council, Nelson related her experiences while serving as director of English as a Second Language Education in Grand Island, Neb., a post she held until five years ago when she became STC superintendent.

She said a committee with a goal of aiding immigrants and their transition was in place in Grand Island. This was of value to both local services and the new residents, she said.

Nelson said the packing plant at Grand Island employed many immigrant workers and was raided by federal officials in 2006 at the same time a raid was conducted at the meatpacking plant in Marshalltown.

However, Nelson said the group already functioning in Grand Island was able to extend its role and ease some of the difficulties immigrant families found themselves in. The coalition which had been formed represented the schools, city government, the local hospital and human services agency.

The Grand Island committee received national recognition for the steps it was able to take after the immigration raid.

She said the availability of interpreters played a vital role and, through a group effort, they were able put programs in place for people with not only language, but barriers such as having never encountered city regulations.

She said an alternative school was set up at the Grand Island packing plant and you could "see people who had never been to school learning to read and write."

Nelson said the Iowa Valley Community College District has leased the second floor of the South Tama Alternative Learning Center on West 9th Street in Tama to provide classroom space for adult English language learners as a new step to aid immigrants.

In addition she said the South Tama schools "need to plan classrooms, teachers and expanding offerings."

Nelson said a welcome committee might be the best first step.

Council member Steve Baier said he recognized the impact of new familes would have and beleives such a committee "could be a real benefit to the school system."

Ordinance Change Coming For Recyclables

Eric Haughey, Tama, who is in the process of opening Raz Recyclables, a residential curbside pickup of items to be recycled in Tama and Toledo, requested the council modify a city ordinance which requires weekly pickup of all solid waste. Haughey said his business model calls for pickup every other week, at least at first.

Council members agreed to bring the ordinance modification back for a change to meet Haughey's plan at the regular council meeting on May 20.

Rec Trial Extension Sought

Jake Jacobson and Sue Harrington, members of the South Tama Recreation Trail Committee, requested council support of a plan to extend the rec trail another mile along the flood control dike east of U.S. Highway 63.

A portion of the 6.1 mile trial already extends along a portion of the dike from Cherry Lake eats to U.S. Highway 63.

Stuart Eisentrager, Tama street superintendent, suggested a crossing for the trail on U.S. Highway 63 be located near the S&S Car Wash. The Tama County Off-Road Vehicle Park already has Iowa Department of Transportation for a crossing for off road vehicles there.

City officials said they would expect no objection from the Army Corps of Engineers which is responsible for the dike.

Jacobson said a trail surface for the dike would have a cost range of $6,000-$10,000. He aid a pair of grants are being applied for to cover the cost and Tama's only obligation would be to provide some labor for the work.

It was also suggested to explore having the trail loop back into Tama along the Coal Chute Road rather than reaching a dead end at the end of the dike.



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