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In this undated file photo from a video, former Finance Authority Dave Jamison speaks during an interview. 

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This business bleats money: Ventura woman turns love of farming, goats into an eco-friendly North Iowa gig

VENTURA | A Ventura business provides goats for hire to take care North Iowa’s overgrown vegetation and non-native species.

Get Your Goat Overgrowth Specialists rent out goats to eat and clear unwanted and overgrown vegetation.

Co-owners Tammy Domonoske and Deb Paschao are heading into their third summer in business.

Domonoske is also a manager at McIntosh Woods State Park. She has hired goats before to control undesirable plants at the park. Now, she has goats of her own.

“I got started with it at work when I had contracted some other goats,” she said. “I fell in love with working the goats and moving the goats and having goats.”

She grew up near Mankato, Minnesota, where her family farmed.

“I’m a farm girl and I kinda missed my livestock,” she said.

CHRIS ZOELLER The Globe Gazette 

Buck the goat chews on the branch of a Christmas tree on Feb. 1 in Ventura.

Some friends offered to house the goats on their property in Ventura since Domonoske lives in town.

“We got Flip-Flop, Buck, Latte, Casper, Bandit,” she said, petting each goat.

In total, she has nine goats.

“They’re very social animals,” Domonoske said, as one nibbled on the hem of her jacket. ”They’re like dogs, and you can actually almost train them like dogs.”

The goats have a wide pen to play in, complete with a trampoline and stuff to climb on during the off season. They also have plenty of old Christmas trees to eat.

“We had a Christmas tree drop off party and must have had a hundred people here,” Domonoske said.

When the weather warms up, the goats go to work.

They are used on lake shores, windbreaks, groves, old pastures and more. Using goats eliminates the need for chemical herbicides or gas-powered machinery.

The goats can also work in areas that would be uncomfortable and even dangerous for workers. Since goats are light footed, they don’t cause soil compaction or erosion issues.

“They actually thatch the soil so the water will go into the soil and not runoff,” Domonoske said.

Get Your Goat comes with their own electronet fencing and solar charger. They will build the paddock and move the goats.

Domonoske and Paschao have noticed that people have interest in seeing the goats in action

“People who had them on their lake shore do wine parties when they had them on their property,” Domonoske said.

They’re eco-friendly and family friendly.

“We have started to branch out into social events,” she said.

Birthday parties, wine parties and sledding, to be exact.

On Feb. 2, Domonoske took Buck and Flip to the Ventura sledding hill to give kids sled rides.

“We’re looking at yoga (goat yoga) but that just hasn’t transpired yet,” Domonoske said. “We’re having fun with it.”

The two post photos and videos of the goats on their Facebook page.

“They’re actually meat goats but we’ll never eat them,” Domonoske said. “They’re too friendly and we’ve named them.”

Get Your Goat books appointments from May to October.

“We’re really busy in the summer,” she said. “If you got weeds, you got overgrowth, we can sure take care of that for you.”

They will be in Nora Springs in June and will later travel as far as Des Moines. 

The goats will go to the Surf Ballroom for Green Expo in April and were featured at Christmas By the Lake.

“They’re a lot of work for us but they don't talk back to you and they cuddle with you,” Domonoske said, laughing.

New Forest City nonprofit to assist families of those who died serving their country

FOREST CITY | A group of area residents is teaming with the Tree Town Music Festival to support families of those who lost their lives during service in the military, law enforcement, firefighting or EMS. 

Beginning this year, Families of the Fallen, Inc., an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization, will bring families to Forest City on Memorial Day weekend so they can attend the annual country music festival for free. 

Photos: Sunday at Tree Town

Families of the Fallen will continue to assist these families with resources within its guidelines throughout the year. 

The second goal is to provide assistance to living members of the military, law enforcement, fire departments and EMS who have suffered injuries, disability or other hardships due to their service.



Tim Dodge, the K-9 officer with the Garner Police Department who is in charge of publicity for Families of the Fallen, said that support could be anything from scholarships to prosthetics. 

Andy Klein, who lives south of Forest City and is a deputy with the Hancock County Sheriff's Office, is the president of Families of the Fallen. His wife, Amy Klein, is the vice president. 

Andy Klein, who is also a veteran, said the two of them wanted to see if "there was something more we could do for those who have perished serving their country." 

Families of the Fallen currently is trying to raise $30,000 so they can bring some families to Forest City for this year's Tree Town festival, to be held May 23-26. 

The organization is already considering families to invite, including some close to the Forest City area. 

Photos: Keith Urban and more at Tree Town on Saturday
Photos: Tree Town Friday — Find yourself in the crowd
Photos: Thursday at Tree Town

Transportation to Forest City for Tree Town and housing will be provided for the families. 

Some local residents have already come forward saying they want to sponsor families, according to Dodge.

Klein and other law enforcement officers in the area help with security at Tree Town every year. 

Klein and Dodge approached the other officers – who have gotten to know each other well over the five years the festival has been in Forest City – about being part of Families of the Fallen. 

"They jumped right on it," Klein said. 

So did the Tree Town organizers.

"This idea is amazing and we are super happy to jump on board with these guys and give back for the greater good and to families in need," said Lexia Chamryk, who is part of new Tree Town management team that began running the festival last year. 

On Friday, Tree Town began donating $10 of each ticket sold to Families of the Fallen. 

This year's festival features country stars such as Toby Keith and Dierks Bentley. 

Klein said Families of the Fallen is spreading the message that no longer how long ago a family lost someone, "we are not forgetting about you." 

The deadline to donate to bring families to Forest City for this year's Tree Town festival is March 7. Any money donated after that will go toward a "nest egg" that will allow Families of the Fallen to expand. 

More information is available on the Families of the Fallen Facebook page. Online donations can be made there or on the organization's website, which will launch soon. 

Donations through the mail should be addressed to P.O. Box 94, Forest City, IA 50436.  

Those who wish to sponsor a family or nominate a family to be sponsored can contact the organization through Facebook. 

Photos: Sunday at Tree Town

Photos: Sunday at Tree Town

Mary Pieper / MARY PIEPER, Globe Gazette  

Tree Town Music Festival Lexia Chamryk speaks at a press conference for Families of the Fallen on Friday, Feb. 8. 

Officials: 175 new jobs at Forest City plant a sign Winnebago is staying put

FOREST CITY | Winnebago Industries’ decision to shift its production of diesel motor homes from Oregon to Forest City should give those in the town where the company was founded a sense of security, according to officials.

"Hopefully, it will dispel all the rumors that Winnebago is leaving," said Forest City Mayor Barney Ruiter.

Photos: Winnebago Industries throughout the years in Forest City, North Iowa

Those rumors have been swirling since December 2015, when the company announced it would be expanding its corporate footprint in the Twin Cities area.

Winnebago’s moving production of Class A diesel motor homes to Forest City, which was announced Feb. 4, is expected to bring up to 175 new jobs by the end of the 2020 fiscal year to the North Iowa town where the RV manufacturer got its start 61 years ago this month.

Since the Forest City plant draws workers from all over North Iowa, the move is expected to benefit the entire region, according to Ruiter. 

Winnebago employs 4,600 people overall at its locations in Iowa, Indiana, Oregon, Minnesota and Florida.

Winnebago currently employs 2,000 people at its Forest City location. That number was 2,300 in February 2017.

Nick Foley, operating manager for the IowaWORKS Center in Mason City, which serves all of North Iowa, said there’s recently been “a lot of apprehension and nervousness for (Winnebago) employees.”

The company’s announcement of 175 additional jobs coming to Forest City alleviates those worries, according to Foley.

Winnebago said the change will consolidate product development, supply chain and assembly for the company's diesel motor home business.

Winnebago Vice President Brian Hazelton said the strategic decision to move diesel product manufacturing to the former Country Coach facilities in Junction City, Oregon, years ago did not achieve "our targeted operating efficiency and profitability goals."

Chad Reece, director of corporate relations at Winnebago, said the new production line in Forest City is expected to be fully functional by the end of August.

"It's going to be exciting over this year and next year," said Forest City Economic Development Director Beth Bilyeu.  

She said the the first impact will be on payroll. 

New jobs also means more gas and grocery purchases in Forest City, according to Bilyeu.

Winnebago employees looking to move to Forest City -- including any workers at the Oregon plant who decide to relocate -- will be looking for somewhere to live, she said. 

Fortunately, the city has been working on housing initiatives over the past few years, according to Bilyeu. 

Foley said the new Winnebago production line in Forest City will give North Iowa residents who aren’t happy with the pay at their current jobs an opportunity for an employment upgrade, which in turn will mean more job openings for those just entering the workforce.

He compared the situation to the housing market, where people moving out of smaller houses to something bigger means their former residences are available for those looking for starter homes.

Forest City Economic Development, in partnership with the city, is offering $2.7 million in incentives and improvements to Winnebago for the additional jobs.

The city council approved the incentive package and improvements on Feb. 4. The council also will be asked to approve a development agreement with Winnebago once it is finished. 

The incentive package consists of:

• An estimated $155,000 property tax abatement on building improvements over a five-year period.

• A $1.3 million forgivable loan for proposed infrastructure improvements.

• Municipal electric utility installation of required exterior electrical upgrades at an estimated cost of $165,000.

• An estimated $400,000 in Iowa New Jobs Training Program funding through North Iowa Area Community College.

The city will be repaid for the $1.3 million forgivable loan through tax increment financing funds. 

The loan could be repaid as early as 2024. 

Forest City Municipal Electric is also planning the following improvements that will benefit Winnebago:

• Convert overhead electric lines to underground lines in several high-profile, high-visibility areas, including Winnebago’s front gate, to improve aesthetics and reliability, at an estimated cost of $503,600.

• Adding switching capabilities on the electrical lines near 3M to improve overall reliability in those areas at an estimated cost of $179,000.

City Attorney Steve Bakke said plans for those two electrical improvement projects were already in the works, but were listed in the package being offered to Winnebago "to make this a little better."

Forest City was in competition with the Winnebago plant in Indiana and an additional undisclosed site for the diesel motor home assembly line, according to Bakke.

"We had to get aggressive," he said. 

But Winnebago will be held to its end of the agreement, according to Bakke. 

"We aren't going to give this money away without those jobs," he said. 

To receive the incentives, Winnebago must commit to:

• Creation of at least 150 jobs with an average annual salary of $34,000 at full ramp-up.

• Estimated building improvements of $3.2 million.

• Machinery and equipment investment estimated at $2.1 million.

Photos: Winnebago Industries throughout the years in North Iowa

Photos: Winnebago Industries throughout the years in Forest City, North Iowa