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Loebsack visits Baxter schools

Published: Friday, Jan. 25, 2013 12:08 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Jan. 28, 2013 4:23 p.m. CDT

Following the congressional redistricting of 2012, Iowa’s Second District gained a little more territory encompassing most of Jasper County. While longtime U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack visited Newton on several occasions during his campaign, Thursday marked his first stop in Baxter.

“Jasper County is new to me,” Loebsack said, “and this is as far northwest in Jasper county as I’ve been. I’ve been to Newton plenty of times but this is my first time in Baxter. I met Steve (Smith), the mayor, and other contacts, and he told me about some of the great things happening in Baxter -- the sewer system, the schools, the community center, the cooperation between the schools and the city and all the things going on here, so it’s a very forward-looking town.”

Loebsack met with Wright for a tour of the town’s recently renovated sewer system and collaboration between the city and Baxter Community School District necessary to spur the joint City/School Library and Wellness Center within the Community Center.

“You know, people have come together on a number of projects, so I wanted to come see for myself,” he added. “I’m spending an hour and a half here, and oftentimes our stops are just an hour, but there’s a lot going on here and Steve is a great advocate for his town. I got to stop by the school too, so this has been a really great opportunity for me to learn about Baxter.”

Loebsack was especially impressed with the allocation of $6.5 million in capital investment that the city has poured into projects over the past four years, much of it federal grant and stimulus money.

“They’ve put a fair amount of federal investment into shovel-ready projects and they’ve put that money to good use, so it’s to the city’s credit that they identified their needs, that they went out after the funding, got the funding and have been following through to make sure they’re putting it to good use,” Loebsack said.

In terms of the cooperation between Baxter’s schools and city administrators, he commented that “it’s not something you see very often.”

“It’s really great and a very forward-looking approach to developing the commnuity and not only getting more people here as well, but making the community more liveable,” he said. “The little wellness center was wonderful, I’d love to work out there on one of the ellipticals someday.”

“The community has really come together,” he added. “Certainly, there are differences in the community over what to do, but they’ve largely been able to reach a consensus on many of these projects and it’s really paid off.”

Staff writer Nicole Wiegand may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 422, or at nwiegand@newtondailynews.com.

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