A group of local leaders is in Washington, D.C., starting today to inform federal policymakers about what’s important in Fort Dodge and Webster County.
The delegation will thank federal officials for their support of things like the Essential Air Services program, which helps keep commercial flights coming to Fort Dodge.
They will also seek federal support for things like removing asbestos from abandoned buildings downtown.
In addition, they will submit a wish list of projects and programs in hopes of finding some federal money for them. The wish list includes things like hiring a company to do a study of the development and marketing of sports tourism.
While the details of the projects and programs are important, the connections developed between local and federal officials during these visits are just as important, according to Mayor Matt Beamrich.
“Over the past decades, we have built some great relationships not only with the elected delegation, but with the staff,” Beamrich said recently. “So when things move really fast, we know who we’re reaching for. The number one thing is to continue to nurture those great relationships.”
With the exception of the 2020 pandemic, local officials have made trips to Washington annually since about 1999. Former U.S. Rep. Tom Latham, a Republican like the Fort Dodge borough, encouraged local officials to be in Washington.
Riverfront and trail projects have benefited from millions of dollars in federal aid since the trips to Washington began.
The 14-member delegation traveled to Washington on Monday.
The group will hold meetings today and Wednesday and return to Fort Dodge on Thursday.
The first session scheduled for today will be with officials in the Ministry of Justice. The theme will be programs that help prison inmates return to society. At Fort Dodge, Athletics for Education and Success (AFES) runs such a program.
Meetings with US Rep. Randy Veenstra, R-Hull, and US Sen. Charles Grassley are also on the agenda today.
Thursday’s agenda includes meetings on downtown projects and tourism initiatives. A meeting with Senator Joni Ernst is also scheduled for Thursday.
The delegation also intends to meet officials of the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Agriculture.