H/M Tax Board determines applicants

Nine grant application finalists asked to present Dec. 12

—Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Adri Sietstra Webster City Hotel/Motel Tax Board members Kyle Swon, far left, Keri Holmes, left, Andy Sowle, center, and Webster City City Manager Daniel Ortiz-Hernandez are pictured above at Wednesday evening’s H/M Tax Board meeting.

The 20th round of Hotel/Motel Tax grant applications has brought “more diversity that ever seen” according to H/M Tax Board member Keri Holmes.

Nine Hotel/Motel Tax Grant applications have been selected to move forward in the grant process during the meeting of the H/M Tax board Wednesday evening.

“The reason for this meeting is to select and review finalists to give presentations,” said H/M Tax Board member Andy Sowle.

The following organizations were selected to move forward and will be presenting to the board on Tuesday, Dec. 12 at city hall at 6:30 p.m.

A total of $99,669.20 was requested between the nine organizations who will be presenting to the board.

ACE Community Center

ACE Community Center is requesting $12,475 to be put toward marketing ACE and the Webster City area both regionally and across the Midwest, as well as a bi-lingual communication assistant at ACE.

“I think we should hear them out,” said Holmes.

Arts R Alive in Webster City

Arts R Alive in Webster City is requesting $1,835 for sculpture placement in downtown Webster City, artists stipends, cement pad and invitations to their event.

“I think they’ve got a good plan of how they’re going to measure success,” Sowle said.

“I like this as a next step for this organization,” said Holmes. “The idea of bringing a sculpture downtown.”

“They do bring quite a few people across the street from the fire station,” Sowle said. “I would like to hear from them.”

Border Brigade Archery Club

The Border Brigade Archery Club is requesting $4,175 for a trailer.

The board reviewed the club’s materials and ran across some slight confusion on exactly where the money will be going.

“It’s a trailer that is somehow going to allow them to host the statewide event is what they say,” Holmes said.

“There are a lot of questions on this one,” Sowle said. “We can hear them out.”

Briggs Woods Conference Center/Hamilton County Conservation

Briggs Woods Conference Center/Hamilton County Conservation are requesting $50,000 for the Briggs Woods Conference Center. They are also asking the board for an extension on the $25,000 they were granted one year ago.

“I’m yes – yes on this one,” said board member Kyle Swon.

Holmes was hesitant to agree to have Briggs Woods back because she felt there wasn’t much change in what they were asking for.

Sowle explained their budget changed due to expanding layout plans for the new conference center.

“In my mind, that’s the type of project that this money is intended for,” said Swon.

Since the H/M Tax Board’s last meeting, ground has been broken for the conference center.

“They’ve actually started. So that was a huge thing for me,” said Sowle. “They’re going in the right direction and they’re actually making progress. It’s going to be a really really good thing for Webster City as long as what they say will happen happens.”

After noting the changes, Holmes, along with the rest of the present board members agreed to have Briggs Woods back to present.

Concerning the extension of the first $25,000, the board would like to ask the group more questions at the time of the presentation.

Building Possibility

Building Possibility is requesting $4,000 for a three-month residency for photographer Brendan Hoffman.

Hoffman is a notable figure in the area because he took a series of photographs of Webster City that were featured in a New York Times article a few years ago. Many community members were upset at the way Hoffman portrayed Webster City in his work.

“To me he is a very good photographer, but I can’t get past the 2012 documentary,” said Swon. “I don’t know what his mission is now.”

Webster City Community Vitality Director Lindsay Henderson was also present at Wednesday evening’s meeting. According to Henderson, Hoffman is involved with a project that is supposed to be an approach with empathy.

“His approach now to Webster City is to try to get the other side of the story -to get our side of the story,” Henderson said.

“This could be a really good thing, I just haven’t seen those more positive images happen yet,” said Henderson.

“I think what that means for the three of us is we need to really think about what questions we need to get answered that night,” Holmes said.

Sowle agreed.

“We might as well ask these questions,” said Sowle.

Webster City Badminton Club/Parks & Rec

The Webster City Badminton Club/Parks & Rec are requesting$1,750 for their 2018 Badminton Tournament. The tournament will be held on April 15, 2018.

“Basically they are asking us to fund the advertising piece,” said Holmes. “I would like to hear what they think they are going to do with that money.”


The Webster City Community Theatre is requesting $1,600 for a conference.

“I really like this one a lot,” said Sowle.


The Wilson Brewer Park Committee is requesting $16,619.20 to keep them open during the summer months.

Holmes was hesitant to invite the committee back because the hours the depot would be open would only remain the same.

Sowle pointed out that without the help of H/M Tax monies, the hours might be cut back even more.

“If we dont fund them there is a good chance they might not be open,” Sowle said.

“I’m willing to listen,” Holmes said.

Women’s Club of WC

The Women’s Club of Webster City is requesting $7,215 to refurbish the second story of the Jane Young House.

The board declined to invite two organizations back to present.

Upper Des Moines Opportunity Inc. asked for $5,000 to help local youth with activities and sporting equipment assistance.

Members of the board liked the idea of the Hamilton County Youth Enrichment Program, but felt there were other ways to secure funds for that cause.

“I don’t like it,” Swon said. “I’ve coached youth for 16 years, but to spend $5,000 to give $2,500 worth of equipment, why? said Swon.

“There are other grants out there that would be more specific for this,” Sowle said.

The Webster City Lions Club requested $35,000 to be put towards the second phase of their park project. The first phase was completed earlier this year. The club has plans for three total phases to improve the quality of the park.

The board declined to invite the Lions Club back because the second phase is just beginning.

“On this one, I think we steer clear right now until they get a little farther in their phase,” said Sowle.

Holmes and Swon agreed.

According to Webster City City Manager Daniel Ortiz-Hernandez, the current total H/M Tax monies available is $77,040.86. However, they are expecting a payment yet this month, which is estimated to bring the total monies available to roughly $107,000.

“There is still a payment we usually expect and receive in December that averages about $30,000, so that’s where that $107,000 figure comes in,” said Ortiz-Hernandez.

Sowle noted that the board would like to keep an estimated $30,000 of those monies in the fund in case a big ticket item may come across the board for review in the future.

The total monies requested by the 11 groups was $139,669.20.

The board reviewed the requests of 11 applicants before narrowing it down to the nine organizations chosen to continue on in the process.

H/M Tax Board members Linda Conaway and Kristen Williams were not present Wednesday night.