Helping the region plan

When a city or county in rural north central Iowa needs a plan or grant to help their community, it often looks to Midas Council of Governments for some assistance.

Carissa Miller, a planner with Midas, helps those cities and counties obtain the assistance they need by helping with grant writing, mapping, comprehensive planning and hazard mitigation plans.

“I do a little of everything,” said Miller. “When a city or county needs something, we can at least do the research and get answers to them.”

Miller works with communities in a six-county area comprised of Webster, Hamilton, Humboldt, Wright, Pocahontas and Calhoun counties.

One of the larger projects Miller has taken on in her three years with Midas has been the flood buyout program for damaged properties in the Breen and Scenic Drive additions north of Fort Dodge, helping property owners obtain funds through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Community Development Block Grants to help them purchase new property.

“The buyouts have been a major project,” said Miller.

Another large responsibility of her job us hazard mitigation planning to help cities identify and prepare for hazards within their community.

“Hazard mitigation planning is one of the bigger challenges,” said Miller. “We have requirements we have to meet; you really have to communicate with the entities you are working with. Things are always changing, it’s all about asking the questions and getting the answers.”

Among Miller’s favorite duties of the job are comprehensive planning and grant administration.

“I like to work with land use,” she said. “I like the books part of administration and balancing numbers. I also enjoy grant administration and getting to know the cities and counties and building relationships.”

A native of Southeast Iowa, Miller came to Fort Dodge three years ago after graduating from Iowa State University with a degree in community and regional planning.

“I thought about going into architecture,” she said. “But I wanted something a little more social where I could interact with more people. I wanted to look beyond the building aspect of things.”

“It’s been an interesting career,” said Miller. “I enjoy having something different to do every day. That’s why this job is for me.”