Before becoming the police chief in Storm Lake, IA, Mark Prosser worked as a homicide detective in O’Fallon and as an investigator and supervisor for a homicide unit that covered the entire St. Louis metropolitan area.
When he first arrived in Storm Lake, the locals were almost entirely of European ancestry. Nearly immediately,
the two major slaughterhouses in the area began hiring workers from Mexico and other Latin American nations, resulting in a markedly more multicultural community.
Prosser was not hired to deal with language and cultural differences, but he was a good cop and didn’t flinch.
“This is what America is supposed to look like,” he told me thirty years ago when I was writing a community profile about Storm Lake for The Iowan magazine.
In this country, we’re not just a white bread society. After all of this, “we’ll all have a chance to shake hands and form a new community,” he said.
Prosser has helped turn Storm Lake into one of the fastest-growing, most vibrant and prosperous rural communities in the state, thanks in large part to his efforts.
“One of the greatest joys of my life has been serving the community of Storm Lake for over 30 years,” Prosser tells me now.
Retiring two years ago, he was one of Iowa’s best-known police chiefs, and he now serves as the Catholic bishop’s chief of staff and the diocese’s director of pastoral planning.
How has Storm Lake’s success impacted him in the long term?
When asked about the community’s role in the state and country’s future, Prosser said, “This is an example of diversity working”
With the “Nueva Vida en Greene County” initiative, which was launched by our economic development organization “GCDC” last fall, we’re now trying to replicate that story here in Greene County.
Large manufacturers and other county employers have been particularly hard hit by a lack of skilled labor.
For the first time in a century, the development group hopes to see a population increase in the county, as well as an increase in the number of students attending schools and a rise in the retail business.
A steering committee called “Nueva Vida” has given me the honor of chairing it.
I taught and wrote for five years in Storm Lake before moving to Greene County 18 years ago, including two years at Buena Vista University.
I got to know a lot of people who were involved in the community’s multi-cultural transformation, and I wrote a lot about it. I’ve kept in touch with a lot of those acquaintances ever since.
And so it came to pass that a few weeks ago, I asked some of my Storm Lake friends if they’d be interested in visiting Greene County to tell us their stories, answer our questions, and help us start making the positive changes we’re all hoping will happen here.
Six people have agreed to come, but they must pay for their transportation. On Tuesday, August 9th, at 7 p.m., in a walled-off meeting area of the larger Greene Room at Wild Rose Casino & Resort in Jefferson, we will feature them in a public forum.
Our manufacturing bosses and workers, educators, students, local government leaders as well as law enforcement, retail business owners, and rank and file citizens from across Greene County are all welcome to attend.
It has the potential to be an extraordinary learning experience. That was one of the most significant public meetings we’ve ever held, in my opinion.
Prosser, Sara Huddleston, Sara Huddleston, Dr. Stacey Cole, Vianney Medina-Sanchez, and Emma Dierking will be on our panel of experts from Storm Lake, along with a yet-to-be-confirmed Latino owner-operator.
For the past 12 years, Cole has worked as a teacher and administrator in the Storm Lake School District, where she currently serves as the district’s superintendent.
More than 2,500 students and their families now benefit from her services, and she says her focus is on “overcoming barriers that impact marginalized populations.” She is almost as well-respected as Prosser is in her field of work.
This event in Greene County is not a place where I come as one who claims to have all the tools necessary for us to be successful in our work, as I recognize that our intentions and impact are not always the same,”
she said. My goal is to find ways in which we can unite and end the division that threatens our relationships.”
Hope, stories, and strategies are three things I can offer that others may find useful.
Having visited “Nueva Vida en Greene County” earlier this year, Huddleston is well-versed in our communities.
With the help of GCDC and Nueva Vida leaders, she has also begun to identify some challenges and opportunities.
Carlos Arguello, a Carroll native who now resides in Grimes, and I, the consultant hired by GCDC to lead the diversity planning and work here, will moderate the discussion on Tuesday, Aug. 9, at Wild Rose. If you read more latest updates so you can visit TheActiveNews.Com.