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North Iowa's Blizzard Warning & the 2017 North Iowa Home Show

by Jane Fischer and Associates

North Iowa's February 2017 Blizzard

Many of us in Northern Iowa were able to experience what they call thundersnow last night, not only was it snowing hard but there was lightning and thunder to go along with it! It's not often we have this type of weather but it was quite the site to see when the sky lit up the snow covered towns in the darkness of the night. The rain that preceeded the snow fall created an icy layer that will cause very slippery conditions. Not only are we expected to get 2-4 more inches of snow today but the winds will be gusting from 20 to 40 mph throughout the day leading to white out conditions in some areas. The storm is set to impact the entire Midwest region of the country, majority of the snowfall will be in North Iowa and to the west. The storm had closed 200 miles of interstate 80 yesterday in Wyoming, the system will stretch from the Rocky Mountains through the Great Lakes.

Many schools in the area cancelled for today ahead of the storm arriving last night including Mason City, Newman, Clear Lake, Garner-Hayfield-Ventura, West Fork, and Central Springs.

Some office buildings in the area are currently without power because of the large build up of the heavy snow on the powerlines without an estimated time frame of when it will be turned back on, Alliant is working to address the problem but the snow and wind aren't making it easy to do so.

Kristin Chenoweth was set to perform at NIACC tonight at 7 pm but has been postponed to Sunday, February 26th at 4 pm. Anyone who had already purchased tickets can retain them for the Sunday performance, however, if unable to make the show you're able to drop off the tickets within 5 business days to the NIACC Box Office to receive a full refund. If you have any questions you're asked to call the box office directly at 641-422-4188.

The legislative forum scheduled for today in Clear Lake has been postponed to March 24th at 10 am at Clear Lake Bank & Trust at the Clear Lake office location. The representatives slated to speak included Iowa Rep. Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake and Sen. Amanda Raga, D-Mason City. They hope to have the same speakers available for the re-scheduled forum date at the end of March.

 

2017 North Iowa Home Show

 

The show must go on for the 2017 North Iowa Home & Landscaping Show scheduled for today and running through the weekend even with all this snow in the forecast. Today's hours are 3 to 9 pm, tomorrow's are 10 am to 7 pm, and Sunday's hours are 11 am to 4pm at the North Iowa Events Center in both the All Seasons and Olson buildings. Admission is $5, youth 12 and under are free. The show features over 120 vendors from flooring to landscaping to bank lenders to complete kitchen remodels, whatever you need they'll have it all! They will have seminars throughout each day, door prizes, and various speakers - stop by and check it out!

North Iowa Home & Landscaping Show This Weekend!

by Jane Fischer and Associates

Looking for great ways to update and renovate your Mason City home? Come to the 26th Annual North Iowa Home & Landscaping Show this weekend at the North Iowa Events Center (3700 4th Street Southwest, Mason City)! On Friday, February 24th, through Sunday, February 26th, you can find everything that you need inside and outside your home!

 


Turn your North Iowa abode into your dream home by discovering millions of ideas and meeting with 120+ exhibitors for the following areas and more:


Bath Repair | Carpet | Decorating | Doors | Energy Saving Products | Equipment | Fireplaces | Flooring | Garage Doors | Gardens | Grills | Heating & Cooling | Homebuilders | Hot Tubs | Insulation | Kitchens | Landscaping | Lawns | Mowers | Paving | Remodelers | Saunas | Security | Siding | Sunrooms | Water Treatment | Windows



There are also amazing home and garden seminars scheduled all weekend long! Here is the full schedule:


Friday, February 24th

4:30 pm - Increase the Storage Space and Update your Kitchen (Steve Katkowsky)

6:00 pm - Backyard Birds and How to Attract Them (Ellen Montgomery)

7:00 pm - Transform your Garden & Bring your Living Space Outdoors (Steve Katkowsky)

Saturday, February 25th

11:30 am - Want a New Home and No Energy Costs for under $175,000? (Gregg Bacon)

1:00 pm - Increase the Storage Space and Update your Bathroom (Steve Katkowsky)

2:00 pm - Want a New Home and No Energy Costs for under $175,000? (Gregg Bacon)

3:30 pm - Increase the Storage Space and Update your Kitchen (Steve Katkowsky)

5:00 pm - Backyard Birds and How to Attract Them (Ellen Montgomery)

6:00 pm - Transform your Garden & Bring your Living Space Outdoors (Steve Katkowsky)

Sunday, February 26th

12:00 pm - Increase the Storage Space and Update your Kitchen (Steve Katkowsky)

1:30 pm - Want a New Home and No Energy Costs for under $175,000? (Gregg Bacon)

2:30 pm - Increase the Storage Space and Update your Bathroom (Steve Katkowsky)



North Iowa Home & Landscaping Show Details

Dates: Friday, February 24th - Sunday, February 26th

Times: 3:00 pm - 9:00 pm (Friday) | 10:00 am - 7:00 pm (Saturday) | 11:00 am - 4:00 pm (Sunday)

Location: North Iowa Events Center (3700 4th Street Southwest, Mason City)

Cost: $5 regular admission, FREE for kids 12 and under!

*Click HERE for special discount coupon!  


If you are interested in Buying or Selling your North Iowa home, give Jane Fischer & Associates a call today or visit our website at http://www.janefischer.com/.


The Humane Society of North Iowa presents:Chocolate and Romance 2017

by Jane Fischer and Associates

                             Don't miss out on contributing this this wonderful fundraising event!

The Humane Society of North Iowa presents Chocolate & Romance

This fundraiser event includes: a fashion show (featuring human AND canine fashions), wine-tasting, silent auction and a delicious chocolate buffet.

This event is being held at the National Guard Armory (1160 19th Street SW, Mason City).

Featuring fashions by......
Emerson's on Main (Osage)
Emerson's at the Lake (Clear Lake)
Emerson's at the Willow (Mason City)
Goodnature's Work Stop (Clear Lake)
Unique Boutique (Clear Lake)

With your hosts.......
Jaime Copley of KIMT Channel 3
And back by popular demand....Pete Hjelmstad!

Also Featuring....
Wine Tasting with Hy-Vee West Wine and Spirits
Indulgent chocolate buffet
Meet adoptable shelter animals on site!

Tickets are $15 and are available NOW through this page or at the shelter! Reserve your tickets now! or stop in during open hours (Tues-Fri (10-5), Wed (10-7) and Sat (10-4)) to purchase in person.

THANK YOU TO OUR WONDERFUL EVENT SPONSORS:
~CL Tel
~Clear Lake Bank and Trust
~Country Meadow Place Assisted Living
~Harley-Davidson of Mason City
~Hy-Vee West Wine and Spirits
~Jane Fischer and Associates of Century 21 Preferred
~Metalcraft Inc.
~MusicArtLife Magazine
~Petroblend

The Jack Snowmobile Race in Clear Lake is a Go!

by Jane Fischer and Associates

The Jack Snowmobile Race in Clear Lake is a GO!

Great news for all you avid snowmobilers in North Iowa - the 8th annual Jack race will go ON! Unfortunately, the kick off event cruise around the lake on Friday has been cancelled due to the lack of usable snow in certain areas of the route. Friday, February 10th pre-registration will be held at the Clear Lake VFW from 6 to 9 pm with radar races to start at 9 am on Saturday morning in Clear Lake. The event was named after local businessman, snowmobile dealer and enthusiast and avid racer, Jack Helgren, is remembered for his love of snowmobile racing. Although there isn't a lot of snow on the lake there is plenty of ice said Gary McVicker, organizer of the annual "The Jack" snowmobiling race which is part of the 2017 Iowa Lemans Championship. The event is typically held in January but due to unseasonably warm weather that caused water to form on top of the ice it was pushed back to this upcoming weekend, Friday temperatures are going to be in the 40s, Saturday will be in the 30s and Sunday will climb back up into the 40s. 

McVicker said "we have been out there with a John Deere tractor and blade and have typically found 19 or more inches of ice. The surface has not been altered although the track has been plotted out. If it's rough, it's rough; if it's glare ice, it's glare ice." Preparation for the event started over a week ago when volunteers began prepping the run site for Saturday's eventto ensure good racing surface. McVicker noted "it's a big event which takes a lot of labor, equipment, and equity to put on but we're all happy to do it and want everyone to come out and have a good time." The vintage show will start at Clear Lake State Park at 10 am with the awards ceremony Saturday evening at 7 pm at Rumorz Bar in Clear Lake where the band Split Second Band will be performing. If you're free Saturday stop out and watch all these great snowmobile racers!

Iowa: A Great State for Well-Being!

by Jane Fischer and Associates

Homebuyers looking to relocate want to find a place that promotes happiness, health, and overall wellbeing. The state of Iowa is the perfect place for just that! In fact, Iowa has been named the 19th best state for well-being in America, according to a report released by Gallup-Healthways!


Gallup polled 177,192 adults over the telephone in order to determine the overall well-being of Americans nationally as well as statewide. The Well-Being index was calculated based on a 0 to 100 scale for the overall score as well as 5 element scores. 5 key elements of well-being were examined, including Purpose (happiness with what one does in their daily lives), Social (happiness with personal relationships), Financial (happiness and security with economic situation), Community (happiness in the city where they live), and Physical (ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle).


Iowa was ranked 19th overall for residents’ well-being. It ranked high for financial and community well-being.


Infographic (4).png




Mason City and the North Iowa region are the perfect spot for homebuyers looking for a sense of well being. With annual community events, endless park and recreational facilities, and strong economic development, every day brings happiness to residents in this beautiful area.



If you are interested in moving to the Mason City area, give Jane Fischer and Associates a call today or visit our website at http://www.janefischer.com/.


Source: Gallup-Healthways State of American Well-Being

Clear Lake's Annual Winter Dance Party Started off with a Bang!

by Jane Fischer and Associates

Surf Ballroom Winter Dance Party

The 1950s themed sock hop kicked off the winter dance party yesterday at the Surf Ballroom with kids of all ages dawned in saddle shoes, Buddy Holly style glasse and poodle skirts which is the start of the annual three day tribute event. It has been 58 years since the plane carrying Ritchie Valens, J.P. "The Big Bopper", Buddy Holly and Roger Peterson the pilot crashed in the night. The first memorial event was held on February 3, 1979 which marked the 20th anniversary of the last performance at the Surf Ballroom prior to the plan crash, the event was entitled "The Tribute to Buddy Holly Concert" and has since grown into a large music celebration of 50's and 60s music. 

The executive director of the Surf Ballroom, Laurie Lietz said "We're exciited to mix new events and activities for our visitors with the many great traditions that have been around since 1979 when the event first began." Austin Allsup will be doing a tribute to his father Tommy Allsup  who was one of the original guitarists for the 1959 Winter Dance Party and played at the Surf on Feb 2, 1959. Tommy was scheduled to play today at the event but sadly passed away just weeks prior to the big event. The Killer Vees: Rmembering Bobby Vee will be performing a tribute on Saturday to Bobby Vee who was a supporter and performer of the annual Winter Dance Party event. Bobby Vee died in October 2016.

The Surf executive director has already started preparation for next year's event because of the large undertaking, even with the help of volunteers and countless hours of planning they stay ahead of the event each year to ensure the line up ofperformers are booked and to avoid scheduling conflicts. On average the event will take 12 to 14 months of planning ahead of time in order to secure all the performers outside of the 3,000+ hours dedicated to scheduling out the events. The community is very supportive of the event that draws thousands of people who fill up all the local hotels and restaurants for a good week; some people travel from as far as the UK to attend the annual event which includes the 28th annual British Buddy Holly Society luncheon at the Best Western on Friday this year. 

Lietz said, "Our event is like no other in the country. In addition to the four evenings of live entertainment here at the Surf, visitors will enjoy everything from dance lessons and wedding vow renewals to luncheons, movies at the local theater and record/memorabilia shows." The event will run through Sunday so make sure to get out and enjoy all the Winter Dance Party has to offer!

Clear Lake's Annual Color the Wind Event to be Covered by CBS Sunday Morning

by Jane Fischer and Associates

Clear Lake's Annual Color the Wind

North Iowa will make nation wide news again on February 18, 2017 as CBS Sunday Morning prepares to film the festival live accroding to Larry and Kay Day who are the organizers of the annual festival. The crew plans to be in Clear Lake for the entire weekend so plan to see a camera crew wandering around on the ice to capture the great kite festival, which is the Midwest's largest winter kite festival. The festival will run from 11 am to 4 pm on the 18th at the Downtown Seawall in Clear Lake, ice conditions look favorable for the event with 17-19 inches on the lake currently. 

Kite flyers from various states travel to Clear Lake annually to display their collection of unique kites and banners with some even having stunt kite teams with two or more lines choreographed dances to music. Come out and enjoy the FREE show where you can purchase hot food and beverages from the lunch wagon. 

Properties in Mason City Continue to Be Reappraised

by Jane Fischer and Associates

The reappraisals of homes in Mason City began on April 1st and continue still today, they're half done with properties in the area with another 5,500 left to go along with 3,000 other parcels. By the time they're done they will have appraised 14,000 properties in the Mason City area according to Dana Naumann the City Assessor. The project should be completed by the end of summer, the city employed Vanguard Appraisals out of Cedar Rapids to help with the large undertaking. The appraisers are currently work in the southeast area of town this week.

Naumann stated the reappraising is taking place because "it is establishing the current market value of each property and to ensure that like properties are equitably assessed." The city wants to try to ensure taxpayers are only paying their share of their property tax and that it's not falling burden to others. The last time this project was completed was in 1992 so it is now time to inspect and appraise to homes since not every property will decrease or increase in value over all those years at the same rate according to Naumann; the information will be used to estimate the fair market value of properties.

The state law does require owners to allow access to appraisers to complete their assesment, for the most part Naumann said it's gone pretty smooth but there have been a couple issues with home owners refusing to allow the appraisers inside. Only a handful of calls have been made to the local police department to assist in the process or to assure people in the neighborhood that there isn't a stranger lurking in the area. 

All appraisers photos are on the city assessor's webpage and they all carry their photo ID. All property owners will be able to discuss the reappraised value of their home depending on the findings. The new values will be made available January 1, 2018 for taxes payable in 2019-2020. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the reappraisal process you are asked to conact the City Assessor's office at 641-421-3061.

Which North Iowa Town Will Make the RAGBRAI Route Cut?

by Jane Fischer and Associates

North Iowa RAGBRAI Route 2017

The big announcement for the RAGBRAI 2017 host towns along the route will be held on Saturday at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, many cities representatives from across the state will be in attendance to find out if their town was chosen for 2017. The Register's Great Annual Cycle Ride Across Iowa will be July 23-29th with eight cities being chosen as overnight stay hosts.

Officials from both Clear Lake and Charles City plan to be in attendance for the announcement this weekend, Charles City Administrator Steve Diers was staying hopeful that Charles City will end up as a choice for this years ride. Although Clear Lake hosted an overnight stop in Ragbrai 2010, Mayor Nelson Crabb applied to be considered for a stop along the route this year; Crabb along with Clear Lake's City Administrator and Mayor Pro-Tem will be attending Saturday's event. In 2014 Clear Lake was one of the towns that was passed through but they hope to host again this year. Mason City recently hosted an overnight of Ragbrai so although they applied to be on the route it wasn't likely they would be chosen according to Mason City Manager, Brent Trout. The committee tries to spread the hosting towns around the state but Trout stated Mason City really enjoyed hosting and would like to do it again in the upcoming years.

Barb Smith, the Forest City Administrator, said hosting Ragbrai is a good community thing that brings people to town. Smith wasn't sure if Forest City had applied to host in 2017 or not but hopes to be a part of the ride at some point in the future. Algona also applied to host although they hosted overnight in 2010, the City Administrator Curt Wiseman said they won't know until after the announcement is made whethere Algona will host again or not they're just waiting anxiously.

 

Are Manufactured Stone Exteriors the Right Choice?

by Jane Fischer and Associates

Faux Stone House Siding

More and more we are seeing faux stone exteriors added to houses to add to the look of the house, not to mention the lightweight and cost effective alternative to natural stone is quite alluring to many homeowners and builders alike. Due to the wide array of colors and styles the trendier stone veneer option is becoming popoular over the standard vinyl siding or paired with vinyl to spruce up the look of the home to the point stone veneer sales increases in recent years by double digits. However, home inspectors across the nation are cautioning homeowners about the possibility of water damage because of the poor installation techniques that are being used.

Scott Patterson, a home inspector out of Tennessee, has noted that 9 out of 10 homes he's inspected has had the manufactured stone applied incorrectly causing water seepage behind the siding which in turn leads to rotting walls as well as mold problems. Unfortunately, some problems don't become evident for many years after the manufactured stone is installed. The American Society of Home Inspectors is recommending members become familiar with faux stone siding and inspect the areas thoroughly because of the penetrable nature.

The good news is that not all homeowners that choose to have the manufactured stone installed have ongoing issues as long as the product is installed correctly. The price of the manufactured stone is $3-$8 per square foot before installation, although double the cost of vinyl siding it's only 1/3 of the cost of natural stone.

As a buyer you may want to consider hiring an inspector with specialized training in faux stone installation to know ahead of time what you're buying and to get all the information needed to make a decision on a home. The question is how would a buyer or homeowner know there's a problem? The answer isn't simple because there may or may not be visible signs of the problem. A severe example of when the stone was installed without the proper sealant and backer rods around a large window caused caused water to pour into the walls which damaged the interior wall and alerted the owner there was an issue.

Tapping the stone to see if anything is loose or if there might be water behind it is a good test to try as a homeowner looking for any suspect signs of problematic manufactured stone installation, unfortunately all too often the problem is masked behind the wall without a way to detect until the damage becomes visible on the interior of the home. Some home inspectors do have specialized equipment to assist in finding a problem including a moisture meter and infrared camera, the inspector can check that stone has been installed correctly up to windows and door frames as well as having the correct type of sealant. If the inspector does find damage related to the manufactured stone the homeowner may want to find a qualified structural engineer in order to find all areas of moisture which can help lead to the extent of the damage within the walls behind the stone. Replacing the stone can run anywhere from $30-$38/square foot of wall which wouldn't include the cost of labor or any additional damage done to the structure of the home.

Both buyers and homeowners alike are still being drawn to the new trendy manufactured stone. Remodeling magazine's 2016 Cost vs Value Report highlighted manufactured stone veneer as having the second highest ROI (return on investment) out of 27 home projects, with nearly 93% of the cost recouped at resale. Be vigilent in choosing your contractor to ensure the product is installed correctly and to avoid problems down the road.

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