The hundreds of hours of volunteer work to come up with a plan to improve third grade reading levels in Marshalltown will not only fuel young minds - it's landed Marshalltown an All-America City honor.
The award was presented Monday at a conference in Denver, and Marshalltown was one of 14 communities in the country to receive the distinction this year from the National Civic League. The local plan was formed as a result of work from more than 100 volunteers and was led by Arlene McAtee and Sue Martin.
"We are really, really excited," Martin said from Denver. "It's just overwhelming."
A group of school, service agency and city leaders were at the conference to accept the award as Marshalltown was one of 35 finalists. Marshalltown also was a finalist last year but fell just short of the official honor.
The Marshalltown group in attendance gave high-fives and hugs to each other when the All-America honor was announced.
"Some were on the edge of tears," Martin said.
2012 All-America Cities
Quad Cities, Iowa and Ill.
San Antonio, Texas
San Francisco, Calif.
Seattle and the South King County Cities, Wash.
Southern Pines, N.C.
Mayor Gene Beach said the honor is great news for the town, but even better news that the plan to improve third grade reading levels was deemed a good one. He credited the community for getting behind the effort and boosting it to this national recognition.
"The support for the project was totally community-wide," Beach said.
The effort has three main focuses for reading improvement and they are: improve school readiness for younger students; stave off the summer learning drop; and improve school attendance. As a result of the award, Marshalltown will get assistance from experts to help push the plan forward along with the community support.
"This is a real validation of all that hard work by lots and lots of people," Martin said of the award. "Marshalltown is doing some great things."