Hiawatha’s potential branding initiative has been a hot topic of conversation around town since it was reported at last Monday’s City Commission meeting, which culminated in some intense dialogue at this Monday’s USD 415 School Board meeting.

Following the discussion, the Hiawatha USD 415 School Board opted out. On Thursday this week, the Branding Initiative Steering Committee announced they were “pausing” the project to further reflect on the survey results and the wants of the community.

The proposed, “Hiawatha, the most boring town you’ll ever love” phrase has been widely panned since it was presented at last week’s city commission meeting and community members expressed their concerns prior to the board hearing a presentation from Rick Nobles of ExcellenceK12.

The branding initiative began last year when four entities — School, City, Chamber and HFED — moved forward on a survey sent to gathered emails about what people like about their town. Or don’t like. Nobles told the City Commission last week and then the School Board this week that the word “boring” came up more times than anything, other than references to the Halloween Frolic.

After the city voted to move forward with the process and pay one-fourth of the $7,500 cost for the campaign, the school was next up, to be followed by the Chamber on Wednesday and HFED on Thursday of this week. Each entity was asked to pay $1,875 after the approximate $600 initial fee. Representatives from all four groups were to then meet to report the decisions of the individual organizations and come to a collective verdict on the initiative.

Objections from two residents during the Public Comment section of Monday’s board meeting led into Nobles’ presentation, which did not go over well with some board members, who called the idea depressing and offensive. Nobles defended his pitch, stating that he believes it to be a “home run,” and clarified that the message was intended to be tongue and cheek humor and not an attack on the town.

The board discussed the subject briefly after the presentation and took no action, meaning that the school would not be involved in the campaign if it moved forward.

On Thursday, the Steering Committee released the following:

“After careful consideration, the steering committee has decided to put a pause on the Hiawatha Branding Campaign. Though it is important to stay true to what the community survey results told us, we also know the importance of having community support in order for the campaign to be effective. We are confident we can find something that rings true for Hiawatha while making it stand out from the pack of other rural communities and do so in a way that the community supports.”

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