FROM THE DESK OF THE MAYOR
Dear Citizens of Belle Plaine:
Gee what happened to the summer? It seems like school just got out. I thought the summer went fast when I was teaching but they seem to go just as fast now that I’m retired. At least I don’t have to change my hours, get a room ready & then face 120+ students per day. Along that line of thinking please note that as school starts the foot, bike, car, pick-up, & bus traffic becomes real heavy in our school zones. Please be aware of those changes and drive accordingly. Remember the speed limit in school zones is 25 mph & there is a lot more stop & go driving around the schools. Please leave early, take your time, & be extra careful around our students. The same traffic problems will occur in the afternoon as the schools are letting out.
Another piece of positive news that we hope will come from the DOT in the next few months. I was asked by the Benton Development Group to present to the DOT commission when they were in Cedar Rapids on August 12 on why we wanted the Highway 30 Expansion project (4 lanes) put back on the schedule of highway projects to be completed. I talked with the group about how we saw the expansion as a major part of our overall economic plan, especially in trying to attract more industry. I also talked to them about people who drive to Cedar Rapids on a daily basis for their jobs & how many of us have specialty medical services in Cedar Rapids. I also explained how the city felt it would increase visitors to our city if it was four lane, how much safer a four lane highway was to drive in the winter time, & how the Cedar Rapids area was also an area we used for entertainment. The commission had toured highway 30 the day before & I was assured by one of the commissioners that he was in our corner & would be totally supporting our way of thinking. Also from Benton County was the superintendent of Vinton/Shellsburg & an official from ADM. We were followed by a member of the Tama County Development Group who echoed all our sentiments & then announced that the beef plant is opening on October 20th in Tama & just how much more truck traffic would be added to an already overcrowded two lane system from Tama to the Highway 218 corner. Hopefully this will help get the project back on schedule.
Speaking of time my only other note from the DOT meeting is to Mayor Ron Corbet & the Cedar Rapids group: when the schedule says you get fifteen minutes it means fifteen minutes not twenty to thirty minutes. The Cedar Rapids projects are not any more important than the rest of the projects that were on the schedule today.
I just about missed the meeting. I somehow got talking to a group of teachers & almost ended up in an area education agency meeting. I guess my brain was thinking gee it is August; it must be time for some teacher professional development. I’m sure glad I looked around the room before I started to sit down & realized I was in the wrong room. Curriculum development was definitely not something I felt like listening to again.
REMEMBER: the burning hours change back at this time of the year. You can now burn seven days per week from 4 to 9 PM. Again please be reminded that is yard waste only.
In the I THOUGHT I MIGHT HAVE SAID THIS BEFORE DEPARTMENT: If you do not have enough recycled materials to fill the two recycle bins you may co-mingle the materials into one bin. Johnson County Refuse Inc. said that from first day & it continues to be their policy. If you have too much to get it in one bin then it must be sorted into the two bins they have provided. But the bottom line is if you don’t have enough to fill the two bins then just co-mingle it into one bin.
As long as I’m talking garbage, starting on September first EVERYONE TAKING MATERIALS INTO THEBENTON COUNTY LANDFILL WILL BE CHARGED A TIPPING FEE!!!!! That includes the Johnson County trucks that haul for Belle Plaine. Based on the figures that we collected, we send about nine tons per week to the landfill. (Less than we did with Waste Management) thus the city of Belle Plaine produces about 468 tons of garbage per year that will cost us $11,700 more dollars per year in garbage fees. That will be directly billed to the city of Belle Plaine which means based on 976 residential accounts we will have to raise our garbage rates about $1.00 per month. If in the next year we discover our tonnage goes down then we should be able to lower the rate.
Also the county charges us $6 per person per year for landfill services. So besides the tipping fee we will continue to pay a per capita fee. The hopes are that over the course of the next three years the per capita fee will be lowered. A lot of this change in charges has resulted from our landfill getting full probably about 6 months to 18 months sooner than it should have been filled. Thus when the landfill opens a new cell you must have the opening costs on hand, as well as the closing costs. You can imagine the expense of that ranges somewhere between 2 million to 6 million dollars. Also you have future inspection costs long after the landfill area has been closed. The old idea of out of sight, out of mind no longer applies to garbage & landfills. Benton County was one of the only landfills in the state of Iowa that did not charge a tipping fee. Garbage is big business & as America becomes more & more of a throw away nation it will come with even bigger cost on how to take care of the junk we leave behind.
My major suggestions is the more you can recycle the better & if you are going to personally haul something to the landfill I would call ahead to find out the cost.
Another one of those items that came to me by e-mail that I mentioned last month is trees and how high the branches are over the sidewalk. We have had several more phone calls to city hall informing us of several other trees in town that need trimmed. We have sent out the appropriate letters & I hope that is all it takes to get the residents to take care of the problem. After I got that e-mail last month I went out to check my tree. Well with a small saw & about 10 minutes of work I now have my tree so people do not have to crawl past my house. Add about ten more minutes to haul the limbs to the mulch pile & my project was finished. So please take a few minutes to check your sidewalks & trim the limbs up to the zoned ten foot height.
There are important elections coming up in November so I would hope everyone would get registered to vote. In that vein of non-partisanship for those who would like to vote on an absentee ballot you can come by City Hall & pick up the official State of Iowa Absentee Ballot Request Form. It still has to be sent in but you can get the form from us & an explanation on how to use it.
The real positive side about the end of summer is that means football, volleyball, & XC seasons are here & we can all become experts about what should or should not be called by our favorite high school, college & pro team. I totally agree except in the area of high school sports. Just remember when attending those high school, junior high or grade school sporting events: the participants are just kids so keep that in mind when they make mistakes. None of our student athletes go out for a sport in hopes that they can mess up a play. My advice let the players play, let the coaches coach, cheer for the positive, but most of all go to have fun. If booing is your thing, then get tickets to a pro game.
Special Congratulations to Justin Jacobi who spent his summer completing basic training & then returned to complete his senior year at BPHS.
That is one impressive way to spend your summer vacation!!!!!
As always “Go Plainsmen”. Remember it is up to all of us to make
Belle Plaine the best hometown in Iowa!
Mayor Dave Fish – September 2014