FROM THE DESK OF THE MAYOR
Dear Citizens of Belle Plaine:
THE BENCO BUILDING WILL HAVE A NEW OCCUPANT!!!! I do not have all the information yet but as I type this newsletter we are proud to welcome Frontier Coop from Norway to the City of Belle Plaine. Now that means both of the Benco buildings have new industries in them as Kelly Plastics is already in operation in the old Benco facility. I definitely would say that is some of the most positive news that we have had this year.
Fourth of July has to be one of the favorite holiday events for every American. We know in Belle Plaine it is one of our favorite times. With all the celebrations going on with parades, car show, Taste of Belle Plaine, street dance, fireworks, dunk tanks (actually the toilet flush), cow chip bingo, & other assorted activities occurring here & across the area as well as the nation. I hope we take some time to remember this is the Birthday of the United States of America & we have a history that is rich in establishing a way of life that grants freedom to everyone plus guarantees so many liberties to us all. The Founding Fathers were taking a great risk when they signed the Declaration of Independence and they proved right up front that FREEDOM IS NOT FREE!!!!! So as we celebrate this fourth let’s truly support the men & women who have fought so we can maintain this way of life & let’s truly remember this younger generation of American military personal who are actively defending our way of life all over the world today!
As the time period of the Fourth of July rolls around it is time to remind residents of the following city code (which is primarily the state law) on the use of golf carts:
SECTION 3-40-25 GOLF CARTS. Persons possessing a valid driver’s license may operate a golf cart upon the city streets in the manner allowed under Section 321.247 of the Iowa Code and subject to the following terms and conditions.
(1) A golf cart shall not be operated upon a city street which is a primary road extension through the city but shall be allowed to cross a city street which is a primary road extension through the city.
(2) The golf carts shall be equipped with a slow moving vehicle sign and a bicycle safety flag.
(3) The golf cart shall operate on the streets only from sunrise to sunset.
(4) Golf carts operated on city streets shall be equipped with adequate brakes.
In June the burning hours change & you are limited to Saturday’s from Noon to 4 pm. But recreational fires are still legal any night of the week. Reminder: SECTION 3-26-14 REGULATING AND PROHIBITING OUTDOOR BURNING. No garbage, wool, rubber, leather, plastic or refuse shall be burned outdoors at any time within the limits of this city.
(1) Definitions. For use within this ordinance the following terms are defined:
a.) Garbage. As used in this ordinance, the definition for “garbage” shall be the same as that established by Chapter 57 of this Code.
b.) Refuse. Refuse shall be defined as set out by Chapter 57 of this Code but shall exclude wood and lumber scraps and shall include all tar papers, non-wood shingles, and materials treated with creosote and other petroleum by-products.
DOT note: The DOT advised us that they will not be doing the sidewalk project on Highway 21 thru Belle Plaine this year. Projected start time is now April 2016.
Let me bring up a topic that has been discussed with every group meeting I have been at in the last four months. Lack of volunteers!!!!! When a city the size of Vinton says they have the same twenty people who volunteer for everything then you know it is a problem for cities of all sizes. I know there isn’t a group in Belle Plaine who isn’t feeling the “volunteer fatigue” & while I can explain it, I don’t have any solid answers to solve it. BP’s problem extends from loss of population which is shown in the last two censuses. Plus our largest volunteer group in numbers is the 45-60 age groups & our smallest group in numbers is the 20-39 age groups. It simply gets back to a numbers game & we simply do not have the numbers we once had to do the volunteer work. So what is the solution? 1. If you have not got involved with any group or projects then at least think about getting involved. 2. If you do a couple of volunteer activities a year, think about adding one or two more. 3. Talk to your neighbors & co-workers to see if you can get them involved. I know we have a lot of people who get involved through a variety of groups; for those we are very thankful & totally appreciate your efforts. Hopefully we can get a few more people to volunteer for the volunteer groups or we get a few more people who will let the volunteer groups know that they are available. My biggest fear is one of these days we will have to cancel our “Old Fashion Fourth of July” because there are not enough volunteers. The one thing I do know is the city cannot operate without volunteers. We could never hire enough workers to make everything happen that the community wants to see happen.
IT TAKES VOLUNTEERS!
Please think about donating some of your time!
Okay I mentioned it last month & now I will mention it again.
VANDALISM OF PUBLIC PROPERTY… this seems to be an epidemic this year. We have already had major vandalism of our new playground on 15th street & some major vandalism at Anderson Park. In fact at Anderson Park the vandals continue to tear up the same piece of equipment the night after we have it fixed. Actually the next day they vandalized it during the repair job as the Park & Recreation Director left the park to go get more parts & they stole the parts he was using. Now I come in to the office & find out they set fire to a bathroom at Franklin Park at 6:00 am on a Monday morning. Those culprits were caught and are being charged. The city will file charges in all cases of vandalism but what we do need is the public help in catching the vandals. So to borrow a phrase from Homeland Security: IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, THEN SAY SOMETHING. Please call law enforcement (319-444-2323) so we can get involved ASAP. When public property gets tore up it takes away from everyone because instead of adding to our parks we are using budget money for repairs. In many cases this is not covered by insurance because of the deductible & it takes the park equipment out of usage until we can get the equipment to fix it.
Police Residency: I know this is a topic that the public has a definite opinion on & they either believe the seven mile limit is the way to go or they believe that an officer should have the right to live where they want or they believe that we should change the restriction to something that is more reasonable. Where does the Mayor want the officers to live? I would like them to all live in Belle Plaine or at least in the Belle Plaine School District. That being said, this is not actually what the discussion is all about. The discussion centers on the fact there is no flexibility in the current ordinance to allow the council to meet a reasonable request. Example: an officer has the chance to buy the –perfect acreage that sits nine miles from Belle Plaine. With the current ordinance the simple answer is: request denied. How much difference is there between 7 miles vs. 9 miles? Really? When the discussion is done & over we may leave the code as is or we may add flexibility so we can deal with the current trends that are causing us to lose officers. The proposal is not designed to make it wide open nor is it designed to not encourage officers to live in Belle Plaine; the proposal is designed to give us flexibility so we can compete with the police staffs of Marengo, Tama, Toledo, & other comparable communities our size. It is also designed so we are not losing young officers so fast they never get to see what a great community we actually have and one that they would like their children to grow up in, doing extra-curricular activities here, go to school here, & become Plainsmen alumni.
Bottom line: the current code is not working to help us retain officers.
By the way elections will be coming sooner than you realize. Now might be the time to think about running for a public office. There will be elections for the school board this fall. November will bring elections for two council seats, the Mayor’s job, & the Park Board. If you decided to run then stop into city hall for an explanation of what you must do to get your name on the ballot or contact the main school office for an explanation for school board.
If you like the way the bio-cells look then when you see Dave Kramer give him a “BIG THANK UP” as he is the volunteer who has spent a lot of time making them look so good. More on this next month.
Summer is going fast so you better get out there & catch a ball game. T-ball, little league, junior high or high school they will all be over shortly.
Good luck to the high school softball & baseball teams as they head into state sponsored tournament action!
AS ALWAYS “GO PLAINSMEN”. REMEMBER IT IS UP TO ALL OF US TO MAKE BELLE PLAINE THE BEST HOMETOWN IN IOWA!
Dave Fish-July 2015