FROM THE DESK OF THE MAYOR
Dear Citizens of Belle Plaine:
HAPPY NEW YEAR & WELCOME TO 2015!!!!!
I really don’t see how 2015 can be more stressful in City Hall than 2014 turned out to be. In the past 12 months we have replaced two clerks, the city administrator, one person in our street department & one of our water department people; not to mention replacing several police officers. Add in a record number of water main breaks, along with frozen service lines, water restrictions, use of “Old # Six (artesian)well & the normal operational procedures of a city government & it was a very hectic year.
I would truly hope that the pace of 2015 would slow down a bit.
I just got done helping at the Share program and doing the regular share orders & then the special Christmas baskets. Fantastic program & the share food program is for everyone, no matter what their income. But maybe even more important the number of volunteers who work at this event every month added to the extra volunteers who jumped in to help at Christmas time made the work seem so easy and the time go so fast. (Many hands make light work!) It was especially nice to see so many students who were involved in the effort, a number of them were National Honor Society students who got up early on a Saturday morning. Also those teenage guys seem to be able to lift just about anything so unloading the truck was a piece of cake. After talking with Charmaine and being told how generous so many people from Belle Plaine were with the Christmas gift donations it once again confirms by belief in mid-west family values & how strong those values are constantly expressed in our home town. Just another one of the many reasons why Belle Plaine is a great community to live in & another reason why I’m so proud to work for the people as Mayor. Many thanks go out to all who help shape this city as a great place to live. If you are interested in the Share program please give Charmaine a call at the Benton County Volunteer Program.
How bad is the strain of flu that is not covered by the flu shot? Trust me on this one - it is a little bit on the tough side; I usually never miss more than one day of work but to be confined to my bed room or couch for three days, miss work two days, & miss a UNI home basketball game has to mean it is a tough one!
(Oh yes I had a flu shot!)
I’m sure if you saw the last council meeting headlines in the paper that said, “Belle Plaine Plans to make Plans.” You probably asked, What does that mean? First we have hired the East Central Iowa Council of Governments (ECICOG) to redo our comprehensive city plan. This will be a collaborative project between the city government, our zoning board, & the citizens of Belle Plaine to plan out the future land use, housing, economic development, historic preservation, infrastructure, and transportation. It is our road map to where do we want Belle Plaine to go in the next 20 to 30 years and how do we get there. It is not a document carved in stone that will force us to specifically do anything but it will be a guide for future development. To those who have already told me that it is a waste of time, they are entitled to their thoughts & opinions. I won’t argue with them. Here is what I will say: it is state law that we are required to complete it & the current plan runs out at the end of 2015 so a new one must be put into place. We want public participation so please do just that! When we have a community meeting come & express your opinion. GEE IF YOU WANT MORE THAN YOUR TWO CENTS WORTH I HAVE TWO OPENINGS ON THE ZONING BOARD SO PLEASE CALL ME ABOUT AN APPOINTMENT!!!!!
The next item that was on the agenda & this maybe even more important is we hired the engineering firm of Anderson Bogert to help us develop a long term plan for our water & sewer lines. I consider this one to be even more important because we have some real age issues with our current water & sewer lines. When I get told by the staff that our major water line from the wells to the tower are around a 100 years old I have real concerns. If that one blows out, well if you thought drinking Old #6 water for a month was bad think about no water for a couple of weeks. We also have some concerns about the age of our five primary wells & what we need to do if several of them are in their last stages of life. What is the next step in this area?
Again I reaffirm this is not carving a stone tablet for the city council to follow but it is giving this council & future councils a set of guidelines on what needs to be done, what has to be done, & overall when should we be doing it. Again we are just trying to prepare for the future.
This council & future councils will decide when the future is upon us!
Neither of these two projects are the same as the current sewer lagoon project that is on the engineers design table & that will be started probably sometime in the next six months. Again this one is going to happen! The DNR has ordered it to be completed. Does this affect any of the above planning projects? I believe it does but at this stage I can’t predict how!
What I do know is we need to make plans so when we are forced to spend money we do so in the wisest & most cost effective manner that we can for the citizens of Belle Plaine. This also means we will beat the bushes looking for grant money but I will remind everyone in most cases there is not enough grant money to completely cover a project & in some cases there is no grant money at all!
In the newsletter you will find the complete county landfill brochure that was just produced by the Landfill Commission. We have included this in our newsletter so if you decided to take items to the landfill you will know the cost up front. (You should probably call to see if the credit/debit card system is up & running.) In other news concerning the landfill: putting this under the management of the commission was a good idea but vastly more complicated than one can imagine. In reality the county has just created a new independent, sector of government from the ground up. This includes but is not limited to employees, health insurance for employees, a new manager, work rules, charges, hours of operation, equipment, etc., etc., etc. The complexity of creating this organization & getting it to run efficiently is probably more than anyone knew when we started but it should be well worth it. In the end we will have a county landfill that will provide more services than we were getting out of the former method & will be more user friendly. Eventually it will be cheaper for the Benton County taxpayer. What one has to understand is that garbage has become big business across the nation & it has become an industry that must by federal/state standards be a friend to the environment. The days of just burning it or burying it has long since gone away. The bottom line for the consumer is: if you produce it, then you are going to have to pay to get rid of the left over product or by-product. It is the goal of the Benton County Commission to make that as easy & cheap as possible!
Early start & early savings! Now is the time to get your dog & cat licensing done for 2015. If you get them renewed in January you can avoid the $5 late penalty that gets added to each license for each month after the January time period. Remember City Hall is open until 5:00 every day & almost is never closed during the noon hour!
How about one rumor squished: the City of Belle Plaine does not own either Benco building, but there is new serious economic activity @ the old Benco building!
There is a free seminar at the Tippie Annex on January 8th entitled “Effective Marketing to Compete Against the World Without Breaking the Bank.” It could be a great way for our merchants & other entrepreneurs to pick up some new knowledge & lunch is free. Call Emily Upah at the Benton Development Group (319-472-5545) if you have questions.
Hey if you have not seen the Lady Plainsmen & the Plainsmen Basketball Teams yet maybe it is time to check out their home schedule. A lot of home Tuesday games, so don’t watch the cable channels come out & see the kids play. (Boys are undefeated & the girls are above .500!)
If you didn’t see the actual copy of the newsletter last month I did congratulate all the all-SICL XC runners, volleyball players, & all district football players. My full list could not fit in the newspaper. But again congratulations to all!
As always “Go Plainsmen”. Remember it is up to all of us to make
Belle Plaine the best hometown in Iowa!
Mayor Dave Fish – January 2015