Muscatine Fire Department Training Burn Scheduled For Saturday

MUSCATINE, Iowa – The Muscatine Fire Department will be conducting a training burn on Saturday, March 25, 2017, at the former Beach Lumber Company on Hershey Avenue. The training session will close that portion of Hershey Avenue from Ash to Green Streets for most of the day.

“This is an opportunity to facilitate interagency cooperation and conduct hands-on training in a more controlled environment that we would have at an actual fire,” Muscatine Fire Department Captain Gary Ronzheimer said.

Ronzheimer is coordinating the training session that will involve between 70-80 firefighters from throughout the area. The main building closest to the street and a garage on the property will be used in the training session but several other outbuildings will not be used.

“Safety is our primary concern, for the firefighters, for the equipment, and for the public,” Ronzheimer said. “Hershey Avenue will be blocked off starting at 7 a.m. and the training fire will begin at approximately 1 p.m.”

Local residents and local businesses will have access to their homes and businesses until the time of the fire. The area will be cleared and a space for residents to view the training fire will be established at the intersection of Green Street and Hershey Avenue.

The fire department distributed door knockers this week to alert residents in the surrounding neighborhood of the upcoming training exercise.

“Weather conditions will play a large part in how the smoke moves up and out from the fire,” Ronzheimer said. “Anyone that lives in the area and could be affected by the smoke should find somewhere else to be until the burn is completed.”

Muscatine Fire Department will also have units standing by in case embers from the fire would spread and cause unintended fires.

“We are ready for any contingency,” Ronzheimer said. “The weather should prevent the spread of the embers but you have to be ready for any possibility.”

Detour for the training exercise will be the same as the flood detour with signage posted around the affected area to direct motorists. Traffic will be diverted to Main Street, to West Eighth Street, and to Iowa Avenue.

“Safety is the main reason for the street closure,” Ronzheimer said. “We want to make sure of the safety for our firefighters, for our equipment, and for the public.”

The hydrants that will be used in the training burn are located on the opposite side of Hershey Avenue which means the fire departments big five-inch lines will be running across the roadway.

“We do not need to have those lines damages or cause what is called a water hammer,” Ronzheimer said. “That is when the line, which has water moving at a high rate of speed, is closed off and forcing the water pressure back toward the hydrant and water lines where a lot of damage can occur.”

The Fire Department conducts training almost every day but a training burn does not occur that often.

“We do a lot of training in other areas such as HAZMAT but it is at least a couple of years or more between training burns like the exercise we have this weekend,” Ronzheimer said. “This is great experience for our younger firefighters and volunteers to gain the experience they will need in the event of an actual fire.”

Instructors for the training exercise come from the Blue Grass, Durant, Muscatine, and West Liberty Fire Departments among others.

Beach Lumber Company consists of eight buildings and sits on 3.5 acres of land near the Mississippi River. The property was owned by Carver Riverfront Real Estate, Inc., prior to being donated to the City of Muscatine by the Carver family. The location is adjacent to the site of a former Carver Pump factory. That area was acquired and cleared by the City of Muscatine in 1999.

 

Muscatine receives 23rd consecutive CAFR award

 

The Certificate for Excellence in Financial Reporting has been awarded to the City of Muscatine for the 23rd consecutive year by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA). The award recognizes the comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR) prepared for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015, by the City of Muscatine Finance Department.

“We are very proud of the hard work and dedication by the members of our financial department,” Gregg Mandsager, City Administrator, said. “It is impressive that we have had 23 straight years of receiving this award and it is a tribute to the past and present staff members.”

The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management.

“This award recognizes our endeavors to ensure the report meets and exceeds all required regulations,” Nancy Lueck, City of Muscatine finance director, said. “We are honored that our work to write a complete and understandable financial report of the City of Muscatine is recognized once again.”

Lueck has been with the finance department since 1977 and has served as its director since 2005.

Muscatine was one of 22 municipalities in Iowa to receive the award along with seven counties and 13 school districts.

The City of Muscatine was earlier awarded the GFOA Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the 32nd consecutive year. In order to receive this award, a governmental unit must publish a budget document that meets program criteria as a policy document, as an operations guide, as a financial plan and as a communications device.

The CAFR was judged by an impartial panel to meet the high standards of the program including demonstrating a constructive “spirit of full disclosure” to clearly communicate its financial story and motivate potential users and user groups to read the CAFR.

The GFOA is a nonprofit professional organization serving approximately 17,500 government finance professionals with offices in Chicago, IL, and Washington, D.C.

The GFOA established the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Program (CAFR Program) in 1945 to encourage and assist state and local governments to go beyond the minimum requirements of generally accepted accounting principles to prepare comprehensive annual financial reports that evidence the spirit of transparency and full disclosure and then to recognize individual governments that succeed in achieving that goal.  The goal of the program is not to assess the financial health of participating governments, but rather to ensure that users of their financial statements have the information they need to do so themselves.

Reports submitted to the CAFR program are reviewed by selected members of the GFOA professional staff and the GFOA Special Review Committee (SRC), which comprises individuals with expertise in public sector financial reporting and includes financial statement preparers, independent auditors, academics, and other finance professionals.

 

 

Update on the City’s Award-winning Budget

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Last week’s post about the upcoming budget sessions describes the process that the City Council and staff undergo to create a budget to meet the needs of our community. This undertaking is no small feat!

Finance Director Nancy Lueck has been with the Finance Department since 1977 and has served as the Director since fall of 2005. Nancy and her team have efficient procedures for handling the budget each year.

Not only does Iowa Code require cities of our size to complete an annual audit, but the City of Muscatine also submits the budget to be reviewed by The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) each year.

The City of Muscatine has been awarded a GFOA Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for 32 consecutive years. In order to receive this award, a governmental unit must publish a budget document that meets program criteria as a policy document, as an operations guide, as a financial plan and as a communications device.

For the 25th consecutive year, the City has also received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from GFOA for its comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR). The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management.

If you’d like to learn more about the budget process, consider attending some of the upcoming budget sessions!

Mississippi Drive Public Hearing Set For Feb. 2

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Last Thursday, Jan. 19, there was a great turnout at the Public Meeting for the Mississippi Drive Corridor Project! Thank you to all who attended. At the meeting, City Council, citizens, and staff came together for an informal presentation and a chance to view the latest design plans.

If you would like to see design plans, but were not able to make it to the meeting, you may still view the latest map of design plans! It is on display at Public Works, 1459 Washington Street.

Next Thursday, Feb. 2, there will be a Public Hearing on Mississippi Drive at the City Council Meeting at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers. 

More information about the project and design concepts from the previous public engagement meetings can be found on the project website.

The construction for the Mississippi Drive Corridor Project is set to begin later this spring.

Governor Branstad to Attend Chinese New Year Concert in Muscatine!

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Special guests Governor Terry Branstad and his wife Chris will attend the Chinese New Year Concert in Muscatine on Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. The concert will be held at Calvary Church, 501 W. Bypass 61 and will feature the Shaanxi Province Song and Dance Theater National Orchestra. The event is free and open to the public. No tickets are required.

The concert will serve as a Chinese New Year celebration for the community as well as a time to recognize Governor Branstad for his commitment to the relationship between the State of Iowa and China before his pending appointment as U.S. Ambassador to China.

In 1983 Branstad was in his first term as governor when he signed the first sister state relationship agreement between the State of Iowa and Hebei Province. Following the sister state agreement, a small delegation from Hebei visited Iowa in 1985 to learn about modern agricultural techniques.

One of the members of the delegation was a young agricultural official named Xi Jinping.

At the time, Xi and the delegation were welcomed into the governor’s office where Branstad built relationships with the guests.

Xi’s 1985 trip to Muscatine and the State of Iowa was the beginning of a friendship between Muscatine and China.  No one would have imagined that the young agricultural official they hosted in 1985 would go on to become the President of China.

When President Xi refers to those he connected with during his 1985 stay in the state, he calls them his “old friends.”

Sarah Lande of Muscatine is among one of the “old friends” who hosted the delegation in 1985.

Lande said the Chinese New Year Concert will be a time to celebrate Chinese culture in Muscatine and also wish the governor well before he undergoes the appointment process.

“Our relationship with China has truly come full circle!” Lande said. “When Governor Branstad first signed the sister state agreement with Hebei, the goal was to build friendships. Now he’s the nominee to be the U.S. Ambassador to China.”

Muscatine’s sister city of Zhengding County, China is where President Xi Jinping held his first governmental position. Today, Muscatine has a thriving sister city relationship as a result of Governor Branstad’s work in establishing the sister state relationship and the hospitality shown by volunteers in Muscatine in 1985.

“It warms our hearts to celebrate this occasion as it gives us hope for the future of U.S. and China relations,” Lande said.

The concert is being sponsored by the Bank of China, the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China, China Arts and Entertainment Group, China Window Group, and the Muscatine-China Initiatives Committee.

All are invited to attend this night of celebration in Muscatine!

Budget Season for Fiscal Year 2017-2018

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It’s that time of year again! It’s budget season for the City of Muscatine.

The City of Muscatine must adopt an annual budget by March 15 of each year. The process began back in November, when departments received budget materials and instructions on the process. Now that each department’s budget proposals have been compiled, it is time for the City Council to hear the presentations before making their decisions on how to most effectively spend revenues.

Creating a budget for a full service city that meets our community’s needs but is responsible at the same time is no small feat. There are issues and challenges that come along with the budget process.

We want to make sure you have all of the information available to participate and stay engaged in the process. There are numerous opportunities to attend presentations before the Public Hearing, which is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, March 2, but will be officially set by City Council after department/agency presentations are made. The Public Hearing is your opportunity as a citizen to comment and share your opinion.

Take a look at the Budget Schedule and see if you would like to attend some of the presentations.

The City of Muscatine values constructive input and appreciates hearing your ideas. You can comment here on our blog, visit our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages, or email us to stay connected.

Thank you for reading and we hope you stay engaged in the budget process!

Muscatine Fire Department’s Roy Patterson Will Soon Be Deployed with the Air Force Reserve

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Muscatine Fire Department is saying “see you later” to Firefighter Roy Patterson as Patterson will soon be serving his first deployment with the Air Force Reserve.

Patterson was been in the Air Force Reserve for five years and joined Muscatine Fire Department three years ago.

Serving in the military is something he wanted to do since childhood.

“My grandpa was in the Army and he was one of my heroes growing up,” Patterson said. “He did two tours in Korea and two tours in Vietnam.”

Patterson said that although he considered going into the Army right out of high school, after discussing it with his dad, he opted to do something different. However, serving in the military remained on his mind.

This deployment will be to SE Asia, where he will serve for approximately six months. His role in the Air Force is fire protection. Patterson’s unit has the primary focus of crash rescue fire fighting, but will also cover all of the structural fire fighting for the bases.

Patterson said that leaving his family will be the hardest part about deployment. Patterson and his wife Brennan have three boys – James, 8, Marshall, 6, and Colt, 2.

“Back when I used to dream about it and idolize my grandpa, I didn’t have a family of course, so it seemed a lot cooler back then,” Patterson said. “Now, I’m still looking forward to it. Really, my only drawback is leaving my family.”

While he has to leave his family during deployment, Patterson knows that he has his Muscatine Fire Department family watching over his wife and kids while he is gone.

“Being part of Muscatine Fire Department is like being part of a big family,” he said.

Firefighter Patterson shared that being a member of the Muscatine Fire Department helped prepare him for deployment by keeping him fresh on his skills.

He said that he is looking for this opportunity to serve.

Assistant Fire Chief and Fire Marshal Michael Hartman explained that Patterson’s role in the Air Force Reserve has been beneficial for the department and the City. Patterson came into the department with significant training and knowledge of operations. He actually wrote Muscatine Fire Department’s procedures for responding to airplane accidents and plane crash rescue.

“Roy has been a big asset for us,” Hartman said. “We are going to miss him, but we understand his obligations and that those obligations also pay back to the community and department.”

Serve Your Community: Volunteer on Boards and Commissions

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One of the things that makes Muscatine a great place to live is the way members of our community come together to serve! From attending public meetings and providing input to serving on Boards & Commissions, it’s always wonderful to see strong participation by citizens.

There are many ways to perform volunteer service in Muscatine, and serving on Boards & Commissions with the City of Muscatine is an excellent place to do so!

We currently have openings on two boards and welcome your applications:

1) Zoning Board of Adjustment

The Zoning Board of Adjustment meets on the first Tuesday of the month at 5:30 p.m.

The purpose of this Board is to hear and decide appeals involving an alleged error in any order, requirement, decision or determination made by an administrative official in the enforcement and interpretation of the zoning ordinance and to hear and decide special exceptions to the zoning ordinance.

Members serve a 5-year term with a maximum of 2 consecutive full terms.

2) Convention and Visitors Bureau Board

The Convention & Visitors Board meets on the second Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m.

The purpose of this board is to adopt rules and procedures for the CVB. The board’s role is to help develop and provide visitor and tourism information and programs for visitors to the City of Muscatine and Muscatine County.

Members serve a 3-year term with a maximum of 2 consecutive full terms.

Interested in Serving?

If you are interested in serving on one of the Boards & Commissions, please complete an application and turn it in to Fran Donelson at City Hall. The application is available on our website. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Administrative Secretary Fran Donelson at 563-264-1550.

We hope you’ll consider serving the City of Muscatine. We truly value your engagement and participation!

Tree Lighting Ceremony on Dec. 2 Thanks to Jerry Lange!

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When those of us who either live in or are from Muscatine think about the holiday season, our minds may start flooding with memories of attending the annual Holiday Stroll and going for car rides on cool winter nights to catch glimpses of beautiful light displays.

Of the many areas of the city to see light displays, for nearly 50 years, Jerry Lange’s home on Mulberry Ave. was the highlight. Until five years ago, Lange’s home would host a large display of lights and decorations for neighbors and passersby to enjoy each holiday season.

When he moved outside city limits five years ago, Lange still managed to use some of the decorations at his new home, but he missed the opportunity to provide the community with his yearly display.

To still provide holiday cheer for the city, Lange decided to purchase and donate an 18′ Christmas tree to be put on display at the Muscatine riverfront across from Mississippi Mist. The tree is animated with synchronized LED lights that go along with music. The lights go though color sequences with various patterns.

He also donated two candle wreaths that will be placed near the tree. Last year, Lange very generously donated banners and lighted garland that were placed at the Sycamore and Chestnut intersections of 2nd St.

Lange said his gesture of donating decorations was done out of appreciation for the many volunteers and community members who helped with his annual display on Mulberry. He enjoyed putting up holiday decorations each year and wanted to keep up the tradition of sharing that joy with the Muscatine community.

“It’s a way of sharing with the community my enjoyment, and I hope that it will become their enjoyment as well,” Lange said.

With hopes that the tree will become a riverfront focal point this holiday season, Lange said he’d like to see the display at Riverside Park grow each year, much like has been done in Keokuk.

The entire Muscatine community is invited to attend the ceremony for the first lighting of the Muscatine Community Christmas Tree on the night of the Holiday Stroll, Friday, Dec. 2 at 6 p.m. The tree will be located on top of the pump house building across from Mississippi Mist in Riverside Park. 

Thank you to those who are making the tree lighting possible: Muscatine Power & Water, Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce & Industry, City of Muscatine Public Works and Parks and Recreation Staff, and of course, Jerry Lange!

We hope you join us for this new addition to the evening of the Holiday Stroll!


Also on Friday night will be the Candy Cane Hunt at 6 p.m. at Pearl City Station. Please see this link for more information.

The annual Holiday Stroll will take place from 5-8:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2.

 

How Has Blue Zones Project® Changed Muscatine?

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Just over three years ago, residents of Muscatine gathered at Muscatine High School for a big kickoff celebration to mark the start of a community-wide initiative toward better health. Blue Zones Project® began to take our city by storm as we worked together toward well-being.

It has been amazing to see the transformation of our community. Since launching Blue Zones Project, we’ve seen a 17.5% increase in exercise levels, while stress levels have dropped by 13.6%!

In this post, we would like to give you a snapshot of some of the successes of the project and encourage you to read the full guide detailing the story of Muscatine Blue Zones Project and what it means for the future of our community.

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By the Numbers:

23,968 Lives impacted

40% People engaged

8,501 Individuals pledged to support well-being

23,595 Well-being actions taken by individuals

41% Believe Blue Zones Project has made a positive impact on the community

78 Organizations implementing well-being principles

1,149 Changes made by organizations to support living longer, better

36 Organizations completing the pledge

22 Muscatine worksites are Blue Zones Worksites®

45% Of Muscatine’s locally owned restaurants are Blue Zones Restaurants®

36% Of Muscatine’s public schools are Blue Zones Schools®

40% Of Muscatine’s grocery stores are Blue Zones Grocery Stores®

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We hope you check out the full story of Muscatine’s transformation: The Story of Muscatine

Thank you to everyone who has supported this initiative! The community-wide effort could not have been achieved without the support of our community leaders, local business and industry, Muscatine Blue Zones Project team, and of course, our incredible community volunteers!