What’s Goes On in Public Works?

Hello there!

It’s Emily Lofgren here with the City of Muscatine. I’m glad you’re taking the time to read more about the Public Works Department.

As I’ve toured the various departments within the City, I have enjoyed learning how each department plays a significant role in making things run smoothly in the community. The Public Works Department is the largest department with 70 employees split into 10 divisions and a $12 Million operational budget. It was one of the first departments I began to learn more about.

Muscatine Public Works
Sam Ravenscraft is a Vehicle Mechanic in the Vehicle Maintenance Division of Public Works. He spends his time making sure the vehicles in the department run smoothly.

Some of the Public Works divisions and functions include:

  • Building and Grounds – Maintaining the many public buildings and grounds visited daily by Muscatine residents and the business community
  • Engineering – Managing and designing projects and participating in strategic planning for the community’s future
  • Equipment Services – Ensuring more than 250 pieces of motorized equipment and rolling stock are fleet ready daily
  • Public Transit – Offering public transportation to all of Muscatine’s citizens through the MuscaBus program
  • Roadway Maintenance – Designing, constructing and maintaining streets
  • Sewer Collection and Drainage – Providing a healthy and safe environment for the entire community by ensuring a functional sewer infrastructure
  • Solid Waste Operation – Collecting refuse and recycling daily, transporting it to the city’s transfer station and ultimately disposing of waste at the landfill

As you might recognize from this list of divisions and their functions, the Public Works Department deals with many areas of concern in the City that we may take for granted or never even think about. From maintaining roads, to planning for the future, to maintaining our sewer system, to collecting our garbage, the Public Works Department handles items that are crucial for everyday life in Muscatine.

Muscatine Public Works

When I first arrived at the location of Muscatine Public Works, I was welcomed into a meeting led by Public Works Director Randy Hill. I had the pleasure of being introduced to the managers of the department’s divisions and learning a little bit about what each division does.

We discussed the type of information that is necessary to convey to citizens of Muscatine. My job is to spread awareness about what the departments are doing and how those in the community are affected by it. We want you to know what’s going on, so that you can play an active role in decision making. So, part of that effort is to determine the best ways to get that information out.

Muscatine Public Works

After the meeting, Administrative Secretary Connie Mann gave me a tour of the facility. I was able to see where Public Works vehicles are repaired and maintained. Later, Connie gave me an overview of current Public Works projects. She was very helpful with answering any questions. I appreciated the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the department so that I can better share that information with you.

Once again, it was another educational tour in the books. Be looking for further updates on current Public Works projects.

Thank you for reading.

Mississippi Drive Corridor Vision and Project Kick-off Event

Here’s more information that will help you prepare for the Mississippi Drive Corridor Project Kick-off Event, which will be held on Sept. 1. The event will be a great opportunity to share your ideas for how to transform Mississippi Drive!

Gregg Mandsager

As we prepare for the September 1, 2015,  Kick-off of the Mississippi Drive Corridor Project, I wanted to pass on an educational piece that highlight’s the vision for transforming Mississippi Drive. This piece was put together after 30 city staff, business and property owners, health practitioners, regional planners and resident leaders came together under the direction of Dan Burden, national walkability expert, to begin to re-envision Mississippi Drive.

We identified what Muscatine currently lacks in the Mississippi Drive Corridor and found ways to potentially address those needs with changes to the built environment. Right now, we have an incredible opportunity to connect our downtown to the riverfront with this project. We can transform this corridor into a key focal piece for our community. Transforming Mississippi Drive will serve as a catalyst for economic development, community health, well-being and overall livability.

Please take a look at the Mississippi Drive vision piece…

View original post 47 more words

Save the Date: September 1 to be Mississippi Drive Corridor Project Kick-off

Save September 1 and plan to attend a kick-off event for the Mississippi Drive Corridor Project. The event will be held at the Muscatine Riverfront, with specific location and time information to be released soon.

What is the Mississippi Drive Corridor Project?

It is a proposal for reconstructing the 1.6 miles of U.S. 61-Business (pavement and curb/gutter). It also includes street lighting, landscaping, gateway features, pedestrian crossings, sidewalk improvements, traffic signals, geometric improvements, storm drainage improvements, and road embankment work intended to improve flood protection. The work will focus on four distinct areas adjoining Muscatine’s Central Business District.  The improvement segments include the HNI Campus Area, Downtown Area, High Sidewalk (Bluff) Area and the Carver Corner Area.

The City of Muscatine plans for this project to meet the objectives of Muscatine’s complete street policy by improving both Muscatine’s quality of life and image. This project will provide a safe and attractive environment for street users of all ages and abilities such as motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, mass transit, children, senior citizens, individuals with disabilities, freight carriers, emergency responders and adjacent land users. It will modernize U.S. 61-Business and will enhance aesthetics throughout the corridor that are consistent with Muscatine’s riverfront improvements.

Why should I attend the kick-off?

Attending the kick-off is a great way to learn more about the project and become engaged in the process. We want you to have the opportunity to take part in the Mississippi Drive Corridor transformation and this is a wonderful way to start. We’ll work together to identify community values to pursue a vision for the project. You will have the opportunity to look at maps and provide feedback as we take ideas to the drawing board. More details about the event will be released soon.

How do I prepare for the kick-off?

A good way to prepare for the Mississippi Drive Corridor Project Kick-off is to take a look at the following resource guide: Toward Health and Well-Being in Muscatine. The guide was created by Dan Burden as a resource to help show us the potential we have as a community. It highlights opportunities to transform transportation ways within the city to reap many benefits. Read through the guide and think about some of the ways we can utilize the concepts highlighted to create a new Mississippi Drive Corridor.

Update on Opening of the Muscatine Center

Last week, I wrote about Mayor Hopkins and his trip to China to take part in the opening ceremony of the Muscatine Center in the city of Jinan. In addition to Mayor and Jill Hopkins, five Muscatine area high school students and one teacher chaperone had the opportunity to attend the opening ceremony on July 17.

Students Katy Axel, Marci Clark, Grant Nollette, Zoey Petersen, and Alexa Santaniello and chaperone Angie Curtis are in China to attend Shanghai Camp, which is sponsored by the Shanghai People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries. The purpose of the summer camp is to bring international students to China to learn about China’s culture and to build relationships with students from other cultures. The five students from Muscatine will be the only students representing the United States at this year’s Shanghai Camp.

The photos of the Muscatine Center’s opening were provided by Marci Clark, who has been sending quick updates home.

Muscatine CenterMuscatine CenterMuscatine CenterMuscatine CenterMuscatine CenterMuscatine CenterMuscatine Center

Muscatine Fire Department Spends Summer Focusing on Training

Fire Department 1
Fire Fighters Cory Schaeckenbach and Colin Suiter demonstrate control of fire hose

Last Friday morning, after starting off by touring the Police Department, I moved on to learning about the Muscatine Fire Department. Fire Chief Jerry Ewers welcomed me by first providing a brief overview of the Department’s role in our community. We discussed some of the ways the Fire Department both informs and educates residents of Muscatine. He explained that not only do they share news about an event or holiday, but they try to turn everything into a teachable moment.

From fighting fires, to educating citizens on fire safety, to providing EMS services to Muscatine and some surrounding areas, the Muscatine Fire Department keeps a full schedule. Something people in Muscatine might not know is that the fire fighters work 24 hour shifts, 365 days a year. They work holidays. They have three shift groups with a scheduled rotation, so there is always a shift of fire fighters working.

Chief Ewers explained that during June, July and August of this year, the Fire Department is focusing on training every day.

“We want to go back to the fundamentals,” Ewers said.

Fire Department
Fire Fighter Colin Suiter removes hose from fire hydrant

With a wide array of experience levels represented in the Muscatine Fire Department, Chief Ewers saw the benefit of promoting training as a way to get everyone up to speed.

While on my tour of the Department, I was able to view the hallway of the Fire Station that highlights the history of the department. It was interesting to see photos from the past as well as view the wooden name plates of fire fighters who joined the Department each year. The name plates are set up as a timeline with years going from left to right with each fire fighter’s name who was hired in that year under the year’s plate. The visual representation of when each fire fighter was hired was neat to see.

I was also fortunate to tour the living quarters where fire fighters eat, sleep, cook and spend downtime. I enjoyed the behind the scenes look at what goes on in the Fire Department. Of course, it was exciting to see the iconic fire poles as well as view the fire trucks and EMS equipment.

After touring the Public Safety Building, I had the chance to visit the Southend fire station. This station was new in 2012 and has a lot of fantastic features. I was impressed with the design and the functionality of the building.

I had a great time getting to know the Muscatine Fire Department and I look forward to sharing more Fire Department stories with you in the future!

Fire Department
Fire Fighters Cory Schaeckenbach, Joe Vogel and Colin Suiter put away equipment

Muscatine Police Department Seeks to Build Relationships With Community

Muscatine Police Department
Officer Donyell Raisbeck has seen the benefit of relationship building as it pertains to her work on the police force

Hello, Muscatine!

As I said in the introduction post, I am spending time touring departments of the City to get a better feel for how business is done. My goal is to relay that information back to you. I want you to hear about the positive things happening in our great city and be informed about initiatives that affect you. I suppose you could say that my role serves as a bridge to connect the City to the people of the City, ensuring mutual understanding and discourse.

Last Friday morning started off with a trip to the Muscatine Public Safety Building to tour the Police Department. Police Chief Brett Talkington showed me the facility and explained more about the role of police officers in our community.

Right now, the Muscatine Police Department is gearing up for reaccreditation as assessors will be here July 20 through 22. Currently, they are one of only 10 accredited police departments within the state of Iowa. Accreditation is done by The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. This national accreditation agency sets a higher standard for police departments and Police Chief Talkington believes it is important to hold the Muscatine Police Department to that higher standard.

Not only does the Police Department take pride in carrying out general work with excellence, they strive to get to know the people they are protecting.

“Our big focus is building relationships with the community,” Police Chief Talkington said. “I want them to know who we are personally.”

The Police Department builds those relationships through a number of community outreach initiatives, including Coffee with a Cop, reading with children at the library, Shop with a Cop, and parking walks. Each police officer is required to do a parking walk everyday where they park their squad car and take a walk to interact with the people who are in their assigned area.

While I had previously heard about a few of those initiatives, I did not realize how much the Muscatine Police Department does outside the standard line of duty. For that matter, I actually knew little about a typical day in the life of a police officer. So much of what we think about police officers comes from what we see on TV or in movies. Our media consumption actually gives us false ideas about how police officers work.

To educate citizens on the reality of life as a police officer, the Muscatine Police Department has held a Citizens’ Police Academy once per year over the past several years. This year, the Police Department and Fire Department are teaming up to host a joint Citizens’ Academy where participants have the opportunity to learn about both departments. Planning is still in the works, but they will likely meet one evening per week for eight weeks. The Citizens’ Academy will take place in the fall. I will be sure to share more details as plans are secured.

Overall, I had a great trip to the Muscatine Police Department. It was great to learn more about what they are doing and how it affects the community. Next up is the Fire Department, so stay tuned!

Mayor Hopkins to Visit China for Opening of Muscatine Center

Muscatine Center 3
Glad Cheng and Daniel Wang of China Window Group LLC plan for the Muscatine Center

On Saturday, Mayor DeWayne Hopkins and his wife, Jill, will travel to China for 10 days to attend the opening of a Muscatine Center. Their trip will serve to strengthen the relationship between Muscatine and China. Glad Cheng and Daniel Wang of China Window Group LLC are opening a Muscatine Center in Jinan, China to encourage Chinese tourism to Muscatine.

When then Vice President (now President) Xi Jin Ping visited Muscatine for his second time in 2012, people in China had Muscatine fresh on their minds. Awareness increased as stories of Xi Jin Ping’s visit sparked interest among the Chinese. Since then, awareness has decreased and Glad and Daniel want to change that.

Glad and Daniel hope to build two or three more Muscatine Centers within China to further their endeavor.

Mayor Hopkins said the Muscatine Center will feature displays highlighting Muscatine’s industry of the past and present.

“[The Muscatine Center] will be very similar to the History and Industry Center in Muscatine,” Hopkins said.

Muscatine Center
Construction of the Muscatine Center

Glad and Daniel have a vested interest in encouraging Muscatine tourism as they are investors in the Merrill Hotel and Conference Center project. They also recently purchased the Marie Lindsay building.

Mayor and Jill Hopkins will have a full schedule of meetings and tours while they are in China, but Hopkins said he is most looking forward to seeing Mayor Yang of Zhengding. Mayor Hopkins first had the pleasure of meeting Mayor Yang during the fall of 2012 when Muscatine Sister Cities took a trip to Zhengding, China to sign the initial friendship agreement between the two cities.

Muscatine Center 2
Construction of the Muscatine Center

Mayor Hopkins is optimistic about the future of the Muscatine/China relationship.

“I think anything and everything we do will help our relationship move forward,” Hopkins said. “This [trip] will just be one step in the right direction.”

Blog Launch

CityofMuscatineHello, Citizens and Friends of Muscatine!

Thank you for stopping by the City of Muscatine blog. We’re launching this blog with the intent of keeping you informed about the happenings within the City of Muscatine. Each department within the City plays a vital role in shaping the quality of life for citizens. We hope to engage with you as we remain committed to communicating timely, relevant information about initiatives within our community.

As this post is about introductions, I’d like to introduce myself. I’m Emily Lofgren and I was recently hired as Communications Manager. I’ll be the one writing most of the blog posts and sharing them on social media. A little about me: I was born and raised in Muscatine. After studying public relations at Drake University, I spent some time teaching in China. I have experience working in both the Iowa State House and State Senate as well as doing communications for a variety of organizations, including the Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

I’m excited for this new role and for the opportunity to share stories with you. Great things are happening within the City of Muscatine and I look forward to telling you all about them!

Over the next couple of weeks, as I meet with department heads, tour facilities and get up-to-date on all things City-related, I am bringing you along for the ride. I will share about what I learn in each department and tell you more about what our community has to offer.

Thanks for joining me! Stay tuned for more updates.