Mississippi Drive Public Hearing Set For Feb. 2

Mississippi Drive

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!

What’s Next for the Muscatine Riverfront?

What do you think of when you think of Muscatine? For many citizens and visitors alike, the riverfront is at the forefront of their minds when thinking about our city. In fact, when we invite visitors to town, it seems like the riverfront is always on the list of places to show them. Even China’s President Xi Jin Ping speaks fondly of Muscatine and the Mississippi River!

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As we move into the future, how do you envision the riverfront? What ideas do you have for new features at Riverside Park? What would make the Muscatine Riverfront an even better place for recreation?

The City of Muscatine would love to have you share your ideas and input at the public engagement meeting for the Riverfront Master Plan!

Riverfront Master Plan Public Meeting

Wednesday, November 16 at 5:30 p.m.

Riverview Center – 110 Harbor Drive

This meeting will serve to kick off the planning process for the future of Riverside Park.

Ed Freer of Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc. will be in Muscatine to help guide our community through the process of strategic planning for the Riverfront Master Plan. The timing for this meeting is ideal as it will dovetail the Mississippi Drive Corridor Project plans. All are invited to come together once again to express your ideas and opinions about the future of one of our key attractions: the Muscatine Riverfront.

We invite you to attend the meeting to learn more about potential enhancements to the riverfront and share your ideas as we create a unified vision for the Muscatine Riverfront!

Upcoming Special Events with Muscatine Parks and Recreation

Each year, the Muscatine Parks and Recreation Department offers several events for people of all ages to enjoy! The following are the upcoming special events through the rest of the year. We hope you, your friends and your family will be able to take part in these events!

If you are interested in volunteering at any of the special events, please contact Karen at Muscatine Parks and Recreation at 563-263-0241. These events would be a great place for community groups to volunteer as well!

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Fall Festival

The Fall Festival will be held on Saturday, Oct. 22 from 1 – 3 p.m. at the Muscatine Mall Center Court. There will be several activities including coloring, cookie decorating, and more. Children are encouraged to wear their Halloween costumes. This is a FREE event!


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Turkey Trot

The 2016 Muscatine “Turkey Trot” Fun Run/Walk will be held Saturday, Nov. 19 at the Muscatine Municipal Golf Course. The event will be hosted by the Muscatine Parks and Recreation Department and the Muscatine Running Club. The race will follow a “Predict Your Time” format.  No participant will be allowed to use any kind of a timing device.

The winner of each age division for male and female participants who most closely predict their time will be awarded a frozen turkey. Only one (1) turkey can be won per family.

Date: Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016

Time:

  • 1 mile run for 14 years and younger, 10 a.m.
  • 3 mile run, 10:30 a.m.

Fee: $15 through Nov. 1 or $20 from Nov. 2 through race time

Divisions: Male and Female: 11 & under, 12-14, 15-20, 21-30, 31-40, 41-50, 51-59, 60 & older

Registration: Muscatine Parks and Recreation Department, 215 Sycamore Street, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or on the day of the race at Muscatine Municipal Golf Course from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Here is the printable registration form.


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Candy Cane Hunt

The Candy Cane Hunt is held each year on the night of the Holiday Stroll (Friday, Dec. 2) at 6 p.m. It will be held on Muscatine Riverfront, right by Pearl City Station. This is a FREE event!

There will be areas set up in the green space near the basketball courts for two age groups: Pre-K – 1st Grade, and 2nd Grade – 4th Grade. There will be lots of candy canes to be found by all participants. There will be several “special” candy canes that can be redeemed at Pearl City Station for a special toy. Cookies and drinks will be available at Pearl City Station after the hunt. The Candy Cane Hunt will be held in the dark, so bring a flashlight if you can! LED flashlights will be available from our sponsors if you do not have one to bring.


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Elves Workshop

This year’s Elves Workshop will be held on Saturday, Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. at the Muscatine Mall Center Court. This is a FREE event!

Santa and his elves are taking a break from building toys, and now it’s your turn! Children will have the opportunity to work in Santa’s workshop, decorating crafts to take home, as well as talk to Saint Nick himself.


We hope you take advantage of these upcoming events! If you have any questions, please contact Muscatine Parks and Recreation at 563-263-0241.

City’s New Commercial Tax Abatement Program

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Urban revitalization or tax abatement is a tool to encourage economic development by providing incentives for new construction or for the expansion of existing facilities. An Urban Revitalization Area may include the entire city or designated areas of the city. Essentially, tax abatement is the temporary reduction of property taxes on the improvements made to an existing property. The owner would still have to pay the amount owed for taxes pre-improvement, but may qualify for decreased taxes on the improvements.

Qualified improvements may include new construction, remodeling, rehabilitation and additions to the existing property.

Tax abatement is great tool for Muscatine because it works to help businesses thrive! It cuts down barriers to entry or expansion for business owners as they either start or grow their business. In addition to commercial tax abatement, the City has industrial and housing incentives as well (see below). The City of Muscatine has several economic development initiatives designed to encourage development or redevelopment within Muscatine. Check out our economic development programs on our website.

So, what should you know about the new Commercial Tax Abatement Program?

The City has a new commercial tax abatement program in two key areas – one along Grandview Avenue and a second along Park Avenue. To quality for tax abatement, the improvement must increase the assessed valuation of the property by at least 15% of the valuation before the improvement.

You can see the maps for each of these areas here:

Grandview Avenue

Park Avenue

Commercial Tax Abatement Schedules on Qualifying Property:

10 Year Declining Schedule

  • Year 1 – 80% abated
  • Year 2 – 70% abated
  • Year 3 – 60% abated
  • Year 4 – 50% abated
  • Year 5 & 6 – 40% abated
  • Year 7 & 8 – 30% abated
  • Year 9 & 10 – 20% abated

3 Year 100% Schedule

  • Year 1 – 100% abated
  • Year 2 – 100% abated
  • Year 3  – 100% abated

The City of Muscatine also has two other tax abatement programs in place:

Industrial Property Tax Abatement on industrial real estate (Iowa Code 427B)

  • Year 1 – 75% abated
  • Year 2 – 60% abated
  • Year 3 – 45% abated
  • Year 4 – 30% abated
  • Year 5 – 15% abated

Housing Tax Abatement

  • New Construction: Minimum assessed value of $175,000, Exemption is on first $75,000 of actual value added, 100% for 5 years
  • Blighted District: 
    • New homes: Minimum assessed value of $175,000, 5 years, 100%
    • Improvements/Additions: 3 years, 100%
  • Historic District:
    • Historically Sensitive: 5 years, 100%
    • Historic Area: 3 years, 100%

For more information about the City’s tax abatement programs, please visit our website.