Thursday, December 31, 2009

Vinton in Lions Club Magazine

Read about Vinton in the Internaitonal Lions Club Magazine. Click here.

AmeriCorps Training Center Expanding

Yesterday, at the Vinton Lions meeting, news was presented that in April 2010 there would be another unit of AmeriCorps volunteers starting at the Vinton campus located at the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School. So, there will be 240 volunteers stationed in Vinton to work on projects throughout the Midwest region. The overlapping class of 80 members will still be here when the next regular class of 240 members starts in January 2011. Then, until the overlapping class graduates, there will be 320 members stationed at the Vinton campus. Wow, that is great news for Vinton and the Midwest!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Local Option Benefits

It is the end of another year and January 2010 is right around the corner. January reminds me of 2008, not because that was before the summer flooding, but because that January the citizens of Vinton approved the Local Option Sales Tax or LOST. The LOST has greatly benefited the City of Vinton in the first year and a half with roads being rebuilt and property taxes held down. The City was also able to finance a badly needed used aerial fire engine and an addition to store it. You can read about the many benefits of the LOST at: Vinton Headlines

Friday, December 11, 2009


This past Wednesday, a week and a half before the official start of winter, Iowa and much of the Midwest experienced its worst snowstorm in years. Vinton received about 10 inches of snow. The street department and water department employees were out at 2 AM this morning clearing the windrows from the downtown area. Vinton-Shellsburg Schools cancelled classes for three days. Hopefully, this will be the worst storm this winter.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Recovery Continues

The picture with this entry is of the Benton County Law Enforcement Center (LEC) being demolished. The demolition began about a week ago. The LEC was destroyed during last year's flood despite a valiant effort by many volunteers to save it. A new LEC will be built in its place above the level of last year's flood. This week, the City of Vinton is also closing on the first six properties in its buy-out program. These are good examples of how the community is still moving forward in the flood recovery process.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New Airport Sign

The Vinton Veteran's Memorial Airport Commission has been moving right along with making improvements to the airport and, with some help from the city's airport engineer from Clapsaddle-Garber in Marshalltown, has been able to secure grant funding for the improvements. Today a new entrance sign was installed to replace a wooden one that had stood at the entrance for many years. This picture shows the sign shortly after installation. Landscaping and lights will be added later. An open house is scheduled for Friday, October 30 as the Commission hosts the Vinton Unlimited After Hours.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fire Department Training

By state law, a city fire department can have three fire trainings per year where a structure is intentional set on fire and the department personnel train to combat the fire. The City of Vinton Fire Department did this last night. In the words of my daughter--it was awesome. But even better was the chance to see the firefighters in action and the careful but deadly force they use to put out a fire. They also had a chance to try out an aerial ladder truck that may soon become part of the city's fire fighting arsenal. Check out more pictures by clicking here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

9th Street Update

Our project on 9th Street Reconstruction Project has been delayed slightly. The contractor had some delays on other projects due to the recent bad weather so they won't be able to get here until next week. We are very eager to see this project go forward as it will take care of two blocks of street that have deteriorated badly and it is our first project with Local Optional Sales Tax funds which means no new debt obligation for this project.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

In Case of an Emergency...

This past week, I have spent time in two separate meetings dealing with emergency planning. The first meeting was on Wednesday. This meeting dealt with developing a multi-jurisdictional hazard mitigation plan for Benton County. The second meeting took place yesterday to discuss how to prepare for the activation of an emergency shelter in Vinton. As we have seen over the past couple of years, emergencies are not just something that might happen, but rather a thing that will likely happen. We have had two situations (ice storm in February 2007 and the 2008 flood) severe enough to have a shelter. I feel good about the processes we have started with these meetings since we will likely have more emergencies in the future. Some might think that it is not good to discuss the likelihood of these types of events because it only scares people. Well, if the event will probably happen, like we have seen so far, then only by discussing the events now, will we be better prepared to handle them in the future.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Water Tower Washing

The City of Vinton recently had the water towers washed. If you had seen the towers for the past couple of years, you would have noticed a thick layer of mildew growing on them. Now they are cleaned and a protectant was applied to keep the mildew from growing, at least for a few years. Check out the story and pictures at: Vinton News

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Airport Makeover

We have a rather large project underway at the Vinton Veterans Memorial Airport. The airport received a 95 percent federal grant to construct a 4-stall T-Hanger and taxi lane. The total cost is over $500,000, but the city's share will only be five percent of the cost. There are already several people waiting to rent hanger space at the airport. The airport commission also applied and received two grants; one for a new entrance sign and another for a Jet A Fuel system. The entrance sign will really improve the airport's appearance. The jet fuel system will enable those users with turbine engines to be able to refuel their aircraft, thus opening the use of the airport to more aircraft.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Need a Pet?

Yesterday, I had a bright spot in my day. I helped to "rescue" five kittens from a crowded garage and cart them off to the animal shelter. Their mother was likely a stray and not around. We figured they had a better chance at the shelter than in that garage, and they seem to be doing well in their new surroundings. It was an interesting search for them at first. I kept looking under a table for them, but their mother had them up on a shelf.

If you need a new pet, we have several out at the shelter. The shelter is now being run by the Friends of the Shelter. They would be happy to show you around. If you are interested, please call them at 319-472-4623.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

River Gauge Readings Update

The previous blog entry gave the website for the National Weather Service (NWS), which helps when forecasting when the river will flood, crest, etc. The U.S. Geological Service (USGS) is the agency that installs and maintains the gauge. Until the NWS updates their site to start providing real-time readings from the Vinton gauge, these readings can be obtained on the USGS website that can be reached by clicking here. Remember, flood stage at Vinton is 15 feet.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

River Gauge Installed at Vinton

We are really excited about the instrument shown in the picture with this blog entry. It is an automatic river gauge installed here at the Cedar River bridge in Vinton. For the past several years, an individual from the Benton County Emergency Management office would manually need to read a metal post and then enter the reading on a computer in order for others, including flood forecasters, to know the level of the river. Now, the readings will automatically be sent to the website. This will provide more accurate information to city officials and flood forecasters to prepare for flood events in the future. Most of the credit for this achievement goes to Benton County Emergency Management Coordinator Scott Hanson who kept Vinton as a National Weather Forecasting point by faithfully read the manual gauge for several years. The funding for this gauge will be provided on the federal level through the United States Geological Service.
Automatic readings from the gauge are not available yet, but will be provided at the website accessed by clicking here.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Lessons from the Flood

Now that we have started a new year and spring has sprung, I have reminisced about the past year and all the events that have happened during it. I keep hearing people say that they want to just forget about the past year and move on. Well, that's fine, but there's a lot one needs to recall from last year.

Certainly, the pain is still there. Memories of the water coming up fast and nothing to stop it. I continually recall my darkest moment when I heard the street superintendent over the radio saying that they were abandoning the electric generation building because the water was coming in too fast. That was certainly a very low moment. I could hear the hush and the despair that momentarily came over the emergency operations center.

But then, the electric general manager and the chairperson of the electric trustees board came rushing in to call for the electric generator trucks to restore power to the city. It seemed to breathe new life into us. I went up from the basement of the courthouse and saw the many people who came from all over the area to help fill sandbags while several others prepared food to feed them. It was almost like our community was getting a rebirth or renewal to start fresh with a brighter outlook on things. Even the sky, which was cloudy that morning cleared up and the sun shone brightly on the scene. It is these moments that I want to remember.

Also. the lessons we learned. To always be vigilant and prepared. I remembered when the water was getting near floodstage and a couple people told me not to worry until it got a few more feet higher. Now. everyone is concerned with the river now rising slightly even though the river is still a few feet below floodstage and we didn't have the snow or rain like last year. How long will we remember to carefully watch the river to prepare for the worst?

I don't think we want to completely shove last year to the distant past. We can't change what took place, but we need to remember what we learned from this event and apply that to the future.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


As part of its overall flood recovery effort, the City of Vinton submitted an application for the FEMA 404 Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which is often referred to as the "buy-out" program. If the application is approved by FEMA, Vinton will receive funding to buy-out and demolish up to 29 properties that were damaged by last year's flood. As a requirement of the program, the City must not allow any enclosed building to be erected on the property. The picture included with this post shows the application completely filling a 4-inch binder. We had to submit the original application along with a paper and electronic copy. Despite all the hard work that was involved with the application, we are only half-way through the process.

Monday, January 12, 2009

New Animal Shelter Operations

Well, 2008 is in the books. I can't say it was the best year we ever had, but it will be the most memorable. I know several people have remarked that the flood brought out the best in the community and helped to strenthen it. If so, I am glad some good will come from that devastating event.

This past month, the City entered into an agreement with a non-profit group called the Friends of the Shelter, Inc. which also goes by its acronym, FOTSI. This group had volunteered at the city-owned pound previously, but wanted to do more for the animals. The agreement allows the city to concentrate on flood recovery and other public services, while FOTSI can concentrate more on caring for the animals. The shelter is currently closed to the general public, but will reopen in March.

FOTSI hopes to build a new shelter in the future. If you wish to donate time, material or money to their cause, you can call (319) 472-4623 or send a note to FOTSI, PO Box 82, Vinton, IA 52349.