Friday, November 12, 2010

Budget Time Again

Now that it is November, it is time again to start looking at the budget for the next fiscal year that starts July 1, 2011. I am glad that there won't be any major projects dealing with flood recovery from the 2008 flood. We are finishing some things such as the neighborhood historical survey and nomination, obtaining an aluminum barrier system for the flood protection wall around the main sewer lift station and the development of the greenspace from our recent buy-out acquisitions. I wouldn't look at these as flood-recovery projects, but rather development projects that will improve the image of the city and help prepare for any future flooding.
One major project that we expect to undertake is the development of a comprehensive plan. A comprehensive plan is just what the name implies. It is a plan that looks at several different components in the city (housing, land use, etc.) to guide future decision making when the city leaders planning and prioritizing future funding. One of the key factors in a successful plan is public input. We hope that many residents and business owners will become involved in the development of the comprehensive plan so the city leaders will have a clearer idea of what is desired by the residents. Please watch for notices of future public meetings and get involved in this effort!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Another Page Turned

Today, the last of our buy-out houses from the Flood of 2008 was demolished, in effect, turning another page in the recovery from that devastating event. The picture that is included with this entry is where the house that was located at 101 West 2nd Street once stood. The building once housed a bait shop and antique store. This property, along with other properties to the west of it, will be brought together to form a new riverside park next to the Cedar River bridge. It will be a wonderful location to relax and enjoy the outdoors. It is also within easy walking distance from the downtown area. A great welcoming site for visitors to our city.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Investing in Economic Development

The picture that is included with this blog is the downtown building where the Vinton Eagle office was located and in previous years was home to other businesses including a pool hall. The building received extensive damage in 2006 when the neighboring American Legion Hall burned down. The previous owner was unable to make repairs to the building due to other personal commitments. A new owner recently took over and, under the title of his development company, has made significant repairs and improvements in just the past few months. Just in time, too. Cedar River Ink was looking for a new home and took up residence in the building. Several other office spaces will be available at this location on the first and second floors. The improvements that have been made to this building are a good indication of the steps forward that the City of Vinton has been experiencing in economic development.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Once in a Lifetime Adventure

Residents of the Vinton Community have always felt a deep connection to the historic Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School. There will be some legislation soon to change the focus of the school and move away from its residential program. Recently, some students from the Braille School were given an airplane ride at the Vinton Veterans Memorial Airport. This was a great service by the pilots who offered the rides - giving the kids an experience that few of us would even realize they would enjoy. To see the story about the rides, click here.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Planning for the Future

This past legislative session, the state legislature passed a bill that was promoted by the Rebuild Iowa Office (RIO) and called for local government to use 12 smart planning principals when planning for development. Because of this, the RIO is making a grant available to share in half of the cost for a comprehensive plan using these principals. Comprehensive plans are, by definition, comprehensive and cover a lot of areas in a city when it plans for future growth.

The City of Vinton is looking at several economic development opportunities. The chance to develop a comprehensive plan could not come at a better time for us. We will involve the general public in the plan development, but the planning process will largely be governed by our planning and zoning commission and city council. Look for advertisements about future community meetings about this plan. It will be your opportunity to help guide our city in the direction you feel it should grow.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Moving to Vinton

Need an excuse to move to Vinton? Check out this great article that recently appeared in the Our Iowa magazine. Click here.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Last of the Buyouts-Now on to Final Demolitions

The City of Vinton just closed on the last three buy-out properties from the 2008 flood. We are excited about moving forward and the possibilities that will come from making much of this space into park areas - especially the lots down by the river. We already have a pavilion that was converted from a residential garage. That area and the Community Gardens area will have a dedication ceremony Tuesday afternoon. We have 15 house that still need to be demolished. There have been some "bumps in the road" with federal regulations dealing with asbestos disposal, but we are getting those smoothed out. Once the asbestos is removed, we can then move on to demolition. The demolition of the remaining houses should be started in September.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Welcoming New Residents and 10th Street Work Begins

I am about to go to the Ray House, which is one of our historic homes in Vinton, to meet some new medical professionals here in Vinton: a new dentist, a medical doctor, and a chiropractor intern. It's good to see that a small town like Vinton would have something to attract young professionals. It adds new blood to the community. Vinton has a lot to offer from our parks and aquatic center to our local theater where you can see 3-D movies for only $3 each.

The picture above shows the beginning of work on 10th Street. The construction was supposed to start on July 1, but there was some delay due to rain. Now most of the rain has managed to miss Vinton, so they have begun to remove the old street and replace the two sewer manholes. Next, they will install a subdrain that will take all the water from under the new street and funnel it to the storm sewer on 8th Street.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


There were a couple of things that happened this week that say a lot about the people in Vinton. When they say they are going to do something, they do it. First, we had a grand opening for a new hotel. In addition to the privately built hotel, the city built a street extension to provide access to the hotel. We knew this type of development was going to be good for the city - we said we were going to do it, and it got done. The hotel has now been open for more than a week and has been about half-full during the week, which is good news.

The second thing that happened was that the Palace Movie Theater installed a new digital movie system. This is a huge step. The group of people who run the theater decided they wanted to do this despite the huge cost. They knew that the people of Vinton would realize the huge benefit it would be and would rally with donations to pay for the system. The citizens of Vinton did. Last night, the Palace Theater showed Shrek 4 for its first digital 3D movie. Better yet, the 3D tickets are being kept at a low $3 per person cost!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Party in the Park Next Week

Next week is Party in the Park, Vinton's annual celebration in June. This year, the theme is Party on the Beach since the theme will be a beach party theme. There is always plenty of entertainment on Saturday, but don't forget the kid's parade downtown Thursday evening and the movie at the park on Friday. A complete schedule can be found by clicking here.

Today, I received a call questioning the amount of money we spend on the parks and recreation. I feel the Council does a good job balancing the needs of the many different residents we have in our community. Many of our residents utilize the programs that are offered by our parks department. My daughter has participated in the tennis, golf, softball and playground programs, just to name a few. I know this has really helped with her development as a person and I am sure it has helped with other kids giving them something to do while building athletic and interpersonal skills that will help them later in life---even if they only go rollerskating at the Activity Center on Friday nights. We have a great parks department for a city with the population of Vinton and many volunteer hours by city employees and the residents go into making the department do the great things it does.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Summer's Here!

Besides the heat there's a few things that tell me that summer's here. Last night, was the first Farmer's Market at the historic Rock Island railroad depot. Throughout the summer, the Farmer's Market will take place each Thursday at this location starting at 5 PM. Besides the food for sale, there is usually something different planned each night. The swimming pool opened last weekend and Party in the Park is June 24-26.

By the end of the month, we should begin the 10th Street Improvement Project from 1st Avenue through B Avenue. Just like the section of 9th Street that was improved last year, this couple of blocks have seriously deteriorated. This will be a huge improvement to the neighborhood.

The new Vinton Cobblestone Hotel passed its final building inspection this week. The hotel plans to open in mid-June with a grand opening celebration later in the month.

There is a lot going on and summer has just begun.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Remembering and Rebuilding

Memorial Day is a special day for those of us lucky enough to have served our country in the military. We know the dangers and we know that special feeling deep down of the pride and love we have for our country. It is a special time for remembering those who died serving their country and reflecting on their sacrifice. Do we have the same courage? What would we do in their place? These are questions I ask young people who think about entering the service. It may not be the type of questions that a recruiter may ask, but I feel that anyone thinking of serving needs to honestly think about the answers they would give.

The picture above is the beginning of the construction of the new Benton County Law Enforcement Center in downtown Vinton. The county folks went through a lot to get this thing started and I am sure they and we will be proud of the building when it is completed. The construction end date is set for May 2011.

Friday, May 21, 2010

10th Street Project Bids Received

This week has flown by as usual. The week ended with receiving bids for the street improvement project that we have scheduled for this summer. This year the City is going to make improvements to 10th Street from 1st Avenue through the intersection at B Avenue. I thought this project would be much more expensive that our project last year on 9th Street since we are replacing a couple of manholes and the subdrain from the street runs north two blocks to 8th Street. The engineer's estimate was just over $201,000. Our lowest bid was for about $18,000 less than the estimate. This is excellent news. The Council will act on the bids next Thursday at their regular meeting on May 27.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Progress and Recovery

This has been a busy week with several progress and recovery milestones. Progress has been made on the new hotel on Highway 218 with the installation of the building sign and the opening of the new West 11th Street. A "soft" opening is scheduled for mid-June now. There are a couple of wedding parties booked at the hotel right after opening and it is sold out for Boomtown in September.

An unsafe building that has been an eyesore on West 4th Street has been demolished by its owner. This is one of several steps to clean up the "entrance" from Highway 218 into the downtown area. Another group of unsafe buildings on the west side Hinkle Creek on 4th Street is now owned by the city. Once some asbestos has been removed, these structures will also be demolished and the area turned into greenspace. This is part of our movement in flood recovery that has taken up a good part of my last two years since the 2008 flood.

Another couple of steps in the flood recovery have been made by our parks and recreation department. They have cleaned out a large residential garage that is next to the Cedar River that was bought out by the city after the flood. The plan is to convert the garage into a ope-air pavilion which is a use that is allowed by the buyout program on this greenspace. The department has also worked with ISU Extension to convert a few other buyout lots on East 2nd Street into community gardens.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Police Service Week

On Wednesday, May 5, 2010, Mayor John Watson signed a proclamation stating the City of Vinton, Iowa will observe Police Service Week from May 9 through May 15, 2010. The week honors the service of police officers in Vinton, the State of Iowa, the United States and around the world. It specifically honors those that have given their lives in the line of duty.

Pictured from left to right is Vinton Police Chief Jeff Tilson and Mayor of Vinton John Watson.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Construction on New Hotel Begins

Construction on the new Vinton Cobblestone Hotel has begun in earnest with new footings and walls being poured this week. The construction crew from Garling Construction is working around forecasts of snowy weather to get a good start on the project. The hotel developers are BriMark from Oshkosh, Wisconsin and the financing for the hotel is being provided through the Vinton Hotel Group.

The new hotel will be located on Highway 218, which is also known as K Avenue, north of the First Christian Church and West 13th Street. Access to the hotel will be provided on West 11th Street, which will be built by the City soon. Neighboring properties include Theisen's further south on the other side of West 13th Street, ALCO Department Store to the north and the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School (IBSSS) to the east. The IBSSS is also the home of the Midwest Regional AmeriCorps NCCC campus.

The City of Vinton provided an economic development incentive of $335,000 for the construction of the hotel and is putting another $120,000 towards the construction of West 11th Street. These funds will be paid back through TIF funds generated by the new hotel. The remaining $50,000 for the new road is being provided through the State of Iowa I-Jobs street construction financing.

The Vinton Cobblestone Hotel is planning to open in July 2010. Reservations can now be made at (888)-693-8262.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Apply to Serve on Vinton Board

The City of Vinton has various boards and commissions to help carry out the duties and policies of the City of Vinton. These boards oversee various departments or ordinances. The ultimate responsibility of the boards rests with the City Council and Mayor who appoint the members. Every once in a while, we have positions that need to be filled. We are also now required to make a good-faith effort to have a gender balance in appointments. If you live in the City of Vinton and are interested in applying, click here to learn more. To get a list of boards and commissions, click here.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Vote for the Animal Shelter

The Friends of the Shelter (FOTSI), who currently manage the Vinton/Benton County Animal Shelter need your help. They are in a contest to win up to $10,000. You can help by voting for them as your favorite shelter. Click here to vote. You just need to enter the United States, IA, and Vinton then search for the shelter. You then cast your vote. It is very simple. You can only vote once a day, but you can keep voting each day until the end of the contest. There are several other shelters ahead of the Vinton Shelter, so please vote often!