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Government Notes: First Iowa City tourism grants awarded
Projects underway for Cedar Rapids flood control, Mount Vernon schools activities complex
Think Iowa City awarded the first two grants earlier this month as part of the Iowa City Tourism Grant program.
The Refocus Film Festival and the Iowa Golden Gloves State Championships are two events that received funding.
The tourism grant program launched in September. The program — which is funded by pandemic relief dollars from the City of Iowa City — is intended to spur economic activity in the city.
“These are two vastly different events, but both will bring unique audiences to Iowa City,” said Nick Pfeiffer, vice president of public affairs at Think Iowa City.
The Refocus Film Festival is organized by FilmScene and will take place over four days in the fall of 2023 with films, performances and art installations. This event was awarded $15,000.
ICOR Boxing will host the 2023 Iowa Golden Gloves State Championships the first weekend of April in the Graduate Hotel in downtown Iowa City. According to Think Iowa City, this is a “unique event never before seen in Iowa City.”
ICOR Boxing was awarded $7,500 for the Golden Gloves State Championships.
Both events will need to submit payments and receipts for qualifying expenses to be reimbursed up to their respective amounts, according to Think Iowa City.
The Iowa City Council approved the funding for the grant program this past summer. Up to $30,000 is available for new events and up to $5,000 is available for existing events or initiatives.
The funds are available through 2026 or until exhausted. Applications are reviewed monthly.
New mental health liaison will serve Johnson County
CommUnity Crisis Services has hired a law enforcement liaison to help serve Coralville, North Liberty and Johnson County.
Kieonna Pope will be stationed in North Liberty and work with the North Liberty Police Department, Coralville Police Department and Johnson County Sheriff’s Office. Pope will work directly with the law enforcement agencies to respond to and follow up on mental health crises that officers encounter.
The partnership will focus on increasing division, as well as increasing access to mental health resources and other treatment services.
City council members in Coralville and North Liberty approved the agreement in August. In 2021, CommUnity hired a mental health liaison who works with the Iowa City Police Department.
Cedar Rapids proceeds with Czech Village pump station
The Cedar Rapids City Council last week accepted bids from Amana-based WRH Inc. for the 12th Avenue SW pump station, coming in over $25.8 million.
The pump station is designed to pump rainfall runoff from Czech Village over a levee and into the river. It will be the city’s largest pump station once complete, with four 36,353 gallon per minute pumps.
This pump station will be supported by a detention basin. The basin stores stormwater peak flows, which allowed the pump station to be smaller and less costly to build and maintain long term.
Construction work is slated to begin this winter and be complete by Oct. 31, 2024. Rob Davis, the city flood control program manager, said the construction timeline was extended during the bidding period because of supply chain issues.
This design option also necessitated the construction of a relocated Riverside Park and skatepark, which will be rebuilt closer to C Street SW.
“It’s taken us a while to get here,” council member Ann Poe said. “ … I’m really excited to see this be developed.”
For the skate park relocation project, the council awarded Alburnett-based Pirc-Tobin Construction Inc. the contract for about $1.6 million. Among the other bidders for the project was California-based Spohn Ranch, which the city used to help design the reconfigured skate park.
Construction on the skate park is anticipated to start in the spring and wrap up by Oct. 31, 2023.
Gardner Golf Course closing for season
Gardner Golf Course in Cedar Rapids closed for the season at the end of play Nov. 10 because of predicted cold temperatures, according to a news release.
Ellis and Twin Pines Golf Courses will stay open as long as the weather permits. Call 319-286-5588 or visit PlayCedarRapidsGolf.com for more information.
Cedar Rapids OKs rezoning for Linn County overflow shelter
The Cedar Rapids City Council approved its second and final readings to rezone land for Linn County’s overflow shelter to serve the homeless population this winter.
The county purchased the 16,200-square-foot building, located at 1017 12th Ave. SW, from Alliant Energy last year for $395,000, using COVID-19 funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act.
Council member Scott Olson, a real estate broker, worked with the county to identify the facility. He recused himself from voting on the rezoning.
The county plans to close the shelter at the Fillmore building, 520 11th St. NW, and open the new one on 12th Avenue to serve individuals experiencing homelessness.
The county and city will split the $55,000 operational costs of the shelter during its typical season. The facility would serve approximately 90 people on a given night.
Willis Dady Homeless Services will be the main staffing agency for the overflow shelter, managing night-to-night operations and supervising the building’s staff.
Linn County Supervisor Ben Rogers said the target opening date for the shelter is Nov. 15, but could be earlier depending on the weather. Rogers said 107 on-the-street, homeless individuals were counted during July. That number is double what it was in 2019.
New activities complex underway for Mount Vernon schools
The Mount Vernon Community School District broke ground on a new activities complex to be built next to the high school, 731 Palisades Rd., last month.
The activities complex is an up to $5.7 million project, financed with a combination of $2.5 million in donations and school district funds and loans. The school board unanimously approved the construction Oct. 12, and dirt started moving Oct. 24, according to a district newsletter.
The new activities complex will include a regulation size football field, regulation soccer fields, eight-lane track, concessions stand, press box, ticket booth and seating for 1,500 people.
Construction is expected to be completed by summer 2024. The activities complex will allow the district to host track meets, marching band competitions and other activities and give physical education classes an outdoor option.
Clear Creek Amana works on inclusion
The Clear Creek Amana Community School District is continuing to invest in diversity, equity, inclusion and culture after hiring director Angelica Brothers to lead these efforts last year.
An educational equity committee met earlier this month to discuss ways the district can show an appreciation for diversity and respect for others. For example, at Clear Creek Amana High School, English Language Learner students showcased their home countries for all staff and students, according to meeting minutes from Nov. 7.
The committee also reviewed results from its conditions for learning survey, required by the Iowa Department of Education as a part of plan under new federal education law, Every Student Succeeds Act. The condition for learning surveys seek to improve safety, student engagement and the overall learning environment. All public schools in Iowa use the survey to assess grades 3 through 12.
While elementary students overwhelmingly had a positive perception of their school, suggestions were made to provide more tangible positive feedback for students in middle and high school.
Government Notes is published Mondays and contains updates from area government bodies. Marissa Payne, Gage Miskimen, Izabela Zaluska and Grace King of The Gazette contributed to this report.