Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 23, 2014

Council learns about trails, sandbags and chickens

By Mary Zielinski | Jul 10, 2014

KALONA — An estimated $192,000 walking trail is gaining ground, pallets of sandbags wait as first-line defense against flooding, and four more chickens will roost in town, the Kalona Council learned Monday.
Vanessa Fixmer-Oraiz, the city’s English River Watershed planning intern, told the council survey results show residents want a walking, not biking, trail, using sidewalks throughout the city.  The planned Safe Routes for school children sidewalk project, for which the city has received grants, likely will complement the larger trail but will not be a dominant part of it, she said.  Funds for the project involve sidewalk installations, signage and landscaping for trails that will link all parts of the city.
Monday’s presentation was a further update to be followed by the final plan in August when the council is expected to take action. Fixmer-Oraiz explained,   “We will seek grants” to cover much of the costs.
City Administrator Ryan Schlabaugh said that the council finance committee will need to meet prior to that presentation to “get an idea on financing.”
Schlabaugh reported about last week’s flooding in Kalona  with storms “that dropped anywhere from 6 to 9 inches.”  Fire department crews did considerable pumping throughout the city in a situation that saw some sanitary sewers back up as well as storm sewers overflow.
“The guys did a great job,” he said, adding that currently the city is not eligible for any FEMA funds since “there’s been no disaster declaration.”  However, he said that the city will purchase emergency radios to be used by employees.  Cost for the units range from $300 to $400 each, he said.
Last Thursday morning, Schlabaugh said, Mid-Prairie High School and Iowa Mennonite student athletes manned shovels to fill more than 700 sandbags.  The city exhausted its previous supply last week.”and we want to stay prepared.”
The second request for four urban chickens was approved after Schlabaugh noted the application “meets all requirements,” which include proper shelter for the hens, no rooster and approval from all neighbors.
In other business, the council:
• learned the Department of Transportation will meet with city officials July 14 to discuss repair of the Highway 22 bridge in Kalona;
• learned that the current watershed survey of area residents already has received 100 replies;
• hired Keaton Redlinger as an additional full-time general laborer at $14.41 per hour starting this month.  He previously was a part-time summer employee for the city since 2009;
• learned that work on repairing/replacing the entrance gateway at the Sharon Hill Cemetery will start Thursday;
• approved a five-year lease with the United States Post Office for the city-owned office for $1,400 monthly, a $200 increase.  There are no indications the office will be closed, said Schlabaugh; and
• learned that the consumer confidence report for the city’s water “meets all requirements,” that the water is safe.

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