The Cherokee City Council on Jan. 27th approved bids for new Cherokee Fire Department equipment, approved a resolution to commit local funding for a Surface Transportation Program (STP) to renovate a three-block stretch of North 11th Street scheduled for year 2013, and heard funding requests from the Cherokee Area Economic Development Corporation, and the Cherokee Arena Committee.
The CFD has solicited and received bids for the equipment funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in a Firefighters' Grant awarded in November, 2008. The 95-percent grant allows the City to purchase new Jaws of Life, a 10-foot extended light tower, and a washer/extractor and drying cabinet for the CFD.
Tuesday night, the Council, acting on the recommendation of the CFD to accept the low bids, approved a $23,788 bid for the Jaws of Life from MES (Municipal Emergency Services), a $14,500 bid from Maintainer Custom Bodies for the light tower, and a $16,249.25 bid from R.J. Kool for the washer/extractor and drying cabinet.
In regards to the 11th Street project, cities are required to submit street projects to the Iowa Department of Transportation years in advance if they want to be considered for federal and state funding. The 11th Street project is the cost estimate for the resurfacing and installation of curb, gutter, and storm sewer on approximately three blocks of North 11th Street, between West Cedar and West Bluff streets.
Estimated cost of the project is $260,000, with federal participation at $208,000, and the City's match at $52,000.
The City's proposal is funneled through the Siouxland Interstate Metropolitan Planning Council (SIMPCO), of which the City is a member. SIMPCO will offer input and assist the City in the project application process.
The annual CAEDEC funding request of the City totals $21,000, the same as last year's budgeted investment.
CAEDC Director Mark Buschkamp presented the Council with CAEDC's 2008 annual report, highlighting the corporation's activity, accomplishments, and future plans and goals in attracting business and industry to Cherokee County.
Buschkamp also told the Council that CAEDC was in "fairly stable financial condition" despite the sagging national economy, and emphasized that CAEDC needed continued support from the cities and the county.
Buschkamp also trumpeted CAEDC's updated website, and the fact CAEDC's Board of Directors has been pared from 18 members to 14 to enhance efficiency and still maintain equal representation for the communities and the county involved.
The Council will consider the CAEDC request as it formulates the next fiscal year budget.
The Council also heard from Megan Pigott requesting $2,000 in "start-up" funds for the Cherokee Arena Committee.
The group was formed about five years ago when it approached the City with a request to build the horse arena on unused and unsightly City flood plain property east of South Second Street, adjacent to Reddington Avenue north of the Little Sioux River.
The Arena Committee held fundraisers and sought donations and constructed the arena for horse recereation pursuits that are open to the public on land owned by the City. The committee has organized and sponsored various events in the summer months that normally provide revenue to maintain and operate the facility. No City funds of any type have been used to date to support the arena operation.
However, due to inclement weather throughout the 2008 season, many events had to be canceled and revenues were considerably less than in past years when the arena stayed in the black. The group is asking the Council for $2,000 for start-up costs for 2009, an amount that would be repaid to the City as the revenue comes in from many already-scheduled 2009 events.
The Cherokee Årena has evolved into one of the best horse arenas in Northwest Iowa and is attracting more and more events each season, according to Pigott. In addition, the arena brings tourists to Cherokee, with dozens of participants and fans in attendance at the popular events.
Cherokee City Administrator Don Eikmeier recommended to the Council that the $2,000 could be gleaned from the City's hotel-motel tax monies, whose intent is to promote tourism. The fact that the money would be returned at the end of the season is a win-win situation for all concerned, suggested Eikmeier.
The Arena Committee is comprised of all volunteers, who maintain the arena, provide officials and judges, man the concession stand, and operate their own donated equipment to sustain the entire operation.
The arena is open to the public for horse recreation at any time there is not a reserved event going on.
The Council will review the issue and report back to the committee in the next City Council meeting in February.
In other business, the Council approved closing portions of Pine Street, West Willow Street, North Fifth Street, and West Main Street for "The Great Pancake Day Race of Cherokee" Feb. 24, to be coordinated by St. Paul's United Methodist Church but open to all area churches, staff, and the general public.
As presented by John Cook to the Council, the event follows a long-ago English tradition for the day before Ash Wednesday when the women made pancakes with the cooking ingredients that folks might be denying themselves during Lent, which starts on Ash Wednesday.
The "race" involves women carrying a pan with a pancake from the starting line, winding through town to the finish line by the church (St. Paul's Methodist) on the top of what was once known as "Piety Hill" in Cherokee, and officially flipping their pancake to officially finish.
A fundraising event to support the two Cherokee Food Pantries also will take place at this time.
The "race," which must cover 415 yards (little over quarter of a mile) is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 24, beginning in the City Hall parking lot.