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Posted on: January 2, 2020

2019 Year In Review

Copy of 2019 Year In Review Newsletter

The City of Council Bluffs faced many extreme situations in 2019. First extreme amounts of snow, then flooding, then roads left in despair. Many great things happened too, including a lead hazard reduction grant, a new rescue boat, the completion of the third segment of West Broadway, and more. 

Check out the 2019 Year in Review Newsletter here, or continue to read below:


A special thanks to Public Works for their extraordinary work fighting snow, flooding, and potholes in 2019. The weather was extreme; nevertheless, Public Works persisted.

Last year, Council Bluffs had over 58 inches of snow with 21 snow events. The average accumulation from three years prior is 15 inches. In an effort to keep our 630 miles or roads safe for travel, Public Works used 5,368 tons of salt and 106,948  gallons of liquids. Crews spent 14,000 hours clearing snow in 2019, up drastically from 8,400 hours in 2018.

Flooding was a constant, first with Mosquito Creek, then the Missouri River and the high water table. Public Works responded with sandbags, re-routed traffic, monitored levees, added pumps, maintained pumps, fixed sewers, and had crews working around the clock when necessary.

2019 was hard on our roads. Potholes were patched until overlays could occur, but keeping up proved difficult. Thus far, 27 roads have been completely resurfaced, more than 18,000 tons of asphalt have been used, and the work continues. Thanks to Public Works for their relentless dedication to serving the community of Council Bluffs!

Following the flooding of March 2019, Scott Alff, owner of Alff Construction in Omaha, Nebraska, contacted the Council Bluffs Fire Department with a desire to help better equip the department. It was determined that a Pro-Drive boat would be useful for flooding rescues with shallow, swift water, and heavy debris. Thanks to the generosity of Scott Alff and Alff Construction, the Council Bluffs Fire Department proudly owns a new Pro-Drive boat known as Rescue 51. 

A new pedestrian signal called a HAWK signal was installed at the Hoover Elementary School pedestrian crossing on North Broadway. A HAWK (High-Intensity Activated crossWalK) signal is a signal-beacon designed to help pedestrians safely cross busy streets. While different in appearance for motorists, this signal works like other push-button activated traffic signals by stopping traffic with a red signal, allowing pedestrians to cross with a WALK signal.

The Council Bluffs Community Development Department was awarded a $2 million Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction (LHR) Program Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development with $300,000 in Healthy Homes Supplemental funding. The purpose of the Lead Hazard Reduction program is to help eligible homeowners identify and remediate lead hazards to make the home lead-safe. Using the LHR grant funds, improvements will be made to 100 homes in Council Bluffs. Improvements can include items such as new windows, doors, interior and exterior paint, etc. The program has a squirrel mascot named Chipper who is helping to spread awareness and create an "unleaded" Council Bluffs. 

The  @CityofCB Facebook page gained 3,042  new followers for a current total of 9,332. You can also find us on Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube! Follow along for regular updates. Like, follow, tag, share, and subscribe!  

Segment 3 of the West Broadway Reconstruction Project is substantially complete. Construction on Segment 4 will begin this year, and the fifth and final segment will take place next year. More information can be found at http://www.wbreconstruction.com. 

Matt Mardesen has joined the City of Council Bluffs Mayor’s Office as Chief of Staff. Originally from Anita, Iowa, Mardesen is a life-long Iowa resident with a wealth of experience in public service. Matt joins us from Nevada, Iowa, where he served as City Administrator. Matt received the "City Manager of the Year" award from Iowa City/ County Management Association in September 2019.  

Parks and Recreation added three new community events in 2019. The Bayliss Park Block Party took place over Labor Day weekend and was designed for families with young children. The event was complete with a band for kids, face painting, balloons, and games. Comedy Night turned Bayliss Park into a Comedy Club on a Saturday night in September. This event was designed for people 18 years and older as local comedians took the stage and had everyone laughing. RECtboerfest was a celebration of all things recreation and took place in Valley View Park in October. This event was designed for kids ages 12 - 18 and featured a rock climbing wall, inflatable obstacle course, airbrush tattoos, field day games, and prize drawings every hour. These three events were successful, and planning is in the works for 2020. 

Council Bluffs received the prestigious All-America City Award in 2017 for its civic engagement to help more young children from low-income families achieve grade-level reading proficiency and early school success. Council Bluffs was one of 15 communities nationwide to receive the award. After receiving the award, we applied for and received a grant from Iowa West Foundation to construct signage touting the All-America City designation shield. Two new monument signs were installed this year. You can find one along Highway 6 at Railroad Ave and another along North 16th near Walmart. New lettering and the shield were also added to an existing structure along South 24th Street and 23rd Avenue. 

Council Bluffs was selected as an overnight town for RAGBRAI 2019 and was the starting point for the week-long bike ride across Iowa. We had around 15,000 visitors on Saturday, July 20. On the morning of Sunday, July 21, the cyclists headed east. It took nearly 300 volunteers to prepare for, host, and clean up RAGBRAI. Thanks to the volunteers, the event was a success.  

Other notable highlights from 2019 include:

  • The Police Department settled into their new building at 1 Ezra Jackson Way
  • Parks and Recreation received a Tree City USA Award, a symbol for communities who have made a commitment to the management of public trees
  • Animal Control issued 7,759 dog and cat licenses
  • The Recycling Center upgraded the phone systems which resulted in better service, and a new phone number: 712-890-5454
  • Human Resources hosted a Seasonal Employment Job Fair for anyone interested in seasonal positions at the pools, park maintenance, public works, recycling center, etc.
  • The Fire Department hosted 18 hydrant parties
  • The Library attended hydrant parties and gave away 422 free books to children
  • The Recycling Center accepted over 25 tons of flood-damaged materials at no charge for flood-affected residents in Council Bluffs
  • Kimball Park was renovated and now includes a new climbing structure and a pickleball court
  • Community Development disposed of 16 City-owned lots to private owners in the community for new development
  • The Library hosted Lisa Scottoline, The New York Times bestselling author of 32 novels
  • The Fire Department presented a Medal of Valor to Captain Jack Gangwish and Firefighter Travis Hatcher for their heroic rescue that saved three firefighters and three citizens who were trapped in floodwaters along the Elkhorn River
  • The Police Department responded to more than 50,000 calls 

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