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Shianne Fisher

NL City council approves FY18 budget and $10.5 million CIP

NORTH LIBERTY– North Liberty is growing. And, more people means more money needed for services such as public safety, recreation and public works.
How much more? About $13.5 million in the last five years.
At a Feb. 28 meeting, the North Liberty City Council approved the city’s fiscal year 2018 budget of $47,978,285– up from $34,541,042 in FY13.

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The state of Swisher

Mayor Chris Taylor helps chart the future of small-town Iowa

SWISHER– Running for city office, and most recently for chair of the Johnson County Democrats, both sort of came about by accident, said Swisher Mayor Chris Taylor.
Happy accidents, he noted, that began with his bid for a Swisher City Council seat in January 2014.
“I remember sitting at my kitchen table and thinking, ‘Well this isn’t something I’ve done before,’” he shared. “I have no background in politics, but I thought it’d be a good way to get to know my community better, help the community ask some bigger questions about what it wanted to be, where it wanted to go.”

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Ridership low in first six months of North Liberty’s pilot intracity bus service

Council members reconsider tie-in to Coralville routes

North Liberty Leader
NORTH LIBERTY– After six months of service, the success of the new North Liberty Transit program seems to be uncertain.
The intracity bus service, running for three midday hours during the week, has seen a total of 159 rides since its grand opening last October– costing the city an average $146.34 per trip and $48.47 per hour.
“I’ve been saying for a long time that we can’t afford to do what needs to be done,” said council member Jim Sayre during the March 28 meeting when the data was discussed. “We’re just nibbling away at stuff.”

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A renewed sense of focus

Quilters sew sensory blankets for Solon special ed classrooms

SOLON– It didn’t take long for Cameron Dziubinski to notice a difference in some of his students.
“When Cam came back to us and told us he had four kids that sat still for instruction, and he was so thrilled, it’s because they have this on their lap,” said Nancy Trow, an eighth-grade math teacher at Solon Middle School, as she held up a small weighted blanket.
Trow and four other middle school staffers spent one day during Spring Break sewing eight of the sensory blankets for special education classrooms at Lakeview Elementary and the middle school.

Proposed ordinances to regulate waived water bills with $250 limit

“The meter doesn’t lie”

TIFFIN– Imagine receiving a $600 water bill in the mail. What about one for nearly $9,000?
It may sound ridiculous but those extreme amounts were a reality for two Tiffin residents in recent months. In fact, three separate waived amounts– totaling over $5,800– led Tiffin City Council members to consider a new ordinance regarding water and sewer adjustments.
“To whoever this happens to, it’s a big deal,” said City Administrator Doug Boldt during a council meeting Tuesday, March 21.

NLPD in dire need of space

NORTH LIBERTY– Farmhouse. Doctor’s office. City hall. Police station.
The mid-century building at 5 E. Cherry St. has served many purposes, but its current tenants believe it has outgrown its function housing the North Liberty Police Department (NLPD).
“It was a temporary move to this building because the plan was always to build a forever home for a police department,” said North Liberty Police Chief Diane Venenga. “North Liberty is growing and we need a police department we can grow with and grow into.”

$14.5 million budget approved

Levy remains steady at $11.08, res. rollback increases

TIFFIN– It’s a hefty sum, but Tiffin City Administrator Doug Boldt encouraged residents not to be alarmed.
“Don’t let that big number throw up any major red flags,” he said. “Half of it is our capital projects.”
On Tuesday, March 7, the Tiffin City Council voted, 5-0, to approve the city’s fiscal year 2017-18 budget of $14,523,513– up about $7.8 million from last year. Consistent with Boldt’s comments, about $7.6 million, or 52 percent, is due to capital projects, which often carry outside funding.

Total family care

Amana clinic expands to Tiffin

TIFFIN– Does a doctor’s office want to see new patients? The answer is yes– and no.
For the Amana Family Practice Clinic, such an increase meant its staff was providing important healthcare services to a largely rural community, but it was also a strain on the clinic’s resources.
Insert Tiffin Family Care, a new facility located at 110 Tall Grass Ave., an area that is quickly becoming a one-stop shop for health and well-being.

Brewing perfection

Café Muse opens in North Liberty

NORTH LIBERTY– From its architecture to its direct trade coffee, Café Muse embodies perfection.
Open since Feb. 4, the new North Liberty coffee shop boasts single origin coffee, high tea and caffeinated cocktails, as well as a unique indoor design.
For co-owners Nasi Moradi and CJ Huang, it’s about more than just cranking out warm cups of joe; it’s about the experience.

Highway 6 signalization pushed back

Miscommunication leads to increased estimated cost

TIFFIN– It’s an unfortunate chain of events.
That’s how Ben Carhoff, of Hart-Frederick Consultants, described the situation regarding the installation of traffic lights on Highway 6 in a recent letter to the Tiffin City Council.
“I was told they were sized for traffic light poles when they’re not. They’re standard bases for street lights that were installed,” Carhoff told council members at a Feb. 7 regular meeting.

Spartan Grapplers Take State

Spartans earn 1st title

DES MOINES–They did it as a team.
That’s how Solon head coach Blake Williams explained the Spartans’ first-ever state championship title, which the boys brought home Sunday from the Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) 2017 State Individual Wrestling Tournament in Des Moines after narrowly beating No. 1-ranked New Hampton, 96.5 to 96.

Making a big impact on the littles

Sprout Kids Academy offers top-of-the-line everything

North Liberty Leader
TIFFIN– It was a no-brainer for Aimee Pitlick when she was approached two years ago to be the director of a new childcare facility in Tiffin.
“I missed it. I missed the kids. I missed the work, the good things, the babies,” said Pitlick. “You have such an ability to make such a huge impact on them.”
Having already run Tiffin’s former Busy Bees Preschool and Daycare from 2005-2010, and with a business degree from the University of Northern Iowa, Pitlick was well prepared to take on the task of helping plan a childcare facility from the ground up.