Mayor Erb: Clean-up Day, bridge collapse and rural revival

By Charles City Mayor Jim Erb

Mayor_thumbIt’s spring time in Iowa, the planting season is almost here and we have a lot to anticipate this year.  The question is where does one start? 

One starts with Spring  Cleanup, which is basically the same opportunity for our residents as has been available in past years.  The Cleanup will occur on April 24, 25, 26, and 27.  The specifics of the collections will be posted at City Hall and also in the normal media locations.  After a winter  of accumulation of items, now is the time to gather unwanted items and have them available  for pickup. 

As has been the case in the past, after the collections have been completed, our city inspectors will follow up and issue citations where appropriate for those who chose not to take advantage of the free pickup.

This program is complicated further by the partial collapse of the Charley  Western img_1213Bridge over this past weekend.  The long and the short of it is that the bridge is  totally unusable.  No one should be on or near the bridge until further notice whether the  approach is made over land or water.  The advice is simple, stay away from the bridge! 

We are going to have several special events during the spring and summer.  In May, Victory

A model of the sculpture “Revival” that will be placed in Victory Park.

Park which will be dedicated near the site of the former Suspension Bridge  with a new sculpture being dedicated at that site. 

During late July RAGBRAI will be visiting Charles City as an overnight town.  Although the railroad bridge was not part of the bike  route, it will be another concern for our planners.  Again, you can help us the most by  staying away from the bridge and urging everyone else to stay away. 

As residents of rural Iowa, a number of events have taken place over the  past decades which we need to take into consideration.  First of all, there is no shortage of  blueprints which can be utilized to pursue rural development.  At the same time, we now  have just gone through an election where a decisive number of votes were cast by rural  voters in reliance upon candidates promising to turn around years of rural decline.  Here are  some of the headlines and ideas that could form the foundation for such a rural revival if  actually funded:

  • Partner with businesses to train workers
  • Install a Competitive Fiber-Optic Network – Rural Iowa is under-served by Broadband Access
  • USDA’s Four Pillars of Agriculture and Rural Economic Development
  • Support Clear Water Conservation with Sales Tax
  • Fight Income Inequality by Creating Better Paying Jobs
  • Getting 70 percent of  State’s Workforce Equipped with Post High School Education or Training
  • Investment in Infrastructure
  • Create North Iowa Kayak Course Network
  • Need for Regional Vision Plan
  • Equal Educational Opportunity for Rural Students
  • Iowa Energy Plan – 15 objectives, 45 strategies, 100+ Progress Report completed  in December 2016
  • Federal Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP)
  • Target Economic Incentives to Counter Rural Decline
  • Lost Soil is Lost Revenue
  • Attraction of Advanced Manufacturing
  • Water Quality Threatened by Legislative Inertia and the President’s Budget Proposal
  • Funding Rural Development’s Outdoor Trust Fund

With the above list of proposals, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. 

What is necessary is a long-term commitment backed by a realistic commitment of funding. Anything less will result in continued decline and the exporting of Iowa’s rural talent. Continuing to cut and/or shift revenue as outlined in Congress’ 21 percent discretionary budget cut and our State Legislature’s unwillingness to balance the urban-rural state budget; and  resulting decline is what you end up with.

Charles City Mayor Jim Erb can be reached at 641-228-6956 or