Government Notes: Marion allocates pandemic funds to housing aid

The Marion City Council awarded $60,000 in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding toward Marion Cares for its immediate housing assistance program.

Since 2020, the program has distributed over $138,000 in rent assistance, with $34,527 distributed so far this year. Overall, the program has helped 44 families remain in their homes.

The council voted to allocate the money Thursday night. Marion Cares is a faith-based nonprofit organization that serves families and children in the community.

The city received $6 million through the federal COVID-19 relief program and has allocated over $4.6 million of the funds so far. About $4.1 million has been allocated toward sanitary sewer improvements and water infrastructure.

Over $500,000 has gone toward housing, transit and impacted industry assistance, including small business grants for local Marion businesses.

Cedar Rapids has ‘Iowa’s Best-Tasting Drinking Water’

The city of Cedar Rapids’ East 14 well is one of the wells that pulls water from beneath the Cedar River. The water is processed and used as drinking water. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)

A panel of local media personalities selected Cedar Rapids’ drinking water as the best tasting in Iowa for this year.

The Iowa section of the American Water Works Association holds a blind taste-test competition each year to decide which Iowa community provides the best-tasting drinking water, according to a news release. A panel of local media personalities judged entries based on appearance, odor, taste and aftertaste. Cedar Rapids’ water was chosen as Iowa’s Best-Tasting Drinking Water 2022.

“This is an honor we don’t take lightly,” Utilities Director Roy Hesemann said in a statement. “We are proud of the consistent, reliable experience our customers can expect when they turn on the tap. City staff work hard to provide clean, safe and great-tasting water to our residents and customers every minute of every day.”

The “Best of the Best Tap Water Taste Test” is part of the Iowa section’s annual conference. This year’s conference was held in Coralville from Oct. 25—27. Cedar Rapids first won the award in 2010 and again in 2013.

“This award proves what we already know — Cedar Rapids’ drinking water tastes really great,” City Manager Jeff Pomeranz said in a statement. “Our high-quality water drives investment in our community, creating opportunities for thousands of Cedar Rapids residents.”

Historian will help Johnson County research eponym

Lulu Merle Johnson (University of Iowa photo)

Johnson County has hired a professional historian to help with research for an educational exhibit celebrating the county’s eponym, Dr. Lulu Merle Johnson.

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an agreement for professional historical interpretive services with Rebecca Conard. Conard, who lives in Johnson County, is a professor emeritus from Middle Tennessee State University with more than 40 years of experience as a public history practitioner and educator.

Last summer, the board unanimously approved a resolution to honor Dr. Johnson, the first Black woman in Iowa to earn a Ph.D. and one of the first Black women nationwide to earn one, with the county’s name. The county name used to recognize a slave owner.

Conard, along with a University of Iowa graduate student assistant, will help the county gather information about Johnson’s life and accomplishments, as well as about Black history in the county.

“This is really going to be a site that the public can engage with, and the materials that Dr. Conard and the research assistant will gather can be made available to the public,” said Allison Wells, the county’s grants assistant.

Conard will present monthly progress reports in 2023, with a final report submitted to the board in August. The educational exhibit will be located on Johnson County’s administrative campus on S. Dubuque Street.

Clear Creek Amana gets deed for site of elementary school

The Clear Creek Amana School District received the deed last month for land purchased from the city of Coralville, where construction of the district’s fourth elementary school is planned.

The school will be built by 2024 and is designed to accommodate enrollment growth coming from the eastern side of the district and redistribute crowding from other elementary buildings.

The district purchased the 30 acres of land for $1 in May. The land — valued at $12,000 — is west of Coral Ridge Avenue and east of the intersection of Interstate 380 and Highway 6 in Coralville.

A bond approved by residents in March will pay for the project. Voters in the Clear Creek Amana Community School District approved a $65 million bond with more than 75 percent approval to fund construction of a new elementary school. A 60 percent supermajority vote was required to pass the bond.

Solon schools bond headed for March vote

The Solon Community School District plans to ask the community in March 2023 to support a bond issue that will provide funding to expand the intermediate school and other needs identified by the community. This bond will not increase the property tax levy.

The district anticipates another 500 students in the next six to 10 years as the city of Solon’s population continues to grow with the addition of several new housing developments. There are about 1,500 students preschool to 12th grade who attend Solon schools.

The Solon Community School District also began a new partnership with Kirkwood Community College and Grant Wood Area Education Agency to offer students paid apprenticeships.

Interested students can take courses in the health field from Kirkwood and work as a paid intern nurse aid, Superintendent Davis Eidahl said in a letter to families in September. This will be the first of several apprenticeships the district will offer as it expands its program into other career fields.

Government Notes is published Mondays and contains updates from area government bodies. Marissa Payne, Gage Miskimen, Izabela Zaluska and Grace King of The Gazette contributed to this report.


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