City Hall closed again

CRESCO - Council unanimously agreed, at the July 6 regular meeting, to close down City Hall again, after Howard County saw an increase of positive COVID-19 tests over the past few weeks. It had opened back up on June 8, after six weeks of no new cases. 
City Clerk Michelle Girolamo noted the last shut down had gone smoothly and didn’t see any problems in closing the building. 
It was no surprise Council closed City Hall as the July 6 meeting was again held electronically. The June 15 meeting was the only one held in person since the March 16 regular meeting, because of the pandemic.
In addition, Cresco Public Library closed for at least two weeks and until further notice after employees were exposed. It was noted that no employee has tested positive. The facility is closed as a precaution. After being shut down for several months, it slowly opened on May 18, to be shut down again, starting July 6. It is open for curbside pickup as of July 20.
Councilman Steve McCarville said the City should go back to separating the water, sewer and street employees such as it did in April and May. If one department gets an outbreak of COVID-19, knowledgeable employees from a different department can cover the jobs of those in self-quarantine. During May and June, when the numbers went way down, Council agreed to let the employees go back to their regular jobs on June 16.
Girolamo suggested Council allow Cresco Fitness Center and Theatre to make their own decisions on whether to close or not. “The fitness center does a lot of sanitizing, and the theatre hasn’t had large crowds anyway.” Council agreed to allow the two facilities to continue.
• In other business from the meeting, only one organization requested a Travel & Tourism grant. Cresco Theatre requested and received $2,203.86 for outdoor theatre equipment.
Wendy Lickteig, theatre manager, explained in the application, the equipment would be used to show outdoor movies, either as an outdoor event in the facility’s parking lot or rented out to local organizations.
• Public Works Director Rod Freidhof stated building permits from January to June 2020 were up 130% from the same time last year, 38% over 2018 and 35% over 2017.
• Council voted to defer Revolving Loan Fund payments for those who wanted to take advantage of it.
• Bryan Schmitt and Neil Mahr were approved to be on the Airport Commission for three years, expiring on June 30, 2023. They are replacing Romane Matthias and Kim Bentz.
• A permit for fireworks for Kevin Magic was denied for Tuesday, July 7. The seventh was the last day allowed by Iowa law for fireworks to be set off, but since it fell on a workday, Council felt it wasn’t fair to neighbors.
McCarville noted, “It’s hard to stop [people letting off fireworks] if you have these big tents selling fireworks. I don’t know how we’re going to stop it.”
Council person Amy Bouska spoke up, “We can fine them!”
Girolamo added, “If we don’t let people set them off, we shouldn’t let them be sold in town.”
Council will look into denying all requests next year. 
• A sewer adjustment was made for Allen Vrieze, who had a water leak that did not go into the sewer.
• Girolamo reported the first house of the Housing Rehab Project was complete, except for a few repairs, the second was nearly completed, the third is set to go out for bids, and the last three are ready for the initial inspections to be scheduled.
Auditors will be in the office the week of July 13.
Year end financial reports were submitted. Cresco saw a loss of $132,724, which was less than what was budgeted ($928,226). Three projects are being carried over to next year. They include the well re-casing, sump pump drainage and housing rehab. “It’s a lot better budget than we thought,” Girolamo said. 
In addition, the City has over $7 million in reserves. “Over 60% is in CDs, but they are not earning much interest.” The Clerk suggested the City do some projects. She noted the first few months of COVID-19 did not hurt City finances. “I presume the next 3-4 months might be worse.”
• Bouska commented on the Housing Committee. “There is help for renters from the Iowa Finance Authority at
She also noted at a Howard County Economic Development  meeting, it was mentioned work on the RHSHC clinic at Elma has started. RHSHC now has a psychiatric nurse practitioner and a visiting orthopedic surgeon who plans to schedule the county’s first hip and knee replacement.
• Sweet Corn Days has been cancelled [except for a Saturday tractor pull event and fireworks].
• Jan Carman reported the Chamber is wondering whether any summer events can be held, such as its annual flight breakfast, National Night Out and Family Fun Day.

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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