Atalissa residents get trees, city orders signs in beautification effort


The City of Atalissa will be getting new street signs, new Christmas lights and city residents have a chance to plant a free tree, it was learned Monday, Nov. 9, at the monthly meeting of the Atalissa City Council held at the city hall.

The city purchased $1,260 in new street signs, ordered through Iowa Prison Industries. It is not known when the signs will be ready for installation.

The city has also applied for a Traffic Control Signs Grant with the state, hoping to get new stop, yield and other street signs. The council will learn more about the grant at their Dec. 14 regular meeting.

Atalissa residents also got a beautification boost in winning a Trees Forever Branching Out Grant from Alliant Energy, which has delivered 150 trees to the city. Residents are expected to take the trees and plant them in their yards to help beautify the city according to Matt Goodale of the water and sewer department. There is no cost to residents for the trees.

The program, which started in 1989, is designed to encourage energy efficiency, volunteer involvement, environmental awareness and community stewardship in Iowa. Branching Out helps communities plant trees to save energy - a team effort. The program is designed to bring knowledge of the community and hardworking volunteers. Alliant Energy and Trees Forever bring our energy efficiency knowledge, tree-planting expertise and funds to help purchase trees.

The city also approved a bid from TuliP Contracting in Atalissa to remove a tree at the water tower site, which also saw improvements this month with a new coat of paint applied to the tower located on the northeast corner of the community.

The city also continues a campaign to find used Christmas lights, TuliP Contracting volunteering to hang the lights once mounting hardware is acquired.

The city also continues to talk about helping finance a new heating/cooling station at the Atalissa Fire Department, which was learned about at a September meeting. Mike Smock, a secretary/treasurer for the Atalissa Volunteer Fire Department, made the presentation concerning the proposed permanent heating/cooling center the station hopes to have available by mid-2021.

He said the idea came about following the Aug. 10 derecho that pushed 100 mile per hour winds through the area, knocking down trees and power lines that left Atalissa without electricity for six days.

He said the department was about to create a makeshift center when power was returned, but said it was a difficult time for many area residents, including people living in rural areas outside the community.

Smock said the fire department was also considering remodeling and updating their restrooms in the firehouse.

The entire project would cost an estimated $52,982, the bulk of those expenses for a $24,162 generator and installation as well as $25,300 for the restroom remodel to become ADA compliant.

Smock said about 2,000 residents live in the fire district, many without a place to go if there are power outages in the heat of summer or the chill of winter.

He said the derecho opened the eyes to the need of having a generator for charging items like cell phones and providing essentials like drinking water, showers, diaper changing stations, toilets and a clothes washer as well as lockable refrigeration for medications.

Smock said the closest centers are located in Muscatine, Iowa City and the Quad-Cities. He said the Red Cross and United Way organizations are both supportive of the plan.

The proposal would include enough cots to sleep six although it was pointed out more bedding could be provided in an extreme emergency. He said the cost includes water totes, water hoses, a laundry washing machine and the refrigeration unit as well as bedding and other materials.

The fire department is seeking help in raising money for the center, asking the city council for aid. The group has made application with the Ryan Trust Fund and is looking at other organizations and foundations, as well as grants, to raise the money to start working on the center in February.

Atalissa, which runs on a annual budget of just over $300,000, held a budget and goal setting workshop on Nov. 16 for the council and public.

It was also reported the city is still working with the state on possible reimbursement of expenses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was pointed out TuliP Contractors is also still working on replacing septic lids and risers in the community as a plan to prevent run-off. However, all the work could not be done this year due to budget limitations.

The next meeting of the council will be held Monday, Dec. 14, at 7 p.m.