City hopes to increase transparency


Looking to beef up social media and local newspaper coverage, the City of West Liberty is asking department heads to submit articles and pictures, it was learned through a meeting of staff members Dec. 22.

Nick Heath, the newly appointed communications coordinator for the city, is asking department heads from the library to the police and fire departments to provide information to keep the city better informed.

He said the city needs to be as transparent as possible and have some good things to say about what’s taking place in the community, from getting new equipment, adding new faces or implementing new programs.

Heath said the city is working on ways to make things more consumer friendly in paying city bills or getting answers to concerns about certain topics and will be reviving its website to adapt to the changes, something he said has been triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In other business, the city is looking at adapting mission and value statements, asking staff members and city council members to take a look at sample mission statements to build one exclusively for the city. Interim city manager Elizabeth Hansen also asked the group to put together a list of values to define the city culture and the fundamental to our success in the fulfillment of that mission.

Pertaining to the police department, officer Andrew Siltari resigned his post as of Dec. 22, taking a position with the Dyersville Police Department and leaving West Liberty on Jan. 15. The department will replace the officer.

Interim police chief Dave Lira reported his department spent a total of $4,732 on 20 local youngsters in this year’s “Shop with a Cop” campaign. He said the students created wish lists which the police officers shopped and then delivered the presents with the help of Santa Claus, quite different from other years when the city police shopped with the recipients.

Lira also reported the city’s Dodge Ram vehicle was out of commission for a while requiring engine repairs in the amount of $5,000. The department also reported looking at options to replace the Chevrolet Caprice from the WLPD fleet with city clerk Lee Geertz.

The department is also looking at making application to reinstate the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau grant program. The city is also looking into additional funding for various police programs.

The department reported 234 calls for service during December including serving a warrant to a subject on reckless use of a firearm, seizing the weapon and putting it into evidence files. There were four arrests made during the month including a simple misdemeanor, an aggravated misdemeanor and a serious misdemeanor. Lira also reported there are two open cases including one for check fraud and another for sexual abuse.

The city police also inspected a total of 29 vehicles this past month, creating revenue of $1,160.

The West Liberty Fire and EMS Department reported 531 calls for the year including 30 in 22 days of December. Among those were seven calls on COVID-19 victims.

Chief Kirt Sickles reported four fire calls during the month, although none were structure fires. He said the department continues COVID-19 safety training for first responders.

The city also approved two liquor licenses at the meeting including Class C commercial licenses to Jorge Vazquez at El Sarape Mexican Restaurant and Yaridia Sosa at El Patio Restaurant.

It was also pointed out the City will be offering free curbside pick up for Christmas trees through January. Trees should be placed by 7 a.m. on the curb and should be removed of all ornaments, decorations and tree stands as well as plastic hauling bags. Artificial trees will not be accepted. No other trees or branches will be collected during Christmas tree pick up.