Hearts and minds were on the tragic weekend fire during Monday’s Nevada City Council meeting as several council people, the City Administrator and the Mayor publicly noted the sadness of loss for one family, but gave thanks and praise to the Nevada Public Safety Department for their professional abilities to battle the blaze.
The loss of a life is devastating for the community, but without fast response and containment, the fire, which happened in the apartment complex at 710 South 11th Street Saturday morning around 10:20, could have spread to even more apartments and put even more lives at risk.
Fire Chief Ray Reynolds recognized Nevada Police Officer Sean Seymour who was the first responder on the scene. “He did a phenomenal job… For one person to show up to such a significant event and not get overwhelmed, he did a significant job.” He said the police were dispatched 30 seconds earlier than fire, because the caller didn’t know it was a fire at the time. They had just heard screaming.
“Our first crew rolled out at 5 minutes with a full staff, and got there in 2 minutes,” Reynolds said. He explained the strategies the firefighters used when they arrived (anyone can listen to the comments by going to the City Council meeting video on YouTube, April 24 meeting, Part II video at the 4-minute mark).
Reynolds noted that eight families have been displaced by the fire. Councilwoman Barb Mittman said she’s been in communication with a team working on humanitarian efforts regarding this event.
Reynolds noted that for firefighters, “This is truly … our worst-case scenario … a multi-story, commercial structure with people trapped.”
Reynolds also talked to council members about a new emphasis in the police department, led by Sgt. Josh Cizmadia, to assign police officers each to various blocks/neighborhoods in the community. The goal is to have officers get better acquainted with the people in “their area” which can help people put a name to a face and know that they can come to that officer with concerns. “You’re going to see our officers on foot in neighborhoods and a lot more bike patrol on the bike trail” because of this new initiative, Reynolds said.
Engineer Larry Stevens reported that he’s waiting for warmer weather and roadwork to begin on S-14, which is a continuation of the 2022 Street Improvement Project. After the meeting, Stevens explained that the work on S-14 includes reconstruction of that road from M Avenue to just north of the UPRR Underpass. The project includes reconstruction of the roadway and storm sewer. In addition, the City added installation of a sanitary sewer from the intersection of S-14/N Avenue to north of the underpass.
“This project will have significant impacts on traffic. N Avenue is the only access to the neighborhood west of S-14 on N Avenue, so we are splitting construction of the intersection in two halves, so access can be maintained at all times,” Stevens explained. In addition, S-14 a is primary route for school buses. “So, that portion of S-14 from N Avenue north to the end of the project will only be allowed to be closed during summer break. In addition, S-14 is a major route for agricultural equipment and trucks during the fall harvest season, so it was best if all work on S-14 can be completed before fall, which delayed completion last year.”
City Administrator Jordan Cook spoke about the fly-in to Washington, D.C., that he, Mayor Brett Barker and NEDC Director Brenda Dryer attended last week. He said he was especially interested in a session about how imports and exports decisions actually funnel down to the local level. Mayor Barker said he appreciated that leaders from Story County and City of Boone, along with Story County’s leaders, were able to talk more with Senator Ernst about the problems with trains blocking tracks locally. He said they were told that people should continue to turn in the issues and complaints online, because the more data they have, the better the chance of getting something done. There is increased awareness and focus on train issues right now, he said, due to recent derailments in the news.
Cook talked about upcoming interns working with the city this summer. Those include a wastewater treatment facility intern from DMACC, and an intern from Iowa State University to work with Planning and Zoning and the PD on enforcement side of things.
Councilwoman Sandy Ehrig reminded that artist David Williamson will present a concert this Thursday evening at the Camelot starting at 7 p.m., and songs will be tied to the public arts project he has been working on in Nevada.
Councilman Dane Nealson said the Runners United Nevada (RUN) group is now taking signups for its 2023 series of 5Ks. He encouraged those interested in running, or if you know people interested, to have them check out the Runners United events. He also noted that the Midwest Country Music organization held its annual awards show Okoboji this past weekend and local artist, Danny Grause, won Song of the Year. Grause sang at last year’s Pizza Pie Looza. One of this year’s free-stage artists during the day, Monica Austin was recognized as Entertainer of the Year. “I’m excited to see our free-stage acts getting a little bit of love too,” Nealson said.
It was noted that Nevada did well at the Main Street Iowa awards banquet, with Lisa Oxley receiving a leadership award. Councilman Steve Skaggs said, “Our community is leaps and bounds ahead of where we were five years ago with downtown development, and to see us competing for statewide awards,” he smiled as an inference that it’s all really great to see.
Skaggs also encouraged the community to keep track of happenings at the Camelot Theater, including trivia with prizes and classic movies.
Harold See, interim superintendent of the Nevada Wastewater Treatment plant, reported that a number of issues have been dealt with and the plant is in a good position at the moment. He then knocked on wood!
Residents may listen to the full council meeting on YouTube @cityofnevadaia.
–Written by Marlys Barker, City of Nevada