Alta returns to normal

EDITORIALS

BY ART CULLEN

Altans voted to lower the temperature in city hall Tuesday, electing council members and a mayor who are interested in working together and moving the community forward. Les Mann, Tom Lane and Pam Henderson won three seats among five candidates. Mann is the former long-time planning and zoning commission chairman ousted by Mayor Al Clark. Lane organized residents of Westview mobile home park to defend themselves against eviction by city action inspired by Clark, and neglect from an absentee landlord.

The mayor and council alienated firefighters, upset staff and ran off building inspectors.

Peace and quiet should return. That is what Alta is supposed to be: A friendly, progressive little town where neighbors enjoy each other’s company. The new council can get back to that sort of work. Voters clearly indicated that they want government that works cooperatively for the people, and they rejected the politics of confrontation. Elected officials at every level should pay attention.

CONGRATULATIONS ALSO to the new member of the Storm Lake City Council, Maria Ramos, an immigrant from Mexico who is realizing her dreams as a citizen of the United States. Ramos joins Jose Ibarra as another immigrant citizen who give an important voice to our new neighbors and all residents of The City Beautiful. It is exciting to see immigrants take their claim in American democracy as they always have. They renew us.

Our gratitude goes to those who ran for school board and city offices. That Storm Lake re-elected three incumbents (including Ramos’s friend Emilia Marroquin, an immigrant from El Salvador who is an inspiration) tells us that voters are well satisfied with a school board that recently passed a bond issue to build out early childhood facilities. Likewise, the Storm Lake City Council had no contested races, which indicates a certain level of satisfaction with city operations.

Fix a fatal intersection

The Iowa Department of Transportation should give every urgent consideration to stoplights at the intersection of Hwy. 7 and Abner Bell Road near the middle school, elementary school and imminently the new early childhood education center. IDOT officials say that since the recent bond issue, Storm Lake will be put on the list for consideration.

Storm Lake has pleaded for traffic control there for years. Public Safety Director Mark Prosser argues that traffic counts taken during the summer do not accurately reflect what traffic is like during the school year. A fatality recently at the intersection puts a tragic exclamation point on the argument.

Traffic and hazard will only increase as school operations will be on each side of Hwy. 7. The problem is clear, and Storm Lake has waited with some patience. The traffic control devices should be in place and operating at the earliest opportunity, certainly when expanded facilities are open.

IDOT needs to follow a planning regimen that takes care of every stretch of road. We understand that resources are limited. Storm Lake should not have to wait any longer to get the issue resolved. We know it is a busy intersection, and that it is the worst in the city. The city does not control the route, since it is a state highway. It is up to IDOT to fix the problem, and it is encouraging to hear that this project is moving up on the list. It can barely come soon enough.

Articles Section: