Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

January 17, 2013

News from Pleasantville

Steve Woodhouse
Journal-Express

Pleasantville —  

Pleasantville Police Chief/City Manager Joe Mrstik was recently interviewed by the Journal-Express. Here's what was discussed.

Emergency school response plans

The Pleasantville Police Department is continuing to revamp its emergency response plans with local schools. Mrstik attended a Homeland Security educational event last year, in which he said he learned a great deal. 

Pleasantville Schools have had a plan in place for years, but it may be tweaked. Mrstik said he wants to be sure that the plan is implemented the right way, and that as many plans are in place as possible in case something happens. Mrstik knows that Pleasantville Schools want to work with local law enforcement regarding many issues.

The PPD plans to reach out further to schools, by teaching the students about what they can do to protect themselves in any situation. Mrstik said it is important for the department to reach out to the students to build trust. He is glad that Pleasantville's schools are close together to make emergency responses to situations such as a tornado or some other disaster, easier. 

Pleasantville Pig Out

Planning for the third annual Pleasantville Pig Out has already begun. The event will be held the first week of June, and Mrstik is encouraging vendors who want to be part of the event to contact him or Mayor Jason Anthony. 

Already planned for the Pig Out is the car show and barbecue contest. Mrstik wants it to remain downtown, to showcase local businesses. 

The success of the event the past two years is due to the volunteerism displayed by the community. Mrstik said a lot of time and planning goes into the Pig Out, and he hopes for good weather and a good time for all who visit. Look for more on the Pig Out as the event draws nearer. 

Sewer issues may raise rates

A meeting was held with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Public Works to discuss new requirements from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the ammonium and nitrate levels in local waterways. A facility plan needs to be in place to lower the rates, which are already well below current standards. Water tests are run each day to check amounts of pollutants being released into streams from the wastewater treatment plant. 

The City is working on a comprehensive plan to address the EPA's demands over the next four to five years. Until the plan is adopted, Mrstik does not know what the impact will be on Pleasantville's water or sewer rates. He is sure they will be impacted, as early estimates place the cost between $4.5-5 million. Mrstik will seek a Community Development Block Grant, up to $500,000, to help ease the cost to taxpayers. 

A million-dollar investment has already been made in the sewer system by the City. The sewer pipes were lined over the past two years and work has been done on the City's sewer lagoons. 

Discussions are ongoing, and the Journal-Express will work with Mrstik to keep the public aware of any developments. 

Police calls for service

Calls for service to the PPD were up in 2012 from 2011. In 2012, the department handled approximately 1,600 calls, versus 1,400 calls in 2011. Mrstik said this does not mean that crime is up. Instead, his department is able to provide better coverage. He has more officers on the street, for more patrol hours, than there have been in the past. The extra manpower has enabled the department to be more responsive to better serve the community. 

Memorial Building

The possibility of the City of Pleasantville purchasing the local Memorial Building, owned by Marion County, is still being explored. Mrstik said his council will not act on the purchase until they hear from citizens. They want to gather information regarding the impact a purchase will have and share it with the community. Mrstik hopes to see public hearings held.

If the community supports the purchase, Mrstik believes the City will negotiate a price with the County. He is proud of the building and recognizes its significance to the community and wants to see it utilized as much as possible. 

“Anytime we can use that building, it can be good for the community,” Mrstik said.