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Community Notes: New year, new opportunity to get involved in your community

By Mark Wicks, Community Development Director

The start of a new year brings new opportunities for residents in Charles City to get more involved in their community, learn or experience new things and enjoy the interaction and company of their fellow Charles Citians.

If you’ve been looking for something new to do, a way to give back to your community, a way to learn more about where you live or just a way to meet new people around town, becoming a volunteer is a great way to do that.

Community Notes: New year, new opportunity to get involved in your community
Mark Wicks, Charles City Community Development Director

Best of all, you get to pick what, where and when!

Whether it is through your church, a community group or service organization such as Rotary or Lions, or a non-profit organization like Main Street Charles City, there are many ways to get involved in a plethora of possible activities.

Volunteering is very fulfilling and incredibly valuable to all of the above. It’s how things get done, get fixed or get better. Volunteers are what makes a community stand out and special, because they don’t have to – they want to.

The Main Street Charles City welcomes anyone interested in getting more involved in town. Stop by 401 North Main St., call (641) 228-2335 or email [email protected] to learn more about our various events, activities and committees. How much you get involved is entirely up to you!

The Charles City Area Chamber of Commerce (same address and email, phone 228-4234) also can help connect you with other community groups and organizations, based on your interests.

There’s never a bad time to get started, but the new year does offer new beginnings if this is something you have thought about or wondered how to get involved. We’d love to volunteer with you!

Downtown District numbers

The Business Improvement Committee of Main Street Charles City recently completed an update of the Downtown Business/Building Inventory.

The results show that the downtown district as a whole features 150 different business entities (a net gain of five from a year ago) that employ 830 full-time and 706 part-time staff. That means that while there are a lot of small operations and small staffs included individually within the district, as a whole it is a major employer in our community.

Of course, not all of those 150 entities are stores, restaurants or bars, as great as that would be. They include professional and governmental offices, service providers and non-profit operations such as churches – all of which, by the way, are still “businesses” that employ our residents and people from the surrounding area.

The business breakdown in the downtown district this year came out to 22 percent retail, 72 percent service and 6 percent restaurant/bar businesses. The full assessed value of downtown properties was reported at $57,360,420.

Also of note, the number of vacant first floor commercial vacancies dropped from 21 last year at this time to 15, with 5 of those being multiple spaces within a shared building.

Main Street Iowa keeps cumulative data on the Charles City downtown district since we became an official Main Street community in 1996. To date there have been 52 business starts, relocations to the district or expansions; 297 building projects; $40,150,697 in private dollars investing in building projects; 54 buildings sold and $7,202,206 in private dollars invested in building acquisitions.

The cumulative number I am most proud of for our community, though, is the recorded volunteer hours that people have put in on Main Street Charles City (formerly Community Revitalization) projects, activities, committees and boards. Since 1996 we have recorded 183,354 volunteer hours.

That ranks second among the current 54 designated Main Street communities in Iowa, behind only Dubuque. Way to go CC – that’s how we get things done!

Remembering Dirk

Finally, I’d like to close with thoughts and prayers for the family of Dirk Uetz. Dirk was a long-time civil servant, conservation lover and friend to many. Since 2007 he served as Charles City’s Street Department superintendent, having been with that department since 1993. He sadly passed away on January 10th.

I can’t tell you how invaluable his cooperation and service have been to both the Chamber and Main Street Charles City program for so many years. He was always there to assist us when needed, regardless of how busy he and his crew were.

They put up our street banners and holiday street light decorations each year, haul the portable bandshell back and forth, help fix said bandshell a number of times after an urgent call, and make sure the streets are always cleared or cleaned for our events.

Most of all, Dirk was one of the really, really good guys. He cared about and worked very hard for this community and he will be missed. Rest well … you’ve earned it.

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