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City of Muscatine Communication Blog

Hello and welcome to our blog. As the Communication Manager for the City of Muscatine, Iowa, I know the importance of communicating with residents and providing them with an understanding of the different functions of the City, why these functions are important to our residents, and what the City is doing for the future of our community.

Many times the story of the various activities, accomplishments, and happenings within the City are not told and we want to make sure that the people behind these activities, accomplishments, and happenings are duly recognized. We also want to explain our vision of the future for the City of Muscatine, something that we take great pride in.

Please check back in periodically to see updates on what's going on here in Muscatine! Please feel free to leave comments on individual postings--the comments will not be displayed here, but they will be emailed to me so that I can collect your thoughts and make adjustments based on the feedback and suggestions. Moderated comments are an option as we progress. Thanks for reading and I hope you find this to be an effective tool!

Nov 04

Saving Lives: The value of implementing fire safety measures in the home

Posted on November 4, 2021 at 2:36 PM by Kevin Jenison

102921 Sterneman Boulevard House Fire 01 (JPG)MUSCATINE, Iowa – The value of fire safety is never more on display than after a young family escapes virtually unharmed from their smoke filled and burning home. That was the case last Friday (Oct. 29) when a woman, an infant, and a menagerie of pets escaped a smoke filled home on Sterneman Boulevard.


The woman and infant were asleep in the bedroom with the door closed when the sound of a smoke alarm just outside the bedroom woke the woman up. Upon opening the door the woman found a home filled with smoke. Without thinking twice, the woman grabbed the infant, put three dogs out onto the front porch, and then escaped the house as the first units arrived at the scene.


“The fact that there were smoke detectors throughout the home that were activated by the smoke and woke the family up more than likely saved their lives,” Assistant Chief Mike Hartman said. “But what else helped was the fact that the family closed the door to their bedroom which prevented the smoke from rolling in.”


Those two fire safety measures (smoke alarms and closing the door) are just two of the tips offered by the Muscatine Fire Department as residents prepare for winter.


Muscatine residents, like most families across the United States, will be turning back their clocks one hour at 2 a.m. on Sunday (Nov. 7), and the Muscatine Fire Department urges homeowners to change the batteries in their smoke and carbon monoxide detectors while they are changing the time on their clocks.




Smoke detectors are one of several lines of defense families can take to escape a fire in their home. Closing the door before doze, installing carbon monoxide detectors, and creating a home escape plan can also help prevent a tragedy.


“Smoke detectors should be installed inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home including the basement,” Battalion Chief Ted Hillard said. 


On levels without bedrooms, smoke alarms should be installed in the living (den or family) room, at the bottom of stairs leading to the next level, or in both locations. The detectors are usually mounted on the ceiling or on a wall no more than 12 inches from the ceiling, and at least 10 feet from a cooking appliance to minimize false alarms when cooking.


Hillard shared additional tips on smoke alarms.

  • Don’t install smoke alarms near windows, doors, or ducts where drafts might interfere with their operation.
  • Never paint smoke alarms. Paint, stickers, or other decorations could keep the alarms from working.
  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button.
  • Replace the battery at least once per year. If the alarm chirps warning that the battery is low, replace the battery right away.


“Newer smoke alarms have a 10-year non-replaceable battery,” Hillard said. “You need to write the date installed on the device because once they begin to chirp after 10 years they need to be thrown away and replaced.”


Having interconnected smoke alarms also increase safety, but it is important that all of the interconnected smoke alarms are from the same manufacturer. Interconnection can be accomplished by hard-wiring or wireless technology so when one smoke alarm sounds, they all sound.


When testing fire alarms, pay attention to where your pets hide. This is most likely where they will go in the event of an emergency.


Residents can call the Muscatine Fire Department (563-263-9233) if they have questions concerning smoke detectors. The department will come out and inspect smoke detectors in a home. They also have a grant program that offers smoke detectors to homeowners.


NFPA - Installing and maintaining smoke alarms




Fire spreads faster than ever before due to the use of synthetic materials, furniture, and construction. Closing doors can help stop the spread of a fire and, in many cases, actually can help to extinguish a fire before it spreads. The family on Sterneman Boulevard found out just how beneficial it was to close the door before they went to sleep.


“Having the door closed kept the smoke from coming in and filling up the bedroom,” Hartman said.


Smoke rises to the ceiling and begins to roll throughout a home to areas of least resistance. Closing a door increases that resistance.


“We could see during our investigation that the door had been closed as smoke filled the rest of the house,” Hartman said. “There were not any smoke stains inside the bedroom and that is a good indication that the smoke was prevented from entering the room.”


Hartman also said that keeping doors closed could also help in preventing the spread of a fire.


“Fire needs oxygen to spread and a closed door can reduce the amount of fuel available to a fire,” Hartman said. “In some cases, a closed door can actually help to smother a fire before it becomes out of control.”


Based on findings from the Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI) ‘Close Your Door’ encourages those trapped in a room during a fire as well as those who can safely leave a home to close as many doors as possible. 


A closed door can be an effective barrier against deadly levels of carbon monoxide, smoke and flames, and may give people more time to respond to the smoke alarm. In fact, according to the FSRI, there can be a 900-degree difference in room temperature between a room with an open door and one with a closed door, with the open-door room reaching temperatures of 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit or more.


“Fire hasn’t changed in the past quarter century, but our home environments have, and because of this fire moves faster than ever before with home fire deaths rising even as home fires decline,” said Steve Kerber, vice president of research and director of FSRI. “Our annual fire safety survey shows that fire safety habits still aren’t where they need to be to prevent loss of life and property. Everyone can take three simple steps by having working smoke alarms, having an escape plan and closing their bedroom door at night.”


FSRI Close Before You Doze

See the dramatic difference a door can make (YouTube Video)




Another important fire safety action people should take to protect themselves and their loved ones in the event of a fire is having and practicing an escape plan that includes having two ways to get out of every room, and identifying a common meeting place outside of the home.


“This is one of the key messages in our educational program,” Hartman said. “Knowing what to do when a smoke alarm sounds, where to exit a room or the home, and knowing where to meet outside is crucial to increasing your chances of surviving a home fire.”


Fires spread quickly. Many times there is as little as one or two minutes to escape once the smoke alarm sounds, so pulling together members of the household to make a plan, practice the plan, and inspect all possible exits and escape routes is important.


NFPA Home Fire Escape Planning Tips

Every Second Counts (YouTube Video)

Sep 14

Muscatine firefighters pause to remember

Posted on September 14, 2021 at 4:41 PM by Kevin Jenison

Six members of the 11-person shift that arrived to battle a late night house fire on a cool September night remain on active duty with the Muscatine Fire Department. Four have retired or moved on. One remains the only Muscatine firefighter to die in the line of duty. Read the blog at

Continue Reading...

Aug 26

Website launched to help start conversations on improving Muscatine

Posted on August 26, 2021 at 3:51 PM by Kevin Jenison

Web Page Graphic (JPG)MUSCATINE, Iowa Conversations on making Muscatine a better place to live, work, or operate a business begin with community leaders reaching out to community members to learn about what opportunities residents see for solutions and improvements to the quality of life in Muscatine. 


Those conversations are at the core of the Muscatine Community Heart & Soul initiative. The Muscatine program will involve all residents in conversations to improve the community in ways residents want to see through building on the valued strengths.


“We are eager to hear from our community members concerning the various projects the City is working on as well as to gather information that will help guide our next Comprehensive Plan Revision,” Jodi Royal-Goodwin, Director of Community Development, said. “Asking what residents like about Muscatine and what they want to see more of is a crucial part of working to improving Muscatine together.”


The City of Muscatine was awarded a $10,000 seed grant from the national Community Heart & Soul organization to support of the Muscatine Community Heart & Soul program. The program seeks to gather resident feedback that will help drive positive change in our community by determining what matters most to residents. The feedback will be used to identify the action steps that will be integrated into the upcoming revision of the City Comprehensive Plan. 


One of the ways that the forces behind the local initiative will use to collect feedback from residents is a survey that is available online. The short survey is also being distributed at community events so more residents can be involved. 


The project’s leadership team is comprised of community members and is being directed through the City of Muscatine Department of Community Development. To be successful, however, the project needs YOUR voice. Residents can share their thoughts and feelings about Muscatine by completing the Heart & Soul survey at Heart & Soul Survey. Separate surveys are available for adults and youth, and are available in English and Spanish. 


Your feedback today can spark change for the future of our community.


Meghan Custis was an intern with the Department of Community Development this past summer and specialized in piloting the Heart & Soul program.


“Heart & Soul offers true promise for our community and, I believe, will help connect residents across the board,” Custis said. “I’ve spent a lot of time getting advice from other communities that have completed the Heart & Soul process, and it gives me such hope for Muscatine. Great things are already happening in our community, this is an opportunity for residents to speak up and tell the City what should come next.”


Community Heart & Soul is a national model designed for small communities to uncover what residents collectively value and identify action steps based on core values. It has been field-tested in 90 communities across the country and shows proven results.


Heart and Soul Map (JPG)The Muscatine Heart & Soul project will be completed in three phases with the first phase concentrating in the South End area (Hershey Avenue south to the City limits), phase two the middle section of Muscatine (Hershey Avenue north to Mulberry Avenue), and phase three the east section of Muscatine (Mulberry Avenue north to University Avenue). 


In each phase, the Heart & Soul team will dedicate efforts to gathering resident stories and experience through events, community forums, engagement at community gatherings, and survey distribution. This strategy will allow all residents to share their thoughts and perspectives on their neighborhoods as well as the overall community. 


The project is estimated to take between 18 and 24 months. 


I grew up in the South End, and I know how the community looks at that part of town,” Kindra Petersen, a member of the Heart & Soul Leadership Team said.  “The South End has so much to offer the community: bike paths, a skate park, easy access to the riverfront, Deep Lakes Park, a mini-soccer area, the soccer complex, Kent Stein, a beautiful dog park, and more.”


 Petersen pointed out that there is more to the South End than just the amenities available.


“There are also tons of local businesses in the South End that are often overlooked because the big factories tend to overshadow the location,” Petersen said. “I’m hoping we can bring to light the vast opportunities South End has to offer our community.


The newly launched Muscatine Community Heart & Soul website houses additional information, updates about the initiative, how to become a part of the team, and links to the surveys. Visit the website to see our progress and stay up to date on our efforts! As a resident-driven process, the involvement of community members to steward the Heart & Soul efforts is essential to this project. 


Community Heart & Soul is a tested community-development model that has been used in over 90 small cities and towns across America. It focuses on three key principles including involving everyone and focusing on what matters. The third principle is playing the long game to uncover areas of improvement while building lasting relationships across the various communities, organizations, and neighborhoods. Heart & Soul uses an inclusive, affirming approach to strengthening communities. The focus is on building upon what is working and valued in the community while ensuring all voices are incorporated into solutions.


The local Heart & Soul project was announced in February and begins in the South End, an area that Royal-Goodwin noted has suffered from a lack of significant investment. 


“The Grandview Avenue area is a neighborhood made up of residents and businesses on the southern end of Muscatine,” Royal-Goodwin said. “We have already received feedback from residents in this area and we are hoping for more. We are looking to work with residents and businesses to reinvigorate and revitalize this important area of Muscatine.”


The main focus of Heart & Soul will be improving the quality of life and economic development of Muscatine and beginning in the South End. That focus has been broken down into five pillars including street revitalization, economic development, recreation, business support, and residential support. 


Heart and Soul Logos (1.2) (JPG)The City of Muscatine’s Grandview Avenue Reconstruction Project fits into the street revitalization pillar and will improve the drivability of the corridor with new pavement, improve the walkability of the corridor with new sidewalks, and improve the aesthetics of the corridor with landscaping.


Information on Muscatine Community Heart & Soul can be found at, or on the City of Muscatine web site at Heart & Soul.