Guttenberg named Iowa River Town of the Year

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A sweeping view of Guttenberg on a clear spring day taken from the bluffs of the Mississippi River. (Press photo by Shelia Tomkins)

By Caroline Rosacker

"The Mississippi River towns are comely, clean, well built, and pleasing to the eye, and cheering to the spirit. The Mississippi Valley is as reposeful as a dreamland, nothing worldly about it . . . nothing to hang a fret or a worry upon.” — Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi

The city of Guttenberg, overlooking the mighty Mississippi River, surrounded by its majestic limestone bluffs, has been named the 2019 Iowa River Town of the Year.

The River Town of the Year award honors the many vibrant river communities across the state reclaiming riverfronts as anchors for recreation, economic development, improving the safety and quality of Iowa's rivers and ecological practices. 

Any Iowa town or city is eligible to apply for this award. Applicants are required to demonstrate a community's commitment to its involvement in promoting the river as an asset to the town and protecting and maintaining river quality. In addition, the community must demonstrate excellent stewardship of river water quality through compliance with storm water and wastewater permits. 

Iowa Rivers Revival (IRR) is a statewide non-profit organization that focuses on river education and advocacy. The organization engages individuals, communities, organizations and policy leaders in river awareness, enjoyment, and responsibility. IRR is committed to protecting our greatest natural resource, our rivers and streams. 

The lengthy nomination form included 29 pages of written description and photos highlights showcasing our community's commitment to the river.  Included was Guttenberg's mission statement. "To recreate the Mississippi River town of Guttenberg as a place for tourists, businesses, workers, and residents to invest their time and money as they enjoy the beauty and splendor of a cluster of spectacular natural sites."

Guttenberg City Manager Denise Schneider told The Press, "I began the process of filling out the application form and submitting it to the organization at the end of 2017 for the 2018 designation. We were not awarded the honor that year, but were encouraged by a committee member to reapply the following year. I updated the original proposal and included additional information and photos of events to our community related to the river."

She went on to say, "The designation solidifies the city's dedication to our wonderful and unique community and to the beautiful river. There is no grant money awarded with this honor, but it does directly affect our community through public relations and is a bonus when applying for grant monies."

"Our community is very unique in its correlation to the river. There are very few schools if any that are located on the banks of the Mississippi. We are fortunate that the railway was located far enough away from the river so our fore-fathers had plenty of room to develop a business district, residential district and beautiful park all overlooking the river," she said

The award will be presented on April 8 at a special reception in the auditorium of the municipal building, prior to the council meeting.

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