Previous month:
January 2022
Next month:
March 2022

February 2022

BLAIRS FERRY ROAD NE AND C AVENUE NE LANE REDUCTIONS

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA – Effective Tuesday, March 1, 2022, westbound traffic on Blairs Ferry Road NE will be reduced to one lane between C Avenue and Oakwood Avenue for three (3) days. Additionally, northbound traffic on C Avenue NE will be reduced to one lane between Blairs Ferry Road and Greenfield Street for two (2) days. Lane reductions are due to utility work.


12TH AVENUE SE CLOSURE

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA – Effective Tuesday, March 1, 2022, 12th Avenue SE will be closed to traffic between 15th Street and 17th Street as Phase 2 begins on the 12th Avenue SE project that stretches from 7th Street to 17th Street. This closure will be in place for approximately three months. A detour will be posted.


Local Libraries LIT to host author R.O. Kwon on March 3

Local Libraries LIT (Listen, Initiate, Talk) will host R.O. Kwon, during a unique hour-long online program featuring a reading and opportunity to interact. The program will begin at 7 p.m. via Zoom, on Thursday, March 3, and reservations are required. 

R.O. Kwon was born in South Korea and has lived most of her life in the United States. As an author and essayist, her writing explores identity, sexuality, and the comforts and complications of religion.

R.O. worked for ten years on her nationally bestselling debut novel, "The Incendiaries", which The Atlantic describes as a “[portrayal of] America’s dark, radical strain, exploring the lure of fundamentalism, our ability to be manipulated, and what can happen when we’re willing to do anything for a cause.” The San Francisco Chronicle calls her novel “a debut of dark, startling beauty” while The Guardian lauds it as, “a startlingly assured book by an important new writer.”

According to Elsworth Carman, Director of the Iowa City Public Library, "this is what modern library programming should look like." Local Libraries LIT, Carmen says, shows "the power of libraries collaborating to identify internationally-known, contemporary authors of interest to local readers and facilitating engaging, discussion-based programs that are open to all."

How to registerRegistration is open until 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 3 at icpl.org/local-libraries-LIT.

While the event is free and open to the general public, financial contributions will be welcomed to support local libraries and to fund future programs in this series. 

Questions? Contact:Patty McCarthy, Iowa City Public Library Development Office Coordinator 319-356-5249

Local Libraries LIT (Listen, Initiate, Talk) introduces thought-provoking writers to community members in a unique partnership between the public libraries in Coralville, Iowa City, and North Liberty, and the University of Iowa Libraries with support from The Tuesday Agency. The goal of Local Libraries LIT is to fuel conversations and actions to grow more inclusive communities.


The Iowa City Public Library is a center of community life that connects people of all ages with information, engages them with the world of ideas and with each other, and enriches the community by supporting learning, promoting literacy, and encouraging creativity.


Kwon


Mayor Bruce Teague lifts local mask order

IOWA CITY -- In light of new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines concerning COVID-19 precautions, Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague has lifted the local mask order and civil emergency declaration, effective immediately. However, those who have been exposed to COVID-19 or have tested positive are still asked to adhere to CDC isolation and quarantine guidelines.

As of Tuesday, March 1, masks will no longer be required inside City facilities; however, masks will still be available for those who wish to wear one.

Based on new COVID-19 cases, hospital beds being used, and hospital admissions, the CDC lists Johnson County as "Medium" on it's COVID-19 Community Level ratings. At a "Medium" Community Level, community members are encouraged to get tested if they have symptoms and stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations. Those who are at high risk for severe illness are encouraged to talk with their health care provided about whether masks or other precautions are necessary.

"New cases of COVID-19 are decreasing and hospitalizations due to the illness continue to fall," said Teague. "I ask the entire Iowa City community to continue to do your part to prevent the spread of this disease. Make responsible choices. Isolate or quarantine when necessary. And wear a mask if you're a risk to others."

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, 71.7 percent of Johnson County's population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Members of the community are still encouraged to vaccinate themselves against COVID-19 and receive a booster shot if they have not done so already. Those who feel they should continue wearing masks are urged to keep doing so.

Residents should respect the policies of businesses, hospitals and medical facilities, and events that may require mask-wearing. The individual choices of residents to wear masks should also be respected, as many Iowa City residents wore masks in public before the City's mask order. 

CDC Information

The CDC updated its isolation and quarantine recommendations in December 2021:

  • Those with COVID-19 should isolate for five days if they are asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving.
  • A mask should be worn around others for an additional five days to minimize the risk of transmission.
  • Those who are unvaccinated are recommended to quarantine for five days and wear a mask for an additional five days following an exposure to COVID-19.
  • Those who have received their booster do not need to quarantine following an exposure, but should wear a mask.

Regardless of your vaccination status, the CDC recommends a COVID-19 test five days after an exposure. Test Iowa kits are available at City Hall. 

The CDC recommends those who have not been vaccinated or persons with weakened immune systems should continue to wear masks.

Transit

The CDC and Federal government still require that masks be worn on public transportation, including Iowa City-area buses. Those using City buses should continue to wear masks and maintain social distance when on the bus. 


The City will continue to monitor local and national developments pertaining to COVID-19, and will rely on guidance from State and County public health officials and the CDC regarding face masks, social distancing, and other safety measures.  

For more City COVID-19 information, please visit icgov.org/Coronavirus. If you have yet to obtain a COVID-19 vaccination, please call 211 for information on when and where a vaccination is available. 


Cedar Rapids Fire Investigators release cause of Geneva Tower Fire

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA – Cedar Rapids Fire Investigators have determined the cause of the Geneva Tower fire on February 20, 2022 to be accidental.  Smoking materials left unattended too close to combustible materials ignited in a room on the 9th floor and swiftly spread to floors 10, 11 and 12.  This determination is based on interviews, on-scene interviews and coordination with other investigative entities. 


33RD AVENUE AND J ST SW CLOSURE

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA – Effective Tuesday, March 1, 2022, 33rd Avenue SW will be closed between Woodland Drive and J Street for sewer maintenance for two (2) days. Additionally, J Street SW will be closed between 33rd Avenue and the parking lot entrance to That’s STORbiz at 3135 J Street, with access maintained to the business. During the closure eastbound traffic on 33rd Avenue will be right turn only onto J Street, and northbound traffic on J Street will be left turn only onto 33rd Avenue SW; through traffic will not be permitted at the intersection.


Video Update: Glass Recycling, Utility Discount Program, and Event Facility Rentals

Iowa City Update is a weekly video featuring City of Iowa City projects, programs, and events. Topics this week include a new look for glass recycling drop-off bins, a discount on utility bills for qualifying customers, and how to reserve a Parks and Rec facility for your next gathering. Select the image below to watch Iowa City Update.


Iowa City Update: Glass Recycling


Glass Recycling: Look for Purple

There’s a new look and signage for glass recycling at drop-off locations in Iowa City. Plus, three additional glass drop-off locations are set to be added in the coming weeks.

Utility Discount Program

Learn about eligibility requirements and the application process for qualified residents to receive a discount on monthly utility costs.

Parks and Rec Facility Rentals

Did you know that our Parks and Recreation Department rents out many of its facilities for all kinds of occasions and functions? Check out the variety of options for your next gathering or party.

Iowa City Update - Your source for Iowa City news and information.


How long can you keep meat in the freezer? - Bachelor on the Cheap

By Mike  Thayer

Frozen SteakA lot of people are stocking up on freezer items these days, with a focus on meats.  Some folks are doing so to fight inflation, prices of all meats are way up and will continue to do nothing but climb.  Other folks are buying up meats as a result of world events and supply chain concerns, out of fear some items will become scarce or unavailable.

Having some ground beef and boneless/skinless chicken breasts stashed in the freezer is pretty standard for a lot of us.  But how long can you keep meat in the freezer before it goes bad? 

According to FoodSafety.gov, frozen meat that's kept at a temperature of zero degrees Fahrenheit or lower will actually be safe to eat indefinitely.  But there are tangibles, like how the meat is wrapped and even how your freezer is packed that can make a difference in the meat quality down the road.  So the question isn't really if the meat is safe to eat or not (given your freezer never quit at any point), the real question is, "Will the meat be good to eat?"

Freezer burn is the #1 culprit in making meat from the freezer not so good, as in tasty, to eat.  Freezer burn is when air circulating in the freezer to keep things cold hits the meat, drying out a spot and making it leathery.  A rip in the packaging and/or poor wrapping will result in freezer burn and you can't pan sear, roast or grill freezer burn out of a piece of meat.  You can cut the freezer burn out of that burger patty or steak, but who wants to do that and eat 3/4 of a burger?  Nonsense.  Freezer burn is totally preventable.

Below is a list of meats and the recommended maximum time it should stay in your freezer.   Going beyond the recommended time doesn't mean the meat will go bad, it just means the flavor and tenderness is in decline.  Included with the recommended freezer times below are some tips and other guidelines so you won't have to ask yourself whether that steak you pulled out of the freezer is good to eat or not...  Keep in mind that with most meats, the flavor factor hits its peak at the four month mark.  Sure, you can freeze it longer than that, but that four month mark is key, when the flavor profile starts the decline. 

Beef - Roasts, Steaks:  Up to six months

Chicken - Whole:  Up to one year

Chicken - Parts, skin on, bone in:  Up to nine months

Chicken - Boneless/skinless breasts or thighs:  Up to six months

Pork- Shoulder:  Up to one year

Pork - Steaks, Ribs, Chops:  Up to six months

Bacon:  Up to six months...  Um, I've NEVER had bacon stay in my freezer that long, it's TOO TASTY!

Sausages, raw - Brats, Breakfast Links/Patties/Chubs, Italian Sausage, Mexican Chorizo and the like:  Up to four months

Sausages, pre-cooked, smoked - Andouille, Kielbasa, Hot Links and the like:  Up to eight months

Hot Dogs:  Up to eight months

Ground Meats - all types:  Up to four months

Lamb - Rack, Shanks, Chops:  Up to six months

Fish - Fatty types like Tuna and Salmon:  Up to three months

Fish - Leaner types like Cod or Tilapia:  Up to six months

*Vacuum sealing meats will extend freezer life another three to six months, but that is a story for another day.

Freezing chicken
Don't just throw it in the freezer like this...

Tip #1:  Make sure your freezer is free of frost, clean and the temperature set at zero degrees Fahrenheit or lower.   And did you know an empty freezer is not a very efficient one?  The only thing that keeps an empty or nearly empty freezer at the proper temperature is the electricity needed to run it.  When stocked properly, a freezer does not need to run as often to maintain the proper temperature, the frozen food inside is helping it do that.  But an overstuffed freezer isn't so efficient either.  Without proper air circulation a freezer has to work harder to maintain temperature and overstuffing can lead to blocking vents and sensors.  Ideally, your freezer should be 75 - 80% full for optimum performance.

Tip #2:  You can leave that steak you just bought in the Styrofoam bottom and plastic wrapped top if you want to, but doing so is the leading cause of freezer burn.  Don't get lazy in thinking, "I'll be eating this next week, it'll be fine," and just toss it in.  That packaging is designed for a fresh presentation, marketing you to buy it.  It's not made for the freezer.  Thin plastic wrap is also easy to tear when it gets placed in the freezer and bumps up against other products.  Perhaps you didn't get around to having that steak the next week and you finally pull it out to grill three months later.  Guess what?  Freezer burn!  Always have freezer bags on hand when stocking the freezer.  Foil and freezer paper are fine too but if none of that is possible, repurpose the plastic grocery store bags and double wrap your meats.

Tip #3:  Always label and date the meat your are freezing, i.e., Pork Chop, 02/26/2022 and keep a copy of this blog post in your kitchen or by the freezer somewhere.  Properly labeling and dating your meats takes any guesswork out of the picture.  Some people will just throw something in a bag and toss it in the freezer, then four months later pull it out and the bag is all frosty/icey and they ask themselves, "What the "F" is this?"  Kind of makes meal prep a little harder, don't you think?

Tip #4:  Organize your freezer and rotate your meats.  Try to arrange your freezer by meat type and then date, with your oldest meats towards the front or top of your freezer.  A beef section by date, a chicken section by date, a sausage section by date and so on...  Don't just toss items in the freezer, that too, leads to freezer burn.  It may sound time consuming to organize and rotate, but it actually saves you a lot of time in the long run.  Look at all the bonuses:  Bonus #1 - an organized freezer that is 75 - 80% full is a happy, efficient, air circulating right freezer, running at proper temperature.  Bonus #2 - Items are much easier to find, no rummaging, no digging and pulling the older cuts of meat for a meal aides in the rotating process.  I've read countless Facebook posts where a guy asks if the twice frosted over steak he found at the bottom of his freezer dated two years ago under a bag of chicken wings is OK to eat.  Bonus #3 -   When making a list for the grocery store or butcher shop, take a quick peak in your organized and properly product rotated freezer, it makes shopping easier and you won't spend as much.

Now that you know how to keep frozen meats at their optimum flavor profile, go stock up!  You'll save money over future higher prices, you won't waste money by becoming a victim of freezer burn and you'll spend money more efficiently at the grocery store.

$pend Wisely My Friends...

Related: Bachelor on the Cheap: Essential must haves for stocking your pantry and fridge

Related:Grilling Tips & Essential Tools