City Yard Waste Site To Have Set Open Hours Starting June 22nd

(June 16, 2022) – Starting on Wednesday, June 22nd, the City of Decorah Yard Waste Site will have set open hours. The Yard Waste Site will be open on Wednesdays from 12 noon to 6:00 PM and on Saturdays from 7:00 AM to 11:00 AM. A key will no longer need to be checked out to access the site during these open hours.

As a reminder, only residents that live within City of Decorah city limits can deposit yard waste material at the Yard Waste Site. However, residents and non-residents are welcome to take wood chips, compost, and/or firewood from the site.

Please call the Street Department at 563-382-2157 with any questions.

City of Decorah Tree Board Commemorates Arbor Day with Tree Plantings

Decorah, IA (May 5, 2022) – The City of Decorah Tree Board planted 29 trees last Thursday and Friday to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Arbor Day. Black Hills Energy and Trees Forever have partnered to offer a tree planting program known as “Power of Trees”. Through this partnership, the Tree Board was awarded a grant, which funded the planting. On May 14th, 35 more trees will be planted as part of this grant.

The Decorah Tree Board has been planting trees to replace ash trees that were removed due to the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) infestation. Since 2019, the Tree Board has planted over 100 trees in boulevards/Right-of-Ways (ROW) throughout the City of Decorah. When choosing trees to replant, tree diversity was one of the most important considerations. Diversity among tree species is important to help avoid widespread tree loss due to infectious diseases or a pest infestation. The more diverse the urban tree canopy is, the healthier it is. When homeowners plant a tree, maple and crabapple trees should be avoided. Both are overpopulated in Decorah. The Acer (maple) genus makes up about 50 percent of the City’s urban tree canopy just in the boulevards/ROWs (not counting those on private property).

City Forester Sam Hogenson strongly encourages tree diversity, “Before EAB, our urban tree canopy consisted of about 15 percent of trees from the Fraxinus (ash) genus. Now, only treated ash trees will survive in the boulevard/ROW. The effects of losing so many ash trees has had a significant impact on our community. The removed trees would have offered benefits such as cleaner air, stormwater retention, and lower cooling costs, just to name a few. Since their removal, homes, parks, streets, parking lots, etc., are no longer receiving the benefits once offered by those trees. That was only 15 percent of the urban tree canopy, now imagine if a pest or disease attacked our maple trees and 50 percent of the trees remaining in the boulevards/ROWs were suddenly gone. The effects of losing so many trees would be drastic.”

So, when you decide to plant a tree in the boulevard/ROW or on private property, please consider the trees around you. Chances are, there are several maple or crabapple trees nearby. Choose something less common to plant and help ensure that our urban tree canopy is healthy and here for future generations to enjoy!

City of Decorah Leverages Stormwater Funding for Flood Reduction and Water Quality Improvement

Decorah, IA (April 15, 2022)

In 2016 the City of Decorah began collecting a stormwater utility fee from residents as a part of their water and sewer bill. The nominal fee was created as a means for the City to address stormwater improvement projects throughout the community that would fall outside the scope of normal street and sewer maintenance. Many other communities in Iowa have implemented similar programs as a way of changing the way urban developed areas handle stormwater runoff. To get the most out of funds collected, City officials worked with Northeast Iowa Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) to assist in project and grant development to strategically leverage stormwater funds. Projects implemented through this project will primarily address flood mitigation and water quality improvements. As a result, the City was awarded $96,000 through the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s (IDALS) Urban Conservation Water Quality Initiative grant program and $500,000 from the Iowa Finance Authority’s Watershed Protection Grant program. The City will contribute stormwater utility funds along with other partner contributions to match these two grant programs allowing the City to stretch resident’s contribution via the stormwater utility fee further. The City was also a partner in an additional $500,000 project developed by Winneshiek County Economic Development and Tourism and RC&D for similar projects. All of these projects allow the City and partners to implement additional innovative practices that produce a larger flood reduction and water quality improvement benefit to the community.

The City is practicing innovative strategies for mitigating flood and water quality issues within the community by, not only implementing projects within City limits, but expanding projects upstream into the Upper Iowa River Watershed. Northeast Iowa RC&D employee Tori Nimrod, who also serves as the Upper Iowa River Watershed Coordinator stated, “The City is taking advanced flood mitigation actions by working upstream in the Upper Iowa River Watershed to solve the root causes of Decorah’s surface water issues.” A total of 6 different flood mitigation and water quality improvement practices will be constructed as a part of the City projects. Five of the projects will be implemented within City limits; these projects include an infiltration basin, two oxbow wetlands, bio-retention system, streambank stabilization, and native prairie planting. The City also plans to implement a stormwater wetland and 6 water and sediment basins in partnership with Winneshiek County Conservation Board along Dry Run Creek on County property. These projects will help reduce flash flooding by storing excess water on the landscape and allowing it to slowly release.

These projects come as a result of prioritization towards urban stormwater improvement and flood mitigation by the City, and the implementation of strategic avenues to fund stormwater projects. City Engineer Jeremy Bril noted, “Working with these local partners has been a true collaborative effort that has allowed us to pursue grant opportunities to further extend our taxpayer dollars as we work towards solutions to our watershed challenges.” Project implementation involving the projects described above is expected to take place over the following two years. However, the RC&D will continue to assist the City in using innovative strategies to leverage City stormwater funds and to implement additional projects that continue to mitigate flooding and improve water quality in the City. Nimrod noted, “The City’s stormwater improvement initiative, along with the work of other valuable partners in the community, will expedite the progress towards a more flood resilient community.”

Pool Street Closed March 16 – 17

Water Street Between Court Street and River Street Closed Starting Today

Decorah, IA (March 16, 2022) – The City of Decorah is notifying residents that Pool St will be closed at its intersection with College Drive. It will also be closed at its intersection with Center St. Traffic will be able to turn west on Pool Street from Center Street. A detour will be set up to route vehicles on College Drive through the Decorah Municipal Swimming Pool’s parking lot to allow access to Luther College.

Please call the Street Department at 563-382-2157 with any questions.

Do You Have Ash Trees on Your Property?

Do You Have Ash Trees on Your Property? Be Sure to Have Them Checked for Borers.

Decorah, IA (January 11, 2022) – The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is now firmly established in Decorah and infesting trees throughout the community. This introduced pest kills all species of ash trees by tunneling under the bark, destroying tissue that is essential to the life of the tree. Symptoms include cracked bark, branch dieback, new shoots sprouting from the trunk of the tree, and patches of light brown bark where woodpeckers have chipped off the gray outer bark while searching for the insects (called flecking).

Flecking is easily identified this time of year because woodpeckers are busy foraging for the larvae. In early stages of the EAB infestation, flecking will appear in the upper canopy of the tree (on smaller branches). As the infestation progresses, signs of flecking will continue throughout the lower canopy and down the trunk of the tree. In most cases, the tree should be removed as soon as possible when flecking is noticed on the trunk.

Trees that are heavily infested by EAB must be removed. The wood of trees killed by the borers dries out quickly, becoming brittle and hazardous, so it is wise to monitor trees regularly for presence of the pest and remove them while it is still safe to do so.

If a homeowner has an ash tree or suspects they may have an ash tree on their property, the City is highly recommending that it be checked by an arborist. If not badly infested, trees can be treated by having a certified applicator inject a suitable insecticide into the trunk of the tree. Treatments vary and must be reapplied throughout the life of the tree. Treatments applied to the soil are not recommended as they can be less effective, harmful to pollinators, and more likely to be overapplied. Please check with a local arborist for a treatment option that best fits the needs of you and your tree.

Diversity in our urban tree canopy is vital, so a disease or pest infestation is less likely to affect such a large portion of trees all at once. When planting, take a look at tree species in your neighborhood and choose one that is less common. One of the most commonly planted trees is maple. Homeowners are strongly cautioned against planting maple trees on private property due to overpopulation. All but one species of the maple genus are prohibited in boulevards until a healthy diversity in the urban canopy is achieved.

For more information, please contact City Forester Sam Hogenson at 563-277-5153 or by e-mail at Additional information is also available on the Decorah Tree Board website at

Snow Removal Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Decorah, IA (December 30, 2021) – With another winter season well underway, the City has received several questions regarding recent changes to the City’s snow removal code as well as requests for clarification of on-street parking requirements during a snow emergency. In an effort to help with these issues, the City has developed a list of snow removal frequently asked questions (FAQs).

  1. What are the recent updates to the City’s snow removal Code?

Recently, City Council approved several updates to the City’s Snow Removal Code. The primary points of emphasis were as follows:

  • Property owners shall not deposit any snow on to City streets, alleys, or parking lots, unless approval is received from the City. In other words, DO NOT push or blow snow from driveways or sidewalks into the street, alley, or parking lot.
  • Property owners must remove snow from their sidewalks within 24 hours following a snow event.
  • Property owners shall not place snow from their property on to another property or the right-of-way/boulevard of another property without approval from the appropriate property owner.
  • If City snow removal operations damage a mailbox, property owners must submit a Mailbox Claim Form for reimbursement. The City is not responsible for damage to other items in the boulevard (fences, plantings, etc.).
  1. When does a snow emergency take place?

A snow emergency is in effect whenever the City experiences a snowfall which accumulates a depth of one inch or more. The City makes every effort to issue a press release to notify residents when a snow emergency is in place, however, residents should be aware that a snow emergency is automatically in place whenever 1” or more of snow is received.

  1. What are the requirements for on-street parking during a snow emergency?

The City’s snow emergency parking policy requires that on even-numbered calendar days, all vehicles shall be parked on the side of the street where buildings have even numbers. On odd-numbered calendar days, all vehicles shall be parked on the side of the street where buildings have odd numbers. Residents are also reminded that when a snow emergency is not in place, any vehicles parked on the street need to be moved every 48 hours. 

  1. What time should a vehicle be moved to meet the odd and even side requirements?

This is a difficult question as the timing of snowfall is always hard to predict. That said, all residents should move their vehicles to the other side of the street sometime between 8 PM and 12 midnight. For example, if a snow emergency is in place on December 30th, all vehicles shall be parked on the even side of the street. After 8 PM on December 30th, vehicles can move over to the odd side of the street in anticipation of the odd side parking requirement for December 31st.

  1. What about for streets that are posted as one-sided parking only?

For City streets that have signs prohibiting parking on one side, the snow emergency parking restrictions supersede the one-sided parking. In other words, if a street normally does not allow parking on the odd side, vehicles are allowed to park on the odd side during a snow emergency. Once the snow emergency is no longer in effect, the normal one-sided parking restrictions are in place.

  1. What are the options for on-street parking in the downtown district?

It is very important for residents living in the downtown district to follow parking restrictions. Even when there is not a snow emergency in place, current parking restrictions do not allow overnight parking in most of the downtown district. Areas available for overnight parking include the 48-hour parking lot at the intersection of Heivly Street and Claiborne Drive, along the south side of Heivly Street, and along various side streets.

  1. When will cars and trucks start getting towed if they haven’t moved?

The City is working to educate residents on the changes to the snow emergency parking restrictions. The Police Department has started issuing warnings on vehicles that are not parked correctly. Per City Code, any vehicle that is not parked correctly or determined to be an interference with snow removal operations could be towed.

  1. How can you tell if a street is odd or even if there are no house numbers on the block?

This is uncommon, but there are a few streets around town that do not have the houses facing the right direction to have any house numbers on the block. For these blocks, the north and east sides should be considered even, and the south and west sides should be considered odd.

We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we work to provide updates on changes to the snow removal policies. As always, please contact the Street Department at 382-2157 with any additional questions.

Curbside Leaf Collection to Begin on October 18th

Curbside Leaf Collection to Begin on October 18th

Decorah, IA (October 12, 2021) – The City of Decorah will begin curbside collection of leaves starting on Monday, October 18th. This year, the City will be alternating through each Ward on a different day of the week. Leaf collection will occur in each Ward on the following dates:

  • Ward 1: Mondays – 10/18, 10/25, 11/1, 11/8, and 11/15
  • Ward 2: Tuesdays – 10/19, 10/26, 11/2, 11/9, and 11/16
  • Ward 3: Wednesdays – 10/20, 10/27, 11/3, 11/10, and 11/17
  • Ward 4 and Ward 5: Thursdays – 10/21, 10/28, 11/4, 11/11, and 11/18

A map of the current Wards is available on the City’s website. Leaves may be put into the street 48-hours prior to your scheduled pick-up day but not before. Leaves must be in the street before 7:00 AM on your scheduled pick-up day and should be raked into windrows on the street 2-feet away from the curb line. Please do not park vehicles within 30-feet of windrows so equipment has adequate room to safely collect the leaves. The City is reminding residents that curbside collection is for leaves only; all other yard waste must be taken to the City’s Yard Waste Site.

In addition to the curbside leaf collection, leaves can be deposited in the designated area at the City’s Yard Waste Site on Trout Run Road which is currently open from sun up to sun down, seven days per week. There will be no leaf drop off available at the Street Department this year.

Please contact the Street Department at 382-2157 with any questions.

This is an official city press release.  Modifications of any kind are prohibited without express written consent of the author.  Any reprint or broadcast of this information must include this entire communication.

Leaf Collection Map

Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Notice


The Decorah Municipal Airpont hereby announces its fiscal years 2022, 2023 and 2024 goal of 0.00% for Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) airport construction projects. The proposed goals and rationale is available for inspection between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday at the City Manager’s Office, 400 Claiborne Drive, Decorah, Iowa 52101 for 30 days from the date of this publication.

Comments on the DBE goat will be accepted for 30 days from the date of this publication and can be sent to the following:

Wanda Hemesath
City of Decorah
400 Claiborne Drive
P.O. Box 138
Decorah, IA 52101
Ofelia Medina
FAA Office of Civil Rights
777 S. Aviation Blvd Suite #150
El Segundo, CA 90245

Thinking About Filing for a Council Position?

Positions Up for Election in 2021:

The following Council positions are up for election in 2021: 1st Ward, 3rd Ward, 5th Ward, one At-Large position, Mayor and 2 Park and Recreation Board positions.

Election Dates:

Filing for Candidacy: Filing Begins: Monday, August 23, Deadline is 5:00 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 16 General Election: November 2, 2021


Facts You Should Know 


Decorah is a Chartered City, operating under a Mayor/Council form of government. The City Manager and City Clerk, Treasurer are appointed by the City Council. There are seven members serving on the Council elected for four-year terms. There are five ward positions and two at-large positions.


The City Council acts as the official legislative and policy making body of the City adopting all laws, ordinances, and resolutions, and approving contracts required by the City. The Council analyzes proposals to meet community needs, initiates action for new programs and determines the ability of the City to provide financing for City operations. The Council also reviews, modifies, and approves the annual municipal budget presented by the City Manager and City Clerk, Tr. Additionally, the City Council performs other miscellaneous duties, including appointments to various boards and commissions, acts as liaison with other governmental bodies, and responds to community groups and individual constituents. As the governing elected body, the Council is also responsible for oversight and response of any natural or man-made emergency within city limits. Further, Council is expected to be on-call and available during times of disaster. The Council has established a series of committees and shares assignments on other special or ad hoc committees, generally determined by the Mayor.

How much time does it take to be a Council Member?

City Council meetings are held the first and third Mondays of the month at 5:45 p.m., except when official holidays occur on these particular Mondays. Duration of meetings vary from one-half hour to three hours, usually averaging one hour. Typically, committee meetings are held immediately following regular Council meetings and one council work session is held the fourth Monday of the month, if needed. All Council and committee meetings must comply with State Open Meeting Law requirements. Therefore, most meetings are open to the public. Closed meetings must comply with strict requirements set forth in the State Code. Committee meetings are also open to the public but generally are less formal and afford the members an opportunity to review details and brainstorm ideas that might not otherwise occur in the more structured setting of a Council meeting. On Thursday prior to the Council meetings, an electronic Council packet containing the agenda for the upcoming meeting, staff reports and other general information is sent to each Councilmember. Periodic updates on other matters of concern are also sent out as needed.

In addition to these meetings, you should allow time for other duties; (i.e. out-of-town meetings, speaking engagements, conversing with citizens, and ceremonial events). A budget work session is held in January or February, during which time the proposed budget is presented.


Members of the City Council are required by law to comply with certain standards of conduct involving potential conflicts of interest. Details about this and related questions can be obtained by contacting the City Clerk’s Office.


The elective officers of the City shall reside in the Ward for which they are running. Members of the Council shall be qualified electors of the City.


The salary for Council members is established by ordinance passed by the Council. No Councilmember may vote himself/herself an increase in salary. Action on a salary increase normally is considered prior to the regular general election with the increase being effective the first of the following year.

Effective 1-1-18 pay for Council positions is $50.00 for each official Council meeting and $400/mo. for Mayor

The fringe benefits include:

  • Reimbursement for eligible
  • Workmen's Compensation insurance
  • Professional liability indemnification covering Council members in their official capacity.
  • Payment by the City of its portion of Social Security payroll tax or membership in the Iowa Public Employers Retirement


All elections, whether special or general, shall be conducted by the County.

Filing for Candidacy:

Candidate nomination papers may be obtained from Wanda Hemesath, City Clerk, Tr., City Municipal Building or Ben Steines, Winneshiek Co. Auditor, Court House.

All candidate declarations of candidacy must be filed with Ben Steines, Winneshiek County Auditor, between August 23rd and no later than 5:00 p.m., Thursday, Sept 16th. All general elections for the City shall be held on the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November in the odd-numbered years. City elections are non-partisan.


If any Councilmember, elected or appointed, to an at-large position moves outside the City boundary, or in the event a Councilmember elected or appointed to a "ward position" moves outside his/her ward, then that Councilmember shall thereby forfeit the office of Councilmember and said position shall be deemed vacant.

In the event a vacancy occurs, for any reason, the vacancy shall be filled pursuant to Section 372.13 of the Code of Iowa.


Positions Up for Election in 2021:

The following Council positions are up for election in 2021: 1st Ward, 3rd Ward, 5th Ward, one At-Large position, Mayor and 2 Park and Recreation Board positions.

Election Dates:

Filing for Candidacy: Filing Begins: Monday, August 23, Deadline is 5:00 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 16 General Election: November 2, 2021

X. Political Advertising

The City, in Chapter 17 (Zoning Code) regulates political yard signs. Political signs are permitted which during a campaign, advertise a candidate or candidates for public elective office, a political party, or promote a position on a public issue, provided such signs are on private property and are removed within seven days following the election.