What’s ahead for Gladbrook City Council in 2022

Newly elected council members Roger Luehring, Dustin Leifker, and Mark Fink were sworn in by City Clerk Jackie Stephenson on Dec. 13. Luehring and Fink are previous council members while this is Leifker’s first term. Leifker has been a frequent attendee at council meetings for the past several years. During the final meeting of 2021 council members expressed thanks to Mayor Keith Sash for his years of service and guidance through the many projects that have occurred in the past decade. Outgoing council member Steve Willer was also recognized for his four years of service on the council. Contributed photo

With a new year comes some new faces and new opportunities for the Gladbrook City Council.

After more than a decade under the leadership of Mayor Keith Sash, the City of Gladbrook will see a new person at the helm of city government.

Council Member Trudi Scott won the mayorship running unopposed in the November city election and will begin her two-year term on January 1. Scott has served as a member of the city council for the past 10 years.

In a phone interview with the Sun Courier Scott said she felt comfortable about the health of the city budget and optimistic for the year ahead.

“When we do big projects our community is very supportive,” Scott said. “That helps us with our budgets. I’m optimistic that even after COVID a lot of our community groups have continued their fundraising through drive-thrus that were very well supported over the past year. The community’s heart is in the right place.”

On Dec. 13, City Clerk Jackie Stephenson (left) swears in newly elected Mayor Trudi Scott (right). Scott has served on the council for 10 years. Her council seat vacancy will be filled by appointment during the council’s Jan. 10 regular meeting. Contributed photo

Looking ahead she hopes the city will have the opportunity to tackle some infrastructure improvement projects within the coming year, particularly related to sewer and water lines.

“Years ago we sat down at a work session and laid out some long term goals and (infrastructure) was on there,” Scott said. “Then we got hit with the lagoon project and a couple other things that sidetracked us. Now we’re getting back on track I think. Some of our sewer lines are pretty old.”

New dollar store

Over the past several months residents have heard discussion and have recently seen official action taken to bring a new retail store to town.

On Oct. 21 a building permit application was filed with the city seeking to construct a Family Dollar retail store on a vacant parcel of land at the corner of Highway 96 and East Street, across the road from the Luethje Auto Sales office.

The permit came before the Gladbrook City Council for approval at their regular November meeting, but citing concerns from residents and neighbors, the issue was tabled to a future meeting.

On Nov. 11 a special session was called for the council to hear public comment and to discuss the potential for the incoming dollar store business.

Roughly 30 individuals attended the Nov. 11 meeting. The primary concerns most discussed during the meeting were reportedly the lack of communication the project developer had with the community or the city prior to filing their permit application and the impact a corporate dollar store might have on the locally-owned Hometown Family Market grocery store.

No action was taken on the matter during the Nov. 11 meeting and the council again took up the permit request the following month.

Ultimately the building permit was approved on Dec. 13 on a 4-0 council vote with councilor Scott Schmidt abstaining.

The 1.1 acre property had been owned for a number of years by Luethje Auto Sales, otherwise known as BEMM, LLC.

It was sold on Nov. 2 to Ridge Investment Group, LLC, a Missouri-based developer, for the amount of $157,500.

Ground has already been broken since the permit was approved and construction is expected to be completed sometime in 2022.

The new store is planned to be 10,500 square-feet and will be positioned with the front door and parking lot exiting east onto East Street.

Family Dollar is a nationwide retailer that offers household cleaners, food, health and beauty aids, toys, apparel and home fashions with many products priced $10 or less.

Over the past year dollar stores have sprung up throughout the region with new Dollar General stores opening in Reinbeck and Dysart.

Fitness center finds new home

Residents will soon have a new place to work out as the City of Gladbrook works to relocate their city-owned fitness center from the vacant Gladbrook-Reinbeck school building to a location closer to downtown.

School officials earlier this year announced their intent to demolish the vacant school building in the coming year, though an exact timeline is unclear.

During their Nov. 11 meeting the Gladbrook City Council entered into an agreement with Invision Architecture for development of a renovation project of the old city ambulance building behind the library for use as the new fitness center.

The building will undergo a full renovation replacing the overhead door with a storefront entry and fitting the interior with a new ceiling and new restroom and shower facility, among other improvements.

The total scope and budget of the project will be determined once construction bids are opened. Invision did not provide the city a project estimate with their agreement.

Bids for the project are due Jan. 7 and will be opened by the council during their Jan. 10 meeting.

A target deadline for the project has been set for March 31, 2022 to minimize the downtime of the facility that has been open to residents 24/7 over the past decade.

Council vacancy

Along with Scott’s election as mayor this fall, new member Dustin Leifker will also join the council in 2022. Leifker was elected to fill the seat previously held by Steve Willer and was sworn in on Dec. 13 along with Scott and two other incumbent councilors reelected in November, Mark Fink and Roger Luehring.

Scott’s council seat meanwhile will need to be filled for the remaining two years that were left on her term after she was reelected in 2019.

The council intends to fill the vacancy by appointment and is currently accepting requests for any eligible residents interested in serving.

Requests must be submitted in writing to the City Clerk’s office by 1 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 7.

The council will then look to appoint the next member at their Jan. 10 regular meeting.

If the public wishes to see a special election called instead of the vacancy being filled by council appointment, a petition for special election can be filed no later than 14 days after the appointment is made.