Heartland Co-op expresses interest in giving Traer Manufacturing back to city plus other council business

Further discussion surrounding the derecho-damaged Traer Manufacturing building, accepting a city council member’s resignation, plus choosing the night for this year’s trick or treating were a few of the highlights from the most recent Traer City Council meeting.

The council met in regular session Monday, September 13 with Mayor Pete Holden presiding and council members Carri Holst and Matt Rausch in attendance. Council member Patrisha Kennedy called in to the meeting, while member James Erhardt was absent.

Mayor Holden provided an update on the ongoing matter regarding the 2011 derecho-damaged, former Traer Manufacturing building — now owned by Heartland Co-op — located south of town. Damage to the building from the 2011 derecho has yet to be repaired. Heartland acquired the building from the city in 2015, as well as a $200,000 remediation fund.

“I talked to Heartland for about an hour,” Holden told the council members. “It was pretty interesting to hear their side of the story. They were all set to start doing some work on the building when the derecho hit last year.”

Holden said Heartland Co-op has had 250 people working since the August 10, 2020 derecho to repair the damage to all their properties which includes fixing grain bins. Such work, Holden said, has “100 percent” occupied their “other time.”

“We can set up a time anytime to go and talk to [Heartland],” Holden said. “They were very much in favor of giving back half of the building to us to use it as a public utility building. They said they would be more than happy to discuss that with us, how we’d like to do it.”

No further action was taken at this time, but Mayor Holden indicated council member Erhardt would need to continue work on the matter.

Laurie Schafer resigns her council seat

The council will now be down one member due to council member Laurie Schafer’s resignation which was officially submitted earlier in the month, city clerk Haley Blaine said. Schafer resigned due to moving out of the Traer city limits to “the country.” The council voted to accept Schafer’s resignation.

Blaine told the council she spoke to the Tama County Auditor’s Office regarding how best to fill Schafer’s vacated seat.

“They said that with [city and school board elections] in November and that seat being on the ballot, we don’t have to appoint anybody right now to fill it. But that the person who wins that seat will start right away in December rather than January like normal,” Blaine said.

Mayor Pete Holden did not feel the council needed to take a vote on the matter and would follow the auditor’s advice. Other than Schafer’s seat, council member Erhardt’s seat is also up for election on Tuesday, November 2. Three individuals filed paperwork for the two seats including Erhardt, Kennan Seda, and Jon Panfil.

Council sets the date for trick or treating

Halloween this year falls on a Sunday. The council discussed when trick or treating should take place as Sunday is a “church day” and that the town event has a history of being moved due to Friday night football, football post-season, and even a community bout of whooping cough.

Blaine told the council the Traer Chamber of Commerce will be holding their Halloween event on the Friday before, directly after school.

“It is kind of nice when you got little kids to get it all done in one night,” Rausch said. “You go down and do the chamber thing and keep rolling. Most of those costumes are kind of a one time use anyway.”

The council tentatively scheduled Traer’s trick or treating for Friday, October 29, 2021 pending the North Tama High School football team’s postseason schedule.

Other business

1. Tama County Emergency Management Coordinator Ryan Goodenbour introduced himself to the council during the public comments portion of the meeting. Goodenbour took over as coordinator in July of this year following nearly four months without an Emergency Management department head in the county. A Tripoli native, Goodenbour said he now lives in the town of Traer.

2. Ellen Young with both the Winding Stairs Festival Committee and the Traer Salt & Pepper Shaker Gallery provided updates to the council during the public comments portion of the meeting. Young said the festival went very well this year and believes everyone who hosted a stand during the festival “made money.” The committee is already working to book bands for next year’s festival. Young also told the council about an upcoming event at the Salt & Pepper Shaker Gallery. On October 2 the gallery is hosting a meeting of the Heartland and Minnesota chapters of the Novelty Salt & Pepper Shakers Club which will bring dozens of collectors from across the Midwest to Traer.

3. Farm to Flame Bar & Grill at 602 2nd Street was sold recently to the owners of La Terraza restaurant in Toledo. Blaine told the council the owners had applied for their liquor license for the new Traer location — La Terraza Two-Mexican Grill & Seafood — and everything was good to go. The council voted to approve the liquor permit for La Terraza Two, as well as Pizza Palace’s renewal. Blaine indicated La Terraza Two’s owners had informed her they plan to open the new Traer restaurant the week of September 20.

4. The council agreed to create an Ordinance Book committee to work on updates to the book. Council members Rausch and Holst volunteered to be members of the committee as well as Mayor Holden.