09/15/2016 A Voice From the Gallery

(Part one)

          Finally, the September Alcester City Council meeting happened after a false start with the scheduled September 7th meeting and explained away as an ‘oversight’. The September 7th meeting was cancelled at the proverbial last minute with some council members being notified the afternoon of the 7th. I went to pick up an agenda on the 7th around 1:00 p.m. and was informed by city office personnel, ” that due to an oversight, the meeting was cancelled and that I would be notified when it was rescheduled…” Scheduled appearances for the September 7th meeting included: Jennifer Fischer, Meagen Fischer, Alcester Ward II Candidate Dan Haeder, Alcester Ward II Candidate Trudy Hedden, Alcester Ward II Candidate Ron Manning, Dennis Jones(Townhouse Apartments) as well as four city council members who all had to reschedule their time commitments to accommodate the ‘oversight’. I was advised of the time and date of the rescheduled meeting and provided with an agenda via email on September 9th. So what did Mayor Glas fail to remember?

Under public input,

            I raised questions on the contract Union County has with the city of Alcester leasing Alcester city land for 99 years for the sum of $1.00 for Union County Fair use. At some point the Union County commissioners began to lease county-owned fair property during the off fair season to fund the fair. The city of Alcester did not give permission nor did the good citizens of Alcester receive any of the moneys derived from these sub-lets. These leases allowed the elevator to dump grain on Alcester property described as ‘fairground parking area.’ The grain was not removed in a timely manner degrading the property, causing significant loss of top soil when the rotten grain was scraped up, peeled back and hauled away leaving a weedy, muddy mess. Mayor Peter Larsen moved to protect this asset by insisting the Union County Commissioners get approval from the city to sub-lease the Alcester land asset around 2011, ruffling feathers of certain agri-businessmen who based upon second-hand gossip accused Mayor Larsen of picking on their Elevator! One of the ruffled roosters? Yup ole Mark Dysktra, who asked to be appointed to Ward III council position to which he admitted in the September 13th city council meeting during my input.

The Union County Commissioners on September 9, 2015, “auctioned off the fairground parking area to Tom Olson, Farmers Coop Society for $1250,” under the terms and conditions of lease specifically but not limited Special Considerations similar to the December 7, 2010, Lease with AGA,

“…should the Lessee’s use of the property cause any damage to or impede the growth of grass growing on the rental property or any other area of the Union County Fairgrounds, then Lessee agrees to re-seed the grass area damaged. The re-seeding will occur at the sole expense of the Lessee including: watering associated with the re-seed and re-growth of the grass area. Re-seeding will be completed with enough time to allow for re-growth prior to the end of the lease term.

Lessee agrees to use the rental property in a reasonable manner for the purpose of Open Storage of Grain on the Ground, and not allow the rental property to be misused and agrees to abandon the rental property upon the conclusion of this Agreement in a condition as good as the property was in upon the beginning of this Agreement with normal wear and tear excepted…”

During the August 10, 2016, Alcester City Council Meeting Councilman Mark Dykstra resigned from the Union County Fairboard stating,

 “…I cannot in good conscience put up with dumping grain on city ground…”

  • On August 2, 2016, during the Union County Commission meeting, the commissioners discussed current lease agreements and decided to follow the contract for penalties in the lease agreement as written.
  • On August 16, 2016, during the Union County Commission meeting, Ken Ehrp of Farmers Coop Society (elevator) met with the commissioners and following a discussion of the lease and the condition of the fairground property the commissioners voted (3 yea, 1 nay and 1 abstention) to follow the lease agreement to the full extent exacting a $5000 fine.
  • On August 30, 2016, during the Union County Commission Meeting, Mayor Tom Glas, Councilman Mark Dykstra and Councilman David Larsen met with the commissioners to discuss the $5000 penalty fine levied against Farmers Coop Society for damaging and not restoring the fairground parking area belonging to the city of Alcester. Councilman Mark Dykstra requested,

“that the county commissioners levy a partial fine now and defer the remainder of the balance until 2017…questioning where the $5000 would be placed as the city of Alcester owns the property…Chairman asked Dykstra if he would be the city council representative on the fairboard as he (Dykstra) resigned from the fair board recently…He (Dykstra) indicated he would be willing”*

(*per unapproved minutes of the August 30, 2016, Union County Commission Meeting published on line under the Union County Website)

So Councilman Dykstra what happened to your conscience? It appears it went to the dark side. First you resign, then you whine about a penalty fine of $5000 levied on Farmers Coop Society (they  cannot afford $5000.00 penalty fine?) and you want to negotiate the fine down to some-sort-of installment plan arguing my question with a non-answer, “the Farmers Coop Society will bring in large property taxes”.

  • Yo! Councilman Mark, were you not an author of an incentive for a four to five year moratorium on property taxes for ‘new’ businesses in Alcester?
  • How many thousands of dollars of property tax would be generated on a couple of million dollar grain bins over four years?
  • During a out-of-meeting-discussion regarding possible annexation a couple of years ago, Councilman Mark you mentioned something about a possible retail storefront with sales tax coming to the city. According to an early Iowa SOS filing Farmers Coop Society only sold to members, however an update breaks sales down to:

2013 business done with or for members                  55%

2013 Business done with or for non members           45%

  • Councilman Mark it appears you, “take back your resignation from the fair board”. Apparently your seasons pass to FCS World has been renewed?
  • You stated in the newspaper, “if I got 10 or so folks to sign a paper (nomination petition) you would step down from the council”.

So much for your word!

  • So Councilman Mark, one could fairly (no pun intended) ask how does your city loyalty score compare to your loyalty score to your VP loan activities?


Then Mayor Glass waded into the murky pool!

Mayor Glas commented that,

“we should appreciate the elevator allowed us to use their scales to weigh the tractors for the tractor pull”


“…he did not see any damage to the city owned fairgrounds parking area…”

            Keep up Mayor Glas! The City of Alcester did not enter tractors in the tractor pull, it was the Union County Fair Board or an entity within the Union County Fair Board NOT the City of Alcester operating the tractor pull.

You did not see any damage? Mayor Glas I suggest you get a refund on your glasses! You stare at documents passed to you by Finance Office Jurrens as though you were a psychic peering into his crystal ball after having the palms of ten grade school children cupped around the ball and who had been given handfuls of hard candy while they waited to have their futures read! A couple of feet of top soil has been lost to the years of scraping spoiled grain off the land, failure to re-seed the grass, use of city paid water without (?) reimbursement and abysmal failure of the lessee NOT to despoil a City asset!

However, Mayor Glas sure can see Madam Deem’s pesky bricks! Although Madam Deem’s rent is budgeted to go up from $1200 per month per year to $1300 per month per year and Councilman Mark said, “it is about time!”  So what happened to bidding out the Bar?

By the way, I got NO answer to my question!

                                                                                                                                         Vickie Larsen