Sartell City Council candidate:
1. Relevant background and experiences:
Currently serve on the Sartell City Council, elected 2006, reelected in 2008.
Executive Director of Whitney Senior Center, 1981-2011
Married 41 years to Wendy Hennes; two children, Patrick and Tamara; four grandsons
Resident of Sartell since 1974
Vietnam Veteran, U.S. Air Force firefighter, four years
Bachelor’s degree in social work, SCSU, 1978
Family to Family course instructor for National Alliance on Mental Illness
2. Major issues facing Sartell: Economic Development to help replace the loss of jobs and tax revenue from the closing of the Verso Paper Mill.
3. How would you address this issue? As a member of the Sartell Economic Development Commission, I would continue to encourage local staff to work closely with state and national officials to recruit new businesses to Sartell. Finding some type of manufacturing to relocate to the Verso site would be a priority.
4. Five priorities:
1. Public safety is always an important reason people move to and stay in our community. Our police and fire departments do a great job as we all witnessed during the Verso tragedy. As our community grows, we need to make sure they have proper staffing and the latest equipment.
2. Repair and maintain our existing infrastructure
3. Community/senior center
4. Development of existing parks and trails system
5. Begin development of a Town Center/Downtown concept near the Pinecone Shopping Center.
5. Sartell Community Center
I support the development of a Sartell Community Center. I was on a task force 15 years ago that came up with a plan, and it never happened. There is no reason we could not start construction sometime in 2013 and open in 2014. A center would include dedicated space for the Sartell Senior Connection, Historical Society and a future Library/Resource Center. Community gathering spaces would be part of this center. I think the current city-hall site makes the most sense as the city has the land, parking lot, central location and room to expand. The projected $1.6 million in sales-tax revenue could build a community center, but community fundraising would help furnish and staff the building.
6. City taxes
Sartell has the lowest tax rate of any area city and the seventh lowest in the State of Minnesota for a city of its size. The tax rate is just about right for now and the future.
7. Verso site
Ideally, another paper/wood related industry would be best for the Verso site, but that will be a long shot. A power-generating plant would be a good fit because of existing infrastructure and the hydro-dam already existing.
8. Sartell’s greatest strength/weakness
Sartell’s greatest strength is its vision for the future and the ability to grow in a systematic and consistent manner. Its greatest weakness is some of the park amenities are old and need replacing. If I could wave a magic wand, I would bring a Town Square type of downtown to Sartell that would be unique and attract visitors from all over Minnesota.
9. Additional comments
I have been proud to call Sartell home for many years, and I see great things ahead for our community.