Badger prepares for future growth

Mayoral, city council candidates weigh in

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson Roger Curtis, Badger city councilman, left, answers a question during a forum at the Badger Fire Station Sunday night. Maria Patrick and Janelle Wagner are shown at right. Patrick is running for city council. Wagner has been a member of the council for the past 15 years.

BADGER — Mayor Chris Wendall believes a new housing addition in Badger is the first step toward future growth for the town of about 600 people.

Wendall and his challenger for mayor, Amanda Gascho, spoke during an open forum Sunday night at the Badger Fire Station, ahead of the Nov. 7 city election. About 45 people attended.

Two separate sessions were held. One for the mayoral race and one for the city council race.

Todd Johnson, a resident of Badger, organized the meeting.

Wendall said the timing is right to add housing in the area.

“I would like to see, among other things, the development finished,” Wendall said. “I would like to see more growth and business in the town.”

Wendall added, “At the current population we have had in the past, it has been difficult to keep business here in town. There have been a few that have opened and closed. I feel a good way to do that is to get this development going and get more people moving to town. Right now with Prestage and other business coming to the area, now is the time to do it. That’s why we aren’t the only town in the area doing this.”

A new housing development that will eventually open 35 lots is under way.

The development, called Badger Ridge, will be situated on a 24.5-acre site on the southeast edge of the community.

The first phase of construction will complete 16 of those.

The plan calls for construction of the entire infrastructure to be completed by June 30, 2018. A few of the lots, due to their proximity to existing utilities, might be available before then.

Gascho said the need for growth has been identified, but she wants to be involved in how to attract people to town.

“To get people to buy these lots, we need to attract new businesses,” she said.

Gascho is a lifelong resident of Badger. She works as a registered nurse at Humboldt County Memorial Hospital. She serves on the Iowa Central Community College board of nursing and also volunteers as an emergency medical technician for the Badger Volunteer Fire Department.

Gascho said her life experiences in Badger make her a good candidate.

“I have been in Badger my whole life, which is 32 years,” she said. “I have a lot of relationships in town,”

Wendall said he is the best candidate based on his previous experience.

“I am running now for the same reason I ran before,” he said. “When I decided to raise my family here, I wanted to be involved, and I think I have proven myself.”

Wendall served on the city council for four years before becoming mayor eight years ago.

He has served on the Badger Volunteer Fire Department for more than 20 years.

Gascho, who is the president of Badgerfest, said she is the best candidate to run because of the support she has received from residents.

“I was asked to run by quite a few members in the community,” she said. “I think that says a lot.”

She added, “This is my home and where I grew up.”

City council forum

City council members Roger Curtis and Janelle Wagner are being challenged by Cynthia Glover, Maria Patrick, and Pam Smith.

One area of focus every candidate agreed on is the need for growth.

Roger Curtis has served one four-year term on the city council.

He said growing Badger is his number one issue.

When asked why he is running again, he said he would be “a good steward of tax payer dollars.”

His biggest concern for the next five years is potential budget restrictions.

“I think we will be strapped pretty tight budget-wise,” he said.

Curtis also talked about the possibility of some improved security for the town.

“Some people would like to see more than the sheriff’s deputy come through town,” he said.

Janelle Wagner has served on the city council for the past 15 years.

Wagner said she would collaborate with other members to bring more opportunities to town.

“I love my city of Badger,” she said. “I have lived here my whole life. I would like to see new businesses. I would make that happen with the rest of the council.”

Wagner said her most important issue is community diversity.

She also said residents may need to accept the possibility of taxes being raised.

“We may need to raise taxes,” she said. “We haven’t raised taxes in 15 to 20 years.”

She added, “If they are raised it would be minimal. We need to think positive. I think the outlook for Badger in the next five years is positive.”

Maria Patrick, a graduate of Fort Dodge Senior High, has lived with her family in Badger the past 11 years.

“We chose our house because it’s a small community and that’s what we like,” Patrick said.

She is running for city council to improve communication, she said.

“I believe Badger needs a change,” she said. “There needs to be more communication. That’s one of the main reasons I am running. It shouldn’t be five people making the decisions. It should be all of us.”

Patrick said jobs are her number one issue.

Pam Smith has lived in Badger for the past 32 years.

“I love the small town life and just want to help serve the community,” she said.

Smith also talked about the need for growth.

“I would like to see new businesses come to town,” she said. “If Badger is going to grow, we need to add something.”

Her most important issue is “more communication.”

Cynthia Glover works at Valero as a grain buyer.

She said her experience in business would serve her well if elected.

Glover’s most important issue is the addition of new businesses.

“I would like to see this area grow and bring new businesses to town,” she said.

Glover had a suggestion to accomplish that goal.

“Maybe we need to look into grants as an incentive to bring people to town,” she said. “We have an opportunity with new housing coming in.”

Todd Johnson said he wants to see an increase in voter turnout for the elections.

“Our last election we only had 68 votes,” he said. “My goal is to have the whole city voice their opinions. Every vote counts. I want to see votes double or triple the votes.”