Monthly news and announcements for residents of Story City, Iowa

Story City Briefing

How about 10 Christmas Wishes for Story City

We asked some people, “What is your Story City related dream gift.” What do you wish for Story City? It can be serious, funny, or unique?

Everyone’s friend Kurt Erickson’s dream is for EVERYONE to be Norwegian!

That the spec building be filled with a great new employer and prosperity for all said long-time community leader Rich Olive. “I also want to thank all that have been praying for my recovery.”

Betsi Bowman, who chairs the GCC Promotions Committee, wish is for unlimited volunteer resources to staff the Carousel, Scandinavian Days, and support all the programs the town needs and loves.

School Superintendent Matt Patton’s wish is for peace, prosperity, and in the Christmas spirit some more births. “We need more babies for the school.”

High on Council Member Becky Watson’s wish for Story City is to keep the current businesses at the Outlet Mall and find a good use for the remainder of the building.

That a resident will win the Lotto and pay for the downtown Yulefest rooftop lights says GCC Assistant Director Shannon Hayden.

EDC President Tony Hogan’s dream is for our young families to feel welcomed, engaged, and empowered to lead Story City to the future.

To have a sports complex complete with soccer fields, diamonds, concessions, restrooms, storage & walking paths says Recreation & Aquatics Supervisor Jenny Nelson.

Becky Law, Chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission, wish is to see the downtown have more diverse businesses and the mall restored. She would like to see families move into town and continue the traditions already established.

And finally Mayor Mike Jensen’s Christmas wish is for Story City to continue being a wonderful place to live and raise our families, keep improving our parks system, trails, and amenities while keeping our budget under control and property taxes low.

Be Prepared to Stop

You may have noticed that there are now “STOP” signs being installed at intersections where no stop signs existed before. The City will also be changing some yield sign locations to “STOP” signs. This won’t be done at once, but as time and weather permits our street department. Most of the new stop signs being installed will be on those streets traveling east and west.

Looking Back on 2015

  • Construction began on the $2.6 million new swimming pool. Unfortunately, there will be no swimming in Story City in 2016, but the new pool will be open Memorial Day weekend in 2017. The City was awarded a Community Attraction & Tourism grant from the State in the amount of $86,530 and matched with private donations of more than $30,000.

  • Completed construction of Rich Olive Street in the Interstate 35 Business Park at an estimated cost of approximately $815,000 with $323,000 awarded by the Iowa Department of Transportation. The new street will provide access to approximately 32 acres of land for immediate economic development opportunities and the 40,000 square foot speculative building.

  • Wrapped up the CDBG Housing Project with seven homes receiving assistance totaling $201,199 in CDBG funds which were matched with $28,000 from the City’s Housing fund with the money used for home improvements that benefited low and moderate income homeowners.

  • Began the process of updating the City Comprehensive Plan that was adopted in 1997. The new plan is being prepared by a diverse group of 15 community members that once completed will help guide the growth, development, and redevelopment of Story City over the next 15 years.

  • In 1989, American Packaging Corporation located in Story City and since that time has had four expansions that today has become one of our largest employers. American Packaging Corp. has begun a major expansion of their facility and operations and plans to invest $44.3 million that includes a 96,000 square foot expansion to their facility and the addition of 94 new jobs.

  • Hosted the 137th Iowa Firefighters Association Convention. This was no small undertaking as more than 3,000 firefighters came from across Iowa to Story City for the convention.
  • Passage, with 79 percent voting in favor, a Capital Improvement Reserve Fund Levy. At least 80 percent of the funds generated from the levy will be used for improvements to the South and North Parks.

  • A special "Thank You" to Council Members Dwayne Fiihr and Valarie Muhlenburg who will be leaving the council at the end of the year. Your hard work, dedication, and commitment to Story City is truly appreciated. Looking back on 2015 it was "A Very Good Year!"

“Bah! Humbug!”

Last Christmas Eve while walking home after doing some work at the office, I ran into my good friend Santa Clause who was making the rounds in Story City. Now Santa’s great helper posted in good fun on her Facebook page, “even ran into Mr. Scrooge!” Yes, I have been known to be tight with money, a penny-pincher perhaps, and as my brother Chris has said to me, “you still have the first dollar you ever made.”
The last three December Briefings have included the “12 days of Story City.” However, this year I thought to myself who is this Ebenezer Scrooge made famous in the 1843 Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol” who despises Christmas and proclaims it to be a fraud with the words “Bah, Humbug.”  What made Ebenezer Scrooge this money-obsessed, cold-hearted, and uncaring person? What can we learn from Ebenezer Scrooge today?
Who is this Ebenezer Scrooge?
Ebenezer was a lonely child with an unloving father who sends him off to boarding school. He was close with his sister Fran who supports and comforts a young Ebenezer, but she later dies giving birth to her son Fred. As a young man, Ebenezer meets Belle at a Christmas party. He falls in love with her and they become engaged, but she leaves him when she realizes that he loves money more than her. These life events have made him a cynical, bitter, and an alone man.
Scrooge doesn’t lose any sleep on the plight of others; in particular his underpaid, underappreciated, and impoverished clerk Bob Cratchit and his family. That is until he is aroused from his slumber on Christmas Eve by his former money-grubbing, business partner Jacob Marley who is now deceased. Jacob’s spirit is hung heavy with chains for his past sins and his soul is tormented with misery and regret for his greedy and narcissistic life.
“I come here to warn you, that you have yet a chance and a hope of escaping my fate.”  Marley says to Scrooge.
Scrooge begs for a second chance after the ghost of “Christmas Yet to Come” shows him Christmas Day one year later when Tiny Tim has died because his father (Bob Cratchit) could not afford proper health care and the death of a “wretched man” who is cheap, his possessions are stolen, and no one cared that he had died or had lived for that matter. Scrooge realizes that the “wretched man” is him. Scrooge has made bad choices, but after being shown by his former dead business partner and three ghosts that Scrooge can have a second chance, he chooses to become a generous, kind, and compassionate person. And yes, a better boss.
A Christmas Carol
Is a story, but it is also a song celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. But, just like in Scrooge’s time we live in a broken world with civil war in Syria, the violence of ISIS, the mass shootings in the United States, the 55 million people in the world that have been displaced (refugees) this past year, those that are homeless, or suffer from mental illness. And just like Jacob Marley each of us lives to some degree with heavy chains for we are not always aware of the suffering of others.
Yes, it can be a cold and hard world, but one of the attributes about living in a small community like Story City is that each of us can make it a little warmer and a little softer for others. One of my favorite Psalms is the 95th, “If today you hear God’s voice harden not your hearts,” and the voice we often hear is one of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, or sheltering the stranger.
And let us not forget these words on the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
The Gospel of Luke 
Tells the story of a couple traveling, who could not find a room at an Inn or home in which to stay. They had to settle for a stable where the woman gave birth to a son. More than that however, the Gospel of Luke is a story about the poor and forgotten. This Christmas story is to remind us yearly that we still have the poorest among us.
Many of us live in nice homes, with an abundance of food, clothing, and love. But many do not. The Gospel of Luke tells us that Christmas isn’t for one day out of the year, but to be celebrated each and every day for it should always be remembered that there are those among us without a home, food, or love. And the way we celebrate Christmas and the birth of Jesus is how we reach out to the poor, the persecuted, and the forgotten. Showing hope and light.
The Gospel of Luke and A Christmas Story both tell us that the voice of God comes from those on the margins of society – those in need– and each of us can be that “Yet to Come” spirit for others by showing some compassion, some love, some forgiveness, and most importantly some hope. It’s in a small town like Story City where we can help a neighbor in need, welcome a stranger, or perhaps provide some understanding for someone who is troubled.
Christmas is a Wonderful
Time of the year. I, like many of you, enjoy the Christmas season: the tree in downtown Story City (curved and all), driving throughout the community looking at the lights, watching children open their presents, and of course the holiday food and cheer. I do say like Ebenezer Scrooge, “BAH, HUMBUG!” to what today may appear to me that the meaning of Christmas has become more about shopping and finding the best bargains.
Giving is wonderful, but as Luke tells us in his Christmas story let us not forget the poorest and the forgotten among us each day for by doing this can we truly celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son” (John 3:16).
Wishing each of you a Happy Holiday Season and New Year!
Mark A. Jackson
City Administrator

City of Story City

504 Broad St.
Story City, IA 50248
(515) 733-2121
(515) 733-2460 Fax
Office Hours:
M-F 8am-4:30pm

Mike Jensen

Dwayne Fiihr
Valaree Muhlenburg

Dave Sporleder
Becky Watson
Matt Triggs 

Mark A. Jackson
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