Monthly news and announcements for residents of Story City, Iowa

Story City Briefing


New City Council Members:
Karl Ostrem and Connie Phillips


Rosy Cheeks 5K

February 6, 2016
It's time to sign up for the 17th Annual Rosy Cheeks 5K!  Fee is $25 ($30 after January 21).  Find registration information on our website.

Did You Know?

The Streets Department maintains and plows 23 miles of streets within the city.

Looking Ahead to 2016

If you travel on Broad Street you can’t miss the big equipment or the mounds of dirt where the swimming pool once was. The good thing is that the New Swimming Pool is under construction and will be for the next year. The new swimming pool will be open by Memorial Day 2017.
Improvements to the South Park are scheduled to take place this year. This project was one of the top priorities identified in the City’s Parks and Recreation Plan and one of the top three goals identified in the City’s 2013 Strategic Priority Goals. At the November 2015 election, the voters approved with 79 percent voting in favor the renewal of the Capital Improvement Reserve Fund Levy with 80 percent of the money going towards improvements to the South and North Parks. In addition, the Story County Board of Supervisors awarded the city a grant in the amount of $80,300 for the South Park Project.  In December, the City Council retained MSA as the engineer for the project and a committee consisting of Mayor Jensen, Council Members Becky Watson & Karl Ostrem, City Administrator Mark Jackson, Parks & Recreation Superintendent John Moran, Erin Barkema, Michaela Carlson, Mari Janes, Jody Larson, John Narigon, and Pete Tekippe are working with the engineer on developing the plans for South Park.
The City is right in the middle of updating its City Comprehensive Plan. A committee representing a number of entities and organizations has been working with our local consultant Angela Snyder in the development of the plan which will help guide the growth, development, redevelopment of Story City for the next 15 years. A committee consisting of Mayor Jensen, City Administrator Mark Jackson, School Superintendent Matt Patton, Chris Barkema, Betsi Bowman, Kurt Erickson, Dwayne Fiihr, Lois Heckert, Nick Hermanson, Al Holm, John Koppes, Becky Law, Denny Michel, and Rick Schreir have been meeting once a month and plan to have the update completed by early May.

... and Beyond

The City has a number of upcoming projects that have been identified to take place over the next several years that you will start hearing about in the coming months. These projects may include:
  • The extension of Holm Avenue in support of the $44.3 million dollar expansion of American Packaging Corporation.
  • Improvements to Broad Street – from Garfield to the railroad tracks and from Hillcrest to the pool parking lot.
  • Storm and sanitary sewer improvements in the alley south of Broad Street from Grand to Elm.
  • Phase One of needed facility improvements which would include renovating part of City Hall to help the space needs for the police and parks departments.
  • Begin the redevelopment and refurbishment of the North Park.
We have some challenges hanging out there as well. Future housing development is a critical need for the future growth of the community and the deterioration of the outlet mall are both areas we will continue to work on. 

Moving to the Rhythm of Motown

Getting out of your Comfort Zone

I was asked to represent Story City in the Heartland Senior Services fundraiser, “Dancing with the Stars.” Story City has a significant senior citizen population and Heartland Senior Services provides such needed services as: Meals on Wheels, congregate meal program, adult day care, and other outreach programs to help our senior citizens. I’m not a senior citizen today that uses these services, but God willing someday I will be and may need to.
First, I’m not a star. I got into public service because I couldn’t sing or dance and wasn’t tall enough to play in the NBA. I got into public service to help and serve others and hopefully make things just a little bit better for people.

When first asked, I didn’t say yes right away. In fact, if I had to make a quick decision it would have been “no” and it took me about a week to say “YES.” Standing in front of a crowd giving a talk is easy and comfortable, but dancing in front of several hundred people scares me to death. It is clearly out of my comfort zone. However, my wife Elizabeth reminded me that public service is about doing things for others especially if it is out of our comfort zone. Even after saying yes, I had second thoughts and Elizabeth once again reminded that we “keep our commitments.”
I’m very fortunate that I have a great life partner in Elizabeth who challenges me to get out of my comfort zone so that I may be better today than I was yesterday. I’m also fortunate to be paired up with Nicole Bramow as my dance partner. Nicole is a student at Iowa State majoring in engineering with a minor in French. Yes, she is smart, but she is also an awesome dancer and a fantastic teacher.
I’ve learned a number of things from Nicole that apply not only to dancing, but to life, work, and a community:
  1. You got to love it, have passion for it, and have fun doing it.  Nicole has all three of these when it comes to dancing. I on the other hand have had fun learning and practicing the Cha Cha. In Story City, there are numerous people that love this community and have a passion for making it better than it already is and as Roger Auestad always says, “You got to have a little fun!” So true.
  2. You have to be willing to invest the time, energy, and commit to doing it.  Nicole and I will probably have practiced more than 20 hours for a two minute performance. You can count the numerous individuals and organizations in Story City that invest the time, energy, and are committed to our community. Just take a moment and think about people who deliver meals on wheels, read to a student at the elementary school, or raise money for improvements to and spend time working on the golf course.
  3. Creativity doesn’t come from one it comes from both.  Someone asked us who choreographed our dance? We looked at each other and said “both of us.” We would bounce ideas off each other as I was learning the Cha Cha and it just seemed to come together.  Every performance requires the proper costume.  So Karen Gookin, Nicole and I traveled to Des Moines in order to get the proper attire for our performance (obviously I was just along for the ride).  Last year, I read a book, “Powers of Two: How Relationships Drive Creativity.” The book is about how two people can do things a little better and a little bolder that can’t be done alone. Each person challenges the other and each person brings something different to the table. I think of the different partnerships that exists in this community: city, school, EDC, GCC, Historical Society, and the private sector. No one entity or person does it alone; our creativity comes from sharing ideas.
  4. Have others watch, critique, and give feedback.  Nicole has a friend Ethan who has come to several practices and said that we needed a better ending. As Ethan said, “it’s not a good end to the story and every dance tells a story.” So, we changed our ending.  That’s what the general public does – they watch, they critique, and they provide feedback to help the community move in the right direction.
  5. Listen to the Rhythm of the Music.  At first, I danced too slow to the music and then I was dancing too fast. “Listen to the rhythm of the music,” Nicole told me. It’s not about being fast or slow; it’s about being smooth with the rhythm of the music. I’m from Michigan so the rhythm of the music has to be Motown. Like music, each community has its own rhythm and it’s important that each member of the community truly listens to each individual and the community as a whole so that we move together to the rhythm of the town.
  6. We learn one step at a time.  There is a video of our first practice (you can giggle) and I realized how far we, myself in particular, have come. It’s a work in progress and doesn’t happen overnight, but it starts with one step. We have many challenges in Story City and they won’t be solved overnight, but as in the past and moving in the future we will take one step at a time in resolving them.
 Finally, I’ve learned this – age is irrelevant in most things – we can learn anything from anyone at any time if we are open and willing to get out of our comfort zone. I’ve realized that getting out of a comfort zone helps you be creative, gives you a willingness to try something new, or perhaps take a different path.


Getting out of your comfort zone just may lead to something better!

Cha Cha Everyone
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

Dave Sporleder
Becky Watson
Matt Triggs 
Karl Ostrem
Connie Phillips

Mark A. Jackson
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