Spencer City Council Chambers sign

Council approves first filing of new microbreweries, microwineries and microdistilleries ordinance

Like a bad batch of beer, some ordinances apparently are best dumped and brewed fresh. The Spencer City Council did just that last week when it voted 5-1 to approve the first filing of a clarified ordinance that would allow microbreweries, microwineries and microdistilleries downtown and other areas as a permitted use. The council flushed a previous version of the ordinance last month. City staff had said the ordinance needed clarified language and other improvements. The purpose of the ordinance is to make it easier for someone to open a microbrewery, microwinery or microdistillery in downtown and other areas around Spencer.

From left to right: Scott Simpson, Kerri Sirovy, Katy Petersen, Katie Techen, Teresa Ohnesorge, Diane Higgins. Missing: Jon Coulander, Bill Weisbrod and Alison Simpson

Community Insurance puts emphasis on giving back

Scott Simpson’s favorite part of working in the insurance industry is being there for people. “I love helping people and working with people,” said Simpson, owner and president of Community Insurance. “My slogan has always been ‘Insurance stinks until you need it.’ It’s great when you can work with people and when something does go wrong, you’re there to help them through the situation. Whether it’s a fire, or hailstorms, accidents, just to be there to help people put things back together, that’s what brings real enjoyment.”

Community Insurance provides personal, business and farm insurance to customers mostly within a 60-mile radius of Spencer. Lately, the agency has stood out due to its remodeled office at 315 Grand Avenue.

Spencer City Council Chambers sign

City council notes: September 16, 2019

The Spencer City Council discussed the following topics at its meeting on Monday, September 16. $47,500 in downtown planter box, bench, waste receptacle restoration work approved

Planter boxes, benches and waste receptacles along Grand Avenue in downtown Spencer will be getting a makeover. In total, the cost of the restoration work is expected to cost about $47,500. There are about 125 items downtown. Spencer City Manager Amanda Mack said the city hopes the work is done yet this fall.

Spencer City Council Chambers sign

Council approves funding for downtown building lighting

Spencer Main Street’s downtown lighting project got the green light Monday night. The Spencer City Council at its meeting that night voted 6-0 to approve the city contributing $155,000 toward the project to get it started. “We are excited about this project,” Spencer Main Street Director Nancy Naeve said. “It’s been at least two years in the making.”

When installed, the lighting will go from State Bank and the Hy-Vee gas station down through the downtown district along Grand Avenue. “We do want to include HyVee, Spencer Oral Surgery and Walgreens, just to extend it back a little bit further,” Naeve said.

Spencer City Council Chambers sign

Spencer may create design guidelines for historic district buildings

Spencer is applying for funds that would be used to create voluntary design guidelines for buildings in the downtown historic district that wish to honor that area’s Art Deco and Spanish Mission architecture styles. On Monday, the Spencer City Council approved 4-1 applying for a grant program that, if approved and advanced forward, would help fund the creation of those guidelines. “Tonight, what we’re asking for is council support in applying for a grant,” Planning Director Steve Hallgren said. “This is just the first step in the entire process.” The grant, under the 2020 Certified Local Government Grant program, is through the State Historical Society of Iowa.

Spencer City Council Chambers sign

City Council passes second filing of murals amendment despite opposition

Despite hearing from multiple downtown business owners and representatives of stakeholder organizations, the Spencer City Council on Monday passed a second filing of an ordinance that would allow murals. The ordinance amends city code to allow murals to be placed on the side or back outside wall of a commercial building, but not on the front outside wall. A third and final filing must still be approved for the amendment to take effect. However, on Monday, the council heard arguments against murals as allowed in the amendment.. Spencer Main Street Director Nancy Naeve spoke on behalf of downtown area businesses, some of whom she said did not want the ordinance approved as written.

Kristen and Eric Meeter

Pressed Jewelry & Apparel: Handmade, home-based in Spencer

Kristen Meeter had a simple goal the first time she brought her custom jewelry to sell at the Spencer Riverfront District Farmers Market: Make a sale. “I ended up selling a lot more than I expected,” Kristen said. “That just kind of launched it from there.”

After that successful Saturday in 2015, Pressed Jewelry and Apparel was in business. Kristen, who already had 11 years of retail fashion experience, started and continues to operate the buisness out of her home in Spencer. Kristen spends much of her time in the house’s loft, designing and carefully crafting each piece of jewelry.