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.

Grand Avenue Community Outreach building in Spencer Iowa

Grand Avenue Community Outreach forges a focused future

A lot has changed at Grand Avenue Community Outreach since Kevin Brown became the faith-based organization’s executive director. Brown transitioned from board member to director around the beginning of the year. He has since found himself handling many different duties that could be expected of a director: fundraising, public relations, strategic planning, among others. “The first month that I was here, it was getting myself comfortable with everything that was here,” Brown said. “The building itself, obviously the finances, just getting to know how things tick.”

Of course, there are the occasional odd jobs that many nonprofits demand of any staff member, regardless of title.

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 notes: May 20

Drivers traveling north on Grand Avenue will eventually see new street signs and light poles thanks to private fundraising by the Grand Avenue Improvement Corporation. At Monday’s city council meeting, the council to approve a memo of agreement with the Grand Avenue Improvement Corporation (GAIC) on the installation of “historic street poles and street signage,” according to an agenda item memo, in the North Grand Avenue Historic District. Mayor Kevin Robinson said the group raised over $45,000 in private funds for the project. Several council members spoke highly of the work done by GAIC. “Great program,” Ward 1 Councilman Tom Nelson said.

Spencer City Council Chambers sign

Spencer City Council notes: April 15

Spencer City Council members on Monday filed for the second time an ordinance that would allow restaurants to set up sidewalk cafés on public sidewalks outside their establishments. If the ordinance is filed a third and final time, establishments where at least 50% of revenue comes from food sales can apply for permits to operate cafés from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. from April to October. The idea to allow sidewalk cafés has been met with positive feedback. “I’ve heard a lot of people say that it’s great, that it’s long overdue, things like that,” Ward 1 Council Member Tom Nelson said during the meeting. Weasy’s Lounge and Grille is planning to operate a space on the sidewalk out its Grand Avenue establishment.

Grand Avenue in Spencer

Retail Kickstarter Program draws interest

Just two weeks after launching, Spencer’s new Retail Kickstarter Program is already generating interest. Through the program, Spencer businesses that fill retail gaps, diversify the economy or fill jobs can apply to receive forgivable loans up to $25,000 and separate zero percent interest loans up to $25,000. The program is a partnership between the City of Spencer,Spencer Chamber of Commerce, Spencer Main Street, Community Bank, Northwest Bank and Farmers Bank. “I know we’ve received one applicant and Nancy (Naeve, director of Spencer Main Street) has taken several phone calls about it,” City Manager Amanda Mack said during Monday’s city council meeting. The kickstarter program’s launch was announced last week.

Woman and man wearing blue Pressed Mountains theme shirt

Every shirt has a story at Pressed

Every shirt at Pressed has its own story. From concept, to design, to matching the designs with garments and, finally, printing the shirt, each of these items of apparel is meant to share its story and connect with people. Feature photo by LARK Photo & Video.

Spencer City Council Chambers sign

Sidewalk café ordinance clears first filing

An ordinance that would allow restaurants to operate sidewalk cafés on public sidewalks was filed for the first of three times at Monday’s Spencer City Council meeting. If the ordinance is filed three times, restaurants – including those on Grand Avenue – could set up sidewalk cafés as long as 50 percent of their gross revenue comes from food sales. “I think the intent behind that is we don’t necessarily want beer gardens along Grand Avenue,” city manager Amanda Mack said of the revenue source stipulation. Alcoholic beverages could be consumed in the cafe area if purchased in the restaurant. The council’s vote on the first filing was 6-0 in favor, with Ward 5 council member Ron Hanson not voting due to absence.

Thirsty Mom Events is, from left, Stephanie Buren, Alex Domino, Liz Bohnenkamp and Mary Narsi.

Thirsty Moms ready for Grand Ave. bar crawl No. 2

Four thirsty Spencer moms had such a blast organizing a spontaneous holiday bar crawl in December that they are at it again just in time to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. This Saturday, starting at 6 p.m. at the Silver Hammer, Thirsty Mom Events is leading The Grand Green Charity Bar Crawl. There will be a raffle basket, a social media share prize and, of course, donations to the featured charity: Centers Against Abuse and Sexual Assault (CAASA). “I think we’re probably most excited for the amount of donations that we can give back to CAASA and the turnout,” said Mary Narsi, who makes up a fourth of the women behind Thirsty Mom Events.