Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Jan. 21, 2002

What is one thing that should change in the Waverly area?

Simple questions:

1. What do you like best about Waverly?

2. What do you like least?

3. If you could change one thing about Waverly, what would it be?

4. Would you be interested in becoming involved in the grant process?

Call Angela at (763) 658-4200 or Jim 763-658-4417 for more information.

Answers may also be mailed to the City of Waverly, PO Box 189, Waverly, MN 55390, or emailed to: jensen@herald-journal.com.

The deadline for answers is Friday, Feb. 15.


By Lynda Jensen

What is one thing about Waverly that should be changed?

This simple question is one of four that will be asked of Waverly residents on a survey to be enclosed in the city newsletter this month.

Answers will be solicited to anyone living in the 55390 ZIP code, said Jim Vrchota, chairman of the Healthy Communities grant committee.

The questionnaire is paid for by a grant funded by the Wright County Initiative Foundation, as part of its Healthy Communities Partnership program.

The information is needed for the Initiative Foundation grant process, and will be used to help shape future development.

The impact of the planning grant is extremely important, said Leighton Johnson, co-chair of the committee.

"I foresee it as a chance to revitalize the area," Johnson said.

Information gathered from the survey could be used to possibly attract new businesses, enhance the tax base, and add vitality to the city, Johnson said.

The survey intends to gather information from people of every walk of life, instead of those dedicated solely in business circles, or other entities, Johnson said.

One strong advantage of the committee is that it draws from people across the board, rather than just one source, he said.

"It allows all the people of the town to have a voice as to what the future of Waverly should be," he said.

Johnson is one of a core group of several people who have been attending workshops to learn about visioning, managing, and forecasting development.

Others in the group include Waverly residents Angela Lachermeier, Gen Johnson, Gerry Smith, Pam Henry-Neaton, Birdie Jackson, Andrea Vrchota, and Janet Cafferty. Others outside of Waverly include Shirley Olson from the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted school district, and Lynda Jensen of the Herald newspaper.

The foundation awarded a two-year $10,000 grant for community development, Vrchota said.

 


Committee member profiles

The following are questions and answers from committee members of the Healthy Communities grant about why they got involved in the grant process and what it means for the future of Waverly.

Gen Johnson

Why did you join the group?

Mainly out of frustration with the lack of cooperation among local folks for the museum, Saturday market, etc. Also the apparent roadblocks set up by the city council for market signage, the American Legion garden watering, apparent opposition to industrial development and likewise to some housing development, and to local dances.

I was frustrated with the lack of local news coverage, with rumors virtually the only source of news. I am frustrated by the apparent antagonism between Waverly and the local townships, the kids' summer programs, and the lack of much going on.

What do you bring?

I bring experience as a market grower and seller, a nursery owner, a garden center employee, and a science teacher. I bring experience as an advisor of high school publications, a science researcher, a resident of several other communities, a mother, and a homemaker.

My interests are in environmental issues, community space and design, water quality, and having fun.

My abilities are in writing, publications, analysis of scientific data, and photography.

What is your vision for Waverly in five years?

I envision a variety of areas for indoor and outdoor activities, including a bike/inline skating trail, a hiking/nature trail with expanded park, picnic areas, a pool/foosball hall, a bowling alley, a dance/reception/theater hall, and a museum ­ a variety of choices for various age groups.

I would love to see a shopping area for various needs, including a copy, fax, and computer center, and a new/used book store.

I would enjoy seeing an attractive coffee shop/ice cream store/bakery with an inviting atmosphere. I would like to see a general store, which would include gifts, a garden center, a lending library, card room, and art supplies, etc.

I would also like to see a weekly or a biweekly Waverly publication, an increased interest in water quality of lakes and watershed, including improved shoreline maintenance, more public awareness, and use of local natural resources.

Andrea Vrchota

Why did you join the group?

I wanted to make a difference in my community, to make it better.

What do you bring?

I can give a view from the youth; what people my age are thinking.

What is your vision for Waverly in five years?

Still a small town, where everyone knows each other, but more business and activities.

Gerry Smith

Why did you join the group?

As a lifelong resident of the Waverly community, I have a history of where we've been and an interest in where we're going. It is important that all residents, both old and new, be involved.

What do you bring?

I've watched Waverly change from a 1950s bustling farm community to what we are today, part of the 10-county metro commuter community.

As recently as 13 years ago, I could sit at my kitchen table and do the city census, street by street, house by house, child by child. Times have changed, yet I continue to treasure our small-town feeling.

What is your vision for Waverly in five years?

We're going somewhere, whether we plan for it or not. I see our community planning where we would like to go, and how we are going to get there.

I see a community of business and residents where we all learn, shop, eat, socialize, and continue to gather every Memorial Day to remember those who were here before us.

Leighton Johnson

Why did you join the group?

I saw a chance to revitalize the Waverly area. I hope we will be able to attract new business and endeavors to our area.

What do you bring?

I have long experience in both business and education. We moved to the Waverly area and started Orion Farms 14 years ago. I can share with others the positive factors that influenced us to start our business in this area.

What is your vision for Waverly in five years?

I hope we will have a restaurant or coffee shop in the downtown area. I would like to see stores for shopping that carried goods other than food to go with Pete's Grocery, perhaps a drug store, dry goods store, or a hardware store. I would also hope for additional opportunities for recreation in town, such as a theater, a youth recreation center, or a miniature golf course.

Shirley Olson

Why did you join the group?

As the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted Communities Connecting Collaborative coordinator, my role is to provide resources to strengthen both the communities in the area and the organizations that help sustain individuals and families.

One of the focus areas of the HLWW Collaborative is Youth & Family, projects that reflect the collaborative effort of local agencies and individuals interested in making the community a better place for families and children. The HLWW Collaborative recognizes that strong communities require strong families.

The collaborative promotes efforts that are variously called "developmental," "resiliency," or "asset" approaches to working on behalf of families and children.

What do you bring?

What I can bring to the table are my collaborative resources, my four-year presence in the HLWW schools as the collaborative coordinator, as well as the Safe and Drug Free Coordinator.

I am aware of what the needs of the youth and the communities are, and currently we provide 12 months of intervention and prevention programs for grades K through 12. Bringing youth on board with the Healthy Communities committee would be an asset, also.

What is your vision for Waverly in five years?

Waverly has a lot to offer our families and the youth with talented volunteers, programs, after school programs, the lake, school and churches. I would like to see a place for the youth to "hang out" ­ a place to sit and visit, a place to do art and theatre, etc.

A place where we provide constructive use of time for all youth and families and adults and youth work together ­ a community that values teenagers, for teenagers have useful roles in the community.

Angela Lachermeier

Why did you join the group?

I felt it was important to join the team because I knew that I would be involved with a group of dedicated individuals.

It seems that everyone's schedule is so hectic these days that anyone that would be interested in the issues of Waverly would make room in their busy schedules to have their voices heard. I enjoy brainstorming ideas and the endless possibilities of what can be done to make Waverly an even better place than it is.

I also felt it was important to join so I could continue my efforts to brighten up the downtown area and have an input as to the direction of improvements that will happen in the future. Waverly is a diamond in the rough and I want to make sure it continues to get polished so it can become a shining example of a revitalized small town.

What do you bring?

I feel my asset to the team would definitely be my artistic vision. I like to make my surroundings visually pleasing to the eye. As an artist, I can do that with paint just as a gardener may do it with flowers.

When my husband, Ken Kutz, and I moved to Waverly five years ago to renovate the (old) bank building, the downtown was pretty bleak looking. There were a lot of boards covering broken windows and there was a vacant lot across from my art studio that was screaming for attention.

I soon found out that Waverly has some wonderful social organizations and with the help of the Waverly Lions Club, Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted FFA crew, local businesses, and residents, the vacant lot was transformed into a charming park.

I felt that if all the businesses and property owners could put their best foot forward, and take some pride in their property, that it could change the look of the downtown area.

Now, many of the boards are off the windows, flowers adorn the sidewalks and park in the summer and several buildings have gotten a fresh coat of paint. Also,with the additions of several more businesses the downtown has reached a turning point of growth and revitalization that I would like to see continue in the future.

What is your vision for Waverly in five years?

I would certainly like to see Waverly remain a charming, small town that takes pride in its community. I would like to see people attracted to Waverly for its beautiful lakes, rural presence and business friendly environment.

I envision more small businesses locating into the downtown area and the highway 12 corridor to strengthen Waverly's economic future. An industrial park would be icing on the cake.

I always felt that Waverly was like a blank canvas for me to work on, so I personally look forward to the opportunity of doing several more murals this next year.

Waverly has a fabulous "Waverly Daze" event that attract people from all over the place. The tractor show continues to grow every year, and I would like to see the farmers market in the Rail Road Park expanded upon, now that Highway 12 is completed.

Decorative lighting throughout the downtown area would also add some character. The downtown area is such a small section that improvements are always noticed and appreciated.

I would like to see the eyesore properties that have persistently plagued Waverly dealt with and the ordinances enforced. If help is needed to clean up the properties I am sure community citizens or neighbors would be happy to volunteer their help.

Since your residence or business property is a major investment to most people it is only natural to want to maintain your investment and junk properties only impact the community in a negative way. I also know that two people can see the same thing differently and change is a slow process that doesn't happen overnight.

I would like to see the dilemma of what to do with the Village Hall come to a positive resolution. The Village Hall holds a lot of fond memories for many people both young and old. Many people met there at the dances and had their wedding receptions there.

I know it was always a fun place to go to. It once had a vitality with a hustle and bustle of activity within its walls. I would like to see it like that again. It is a landmark building in the downtown area and I feel it can become a vital part of the community again.

I would like to see the growth of Waverly planned for so that it does not become overwhelming for the city. I would also like to see that Waverly maintains its friendly, small town charm through the future growth. As Will Rogers once said "Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."

Jim Vrchota

Why did you join the group?

I took the job as president of the bank in Waverly November of 1998, built a home, and moved to Waverly in November 1999. I felt the Waverly area had a lot to offer, but had a lot of untapped potential for housing and business development and growth.

As the local banker, I felt it was my responsibility to lend whatever skills and resources I could to help assist in these growth plans.

What do you bring?

In a word, I would say the most important thing I bring to the team is experience. More specifically, experience in economic development.

I have been involved in economic and community development for the 20 plus years I have been in banking. I was instrumental in starting the Economic Development Partnership of Wright County and served as its first chairperson.

I am currently serving as the president of the Waverly Economic Development Authority, and I serve on the Board of Directors for Minnesota Business Finance Corporation that assists small business start-ups and expansions.

I also served for four years on the city council for Maple Lake where I learned about Tax Increment Financing and other programs that help communities grow.

I was also instrumental in bringing in businesses and expanding the industrial park, and helped increase the number of new home starts in the community. As a lender, I can help find creative ways of financing some of the growth we anticipate for the Waverly area.

What is your vision for Waverly in five years?

I would like to see an active, retail oriented Highway 12 corridor through town that will make people stop and shop, and give our current area residents a reason for doing their business in our area.

I would like to see a revitalized downtown area that would capture the charm of the "good old days," while still providing some of the goods and services that the area needs for continued growth.

I feel Waverly and the surrounding area needs to continue to grow and expand in a way that is beneficial for everyone. We do need to plan for growth.

We can't just stay the way we are forever, because there is an old saying "If you're not going forward, you're going back." I want us to go forward, and become a vibrant community that people will be proud to live in and do business in.

Janet Cafferty

Why did you join the group?

I joined the group to help the Waverly community move to the next level of continued growth.

What do you bring?

What I bring to the community is enthusiasm and dedication, for Waverly to be prosperous.

What is your vision for Waverly in five years?

My vision for Waverly is to attract more residents; along with that, to bring in additional commercial growth where the residents and businesses can support each other.

Lynda Jensen

Why did you join the group?

I love the people of Waverly and think their future is tied to this group. Therefore, it is important that I inform Waverly residents about the progress of the grant.

This group is very different from any other civic or business organization, in that it draws people from all different walks of life.

What do you bring?

My pencil (to report what the committee is doing). Not everyone is able to attend meetings, since we are all busy. The newspaper allows residents to participate without taking huge chunks of time out of their schedules.

Informed decision-making is a cornerstone of democracy, especially if others are acting on your behalf. It's important we know what other people are doing.

What is your vision for Waverly in five years?

I see triple the residential development, since Waverly is a bedroom community of the metro area, and about double of the commercial base.

I'm not sure if the residential growth will be enough to support a lot of retail businesses. It depends on a lot of things that are yet unknown.


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