Goessel mayor stepping aside for newer, younger leadership, has hopes for city overcoming challenges

GOESSEL – After years of service, Mayor Dave Schrag will be stepping down from his post as Mayor of Goessel.

Schrag has served two separate stints as Mayor, from 1993 to 1999 and 2014 to 2021.

Schrag said he was motivated to join city government on a write-in campaign the first time he took a leadership role.

The city streets were in bad shape, and the Council didn’t want to let go of the money to fix them, but it was in the budget. That was the main thing that got me going,” he said.

During his tenure as Mayor, Schrag was not afraid to roll up his sleeves, frequently assisting city employees with physical labor and repairs to city equipment.

Schrag added, at the time it was also difficult to secure pay increases for City employees.

Motivated by the desire for change and upgrades to his community, Schrag began engaging other residents to become involved in city government.

My goal then was to get younger people on the city council, and I still feel that way. I really like having people on there – men and women – who have children in school. If they have kids in school, their wants and needs are different from mine,” he said.

Schrag threw his hat back in the ring following the previous mayor’s departure, and community members requesting his return to leadership.

Schrag noted he is now retired, and is limiting the amount of time he puts in as a city leader, stepping aside for a new, younger person to lead Goessel.

As he advocated for term limits he said, “I think people that have been on there too long get used to their ways and wanting things done their way, and they should get out and let someone else in. That’s why I’m choosing to leave. I’ve been on long enough,” he said.

During his time in leadership, Schrag said improvements to the library and city facilities are a point of pride – moving from a 15 by 30-foot nook into its own, significantly larger, space – as well as giving the city more room to breath when dealing with everyday functions.

It was quite small. We were using the fire department for our Council meetings and for holding court. When we built the community building, we built a really nice public library, we put in a community room and city office and police department office,” he said.

The addition of two baseball diamonds north of the football field were also an improvement to community quality of life.

To keep Goessel a competitive community, Schrag said the introduction of fiber optic internet from Moundridge TelCo means residents have 1GB download speeds; “We have the smallest town in the county, but the fastest internet,” he said.

While not as glamorous as high speed internet, Schrag said the $2.5 million sewer repair and upgrade project was a huge infrastructure investment for the community.

Schrag said the sewer project protected residents homes when the system became overwhelmed with rainwater, causing backups into people’s homes.

We got a grant, and the City Clerk (Jennifer Bliss) has been outstanding at getting grants, that was really tough,” he said.

Schrag said “it has been a really tough year” for the community, between the impacts of COVID-19 and the ongoing sewer project.

We had people coming from all over the state of Kansas as employees for the contract, and we are working right next to them, and working with wastewater and COVID in the air. It was the most uncomfortable situation,” he said.

However, this year also had a highlight, the city has been able to acquire a replacement backhoe – a piece of equipment that can run $100,000-plus – at virtually no expense to the city through leveraging grants and discounts.

When you have a really small equipment budget, getting something like this is a big deal,” said Schrag.

The challenges the community faces are not small, as FEMA is threatening to place the community back in a floodplain, which would impact home values, insurance and marketability of the community. Schrag hopes the city will push back against the inclusion in a floodplain for Emma Creek.

Streets projects, particularly those aimed at making Goessel a more wheelchair accessible community, will be an ongoing challenge, with utility lines and curbs, concrete and construction costs.

As he steps aside from his leadership roll, Schrag will still be active in city work, helping Public Works Director Karen Dalke repair and maintain equipment.

Anything that’s within our means, we’ll repair. I’ve got all the tools I need and I’ve got a nice shop,” he said.

However, taking a step back means more time to spend with family, particularly his grandchildren.

Looking forward, Schrag has high hopes for the Goessel community

I hope we can fill up Harvest Meadows and get more people coming in. Sunflower Apartments has a new manager and I’m really pleased; that’s going much better and the future looks a lot better,” he said.

Schrag gave a brief endorsement to Dan Schmidt as a potential replacement.

He works with the school district and I think it’s going to bring the school and the city closer, and I think that’s a good thing.

I would like to get some younger people running for city council, I’d like to ask ladies to run for council. It is important to have ladies on there; right now, it’s just men. Peggy was the last woman on there and that was eight years ago. We need more opinions and different opinions.”

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