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Countywide sales tax vote excels!

By Staff | Aug 27, 2008

Lili Jensen prepared to cast her ballot in the local option sales tax election Tuesday at the Masonic Hall in Estherville. EDN photo by Michael Tidemann

Economic development in the area got a needed shot in the arm Tuesday as voters pushed the 1-cent local option sales tax through in Estherville, Dolliver, Gruver, Wallingford and the unincorporated areas.

A total of 842 ballots were cast in the special election.

In the city of Estherville, 427 voters (70.11 percent) said yes with 182 casting nay votes (29.89 percent).

Voters in Dolliver supported the measure 23 (92 percent) to 2 (8 percent).

The vote in Gruver was 20 (80 percent) to 5 (20 percent).

In Wallingford, there were 24 yes votes (75 percent) to 8 no votes (25 percent).

The combined unincorporated areas tally shows 136 voters (58.62 percent) supported the measure while 96 (41.38 percent) were against its passage.

The major proponent of the LOST issue was the Excel! Estherville group which developed a comprehensive outline to improve the county seat and its economics.

The 10-year vision of Excel! Estherville states, “Estherville will be a destination to live, work and play resulting in population growth, balanced economic growth and increased prosperity for its residents.”

Emmet County Auditor Bev Juhl said, “The election went well despite low-turnout.”

Reactions from Excel! Estherville members who met at Mother Nature’s to hear the returns Tuesday night were predictably ecstatic.

“It’s great,” said Sue Nelson, Estherville city councilperson. “We have a lot of people in our community and they all came out and voted.”

“I’m tickled to death that people saw the light,” said George Shadle, who volunteered many hours, appearing before groups to explain the measure. “I think it will inspire the standing committees that are already in place to put together new ideas, new thoughts.”

“I think it’s great. It’s a validation of the efforts that Excel! Estherville is proposing and it’s exciting for our future,” said Estherville Mayor Lyle Hevern. “Hopefully it will inspire a lot of other people to volunteer and get involved.”

“I think our citizens have overwhelmingly decided to vote for the future of Estherville,” said Bill Bumgarner, Avera Holy Health CEO and Excel! Estherville spokesperson since the beginning. Bumgarner credited Shadle for “doing the nuts and bolts and getting the word out” about Excel! Estherville’s efforts.

“I think it’s exciting that the citizens of our community are willing to step up and help themselves,” said Joe Greig, Estherville businessman and farmer.

“I think I’m proud of this community that 70 percent of the people want to keep the ball rolling. I think it’s great,” said John Wittneben.

“I like the positive vote,” said Gene Haukoos, Estherville city councilman. “It will be good for the community. As a veteran I was disappointed that more people didn’t turn out and vote.”