CERESCO – The desire to shape Ceresco’s future put several candidates on the ballot this election season.
There are seven candidates for three positions on the Ceresco Village Board of Trustees. Voters will choose the top three during the Nov. 3 General Election.
There is one incumbent, Toni Rupe. She is joined by six others who have not served on the Ceresco village board in the past. They are Justin Eggleston, Ray Polak, Larry Prososki, Shawn Ruble, Larry Wendt and Kelsey White.
Rupe has served on the village board for two years. She is running for re-election because she has a passion for giving back to the community she and her family love to call home. She also wants to do her part to make sure the village is a great place to live, work and raise a family and help Ceresco continue to grow and thrive, she said.
“I also feel I have made a positive impact on the village in the two years that I have been on the board with my involvement in the Maintenance Subcommittee, Parks Subcommittee and dealing with complex personnel issues,” added Rupe, who works as a grant coordinator at Tabitha, Inc.
Wendt also lists experience in public service on his resume. He served two terms on the city council while he lived in Iowa. During that time, the council worked on a major project involving building a new water tower, which involved many hours of meetings with the Department of Natural Resources and engineers, he said.
“This project took over two years to complete,” he added.
Wendt is an IT/network technician and has served on the board of directors for Business Technology Association, an international organization that works with office technology and business-related equipment.
He returned to Ceresco after several years. He stopped traveling for his career when his wife of 39 years was diagnosed with cancer. She passed away in 2016. He has remarried and moved to Ceresco a year ago because of the location and the small town atmosphere.
“This is a great place to live and I believe I can help make Ceresco better,” he said.
While White has not held an elected or appointed position in government yet, she said her career has been built around community. She has an associate of science degree in human services and has worked at Region V Services for nine years, serving in many capacities, including working with people with intellectual disabilities, their parents and guardians and the businesses that employ the Region V clients.
She also has experience in interviewing victims and perpetrators with Child Protective Services and conducting group therapy sessions at People’s City Mission. She has also served on the Public Education Information Committee for Region V for five years.
White has lived in Ceresco for 23 of her 28 years, having survived “every major disaster that has struck Ceresco” during that time, including the snowstorm of 1997 that cancelled Halloween and the 2008 tornado.
“I have not missed a single Ceresco Days until the pandemic of 2020 that led to the cancellation of the consecutive 150 years of celebration,” she added.
While she is young, White said living in Ceresco for over two decades will help her when it comes to being entrusted with the future of the village.
Ruble is familiar with the Ceresco community in his role as a member of the Ceresco Volunteer Fire Department for the past two years. He spent a decade in the military (2003-2013) and achieve the rank of sergeant. He is the general manager of Cornhusker International body shop.
Ruble’s reason for putting his name on the ballot for village board is simple.
“I am running for office in hopes of improving Ceresco in any way possible,” he said.
Prososki is also a newcomer to government, but he has 30 years of experience as an engineer and in business management.
“I have successfully done project management involving budgets and leadership everywhere I have been,” he said.
Prososki feels the time is right to become a member of the village board.
“I want to give back to my community,” he said. “I want to do something meaningful with my spare time and giving back with public service is one of the best ways to do so.”
Eggleston is the head athletic trainer for Lincoln North Star High School. This would also be his first elected or appointed position.
Eggleston said he was informed that there are several vacancies on the village board, which represent a need in the community in his opinion.
“I have no personal agenda, I want to represent the people that make this a great community,” he said.
Polak is a heavy equipment technician who has lived in Ceresco for a year and a half as a homeowner. He has not been involved in any form of elected or appointed position before.
“My experiences in the village have encouraged me to become more involved in the interests of the community,” he said.
Several candidates mentioned growth as one of the issues facing Ceresco. A housing development on the outside edge of the community is currently underway.
“With this growth the village must have board members, such as myself, who are involved and can recognize where potential growing pains may be, for example, our water and sewer system,” said Rupe. “We must then implement a plan to ensure we are expanding our services with the growth of our village population.”
Rupe said the village board faces numerous sewer and water projects. She would address these costly infrastructure projects by putting together a strategic plan that would tackle the issues in a responsible manner, she said.
“I plan to be involved in the process of investigating the exact issues that need addressed, the immediacy of each issue and the cost,” she said. “From there I would propose to have this placed on the board meeting agenda so we could formulate a plan to correct these issues strategically with board, staff and citizen input on the plan.”
White is also concerned about growth in Ceresco, including how the village will handle the new housing development.
“One major concern I have is the growth of 40 news houses in Ceresco,” she said. “I would like to be part of how the town is going to address the growth of this amount.”
Rupe would also like to see the village’s parks and softball and baseball fields maintained and she encourages the development of a splash pad because recreational opportunities are crucial to attract young families to Ceresco.
Eggleston also would like to expand the scope of recreational activities in the village.
“I see so many residents that like to walk that I think the community would appreciate some sort of trail system,” he said. “I’m not sure what that looks like, but it is something I would like to pursue.”
Eggleston also notes issues with the village’s water system that need to be addressed.
“The first step in addressing any issue is a thorough assessment,” he said. “Using that information from the assessment to develop options, creating the proper plan of action as a board.”
Wendt’s experience as a city council member in Iowa and in building and managing a business will help him lead Ceresco as it continues to grow, he said.
“Having been here before, I have seen some of the growing pains of a developing town,” said Wendt. “I can help lead the community in the area of housing and business growth.”
Wendt would like to see Ceresco break out from under the label of “bedroom community” by inviting business owners to expand and supporting local businesses like the grocery store. He would also like to see the library developed and mentioned what has been done in Wahoo, Ashland and Blair as examples.
“The librarians in these facilities have done a magnificent job of providing the community with a great resource,” he said.
Prososki also would like to see locally-owned businesses grow and thrive in Ceresco.
“We have had a few small restaurants fail and I would like to work (with) local people and the community as a whole to remedy that,” he said. “I think we could use the resources we already have to expand revenue streams to improve our community.”
Ruble has also noticed that the roads in and out of Ceresco on Highway 77 need attention. He would also pay attention to economic growth if elected to the village board.
“I want to help attract more businesses to our great little town and to help us grow and prosper,” he said.
Prososki wants Ceresco to grow, but doesn’t want the community to lose its values and way of life. Polak shares that sentiment, noting the proximity of Ceresco to large metropolitan areas could threaten the small town atmosphere.
“We need to maintain our small town community while moving forward to provide the best opportunities for our families and children,” he said.
One way to do that is to encourage wider civic participation in village affairs, Polak added.
“There are many ways for community involvement and I look forward to increasing them during my term as a board member,” he said.
White said she is also concerned about the village’s strict control over pets.
“I believe no pet should be banned from the town or have a strict restriction on numbers,” she said. “We own our house we should be able to have our pitbulls without paying expensive insurance unless allegations have been proven true towards any big pet that has in the past shown they need insurance on them.”
White would also like to loosen the restrictions on the number of cats or chickens that residents can have.
White also believes that anyone with a Ceresco address should be eligible to be a candidate for the village board, not just persons who live inside city limits.
“There are people that have lived in Ceresco for generations that have done a lot of extra community work and involvements who should have a right to run for election,” she said.
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