Two candidates to fill three seats on park board

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John Hess

Helene Kuempel

Note: This is the fourth and final in a series of interviews with candidates for Guttenberg municipal offices in the Nov. 7 election. Following are interviews with candidates for park board.


John Hess

1. Why are you running for park board member? I am running for the park board to ensure the integrity and preservation of our city parks are maintained. 2. How are you qualified to serve voters? I am a former park board member, city council member, and mayor pro-tem. I have been on numerous volunteer committees involving park clean-ups, event planning, and park improvements. As a volunteer I have been maintaining Vet's Monument since 1992.

3. How will you make a difference? Having been elected into city government positions previously, I know what dedication is needed to maintain the integrity and preservation of our parks. I understand the city budget. Monies are always tight. Guttenberg, in the past, has always had a 'park clean-up day' where volunteers came with their mowers, rakes, etc., in the afternoon and helped clean up the River Park Drive park. Afterward an appreciation picnic was provided by Security State Bank (pizza, pop, etc.). We need to re-establish this. 

Our park is being used more for celebrations, music in the park, picnics, receptions, art festivals, farmers market, etc. This is great for our community. Because of all this activity, we need to have a plan in place to preserve the park grounds and facilities. The present members and I want to be a part of that dedication to keep our parks beautiful while always available for events. Thank you!

Helene Kuempel, 


1. Why are you running for park board member? I am seeking a second term on the Park Board to support and work with the City council members and community members in preserving and protecting Guttenberg’s natural beauty of our river front park for the enjoyment of the town’s residents and visitors. Our community has been blessed with cultural heritage, historical traditions, and our matchless natural resource of the mighty Mississippi River.

2. How are you qualified to serve voters? The past four years I have experienced the duties of the Park Board as follows;

• Reviewing and maintaining Park Board Policy for providing a safe, accessible, and vibrant environment for all.

• Working with an established budget established by the City. 

• Serving the council members with recommendations regarding the park grounds with them making the final decision.

• There is a current plan in place for strategic placement of benches and tables ensuring that the park does not become cluttered allowing home owners, the local community, and visitors full view of the Mississippi River on River Park Drive.

• DNR property has areas designated on river fronts that cannot be disturbed.

As a retired nurse of 47 years of experience including serving as a safety manager and serving on numerous committees; while working with others I have learned to be receptive to others’ views in coming up with the best outcomes for all. I still have the energy and passion to serve the community as a park board member.  

I believe in community involvement; serving nine years on the school board, serving as church treasurer in the past, active member of the church’s ladies group, volunteer camp nurse, and served on medical mission trips. 

3. How will you make a difference? Serving on the Park Board is challenging because you want to please the people in the community. I am a member of the Ingleside Club founded in 1902 and I would work to share in their original vision, “maintain beautiful area for the city is rewarding; enjoyed not only locally but by everyone who comes to view.”

Improvements that I would like to see completed;

• Ongoing maintenance on the former DNR restrooms 

• The Rotary ongoing renovations of Big Springs Park area by building of a shelter, cutting down overgrowth with signs purchased. The local FFA and 4-H groups have volunteered to work developing trails on both sides of the water falls, adding a bridge and planting endangered plants.  

• Final completion of Jefferson Go-Hawks 4-H club original project of cleaning and painting remaining park benches.  

• The DNR has suggested that the City help clear river bank area of the Farmer’s Market and/or do a controlled burn next spring with the fire department. A final decision by Park Board is on future agenda.

• I would work to continue to maintain park property, remove dead trees, branches, stumps and fill in uneven areas with soil and grass seeding as budget allows.

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