LaHarpe hopefuls share views



April 1, 2011 - 12:00 AM

LAHARPE — Iola isn’t the only community with a hotly contested city election.
LaHarpe is sporting a race of six candidates vying for two seats. A third seat, vacated by Gerald Clay shortly after the filing deadline, also will be filled after the new council members are seated. Existing council members indicated they would use the election results to appoint Clay’s replacement.
The candidates are Clayton Carr, Ella Mae and Randy Crowell, Savannah Flory, Don Gay and Ruth Jackson.

CLAYTON CARR sees two areas of dire need in LaHarpe.
“I’m embarrassed because of our streets, and I’m disappointed with how slowly they’ve been upgrading our electric” system, Carr said.
The upgrade of LaHarpe’s electric system is a sore spot, Carr conceded, because it has prevented him from reinstalling electric outlets at the RV park he and his wife, Cynthia, own in LaHarpe.
“There’s not much point in doing it now, when the electricity is still iffy,” he said.
And LaHarpe’s crumbling streets are certain to prevent the city from attracting new businesses or homeowners.
“Who would want to build here?” he asked. “We have to do something. I can remember when LaHarpe had gravel that they just sprayed with oil and chat. That’s better than what we have here now.”
As an aside, Cynthia Carr is running unopposed for mayor.
“We don’t agree on everything,” Clayton Carr said, adding that his primary concern when at council meetings would be to serve the city.
“I care as much as anybody about what happens to our town,” he said. “And I can be vocal about it. I’m out for the little guy.”
ELLA MAE CROWELL got a bird’s-eye view of some of LaHarpe’s most pressing concerns recently when she was briefly appointed as the city’s animal control and code enforcement officer.
“It really got me interested in learning about the city’s codes and how they affect the people.”
Crowell left her position last June when the city hired a part-time police officer, who also was assigned to handle animal control and code enforcement.
She now works for USD 257’s Food Service Department.
“LaHarpe is a small town with an older population,” she said. “I think our biggest issue is trying to get younger families to want to move here.
“There’s a  lot to be done,” she continued. “Our streets could use a lot of improvement.”
And, based on her prior experience as code enforcement officer, she sees plenty of properties that need to be cleaned. Many decaying homes are in various stages of demolition.
“I understand it takes money and time to get these demolished, and people only have so much money and time to clean their properties,” she said, “but it’s something that must be done.”

RANDY CROWELL, a computer programmer for Broyles, Inc. of Humboldt, is a lifelong LaHarpe resident. He’s also Ella Mae Crowell’s husband.
“I’m sure there will be areas we don’t agree on,” he said. “There already are.”
He, too, became familiar with some of LaHarpe’s property cleanup issues while his wife was the code enforcement officer.
“We just need to make sure the properties we have already are cleaned and maintained,” he said. “Some of our roads need to be improved. Some of ditches need to be fixed, too.”
Randy Crowell vowed to ensure LaHarpe remains vigilant and efficient when considering city projects.
“We have to see what’s available” in the budget for various improvements, he said. “For a city this size, we have to decide what’s best for the community, then plan for it so it will happen.”
The Crowells also have a keen eye on animal control. All of their dogs and cats came from animal shelters or homes in which they were abused.

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