Van Weelden Retires After 16 Years As A Supervisor

Many family and friends stopped by the Mahaska County Courthouse on Monday, December 31st, 2018 to wish Supervisor Willie Van Weelden a happy retirement.

Many family and friends stopped by the Mahaska County Courthouse on Monday, December 31st, 2018 to wish Supervisor Willie Van Weelden a happy retirement.

Oskaloosa, Iowa – Friends and relatives of long-time Mahaska County Supervisor Willie Van Weelden stopped by the 3rd Floor Conference Room at the Mahaska County Courthouse on Monday, December 31, 2018, to wish him a happy retirement.

On his final day as a Supervisor, Van Weelden was feeling mixed emotions. “I’ve really come to be good with this. I would have liked to have stayed just because of the lack of experience on the board, but on the other hand, it’s time to move on.”

“Last night I slept all night. First time in years I’ve slept all night,” added Van Weelden.

Van Weelden won a seat back onto the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors after being convicted in a Mahaska County Court but was then found not guilty in a second trial.

Van Weelden was re-elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2014 by the voters of Mahaska County. Being re-elected to office was some vindication for Van Weelden. “It was in the fact that the people did support me. I had a lot of support through that whole time from constituents.”

“After a down 3 years, it was an up,” said Van Weelden of winning that election.

In his ruling in December of 2013, Judge Morrison stated, “It is important to note the board members, for whatever reason, do not get along. The votes are often 2 to 1 with Van Weelden being the one. There appears to be little cooperation among the members.”

As is the case with most elected officials, there are projects they would like to be able to see to the end. Roads are one of those projects that Van Weelden would like to have been a part of going forward. “Some of it, I was hoping the environmental learning center would have been done. I’m going to the conservation board, so I will still be involved with that.”

“The environmental learning center is going to be a great addition to the county with what’s out there,” added Van Weelden.

Van Weelden also said he would like to see the rec center happen with the county support. “The rec facility out there is a big deal, and I would have liked to have the county pave a road or two into there.”

Van Weelden said he believes the Lacey Complex “is a big draw to Oskaloosa.”

“I tried very hard to make a decision based upon the good of the county,” added Van Weelden. “There are times you make a decision people disagree with. That’s fine. When you do your homework, you have all the details of what’s going on, that a lot of people don’t have. A lot of time, people race with rumors and Facebook and everything else that’s not true, and it’s pretty hard to overcome some of that stuff.”

“I don’t regret the airport decision,” said Van Weelden when reflecting back on a potential vote he might do differently. “I’m still firm, standing by that.”

“I did vote against putting 911 and Emergency Management together when that vote was taken on the board because I thought they had two different missions, they should stay separate. That’s become kind of a tangled mess right now,” added Van Weelden.

Overall, Van Weelden said he’s not regretting any decisions he’s made. “There’s probably something out there.”

Van Weelden says he will miss his interaction with the committees and boards he’s been a part of, especially the multi-county boards and learning from those experiences and bringing that back to Mahaska County.

One of those things he’s learned over the years is that other rural counties are envious of the job opportunities available in Mahaska County, such as Cargill, Musco, Clow, Pella Corp, and Vermeer, and the smaller manufacturing all over the county. “Right now there is a shortage of workers.”

Van Weelden had some advice for the new board which will have a total of two-and-a-half years of experience when they convene in January. “I think one of the big things is, what you think you can do and what you actually can do are two different things when you get on this board. You got a state code that’s how thick, that pretty well ties your hands of what you gotta do. You have a little bit of discretion, on some local stuff, but for the most part, everything is driven by the state.”

“Supposedly we have local control. That’s a limited deal,” says Van Weelden. “The State gets closer to infringing on that every year.”

Van Weelden added, “I think another thing you have to do when you make a decision, you have to make a decision based on what’s best for the whole and not the part, and that’s hard to do sometimes.”

In closing, Van Weelden thanked the voters of Mahaska County. “I appreciate the opportunity. When I first got on the Board, I never thought I would last 16 years. For the most part, it’s been a good ride. I appreciate it. It’s been good.”

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Posted by on Jan 2 2019. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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