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Woll, Ten Haken approaching ends of city council careers

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WORTHINGTON -- For the past 12 years, Lyle Ten Haken has been a Worthington City Council member.

As the calendar turns to 2013, he as well as Mike Woll will have completed their terms and say goodbye to the council.

"It was kind of a quick 12 years, actually," Ten Haken said. "Prior to that, I had a number of community-wide positions with the chamber and WREDC (Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp.) and so forth. I had a pretty good feel for that and the city council interested me, so I took a poke at it."

For Woll, who has been on council for eight years, it was time to let someone else take their turn serving the city.

"It's been a good experience. I went in with a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of past experience from other local boards and committees. I kind of knew, to some degree, what I was getting into," Woll said.

"I like the revolving, fresh ideas, fresh energy and creating advocates. If we had a lot of people who served four, eight or 12 years and they left the council, they can be a voice in the community that has some experience on how things can function and what can be done."

Worthington Mayor Alan Oberloh said he appreciated both members during their tenure.

"When I got on council Lyle was probably the most junior member, and now Lyle is leaving as the most senior member of council," Oberloh said. "Between him and his 12 years and Mike Woll's eight years, we're losing a lot of skills and knowledge of what goes on in city government.

"Lyle asks a lot of good questions, he's been involved in a lot of different committees on the city's behalf, and Mike has taken a leadership role on the senior center and getting that initiative moved forward. I want to say I really appreciated working with both of them."

As both reminisced about their time on the council, the sale of the hospital was a common issue.

"The hospital sale was extremely difficult for the entire council. It was gut-wrenching. We talked to all sorts of people, and it certainly was time-consuming," Woll said. "It was challenging because it affected a lot of people. People had strong views on the issue. We were absolutely doing the right thing in the process. I think people can argue on whether it could have been done potentially different ways. But we were very fortunate that we acted in the timeline that we did. We were able to sell it at a very opportune time."

Looking back on the decision, Ten Haken said he felt it was the right one.

"The hospital sale, that was the most time-consuming, the most challenging and the most stressful thing in my tenure," Ten Haken said. "That was difficult because the community seemed to have a 50-50 split on that issue. Now, looking back on it, I think the right decision got made. I can't say it was a mistake, but it certainly was challenging at the time."

Throughout the years, both pointed out the progress made within the city.

"In general, we made some things happen, that's what I'd be most proud of," Woll said. "You start going through the list -- the aquatics center, the auditorium, the senior center, the fire hall, the bioscience achievement center, 100 acres north of I-90, the events center and numerous projects that we were a part of. I was fortunate to be on the subcommittee for a handful of those.

"As I say, what am I most proud of -- or what did we accomplish in the last eight years -- we went through that environment where we were able to stimulate some activity and do some positive things for the community."

Both admit there were still issues for the new council moving forward, including housing and local government aid.

"One of the things I wanted to see get accomplished was the challenge we have in regard to our golfing situation in Worthington," Ten Haken said. "I'm an advocate that we need to get down to one golf course. Now, having said that, the challenge is which one is it going to be?

"Another thing I think that's looming in front of us is the issue of the Northland Mall. It continues to be a bit of a challenge with maintenance and upkeep and its looks and all those things that go along with it. I think that's going to be a challenge for the next council."

The beginning

For Woll, the decision to run was a natural one after serving in other capacities around the city.

"It was a bit of a natural progression from involvement in some other things," Woll said. "There were some decisions where I don't think we were being as forward as progressive as I would have liked to have been. It wasn't any one hot issue; I just saw a few things that I wanted to make sure we were a little progressive or aggressive on. I thought we were missing some opportunities."

Ten Haken was talked into running by the man who he ultimately replaced, Lloyd Standafer.

But going into it, Ten Haken had an idea of what to expect.

"I don't think I was very far off from the expectations," he said. "Quite honestly, I think people have this incorrect assumption that when you're on city council, you are constantly getting phone calls from irate people. I will say that is not correct, that doesn't happen. Not that it never happens, because it might be there once in a while. But generally speaking, people are very kind and gracious. If they have a complaint, often times it never gets to you; it gets talked about at the coffee shop."

Moving on

As the two -- with 20 years combined experience --move on with their lives, both will miss being involved.

"The chance to voice in is probably what I'll miss the most; there may be some withdrawal on that," Woll said. "Having said that, I'd like to think I can be effective in trying to be a voice in the future, and I encourage other people to run on council and have a voice. One thing I think every council member would echo is there is this perception we get all these 11 o'clock phone calls and we really don't. I think the constructive input is appreciated."

Ten Haken echoed the same sentiment.

"I'll probably miss the fact of being involved in decisions that need to be made that sometimes are difficult to make and then watching that come to fruition," Ten Haken said. "Whether it's the purchase of the industrial property north or town or the events center and memorial auditorium, I'm proud of the fact that we got a lot of that stuff accomplished. I'll miss being involved in that level, no question about it."

As his eight-year tenure has concluded, Woll said he will look back fondly on the friendships he made.

"You end up going from barely knowing the other council members to really being able to call them all good friends," he said. "I went in and barely knew any of them, but I call them all my good friends today."

Ten Haken is thankful to those who have helped him during his 12-year tenure.

"The people here at work have been wonderful because I've jumped out of the office frequently," he said. "They've covered for me and I really have to thank them for all of their efforts because they supported me a lot. My lovely wife, Beth, has put up with a lot over the 12 years. I think we're going to appreciate a little lighter schedule.

"I want to thank the constituents for their votes they've give me in the past. That's been very much appreciated. It's been an honor to serve, and I certainly wish our new council all the best. I think Worthington has positioned itself for the future very well."

Daily Globe Community Content Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.