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Call takes over as Luverne administrator

LUVERNE -- A list of projects faced John Call as he began his first week Monday as the new Luverne city administrator. The Spirit Lake, Iowa, native said Wednesday morning that he's starting to get settled in to his new job and has already met ma...

LUVERNE -- A list of projects faced John Call as he began his first week Monday as the new Luverne city administrator.

The Spirit Lake, Iowa, native said Wednesday morning that he's starting to get settled in to his new job and has already met many of the local businesspeople and community residents.

Call began his career in city management as an intern at the Vermillion, S.D., City Hall in 1987, the same year he earned his master's degree from the University of South Dakota. Over the next 18 years, he worked as either a city manager or city administrator in the Iowa communities of Pocahontas, Eagle Grove, Fort Madison and, most recently, Storm Lake.

"I'm happy to be close to my hometown," said Call, whose parents still reside in Spirit Lake. He added that Luverne's location was a real drawing point for him.

Yet perhaps most appealing to Call in accepting the Luverne post was the town's history in economic development and its general quality of life.

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"Luverne is an extremely progressive community. You see that with Luverne being the first JOBZ (recipient) in the state," Call said.

His duties will be to continue increasing the job base and working with industries to add payroll and employment opportunities in Luverne and Rock County.

"There's always been a lot of cooperation between the city and Rock County," said Call, adding that he hopes to see that continue. "What's good for Luverne is good for Rock County, and what's good for Rock County is good for Luverne."

As work continues to bring new and higher-paying jobs to the community, Call said he also wants to work on ways to improve the quality of life for the town's residents.

Referring to the Rock County Pool and Fitness Center as "a gem" in the community, Call said he and council members have already talked about the creation of a city campground, perhaps next door to the city park. With that, he'd also like to see biking and walking trails established.

"We want something that's not only good for our residents, but visitors as well," he added.

Some of the more pressing issues facing Call as he settles into his new role include the planned expansion of the Luverne Municipal Airport, which involves lengthening the runway to serve larger aircraft, and finding a new use for the former Luverne Community Hospital and Clinic buildings, which the city gained ownership of Oct. 1.

While talks continue between local funeral director Dan Dingmann and City Attorney Ben Vander Kooi regarding the conversion of the clinic portion of the structure into a funeral home, Call said it is the council's hope that both buildings can find suitable uses.

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"We'd like to get some jobs and property tax base out of it. That would be our hope and our first option," he added.

Call is presently living in an apartment in Luverne. He plans to be joined by his wife, Brenda, in a few months as they continue to work on selling their home in Storm Lake. Brenda is a registered dental hygienist.

As for the future, the 46-yearold Call said he hopes to be in Luverne "for a good, long tenure" and plans to take an active role in the community. He hopes to join the local Rotary organization and would like to get involved in a mentoring program at the elementary school level. In his spare time, Call enjoys golf and working out at the fitness center.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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