The County Store and the Cresco City Council

CRESCO - Recent rumors around town whispered  fears of the beloved County Store in Cresco closing. 
Several benefit from the County Store, and how it staples the community for people from all economic backgrounds together. Penny pinchers, antique hunters, and leisure shoppers alike see the value in having the store, which means any idea of a potential threat would arise strong emotion within the citizens of Howard County. 
Dave Brenno, the Public Works Director of Cresco, went to the shop to speak informally with an employee and board member of the County Store. Failing to introduce himself, he went on to explain complaints that had been received in regards to the outside appearance of the building, specifically regarding the donation area. Brenno attempted to discuss the need for the store to be in compliance with the Code of Ordinances for the City of Cresco. Brenno has since apologized for not formally introducing himself during the conversation. 
A petition went around town, with many fearing the store would be shut down or closed. Although the petition was not brought up in the most recent City Council meeting, it went to show how passionate the citizens are to continue to support the County Store. 
At the City Council meeting on May 6, 2024, the Mayor, Alex Fortune, read a statement before discussing the matter. To over 30 people (as there was only standing room from such a large audience) he stated:
 “Tonight we are going to discuss an informal discussion had by our Public Works Director with an employee and board member of the County Store. The City recognizes the great value of the County Store and the things the County Store provides not only to our community, but the adjacent communities in Howard County. The City has never discussed wanting to close the County Store. In 2013, the City gifted the building to the County Store Board of Directors. The Mayor, City Clerk, and the Public Works Director all want the store to continue to grow and thrive, much like everyone else. The only thing coming to discussion are the items needed to be completed to bring the County Store into compliance with the Code of Ordinances for the City of Cresco, and those are the same requirements of all properties within the City of Cresco’s Boundaries.”
After Fortune’s statement, audience and board member Bootie Kapler along with other board members stood to represent the Howard County Charitable Foundation Inc. (The County Store), and spoke about their continued frustrations. 
Kapler gave a speech, including how the store has “tried to comply with the rules and codes” of the City of Cresco, but they continue “to be confronted with a different regulation” every time. With the store working primarily with volunteers and open hours being so limited, donations dropped off outside of open hours often are left sitting out in the designated drop-off area. Throughout the years, several solutions have been tossed around, with the dumpster being moved, trailers added to store donations, and even a permit for a fence was brought up, yet the City and employees of the County Store find themselves frustrated with the clutter. One member stated, “You’re not closing us down . . . your city codes are”, while another said, “We’re totally landlocked” and wondering “what can we do?” to appease the city codes.
After a tense back-and-forth between passionate members of both the County Store, concerned citizens, and the City Council, Mayor Alex Fortune offered a solution; to have a meeting between two committees, one with representatives from  the Public Works Department, and one with representatives from the County Store. That way, together, the two committees can sit down and brainstorm solutions as a team, and not opposing sides. Fortune’s solution was met with applause from the audience as he said “it will be a give and take from both sides” but the most important aspect is that “the County Store stays open” and functioning for the residents of Howard County. 
The County Store will continue and thrive with the support of local citizens, while fulfilling their mission to “help people live with dignity, no matter their financial status”. The meeting between the two parties will  strengthen communication and help find solutions for both current and future problems either side may come across as the City of Cresco continues to expand and grow. 

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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