PLEASANT VALLEY — Three months into her term as mayor of Pleasant Valley, Emily Haddix knows the work is substantial and the progress she had anticipated is beginning to become visible.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s good work. There are many community-involved projects we’ve been working, but we’re also gaining ground on several major items I’d hoped we would during my time as a council member. As mayor, I’m beginning to see good things happen,” Haddix said.
In winning the mayor’s seat last summer, Haddix, 31, ushered in a new era in Pleasant Valley government.
A former council member, Haddix resigned her position last spring to challenge a longtime mayor. She won decisively.
Haddix said much of her time recently has been organizing and executing events for the community’s residents — a trunk-or-treat Halloween event, a pumpkin carving contest with the Kingmont Auxiliary, and a food drive that exceeded her expectations.
“We had 33 big bags of food and ran out within an hour-and-35 minutes, which spurred me to think about the need in the community. So, I posted to Facebook the idea for a food pantry and within no time a community member reached out and offered to build it for free,” Haddix said. “And beyond that, a local Girl Scouts troop is going to decorate it. That project itself will be ready in just a couple weeks.”
While the city’s annual Christmas tree lighting will likely be canceled this season because of COVID-19 concerns, Haddix is instituting a “Letters to Santa” box that will be placed outside the entrance to the Pleasant Valley Municipal Building.
Children’s letter may be placed in the box beginning Nov. 27, the day after Thanksgiving. Santa himself has promised to answer each one all the way up until Christmas.
On Tuesday evening, the Pleasant Valley Council held both a working meeting and a regular meeting to address a few longstanding items, including the possibility of creating the city’s own visitors center. The board pondered the idea, considering how such a center might come into existence.
“The visitor’s center has been in discussion for a while, but it’s not simply a council vote that’s needed in order to make it happen. The community itself would have to been involved in the decision, too. We’d need to have a board of directors and we’d need to hire somebody to be the face of it,” Haddix said.
The mayor noted several improvements to the city’s recreational complex have been completed recently or are nearly finished.
“Our gravel walking trail is completely paved now. Our new basketball court is finished. We’re getting ready to install new fencing at the complex, which will be done soon,” Haddix said. “And come spring, we need to look at hiring a lawn specialist because the grass down there hasn’t ever been the best. We need to make sure the grass is a lot better next year.”
Haddix ran for election on the promise of improving Pleasant Valley’s roads and repairing potholes. She said progress has been made there, too.
“We’ve done a lot of patching in the fall and we’ll continue to do so in the spring. But we’ve also launched an initiative where we’re collecting the names of all the gravel roads in the city in order to create a phased project that will pave them all,” she said. “Hopefully within a couple years, we can pave every gravel road in Pleasant Valley. We want to get to the point where we don’t have a gravel road.”
Haddix said the city has the funds to create a comprehensive paving plan.
“We’re addressing the gravel roads, as well as continuing to patch the paved one,” she said.
The mayor said the office organization within the Municipal Building was outdated when she arrived. Improvement there, too, is underway.
“A lot of things were outdated, so we’re streamlining processes and making strides in attempt to make things more efficient,” Haddix said. “It needs to be improved for today, of course, but also for tomorrow, for the individuals who will serve Pleasant Valley in the future.”
Haddix praised the efforts of Sherry Roof, the city’s new clerk. Roof was selected for the position from among several applicants shortly after Haddix took office.
“Sherry has been wonderful and such a blessing to the city,” she said. “She jumped in, had little idea of what was happening, and figured everything out. When she says she’s a self-starter and self-motivated, that’s exactly what she is.”
Roof said her first couple months as city clerk have been a whirlwind.
“It’s been challenging, extremely busy and very fulfilling,” Roof said. “It’s been everything I expected and more. It’s exactly what I had in mind and wanted.”
Roof moved to Fairmont two years ago following a career in Wisconsin state government and began work on Aug. 1.
Her resume includes an impressive list of Wisconsin government agencies with whom she’s served, including the state’s Department of Military Affairs, Department of Administration, Commissioner of Banking, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Transportation.
“It’s little pieces of government with which I’ve been involved my entire life all thrown into one,” she said.
Roof said she enjoys working with Pleasant Valley’s elected officials.
“The council members themselves have been very helpful. They are really coming together. They seem to have respect for each other immensely, and they’re working together despite different personalities,” she said. “They’re doing a good job addressing challenging issues in challenging times.”
Roof said one of her top projects is improving the city’s website in an effort to better serve the citizens of Pleasant Valley.
“We want to be more proactive in providing updated information about growth opportunities, where to address complaints, adding a new forms section and other services. We simply want to improve our communication regarding what we have to offer and how our residents’ issues can expect to be responded to,” she said.