Minburn is an island of activity amid a sea of fields. The community’s population holds steady at about 400, as it has for the last 150 years.
"We have good land around Minburn. Farmers aren’t interested in selling or developing," says Minburn Mayor Mike Pace, who has served as council member, mayor pro tem and mayor for decades. "The city has not looked toward expanding our borders; we want to stay the small town we are." Don’t let its geographic limits fool you. Minburn, 10 miles north of Adel, is a small city on the move. It’s large enough to support necessary projects. And its friendly citizens actively support meaningful projects.
A necessary project is the DNR-mandated upgrade of the sanitary sewer system. While not crazy about spending about two million dollars, it will provide Minburn a whole new system, and "We want to be good environmental stewards," Mayor Pace says of the three-stage project. Ground is broken on the third lagoon. Next will be development of the collection system. It’s anticipated the project will be completed next spring/summer, when the old septic tanks are demolished and properties connected to the new system. One of Minburn’s more meaningful endeavors is the move and renovation of the railroad depot.
"You’ve probably driven past it, but never noticed it," Mayor Pace says, explaining that the brick building is tucked in beside the wood elevators. "We’re moving the depot about 100 yards south, to the corner of Highway 169 and Chestnut."
The renovated depot will serve as a trailhead for the Raccoon Valley River Trail. The public area inside will include historic displays. And there will be a café. "That will be so nice, to have a place to eat right here in Minburn," Mayor Pace says, noting that the café will offer key services to trail visitors, too.
The historic display will include information about the depot and the Minburn area. It will also feature information about Minburn’s outdoor roller-skating rink.
"Until the mid-1960s, a group called the Singing Wheels performed there. Some 20 or 30 people in costume danced on roller skates to a musical score," Mayor Pace says, noting light-heartedly that qualifications were tough. "You had to skate, sing and dance on rollers without running into each other." These days, the skating rink park is the site of Meet Me in Minburn events. "The Minburn Betterment Committee hires different bands to play on weekends," Mayor Pace says. "Volunteers run the skating rink, rent roller skates and operate the concession stand." Minburn is a part of the Adel DeSoto Minburn Community School District. For the last few years, a committee of citizens has been working with the ADM School Board to find the best purpose for the Minburn school building, closed in 2010. "Right now, our district sends agriculture students to Earlham," Mayor Pace says. "The thought is to use Minburn’s building and grounds for an Agricultural Program that would serve our students and also, possibly, those in other school districts."
Also on-the-grow in Minburn is Heartland Co-op. "Minburn has been selected as a regional transfer facility," Mayor Pace says. "The new steel elevators are going up on the north edge of town." Yes, indeed. Minburn, the small town with a big heart, is thriving.