Dallas Center has that friendly hometown feel. It drew Mayor Mitch Hambleton and his wife, Ruth, to town 25 years ago.
"I was working in Des Moines and we heard favorable things about the town," Hambleton says. "We were impressed by how clean and well-kept Dallas Center is – this is a great place to raise a family."
Hambleton had been active politically, and a friend mentioned that a vacancy was coming up on the city council. He ran, won, and was active on the council for eight years before taking a break. When his predecessor, Mayor Bill Stammerman, indicated he was ready to step aside, Hambleton ran for mayor.
"I saw the needs of the job, understood my skill sets and the challenges in front of the city," he says. "I thought I was a good fit."
In his eight years as mayor, the city has built a new water tower, undergone a major street renovation and more, all while managing ongoing maintenance and improvements. Citizen focus groups help to define the city’s priorities. On top of the list are improvements to the storm water system and swimming pool, having a community center, and securing the site for a future well field.
Hambleton says, "It’s a balancing act, keeping property taxes and service charges low while meeting the current and future needs of Dallas Center."
Stine Seed Company, Hy-Line International and the Pioneer Hi-Bred Seed Research Facility have made Dallas Center a hub of employment in agricultural research and development. A superior school system, a vigorous business sector and ample shopping, service and private industry also provide local employment. Dallas Center has great places to play. Memorial Park, with disc golf, picnic shelters and playgrounds, will be circled with a paved trail by summer’s end. Mound Park is the traditional place for community celebrations and events, including the traditional "Skate Nights" each summer. The Burnett Complex, with baseball and soccer fields, has a 1.2-mile walking path, shelters and park facilities.
And just outside of town is the 140-acre Brenton Arboretum. It encompasses trails, a pavilion, library, a lake homestead and pond overlook and wetlands as well as the collection of 2,000 trees and shrubs.
This summer, the community of 1,623 will host a celebration a month. The first, Art in the Park is June 1. The free event at Mound Park features Iowa artists and encourages first-time participants. Plan to pick up some awesome art. RAGBRAI will pedal through on July 23. Dallas Center volunteers will provide home-town hospitality, a sweet respite for 10,000 bikers and their crew members. And Fall Festival is August 23–24. Friday night fireworks light up the skies for miles around. On Saturday, a leap-frog half-marathon, 5K and 1 Mile Fun Runs, parade and rides will draw more than 2,000 guests to the home-town event.
These events run on volunteer steam.
"We’re always looking for volunteers for a committee or to help out," Hambleton says. "When you get involved and meet people, this an even better place to live."