Retired town councilors lauded for valuable community service – Spotlight

Thanks for serving the town – Retiring councillors for the Town of Stettler (from left) Dave Dennis and Redford Peeples with Mayor Dick Richards.

Thanks for serving the town – Retiring councillors for the Town of Stettler (from left) Dave Dennis and Redford Peeples with Mayor Dick Richards.

When two senior members of Town of Stettler council decided to bow out in recent municipal elections, the town bid farewell two men with over 50 combined years of municipal and local government service.

Redford Peeples completed 20 years on municipal council while Dave Dennis concluded three years on council after he served 25 years as town development officer, planner and building inspector from 1979 to 2004 when he retired.

“After serving 25 years in municipal government, I attended many meetings and I knew what I was getting into when running for council.” said Dennis.

He served only one three-year term to ensure good communication for annexation of the County of Stettler that has now been finalized.

“I ran for one term because I felt the county residents involved in the annexation were being misled and not being told all the facts if they were in the Town of Stettler,” said Dennis.

With all that experience inside the municipal operations, he clearly understood the roles and responsibilities between staff and elected officials.

“As a councilor, it’s hard to get things done unless you have three other council members on your side – majority rules,” said Dennis.

Peeples certainly lived up to his surname as he was dedicated to serve all the peoples.

“I enjoyed every term on council,” said Peeples who served on town council for 20 years, and one term as mayor from 1992 to 1995 and was first elected in 1971.

“I appreciate working with all the councilors over the years and with neighbouring municipalities.”

Since he was first elected, he served as councilor from 1971 to 1973, 1986 to 1989 and most recently form 1998 to 2010.

He further served on Stettler school board from 1974 to 1983, and chaired the board for six of those years.

“I have seen much progress over the years and have been involved in business with the ups and downs in our community,””

“We are fortunate in Stettler to have a diversified economy such as agriculture, oil and gas, manufacturing of oil and gas equipment.”

“We service a large area with our numerous stores and businesses.”

He sees the town as a major centre for the region.

“The Town of Stettler is a hub for shopping and services and from many kilometers around so this should keep Stettler as a growing and a viable community,” said Peeples.

“We have a strong agricultural base and still some oil and gas businesses in the area.”

As a business owner, he tossed his election hat into the ring when he was urged by downtown business owners who felt council should have some representation from the industrial and oil and gas sectors.

Soon he found out that the town and council faced many tough issues as the town planned to grow.

“Some of the most challenging parts of the role were supplying good quality services and expansion without raising taxes too high and putting the town in deep debt,” said Peeples.

“Some decisions that council makes will go against the grain of some taxpayers, so it’s important to talk with these people to explain why the decision was made.”

He served as mayor when Stettler Recreation Centre with the twin arenas was built in 1994 for about $4 million and the new Stettler Community Hall for $750,000.

“I decided to run for mayor as there were several large developments and projects coming up and I had a different perspective on how to proceed with those projects, along with three new councillors,” said Peeples.

“How to construct the twin arenas and the community hall and stay on budget were among the biggest issues we faced as council.”

Projects to extend water supply to Alix to the west and Consort to the east were other major issues for the town.

“These areas needed the water to keep active and many of their residents come to Stettler for shopping and services.”

He soon discovered that the mayor’s position can be very demanding.

“At times, I felt I needed to get back to running my own business,” said Peeples.

“After a three-year break, I was ready to serve as councilor as felt I could add some value on council.”

“As mayor, you hold back on stating your own positions until councillors have expressed their views.”

Since he started on council in the early 1970s, he has observed that government funding and support has grown recently.

“The last few years, we received some major grants from provincial and federal governments and that helped us on many large infrastructure projects.”