He was mayor pro tem when the sewer system and every septic tank in town had to be replaced.
“That was something nobody wanted and somebody had to see to it,” Linden Mayor Dave Hutchins says of the day the keys to city hall landed in his lap. “I said I’d step up to the plate and do what I could.” Hutchins was elected mayor in the next election, and has been mayor for two years. “I have great people to work with,” he said. “We have good relationships and great attitudes. So I’m not in this alone.
“I count on others for help and advice. Some people call me Mr. Mayor, but I tell them, ‘Just call me Dave.’”
Before the city council votes, Hutchins asks each member for an opinion.
“Somebody might have a better plan, and we need to weigh things out,” he added.
The city hall roof is a classic example. The plan was to have it repaired. One member pointed out that it might be more cost efficient to replace the roof. “And she was right,” Hutchins said. “Now, instead of patches, our city hall has a new roof.” Linden, population 220, is nestled among rolling farm-land about 40 miles west of Des Moines, just miles from the west edge of Dallas County. “It really is a small community, where you know everybody,” he said. “That’s nice; there’s always a helping hand. This is a peaceful, quiet place.” That is not to say it is a boring place. Linden’s city park has a new playground for the children. The library is a focal point, with reading programs and related activities for children and adults. There are several successful independent businesses.
The river offers recreation and respite. The Raccoon River Valley Trail loop goes through town. In fact, the trail’s highest point is in Linden.
The ball park, once home to the semi-pro team Linden Merchants, hosts annual tournaments and countless Little League games. Everybody pulls together to make Linden Days happen. Citizens work at the concession stand, church members bake and sell pies, and the Lions Club raises funds. At this year’s annual Linden Days, the city re-dedicated the Firemen’s Bell, once pulled by horses driven by volunteer fire fighters and now a Linden landmark. “We had a veteran ring the bell seven times, because the words ‘Liberty’ and ‘Freedom’ both have seven letters,” Hutchins said. “We hadn’t heard that bell ring ever in our time. The ringing of that bell gave us chills.” Next year, visitors to Linden Days will note a fitting sign for the iconic ball field.
“It’s everybody’s dream to play ball,” Hutchins said. “Our sign will say ‘Linden’s Field of Dreams.’ Who knows what kind of dream it will inspire?”
Indeed Linden is ripe for dreams. With buildings and land ready for development, well-priced lots waiting for new homes, taxes that are a fraction of larger cities and tax breaks for new businesses and homes, this is a great time to locate in Linden.