Hayward looking to grow while keeping small town feel

Published 9:20 am Thursday, December 25, 2008

A new spray tanning salon was remodeling in preparation for its opening as the latest member of the Hayward business community. The construction had required the owner of the antique shop next door to shuffle things around to make room for the remodeling.

The inconvenience was a minor problem for the antique store’s owner, Willis Pfieffer, who said he is delighted to have a new business coming to town. Pfieffer realizes the new business will help both him and his community.

Pfieffer owns the building that houses both his antique shop and the new salon, so the new tenant fills an empty spot in his multiple retail building. As incoming mayor of Hayward he said he understands its importance to the future of his adopted hometown.

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Elected to a two-year term in November, Pfieffer is no stranger to community involvement or leadership. He previously served as Hayward’s mayor for six years and has hopes and dreams for the farming community of 250 people in central Freeborn County.

“I would like to keep our image as a nice town, a clean community to live in. I’m hoping for slow, steady growth in the near future. If we can keep good people moving into town, we can grow our housing stock,” Pfieffer said.

Semi-retired now after 30 years in farming, followed by a stint as a farm-implement salesman, Pfieffer said he thinks of Hayward as the farming town he moved to in 1962, after growing up in Blooming Prairie. Many retired farmers in the area have moved into town over the years and their presence helps Hayward keep its small-town charm.

Business and employment have remained steady in Hayward, despite the recent economic downturn. Lou-Rich Co. partners with Hormel Foods in a flourishing engineering and design development business on Hayward’s north side.

A quilting shop continues to attract a large business, as does a landscaping firm just outside of town. Nick’s Meat Market and the Corner Cafe are well established members of the business community.

Pfieffer has seen the ups and downs of business in Hayward over the years. The town lost its only bank in the late 1980s, and the hardware store closed recently. The former school building continues the long process of being transformed into a multiple unit apartment building.

Hayward’s freeway location, with access to two interstate highways and a nearby state park, offer opportunities for ongoing growth, Pfieffer said. He said he still hopes for the completion of the paved Blazing Star Trail linking Albert Lea and Austin, with Hayward as a key stopping point along the way. Hayward recently spent $100,000 on improvements to its city park, which included new restroom facilities. Completion of the bike trail is seen as key to bringing visitors to Hayward, according to the mayor, who voiced his frustration at the slow pace of progress of the project. Construction is slated to start in 2009.

“It should have already happened. Farmers in the area were willing to sell land to help build the bike trail. Now the price of that land has gone through the roof, making it more expensive and difficult to achieve results. The Minnesota DNR needs to get moving on this,” Pfieffer said.

Hayward’s annual budget is in the $150,000 range, which includes $33,000 in state aid, and the new mayor said the city is managing to meet it’s expenses without going into debt. He credited city employee Paul Ladlie with doing a lot of the work that makes Hayward shine.

“Paul does a great job here. He maintains high standards and works very hard for this community,” Phieffer said.

He said his semi-retired status gives him time to spend on the challenges and opportunities of his new responsibilities as mayor.

“I always try to be available whenever anyone needs to contact me with concerns and problems. I have the time to devote to this work. That’s why I decided to run for mayor at this time.”