LONE TREE — At night, right across from City Hall, you can often find Lone Tree’s mayor serving drinks to his constituents.
Mayor Jon Green, a bearded 36-year-old who typically sports a cowboy hat, works by day in information technology and moonlights as a bartender at The Blue Top Tap in this southernmost town of Johnson County that about 1,300 people call home.
Green is in his first and possibly last term as mayor — he says he’s not sure yet where he’ll settle with his girlfriend in the future — but he still hopes to kindle a number of initiatives to give the town a brighter future, including increasing access to child care and improving access to broadband.
Green is originally from Cheyenne, Wyoming, but he graduated from the Lone Tree Community School and has deeper ties to the community. His dad grew up here, and Green still lives in the home his grandparents built, less than a block from City Hall.
The town faces different challenges than it did back when his grandparents started their home. The town’s only grocery store shuttered in October, and there are ongoing issues with aging water infrastructure.
The city suffered a massive water main break this winter that took two days to fix, Green said. While that water main is on the list to be replaced soon, so is constructing a new wastewater treatment plant, although ground likely won’t be broken on it during Green’s term.
“I have deep ties to this community. There’s a lot of people I really love in this town,” Green said. “I want the city to empower everybody to have a good future. And yeah, they are ambitious plans but we have to be ambitious because this is a difficult time for rural communities.”
Just next week, Green plans to head to Des Moines for a broadband summit. While he’s not exactly sure how to bring high-speed internet to Lone Tree, he hopes to find opportunities to work with the state to make it happen.
In May, Green plans to invite the chair of the Iowa Women’s Foundation to town with the hopes of putting together a community meeting on improving accessibility, availability and affordability of child care in town.
The child care efforts are, in part, to attract families to the town to bolster the Lone Tree Community School, he said. Preschool through 12th grade are all taught in one building on Main Street, and it’s an integral part of the town, Green said.
“A lot of folks here have got deep roots. They’ve been here a long time,” he said. “Really the anchor of the community is the school. That’s a big part of the community identity. It’s a significant draw for folks who do move here.”
Green said his personality leans toward “consensus building” and approaches his job as mayor as a role to help mediate disputes among residents, even when it comes to rifts between golf cart owners who live in a subdivision just outside of town and homeowners who live next to the mouth of the golf cart trail.
“Whenever somebody mentions a golf cart, I reach for my bourbon because I just know it’s going to be something,” Green said. “It’s all about doing what’s possible, not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. As much as anything, it’s an opportunity for people to yell at me, which I’d rather people yell at me than yell at their neighbors.”
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