During her first few weeks on the job, Terry Penner has been busy as the city of Seymour’s new community-development director.
That became apparent last Thursday at the regular meeting of the Seymour Board of Aldermen as Penner provided a 25-minute briefing on several topics, ranging from surveys to the resurrection of the Seymour Farmers’ Market.
“You’ve really gotten after it, haven’t you?” North Ward Alderman William Pogue said to Penner at the conclusion of her comments to city officials.
“I like to stay busy,” Penner responded.
“That’s for sure,” Pogue said with a smile. Penner opened her presentation with a four-page handout regarding a question posed to the Seymour community the previous week on the city’s Facebook page.
It asked, “What type of businesses would you like to see in Seymour?”
There were 2,634 people engaged in the post, which drew 163 comments.
Penner said the top response was Aldi’s, a grocery store.
In the food category, Sonic Drive-In received the highest number of votes, with a “pizza place” being a close second.
She noted that there were many comments on the need for Seymour to have a second major grocery store.
“I can’t speak for the other aldermen, but perhaps you can explore that situation, Terry, and make contact with companies in the grocery business,” South Ward Alderman Dan Wehmer said. “I don’t think it’s very likely that an Aldi’s is going to come here because I don’t think they have a track record for coming to cities of our size, but there may be others who are.”
Discussed by the aldermen were for Penner to reach out to the owners of Harter House, Save-A-Lot and Town & Country, which also has the Country Mart supermarkets.
South Ward Alderman Nadine Crisp suggested that Penner do the same thing for pizza parlors.
“I know that there’s a Post-Game Pizza in Marshfield and also in Rogersville, and they have good pizza,” she said.
“Maybe they would be interested in coming here.”
Pogue said that he believed the company, which is locally owned, is interested in expanding its locations.
“I’ll add doing that to my list,” Penner said.
The aldermen also suggested that Penner find out who owns Seymour’s franchise rights to Sonic and touch base.
“I was impressed with the number of response we got from that post,” Penner said of the online question, which was posed Jan. 25 on Facebook. “We heard about everything from entertainment to industry. People talked a lot about food, not just fast food, but sit-down restaurants.”
“I notice here in this survey that a majority of the people wanting a sit-down restaurant or entertainment option like a bowling alley wanted to be able to buy a beer,” Wehmer said to Penner.
“Yes,” she responded.
“Then I guess that leads to the next question, which is if that did occur, would this board be against it?” he asked.
“There’s nothing we can do about it,” North Ward Alderman Jim Ashley said.
“That’s a state issue with the license.”
“I know,” Wehmer responded. “I guess my question is if we would object to that type of business coming. I wouldn’t object. I personally don’t have a problem with it, not in a restaurant type of setting.”
“That’s my feeling on it, Dan,” Crisp said. “There are rules on serving alcohol in that type of a setting. There has to be a certain percentage of food sold ... at least that’s how I understand it.”
“We have that now,” Pogue noted. “The Mexican restaurant out on the highway serves alcohol. It’s not been a problem, and I can’t see it being one for a new restaurant if that’s what they choose to do.”
In her survey, Penner broke down the 163 responses by category and number of votes.
One item mentioned was the need for buildings on the city square to be historically renovated, which received many votes. In past meetings, the aldermen have discussed the issue, even agreeing that consideration should be given in the future to allow “loft-type” housing in the late 19th and early 20th century buildings downtown.
Upon request, Penner will share the results of her survey with local residents who desire a copy.
Progress on local market
Later in Penner’s presentation, she talked about progress over the past few weeks on creating an active Seymour Farmers’ Market on the north side of the city square.
She has been working on the market with Therrin Dickinson, who with her husband, Matt, owns Mean Green Farms about two miles northeast of Seymour.
Over the past two years, Mean Green Farms has sold its locally grown produce on the square’s northeast corner.
“Therrin understands all of the regulations and rules that are associated with a true market, and she’s just been great to work with on this,” Penner said.
However, Penner said she needed the aldermen to answer two key questions before the project moved forward:
1. Will the city accept responsibility for the market, meaning liability, not forcing the group to purchase insurance?
2. Do market vendors need a business license?
On both questions, the aldermen unanimously provided answers.
First, the city will accept liability for the market.
Second, sellers aren’t required to have individual business licenses.
Penner said that at the present time, the Seymour Farmers’ Market plans to open early in April and continue through October. It will be held every Saturday. The hours aren’t set, but the market likely will run from 7 a.m. to noon or from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
In her new position, Penner typically works every Monday and every Thursday in her office at Seymour City Hall.
Her hours are from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.