Oakley Mayor on maintaining the status quo
Wade Woolstenhulme is the epitome of what the East Side of Summit County represents.
He’s a lifelong Oakley resident, he likes to farm and raise horses, has served on the town’s rodeo committee for almost 25 years, and is currently fulfilling his civic duty as mayor.
Woolstenhulme is in his first year at the city’s helm and said he doesn’t have any grandiose ideas or projects to pursue. Instead, he said he is seeking to simply maintain the status quo regarding residential growth, echoing the sentiments of his fellow mayors on that side of the county.
"I think a lot of people in the community don’t want to see a lot of growth," he said. "We like our agricultural type of community and we want to keep it that way."
While Woolstenhulme said he appreciates the county’s interest in developing the East Side, he said their vision may be a little more ambitious than his.
"I think the East Side is important to them since they’re trying to get more businesses over here," he said. "And we’re OK with people coming up here to fish and do recreation. That’s what we want it to be over here.
"But at the same time, I’m not real big on seeing a bunch of subdivisions," he added.
One of the city’s major draws for the year is the annual Oakley Rodeo and Fourth of July Celebration, from July 1 through July 4. It’s a substantial revenue source for the city and something organizers plan for year round. The city is also finishing plans on a cultural center in the rodeo complex, called the Red Barn, which will house events and concerts for the 1,500 residents of Oakley.
"We put a lot into our rodeo and I want to continue to try and make it the best that we can," Woolstenhulme said, adding that the volunteer-based event represents the spirit of Oakley, he said.
"We don’t have a paid person that is over the celebration, that is all volunteers," he said. "Oakley has what it has because of the volunteers here. Kudos goes out to all of the citizens."
In addition to the rodeo celebration, two issues that carry the most weight with the city’s residents revolve around water and sewer.
"I think with any community water and sewer and those are types of things are important to stay on top of," Joe Frazier, Oakley planning commission vice chair, said. "He seems to be really interested in making sure any growth we have is smart growth and that all of the cities infrastructure, such as the sewer and water systems, can keep up."
While the city is working on upgrading the sewer treatment plant, there are still areas that are not connected to the plant. But the city doesn’t currently have the funding to take on that project.
"The city is financially doing really good, but we are paying off about four different bonds," Woolstenhulme said. "More than likely, we’ll have to wait it out to pay off our bonds and then we will be able to put more into our infrastructure.
"We have a really nice well and a spring that provide water for our city," he said. "And I think we are really working on keeping things up, to help the community and provide for their needs."
Woolstenhulme predicts the bonds will be paid off around 2022, but in the interim, he said he will seek out grants and other financial assistance.
Tami Stevenson, Oakley treasurer, said Woolstenhulme is eager to work with the community to maintain its rural status.
"And I think that’s the overall goal of the community," Stevenson said. "So maybe the kids today can come back to where they were raised."
With only a year under his belt, Woolstenhulme said he wishes he had more time to devote to the city. Woolstenhulme splits his time as mayor with his full-time job, as the principal of South Summit Middle School.
"If someone had more time to do it, I would probably let them run next term," he said. "The only reason I ran for mayor was because a lot of the old timers in town told me it was my time to step up and take on some responsibility."
Woolstenhulme’s father and grandfather have each served as mayors of Oakley.
"I want to maintain the atmosphere we have in the city of Oakley," he said. "It is what it is because of the people that live there. At the same time, you have to continue to improve and I am open minded to all of that."
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