Mayor Vonderheide Gives State of the City Update

In their first meeting of 2024, the Jasper City Council began by reflecting on last year and how it might inform decisions and goals for the coming months. A State of the City presentation by Mayor Dean Vonderheide gave an overview of 2023 and some goals for the upcoming year. Jasper had a successful fiscal year, with additional funding of almost a million dollars provided to our parks and recreation expenses that allowed investment in public areas to create and enhance some great spaces for community use. 

 Some of the successful parks projects this year included the Ruxer disc golf course, a financially successful Buffalo Trace golf course and driving range, and the installation of additional pickleball courts. Key fobs were installed at park restrooms for the safety of residents, and any unhoused residents who might have previously used them for shelter should contact the JPD so that we can provide them assistance. This past year provided the opportunity to bring a lot of amenities up to date. Some maintenance expenditures included a repair to the wheel at the City Mill and the wetlands inspection at the Parklands. For 2024, the park department has suggested the development of a nonverbal communication board, primarily for visitors with autism, but which will feature English to Spanish translations as well to better serve a wider population of visitors. The Jasper City Mill will also begin construction on a new deck, which will provide more space for school tours and residents alike. 

 The past year saw great successes in Jasper’s arts department. Thyen-Clark Cultural Center facility rentals were strong, activities were well-attended, and programming improvements have been successful. Additional restrooms were also installed this year, which helped to streamline event traffic. 

 The Street Department received accolades, as the mayor said that people constantly express how grateful they are for the staff and how much work they do to keep the community clean and safe. He specifically cited the way that staff go out of their way to help residents on a daily basis. Vonderheide said, “We are a benchmark for other communities” who “send people out to see what we’re doing… and how we’re doing it.” 

 The Heart of Jasper and Main Street Program have both contributed to the strong success of the downtown revitalization project. We have seen a much stronger presence in our downtown, which has been good for the community and for our business owners. An endowment fund is being established for the repair and maintenance of Jasper’s assets in and around the Heart of Jasper District to be sure that the areas that we’ve invested in can be maintained and stay in good condition for years to come. 

 In other business, civil employment turnover rate is extremely low, approximately 2-3%. The average employee age has been steadily lowering as many employees start to reach retirement age around the same time, which will likely continue in the future. The mayor credits the city’s human resources team with doing a good job of employee selection and finding a good cultural fit to work with the organization for the long term. 

 For more information on these and other updates, visit or JasperGov-Indiana on Facebook.

- By Drew Hasselbring