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City names new road after mayor

One of the new roads constructed near East Ridge High School is planned to have a familiar ring to it: Hargis Parkway.

No, it's not a coincidence. The road which will eventually connect Pioneer and Radio drives along the south side of the new school and expanded Bielenberg Sports Complex is being named after the current mayor of Woodbury. And no, it wasn't his idea.

The proposed name came about last year as the city and school district were working on plans for the new school site. The city was in the middle of making plans for road improvements in the area and was looking to name the new road, which will run on the south side of the development.

Woodbury city administrator Clint Gridley said he began floating the idea of naming the road in honor of Mayor Bill Hargis on an individual basis with current and past city council members and other members of the community.

"It is rather unusual that the city has an opportunity to name a road," said Gridley. "Most of the roads we have here in a city are named by residential and commercial developers. We knew an opportunity to name a road like this one near the sports complex and the new school wouldn't come up again soon. So we felt it was the right decision to make.

"The current mayor has had an incredible impact on the community and he began that service through youth athletics," Gridley said.

Hargis has long been an active supporter of youth baseball and youth sports in general, said Gridley, who made sure to check with the school district on the naming of the road.

"They told us, 'It's your road; name it whatever you want,'" Gridley said. "When we let them know, they were very enthusiastic about the choice."

Gridley said the only difficulty encountered in naming the road was getting the OK from the mayor himself.

"When we made the decision, (city council member) Paul Rebholz and I met individually with (Hargis) and told him what we'd like to do," Gridley said. "He was very demure, but came around to it."

An honor not uncommon

The council did not need to make an official vote on the road, since it was approved as part of the planning process, according to community development director Dwight Picha. He added that naming a thoroughfare after a living local elected official is not unique to Woodbury.

Bielenberg Drive was named after Woodbury's first mayor Orville Bielenberg while he was still alive, and Guider Drive, which runs parallel to Woodbury Village commercial development, is named after Woodbury's second mayor, Dan Guider. Pouliot Parkway, which sits near Woodwinds Hospital in western Woodbury, is named after former council member Mike Pouliot.

And the community hasn't limited naming honors to streets. The Washington County Board named R.H. Stafford Library in Central Park after one of their own, former county commissioner Dick Stafford. Bielenberg Sports Complex was also named after Orville Bielenberg.

Hargis said he was honored to be put in the same company with other long-serving local officials.

"It's nice to be recognized, but it's humbling to be included in the same group as Orville Bielenberg and Dan Guider," Hargis said. "You just try to do the best you can to serve the community."

Woodbury council member Paul Rebholz said Hargis' record as council member and mayor was all the evidence needed for naming the new parkway in his honor.

"It's fitting that Mayor Hargis got his start in being involved with the community through youth athletics, and this road will be running along the sports complex," Rebholz said. Hargis spent many years volunteering for youth baseball, which he said has come from a love of the game and a passion for teamwork.

"The fact that people have to work together to accomplish greater things and sacrfrice individual goals to make contributions to the bigger picture, that's what youth sports are all about," Hargis said.

The road isn't the first time that Hargis has been honored in this way. The mayor is a longtime supporter and assistant baseball coach for Bethel University, which named its baseball field Hargis Park in 2000.