Farewell, Ernie

bbashioum@demo-mo.comApril 25, 2014 

Peculiar’s Ernie Jungmeyer will soon be spending cool mornings and lazy afternoons at his favorite fishing spots waiting for the trout to bite.

He’s also looking forward to making some swings on the golf course and helping out at his wife’s family farm.

The 68-year-old longtime Peculiar resident stepped away from his position as the town’s mayor on April 21 after six years of service.

Quoting the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “Free at last, I’m free at last,” during his final Board of Aldermen meeting this week, it was evident that Ernie’s sense of humor will be missed by many.

Others around City Hall mentioned that they will miss homemade cinnamon rolls that the former first lady of Peculiar, Dorthy, would often make for staff.

The mayor expressed that his final week has been a bittersweet transition. However, he’s confident that he’s leaving the city in good hands after deciding not to seek a fourth term in office earlier this year.

“It’s hard to leave something after six years,” said Jungmeyer, admitting that he even has had second thoughts about leaving.

Jungmeyer promises that he and won’t be leaving Peculiar anytime soon. Rather, he’s just looking forward to retirement by spending less time doing city business, and more time with family and outdoor recreation.

However, he is planning to stay involved with several local organizations that he believes strongly in, including the Downtown Peculiar Arts and Culture District, Caring Hearts of Peculiar and the Peculiar’s Lions Club.

The former mayor took a moment to reflect on his memories of serving the community during the April 21 meeting.

“I took it to be my chore … to try to improve the infrastructure of the city of Peculiar,” he said. “I think it’s been vastly improved.”

He also noted the city’s accomplishments in getting the 211th Street interchange project underway and a plan in place with Cass County to improve School Road.

One of the other goals Jungmeyer felt like he has accomplished is improving the city’s working relationship with Belton and Raymore’s mayors and city leadership.

“I like to think the city of Peculiar is looked on more favorably now than when I first took office,” he said.

Jungmeyer has lived in Peculiar since 1973. His wife is from Harrisonville, originally, and he is from Jefferson City.

He attended the University of Missouri-Rolla to study engineering. He spent a career working in civil engineering before retiring in October 2007. Due to his experience in engineering, Jungmeyer was asked, and accepted a position, to be on the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission in the mid-1990s. He said he got involved with the city by chance.

“They were doing the road in front of my house and I was raising a lot of (squabs) because I couldn’t get in and out,” he said.

City leaders encouraged him to join P&Z instead of complaining.

“I thought about it for a few days, and that’s how I got started in the city as a volunteer,” he said. “I was interested in city government.”

After several years on the commission, an alderman seat in his ward came open in 2001. He ran and won.

After two terms, Jungmeyer stepped out of local politics in 2005 until he was encouraged by others in the community to run for mayor in April 2008.

Ernie said he ran a hard campaign to win the election by six votes. Upon taking office, the city was in knee-deep financial trouble that had been attributed to the housing market crash.

“When I took over, it was a rough time in the city of Peculiar,” he said. “Our finances were not in too good of shape.

Over time, and with the help of bringing in City Administrator Brad Ratliff, Peculiar was able to get back on their feet.

Jungmeyer didn’t plan to stay in politics long.

“I was only planning on doing it for two years,” he said. “Before I knew it, it was four, six, then that’s enough.”

In reflecting his years in public office, Ernie also took time to share his optimism for Peculiar by 2020.

“That’s just a short six years from now,” he said.

Jungmeyer expects the town of about 4,600 will grow to about 6,000-7,000 people. He also believes there will be some new businesses underway at the 211th Street interchange.

Other prospective goals include a thriving parks and recreation department and the Downtown Peculiar Arts and Culture District will continually be growing.

“I hope I’m right, and I am planning on being here to see it,” he said.

During his final week in office, Jungmeyer was presented with a plaque for his service. And after sharing a few words at the April 21 BOA, city staff, aldermen, and members of the public, gave the outgoing mayor a standing ovation.

“I’d like to thank all the past and the present staff, and the past and present Board of Aldermen, for your support over the last six years,” he said. “I am leaving you with a person who I believe will work hard for Peculiar and will be an excellent mayor.”

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