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Park Rapids council appoints Paul Utke

Paul Utke

Paul Utke has always been interested in government operations.

And now that he's not running Utke Hardware on Main street seven days a week, he'll have time to be more involved, which is what prompted his decision to express interest in a vacated seat on the Park Rapids council.

Utke was appointed last Tuesday to fill Mike Strodtman's position.

"The time and experience of being in town and getting to know all the people ... being a merchant on Main street, makes you well-rounded," he said.

Utke moved to Park Rapids in 1993 to open Utke Hardware. Now the store is closed but he still owns the building.

He's originally from Enderlan, N.D. He lived in the Twin Cities and the St. Cloud area for a while before moving to Park Rapids with his wife and two daughters.

"Park Rapids is a great place to live and work," he said. "But as in everything, there is room for improvement and I would like to be part of the team that works to make (the city) better."

As a property owner on Main street, he has been following the downtown revitalization project. He said he's all for enhancing and beautifying the streets as long as the infrastructure improvements are going.

"A Main street is kind of the heart of any town," Utke said. "You try to make it look nice and hopefully everyone jumps on board too."

As for future plans on the council, Utke will try to bring a "common sense approach."

Since his appointment last Tuesday, he's already got a lot of materials to get him caught up on the city's politics.

"There is a whole lot to learn," he said. "I need to get up to speed before I really say I need to do this and that."

Utke's first council meeting will be held Tuesday, Nov. 10. His term will expire Dec. 31, 2010.