New Ashton City Council sworn in; Tom Mattingly to serve as mayor

ASHTON — Former Mayor Teddy Stronks swore in new Mayor Tom Mattingly during Ashton’s City Council meeting held on Wednesday.

Recently appointed councilman John Kaelberer was also sworn in as were returning councilmembers Teresa Hansen and Jerry Funke. Funke initially lost the election by one vote to John Scafe, but following a recount, it turned out Funke actually won by one vote.

The Ashton City Council welcomed a new councilman during its Wednesday night meeting.

City Clerk Cathy Stegelmeier swore in John Kaelberer who takes the place of Tom Mattingly who was recently voted in as mayor during November’s election. Stronks opted not to run again following decades of city service. Kaelberer ran for city council in November and received 79 votes.

Mattingly said he had known Kaelberer for several years, and believed that he would bring a lot to the council.

“He’s lived a wide variety of places,” Mattingly said. “He’s seen a lot of different other things and how things worked elsewhere. I think he’ll make good suggestions on how the city will work and have some good opinions on things.”

Kaelberer says he’s honored that Mattingly chose him, and he’s looking forward to serving the city.

“I’m really excited about it,” Kaelberer said. “I love the City of Ashton. I want to keep Ashton the great city it is and help with future projects here. I just enjoy being engaged with the city, and the things that are going on.”

Kaelberer says he’s looking forward to the creation of the city’s new basketball/tennis/pickle-ball court that’s expected to be completed this year.

“I helped take down the old (tennis court) fence that was around there,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a good thing for kids and adults. That’s one of the things that improves the quality of life.”

Married to Denise, the couple has five children and 6 grandchildren. The couple moved to Ashton about four years ago and prior to that they lived in Driggs. They moved there in 1997 after living in San Diego where Kaelberer worked as a telephone company repairman. While there, he also served as a reserve police sergeant for 19 years.

“California is a great place to be from and to get away from,” he said.

Kaelberer was born in Pennsylvania and spent most of his youth traveling the country with his father, who had a career in the Navy.

Kaelberer earned an associate’s degree in gunsmithing, and, while living in Driggs, he owned a gunsmithing business where he repaired and made custom firearms. Retired from work, Kaelberer spends his free time target shooting and working on vehicles. He also serves as an elder in Ashton’s Zion Lutheran Church.

Kaelberer previously had city government experience while serving on Ashton’s Urban Renewal Board that he greatly enjoyed. He also enjoyed his first city council meeting Wednesday night.

“It was fun,” Kaelberer said. “It was a very unique experience, and I’m looking forward to continuing.”

Mattingly ran unopposed for the mayor’s office this year. Stronks opted not to run again in order to focus on his family and business Stronks & Sons.

The new mayor says he’s looking forward to serving in the new capacity. He had previously served as a councilman, and, following his win, he appointed Kaelberer to serve. Kaelberer will run again for that council seat in November 2021.

Mattingly plans to finish up various projects such as the multi-purpose court that Stronks started last year. The Mayor also plans to involve Stronks in the project.

“That’s his thing,” Mattingly said.

Projects he’d like to propose an ice-skating rink to the City Council.

“An ice-skating rink is probably not something for this year, but I’d like to find out some way to come up with one,” he said. “We’d have to find something for the water to sit in (and freeze). We’d have to have people work on it.”

Mattingly didn’t know if an ice-skating rink would bring in tourists, but it would be something locals could use.

“It’s just something more to get people out and about. It will give the people in and around town something to do,” he said.

Mattingly would also like to add more walking/biking paths in Ashton.

“Like I said, it would give people a little more something to do and places to go. We have a lot of people in town that walk. With walking paths and bike paths, they would be out and about more,” he said.

Mattingly served as Ashton’s police chief for 28 years during which time he worked with many city councils. That involvement gave him the opportunity to see how the city operated and also gave him a chance to get to know city workers.

For now, Mattingly’s biggest concern is the upcoming snow storm expected this weekend.

“We’re supposed to be getting a lot of snow this coming week. People need to be mindful where they’ve got their cars parked. We’ll be snowplowing — probably quite a few times,” he said.

The city council meets again at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb 12, at Ashton City Hall. For more information call 208-652-3987.