Iowa town will vote to disappear

A southeast Iowa community is planning on discontinuing after no one stepped forward to run for mayor or city council.

A few miles southeast of Keosauqua sits the small city of Mount Sterling, Iowa. The city is over 100 years old, has about 40 residents, and as of April 11th, will not officially exist anymore.

â??In Iowa, there is only one form of government; you are either a city, or not a city,â?? said Mayor Tom Allen.

Mayor Tom Allen will be the last mayor to serve the people of Mount Sterling. Allen, along with his fellow city council members, will be voting on April 11th to discontinue the operation of the town.

â??Iâ??ve sort of resigned myself to the fact that it is going to happen. When I first took the office, which is something I did not really look to do, I was not in favor of moving in this direction. But, in seeing kind of the attitudes of the people in town, and the feelings to keep it going, I kind of decided that it was for the best,â?? said Allen.

Allen says that the people in the town are ok with the change.

â??For the most part people that live their, they want to make sure that their roads are maintained. They want to make sure the snow is plowed and the county will be able to do that in some cases better than the city,â?? said Allen.

And even though Mt. Sterling will not technically be a city anymore, like the sign says on the way into town, it is a great place to visit in southeast Iowa.

If the discontinuance passes, which looks to be highly likely, the county will take over the roads and infrastructure. As for public safety, the Van Buren County Sheriffâ??s Office will continue to serve the people of Mt. Sterling.


Next week the city council of Mount Sterling, Iowa will vote on a resolution to discontinue operation of the city. The decision stems from the fact that no candidate filed paperwork to run in the November election for positions being vacated by the current mayor and city council. Seeing this as a lack of interest in maintaining the community as an incorporated city, a resolution of intent to discontinue was passed in November and a public hearing on the matter was held at which no objections were raised. The final step will be to pass the resolution of discontinuance.

The community was first settled in 1839 and was known as Woodâ??s Mills and Union Corners before Mount Sterling was adopted in 1854. The city was incorporated in 1907. Mount Sterling has long been affectionately known by the nickname â??Dogtown;â?? legend has it that an early visitor, being told the town had no name and noticing the number of dogs fighting over scraps near the mills, told the residents that it looked like it should be called Dog Town.

The tiny (population 40) community made national and international news in 2003 when then-mayor Jo Hamlett suggested at a budget meeting that if the city had an ordinance against lying they could make enough in fines to pave the streets. The comment made local papers and was eventually picked up by the news wires, prompting visits from reporters from as far away as Great Britain and phone calls from China all wanting to get to the bottom of the story.

Once the resolution is passed the city will continue to operate for 30 days during which residents may file a petition to hold a special election on the issue. At the end of the 30 days Van Buren County will take over maintenance of the cityâ??s streets and ownership of remaining city property. All city ordinances will cease to exist; the â??no lyingâ?? ordinance wonâ??t be included, though, as it never wound up being adopted.

Mount Sterling will be the first city in Iowa to discontinue operation since Littleport in 2005. According to the Community Development Board of the Iowa Economic Development Authority, the agency that oversees the discontinuance process, more small communities are asking about discontinuance as the rural population continues to dwindle.