You won’t meet a harder working small-town mayor who does everything in his power to make his town a better place than Brett Comegys of Collins. He’s a real “get-things-done” kind of guy — a creative thinker, a visionary and a high-energy person who is patient and relentless. It’s these same traits that also make him successful as a middle school teacher in Marshalltown, where he teaches social studies.
Now, in his fourth term, his leadership, vision and work ethic are evident everywhere you look around town. From the 24-hour fitness center to the new fire station, to the brand-new amphitheater that will be going up in the near future in the center of town, Comegys has a plan and he sees it through. The best part for Collins residents is that most of the projects have been accomplished through countless fundraising efforts, led mostly by their tireless mayor.
“I’ve been at this for awhile,” said Comegys. “When I came in, I had a million ideas and I was probably running so fast my feet were ahead of my body. But we’ve done a pretty good job of getting some of these old, beat-up buildings fixed up and usable again. It hasn’t cost us any money; it’s all been through grants. Since I’ve been here, we’ve had about $1.8 million in grants awarded to us.”
After being elected twice on the ballot, and by write-in for his third term, he ran unopposed on the ballot during the last election. Although it’s sometimes a thankless job and a lot of work, Comegys maintains a positive outlook on his service as mayor. “If I’m going to live here, I want to do my part to make it the best place I can,” said Comegys.
He loves the fact that his town is “30 minutes from anywhere” (Ames, Marshalltown and Des Moines) and he credits his council for working well together to make it a great place to live.
“Any time you have a governing body, you have a lot of differing perspectives on how things should get done,” said Comegys. “You have to be a good politician who can get everyone on the same page and be working together to help them see their similarities instead of their differences. I think we get a lot of really good things done. We find a way to do it and that’s a real positive.”
Comegys and his wife (who is a lifelong resident of Collins) have four children, two of whom are current students at Collins-Maxwell. They have dedicated the recent years of their lives to the care of grandparents who lived in the area and recently passed away. When asked about hobbies, Comegys said most of his spare time has been devoted to family, and doing everything he can as mayor to make the town of Collins a better place.
Mayor Comegys will some day be remembered as the one who led the cause to turn buildings and spaces, that were once eyesores, into useful, imaginative structures. “There are a lot of people in this town that appreciate seeing positive things happening, and that means a lot,” said Comegys. “I would really encourage people to get involved and help their communities. You can make changes. Find resourceful ways to raise money, and make things happen.”
Here is a list of some of the projects that have been accomplished or are in progress by the town of Collins during Comegys’ tenure as mayor. Comegys gives a lot of credit to a great city clerk, public works director, City Council and efforts of the community:
*24-hour fitness center: Mayor Comegys gathered a petition of 100 signatures and began raising money to turn an old building in town into a weight and fitness center for residents to use. He raised $25,000 in grants to buy new equipment and the facility is a mostly self-governed operation that is a nice attraction for local residents. “Basically, this entire place has been driven by memberships and grants,” said Brett. “It didn’t cost the city a dollar.” The fitness center will be relocating to a newer building in the near future, which was donated by Midwest Insurance. Renovations are nearing completion. The cost to Collins residents to use the fitness center is $15 per individual per month.
*Fire Station: The shell of the building is complete. The city is still working on some fundraising to finish the interior of the fire station.
*Amphitheater: After tearing down some old buildings, the new open space will be utilized for open-air concerts and town events.
*Remodeled old funeral home: The renovated building has been taken over by a local photography company.
*Library: Added about 40 percent more space through fundraising and work of the Friends of the Library group.
*Storm sewer system: Solicited grant money through the State of Iowa to get 90 percent of the work done to redirect water away from town to prevent flooding.
*Construction of new sewage lagoons
*Replacement of water meters
*Purchase of new city equipment (city truck, backhoe, dump truck)
*Installation of new water lines
*Reconstruction of Highway 65