Published On: Wed, Feb 8th, 2012

Kraemer wants to keep on serving Cedar County

LAUREL — At age 78, Marlen Kraemer has seen a lot of change in Cedar County.
One thing that has remained unchanged is his presence on the Cedar County County Commission.
Nearly 30 years ago, Kraemer began a journey in public office. He will finish his seventh term in 2012 and is seeking an eighth term. His response to questions about whether or not he can still do the job remains unchanged.
“As long as my health is good and the people still want me on the Board of Commissioners, I will do the job,” said Kraemer, Commissioner for District 2.

Kraemer has enjoyed a long career in Cedar County.
He was born and raised in Laurel. In 1952, he entered into a partnership with his father-in-law operating Logan Valley Construction. A few years later, Kraemer was forced to take over the company when his father-in-law was killed in a car accident.
For the next 30 years, he and Logan Valley thrived and operated through offices in Laurel and Stanton. The company built roads, government dams, and executed soil conservation practices. At its peak, Kraemer managed 25 employees at Logan Valley.

As the 1980s arrived, a good friend and former Commissioner, Marv Hartung, approached Kraemer about the County Commission. Hartung recommended that Kraemer run for the District 2 seat from which he was retiring.
However, Kraemer was not quite ready to get involved with public office. First, he was still in charge of a large company with a few major government contracts that needed to be finished. Second, Kraemer found out he had lymphoma cancer in 1982. As 1983 and 1984 passed, Kraemer spent his time preparing to dissolve his company and fighting cancer.
With his health and finances organized, Kraemer was ready to run for the Commissioner’s job and entered the 1984 election. That November, he was elected to serve a four-year term from 1985-1988.
Very quickly, Kraemer utilized his background and management skills to build good working relationships with local farmers, city administrators, school administrators involving bus routes in inclement weather, the State of Nebraska Department of Roads, and the District 2 constituency.
As he closed out his first term with the Board of Commissioners, Kraemer’s cancer became a problem again as it had moved to other parts of his body. In 1988, Kraemer took a month to receive treatments in Greece.
After returning from Greece, Kraemer had put his cancer into remission, but each month for the next five years, he sent blood samples back overseas to be tested. Since then, Kraemer has been able to focus on his work for the County and the people of District 2.
Change has been the constant theme, according to Kraemer. Two of the most eye-popping changes have been the amount of money required to operate the County and the increases in land valuations.
“When I began my term in 1985, the population in Cedar County was around 10,500 and our land valuations were around $350 million,” said Kraemer, “In 2012, our population has decreased to around 8,700 people, but our valuations have sky-rocketed to roughly $1.25 billion.”
The job itself has changed over the years as well. When he started, Kraemer said the job was considered part time. Over the years, the road department has been placed under the care of the Commissioners and morphed the job into a full-time position that saved the County some money, too.
“I devote my full effort to the position,” said Kraemer, “because it really has become a full-time job with the roads duties.”
Several things stick out as accomplishments in his long tenure. Under Kraemer’s watch the County Courthouse was remodeled and made handicap accessible, the levy has been reduced to one of the lowest in the state, and the County has little debt aside from a percentage of the Courthouse project that was bonded. For District 2, Kraemer got a new road crew shop built in Randolph.
“I’ve been able to help on several projects through the years,” said Kraemer, “But I feel my biggest accomplishment has been working with the people of Cedar County for 28 years and receiving their cooperation through 28 years of changes.”
Things were not always easy though. Kraemer admits to a few times where the job was tough. Particularly when the county started putting in minimum maintenance road classifications.
“Sometimes it is hard for the public to understand where we get some of our policies,” said Kraemer, “Often times, we are simply following the state and federal government mandates.”
Kraemer has been on the Lower Elkhorn NRD Board, the Laurel Lions Club and served as the Laurel Volunteer Fire Chief. He serves on the Area Aging board, Region IV Mental Health, Project Extra Mile, and works with the E911 emergency phone line and road mapping projects.
Kraemer worked closely with the Keystone Pipeline Project and helped bring the insurance pool NIRMA to Cedar County. Currently, Kraemer is helping to bring economic development to District 2 through Archer Daniels Corporation for Randolph, AGREX, INC. for Laurel, and a wind farm for the Randolph area.
Although, he has served nearly seven terms and 28 years, Kraemer is ready for more. He is running for an eighth term and doesn’t show signs of slowing down.
“Like I always say, as long as my health is good and the people want me, I’ll be here for Cedar County,” said Kraemer, “I’m not ready to sit back and relax in the rocking chair yet.”