2-4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16
multipurpose room, lower level
Plymouth County Courthouse
Things were different 23 years ago when Jerry Groenhagen began appraising agriculture dwellings in Plymouth County.
Today there are many more and larger structures, from grain bins to sheds, the Le Mars man said.
"It used to be that a 10,000-bushel bin was big," he said. "Now they're 50,000 to 150,00 bushel."
Groenhagen will soon hand off his knowledge of the county's ag properties as he retires from the county appraiser position this month.
Since 1989, Groenhagen has kept track of buildings, additions or subtractions to them, in 24 townships throughout the county.
"Everybody knows me," he said. "I get along with people."
Groenhagen explained that during appraisals he measures dimensions of ag dwellings, whether it be a home or a grain bin, looks at their construction type and amenities.
All of those details are used in determining how property taxes are assessed on each structure.
In addition to size and quantity, Groenhagen said he's seen one other big change in his years as county appraiser.
"We went to buildings being priced on the computer," he said. "When I first started here, I used pencil, paper and a calculator."
Groenhagen added that using those tools took a lot of extra time, even with two appraisers doing the work at that time.
"Using the computer program cut down pricing time by 75 percent," he said. "The computer program has pricing for almost every kind of building."
Groenhagen explained that in 1995, the year the second appraiser retired, the county began using Vanguard Appraisals Inc, of Cedar Rapids, to appraise dwellings within city limits.
"One person can't do it all," he said.
In the past 23 years, Groenhagen said he's enjoyed working with the people throughout the county.
"I've had a lot of great experiences," he said. "I deal better with farmers than city slickers because I was raised on a farm."
Bob Heyderhoff, county assessor, said Groenhagen's experience will be missed.
"You ask him where somebody lives and he knows the section," Heyderhoff said. "His intuitional knowledge is going to be missed."
Groenhagen said he will miss working with both the rural people and also his colleagues in the assessor's office and the courthouse.
He said he's known as the morale officer with other courthouse employees.
"I keep them in stitches," Groenhagen said. "I'm the practical joker."
But, at 68, he said it's time to retire and maybe do a little bit of traveling with his wife, Sally, of 46 years.
"I want to enjoy my grandkids," Groenhagen said. "I want to enjoy my youngest son who is at Morningside (College) playing football."
Before he goes into retirement, he has one job left to do -- pass along his knowledge to the county's new appraiser, Jamie Hauser.
Hauser, of Le Mars, was hired Sept. 17 and has spent the last couple months learning at Groenhagen's side.
"I recommended Jamie because he has experience working in the county," Groenhagen said. "It's hard to find an appraiser familiar with this county."
Hauser, who left Vanguard Appraisals for the county appraiser job, worked with Groenhagen for about six months four years ago when a countywide rural re-appraisal was done.
"I look forward to taking over Jerry's footsteps," Hauser said. "Hopefully I can fill his shoes."
Hauser said he will be doing the same type of appraising as he did with Vanguard.
The Le Mars man said he's looking forward to working with the rural residents.
"It's nice to meet people out in the country," Hauser said. "You meet new people every day."
Heyderhoff said he thinks Hauser will make a good county appraiser.
"He's got a background in appraising," Heyderhoff said. "He's friendly and I think he will do well."