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It can be hard to run anything by yourself, let alone a city, but that is what Crestwood Mayor Dennis Deibel has been doing since 1972. He is the mayor, clerk and accountant of a city that has exploded in population recently. All calls to the city go directly to his cell phone.
“I believe that the smaller the government the better,” Deibel said. His government in Crestwood is about as small as it can get.
For Deibel, community service was important to him at a very young age. When he was a teenager, he joined the South Oldham Fire Department as a volunteer. His father and brother were already members and he wanted to join to help people.
While he is no longer fighting fires, Deibel still serves the SOFD as the chairman of their board.
“I’m still with it because I’m proud of what we have accomplished,” Deibel said. “We have become one of the best fire departments in the county.”
Pride in his city and an interest to serve led him into elected office.
Deibel credits the citizens of Crestwood for his longevity as the mayor. He was selected as mayor in 1972 just two years after Crestwood became a city. In those 41 years, Deibel said he has received exactly two “belligerent” phone calls from citizens. He has also never been opposed in his bid for mayor.
“They keep voting me in,” Deibel said. “So I like to think they’re either satisfied with me or smarter than me.”
The biggest opposition Deibel has ever received was when he, along with the city commission, decided to install sewers for the city. Because of the construction and new taxes it would bring, many people were initially against it. But Deibel said it has helped Crestwood continue to grow.
“It has promoted growth in the community. We’ve got the Walgreens, the CVS and the strip center,” Deibel said. “Lot of that stuff we wouldn’t have if we didn’t have sewers.”
Because of the small size of the government, Deibel said they are able to hold very informal meetings where citizens can come and just talk about things they have problems with. He said that often solves the problem.
“One thing I’ve learned is you have to be a good listener,” he said.
In addition to running Crestwood, Deibel also owns and operates his own greenhouse company, growing and selling flowers to local and nationally owned stores. Like the volunteer firefighting, Deibel’s green thumb was genetic. He is a third generation greenhouse owner and the business has grown tremendously under the ownership of him and his brother.
Deibel said he grew up wanting to one day take over the family business but that day came sooner than he expected when his father passed away when Deibel was only 17.
“My brother and I took it over and we only had about 15,000 square feet,” he said. “We’ve got about 130,000 now and we’re going to add another 25,000 more. It’s been a growing business, in plants and sales.”
Because he has been involved in public service for Crestwood and Oldham County for so long, Deibel is being honored by the Oldham County Historical Society. At the society’s annual gala next weekend, Deibel will be added to the list of Oldham County Champions of History, which honors Oldham County residents who have made great contributions to the county.
“I am very pleased to be a recipient,” Deibel said. “I don’t do it for the glory but I’m proud that I’ve been able to help both Crestwood and Oldham County over the years.”
Despite his many years wearing many hats, Deibel has no plans to slow down anytime soon on the mayorship or in his business.
“I’m going to be here until they have to carry me out,” Deibel said, looking around his office at the greenhouse.
As for the city, he is up for re-election in November of next year and said he plans on running again as long as the people are still satisfied with the work he is doing.
“Crestwood is a great city,” he said. “And I couldn’t have done this for as long as I have without the support of the people.”
Deibel will receive his award at the Oldham County Historical Society Gala, the Bit and Bridle Ball which will be held on Sept. 27, at the History Center grounds from 6:30 to 11p.m. Tickets are $125 each.
For information contact the Oldham County Historical Society at 222-0826.
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