PAOLA — It would likely be hard to find a Paola resident who didn’t recognize the name and face of Paola Mayor Artie Stuteville.
After all, she’s lived in the community since 1969. She’s served on the Planning Commission and City Council before becoming mayor in 2005. She’s owned a local laundromat and taxi service for more than 40 years. And she’s also hard to miss thanks to being blessed with a lot of height.
But after 28 years of public service, Stuteville decided not to run for reelection in November, and she is passing the leadership torch to Paola City Council member Leigh House. House ran unopposed and won the Paola mayoral position with 555 votes in the Nov. 2 election.
Stuteville’s fellow colleagues at City Hall, though, wouldn’t let her escape without a proper sendoff. And they fully embraced her love of Elvis Presley by using the King of Rock and Roll as the theme for a public open house reception that took place Wednesday, Nov. 10.
Many of the city staff members wore shirts that said “Artie” on the front with some Elvis hair and sunglasses, and “Has left the building” on the back with a picture of a taxicab. Stuteville even wore one herself.
There also was a life-size mannequin dressed up as Elvis, which was a popular photo opportunity.
When House presented Stuteville with her Tupperware gift set, she told a story about a time they went to a League of Kansas Municipalities dinner at a casino, and they laughed when Stuteville whipped out a piece of Tupperware to take some apple pie home.
It was one of many inside jokes shared at the reception. Peter Trull even made a replica of the K-68 roundabout in honor of Stuteville’s comments about roundabouts over the years that would often be joked about at meetings.
During an earlier luncheon, former Paola City Clerk Dan Droste presented Artie with a metal rooster in honor of the real rooster that used to show up at her home and nearby laundromat on Silver Street. Stories of the rooster used to always generate a laugh at council meetings.
There also were several pictures on display, including a few from 2014 when Stuteville and Peg Wieland traveled to Hollywood to be in the audience during the filming of her favorite TV show Dancing With the Stars.
In addition to jokes, though, there also was a lot of serious discussion about how much Stuteville cares about the community.
Former City Manager Jay Wieland said he remembers many long office meetings with Stuteville (who is not a fan of email) sharing ideas and brainstorming.
“I loved her facial expressions,” he said.
Stuteville thanked Wieland in her speech, and she also thanked all Paola residents.
“In the taxi, I always hear people say what a nice community Paola is, and how clean it is, and I appreciate that,” Stuteville said. “It’s because of all of you who call Paola home.”
Stuteville added that Paola is in good hands with House as mayor and the current City Council leadership, and she knows big things are on the horizon.
“Paola has continued to move forward,” she said. “We always have something in the works.”