Since 2010, Jonas Anderson has served Cave City residents not only as a councilman, but as a volunteer and a friend.
After years of hard work and dedication, he was appointed mayor of Cave City on July 25.
Anderson, 34, said he loves Cave City and its residents, and it’s time for his generation to step out and take positions such as mayor.
“Maybe it’s due to the pervasiveness of social media, but there seems to be more complainers out there than there are doers. Especially in smaller towns and in local-government issues, it’s easier to focus on the negatives than it is to look for opportunities and take the lead on turning them into positives,” he said.
Progress starts at the local level, Anderson said, and that level is where you can make a direct difference for the people around you.
“I hope that more and more people, in my generation especially, will put themselves forward to help lead their communities,” he said. “We need good level-headed people in our cities and towns who will honor the work of those who came before us, while recognizing the possibilities of our own unique perspectives and contributions.”
Anderson said that while Cave City is in good shape overall, there is always room for improvement.
An updated community center is one thing he hopes to make into a reality.
“We need a more updated, usable community center that’s better suited to the number of residents we have now, and I think there are several good ideas out there for achieving that,” he said.
Anderson would also like to launch a city website, work on developing small-business and tourism opportunities, and promote an active chamber of commerce.
Although he has many ideas in mind, his primary focus is on ensuring that taxpayer money continues to be spent efficiently.
“I also want us to be increasingly proactive as we search out new opportunities and work to stay ahead of things that will affect us down the road,” he said.
The best thing about Cave City is the people in it, Anderson said, and he plans to be a major force in promoting their unique heritage.
Anderson said he wants people to be proud of Cave City’s past but actively engaged in its future success.
“I hope to cast a vision for what this place can really be — a vision that people can see for themselves and really get excited about as we move ahead in the coming years,” he said.
When former Cave City Mayor Ron Burge resigned and retired, the vote to appoint Anderson was unanimous among council members, he said.
Anderson said Burge devoted 30 years of love and service to Cave City and has always been willing to share his experiences with him.
Anderson graduated from Cave City High School, earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in computer information systems and networking from the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville, earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and earned a master’s degree in American history from American Public University in West Virginia.
He was born in Cave City and has traveled around America over the years.
“Several close friends and I started a rock ’n’ roll band that ended up taking us in every direction you can imagine to play for and meet so many incredible people,” Anderson said. “Those years really helped broaden my understanding of people and places that I had never seen before. It changed my life.”
Anderson is married to Jessica Anderson, and they have two sons, Julian, 5, and Jasper, 2.
Anderson’s family has roots dating back to the 1860s in the area, he said.
Anderson is a computer technician for the Northcentral Arkansas Education Service Cooperative and spends time in the technology departments of schools in the Cave City and Highland school districts.
Julie Johnson, Anderson’s former teacher and the technology director for the Cave City School District, said Anderson is methodical, kind and talented.
“Jonas is the man you leave the bag of gold with when you are going to be gone for 10 years,” she said.
Johnson said Anderson has wanted to be mayor for many years, and he wants to make Cave City the best it can possibly be.
“He has a lot of new ideas, but he knows he can’t throw them all out there at once,” she said. “Jonas has inherited a great group of people to work with at the city. He will work tirelessly with the other city employees and departments to make Cave City one of the best small towns in Arkansas.”
After a former technician who worked for Johnson got an opportunity to work closer to home, Johnson said her first call was to Anderson, who worked in the IT department at the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville at the time.
“I’m kind of a control freak, and it took me a while to realize Jonas was a grown man more than capable of doing his job and not the little seventh-grader I kept thinking he was. Thank heavens he was patient with me. Now, I don’t know what I would do without him,” Johnson said.
Johnson and Anderson also work together on the Cave City Watermelon Festival Planning Committee.
Since 2015, Anderson has been volunteer entertainment coordinator for the festival.
This year’s festival was incredible, as always, he said.
“We had wonderful weather, and the crowds were very excited to be in Cave City. The entire town was filled with a jubilant spirit,” Anderson said. “One of the stand-outs this year was the sheer number of people we met from other states. They came from as far away as California and Pennsylvania; we even had some folks from Europe that found their way to us.”
Hana Smith, a current City Council member and a teacher at Cave City Middle School, described Anderson as hardworking and dynamic.
Smith said Anderson made a big impact as an alderman, and she expects him to do the same as mayor.
“He is always willing to work on special projects that require extra attention. Jonas is also extremely tech-savvy. He enjoys applying for grants that help improve our community for its citizens. Our city has received several grants for our park, partly due to his hard work,” Smith said.
In his free time, Anderson said, he enjoys spending time with his family, playing music and learning about antique cars and aviation.
“My dad introduced me to aviation at a young age, and I’ve flown quite a bit with him over the years but would like to earn my own license. I’ve always dreamed of doing some kind of cross-country or round-the-world flight to raise money for an important need or cause,” Anderson said.
Family, friends and spirituality are things Anderson is passionate about, he said.
“I love meeting new people and getting to know their stories because I think that is what helps keep us all grounded and connected to each other,” he said. “And though it’s a constant process, I’m passionate about my faith and always trying, even in small ways, to better myself and follow the principles found in the life and mission of Jesus Christ.”
Anderson said his grandfather who died in 2004, Elmo Anderson, continues to be an inspiration to him.
“No matter what, he always made time to help in whatever hobby or task I had convinced myself to try,” Anderson said. “I really can’t say enough about my family in general; they’ve always been supportive of me and my various goals and dreams.”
Staff writer Kayla Baugh can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.