"This hotel is a treasure that has been let go."

Jay Hartz inspects a large carpet in the lobby of the Pattee Hotel—he has just had every carpet in the building steam cleaned—and sounds almost pained to think of his abused treasure.

He looks up: "The bottom line is that all these repairs and improvements needed to be done because the building wasn’t maintained very well over the last several years."

That is an understatement. The difference between, for instance, the grout the carpets have covered for 20 years and the exposed grout shows one of the many shades neglect comes in.

But Hartz and his wife, Denise, have quickly changed neglect to respect, and now that grout is uniformly clean. Many of their acts, maybe the biggest, are occurring behind the scenes, and when Jay starts counting them off, it is easy to lose track.

"We have repainted and/or repaired wallpaper in 15 guest rooms," he says, "fixed or replaced several drapes and blinds in the rooms, hand- scrubbed all the tile floors and grout."

It sounds grueling. "It looks amazing!" he says.

"We’ve deep cleaned the kitchen and other back-of-the-house areas, repaired several pieces of kichen equipment that weren’t working and had all kitchen hoods cleaned and repaired."

With his impish grin and boyish good lokks, Hartz almost makes it sound like fun.

His "team," as he calls it, is nearly complete with 34 members, including Clint Nelson as chief engineer and Mahala McDanel as event planner.

"We’ve already booked several holiday parties and still have some dates available," he says with a twinkle. "It’s not too late to book your party!"

The worn leather on the restaurant booths has been replaced, and Hartz has hired a new head chef and kitchen staff, with big changes planned to the former menu.

"We are introducing some great new menus that have a wide variety at very reasonable prices for everyday dining. We want to welcome in the entire community to give us a try. "

To work off those reasonably priced meals, Hartz has tuned up all the equipment in the fitness center and added some elliptical machines for the cardio crowd.

"The hot tub had been broken for over a year, from what I was told," he says, but now it’s warm and sudsy and waiting to relax the backs of new and returning visitors.

And the Copper Door Spa will also reopen, occupied by three local businesspersons who are leasing the rooms.

Along with upgrading the hotel’s computer hardware and tying in to the highspeed Minburn Communications optical fiber network, Hartz has raised a new US flag alongside the Iowa state flag.

Our liberties we prize, but security is also nice, so Hartz has beefed up the building’s system by adding several more security cameras.

If boundless enthusiasm and a willingness to roll up your sleeves and sweep and scrub right alongside your hourly wage workers is a formula for success in the hospitality libne, then Perry can expect a big payoff in community pride from the Hartz family.