by Dennis Dalman
Colleagues extended a fond farewell and thank-you to Sartell mayor Joe Perske at his last city council meeting Dec. 8.
“Thanks for 10 years of service to this city and the council,” said council member Steve Hennes. “You’ve accomplished a lot.”
Others on the council echoed those sentiments before mayor elect, Sarah Jane Nicoll, presented to Perske a framed art print of a Sartell scene.
“You have been very dedicated,” she told him. “You used your time and effort to make Sartell a better place to live.”
Amy Braig-Lindstrom, council member, told Perske she was honored to be able to work with Perske and that she learned a lot from him. Member David Peterson said it’s been a fun time serving with Perske on the council. Then Peterson wished Perske a successful future.
“Now you can watch Monday-night football,” Peterson said (instead of having to attend council meetings Monday nights).
“Or,” said Perske, laughing, referring to live videotaped council meetings, “I can watch you guys.”
Perske told the council his service has been a satisfying experience.
“I feel good,” he said, “about where we’ve gone.”
He also noted even though at times he was outvoted by council members, he always felt council members and the mayor had respect for one another, despite disagreements.
Perske then praised the current staff he and others have worked with for years: Mary Degiovanni, city administrator; Anita Rasmussen, city planner and developer; Mike Nielson, city engineer; Jim Hughes, police chief; Brad Borders, public-works director; and Judy Molitor, city-staff member and recording secretary for council meetings.
Perske then gave a nod to council-member-elect Pat Lynch, who was in the audience. Turning to Nicoll at his left, Perske shook her hand and welcomed her as the new mayor and Lynch as the new council member. Both were elected in the Nov. 4 election. They will be sworn in and take their new seats on the second Monday in January.
A long-time teacher and coach, Perske served for six years as a Sartell City Council member and four years as the city’s mayor. Last year, he chose to run for the Sixth Congressional District in the U.S. Congress, a bid he lost to Republican candidate Tom Emmer.
During Perske’s 10 years as council member and mayor, Sartell experienced major changes and growing pains that included many roadway projects and road re-configurations, half-cent sales-tax projects in the city, the rapid development of a medical campus in the city, construction of Epic Center and the founding of several new parks, the biggest being Pinecone Central Park and Sauk River Regional Park. Aside from the many good, progressive developments, there was also a catastrophe: the explosion and fire that killed a Verso paper-mill employee and led to the permanent closing of the historic mill after more than 100 years of thriving business in the city.