by Dennis Dalman
After five years of long-distance dating and then two years of a long-distance marriage, now is the time for Matt and Anita Archambeau to be together – at home in Tennessee.
For nearly 20 years, Anita has been the Sartell City planner/developer and assistant administrator, and she presided over the city’s phenomenal growing pains during that time. She had become such a familiar face and so much a part of Sartell developments that many were stunned when she announced recently she would move to Tennessee.
In an interview with the Newsleader, Archambeau offered details of what led to her decision to leave her Sartell job.
In 2012, Matt and Anita began dating. He was at that time the manager of the Sartell Verso Paper Mill, but he split his time between Sartell and his Tennessee home because his two children continued to live there. When there was an explosion at the Sartell mill, which caused the death of one worker, it was decided to close the mill for good after its more than 100 years as an economic bedrock for Sartell. After the decision to shut down the mill, Matt, still a Verso employee, assumed mill management positions in both Maine and Michigan. Matt and Anita spent many, many hours flying or other forms of transportation to see each other. In October 2016, they were married during a trip to Kauai, Hawaii.
“A move to Tennessee allows us to reduce his travel time and allows more family time with his children,” Anita said.
Their home is now Matt’s original family home in Collierville, Tennessee., which is a suburb of Memphis. Matt has two children – Maddie, 17, a junior at Huston High School in Tennessee; and Nathan, 14, a freshman at that same school.
Anita has two children – Madeline Rasmussen, 20, a junior at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she is majoring in journalism/strategic communications with a fine-arts minor; and Emma Rasmussen, 18, a senior at Sartell High School, who will soon attend the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Anita and her children also have two beloved Beagles – Putter and Tipper.
Last year, Anita earned a doctorate in public administration from Hamline University, and since then she has served as an adjunct professor for graduate level administration courses at a couple of universities. She said she will continue her teaching work in Tennessee and will also continue to explore other opportunities in local government.
Born in New Ulm and a graduate of St. Cloud State University, Archambeau earned a master’s degree at Minnesota State University Mankato; and then – just last year – her Hamline University doctorate.
During her two decades in Sartell, she was instrumental in all forms of development – industrial, business, residential – as well as helping the city develop its parks, recreational facilities and other amenities. Three stand-out achievements she helped facilitate are the Town Square area of south Sartell, the thriving medical campus and the Epic Center mall.
Statewide, Archambeau made a mark too. In 2013, Gov. Mark Dayton appointed her to serve as an at-large member of the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission.
“Anita’s leadership has been instrumental to the healthy growth of Sartell from a bedroom community to one with a strong business balance,” said Sartell Mayor Ryan Fitzthum in a statement after he’d learned of her plans to leave. “She will be sorely missed in Sartell.”
Sartell’s city administrator, Mary Degiovanni, expressed the thoughts and feelings of many at Sartell City Hall when she sent the following words to the Newsleader:
“We are sad but happy for Anita personally in her new life in Tennessee. Anita’s importance to the city is she has not just been professionally talented, effective and efficient but that she really loves Sartell. She knows the schools, the families, the businesses, the community. She lives and breathes it. So everything she did reflected that care in both her personal and professional commitment.”
In a press release when she announced she would be leaving Sartell, Archambeau wrote this:
“I have greatly enjoyed and appreciated the opportunities I have had through the years, specially working with wonderful community members, Sartell business owners, builders and developers, commission members, mayors and councils and of course my fantastic co-workers. It has been an honor. I really do love this community, and I will always think of Sartell as my home.”