A newcomer and an incumbent both said they are honored to have been elected, and both are happy to represent the people of the city on the Sartell City Council.
On Nov. 6, incumbent Steve Hennes was elected, as well as political novice Amy Braig-Lindstrom. They were elected from a slate of four candidates that included incumbent council member Sandra Cordie and Mike “Spike” Piotrowski.
New member Braig-Lindstrom will take her seat at the first council meeting of the new year, Jan. 14. Braig-Lindstrom has lived in Sartell for several years. She has also lived in Iowa, the American Southwest and upstate New York.
“I feel honored to have earned the support of the community by being elected to the city council,” said Braig-Lindstrom, who is a ceramic potter and the developer of the farmers’ market, “Market Monday,” in Sartell. “I am excited to get started, and I’m a little nervous because I haven’t had a new job in a long time.”
One of Braig-Lindstrom’s highest priorities is to find simple, inexpensive ways to make Sartell safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers. Braig-Lindstrom’s current thoughts are a combination of practical and visionary concepts. Though some of them may take a long time to realize because of funding strictures, she believes such concepts from her wish list should still be explored so the city could embrace them once their time does come.
Braig-Lindstrom submitted her wish list to the Sartell Newsleader. The following are brief summaries of what she would like to see someday in the city:
• Stay in close contact with the Verso Paper Co. in hopes of setting some goals or timelines for moving forward with the mill and its property.
• Assist private interests with the round barn by helping connect people who are interested in it with one another, and then research what grants are available for historic preservation in hopes of forming another successful public-private partnership and see a piece of Sartell history brought back to life.
• Build upon the success of the Rotary Park fishing pier, and find more ways to highlight and use the area cities’ greatest natural resources – the three rivers.
• Continue the great partnerships with our schools. I believe our youth are an untapped resource and that together, with the schools, we can encourage a level of civic engagement which will enable them to become more involved in their town and in turn, more invested. Thus, making it more likely they will choose Sartell as the place they want to make their home or where they want to bring their future businesses.
• Finally flesh out what we need in a community center (resource facility) and move forward to find an affordable, sustainable solution and see it to fruition.
“I hope to find ways to better utilize our existing park amenities,” Braig-Lindstrom said. “Examples are: 1.) the outdoor rink at Bernick’s Arena during the three seasons it doesn’t have ice. 2.) the sand volleyball court at the The Wilds park 3.) our several basketball hoops/courts 4.) our tennis courts. I would love to have an outdoor, in-ground public pool with a zero entry area, a 4-6 foot area, lap lanes, slides and a concession stand. Of course, I want to maintain the city’s infrastructure by staying up on road maintenance.”
Braig-Lindstrom said she also wants to attract businesses and industry to Sartell in a way that builds on the already successful pockets of commerce in town – the River Road, the Pinecone/2nd Street area, Pinecone Marketplace and right off Hwy. 15: the medical complexes and Epic Center.
“I would like to see the following: paths connected to one another and to regional trail systems,” she said. “More trees planted in neighborhood parks; kiddie pools/splash pads open into the month of September; a place for the public to get water for themselves and their dogs in a place centrally located on the trail system, possibly at Lions Community Park; adult workout equipment added to a section of the trail systems; a dog park and skate park.
“Those are some of the things that popped into my mind. Some will be more easily addressed or accomplished than others, obviously. I think it will be important to encourage and enlist the help of our residents by making it easier for folks to contribute their thoughts and ideas. We also need to be more hospitable to and considerate of the residents by allowing them to speak at council meetings without pre-registering.”
Like Braig-Lindstrom, Hennes was pleased to know Sartell residents have confidence in his leadership abilities. Many of his ideas for the council stem back from ideas he has worked on for many years. Hennes was first appointed to the council to fill out a term vacated by Mary Lewandowski when she and her family moved from Sartell. He was then re-elected to serve his second term starting in 2007. Come January, Hennes will begin serving his third term as council member. Hennes retired last year from his long-time job as director of the Whitney Senior Center in St. Cloud.
“I want to thank the voters,” Hennes said. “I appreciate all the support I’ve had. I’d like to thank the city voters who have faith in me for four more years. I’ll do the best I can. I’ll use common sense, and I’ll listen to the people.”
Many of Hennes’ ideas for the city stem back from ideas he has worked on for many years. One of those ideas is the concept of a Sartell Community Center. Hennes has advocated such a center for 14 years and, like other council members and the mayor, he thinks it’s time to move ahead with a center. A task committee is now working on just that.
Another of Hennes’ long-time dreams is to realize a regional park along the Sauk River in south Sartell, an area that abuts the Whitney Center recreational property in north St. Cloud. Hennes said he can clearly envision someday a park there with trails and all sorts of waterside amenities. There could be cross-country skiing, ice skating and there could even be a motel or two on the uplands there, Hennes said.
“It’s a beautiful piece of property,” he said. “That area is 10 minutes from the center of Sartell. A great location that will attract people from a wide area. We’re hoping other cities will participate in developing that (regional) park. I would also like to see an area aquatic center attached to the Whitney Center.”
A third long-cherished idea is to develop a “Town Center” in Sartell.
“That’s in our master plan now,” he said. “We have a unique opportunity to develop our own downtown – something Sartell has never had. It would be located in the area down by the round barn. There would be a park square, businesses, entertainment, maybe a movie theater and amphitheater. There is a pond there that is bigger than Lake George in St. Cloud.”
Hennes has seen award-winning downtown developments in places like Pella and Dubuque, Iowa and Woodstock, Ill. and hopes someday Sartell can also develop such thrilling places right along the river and in the heart of Sartell.
Hennes is convinced as Sartell continues to grow and the level of residents’ involvement and volunteerism continues to grow along with the population, his wish-list dreams are almost certain to be realized, sooner or later.