City manager: ‘We have a better life and a better community because of your efforts’

Published 9:01 pm Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Mayor, 2 councilors recognized for longtime service

Albert Lea’s mayor and two of its city councilors were recognized Monday for their longtime service as they prepare to step down from their leadership roles at the end of this month.

It was the last Albert Lea City Council meeting for Mayor Vern Rasmussen Jr., 4th Ward Councilor Reid Olson and 6th Ward Councilor Al “Minnow” Brooks. Rasmussen was first elected to the council in 2004 as the 1st Ward councilor and served in that capacity until 2010, when he was elected to his first two-year term as mayor. He was re-elected in 2012 to a two-year term and in 2014 and 2018 to four-year terms.

Olson served on the council since January 2017, and Brooks was first elected to the council in 1998.

Email newsletter signup

City Manager Ian Rigg said under the leadership of Rasmussen, Brooks and Olson, the city has accomplished many great things in spite of challenges.

At a time when most older, rural communities are losing population, he said the city has seen an increase of 476 people since 2010.

The city has seen a number of businesses expand or start, including Mrs. Gerry’s, Freeborn-Mower Electric Cooperative, Infinite Recycled Technologies, Vortex Cold Storage and Design Ready Controls, and there have been many enhancements to the quality of life, including the Edgewater Bay Pavilion and improvements at Snyder Field.

He talked about the new fire station, which has led to improved response times as well as greater safety for firefighters.

Rigg said there have been expanded housing options with Prairie Senior Cottage, St. John’s Lutheran Community’s Fountain Lake campus, Wedgewood Cove Townhomes, Front Street Apartments and Sky Flats.

He also referenced new retailers, including Dunham’s Sports, Harbor Freight, Big Lots, Thirsty Fox, Bleachers, Scooter’s, Jersey Mike’s and others, as well as the revitalization of downtown and increased activities and the addition of Mercy One to the community.

Collaboration has also increased between the city and several other partners.

Rigg said perhaps the greatest accomplishments happened with the Blue Zones Project, which improved health and increased lifespan of residents.

“Truly the work that Mayor Rasmussen, Councilor Brooks and Councilor Olson have accomplished impacts many lives in this community … we have a better life and a better community because of your efforts,” Rigg said.
Rasmussen said it has been a group effort and recognized the staff who also played a role.

Olson said when he first joined the council he was 32 years old and over the years made many friendships and had many mentors, recognizing former 5th Ward Councilor John Severtson and former 3rd Ward Councilor Ellen Kehr.

“We’ve done a lot of good things for the community, whether people believe it or not,” he said.

Brooks thanked the department heads he has worked with over the years, and the employees of the public works, police and fire departments, who people can always count on.

He said during his time, he has worked with 31 different councilors. He thanked those he worked with, the citizens of Albert Lea, as well as his wife, Brenda. He said his wife was a sounding board over the years.

Rasmussen said it had been an enjoyable 18 years for him on the council and said that the challenges, good times and bad times he experienced on the council made him a better person.
He also thanked city staff for their role over the years.

“Anybody thinks for one minute that as a mayor, I could have been half the mayor I am without staff, you’re wrong,” Rasmussen said.

He also acknowledged his fellow city councilors. He said though they may have disagreed at times, he acknowledged the fun they had.

Rasmussen also credited his family for their support.