Cogwheel Archive

Rotary Cogwheel | 06.25.2015

June 23, 2015

Today: Leonard Francis Vibbi, Sierra Leone Project (Weber)

Birthdays: John Sinning (6/22) and Richard Collman (6/26).

Next Week: Rachel Estrella, Classification, and Changing of the Guard (Halverson)

Last Week:

It was destiny. When Nick Hagenmiller graduated high school, he was introduced as the future city administrator of Northfield. It didn’t take him all that long to get here.

At 30, Nick is a young and highly accomplished city administrator. In fact, he already has 20 years of management experience under his belt. Nick started a lawn service when he was 10 years old; within two years, he had 50 accounts, two employees (with drivers’ licenses) and an accountant to do payroll. He sold the business when he was 14. His next career move: Ace Hardware in St. Peter, Nick’s hometown, plus a seat on the executive board of the St. Peter Chamber of Commerce.

Nick worked at Ace for nine years, eventually balancing his college schedule with shifts at the store. That retail environment taught him accountability, customer service, soft skills and how to communicate with people.

“I liked the ‘fix it’ mentality,” Nick says. “That spirit carries forward into my life as a city administrator, balancing projects, issues, places and people – and fitting all the pieces together.”

The 1998 tornado that devastated St. Peter was an unlikely career inspiration. Nick admired how City Administrator Todd Prafke, staff and leaders put St. Peter back together. Two weeks after the storm, Nick walked unannounced into the office of Prafke, who made time for him that day – and once a week to mentor him, until Nick went off to college.

Nick’s first civic management job was Community Development Director for the city of Montevideo . . . much to his wife Vicki’s dismay. Nick helped Montevideo add jobs (no small feat during the recession), increase participation in city transit service by 70 percent, and increase public participation in local government.

In 2012, Nick became city administrator of Howard Lake, where he leveraged a $2,000 grant into $500,000 in activities to reinvigorate the downtown; started a housing and marketing program that sparked growth in housing and industrial development; increased transit use; and crafted a strategic plan for the city and right-sized its government . . . all in just two years. “It shows what can be done with unified city government,” he says.

His goals for Northfield? Improve organization for efficient services; nurture interdepartmental “mesh” among veteran department leaders and newer colleagues; enhance communication; and acknowledge the project-rich environment of Northfield.

“Finding, prioritizing and getting projects done in a meaningful manner is a challenge, and very exciting,” Nick says.

On his list: the library expansion – “one of the most rewarding projects I’ve worked on” – the skateboard park and the musical playground at Way Park, where Rotary support has been key; regional parks and trails; and Woodley Street, where City Council has “done a great job navigating an incredibly complex project.”

Nick doesn’t shy away from complex situations, or the intense citizen participation in Northfield.

“Northfield is a better, more beautiful community because of the conflict that happens here,” Nick said. “Northfield’s greatest asset is its people. Northfield’s bench is deeper and more complete than many cities’ starting lineup.”

Nick’s long-term career goal?

“My goal in Northfield is to last. I want to retire from here,” he said.

Just not too soon, okay, Nick?

Mini-Classification: Erica Zweifel described a hobby that has taken over her summers, and her screen porch. Zweifel’s family collects caterpillars from their yard – and lately, caterpillar eggs before parasitic wasps get to them – and hatches monarch butterflies in the full open space of their screen porch. Erica recently learned that this hobby is called “monarch midwifery.” Yes, that’s a thing.

New Member Inductions: Wendy Sivanich (Estenson) and Steve Underdahl (S. Richardson).

Guests: Claire Spencer (Zweifel), Duda Pixonon (V. Dilley), Fred Bursch (Estenson), Matt Christensen (Gleason) and Steve Wilmot.

Scholarship Enhancement: Steve Wilmot

— Jake Conway asked for 4-8 more volunteers for a Habitat for Humanity project day July 30. Contact Jake if you’d like to help.

— Alan Anderson gave details on upcoming Climate Change lobbying efforts, and encouraged members to call legislators in support.

— Russ Halvorson reported on his experience at the worldwide conference in Sao Paolo, where he picked up many ideas and inspiration. He said the best part was being in the auditorium with 14,000 Rotarians, all with the same focus: to serve others.

— The car raffle returns this year, with plans to sell 2,500 tickets at $20 each. Grand prize is a Ford Focus. Smaller prizes will be gift cards for gas and groceries. Raffle will launch in mid-July and end in September.

Matthew Rich presented Peggy Prowe with a $7,000 club donation for Mill Towns Trail. Peggy suggested handing it directly to Nick Hagenmiller as the city works on funding the East Side River Trail.

— The Rotary Summer Social will be Thursday, July 23, 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Estenson Event Center. There will be a happy hour at 5:30 p.m., catered meal at 6:30 p.m. followed by a club meeting. We will celebrate Matthew’s year of masterful executive leadership and welcome Russ Halverson in as our next fearless leader.

— Dale Ness said the Bike Tour Committee will soon be inviting businesses and individuals to sponsor the 2015 Defeat of Jesse James Bike Tour. Invitations will go out soon.

  • Outbound Students 2015-16
    Beimers, Henry – Norway
  • Beimers, William – Brazil
  • Carlson, Samuel -Argentina
  • Estrada, Gabriella – France
  • Hahn, Erin – Thailand
  • Hodel, Christoph – Indonesia
  • Kelley, Caitlin – Chile
  • Lunderby, Jack – Brazil
  • Mandsager, Erik – Zimbabwe
  • Martinez, Odalys – Japan
  • Muir, Mason – Taiwan
  • Olson, Josiah – Colombia
  • Regnier, Eli – Brazil
  • Rodriguez-Vazquez,Leslie – Brazil
  • Scheffert, Jenna – Italy
  • Seitz, Zoe – Denmark
  • Washburn Chapman, AhnaCole – South Africa
  • Woitalla, Jessica – Brazil.

Past Northfield Rotary Club meeting videos on YouTube

Coming Up

July 9 — State Senator Kevin Dahle (Anderson)

July 16 — Nick Stoneman, President Shattuck St. Mary’s School (Cogan)

July 23 — Summer Social, 5:30 p.m., Estenson Event Center and Chris Kennelly Classification (Reese)

July 30Lori Pulkrabek, GSE Team 2014