Winnebago City Hall staff knows how to work together
The team that helps run Faribault County’s small-town Winnebago is a large one, spreading well outside of the confines of City Hall, Main Street’s Municipal Center.
But four of the faces who populate that building on a regular basis, some of them for all of and more than the Municipal Center’s 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m. weekday hours, are proud to represent a faction of that team.
At the top of the list is Mayor Jeremiah Schutt, who was born and raised in town, a 2005 graduate of Blue Earth Area High School. And even the mayor himself is quick to credit his counterparts, not to mention the entire community, with truly helping the city keep chugging along.
“They do all the work,” he jokes. “I’m just the spokesperson.”
In reality, Schutt says one of the integral parts of his job, in between responsibilities for Royer’s Plumbing & Heating, is simply listening to his fellow residents.
“I actually get suggestions from the community,” says Schutt, who shares a passion for hunting with Eric Olson, police chief for Winnebago’s Public Safety Department.
Originally from the Duluth area, Olson is part of the everyday city staff with an office in the Municipal Center. And, like Schutt, his focus is on the people of the town.
Overseeing a wide range of part- and full-time police officers, of course, is Olson’s chief duty. Outside of himself, he says there are as many as 12 officers taking shifts for the Winnebago department.
But the real work is building up the community, in which Olson has now served for nearly three years.
“I’m community-oriented,” he says. “I believe in community. We want officers to be trusted and community-oriented as well.”
Whether that mentality pushes the Public Safety Department merely to interact with Winnebago residents outside of police work or enforces high standards of law enforcement, it is a priority for Olson, who says he’s usually around some level of hockey when he is not on the job.
Rounding out the regulars at City Hall are Chris Ziegler, Winnebago’s city administrator, and deputy city clerk Jessi Sturtz, the unofficial face of the town as the “primary contact” for everyone passing through or reaching out to the Municipal Center.
Ziegler, born and raised near Easton, has held the city administrator post since December of 2012, a little over a decade after moving into town.
“I take direction from the City Council,” he says, “and oversee all departments and department heads for the city.”
It sounds straightforward, but it does not lack responsibility. The departments, Ziegler adds, include everything from the city’s Fire Department and Ambulance Service to Public Works, Wastewater Treatment and Main Street’s Muir Library.
A live music enthusiast outside of work, Ziegler works closely with Sturtz, who is also a locally raised city staff member as a native of Winnebago.
Sturtz, meanwhile, is responsible for coordinating just about everything that comes and goes in Winnebago.
“I do all the accounting,” she says, “and answer all the phones, so I’m pretty much coordinating all of it.”
Also a mainstay at Winnebago’s City Council meetings, Sturtz says she is an avid reader. A proponent of the city’s new playground plans as part of the Winnebago Kids Fund, she also admits to staying busy with her own children.
“I chase my kids a lot,” she says. “So I’m running all over.”
So, too, are the four faces at city hall.
Running around to help Winnebago, well, keep running.