Jeremiah Schutt about to go down in Winnebago history
Schutt to be enshrined in Winnebago’s Hall of Fame Saturday
Jeremiah Schutt’s diligence and community spirit are about to go down in history. The former mayor of Winnebago will be inducted into Winnebago’s Hall of Fame this Saturday, July 24, at a ceremony held at the Winnebago Municipal Center from 2-4 p.m.
Linda O’Neil, Schutt’s friend and neighbor, was also his nominator.
“He has led with a positive attitude and a can-do spirit wherever he is needed,” explains O’Neil on the nomination form.
“Jeremiah is a ‘cheerleader’ of Winnebago,” she adds.
Schutt, a lifelong resident of Winnebago, has dedicated much of his life toward advocating for the small community he calls home. Perhaps his most impressive community leadership role involves his election as mayor of Winnebago in 2012, when he was just 26 years old.
“I was not campaigning to be mayor at first,” Schutt shares. “I became mayor by write-in votes.”
Schutt speculates his wife, Heidi Schutt, whom he dubs his ‘greatest supporter,’ may have led him to his eventual role in politics. Her position as director at the Winnebago Public Library opened unexpected doors for their family.
“My wife was very active with city hall because of her job,” Schutt explains. “We became good friends with the city administrator Austin Bleess, and he said I should be on the city board.”
Schutt laughs, “I guess you can blame him for me getting involved with that.”
Schutt is grateful for the unexpected opportunity. “I enjoyed all of it. That’s why I did it,” he says.
Schutt even enjoyed the many hours of meetings and commitments his time as mayor required of him throughout his three terms.
“Between my wife and I, it was very rare we didn’t have a meeting every day of the week,” admits Schutt.
When viewing Schutt’s list of community leadership roles, it is not surprising that the commitments stacked up so quickly. During his time as mayor, Schutt served as chairman of the Winnebago Economic Development Authority committee, the Fire Relief Association committee the Planning and Zoning Commission committee, and the school committee, just to name a few.
Schutt’s community involvement does not stop at his duties as mayor. He also enjoyed his time serving on the Winnebago Area Museum board.
“My grandfather got me going on it,” explains Schutt. “There was an open position, and they wanted me for the board because of my mechanical abilities.” Schutt’s time on the board even included a year-long term as president.
While Schutt’s grandfather, Jerry Poole, encouraged him to get involved with the local museum, his grandmother, Delores Schutt, nudged him toward a different element of community leadership that he finds equally important.
“I am very active at my church, Lutheran Church of Our Savior,” says Schutt. “I’ve been on the board longer than I should say. I was 16 or 17 when I first joined.”
Schutt’s church involvement stems not just from a passion for community leadership, but also from another passion that is very close to his heart: music.
“My grandma was the piano, organ, and vocal teacher at church,” explains Schutt. “I started playing when I was 12, and she taught me.”
Today, Schutt carries on his grandmother’s legacy.
“My grandma started the praise singer group at the church,” explains Schutt. “When she retired, I started directing and playing for the group.”
One may wonder how Schutt, who also has two boys named Gus and Joshua, ages five and seven, finds the energy to do so much for the community. However, Schutt clearly loves giving his time to others.
“Volunteering for me has been very rewarding,” says Schutt. He urges others to dedicate their time in a similar fashion.
“I would encourage people to get involved in the community,” he says. “Even if it’s just an hour a week, do something.”
Schutt adds, “A lot of people hide in the weeds, and don’t get recognition for the work they do. That’s what we need.”
Schutt is also passionate about another community issue: the support of small towns.
“We have to support local businesses in any possible way,” says Schutt. “You have to pay a little more down here, but it is going to a family, not to a big corporation.”
Schutt indeed has a soft spot in his heart for small towns, particularly Winnebago. His family’s residence in the town extends back to his great-grandparents.
“What I like about Winnebago so much is it’s like a big family,” says Schutt. “You build all of these relationships. I really value that.”
“Winnebago, in general, is a special place for me,” he adds.
Schutt is excited to see some positive changes occurring in Winnebago.
“We are working to get the Corn Plus ethanol plant up and running again,” shares Schutt. “It will create upwards of 50 jobs for the community. It will have a huge impact.”
Schutt adds this will help other businesses in Winnebago as well, including the Continental Carbonic dry ice factory.
“They are operating with a skeleton crew right now,” explains Schutt. “If Corn Plus is operating again, though, they will be able to hire more people too.”
Schutt is thrilled to see his hometown making strides. “I like to see things grow, and see things work,” says Schutt.
Once in awhile, Schutt does like to stray outside of Faribault County’s limits. He enjoys going on camping trips with his family, and has even traveled as far as Wyoming to go elk hunting with his dad, Steve Schutt.
However, Schutt is clearly a small town Minnesotan at heart.
“We will be around,” he says, when asked if he and his family plan to stay in Winnebago for the forseeable future.
Schutt does admit, “I love northern Minnesota, so maybe someday we will live up there.” He then adds, “I’m not a big city person. It’s small towns for me.”