My thoughts after the Chamber Annual Meeting; or A Tale of two Mayors (both good.)

The Chamber Annual Dinner was a lovely event. I look forward to it every year (well, maybe not so much in the olden days when I was in charge—more stressful than lovely then.) Prior to the meeting, chamber members are given the opportunity to nominate people for the awards. I told Christina Andres I wanted to nominate Jim Broich and she said, “send it over, I’ll add it to the pile.” So, I didn’t fill it out.

Truth is, Jim wins the Big Chief award most years. That is the award for the Chamber Ambassador who goes to the most scheduled appearances. So winning that was no surprise. And, who could be more deserving of the Shining Star (for community service) and the Friend of Sleepy Eye awards?

Way back in the early 90s, when I worked for the chamber of commerce, Jim was already one of Sleepy Eye’s top boosters. One of my duties was providing clerical support to the EDA. Jim was the chairman and worked tirelessly on economic development issues, as a volunteer. He was a city councilor then, and when he became mayor he had to give that EDA chairmanship up. But he didn’t give up his interest in economic development.

The way I see it, any community development is actually economic development. As any area of community life improves, the economic outlook for the community also improves.

That’s how Jim Broich, a Shining Star and a Friend of Sleepy Eye, served our community. And, he’s not done yet. He continues to serve on the event center committee, and I don’t think he’s hung up his red coat—so another Big Chief award might be his in the future.

Another thing that I really liked at the annual meeting was our current mayor, Wayne Pelzel’s speech. He told me he was going to mention a city council member from 45 years ago, and he said that was my dad, Warren Sandmann.

I was anxious to hear what Wayne had to say about Dad. It turned out it wasn’t what I expected.

Wayne said that when he came back to Sleepy Eye after college, to take a teaching position at St. Mary’s, this city council member pointed out two things about Sleepy Eye—he (Dad) said that Wayne was one of just a couple young people to return to Sleepy Eye after going away to college; and that the future of Sleepy Eye should be that of becoming a bedroom community to New Ulm. This was in 1972 and Wayne said the way things looked around town, that was probably correct.

But, it didn’t happen that way. We have good jobs in Sleepy Eye, and plenty of local employees have their bedrooms in New Ulm.

I got to wondering what happened on the job scene since that 1972 conversation between Wayne and my dad. I came up with a pretty long list of businesses established in Sleepy Eye since that time. I don’t have space to list them all, so here is a sample that includes large employers: Sleepy Eye Care Center, Sensory Effects (formerly Anderson Custom Processing), Haala Industries, Christensen Farms, Schwartz Farms, Zinniel Electric, Mark Thomas Company, and not new, but much bigger since 1972—Bic Graphics. Good jobs in a good community with a bright future.