Schmidt enjoys new city position with Parks Department

Deb Moldaschel
The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch

Last summer Matt Schmidt left the Sleepy Eye Police Department and was hired to work in the city Parks Department. Schmidt was chosen as Parks Director, succeeding Steve Lingen who retired in November. 

“I was ready for a career change,” Schmidt said. “I’d worked some part-time shifts for the Parks Department a few summers and knew I’d like the work.”

Schmidt describes himself as an outdoorsman and enjoys hunting and fishing. He likes working outside—something he gets to do plenty of now.

Matt Schmidt is Sleepy Eye’s new Parks Director, working in the department since mid-July and taking over the Director position when Steve Lingen retired in November. A variety of ice fishing shelters were on Sleepy Eye Lake Monday afternoon, along with a couple of guys enjoying the beautiful weather out on the ice. Parks Director Matt Schmidt said the ice was measured at 9 to 11 inches that day.

City Manager Bob Elston said the city was pleased to hire Schmidt for the position as they already knew his work ethic, personality and demeanor.

“We hired Matt because he was a known talent already working for us,” Elston said. “Skills can be learned, when necessary. Work ethic and quality of character is either there or it’s not.  We knew it was there with Matt because he has worked with us for 13 years. He is someone that we wanted to keep in our employ.”

With the city’s parks asleep for the winter, what does the Parks Department find to do in the winter?

“We’ve been trimming trees in the parks for awhile now,” Schmidt said. “Drive on the road around Allison Park and you’ll notice all the tree removal and trimming we did there. It opened up the view to the lake and kept the road signs visible. After the lights come down in Sportsmen’s Park, we’ll start trimming the trees there, too.”

Trying to establish good ice on the outdoor skating rink in Burnside Park has been a challenge this winter said Schmidt. He’s hoping for some colder weather ahead. “We have a base started, but the warm weather has affected the ice. It really isn’t quite ready to open, but I did see some kids skating there the other day.”

Schmidt and his fellow Parks worker, Craig Fischer, also measure the ice depth on Sleepy Eye Lake twice a week. In mid-December the ice was 4 to 5 inches and increased by a couple inches each week since then.

When we met at the lake Monday afternoon, when a number of ice fishing shelters were out on the ice, Schmidt said they’d measured the ice at 9 to 11 inches that day. They measure the depth in a couple places each time. The oxygen level of the water is also measured at the same time. If it falls too low the aeration system will be started.MN DNR’s general ice thickness guidelines

For new, clear ice only:

Under 4 inches - stay off

•4 inches - ice fishing or other activities on foot

•5 to 7 inches - ATV or snowmobile

•8 to 12 inches - car or small pickup

•12 to 15 inches - medium truck

White ice or “snow ice” is only about half as strong as new clear ice. Double the above thickness guidelines when traveling on white ice. Many factors other than thickness can cause ice to be unsafe.