Newly appointed Jenkins City Council member inherited civic responsibility
Jerimey Flategraff's grandmother and great-grandfather both served in elected positions.
As of Oct. 12, the Jenkins City Council gained a new council member with the appointment and swearing in of Jerimey Flategraff.
In a personal introduction, Flategraff had a chance to introduce himself before the council voted among him and two other applicants at that Oct. 12 regular meeting. He said he's lived in Jenkins for 12 years, but long before that he was inspired by his grandmother.
" "There's more than one point of view. It's like on jobs where I see it one way and the forman sees it another way and we work together and come up with a plan that best works.""
— Jerimey Flategraff.
"My grandmother served on the township board in Lake Shore for 30 years," Flategraff said. "She instilled that in us to help serve our community."
Flategraff was born and raised in Lake Shore where his grandmother, Darlene Flategraff, did indeed serve on the board. She wasn't the first. Darlene's father - Flategraff's great-grandfather - was Albert Ost, a German immigrant who relocated to Lake Shore where he and wife Anna had three children - Harne, Darlene and Ronald - according to Ancestry.com.
During his time, Ost served the township board as well.
"He served as the clerk on the board and my grandmother took over his position when he passed," Jerimey Flategraff said.
Darlene was chosen to fill Ost's position after his death, where she served until she moved out of the jurisdiction. That didn't quell her civic involvement, however.
" "A coworker mentioned it to me and he thought it'd be a good thing for me to do. I said, 'Well, why don't you do it?' and he said 'I think you'd be better than me.' So we thought it would be a good way for us to have a voice and help the board.""
— Jerimey Flategraff.
"She became an election clerk there (Loon Lake Township)," Flategraff said. "She really promoted service and that if you care about it and want to see a chance, it's you that has to do something. Volunteer; you have to be involved. Let your voice be heard, basically."
That was the message Flategraff and his younger brother, Josh, grew up with on their parents' hobby farm.
"We had horses as a kid," he said. "We took care of them all the time. We always had dogs. We rode four wheelers, dirt bikes and all that stuff. That pretty much was the way of life for us."
Flategraff has never been on a council, but he has plenty of relevant experience under his belt. He works for Telecom Construction, an underground utility contractor. He's a supervisor with approximately 15 men working for him.
"I oversee the day-to-day operations of the northwest area of the state," he said. "I basically cover an area from Aitkin up to Baudette and all the way to the North Dakota border. I deal with day-to-day operation. I set up jobs, bill the jobs and take care of my employees' time."
He's hoping the leadership experience will help him in his time on the council.
"There's more than one point of view," Flategraff said. "It's like on jobs where I see it one way and the foreman sees it another way and we work together and come up with a plan that best works."
Flategraff thinks that experience not only teaches him about working in a supervisory position or position of authority, it also keys him in on the goings on and industry information when it comes to underground utility installation.
"I might have a little knowledge to give to the board on that type of stuff," he said. "Not that I have any pull or anything, but I have a knowledge of what it takes and what it costs to do the type of work."
Flategraff and his wife, Bonnie, have three children ranging from age 22 to 9. He first became aware of the opening on the council when he read about it in the newspaper. He was already considering applying when a coworker encouraged him.
"A coworker mentioned it to me and he thought it'd be a good thing for me to do," Flategraff said. "I said, 'Well, why don't you do it?' and he said, 'I think you'd be better than me.' So we thought it would be a good way for us to have a voice and help the board."
He doesn't have any pet projects in mind to accomplish on the board. He did comment on the departments he's felt real appreciation for in recent years.
"I don't know a lot about what they have going on, but I really like what's happened with the park and baseball fields in the last however many years," Flategraff said. "It's really kind of a showpiece for the city."
Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or firstname.lastname@example.org.