Baxter City Council thanks Heitke for service

BAXTER--Gordon Heitke attended his last city council meeting in Baxter. Or at least his last one as city administrator. Heitke's retirement is official April 29. He announced his retirement in March noting he was nearing 40 years in local government.

Gordon Heitke
Gordon Heitke

BAXTER-Gordon Heitke attended his last city council meeting in Baxter.

Or at least his last one as city administrator. Heitke's retirement is official April 29.

He announced his retirement in March noting he was nearing 40 years in local government.

At the April 19 Baxter City Council meeting, Mayor Darrel Olson noted Heitke requested his retirement to be without the requisite party or gathering to mark the occasion.

Olson said the city would honor that request, but he didn't want the occasion to slip by totally without recognition.


"I just wanted to start it out and thank you for your years of service with us," Olson said.

Heitke previously noted his interest in Baxter came early as he often drove through the city and watched its progress before he applied for the administrator's post.

In the future when Heitke drives through the city, Olson said he hopes the administrator will take stock of what was accomplished during the last seven years.

Olson said he hoped Heitke looks at the terrain and takes pride in the things the administrator was involved with in Baxter "the development that happened and the expansion of the city and the positive things that have happened whether it was a Costco or a water tower or a wastewater treatment plant. ...

"Those are things that happened on your tour and I've got to believe you take some pride in that when you drive through our city in the days to come. A lot happened in the time that you were here and we are appreciative of your leadership and your knowledge of so many things that helped us through a lot of that stuff."

Heike has a master's degree in community planning. He was Lino Lakes city administrator from 2004 to 2009. Heitke served as the community development program director for East Central Regional Development Commission where he was responsible for regional land use, housing, transportation and economic development planning programs; and provided technical assistance to counties, cities and townships in a five-county area.

He also served as the community development director and administrator for Cambridge, where he managed planning and development activities during a period of significant residential, commercial and industrial growth. He was appointed city administrator of Cambridge in 1996.

Heitke started with the city of Baxter on March 16, 2009.


The council presented Heitke with a plaque and key to the city thanking him for his service to the city and community from March of 2009 to April 2016 and wishing him a long and happy retirement.

"Hopefully I don't drive by your house and see it on the garage sale," Olson joked. "We do thank you for your years here and seriously when you think of what happened in those seven years, it's been pretty phenomenal. It's been fun to work on those things with you."

Council member Quinn Nystrom also thanked Heitke for his service, noting it's not easy work.

"I appreciate you being a good steward of the town," Nystrom said.

"I appreciate your leadership very much Gordon," said council member Steve Barrows. "And I know, as a retiree who was crazy enough to come out of retirement, that you will enjoy your retirement. ... Take some time to really enjoy it. You are doing it at a good time, you are going into summer. You get to get outdoors and take some time to decide what you want to do in the next life."

Council member Todd Holman said one of the greatest recognitions is when no one notices what someone is doing.

"Your secret of your success is that you accomplished so many positive projects and policies and procedures and negotiations with community partners through the course of those seven years that really didn't get front page billing-they were just part of the work of bringing projects through solution, of bringing a project forward," Holman said. "So I want to recognize those pieces of unseen but significant service that go on behind the scenes."

Holman said Heitke also recruited talented staff for the organization.


Council member Mark Cross echoed the earlier sentiments and offered to help Heitke get his motorcycle together for a ride in the future. Heitke said there was never time before. "Now there there is no excuse, right?" Cross responded.

"I appreciate the kind words," Heitke said, noting he was thinking of his early impressions of Baxter after the mayor's comments.

"For years, I drove through the city and I watched it grow and develop. I found it quite fascinating," Heitke said. He remembered telling colleagues about Baxter and how interesting the city was. "I just want to thank you for allowing me to be a short part of its history. I just think there are some tremendous, good days ahead. I really see no end to the potential of this city."

Heitke thanked staff members for their help and support and the council for its leadership.

"It's been fun and I focus too much on what didn't get done," Heitke said. "There are a lot of things that did get done. There are a lot of things in the future for the next person to deal with, but I just want to thank you for all the opportunities you gave me here."

RENEE RICHARDSON, associate editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or . Follow on Twitter at .

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