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Read about awards, recognition, projects, celebrations, staff changes, and other announcements about Minnesota cities.

In remembrance

Former Willmar City Council Member Jim Dokken passed away Oct. 2 at the age of 88. An Air Force Veteran of more than 20 years, Dokken represented the 4th Ward on the Willmar City Council from 1998 to 2015.

David Smiglewski, age 70, of Granite Falls, Minnesota passed away on Sept. 22, 2023. Dave was appointed to fill a vacant City Council seat on July 16, 1979, and assumed the position of mayor on Feb. 5, 1996. He served as mayor of Granite Falls for 27 years and as a council member for 16 years previously. In 2016, he received a Bush Fellowship and went on to graduate from the Metropolitan State University with a BA in Civic Engagement. Dave’s time was also spent as a board member of many local and statewide organizations, frequently advocating for Granite Falls in his time associated with the League of Minnesota Cities and the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities among many, many others.

Robert Morris “Bob” Benson, former City Council member and mayor of Wanamino, passed away Aug. 20, 2023, at the age of 91. He was born Nov. 25, 1931, in Wannaska. Bob served on the Wanamingo City Council for 18 years, and also served a term as the city’s mayor.

Awards and recognition

Grand Marais was Ranked by Travel + Leisure as One of America’s Best Small Lake Towns

The North Shore has been given a big boost from the Travel + Leisure, which has named Grand Marais America’s Best Small Lake Town.

In the global travel magazine’s first ranking of small towns, Grand Marais was cited for its charming lake-town feel in the summer, colorful foliage in the fall and Northern Lights in the winter.

The town (pop. 1,340) on the shores of Lake Superior and two hours north of Duluth, was praised for being an entry point to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness as well as its selection of places to eat, shop, play and stay.

The magazine highlights World’s Best Donuts, strolling along the waterfront, the Grand Marais Lighthouse and Artist’s Point, making sure to take a break to partake in the favorite pastime of “skipping rocks into the harbor.” A vibrant arts community also pushed its best small-town ranking over the edge.

“Set along the forested edges of Lake Superior, up the state’s North Shore, this is also Minnesota’s artsiest town,” the article reads.

Grand Marais Mayor Tracy Benson, said the acknowledgment put a smile on her face.

“There are lots of beautiful places in the world, but what keeps visitors returning is our welcoming nature,” she said in an email. “Ask any long-term county business owner, and they will tell you their customers become friends and ‘family’ over the years. Our community is more than happy to share the ‘Tip of the Arrowhead and thrilled to be recognized for what we have to offer.”

From the Star Tribune