The League recently received three Northern Lights Awards from the Minnesota Association of Government Communicators. In the “Annual Report” category, the League’s 2015-16 Annual Report won an award of merit. In the “Writing for News Release, Blog, Speech or Publication” category, the League received two awards: a silver award for the Minnesota Cities magazine article “Working Together: Duluth’s Embedded Social Worker Program,” and a Northern Lights award (top honor) for Edward Cadman’s 1920s-themed post on The City Spot blog, “Liquor Memo Updates That’ll Make You Want to Dust Off Your Glad Rags.”
William “Bill” Bassett, former city manager of Mankato and League of Minnesota Cities Ambassador, passed away on May 12 at the age of 84. Bassett played an instrumental role in shaping Mankato’s infrastructure and economic growth during his time as city manager, and was a leader for city governments around the state for most of his life.
After previously working in city government in Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin, Bassett joined Mankato as city manager in 1968 and served in that role until he retired in 1996, according to the Mankato Free Press. Right away, the new city manager took on difficult tasks such as dealing with the after-effects of the devastating 1965 flood. Over the years, he led many major city projects, from redeveloping the city’s downtown to building a new Veterans Memorial Bridge. Although some projects were controversial, Bassett handled them with professionalism and did what was best for the future of Mankato.
After Bassett’s retirement, he became the first Minnesota City/County Management Association (MCMA) Senior Advisor, in addition to being an LMC Ambassador. He served more than 20 years in both roles, providing guidance and expertise to officials in member cities. In early May, he received the MCMA 2017 President’s Award in recognition of his many accomplishments and contributions to the local government community.
Bassett is survived by his wife of 30 years, Pamela Year; four children; and seven grandchildren.
Doug Gronli, claims manager, retired on March 31 after 25 years with the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT). During his tenure with LMCIT, he worked diligently to provide complete oversight of LMCIT’s claim operations—always ensuring that his interactions with others were trustworthy, fair, and professional. Doug served as a true mentor, and he will leave a lasting legacy of quality claim handling and commitment to member cities.
Nick Bakalich joined the League as a maintenance engineer on March 29. Bakalich attended Hennepin County Technical College, where he studied heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) as well as industrial engineering systems. He has a variety of work experience in HVAC and was most recently employed at CBRE, where he worked on the Delta Airlines Critical Environment contract.
LMCIT Administrator Pete Tritz has been named as the recipient of the 2017 Award for Excellence in Service from the Association of Governmental Risk Pools (AGRiP). The Service Award is one of AGRiP’s highest honors, and recognizes those who notably promote and enhance the field of public entity pooling.
AGRiP officials cited Pete “… for his willingness to share his time, talent, and expertise collaboratively with the pooling community at large.” According to his nominators, “Any number of people have grown professionally because of Pete’s willingness to coach them, trust them, and give them the resources they need.”
League General Counsel Tom Grundhoefer passed away unexpectedly on Feb. 19. He served Minnesota cities through his work at LMC for more than 30 years. Our LMC staff extends our love and sympathies to Tom’s wife Jane, his five children, and the many friends whose lives he touched.
Grundhoefer began working for the League in 1980 as a research assistant, while a student at William Mitchell College of Law. From 1982 to 1986, he worked in private practice before returning to the League as a staff attorney. Grundhoefer was promoted to general counsel in 1996, and in recent years added management of the League’s Research Department and the role of LMC associate executive director to his many duties and responsibilities.
Grundhoefer leaves a legacy of dozens of young attorneys and law clerks who previously worked for the League, and benefited from his tutelage. He was involved with numerous professional associations and served as primary advisor to the League’s Insurance Trust, its Investment Fund, and its Building Company. Grundhoefer was also a devoted colleague, spouse, and father, and enjoyed photography as a hobby. He was also known for indulging in a spirited round of golf with friends, from time to time.
“League members will remember Tom for his valuable consultation, his gentle wit, and his friendly and professional manner,” said LMC President Rhonda Pownell, mayor of Northfield. “He will continue to inspire future city leaders well beyond his passing.”
“There is a hole in the heart of the League that will take a long, long time to heal,” said LMC Executive Director David Unmacht. “Tom devoted his entire adult life to his family, his deep faith, and his enthusiasm for public service. Moreover, he was a dear friend to many and irreplaceable confidant to me.”