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Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities honors Heitke, Schmit

ST. PAUL -- Former Willmar Mayor Les Heitke and former Willmar City Administrator Michael Schmit have been honored by the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities. Willmar is a Coalition member.

Heitke received the Jack Murray Award for his excellence in service to greater Minnesota and Schmit received the Bob Filson Award for distinguished rural leadership. The awards were made Aug. 4 during the Coalition's three-day summer conference in Grand Rapids.

The Jack Murray Award is given annually to retiring city officials who demonstrate knowledge, leadership, and active participation in Coalition program areas over their public service career. The award is named for Jack Murray, mayor of International Falls, who was instrumental in forming the Coalition.

Heitke was cited for his leadership as a board member and president, and for his involvement in the League of Minnesota Cities and the National League of Cities.

"Greater Minnesota is stronger today because of Les Heitke's commitment to our communities," said Tim Flaherty, Coalition executive director. "He was always willing to drive to the State Capitol for a press conference or meet with a legislator to discuss the importance of a policy decision on Willmar and other area cities. We cannot thank him enough for his commitment to (the Coalition) and being such a strong advocate for greater Minnesota."

The Bob Filson Award is given to retiring city managers and administrators who have displayed sound judgment in rural policy matters throughout their careers and made significant contributions to the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities. Schmit received the award for his success leading development projects in Willmar and for his strong advocacy regarding issues affecting communities in west central Minnesota.

"Michael Schmit was always there when we needed advice, counsel and representation at the State Capitol on issues affecting Greater Minnesota cities," said Flaherty. "He was a strategic administrator who shared his knowledge with other elected officials and city staff. Simply put, he was a tremendous resource for our organization."

The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization representing 75 cities outside of the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The Coalition educates legislators about issues important to greater Minnesota.

-- Staff reports