By Linda Scherer
WINSTED, MN City Administrator Brent Mareck has found one of the benefits of completing the new Winsted city center project is being able to work in his corner office overlooking the lakefront promenade.
It is a daily reminder of a job successfully done during his time as administrator.
This is Mareck’s seventh year as city administrator, and even more than appreciating his new business surroundings, he likes working for Winsted residents.
“I am thankful for the opportunity to work here. If you are in a place where the best asset is the people and you get to work for those people, that is a pretty special thing,” Mareck said. “ . . . Winsted will always have this common goal everyone wants what’s best for Winsted. Sometimes you just can’t teach that. It just gets passed down from generation to generation.”
Now that the city center project is complete, Mareck has already begun planning for the city’s next major project, the future land use plan.
The timing of the plan is good, according to Mareck, because development has slowed down and everyone can have a clear mind as they look at the community to see how they would like to see it grow, or not grow, as the case may be.
The city council, planning commission, the township board, and property owners just outside of the city limits, will take part in the decision making process.
The project should take about six months and there will be an opportunity for resident input along the way.
Besides the citizens having input in the land use plan, the public will be kept informed of the city’s progress and decisions made. This is a priority for Mareck.
He believes it is important for the city to be transparent with projects it is working on and have good communication with its citizens.
A perception many people have of government is that it is always closed or inefficient, according to Mareck.
Mareck wants the people of Winsted to know their city government is trying to be different. Both he and the city staff want to provide an environment where people can come and know the city will listen.
“I want people to trust me and trust the city and you have to earn that trust,” Mareck said.
It is apparent to those who attend city meetings, Mareck has earned the trust of many.
“Brent is very professional, highly motivated, extremely organized, and effective at problem solving,” Mayor Steve Stotko said. “He’s able to communicate and work with a variety of people from all walks of life. He has the ability to discern issues, think objectively, and formulate courses of action and policies that address problems and issues. Brent is just an all-around good person. We are fortunate to have him as our city administrator.”
From St. Cloud basketball court to Winsted city hall
Watching and listening to Mareck during city council meetings with his knowledge of city law, it is hard to imagine him in his younger years when he was more interested in sports than ordinances.
He enjoyed football, basketball, and baseball in junior high, but then decided to concentrate on basketball in high school.
Known as Mr. Hustle on the basketball court at Apollo High School in St. Cloud, his senior year the basketball team won its conference.
After graduating from Apollo in 1995, Mareck attended St. John’s University for his undergraduate degree.
He played basketball at St. John’s for a year and then, for a couple of years, coached basketball for freshmen and sophomores at Sartell High School.
It was his junior year of college, when a city administrator who had graduated from St. John’s spoke to one of his classes, that Mareck began to think that it might be something he would be interested in.
While growing up, Mareck’s father, DeWayne Mareck, had been involved in local government which could have also influenced Brent’s decision to consider the career.
DeWayne was part of the St. Cloud township board and the city council in St. Cloud. Today his dad is a county commissioner for the Stearns County Board. He was in the treasurer’s office in Stearns County for 30 plus years.
Some of Brent’s organizational skills had to come from his mother, Sharon, who has been doing day care for more than 30 years while raising their five children. Mareck is the fourth of five children. He has three brothers and one sister.
After getting his undergraduate degree from St. John’s, Brent attended Minnesota State University at Mankato where he received his masters.
While at Mankato, he met the then Winsted City Administrator Matt Podhradsky.
Podhradsky was leaving Winsted to become assistant administrator in Chaska and told Brent he should apply for the position in Winsted.
The first time Brent came to Winsted was for his job interview, although he had heard of the town previously through an uncle who had hauled milk to the area.
Brent married his wife Arika (Wagner) of Plymouth Nov. 22, 2003.
The couple met through one of Brent’s college roommates.
Currently, Arika is an English teacher at St. Louis Park High School teaching 9-12 grade English.
Marriage was an easy decision for Mareck. He said he knew on his first date that he was going to marry her.
They have one son, Cullen, who will be three years old Jan. 2.
Brent said that Cullen has changed his life in every way you can think of.
“It is just funny how you live your whole life without them and then they are there, and you can’t imagine your life without them,” Brent said.
Although Cullen has a mini hoop at home for practicing basketball, and he has been going to a few of his cousin’s basketball games at Sartell, he is more interested in trains.
The Marecks found that out at the Winsted Winter Festival when they could not get Cullen away from the St. Paul Chamber train display.
As Cullen grows up, Brent might give Cullen a few pointers on the basketball court and will probably help him with his homework in political science, but his wish for his future is, “I just want him to be a good man kind and honest and caring, and I want him to be happy.”
Is there a New Year’s resolution that Brent would like to share?
“I try not to make New Year’s resolutions because, if I want to make a change, there is no time like the present. Why wait until Jan. 1? Why not get a head start on it?” Brent said.