By Linda Scherer
WINSTED, MN Tom Wiemiller has been a Winsted City Council member for 20 years. He was first elected to the Winsted City Council in 1989, as a write-in candidate.
“I think people in Winsted were looking for some kind of a common-ground person,” Wiemiller said.
When asked why he decided to run for council after his first term, Wiemiller said, “I think the main thing is that I love Winsted and I want all good things to happen here.”
Having lived in Winsted his entire life, except for the four years he served in the Air Force, Wiemiller has shown over and over he is totally committed to his hometown. In addition to serving on the council, he was a firefighter for 25 years and an EMT for 16 years.
Mayor Steve Stotko has worked with Wiemiller the last three years on the council and said, “Tom is extremely dedicated to doing what is right for the community of Winsted. He’s stated publicly, numerous times, the love he has for the city, and it shows in the concern he has for making Winsted a great place to work, and to live.”
Some of the city improvements that have taken place during Wiemiller’s time on the council include an upgraded infrastructure, maintaining a police force for protection, and the new city hall/city center and the lakefront promenade.
The historic city hall was on his list of major achievements, as well as his biggest disappointment.
Getting the historic city hall registered as a historic building is one of his proudest accomplishments.
“I am not so proud of the fact that we just can’t seem to get anything going with the historic city hall,” Wiemiller said. “I really thought that we made a good decision to work with Mr. Colonna, who bought it, but it just seems like it has been stalled forever.”
Looking to Winsted’s future, Wiemiller would like trail development made a priority.
“I would like to see lots of trails and sidewalks so that everyone can walk and get exercise,” Wiemiller said. “Especially me, because I need it.”
He is also hoping that building developments in Winsted, that had been doing so well before the recession, will turn itself around. “It may not happen this year or next year, but I am optimistic that Winsted will survive this,” Wiemiller said.
It has been almost two years since Wiemiller retired from Entegris in Chaska, where he worked full time as an electrician. He is enjoying retirement with his wife, Mary, of almost 45 years. Together, they are taking the time to do some traveling this winter.
When Wiemiller is at home, he has filled up many hours of his days doing volunteer work.
In addition to attending council meetings, he serves on the fire board, is a driver for senior dining, delivering meals to seniors unable to leave their homes; has been a choir member at Holy Trinity Church for more than 30 years, and lends a hand at Higher Ground and Winstock music festivals.
For Winstock, last year, Wiemiller began working on various projects out at the festival grounds about a month before the weekend event. Then, when the event was over, he spent time helping to take equipment down and make sure it was stored correctly so it would be ready for the following year.
Tom Ollig, who serves on the council with Wiemiller, has also worked with him for many years at Winstock.
“He cares about our community, its future, the service it provides our citizens and its employees,” Ollig said. “Tom has spent countless hours volunteering at Winstock over the years, his expertise as an electrician has been invaluable. Long story short, Tom just has a big heart,” Ollig said.
Wiemiller is considering this year to be his last year when his term ends in the fall.
“Never say never,” Wiemiller said. “But at this point, I have no plans to run.”
Wiemiller’s early years
Wiemiller is the oldest of Alfons and Isabelle Wiemillers’ four children. He grew up on the family farm one mile north of Winsted, in Wright County.
He attended Holy Trinity High School and graduated in 1961 as part of a class of 28.
As a teenager, he drove around in an old 1949 or 1950 Ford, but didn’t need to go very far because Winsted had lots to offer the younger crowd.
“For the most part, we were good farm kids. We always had things to do no idle time when you could get into mischief,” he said.
“We used to go bowling or a movie on Saturday,” Wiemiller said. “Then we would go to the Blue Note to the dances on Saturday night.”
When Wiemiller was 18 years old, he enlisted in the Air Force.
“I enlisted in the Air Force because I didn’t want to be stuck on a boat (Navy). Everybody was going into the Army, and I wasn’t sure about the Marines, so I thought I would try the Air Force,” Wiemiller said. “It was absolutely the best time of my life.”
While he served in the Air Force, Wiemiller was introduced to two things that would change his life forever electronics and Mary.
The electronics training Wiemiller received in the Air Force was used to install equipment on a pilot ejection seat or parachute that would help locate a downed pilot.
He discovered that he enjoyed working with electronics, and it became his lifelong career.
Also, while he was stationed at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, Wiemiller met Mary.
The couple had mutual friends who were getting married, and each had been asked to attend a pre-wedding party.
“I guess it was love at first sight,” Wiemiller said.
The Wiemillers have two children:
• David is married to Nikki and they live in Chaska. They have four children; Jacob, 15; Alex, 10; Sam, 9, and Reese, 18 months.
• Krista is married to Al Heebsh and they live in New Brighton with their two daughters, Anna, 8; and Ellie, 7.