By Jennifer Kotila
COKATO, MN After dedicating 34 years to the planning and preparation of the Cokato Corn Carnival, Don Peroutka retired last year.
During his last seven years, Peroutka served as treasurer of the Corn Carnival Committee.
It is because of his year of service, and more, that Peroutka was chosen as the grand marshal of this year’s Corn Carival, said Mark Peterson of the Corn Carnival Committee.
“Don has devoted an awful lot of his time to the Corn Carnival,” said fellow long-time Corn Carnival Committee member Butch Amundsen. “I can’t think of anyone else who has worked harder.”
“I feel honored I was asked to be the grand marshal,” Peroutka said.
When asked why he decided to resign from the Corn Carnival committee, Peroutka said it was time to allow the younger generation to step up and take over.
Peroutka was also involved with the Cokato Dassel Rotary Club for 28 years, he said.
Admittedly, Peroutka does not like to “toot his own horn,” but he has been one of the people working behind the scenes at many community events and organizations.
“I’ve always tried to be community-oriented, promoting the community,” Peroutka said.
As a banker at the State Bank of Cokato from 1976 to 2005, community members and leaders often looked to him for his time, as well as his assistance and expertise in financing community endeavors.
For instance, Peroutka became involved in the project to build Cokato Apartments I, II, III, and IV, of which he is now the manager.
Someone asked him to be involved on a committee that was formed to address the need for affordable senior housing in the community, Peroutka said.
He offered the committee financial expertise, and assistance with paperwork to receive financing for the apartments through a United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development program.
Peroutka also served on the board of directors for the Cokato Apartments from 1978 to 2005, when he resigned to become manager, he said.
“It’s a nice, leisurely atmosphere dealing with the elderly. I try to accommodate them as much as I can because of their needs,” Peroutka said about being housing manager for the apartments.
Both Peroutka and his wife, Sandy, spearheaded raising money to build a public pool in Cokato, he said.
“It was a brainchild of hers. We needed some recreation for the kids of the community,” Peroutka said.
So, they started fundraising, writing grants, and soliciting corporate donations to build the pool.
“The pool has been well-received. It’s a great asset to the community,” Peroutka said, noting that people from outside of town, such as the townships, also donated money towards the pool.
Another project that was Sandy’s idea, but he assisted in accomplishing, was extending metro calling to Cokato’s telephone service area, Peroutka said.
Peroutka is currently chairman of Cokato’s planning and zoning commission, which he has served on for 15 years, he said.
“We are grateful for the volunteerism he has exuded over the years,” Amundsen said. “The city owes him a lot for all he has done.”