Mark Windschitl

Mark Windschitl

Happy Thanksgiving! I know this won’t be a normal Thanksgiving because of COVID. While it might be difficult to gather like we typically do, I hope you get the chance to catch up with your family and friends. Whether you are meeting up virtually or in-person, I hope you stay healthy and safe.

It seems like forever since I have given you an update. Because the mayor position was up for election this year, I wasn’t allowed to put any articles in the paper during the campaign season. Now that the election is over, I’m back.

Come January, we will have some new people in some elected positions. We will have a new president and vice president, a new state senator, new school board members, and new county commissioners.

Congratulations to the newly elected officials. To all new or former, thank you for your service to our communities.

At the city level, it was status quo. Congratulations to council members Taylor Hubbard and Mike Huang for winning their re-election. It has been great having them on our City Council, and I am excited to continue working with them.

On a personal note, I want to thank the voters of Chaska for your confidence in me. I am humbled to continue serving as mayor of this great city for two more years. So far, my 11 years as mayor has been a rewarding experience. I am looking forward to what years 12 and 13 will bring. Here’s hoping it’s not all COVID!

Our next priority will be finalizing the budget for 2021. If you want to learn more about what’s in the budget, head to our website, www.chaskamn.com/truthintax.

If you’re looking to get more involved in our community, you should think about applying for one of our city commissions. We have openings on our Park Board, Human Rights Commission, and Heritage Preservation Commission. Check out our website, www.chaskamn.com for more info.

We have lost some pretty special people over that last few months.

Karen Campbell was the heart and soul of The Lodge at the Community Center. Her booming voice, infectious laugh and big hugs will never be forgotten. It was inspiring to see so many in our community tell stories about Karen’s positive impact in their lives.

Mark Halloran was a long-time business owner in Chaska and a 20-year retired member of the Chaska Fire Department. Mark was the size of a huge oak tree and had hands so large that you’d have to see them to believe me. Mark was a gentle big man and would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it.

Gene Meuwissen lived in Chaska for almost forever. He was a Legionnaire and held every possible position in Post 57. He was the bar manager for decades, served as commander many times, and was in the Honor Guard up to his death. He was very proud of his military service, which he should be.

Rest in Peace, Karen, Mark, and Gene. Chaska will miss you. My sympathies to all that have lost loved ones.

With the election over, COVID is back as the No. 1 conversation topic. If you’ve watched the news, you’ve seen the cases going up in the state and even locally in Carver County. According to Carver County Public Health, we are trending toward more cases in November than we had in the first eight months of the pandemic.

Unfortunately, the spike in cases is happening right as we head into our holiday season. I’m sure many of you have had to make difficult decisions about how much you travel and who you visit. We need to be diligent about social distancing, wearing masks, washing our hands, and staying home if we’re sick.

I know masks are a touchy subject for some, but masks are important to slowing the spread. If we wear masks, we can help keep businesses open by reducing the possibility of community spread. Please wear a mask to protect yourself and those around you, especially people working essential jobs. Let’s help keep our first responders, health care workers, service station attendants, grocery store employees, pharmacists, truckers, retail employees, and the like healthy and safe.

Speaking of essential workers, city staff continue to hold weekly Emergency Operations Center meetings to monitor COVID’s impact and adjust our protocols for city employees.

Our department heads are building in contingencies to their operational plans so that we can maintain our levels of service even if we have staff out with COVID or an exposure to COVID. I want to thank our employees for all their efforts during this pandemic.

We have been doing well so far, but cases and potential exposures are growing fast right now. For most of the summer, I didn’t know many people who had COVID. In the last month, I’ve heard from a lot of people who now have or have had COVID.

We are still controlling access to many of our buildings to limit in-person interactions. If you need help accessing city services, please call 952-448-9200 or visit our website, www.chaskamn.com.

I know it’s easy to focus on the negatives of 2020, but this year has also shown us how we can come together to support each other. If you know someone or a local organization that has done a lot to help our community, please consider nominating them for our Human Rights Award. You can find a nomination application at www.chaskamn.com. Nominations are due Friday, Dec. 11.

Since I have space left on the page, I’ve got one more thing to add. As you may have figured out, we won’t have the tree lighting at Firemen’s Park or Hometown Holiday at City Square Park. We’ll still light the trees and already have put up decorations in City Square Park, so make sure to stop by when you’re downtown.

You’ll also see some smaller pop-up events and selfie opportunities in downtown Chaska area and businesses throughout the winter. Keep an eye on Facebook for more info.

Please remember to consider our local businesses when you’re doing your holiday shopping, frequent our local restaurants, all of these businesses need our support now more than ever.

Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays!

Thank you for reading this and be well.

Mark Windschitl is the mayor of Chaska.

Community Editor

Mark Olson, the Chaska and Chanhassen community editor who has worked in Carver County for 20 years, makes any excuse to write about local history. In his spare time, Mark enjoys perusing old books, watching blockbusters and taking Midwest road trips.

Events