Henning says goodbye to Mayor after close to 10 years in office
Henning said goodbye to its dedicated and passionate community servant Friday, Nov. 3. Mayor James Hermanson, 68, died after serving as the city's mayor since 2007.
David Holmgren was mayor of Henning before Hermanson, until he retired due to illness. While Holmgren was in office, Hermanson was his vice mayor and stepped in as mayor in 2007.
"He grew up here and graduated from Henning High School and his family is here," Holmgren said. "He certainly cared a lot about the city as much as any of us. He cared about everybody and spent a lot of time in the office."
While Holmgren was in office, he remembers Hermanson as always being a helpful supporter. Hermanson had years of experience as a Henning council member before he became vice mayor and that came in handy when Holmgren leaned on Hermanson for advice. When Holmgren retired, he and Hermanson remained friends.
"I stopped in the office weekly to see how things were going in the city. We were both big sports fans so we talked about the Vikings, Gophers and the Henning Hornets," Holmgren said.
City Clerk Gina Ellingson worked with Hermanson for eight years. She said he was always willing to do the necessary research to guide the council in making the best decisions with the city at the heart of those conversations.
"He kept that at the forefront of his mind and was willing to hear input from residents, staff or council members," Ellingson said.
Hermanson's passion for Henning not only shined through his attentiveness in office, but his involvement in the community organizations and activities.
According to Ellingson, Hermanson was active at MRES (Missouri River Energy Services) and received an award from them for his many years of leadership and service through MRES to the Henning community. According to a press release on his award, Hermanson was instrumental in bringing upgrades to Henning's electric distribution system and was an active promoter of business development and redevelopment.
"He was passionate about so many different things in the community and seeing it prosper," Ellingson said. "Economic development was probably one of the focuses he had for the city. He was always striving to get new businesses and new housing."
Henning has an assisted living facility operated through their EDA and Hermanson was the chairman, promoting city growth.
Hermanson was also a part of the nonprofit, Save The Trinity, a group dedicated to saving the Trinity Building in Henning and making an asset to the community. Hermanson was also on the Tri-County Hospital Advisory Board and the Tri-City Living Organization.
"It's a tri-city organization which is a group that consisted of mayors and clerks in the Battle Lake, Ottertail and Henning areas," Ellingson said. "We called it the Tri-City Living Organization, which focused on economic development in our communities collectively."
According to Ellingson, Hermanson went above and beyond what she understood most city mayors do. "He was probably one of the most devoted small town mayors," Ellingson said. "He treated this position as his priority."
In light of Hermanson's passing, former Henning councilman, Jeremiah Rice will perform as acting mayor for the remainder of the term.