By Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
Royalton Mayor Andrea Lauer has been awarded the 2012 Minnesota Women in City Government Leadership Award. Each year, one elected female city official and one appointed female city official are chosen from among nominations submitted from across the state.
Winners are recognized for individual achievement in their city as well as leadership and mentoring roles both inside and outside of their communities. The award was begun in 2007.
Lauer, a Royalton resident since 1996, has been Royalton’s mayor since 2006. She has already accomplished much during her tenure. Although paid only $100 each month to lead City Council meetings, she spends between two and six hours a day on Royalton business.
“She starts her day with morning coffee at the Community Center where all the local news is discussed,” said Michelle Stevens, Royalton city clerk. “Then she spends an hour or two at City Hall discussing issues, answering e-mails, writing grants and checking in with city departments.”
Her day often includes a meeting (or two) that could possibly benefit Royalton.
Some of the local organizations she is involved in include: Royalton Area Community/Senior Center Board, Friends of the Library, Royalton Women’s Study Club, American Legion Auxiliary and the Region Five Development Commission.
“She also works part-time for our local insurance company,” Stevens said.
In the past 18 months, Lauer has spearheaded efforts to complete an energy audit of all city buildings, do a re-lamping project, change all traffic lights from incandescent to light-emitting diode (LED), partner with the school district for a renewable energy grant and install solar panels on City Hall’s roof.
“It is difficult for individual people to change, let alone an entire small town with a strong history and tradition,” said Stevens. “It is Andrea’s grace at communicating with even the most negative person that leads to a constructive outcome.”
Royalton was only the eighth city in the state to join the GreenStep Cities initiative, a program established by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to help cities achieve sustainability goals.
Lauer reached beyond the typical community movers when inviting residents to participate on the GreenStep Cities committee. “This is really typical of Andrea,” Stevens said, “to draw in new people along the way and then watch them grow into their potential.”
Lauer reaches out to women of all ages in the community. Neighborhood girls are invited to her home for tea parties. They get to dress up in fancy dresses and hats and drink tea (also called Dr. Pepper). “It’s a fun experience for these girls to play with someone they think of as a cool grandma,” said Stevens.
Two of the mayor’s most recent projects are looking into the viability of using wind energy in Royalton, and the creation of a city Parks and Trails Board.
“She is a very hands-on mayor and is always there to answer questions and help out,” said City Clerk Carol Madsen. “It’s very easy to work for her.”
“We can’t imagine anyone more deserving of this award than Andrea Lauer,” Stevens said.
Lauer considers Royalton to be a community that includes the surrounding townships of Swan River, Two Rivers and Bellevue in Morrison County and Langola in Benton County.
“Andrea’s efforts have led our community (and we really mean community, not city) into a place that is being recognized as a leader in working with renewable energy,” said Stevens.
“It’s hard to grasp the whole thing; it’s very, very humbling,” said Lauer. “I so appreciate the Council I have to work with. This award reflects on the citizens and the people we work for.”
She added, “I enjoy working with people so much; it doesn’t matter which group or activity — it’s all fun.”