Almost 10 years since his appointment, Henderson Mayor Paul Menne announced last month that he was stepping down from city leadership. On May 30, the mayor delivered his letter of resignation, effective June 8.
The announcement came as Menne and his family make preparations to move to South Carolina, where Paul will serve as an active duty chaplain to the United States Army.
I’m always looking out for what’s best for the community and do what’s best for the future for the community,” said Menne. “This season of my life is coming to a close, as a new season starts, so I am excited about that new season, and I certainly won’t ever forget the season that’s coming to a close.”
In Menne’s absence, Councilor Janet Boese will be appointed acting mayor of Henderson. The city is now accepting applications for the mayorship and candidates have until 3 p.m. June 11 to apply. The council will convene for a meeting on June 16 to declare a vacancy and discuss how the position will be filled.
How the council plans to fill the position is still up in the air. Menne remained mayor until June 8, and until that time, the council was not able to discuss the hiring process. A new mayor could be appointed as soon as the 16th, but the council may also elect to appoint or interview candidates at a later date.
“They officially don’t have anything in front of them yet, and they won’t until the 8th of June,” said City Administrator Lon Berberich. “Technically right now they’re just doing stuff to determine interest.”
Reflecting on his time as mayor, Menne said that he’s proud of the growth of Main Street and the city’s successful campaign for state funds for flood prevention on Hwy. 93 outside Henderson. Rush River has flooded Hwy. 93 more than 15 times since 2001, but last year’s bonding bill dedicated $25 million to raise the roadway by eight feet.
“The thing I’m most proud of is the community and their support in the things we’ve tried to accomplish as a community,” said Menne. “Probably the number one thing would be the governor coming here and supporting the flood mitigation for Hwy. 93 and County Road 6.”
But the outgoing mayor said the city continues to face great challenges, the largest of which is maintaining a Le Sueur-Henderson District school building in the community. The future of Hilltop Elementary remains uncertain as LS-H prepares a referendum. The School Board is currently considering two options for a referendum — one which would expand Hilltop, close Park Elementary and add a PK-3 wing to the middle/high school — and another which would close both elementaries and convert the LS-H into a pre-k-12 building.
Menne viewed the potential loss of Hilltop as a devastating blow to the community after 30 years of city efforts to maintain the district’s presence. He has strong direction for the council he’s departing.
“The No. 1 thing that the council needs to tackle coming up is to maintain a local school district presence,” said Menne. “If they are unable to do that, it would severely hamper the future of Henderson, and they should all apologize to the community. If they are not up for the fight, they should resign immediately as well.”
“However, this council, along with the School Board and new superintendent, could accomplish truly amazing things if they work together,” Menne added. “Le Sueur-Henderson truly could be a model in the entire River Valley from the Twin Cities to Mankato. I really believe that.”
Despite the challenges facing the community, Menne was optimistic that it would keep Henderson thriving after his departure.
“The future for Henderson is very bright, and the reason it’s bright is because of all of the people who have totally invested in Henderson over the next 30 years,” said Menne. “Now it’s time for the next generation and the new residents to take their place in that effort to make the future even brighter than it is today.”