Luverne man receives state award
LUVERNE -- The Minnesota Chapter of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) honored a Luverne man for his dedication and service to the Luverne HRA during its annual conference in Duluth recently.
Michael Engesser, president and CEO of First Farmers and Merchants National Bank in Luverne has served on the community's HRA board since 1991, and is now in his second year as board chairman. He was nominated for the award by Luverne HRA executive director Marcia Linssen.
The dedicated service award recognizes individuals who have shown outstanding leadership in their community in the promotion and implementation of affordable housing and community development activities.
"It is an honor to be nominated," said Engesser Wednesday afternoon, following a celebratory luncheon with Luverne HRA and city officials at the Blue Mound Tower.
"He gives so much," said Linssen of Engesser. "If we need to call him for a problem of any type, he will respond. He's always very supportive, with the best interest of the housing authority."
Linssen said when she first began her job as executive director, the HRA in Luverne was in "troubled status." With the direction of board members like Engesser, they have turned things around and now have an HRA that is deemed a high performer.
"(Michael) was always here -- he had the knowledge and the resources to help out," Linssen said. "I'm just very proud that he was chosen out of the nominations."
Since joining the HRA 19 years ago, Engesser has helped lead a major update and remodel at the Blue Mound Tower, which is the community's primary HRA housing project.
"At one time we had a vacancy problem, we just didn't have updated apartments," he said. "Our vacancy rate is way down now. With Marcia here to manage the tower, it has been a lot better -- we have just two or three vacancies and have six applications at this time."
Engesser has also been involved with a number of housing division developments in Luverne through his role in economic development.
A native of Blue Earth, Engesser has resided in Luverne for the past 29 years. In that time, he has taken an active role in the community, from serving on economic development boards and being treasurer of the Luverne Lions, to serving on the Luverne School Foundation, Luverne Music Boosters and Beaver Creek Mutual boards. He is also a past trustee for St. Catherine's Church in Luverne, and is president of Luverne's Citizens for School Board Leadership group.
"I really do believe that helping your community is an obligation," he said. "You owe that ... to these small communities to keep them vital."
Minnesota NAHRO began recognizing individuals for dedicated service in 1993. A past recipient from this region is Jon Benson of Worthington, who was awarded the honor for his work with Worthington HRA in 1996.