Little Falls City Administrator Richard Carlson is ending his 21 years of service with the city to pursue his dream to work with the Peace Corps.
Carlson, 62, handed in his resignation letter to the Little Falls City Council during its planning meeting Monday. Carlson's last day as the city administrator will be May 25.
Carlson resigned to accept an administrative officer position with the Peace Corps in Lesotho in southern Africa. Carlson said he'll leave on Memorial Day to go for training in Washington, D.C., and then he'll fly to Africa on June 23.
"This is a life-changing event to help people and something I've always wanted to do," said Carlson. "My wife and family are healthy and my three daughters are grown up so everything lined up for me to go."
Richard Carlson, Little Falls City Administrator for the last 21 years, announced his resignation Monday during a Little Falls City Council planning meeting. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
This is not Carlson's first time with the Peace Corps. In the late 60s he was a volunteer in Micronesia in the South Pacific.
Carlson said his duties in Africa will be similar to the duties he has now in Little Falls. He'll work with budgets, manage staff and assist volunteers. He'll also work with programs involving AIDS, education and economic development.
Carlson said his wife, Nancy, may volunteer at an orphanage.
Carlson said he's going to miss his family, friends and the community when he's gone.
"We wouldn't have stayed here this long if we didn't like it here," said Carlson.
Carlson said he's proud of the many accomplishments he helped with in Little Falls. The list includes the creation of Maple Island Park, the establishment of the Heritage Preservation Commission, the placement of 11 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, street improvement projects, expansion of Carnegie Library, cleanup of Hennepin Paper property and the pursuit of economic development projects.
Carlson was an administrator in Olivia before he moved to Little Falls.
"We (Carlson and his wife) came here on vacation and thought it was a nice clean town," said Carlson. "We commented then that if an opening would become available I'd apply. Within a year, there was an opening."
Little Falls Mayor Cathy VanRisseghem said Carlson is a a phenomenal man, who works well with people and he promotes the city.
"This will be a real loss to the community," she said. "He did absolute great work. When you do the work Richard does, you have a tendency to not get credit for a lot. I've worked with him for 19 years as the Main Street Inc. director and the tourism director.
"Richard loves to travel and for somebody to go to Africa is quite a step, especially to leave his children. But Richard has a desire in his heart to go and he'll do wonderful. He's an extremely unique individual."
VanRisseghem said the city council will discuss what it would like to see in its next city administrator at its planning meeting Monday.
JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5851.
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