Man honored for 50 years of volunteer serviceA lot has changed in Cottage Grove since 1959, but at least one thing hasn’t.
By: Jon Avise, South Washington County Bulletin
A lot has changed in Cottage Grove since 1959, but at least one thing hasn’t.
Jack Lavold’s still here, still volunteering his time in the community he has called home for a half-century.
Lavold was honored last week as Cottage Grove’s Volunteer of the Year for his 50 years of volunteerism in Cottage Grove. The 74-year-old was a charter member of the Cottage Grove Jaycees, the Cottage Grove Lions Club and All Saints Lutheran Church.
He’s been a member of the Washington County planning and parks commissions, the city public works commission and is the president of the South Washington Watershed District.
He’s still volunteering his time and efforts today, mentoring at All Saints, organizing church activities and helping clean up litter along the road his friend, former Cottage Grove City Council member Conway Olson, has adopted, and volunteering for the county park system.
And there’s not a chance he’ll slow down.
“I’ll just keep right on,” he says.
Lavold moved into town Nov. 1, 1959, first as a Northern States Power engineer before moving to 3M a decade later, and wasted not a second getting involved in his community.
“I’ve been involved since basically day one since moving here,” Lavold said. And he hasn’t let up.
He says NSP urged community involvement among its employees. But the real reason, he said, had more to do with where Cottage Grove was on the Twin Cities map 50 years ago than any encouragement from higher-ups at the old energy provider.
“We lived in Thompson Grove, over across the highway,” he said. “There wasn’t even a turn lane on the highway … There was nothing out here to do and nobody knew anything. There were no churches in town. There was nothing.”
So Lavold got to work, helping organize community gatherings and local organizations that still exist today. He got involved in the campaigns of roughly 80 percent of the city council members in the first decade he and his wife lived in Cottage Grove, he estimates, doing his part to help shape a young, growing suburb.
City engineer Jennifer Levitt, who works with Lavold in his capacity as the South Washington Watershed District president, nominated him. His heartfelt care for the community, she says, is evident in his work on the body that manages and protects the area’s water resources.
“He’s very passionate about it,” Levitt said. “He’s a man that’s very interested in protecting that; he’s not interested in political issues … I greatly respect him for that.”
So passionate, she says, it took a lot of work just to pull Lavold away from a watershed district public hearing held the same night as the volunteer ceremony where he was set to be honored.
“It really took a lot of effort to get him to the banquet,” Levitt said.
That effort tipped Lavold off to the award, he said. But it was well worth it.
“I knew a whole ton of people who won it before and they were all really good people,” he said. “To be recognized for doing good things along with all those people I know who did good things, it was nice.”