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Variety in volunteering: Jurgens is Cottage Grove Volunteer of the Year

Cottage Grove’s 2015 Volunteer of the Year Tony Jurgens (third from left) poses with the City Council: Jen Peterson, Steve Dennis, Mayor Myron Bailey, Justin Olsen and Dave Thiede. Jurgens received the award during a volunteer recognition event April 12. (Photo courtesy city of Cottage Grove)

More than a decade ago, Tony Jurgens decided he wanted to give back to his community. So he applied for spots on the Cottage Grove Economic Development Authority and the finance council at his church, hoping one or the other would work out.

He got both positions.

“It just sort of grew from there,” Jurgens said. “Once you start volunteering for stuff, you never run out of opportunities because people are always trying to find people who are interested in volunteering.”

This month, Jurgens was recognized for his long list of volunteer efforts, winning the 2015 Cottage Grove Volunteer of the Year award.

Jurgens, who grew up in South Dakota, has lived in Cottage Grove for 23 years. He works as an independent insurance agent.

He has served three terms on the EDA, two on the Public Works Commission and is the chairman of the newly created Public Services Commission, a combination of the public works and public safety boards. He recently was named to the city’s comprehensive plan steering committee.

At home, he’s the neighborhood watch block captain and has hosted the Night to Unite neighborhood party for a decade with his wife Dawn.

“Tony has a passion for helping others,” Mayor Myron Bailey said in a statement. “He has served on many city commissions and committees, always with a positive attitude and willingness to help out wherever needed.”

Jurgens is actively involved outside Cottage Grove as well, as a member of the Washington County Library Board, finance council member at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Hastings and a deputy grand knight for the Knights of Columbus Council 1600.

“I like the variety,” Jurgens said. “I guess I’ve been fortunate because so many of the different groups that I’m involved with are made up of totally different people, so I just get to meet people from so many different walks of life.”

Jurgens said part of the motivation for his volunteering is to help the community, but another is “more selfish” — because he finds it interesting and likes meeting new people.

He said many of the people he knew at the volunteer recognition event April 12 at River Oaks Golf Course had become acquaintances and friends through his volunteering.

The event recognized volunteers for their work as part of National Volunteer Week in Cottage Grove. Jurgens said he knew he was nominated for the annual award, but wasn’t expecting to win. He said he was humbled by the recognition.

“It just makes you feel good to know that the time you spend on some of these things, that hopefully you’re doing some good and adding some value,” he said.

Danielle Killey

Danielle Killey covers local government for the South Washington County Bulletin. She has worked as a reporter for other Forum Communications newspapers since 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a journalism degree.

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