Permanent Golden Valley Hall of Fame plaque unveiled

Golden Valley City HallA civil rights activist. A World War II pilot turned insurance public relations man. The founder of a high-end grocery store chain. A world-class musician.

And last but not least, a woman who never existed in real life but lives in nearly every kitchen in America.

A permanent plaque honoring the first inductees of the Golden Valley Hall of Fame was unveiled in city hall Jan. 2. Inductees included Gleason Glover, Robert Provost, Don Byerly, Philip Brunelle and, in a nod to General Mills, Betty Crocker. The Hall of Fame was established as part of the city’s 125th anniversary celebration and the first inductees were named in December 2011.

The council briefly adjourned its regular meeting to view the unveiling at the top of the second floor stairs near the main city hall entrance. The plaque was covered by a black cloth, which prompted at least one person in the crowd to compare it to Darth Vader.

“We are planning, as the mayor indicated, that this is not a one-time process,” said Marshall Tanick, a volunteer coordinator involved with the 125th anniversary time capsule project. “We anticipate that we will be having inductions for worthy individuals on a regular basis, probably every year. We anticipate adding to this, and having this be an ongoing tradition in our city.”

Tanick said the next induction might happen this spring. Here is more information on the first round of inductees:

• Gleason Glover: This 25-year Golden Valley resident was hired as the director of the Minneapolis Urban League in 1967. He grew that organization and also created both the DAD Program for black men and the Street Academy, the state’s first alternative black high school. He continued his social justice work after retiring in 1992.

• Robert Provost: This Keewatin, Minn.-native flew 40 combat missions during World War II, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross during the invasion of Okinawa. He later sold insurance and worked in public relations for the Minnesota Insurance Information Center.

• Don Byerly: Opened his first grocery store in 1968 on Duluth Street in Golden Valley. Since then, 10 more stores have opened across the Twin Cities area. Byerly, who learned the grocery trade working for SuperValu, is credited with turning grocery shopping into a more pleasurable experience through, among other amenities, carpeted floors and softer lighting.

• Philip Brunelle: This Faribault native was a member of the Minnesota Orchestra before age 20 and currently serves as choirmaster and organist of the Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis. Brunelle also founded VocalEssence, a choral group organization, and has been honored by several countries.

• Betty Crocker: This advertising icon was created in 1921 and is famous not only for her food line but also her cookbook, which was first published in 1950.

“We think we really brought in a group that reflects the diversity and dimension, the humanity, business acumen and other features that made … Golden Valley so great over the past 125 years,” Tanick said.

Gleason Glover Jr. helped Tanick unveil the plaque.

“Dad would be very, very honored,” Glover Jr. said. “He spent a large portion of his life in Minneapolis, but he called Golden Valley his home. On behalf of the family, thanks.”

“My dad would be very proud if he was here today,” said Peter Provost. “He was very humble. He wouldn’t say very much, but I know he loved Golden Valley, and being involved. He and his lovely wife Mary are here in spirit tonight.”

During its Jan. 2 meeting, the Golden Valley City Council also:

Honored former Council Member Mike Freiberg and swore in new Council Member Steve Schmidgall.

“Mike, we’ve known each other for the better half of a decade,” said Mayor Shep Harris. “I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you, and there are many things about you that the general public doesn’t get to see. We could make reference to your musical talents … or your adventures in parenting. But professionally, it’s been a pleasure to serve with you for the past year.”

“It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve with you,” said Council Member Joanie Clausen. “I want to thank you for all you have done for me, for your friendship, but I’m still your cleaning lady, so I’ll see you around with your family. Who knows where you are going? I know you will do a wonderful job. I knew you were going to win from the minute you said you were going forward.”

“Mike, it’s been great working with you for eight years,” said Council Member Paula Pentel. “I think we’ve learned a lot from each other on how to work together and agree to disagree. I know this is something you’ve wanted for a long time, and I’m really happy for you. You’ll be great.”

“I’m always going to remember how kind you were when I joined the council,” said Council Member DeDe Scanlon. “We’ve had our disagreements, but they have been respectful. I’m excited for you to go on to wherever you want to be. You ran a great campaign … and I wish you the best of luck, Mike.”

Freiberg was presented with an engraved silver bowl thanking him for his service to the city. The bowl also contained his desk nameplates from the council chambers.

“Serving the city I grew up in, having lived here since I was six weeks old, was an honor for nine years,” Freiberg said. “When the (District 45B) seat opened up unexpectedly, I felt I could make a real difference, and I’m proud of the things we’ve been able to accomplish in Golden Valley.”

• Approved an addition suggested by Scanlon to the consent agenda requesting monthly updates on the Bottineau Transitway project for future meetings.

• Approved a CenterPoint Energy franchise fee that will annually garner $447,000 for the city. The fees are charged for use of the city’s right-of-ways and will be dedicated to currently unfunded capital improvement projects.

Residents will see a $2 monthly fee added to CenterPoint bills, while buildings using 2,000 therms per day will pay $206 per month in fees. One therm is equal to 100,000 British thermal units. To compare, the average American home had an annual consumption of 70,500 cubic feet of natural gas or 72.6 million British thermal units, in 2009, according to the American Gas Association.

• Approved an amendment to an existing Xcel Energy franchise fee to limit the use of funds to the redevelopment of Douglas Drive and to remove a sunset date on the fee as originally passed. With the changes, the council will review the fee and others on an annual basis. The fee provides nearly $630,000 in revenue.

• Unanimously appointed Pentel as the city’s mayor pro tem, meaning that she will serve as mayor in the absence of current mayor Shep Harris. “Pro tem” is a Latin phrase that translates to “For the time being.”