M is for Milo


Mr. Milo M. Mielke retired as Principal of Robbinsdale High School after 39 years in the district. Mr. Mielke was born in 1902 and was raised in Kenyon, Minnesota. He graduated from St. Olaf College and received his Masters Degree from the University of Minnesota. After teaching two years in Berndale, Minnesota, he came to Robbinsdale in 1929. At that time, there were 900 students, first through ninth grade, in the district and when he retired in June, 1968, the district had grown to over 20,000 students. In 1941 he was president of the Lions Club. He celebrated his 80th birthday in 1982, the year Robbinsdale High School was closed due to declining student.

Downtown Robbinsdale in 1968

Sims Memorial Trust was established according to the Will of Fred 0. Sims, an early resident of Crystal, who died in 1967. The Trust gives scholarships to local high school graduates for further college or vocational education. Original Trustees were Robert Cameron, Joseph Dragseth, Donald Rex, Ame Grangaard and Riley Blodgett. Additional Trustees included Gordon Johnson and Helen Blodgett. As of 1982, over $145,000 in grants have been given to graduates of Robbinsdale, Cooper and Armstrong Senior High Schools. Fred Sims had only an eighth grade education but realized that students today need far more than that, thus leaving his estate for this purpose.

The Charter Commission had City Attorney Peter Ruffenach redraft the 52-page City Charter to conform more nearly with model charters. One difference the Robbinsdale Charter Commission wanted was the staggered elections, in order to assure some continuity on the City Council. Because of the continuing deterioration of homes in Robbinsdale, the City Council established the Robbinsdale Housing and Redevelopment Authority. Old state statutes were discovered by City Manager, George DeLay, that made this possible. Together with City Attorney, Peter-J. (Pete) Ruffenach, doing the legal work, the “scattered site” program was begun. This was the first Housing Authority in Minnesota in a small city. Tax increment financing was used for redevelopment purposes. About 150 houses were identified where the house value was less than the value of the land on which it stood. Many were “garage” houses—built temporarily on the back of the lot in the 1930’s until the “big” house could be built but never was. Many were former lake cabins on Beard Avenue when Crystal Lake was much higher. In the first years, the HRA acquired many dilapidated houses for $6,000 to $8,000. The Charter members of the HRA, appointed by Mayor Charles Wallace, were Milo Mielke, Frank Litherland, Hal Mattson, Donald Floyd and Riley Blodgett. Others who later served include former Mayors, James McDonaId and Harvey Lange; present Mayor Raymond Mattson; former Aldermen Daniel Briggs, Z. Joseph Bauer and Vincent Klick; présent Alderman William Blonigan; also Kenneth Broin, Royce Anderson and Norma Kelly, who has been chairman since 1975. About 110 houses have been replaced by new homes and neighborhoods have “spruced themselves up.” The HRA also has a plan allowing the VoTech School to “re-hab” a house each year, thus giving the students” building experience.

This post is part of a series loosely based on the book Robbinsdale Then and Now by Helen Blodgett.

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