Amazi and Baldus recognized as 2024 Pillars of the Community

Published 8:29 am Friday, July 5, 2024

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The latest pillars propping up the city of Austin have been announced.

On Thursday night, during the city’s Fourth of July celebration, Freedom Fest, the 2024 Pillars of the Community were revealed and included Minnesota’s first female elected sheriff Terese Amazi and community leader and firefighter Jiles A. Baldus.

Amazi began her 30-year career with the Mower County Sheriff’s Department after moving to Austin in 1988, starting in the jail and then moving later as an undercover narcotics detective.

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“It’s an honor and I want to thank you all for having me and electing me as your sheriff for 16 years,” Amazi said. “I can say that I truly miss the people, but I don’t miss the job.”

Amazi was elected as Mower County Sheriff in 2002 and held the position for the next 16 years. During that time, Amazi was a leader in the building of the Mower County Justice Center, updated the department’s radio communication system, implemented a prescription drug drop-off program, and was named to the governor’s task force for child protection. 

She was also actively involved with the creation of the Seibel Center, advocating for the importance of a supervised visitation center in the community.  

Baldus, who passed away in 1988, was a standout in the community, having

attended Columbus, St. Augustine, and Austin Public Schools, however, graduated from Grand Meadow High School in 1951.  

Baldus’s son, Jeff spoke on his behalf during the ceremony.

“On behalf of the Baldus family, I stand before you today with immense gratitude as we express our deepest appreciation for accepting the nomination of our father Jiles Baldus for this prestigious award,” Jeff said. “It is a remarkable moment filled with pride as we reflect on the remarkable life and contributions of our loving father. We are reminded of the profound impact that one individual can have on the world around them. Our father’s life was a testament of public service, the importance of community and the enduring spirit of generosity.”

Having served in the Army during the Korean War and later as a member of the National Guard for 26 years, Baldus worked for the Austin Fire Department from 1966-1982. He actively taught with the Junior Fire Department program promoting the importance of fire safety to more than 7,000 students in 15 different schools. 

While serving as a board member for the Mower County Historical Society, Baldus compiled and wrote “The History of the Austin Fire Department 1870-1970” and started the Fire Museum.

Baldus also volunteered as a Boy Scout Leader, American Legion Adjutant, and Bi-Centennial Planning Committee member in 1976.