WSP officials celebrate with 101-year-old resident

West St. Paul resident Frances Nelson celebrated her 101th year with West St. Paul Council Member Ed Iago, Police Chief Bud Shaver, Mayor John Zanmiller, Fire Chief Mike Potts and resident Jim McKie. (Heather Edwards/Review)

If you make it to 100 years old, you’ve probably earned a day for yourself.

In West St. Paul, residents who reach their 100th birthday are honored during city council meetings, during which Mayor John Zanmiller offers a proclamation naming a day after the resident.

Can’t make the meeting? No needed to panic: as resident Frances Nelson learned recently, there are some benefits that come with age.

Nelson, who turned 101 this year, was unable to attend a council meeting to receive special recognition. Instead, she got a personal lunch at the place of her choosing (Applebees) July 10 with some of West St. Paul’s top brass, including Mayor John Zanmiller, Council member Ed Iago, Police Chief Bud Shaver and South Metro Fire Chief Mike Potts. Nelson was also joined at lunch by her fellow Ward 2 resident Jim McKie, who met Nelson while he was campaigning door-to-door for city council last fall.

Even after the election had passed, McKie remained impressed by the sprightly centenarian and eventually introduced her to the city council. Nelson continued to win fans at city hall, and went on to ride with the council members in a fire engine at the West St. Paul Days Parade May 18. (In a thank-you card she later sent to the mayor, Nelson called that experience one of the “highlights of my life,” although she added she didn’t understand why everyone was making a fuss over her.)

“She has seen amazing things,” Zanmiller said after the July 10 lunch. “She could tell us incredible stories.”

Zanmiller also added that getting a chance to learn from someone Nelson’s age was a rare privilege, and one that has thankfully become more common in recent years.

“When I was a kid you never came across a 100-year-old person,” he said. “When you do meet a person these days who is 100, you realize how much they’ve seen.”

If you or someone you know has reached or is approaching their 100th birthday, contact the City of West St. Paul at 651-552-4100.

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