Braham says farewell to  long-time city administrator

Braham city administrator Sally Hoy (right) welcomes her replacement, Angie Grafstrom. 

The city of Braham said goodbye to a true community superstar when Sally Hoy retired from her role as city administrator after 31 years.

Hoy’s last day on the job was Friday, Sept. 20. Taking over the position is Angela Grafstrom, who previously was the administrator in Hallock, Minnesota. 

“I couldn’t be happier for the city,” Hoy said. “The transition has gone very smoothly and relatively seamlessly. I think Angie is going to be a beautiful fit.”  

Hoy started as Braham’s bookkeeper in August of 1988. 

“I had been working as a temp in Rush City,” she said, “and applied for openings in Braham and North Branch. ... At the time there were only a few handwritten ledgers for the city finances. They hired a new auditor, and the two of us computerized all the financial records. I was promoted to assistant city administrator, and then took the administrator position in 1996.”

Hoy said her time at Braham has been one of the best jobs in the world. 

“I’ve seen 15 elections, worked for five mayors,” she said, “and there have only been a very few days I haven’t loved coming to work. I’ve been blessed with great mayors, councils and employees. The high points of my career have been the people I work for and the people I work with.”

Hoy said she’s watched Braham grow from 1,100 to 1,800 people. 

“With it came a new City Hall, a new well and water treatment plant, a new municipal liquor store, a new industrial park, several housing developments and multiple street improvements,” she said. “The lowest point came when the economy bottomed out in 2008. We lost nearly $300,000 in state aid cuts and unallotments, and that nearly crippled the city. Projects came to a halt, roads deteriorated, and budgets were cut to bare bones. At one point, 7 percent of Braham homes were vacant from foreclosures. It took us a good five years to recover.” 

She credits the residents with keeping the town alive. 

“But Braham is a unique community,” she said. “The city was built on the back of volunteers – they’re the ones who put Braham on the map.” 

In the midst of the economic downturn, Hoy experienced a personal challenge when she underwent a bilateral mastectomy for breast cancer in July 2010. 

“My faith carried me through,” she said. “I remember praying, ‘Please don’t let this be for nothing.’ Mayor Ken Ceaglske and the council were all incredibly supportive. Ken told me that one day I may be able to help someone else who has a cancer diagnosis. He was right. A year later I coordinated the Journey Care Ministry through my church. On my lunch breaks I took guitar lessons from Marie Grundberg of Tusen Tack, and became part of an outreach ministry team.” 

Hoy said she’s looking forward to spending time with her family and participating in her church. 

“No big plans,” she said of her retirement days. “I’m turning 65, and it’s time to slow down for a more peaceful life. If I’ve learned one thing it’s that life doesn’t have a rewind button.”

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