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Evelyn Kjos Poster - Boxes of Memories

Retired city clerk assembled the keepsakes
by John Gessner Thisweek Newspapers
It had been years since retired City Clerk Evelyn Kjos last packed a box for posterity at Burnsville City Hall. Now Kjos was helping unpack boxes, ones she had stuffed with city artifacts, and she was tickled by some of the finds.
“Look at the Eldorado,” Kjos said, showing a photo of a Highway 13 beer joint and restaurant that lasted from 1949 to 1969 and was later replaced by a liquor store of the same name. Out came a 1963 voter registry on which a Burnsville Township election official had recorded, in cursive, the names and addresses of every voter.
“Here I am!” Kjos said, locating her name. “I voted that year.”
She and four other self-assigned Burnsville historians gathered on Monday morning in the basement of City Hall to begin inspecting and sorting the contents of some 17 boxes Kjos had filled over the years.
Her intent all along was to build a piecemeal historical record of Burnsville, which incorporated as a village in 1964 after fighting off annexation efforts by Bloomington to the north.
When she learned last year that a group of residents was resurrecting a lapsed Burnsville chapter of the Dakota County Historical Society, Kjos alerted the leader of the effort, Len Nachman, about her treasure trove.
Kjos and Nachman were joined Monday by three city residents who are among the handful involved in the history chapter: Godan Nambudiripad, Mary Dickson and Roberta Norris-Norvoll.
“I have an interest in history in general,” said Norris-Norvoll, a Burnsville resident since 1991 who serves with Nachman on the county historical society board. “These people who set everything up and made the structure of the city and set the goals of the city, they’re not going to be around forever. We need to tell their stories.”

The group made it through half of the boxes on Monday and vowed to finish the job on Wednesday. Nachman said he’d like to secure a space somewhere in Burnsville to store and display some of the finds, which include photos, slides (including many from the 1965 superflood in the Minnesota River Valley, city records and publications, and dozens of newspaper clippings.
Official records would remain with the city, but historians would like to at least post some online, Nachman said. The group, calling itself the Burnsville historical Society, has a website@burnsvillehistory.org
"Our goal is not to write books, such as the two volumes of Burnsville history already published in 1976 and 2000, Said Nachman, a Burnsville residence since 1969. We are done with that. We want the records that are there to be available to future generations. Kjos was especially eager to retrieve the box of documents dealing with Burnsville's response to Bloomington's annexation and its incorporation as a village, which was cemented in a voter referendum on June 16, 1964. Kjos said the law firm that handled Burnsville's affairs at the time left the documents in her care years ago when the firm left the cities employ.

“Here’s the headline: ‘Bloomington moves to annex 25 square miles,’ ” Kjos said, reading from an old newspaper. “This is real history. This is what caused Burnsville to incorporate and become what it is.”
The 17 boxes have sat for years in a City Hall records room. On Monday, current City Clerk Machael Brooks helped Kjos and the historians wheel them to a nearby conference room.
Kjos and her late husband, Roy, moved to Burnsville in 1959. They lived on Sandy Lane in the Northview Addition near Lakeville before moving in 1967 to a lot on Crystal Lake, where they and their three children could keep horses. The family later moved to Prior Lake.
Kjos, who now lives in Savage, worked for Burnsville over a 40-year span. Hired in March
Cedar Avenue Bridge built 1887-closed 1980
1965, she was one of the village’s first full-time employees.
Hired to do sewer and water billing, Kjos was immediately diverted to the task of assembling a records system for the fledgling village. She also served as secretary to the first village manager, Patrick Mclnnis.
The village hall was a small building on the current Ames Construction property on County Road 5. Women in the office noticed the smell of diesel from the attached village garage clinging to their hair and clothes, Kjos said.
“And in the women’s biffy was the coffee machine and the mimeograph,” she recalled.
She was named city clerk in 1981, when then-City Manager Jim Spore decided that the combined job of finance director and clerk, then held by Les Anderson, was too big for one person.
Kjos retired from the city in January 1990, returned in 1992 to help out with the election, and remained a part-timer working on special projects until October 2005.
Now pieces of her past were spread before her on a conference room table:
A 1976 Burnsville Sun story in which newcomer Connie Morrison said she was “baffled” to have been the top vote-getter in that year’s City Council race.
A photo of Morrison, as mayor, christening a new ambulance by smashing a bottle on the fender.
A brochure the city published before its successful 1982 referendum to raise money for parks.

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