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Where Are They Now? Mike Cousino

April 15, 2014

Where Are They Now? Mike Cousino

By Rick Person, Communications Committee

Originally from the Flint area, Mike graduated from Michigan Tech with a BS in civil engineering in 1967.

He played football, learned how to ski, became a big hockey fan when Tech won the national championship, and a Green Bay Packer's fan. You see the Detroit Lions were not very good back then and their games were not on TV. Besides everyone in the UP were Packer fans and they won the Super Bowl.

In 1978, he received a professional development degree in transportation engineering/management from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. So he’s a Badger fan too!

Mike spent 43 years in the civil engineering profession. He started his career working for the City of Los Angeles in 1967. Eau Claire was the next stop, where Mike gained experience in several areas of public works and became public works director. The next career move was consulting engineering with Barton Aschman Associates, (Parsons Group), working on transportation projects in Minnesota and Nebraska.

The last 24 years were in Rochester, with Olmsted County as public works director -- retiring September 30, 2010 (a very good Friday.!) Mike says he misses the people he worked with, but not the politics!

Mike and Donna were married in 2001 in Hawaii. Donna was a registered nurse at Mayo Clinic.

Donna has two daughters who both graduated from UMD. Mike has three sons, two graduating from UMD and one from Rochester Community College. They have eight grandsons and one princess. All live within 200 miles, and enjoy visiting at the lake where grandpa can pull them on tubes and take them fishing off the pontoon.

Right after retiring, Mike and Donna bought a 5th Wheel and headed for Alaska, June 1. The total trip was 10,000 miles, lasted 2.5 months, and covered most of the state of Alaska. They saw lots of bears, moose, eagles, whales, sea otters, and elk. Mike’s highlight was catching a 38.5-pound king salmon, and they shipped home 50 pounds of frozen salmon and halibut. Mike’s son took a few pounds for his “handling fee.”

After the big adventure, Mike and Donna decided to build a “retirement home” on Chain Lake, about 45 miles north of Eau Claire.  They spend winters at an active retirement community, Pebble Creek, in the southwest Phoenix area. Guess who else is there? Tom and Karen Colbert, former public works director from Eagan, Minn.

Mike and Donna love retirement. They like to travel to National Parks like the Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, and Arches and are planning a fall trip to Acadia and Nova Scotia. Another fun activity is stopping at quilt shops, yarn shops, and museums (for Donna). Some of Mike’s favorite activities are watching the ice out on the lake in the spring, (last year it was May 6 at 8:01 pm), watching sunsets over the lake with a glass of wine, golf, fishing, reading, and entertaining the grandkids.

Mike has been a member of APWA since 1971 and a Minnesota Chapter member since moving to Minnesota. He served on the board as Outstate Director and on many committees. Mike received the 1990 MN Chapter and APWA 1991 Top Ten Public Works Leaders of the Year awards, and  MN Chapter and APWA Project of the Year awards. 

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