Editor's note: TJ Heinricy received the most votes of eight nominees to be named Northfield Patch's Person of the Year 2012.
There are those who plan. There are those who set out to leave a mark. And then there are those who just do.
TJ Heinricy easily falls into the third group.
And for his quiet, yet steady contributions to Northfield, Heinricy has been voted the 2012 Northfield Patch Person of the Year.
Heinricy is the City of Northfield's streets and parks supervisor, a Northfield Fire and Rescue captain, and is on the Defeat of Jesse James Days committee. In June, Heinricy received the "Making a Difference" award from the Northfield Healthy Community Initiative for his ongoing support of youth in their efforts to build a permanent skateboard park.
This fall, Heinricy worked with St. Dominic School students to give them an art project to beautify the city one brushstroke at a time. Kelly Lynn Stanton-Nutt's classes painted the city's snowplows to reflect the community and the plows can now been seen moving about Northfield on the front of the city's trucks.
"He works hard to make sure the community is a better one by always giving his best to the people of Northfield," wrote the person who nominated him. Those who submitted the eight nominations were kept anonymous (Patch knows who these people are).
Heinricy said he was immediately suspicious that one of this three daughters or wife nominated him when it was pointed out to him by them that he had been nominated. Over the Christmas holiday, Heinricy said he kept pushing for someone to admit to the nomination but no one would fess up.
“I was surprised. I still don’t believe it,” he said of the nomination and subsequent victory.
Heinricy first came to Northfield in 1985 to work on a turkey farm. In 1993, he joined the Northfield Volunteer Fire Department and, in 1995, was hired by the City of Northfield.
Joe Stapf, the city's director of public works, wrote on Patch that the honor was well-deserved.
"Congratulations, TJ, we appreciate your service, your hard work and your sense of humor," Pat Allen, who has worked with Heinricy through Northfield in Bloom, wrote on Patch.
After nearly two weeks of voting in a poll on Patch, Heinricy received 41 percent of the vote from community members. Virginia Kaczmarek, the executive director of the Northfield Area YMCA, came in second with 29 percent of the vote. No one else received more than 9 percent of the vote.
TJ's wife, Robin, said TJ is known for his many volunteering efforts and that he "will do just about anything for anyone."
It's something that Charlene Fossum Hamblin recognized when she wrote on the Northfield Patch Facebook page after it was announced that Heinricy received the honor.
"This is a well-deserved award to you for making a positive difference in people's lives and in the community, overall. Kudos to you!" she wrote.
Whether it's arriving to the scene of a fire or car wreck, volunteering to plant trees or supporting youth efforts, Heinricy will continue to approach Northfield as he always has: just do.
“I enjoy helping people. I guess you try to make a difference,” he said. “You bring whatever you can to the table.”