The Iowa Lakes Community College Alumni and Friends Association presented Carlton Mitchell the 2024 Jim Hall Outstanding Alumni Award during the 2024 Commencement ceremony on Friday, May 10, in Estherville. Mitchell joins the ranks of other Iowa Lakes graduates who exemplified outstanding support of community, business, and service organizations while serving as positive role models for this distinguished award, established in 1992.

Diane Nelsen, President of the Alumni and Friends Association Board, presented Mitchell with the award memorializing Jim Hall, a 1968 Iowa Lakes graduate, former Iowa Lakes assistant football coach, and strong supporter of the College.
Mitchell graduated with an Associate of Arts Degree from then-Estherville Junior College in 1963. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Social Sciences in 1965 and a Master of Education Degree in 1971 from Mankato State College, with a focus on Secondary School Administration. He is married to Lois (Lygre) Mitchell from Spirit Lake. Their son Travis resides in Italy, and their daughter Jennifer resides in Michigan.

Mitchell lived a sterling service-oriented career as a public school teacher in nearby Minnesota from 1965 – 1971. After a brief tour in the United States Army, where he earned the Army Commendation Medal for service from 1968 – 1970, he served as a Secondary and Elementary School Administrator and Superintendent from 1971 – 1993 in Minnesota. As a long-time resident of Orleans, Iowa, Mitchell served his community on the Planning and Zoning Commission from 1986 – 1996. He served on the City Council from 1996 – 1999 and as Mayor of Orleans from 1999 – 2011. He also served as Dickinson County Water Commission Vice Chair from 2002 – 2024. Mitchell is a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Spirit Lake. His fierce patriotism is reflected in his American Legion membership since returning from service in 1970.
His commitment to public service positively impacts his hometown of Orleans and the surrounding lakes area. He was the driver behind the complete water main replacement in the City of Orleans and introduced a recycling program to the community. An avid outdoor enthusiast, he was instrumental in planning area biking trails and spearheaded numerous beautification projects. Mitchell’s service on the Dickinson County Emergency Management Commission, County Board of Supervisors, Landfill Commission, and Water Quality Commission reflected his love for hunting, fishing, and the preservation of the abundant natural resources that Dickinson County and the Iowa Great Lakes offer. When he’s not on the water, he can be found tending his garden. Lois observed that it is too big for the two of them, although the neighbors certainly don’t mind that he loves to share.

Through active leadership and focused stewardship, Carlton Mitchell’s legacy of public service made him a sterling ambassador of Iowa Lakes Community College and exemplified the spirit of the Jim Hall Award. The Iowa Lakes Alumni and Friends Association congratulates him as he joins the ranks of outstanding alumni.